Monday, January 31, 2011

Bleach Recaps: Ep. 189, The Fallen Shinimagi's Pride

This episode was the final episode of the New Captain Amagai Arc, meaning that it had to A) finish the Ichigo vs. Amagai battle, B) complete Amagai's character arc, C) complete Princess Lampshade-hat's character arc, and D) wrap this entire long meandering season in a nice little bow and make me feel that I wasn't being jerked around with for five months.  Well, they managed a few of those, but I suspect that letter D is a complete impossibility.  Well, if they killed off that tedious old fool, Yamamoto I might have felt better about things, but that would never happen anyway.  Its probably not a good sign that most "Bleach" fans are happy about this episode only because it means that this silly side-story is over forever.  If the Amagai Arc existed purely to waste time until Kubo finished more chapters, then it succeeded.  However if it was supposed to create a good story and entertain its viewers, it greatly failed.  For example, I actually fell asleep halfway through this episode.  Congrats, "Bleach", you finally broke me.

The real question for this arc is not "was it any good?" because it clearly wasn't, but actually "was the Bount arc any worse?"  Surprisingly, this is a rather hard question.  At the end of the Bount Arc, things actually got pretty entertaining.  Yoshi (not the green dinosaur), for one, had a really cool way of fighting... but then got punked out by Uryu.  Still, Amagai's season didn't introduce any more talking stuffed animals, so it wins by default.  I think what we need to learn here is that as bad as Tite Kubo is at telling a story*, the anime writers are even worse.

Obviously the solution to "Bleach"'s problems would be to fire everybody involved with the show and give me unlimited creative control.  Here's my first episode:  "Sexykai! Soul Society Stripping Competition".  (Hint - Orihime wins.)

Friday, January 28, 2011

The Secret of Kells

Last year at the Academy Awards, five great films were nominated for Best Animated Feature.  One was "Up", then the latest in the still ongoing run of amazing Pixar films.  Then there was "Coraline", one of the greatest movies ever made, bar none.  It was a film so above and beyond fantastic that I must categorize it as the Best Film of 2009, without any hyperbole.  Also there was "The Princess and the Frog", that film that revived Disney as a serious animation studio.  And we cannot forget the sublimely weird "Fantastic Mr. Fox" which was also nominated.  To nobody's surprise, Pixar once won again - like they're going to do this year with "Toy Story 3".  But there was a fifth film nominated in that category that year - "The Secret of Kells".

My immediate reaction with "The Secret of Kells" is "what the heck is this thing and why is it here in place of 'Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs'?"  That should come as no surprise since this movie had absolutely no release in this country or any advertising.  It didn't even have much of a release in Ireland, the nation in which it is set and draws its inspiration from.  There was a wide release in France and - of all places - Belgium.  This isn't an anime either, so there's no fanbase in this country waiting for a movie of this type.  Somehow, though, the Academy found it, and I can be very grateful to them for finding this precious stone hidden away in the sand.

"The Secret of Kells" is a movie that celebrates the artwork of the Dark Ages, a period often remembered only for its chaos and misery.  Using much of the same art style as its inspiration, this film mixes together ancient Irish folklore and Western Christianity to tell, in simplified detail, the story of the rebirth of civilization in the Dark Ages though its childish characters and cartoony storyline.  Most beautifully, its art style is completely unique, an homage to the very illuminated manuscripts it features.   This is a movie that deserves recognition for its unique brilliance.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Kingdom Hearts Re:coded

A question I often get involving the "Kingdom Hearts" franchise's newest trilogy of spin-off titles is "do I have to play this game?"  You see, Square Enix utterly refuses to make a "Kingdom Hearts III" - the game we've been waiting for since 2006 - and instead has been releasing relatively inferior handheld side games for the last five years.  However, the last two spin-offs were very good games and were very much worth playing.  "358/2 Days" for the DS might have been a bit monotonous and had a silly name, but it had the best storyline of any Kingdom Hearts game yet and had some really good gameplay ideas.  "Birth by Sleep" for the PSP was a technical marvel of graphical power, a fully fledged Kingdom Hearts game on a handheld, but had a few niggling faults such as a rushed storyline.  They both are worth your time.  As for this game, "Kingdom Hearts Re:coded", its not.  It just isn't worth playing.

