Monday, May 30, 2011

Bleach Recaps: Ep 206, Forward to the Past

Last week we had the great misfortune of having to deal the final death coughs of the Amagai Arc. Now we move forward into the next true season of "Bleach".  This newest season is a break from tradition in that it is a jump to the past, back when Urahara and Yoruichi were both Soul Reapers.  Aizen was but a lowly lieutenant, and most of the main characters we've come to know and love were not even born yet.  So yeah, Ichigo is not stealing the plotline this time.

Now some of you might have died of a heart attack and despair last week when it seemed like this episode was another filler thing.  Oh, but you are mistaken.  This is not anime filler, this is actually manga filler.  Tite Kubo decided to make a whole arc about the past of the Visoreds (or Vizard, nobody can decide what they're called).  You see, every one of the Visoreds from Shinji on down were Soul Reapers before... something happened.  What happened?  I don't know, but it probably has something to do with Aizen.  And I suppose this means that the Visoreds are essential characters and this new trip to the past will completely shift my viewpoint of this universe, "Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep" style.  Everything we once knew is up for grabs!  A twist beyond twists is on its way, right?  Maybe Aizen isn't actually all that evil, or Shinji is really a bad guy, or we'll find out what the deal with Ichigo's dad is, or something.  Maybe?  ...Please?

Please God, "Bleach", don't dick us around for these episodes.  Whatever you're trying to reveal here, it better be damn worth it.  I don't want to spend a whole season only to learn that Aizen created the Visoreds in a silly experiment and that's it.  Also, this would be a great time to actually give these characters something to do, because I'm not sure Tite Kubo will find room in the giant clustfuck that will be the battle in Fake Karakura Town.

Random thought:  am I the only one who is disappointed to see that Velonica [sic] is still the opening theme?  Personally I'm really sick of that song.  Can't they just go back to the first theme?  That's the one I think to be the most iconic of the whole series, its at least my personal favorite.  Why do animes change openings so often anyway?  I bet its some kind of deal with the Japanese music industry, giving all these songs plenty of airtime.  I'd rather have just one theme every episode, some single chunk of music that represents "Bleach" itself.

Anyway, instead of a recap today (thank God), we have the narrator explaining that "the pendulum is swinging backwards".  And we now travel 110 years into the past, to the 1890s*.

Back in the Soul Society, a certain Sosuke Aizen walks by, not yet a Captain, not yet the Ruler of Hell, but most likely still extremely evil.  He walks into his Captain's office, and we discovery his Captain is this guy:

Shinji, pre-hat.

Aizen makes a point about the odd music Shinji is listening to.  Shinji mentions that its some new stuff from Earth, but I have to wonder.  Whoever this musician that Shinji has sampled here, they must be the most incredible musician of all time, since they're playing jazz music, a genre that was first developed in the 1910s (I Wikipedia'd it, I know).  Its definitely not Ragtime, definitely not Swing.  Also Shinji is playing an object that is undeniably an LP record, which won't be invented until 1931.  So unless this episode is actually taking place in the 1930s, "Bleach" has completely failed to do even the most basic research.  Or maybe LPs and jazz music were actually first invented in the Soul Society??

So now Aizen and Shinji have to go to some Soul Society thing.  Along the way they run into all the other Visoreds who are all Soul Society officers.  If you're wondering the rank that the Visoreds have, the girls are all lieutenants and the men are all Captains.  Read all you can into that.  Personally I can't remember any of these people because the Visoreds appeared in maybe like ten episodes three years ago - Shinji is the only one whose name I even remember.  So from what I can gather:  Shinji is the one with the weird teeth, Love is Bushido Brown, Kensei has grey hair, Rose is the man with flowing hair and frills, Hiyori is the little one that's always pissed-off, and Lisa is not-Nanoa.  I think there might have been a few other Visoreds, but they don't show up today, so who cares?

So its now a Captain's meeting.  Kenpachi isn't there because he's lazy, but it turns out its not our Kenny who is missing, its the guy he killed in order to become Kenpachi (this is referenced in the Bount arc briefly).  Kenny just stole the guy's title too.  A certain Captain Hikefune isn't around either, because he or she got promoted to SQUAD ZERO.  What is Squad 0?  Well, they're basically the Soul King's own body guard force, meaning that whoever they are, they must be the ultimate badasses out of the Soul Society Captains, who already are the ultimate badasses.  I really hope this plot point comes to mean something one day, so far it hasn't.  Even Aizen completely freaks out at the mention of the Royal Guard, something that he has never done in all the time we've known him.  Aizen has never shown any emotion of any kind.

But more importantly amongst the Captains we have Yoruichi from 110 years ago, somehow even better looking than now:


Also there's this old guy:

I think this is Byakuya's grandpa, not sure.

So now that Hikefune is gone (whoever he or she is), there's now an opening in Squad 12.  Yoruichi decides to upgrade her Third Seat, who is none other than Urahara.  Lieutenant Soi Fon is kinda pissed about this, because not only has she been passed over rank-wise, but also she just generally hates Urahara.  Plus Soi Fon was Yoruichi's lesbian lover back then, and its after Yoruichi leaves the Soul Society that Soi Fon turns into the Psycho Bitch Lesbian we know and love today.

For tonight's episode, the role of Soi Fon will be played by Knives Chau.

Anyway, the only real plot of this episode involves Soi Fon following Urahara around checking up to see if he's as much the silly moron as his Shaggy-hairdo and horrifying smelly room would indicate.  Yoruichi of course is awesome during this minor officer squabble, constantly accusing Soi Fon of being in love.  This is actually the funniest episode "Bleach" has had in a really long time.  That's incredible since we just had two so-called "comedy" episodes.

Turns out that Urahara is actually doing some investigation into some Soul Society deserters in a house someplace.  So he goes to beat them up, even though they apparently have a monstrous Spiritual Pressure.  What's the deal with that?  I thought for a second that it would turn out to be Kenny, but instead its... nobody.  You never get to even see the deserters or what Urahara did to beat them up.  A lot of other unnamed Soul Reapers get beaten up, but that's all off-camera, instead you just watch Soi Fon outside.  And when Urahara takes his Captain Exam, they cut away so you can't see his Bankai.  The only action in this whole episode is a brief training fight between Yoruichi and Urahara in the training place.  I mean, its a good fight, but it is only thirty seconds long - an Urahara vs. Kenny fight would be much more awesome.

But now Episode 206 has done its job, its introduced the Visoreds again and placed Urahara in the Captain's role.  Also Aizen finds Urahara to be interesting:

"I am totally hatching a cunning plan!  HAHAHAHAHAHA!!"

And that's episode 206.  Really not much plot yet because it needs to introduce the characters.  Honestly I am relatively excited about this turn in "Bleach".  Really all limits have been removed.  Absolutely anything can happen right now - and whatever happens, it better be awesome.  A twist so incredible it makes the awesome twist ending of "Light and Dark: the Adventures of Dark Yagami" seem like nothing at all.  And since there's no annoying children, we can be certain that this arc will not be another Amagai situation.  Here's to next week.

* The exact time traveled is never stated in the English, but the Japanese title reveals it to be 110 years.  I'm assuming that the "Bleach" universe is still taking place in the 2000s, since the anime began in Japan in 2004.  How many years have passed in-universe anyway?


  1. Be prepared for disappointment, Blue. Just a heads up.

  2. I think it's still December of the year that Ichigo became a Shinigami, in the show, which would be around 2002 or 2003 since the manga began around then.