Monday, August 29, 2011

Bleach Recaps: Ep. 219, Rock Lobster!

Holy crap!  This episode was AWESOME!

So I survived Hurricane Irene.  I saw at least one person was actually concerned about me, to which I'm thankful.  As it turns out, Irene was far too busy losing all her strength before reaching the New York City area to actually disrupt my life.  So not only was I completely unharmed the power stayed on, and indeed I even saw a movie last night, "Don't Be Afraid of the Dark" - look for a review soon.  All we got here was a little rain, a few branches fell, and days and days of endless news reports and warnings that it turns out we didn't need at all.  It was a nasty storm, but not exactly a life-ender.  We got lucky here, that's clear.  And I can't help but think that God himself intervened in order to let me see this wonderful "Bleach" episode.  Yeah, this episode was that good that I consider its existence to be an act of God.  It was incredible.  As exciting as a hurricane is, "Bleach" this week was even more action-packed.

There hasn't been a fight scene this good since the Ichigo vs. Grimmjow episodes which were - what? - two years ago now?  Yeah, there have been a few good episodes here and there since then, but let's be honest:  pretty much every show I've recapped so far has been universally horrible.  Lately things have only been getting worse, last week's episode being an especially low point.  You know an episode has to be fucking lousy when I start wondering if I should end these recaps altogether.  And honestly, you wouldn't think last night's episode would be any better.  Mr. 69 fights a nameless Arrancar?  Hardly better than Kira fighting some other nameless enemy in terms of plot importance.  But that's not calculating the magic that can occur when suddenly the animators start to give a shit.  Suddenly you get an action scene with proper pacing, creative camera angles, and actual excitiment.

WHY CAN'T EVERY EPISODE BE LIKE THIS??  Why do we have to put up with bullshit every other Saturday of the year!?

You know, I'm perplexed.  Why would Studio Perriot suddenly decide to do their jobs with competence this time?  I know that they're limited most of the time by budget constraints, so its not like they can make a Miyazaki movie every week.  This is, of course, entirely thanks to manga-anime industry's bizarre and incomprehensibly stupid practice of making a new "Bleach" episode once a week, fifty-two week of the year, never once taking a break.  So when they suddenly make an episode that is shining with quality, its usually for a moment in the show that is especially important, like Ichigo vs Grimmjow.  Mr. 69 vs. Not-Zechs Marquise is hardly a major moment in the series.  In terms of significance its nowhere, nothing.  This episode could be cut entirely and nobody would notice.  So why put effort into this one?

Here's my theory:

Its a Friday night at Studio Perriot.  They just finished another boring episode of "Bleach", and finally finished getting Kira's haircut the proper shade of emo.  Now its time to start work on the next one.  Everybody is bored, nobody can stand this mediocre work any longer.  Finally, one drone gets up from his computer screen and yells "I CAN'T TAKE THIS BULLSHIT JOB ANYMORE!!!  Can't we give a shit just one time??  One time?  How can we release crap every single week like this??"  All the other drones look at him with a mixture of boredom and constipation, the only expression their faces can create after seven years of drawing this show.  The screaming guy then yells a lot, and jumps right out the window, his body ending up turning a Toyota SUV into a convertible.  The another guys say "eh" and out of a dim recognition that'll too be remodeling sensible Japanese cars one day decide to actually put some work in.  By the end of the week, they finally feel emotions again.  Its like waking up from a nightmare.  Was the world always so beautiful?

Then they have to make the next week's episodes.  The feeling of bliss fades immediately.

No, I should stop wondering, just enjoy the show.  So Zechs--

Oh wait, he's not Zechs anymore, he's Milliardo Peacecraft now.

--So Milliardo had broken his mask, which for some reason makes him stronger.  Mr. 69 suddenly is completely overwhelmed by his opponent, even though Milliardo should only be at a lieutenant's level.  Well, actually, I'm not so surprised.  If any of you remember, Mr. 69 has only really fought one battle to a conclusion before.  And he got his ass kicked by Pretty Boy Yumichika.  It was off-camera, and Pretty Boy has a pretty broken sword, but yeah, Mr. 69 hasn't exactly served with distinction.  This blond Arrancar voiced by Not-Crispin Freeman might actually have a shot.  Too bad he's doomed by the plot.

Now this is where things get cool.  Because as I mentioned before, the animators gave a shit.  Suddenly Mr. 69 is being attacked from all sides in lightning fast kung-fu fest.  Its just all around awesome.  Shuhei is jumping around, launching himself at 100 miles per hour off a lamppost, sword in hand.  The blond guy cartwheels with his sword, and then keeps Mr. 69 knocked this way and that.  This the last twenty of "Advent Children: Final Fantasy VII" cool.  By the end, Shuhei is completely exhausted.  Milliard at one point grabs Mr. 69's surprise attack with one hand, completely decimating the guy's move.  I have no complaints at all during this entire section of the show.