"Kingdom Hearts Re:coded" is now the sixth entry into the series, and is a remake of the underwhelming Japanese cellphone game called "Kingdom Hearts coded".  Originally it was a cellphone game, so it was never released outside of Japan because for whatever reason Square Enix cannot figure out how to export those things.  Same problem with "Final Fantasy VII -Before Crisis-", which you will never play thanks to your awful sin of not being Japanese.  Eventually Square Enix realized their mistake with "coded" and so brought it over to the DS using "358/2 Days"'s engine and slapped a "Re:" in the title, giving us this.  Unfortunately, as it turns out, both of these games are short stumps of games lacking in pretty much all the epic expanse of any of the other titles in this series.  Every environment, enemy, character, and at least half the dialog is unoriginal.  This is as bad as a Kingdom Hearts game can be.

This isn't a clever experiment, or a wild departure from the standard formula.  It doesn't do anything in particular different.  Its just the same old thing... in fact even less original than the standard title.   If you desperately need a Kingdom Hearts fix before the 3DS game comes out, replay "Kingdom Hearts 1", because that's all this game is - a replay of the first game in the series.  And everything about it is quite simply inferior.

Bleach Recaps: Ep. 188, Duel! Amagai vs. Ichigo

This is the second-to-last episode of this arc, meaning that we're basically at the climax right now.  Ichigo is fighting Amagai, that's this episode.  It isn't much, but its all surprisingly effectively entertaining.  I've been pretty down on "Bleach" lately because well... this season isn't very good.  But as for a climax battle, I gotta say, this was really good.  Not the best fight of the series, but definitely watchable.  In fact, upon a second viewing of this episode, I gotta say this was probably the best episode yet.  That's not a high bar to leap over, but still, its something.  A good something.

Amagai's voice actor is trying his hardest to sound menacing, and only really half succeeding.  Luckily the action continues nearly nonstop from beginning to end.  If only the animation department was feeling more up to the challenge.  The animation in this arc has been pretty sloppy and none of the fights have been especially fluid, least of all this one.  Ichigo, no surprise, is the only person who can ever stand a chance against Amagai's Soul Reaper negation powers, something we figured out last week almost immediately.  However this episode really drags out the revelation, as if its some incredible twist.  Of course "Bleach" would contrive events so that Ichigo would fight the bad guy, that's not surprising.  It would be surprising if Ichigo lost and Yamamoto actually took down his would-be assassin himself.  At least there is a lot of streams of fire and explosions.  Can't fault that.

Also, I'm pretty sure Yamamoto is asleep this entire episode:

Saturday, January 22, 2011

The Trojan Cycle Done Right

A few years ago there came a horrible Brad Pitt film called "Troy".  As the choice adjective in the last sentence clearly states, it was not a good movie.  I'd say it was barely watchable.  Ladies, if you want to see Brad Pitt, Orlando Bloom, and other super attractive dudes with muscles running around half-naked in the sand, go ahead.  Move your TV to the bathroom, fill up the tub, get some scented candles, and make an evening of it, go for it.  Basically "Troy" was just the "Twilight" series before its time:  only it had too much plot and not enough vampires.  As for my tastes, however, the movie just was something of a mess - especially with the accents.  Nobody seemed to have idea what accent the movie was supposed to have:  English?  Scottish?  Brad Pitt doesn't even try.  Its all a shame since there were very good actors in this film, but they all seem in on some strange:  who can overact the most?  (Winner:  Brian Cox, by far.)  Oh well.  At least it was more watchable than "Beowulf".

One of the main reason that "Troy" was such a silly movie was its bizarre attempt to "be the historical story that inspired the story".  So that means, most importantly, no Gods.  All supernatural elements, including the several of the most awesome scenes in the epic, are cut out mercilessly.  On the other hand, this claim of historical accuracy is utter nonsense:  there was a city in Troy's location, but was it really taken down by a commander named Agamemnon out of revenge for the capture of his sister-in-law through a giant horse?  Come on, who are you really fooling, movie?  And if you're going to pretend to be "realistic" why in the world is Achilles' weak point still his heel?  Is "Troy" trying to tell me that in its so-called realism, Achilles actually was actually dipped in the River Styx by his mother, the nymph Thetis, so as to be invulnerable except for one heel?  What I'm saying is that this a story mixed with mythology and magic - attempting to tell the story without those fantastic features is ridiculous.  Go wild, include it all.  Trust me, its to the new Troy film's benefit.

