Review of Bleach - Fall of the Arrancar 2


AUKN Staff
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<b>Review of Bleach - Fall of the Arrancar 2 by Sarah</b>

<h1>Episodes 304-316</h1>

<strong>Spoilers! (Well, what did you expect...? It&rsquo;s The Big Confrontation)</strong><br>

After two more filler episodes celebrating <em>Bleach</em>&rsquo;s 10th Anniversary (which is, after all, something to celebrate) the action returns to Karakura Town. But now Ichigo&rsquo;s school friends, including Keigo and Tatsuki, are threatened by Aizen (backed up by Gin) and there&rsquo;s no one but the irrepressible Don Kannonji&nbsp;(and Afro Guy) to protect them. Just when it seems as if it&rsquo;s all over for the terrified high schoolers, Aizen&rsquo;s attention is distracted...&nbsp;<br>

Ichigo&rsquo;s sudden appearance draws an astonished and awed response from his friends. He&rsquo;s changed. And it&rsquo;s not just that his hair has grown longer. Aizen, however, is not in the least impressed. Displaying all the arrogance of one who knows he is unbeatable, Aizen mocks Ichigo, saying that he&rsquo;s disappointed with him; he presents no real challenge.&nbsp;At this stage we are none the wiser. We have not seen the conclusion of Ichigo&rsquo;s confrontation/training with his Zanpakutō, Zangetsu,&nbsp;so we have no idea if it was a success or not. In fact, Zangetsu has been goading Ichigo to dare to&nbsp;push himself&nbsp;beyond his limits. And it&rsquo;s not until considerably later on, in a piece of knife-edge storytelling, that we get to see exactly how much Ichigo has changed and understand exactly what is at stake here.<br>

The transformations that Aizen undergoes as he faces Ichigo, demonstrating his superhuman powers, which were acquired by the most vile&nbsp;means possible (the sacrifice of innumerable innocent souls) are reminiscent of those displayed by Toriyama&rsquo;s antagonists in <em>Dragonball Z &ndash; </em>most notably, Cell. And to stand a chance when confronting an evolving antagonist, our hero will &ndash; like the Z Fighters &ndash; need to transform and make a considerable sacrifice himself. Shounen&nbsp;manga and anime&nbsp;have been telling us this again and again, drawing their inspiration from the oldest and most potent hero legends of world cultures. Not for nothing does Ichigo say, &ldquo;I feel older now.&rdquo; &nbsp;But even as he&nbsp;prepares to use&nbsp;the Final Getsuga Tenshou, will it be enough to defeat Aizen? And if even that fails, where else is there to look for help?<br>

I remember reading some comments when these episodes first aired, implying that this final confrontation (which is where the whole of <em>Bleach</em> has been leading, all 300+ episodes) was somewhat underwhelming. Not so, in my opinion. It&rsquo;s preceded by a farewell of another kind so that Episodes 308-9 take on a genuinely legendary, elegiac feel and when the heavy clouded skies above Karakura Town clear and the blue finally shows through, there&rsquo;s a very real sense of catharsis. (Yes, I know this is <em>Bleach</em> but, if you&rsquo;ve gone the whole journey with Ichigo, you&rsquo;ll feel that this moment has truly been earned.) The duels here are impressively animated and the accompanying music is well chosen from Shiro Sagisu&rsquo;s&nbsp;extensive soundtrack for <em>Bleach</em> to underline the high drama&nbsp;of this confrontation. There&rsquo;s also a very moving&nbsp;reunion for Rangiku which reminds us that behind the air-headed, fun-seeking exterior she shows to the world, she&rsquo;s been secretly nursing a broken heart.<br>

After so much high drama, it&rsquo;s somewhat of a comedown to return to filler (and there&rsquo;s plenty more to come before the anime can return to Tite Kubo&rsquo;s manga, as they were waiting for the poor guy to deliver more product!) Not that <em>Bleach</em> filler is necessarily a bad thing; as we&rsquo;ve said here before, there are enough members of the Thirteen Court Guard Squads to keep us entertained with their back stories for many more episodes. It&rsquo;s just...well...something of an anticlimax after the drama. They&rsquo;re rather...meh. And these are &lsquo;one-shot&rsquo; fillers (the voiceover comments in the trailers reinforce the fact that the cast know exactly what they&rsquo;re delivering to the viewers). Frankly, if I were to rate the filler episodes on their own, I&rsquo;d be struggling to go as high as <strong>5/10. </strong>But the rating for this set must include the best as well as the worst, so the overall <strong>8/10 </strong>score reflects this. &nbsp;<br>

The only extras are the ongoing Opening Theme 13: "Ranbu no Melody" by SID (eps 292-316) and the new Ending Theme 26: "Song for..." by ROOKiEZ is PUNK&rsquo;D (eps 304-316).<br>

So, what&rsquo;s up next? The <em>Gotei 13 Invading Army</em> arc which covers Episodes 317 to 342. Another whole filler arc? But&nbsp;at least this one was thought through as a complete mini-series in itself by the writing team, so there&rsquo;s some hope it will be a decent piece of story-telling, like <em>Zanpakutō: The Alternate Tale</em>.<br>

<strong>In Summary</strong><br>

The confrontation between the treacherous Aizen and Substitute Soul Reaper Ichigo Kurasaki has been a long time coming &ndash; but it&rsquo;s been well worth the wait. Just don&rsquo;t bother with the one-shot filler episodes unless you&rsquo;ve nothing better to do...<br>

<b>Final score: 8 out of 10</b>

<b>Additional screencaps</b>

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