Oh, the Arrancar's name is actually Findor.  He didn't tell us before, and even he admits this a huge breech in kung-fu etiquette.  Honestly, I'm starting to like Findor.  His voice actor is a pretty good ringer for Crispin Freeman, he's got a cool character design - except for those ridiculous shoulder pads, and he has a catch-phrase.  "EXACTA!"  Every time Shuhei states something obvious in typical character-less fashion, Findor yells out "EXACTA!"  Shuhei is just pissed off, Findor is having fun.  I always root for the guy who is having fun.   But unfortunately since I'm rooting for the bad guy now, he's destined to lose.  But first, a ridiculous transformation:

Man, that effect is so fake.  You can see the string and everything!

 Now that Findor has evolved, he's learned Hydro Pump, which he then uses to try to blow the numbers off Mr. 69's face.  I was worried that since the battle system has changed from flying swashbuckling to magic water blasts, but the fight stays exciting and well-choreographed.  Shuhei even manages to get in a few good lines, meaning that he isn't a total loss like fucking Kira and his wet blanket bullshit.  Shuhei must have some personality under all that bitterness.  At some point during his life he got drunk enough to tattoo a 69 on his face, for one, so he's got a fun side.  (I got to respect that kind of cockiness, because that tattoo is one Hell of a sexual check to write.  I wonder if his girlfriends are disappointed or pleasantly surprised.)

"Oh shit...  I hope nobody blames me for that..."

Well, I guess this can only go for so long, eventually Shuhei will have to release his Zanpakuto.  For some reason this causes all the Soul Reapers to look out and say "yes!  Shuhei released his sword!"  Nobody cared when Pretty Boy or Whiny Boy released their swords!  Why does Shuhei get a special moment?  I don't remember him being particularly useful when fighting the Bounts or the Ninjars or any other enemy.  But somehow Shuhei is so badass that even Soi Fon smiles.  Miss Psycho Bitch Lesbian has a thing for 69?

Then Shuhei is so boss that he complains that his sword isn't cool enough!  "It works and all, but I can't stand the look of the damn thing."

Shuhei clearly wanted Kenryu's pretty flower sword.

This is, sadly, where things turn around.  I like Findor, so its too bad that he has to die now.  Shuhei's Zanpakuto works a little bit like... a certain SWORD CHUCKS, YO!  He can flip both blades around on the chain, meaning that they're impossible to predict.  The unpredictability is made a lot harder because the animators (and Tite Kubo himself) never decided how long the chain was.  Sometimes its like only five feet, then suddenly its like a mile long!  No wonder Milliardo gets wrecked.  I'm going to say that chain-lengthening is Mr. 69's magic power.  Also, the music is very cool.

Findor breaks another chunk of his mask, freeing his other eye.  Now he declares that he's as strong as a Captain.  Mr. 69 crushes him just as easily.  Now its time for a weird rambling speech about how you should be afraid of your own sword.  Because otherwise... I don't know what.  Somehow the writers sneak in a boring "philosophy of the sword" discussion into every episode.  Even though, honestly, neither side makes very much sense, and nobody cares.  In one anime you'll see a wise old master telling the hero "you must not fear you blade".  Then in another anime some other wise old master will tell the hero "forget that, you must fear your blade."  Both sound vaguely inspirational, neither mean anything at all.  I love Findor's expression here:

"Dude, what the HELL are you talking about??"

And then Mr. 69 cooks the lobster.  Findor screams a lot, shoots a Cero off at point blank, and dies.

"I think I'll bow out gracefully in defeat now.  Bye folks!"

Well, so far Aizen's soldiers are 0 for 3.  They are totally losing this war.  Oh wait, look, one of the towers just fell.  Cueball was beaten!  Oh my God, I'm actually surprised.  I figured we'd have to slog through next week's episode before learning how that battle went.  For once "Bleach" is showing some storyline economy and not wasting our time with every little sword strike.  Or maybe Chief is just that badass.
Here's the next week, when certainly the animation will not be so good.

1 comment:

  1. Oh now i get the title. ROCK LOBSTA! XD

    I'm glad you made it out safe Blue. I knew this thing would die down, but after hurricane Katrena and the tornados a couple of monthes ago everybody has their undies in a knot about the weather. I don't take it as seriously as I should.
    -The 1 & only Uzuki