How awesome would a straight film version of the Fall of Troy be?  Well, that's just our purpose in tonight's Fanwank Corner:

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

The King's Speech

This may come off as a rather curious notion, considering our long proud history as a Republic:  America needs a monarchy.  I know King George III left a pretty bad taste in our mouth, though its not our position towards taxation was particularly reasonable.  The issue in our Revolution was not particularly that monarchies don't work, but that our nation was too vast and ambitious to be ruled by a small island two thousand miles away.  Clearly American cannot be ruled from an English monarchy, but why not an American one?  There's a certain romance and continuous ancient power related to the concept of a sovereign, something that our constantly shifting political tides cannot possibly meet.  And yeah, I know America is based upon the idea that everybody can reach any position of power no matter what their birth, and monarchies are essentially the exact opposite of that concept.  However, nobody said that the monarchy had to be hereditary - there do exist elected monarchies*.  Think of the Pope.

There's a magic to the Presidential family, but its all too brief and ultimately divisive.  Half our country feels that Obama does not speak for them, and the other half thought that Bush didn't represent them two years ago.  A apolitical and ultimately powerless symbol of national unity such a monarch is exactly the figure this country needs to create continuity.  Kings or Queens are like living flags or anthems, they exist purely as decorations that establish a common culture for this nation.  The liberals and conservatives need at least one living person they can both equally respect.  The Founding Fathers already serve as a sort of human symbol, but they're far too mailable as rhetorical devises.  Its too easy to put your own ideas into the mouths of Washington and Jefferson, it would be far more difficult to do the same to Queen Elizabeth.  More importantly, Kings and Queens are things that people love about their governments - we like having a figure with Divine Right standing above us.  Maybe if Timothy McVeigh had a Queen to love he wouldn't have been so willing to assume that his government wanted to destroy him.  At least I love the idea of monarchy - "The Lion King" probably has something to do with that.

I only bring this up now because I recently saw the excellent movie, "The King's Speech", and its made me go ga-ga over monarchies.  In that way, its a wonderfully successful film.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Bleach Recaps: Ep. 187, Ichigo Rages! The Assassin's Secret

In tonight's episode, Amagai confronts Yamamoto and repeatedly tries to start a fight with him.  Sadly it never happens.  Instead we get to learn why Amagai has turned to evil, and what his evil plan was this entire arc.  Honestly, and I do hate to admit it, this episode actually ties the entire arc together, giving even Purple-Hair a purpose in the storyline.  Unfortunately it doesn't quite make the tea party episode relevant, but what could?  Amagai's motivations are pretty generic, and his plan isn't that clever, but they showrunners are trying and that's what counts.  I like to see a show give any explanation for what I've seen.  It even almost explains why Yamamoto has been so cranky all season - almost.  So for that at least, I liked this episode too.

Even so, if I had to choose, I'd definitely watch "Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood", the anime that's on an hour after "Bleach" on Adult Swim, over this show.  "Fullmetal Alchemist" is better animated, has a plot that's actually going somewhere, and more importantly, is better animated - that needs to count twice.  Luckily I don't have to choose.  Even so, watch "Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood", trust me on that.

So this week opens where last week cut off, with Ichigo and Rukia wondering where Amagai went.  Turns out he teleported using some kind of advanced magic meaning they can't track him (only that they can, as we see later).  Yamamoto, all alone doing Old Man things like writing angry letters to the Weekly Standard about how Obama is a communist foreigner spawn of Hitler-Satan, is then confronted by Amagai.  The old man wants to know why his crazed conservative ramblings were interrupted, and so Amagai responds with "I'm gonna kill you, because I'm evil."

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Lost in Shadow

Okay, I got a weird one today.  For the last few months, I've been awaiting the arrival of "Lost in Shadow" for the Nintendo Wii.  "Lost in Shadow" is made by Hudson Soft, a company that has basically spent the last twenty years making nothing but "Bomberman".  However, I saw something truly unique in the gameplay of "Lost in Shadow", which is pretty obvious from the picture.  Its a platform game where instead of running on the ground, you run along the shadows of the objects in the game world.  It was such a fascinating concept that when it came out early this month, I was sure to grab the first copy that I saw.

Back in 2005, a certain game called "Shadow of the Colossus" came out on the PS2.  It broke down the formula of traditional action-adventure games such as "The Legend of Zelda" into just two gaming concepts:  world exploration and boss battles.  No towns, no sidequests, very limited storyline, barely any dialog, and only a handful of characters.  It was an incredible gaming experience, not perfect*, but still cited as one of the few true examples of video games that are works of art.  Sadly nobody ever cites "Wind Waker" or "Yoshi's Island", despite both being equally as beautiful and more fun, but that's not really the point.  I saw "Lost in Shadow", with its stark emptiness, single-minded platforming gameplay, and even its pretty blatant copying of "Shadow of the Colossus"'s art style as another entry in the "art games" category.  Plus the central idea was incredibly interesting.

Unfortunately, I gotta admit this one is one is pretty mixed.  The basic gameplay works, the puzzles are okay enough, and the art style is impressive, but the story is so poorly explained it completely blows the experience.  There is no satisfying ending tying up the game's mysteries.  And worse, this game is too long, way too long.  Oh well...  It was fun at least.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Light and Dark The Adventures of Dark Yagami

There are few forms of human expression lower than the fanfic.  I know people are going to get offended when I say this, but its true:  there are no good fanfics, never have, never will be.  I simply cannot comprehend the motivation to take say Cloud and Terra and write a story where they have crazy Esper sex.  Why can't people simply create their own characters?  If you're incapable of doing that, why do you think you can write a story at all?  And if you can't make your own characters, why do you have take preexisting characters and distort their personalities to fit whatever weird fantasy you have inside your dark mind.  John Milton wrote "Paradise Lost" from pre-established characters from the Bible, but he gave them personalities.  Satan is just a poorly-characterized trickster angel in the Bible, in Milton's story he is a living character full of both human weakness and even some strength.

There is no fanfic that is anything like "Paradise Lost".  They're either boring, offensively painful, or hilariously awful.  Bad, worse, or so incredibly stupid and idiotic your face melts off.  Or they are so horrible that you literally have nightmares for weeks*.  "Cloud Mowes the Lawn" is just the tip of the iceberg, there are thousands of these things.  An entire generation of young people are wasting artistic energy on a pointless dead end.  Its tragic, really.  If only there was a piece of fanfiction so insane that it could make everything better...

"Light and Dark The Adventures of Dark Yagami" is the only piece of fanfiction that is a true work of art.  The still continuing work is an incredible piece of metafiction based very loosely on the wonderful anime series, "Death Note".  The actual author is the greatest genius of 21st century literature - I am not being sarcastic here.  He or she writes as though she were an idiotic eight-year-old who has no concept of grammar, spelling, or even basic common sense.  But what results are moments where the supposed author accidentally makes ridiculous mistakes, such as consistently calling a certain character from the TV series "Light's Mom".  Or calling William Shakespeare the king of England.  Every sentence is an amazing piece of writing that is hilarious on at least six levels.  Every chapter is unbelievably funny, and it just gets funnier as time goes by.  Especially when random characters are "sexing" for no reason.  This is Absurdism at its finest.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Bleach Recaps: Ep 186, Sortie Orders! Suppress the House of Kasumiōji

FINALLY a good episode.  Its been weeks since I saw a "Bleach" episode that I honestly enjoyed watching.  Its been since Ep 177, a full ten weeks ago.  The plot finally moved after its been stuck in an unbelievable rut since pretty much the start of this season.  Its amazing how much more exciting a show is when things happen.  This week the entire Soul Society attacked with full force upon the Kasamultigraincrunchoji Clan's army of NINJARs.  Evil Old Guy went down, and the true villain was finally revealed.  Guess who it was?  This is the speed which this entire arc should have moved at:  this whole thing could have been finished in six episodes.

Hell, I suspect this entire arc might actually have started out as a movie script that was foolishly extended into twenty episodes, thus explaining why weeks go by with nothing in particular happening.  There are so many episodes in which the plot just advances, if at all.  Luckily last night was the wonderful shining example of what happens when a show isn't wasting weeks in order for Tite Kubo to catch up.  We're finally in the home stretch in this season, building towards the final battle between Ichigo and the Obvious True Villain.

The episode begins with Yamamoto giving us some backstory on the Kasamadailyshowwithjonstewartoji Clan.  They apparently made ceremonial weapons for the Royal Family* so that's why they've always been so protected from legal action.  It also explains why they can make funky weapons of mass destruction like the Bakottos.  Byakuya is made command of the expedition for no reason other than to give him some screen time, he doesn't really do anything.  And the Evil Old Guy figures out that the Soul Reapers are coming in force, so he throws out a full wine cellar full of Bakottos to fight the oncoming army.  Then the battle begins.

Tuscon Shooting

Yesterday, Democratic Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords was seriously injured in a crazed shooting at a during a public meeting with her constituents.  So far six people have died thanks to the attack, include a Federal Judge and a nine-year-old girl who was visiting Giffords to ask for advise upon being elected to her school's Student Council.  Aside from Giffords herself, who is expected to survive, eleven others have been injured.  So far we don't know the motives of the shooter or shooters.  The rambling Internet writings of the shooter can be seen here, though I rather doubt you'll discover any kind of serious political statement inside the schizophrenic metaphors.  I think its obvious to everybody that this is a major national tragedy, whether or not a Congresswoman was involved or not.

Honestly that's all I have to say.  The people on the news networks are debating whether this is because of partisan politics, whether Congressmen need better security, whether we need tighter gun control, whether Sarah Palin and the Tea Party's militant rhetoric deserves some blame, and on and on.  I have no conclusions at all to draw about this.  What conclusions are you supposed to draw?  Six people are dead, I don't think there are any answers at all to be found in that.  I don't think we need to reform society because of one act, because we don't even know why Giffords was attacked at all, beyond pure lunacy itself.

So I all I have to say is this:  say a prayer for our Congresswoman, say a prayer for the dead and wounded, and say a prayer for the shooter, in hope that he too can find peace.  As should be pretty evident, this is a sad day for America and a sad day for our democracy.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

True Grit

Is this really the first Western I'm doing here?  That I cannot believe, frankly, I just cannot.  Westerns are an amazingly genre of film:  stark tales of desperate morally ambiguous heroism in the pristine harshness of the wilderness.  Gunfights, deserts, and classic Western imagery - you already know the cliches.  Wooden sidewalks, trains, saloons, wooden coffins, sheriff stars, jangling spurs, and revolvers.  These are great tales where heroes or antiheroes can go out and fight the most viscous of outlaws at High Noon.  Sergio Leone's Spaghetti Westerns like "The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly" and "Once Upon a Time in the West" are without a doubt the highest point of this century-long genre.  Tragically the Western is a dead genre, despite several recent attempts at a revival such as "No Country For Old Men" and the remake of "3:10 to Yuma".  Those may not have resparked America's imagination for the Wild Wild West, but it sure sparked mine.

So when the Coen Brothers, the directors of such great films as "The Big Lebowski", "Oh Brother, Where Art Thou?", and "Fargo" were returning to the Western after their well-directed but still lousy "No Country For Old Men", I knew I had to go see it.  The Coen Brothers don't always make good movies, but they have their own weird sense of humor both random and dark, making their films always worth a view.  "True Grit" is a remake of the 1969 film of the same name starring Western legend, John Wayne, who won an Academy Award for his performance.  Replacing John Wayne is... The Dude, Jeff Bridges, who has completely absorbed himself into the role of one-eyed sheriff, Rooster Cogburn.  But he's not the protagonist:  its a tough little fourteen-year-old girl named Mattie Ross - the true star here.

"True Grit" is a fine Western film, made with the same brilliant imagery that was wasted in "No Country For Old Men", but with more than a little bit of the Coen Brother's dark humor.  Brilliantly directed, brilliantly acted, amazingly written, and with very good action scenes.  Everything about this movie just feels "right".  I didn't want to write my Top Films of 2010 post before I saw this film, because I knew this would make it.  It so belongs there, in the #4 spot.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

2011's Most Interesting Upcoming Films - Updated -

Since I just looked back to 2010, I suppose I should also look forward as well.  Unfortunately looking back while looking forward requires a lot of ridiculous manic spinning, and I don't have the dexterity.  Growing eyes in the back of your head might help, but being since I am neither a parent in the front seat of the car or your third grade teacher, I lack those extra organs.  So instead I'll take it one at a time.  I already looked back, so now I can look forward.  Then I suppose I'll look left in another post.

A cursory look at 2011's major upcoming films is enough to depress anyone.  The superhero films just don't look good at all, and history has taught me that by and large, most superhero films suck.  So when I hear about "The Green Hornet", "Thor", "Captain America", "X-Men First Class", and "The Green Laturn", I'm not interested.  Then there's "Kung Fu Panda 2" and a slew of bad sequels to movies I didn't see in the first place like "Happy Feet 2", "Alvin and the Chipmunks 3", and a film that according to the known laws of physics should be impossible, "Spy Kids FOUR".  By the way, here's a title to make anybody cringe:  "Big Momma's House 3, Like Father Like Son".  And the remakes... my God:  "Footloose", horror classic "The Thing", vampire classic "Fright Night", The Three Musketeers", "The Muppets", and "Conan the Barbarian".  We got another "Transformers" coming, my God.  There's a Justin Beiber movie!  Have we not entered the End Times, or what?  And even the studio which I've always relied upon to make the best or second best film of the year, Pixar, is making a sequel to their only bad movie, "Cars 2", meaning I don't even get that much this year.  I think I might cry.

Yes things look bleak, they do.  But, in actually a lot of work, I was able to find a couple of movies I am legitimately excited for.  Of course, I've been wrong before ("The Wolfman") and I'll be wrong again.  I may inadvertently recommend what will be the Worst Film of 2011, who knows?  And I know this list is a little short compared the hundreds of films that are released in a single year.  But that doesn't matter!  Honestly, I'm sure I'll find plenty of movies to see beyond this list.  2011 just started.  Things might look bleak now, but by April I'm sure I'll have seen at least one movie I like:

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Favorite Movies of 2010 - Updated -

2010 was not a good year for me in real life, easily the worst year I've ever seen.  And as for the rest of the world, it wasn't very good either.  The War in Iraq did finally come to an end, but in Afghanistan Pakistan, Mexico, and Sudan, things have gotten increasingly violent over the years.  Massive oil spills in the Gulf, earthquakes in Haiti, and Greek economic collapse.  Unemployment is still high, politicians are just as stupid (see the Ground Zero Mosque issue), and nothing seems to be getting better anywhere.  Then just when I thought 2010 couldn't bring me any more horrible gifts, it threw two feet of snow right on top of me in the last week.  Man, this year sucked.

But luckily the movies didn't suck.  There was plenty of happy cinematic diversions to help us forget what a terrible year its been.  So just in case some of you guys missed the best movies of last year, I'll go ahead and list my favorite films that I saw in 2010.  This isn't the definitive list, since God knows I haven't seen every single film released.  I mean, I don't even feel right making a 2010 list without having seen "True Grit" and "The King's Speech", movies I really have a good feeling about.  And its really a personal list, these are my favorite movies, they aren't necessarily going to be yours.  They're just the movies I recommend the highest in case you missed them.  Basically this list is all the movies that I would immediately want to see again.  I mean there were a lot of movies I liked, and a lot I recommended to see in theatres.  But as fun as say, "Devil" or "Predators 3" were to see in theatres, I can't say I ever want to see them again.  "Daybreakers" was good, but I can barely even remember it.  How can I put that on the list?  There are good movies and then there are great movies:  movies I want to own.  These are those films.  Watch them today.  Stop whatever you were doing, even if its a funeral or something, go to the video store or theatre and get watching.  That's a command.  That funeral can wait, these can't.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Bleach Recaps: Ep. 185, Ice and Flame! Fierce Fight of Amagai vs. Hitsugaya

Welcome back!  Last week's "Bleach" was a surprise re-run because of Christmas.  Unfortunately, Adult Swim never does advertise when its anime will be new episodes or old ones - God knows why.  So we all tuned in at midnight only to see that the Purple-Haired Ninja was suddenly back to life.  Last night's episode, however, was a new one.  "Fierce Fight of Amagai vs. Hitsugaya", that sounds good doesn't it?

Good one.  The title for this episode is nothing but a lie.  Amagai fights Toshiro for a total running time of thirty seconds, no more.  Its pure evil that they'd mislead the audience into thinking that Amagai and Toshiro would actually fight to any conclusion.  Maybe next episode, not here.  And the fight isn't particularly fierce either for a "Bleach" battle.  Instead we have the conclusion of the Kira and Kibune fight, which actually does become fierce.  So I'm going to let you guys decide which character wins.  Come on:  good-guy emo teen, Kira or bad-guy pompous homosexual, Kibune?  Or put it this way:  the character who has been around since Season 2 or the dude who just appeared suddenly in what is essentially a gaiden arc?  Shouldn't be too hard to guess, right?  Of course, I'm happy to see this battle end and one of these boring characters die, thus saving me from their mediocrity forever.

The episode starts again recapping Kibune's wacky speech at the end of the last episode.  Clearly they spent so much time animating Kibune's bizarre Grinch-face they might as well use it twice, right?  That was properly hilarious.  So once again we get to learn that Kibune considers Kira to be "a worthless toad".  Yeah, a toad.  Then we replay the cliffhanger the last episode ended with:  Kibune is just about to slice Kira in half with his boomerang-sword.  Can anything save him?  Turns out, yes.  Kira can save himself.  Well done, you goofy-haired Lieutenant, you.