The 2nd Dimension

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Viewing Journal: Bleach (episodes 144 - 167)

Series Overview
Watch It Now
DVD Info

Overall= D
Story = D
Video = C-
Audio = C-


Ichigo enters Hueco Munco -- the realm of the Hollows -- to save his friend Otohime. Along the way he meets up with Hollows and Arrancars; some end up being friends, but most are among his most powerful enemies yet.
So this latest season of Bleach ended on Adult Swim nearly a year ago so I figured I'd better write a review before my sparse memory of it fades into total oblivion. And thinking back on it, there is not a lot that is memorable anyway. That's disturbing because this season doesn't have any filler episodes so there is no excuse for why it turned out so dull.

One of the reasons why this season is disappointing is because we finally get to see Hueco Mundo, but it turns out that this World of the Hollows is a pretty uninteresting place. I remember back in season one, Rukia would talk about the Soul Society and I thought it was this mysterious heavenly realm of the afterlife where spirits are at peace. Then I actually saw it and found out that it is not quite so mysterious, but is still cool for entirely different reasons. I had a similar initial reaction to Hueco Mundo, but instead of heaven I imagined it as a chaotic hell where evil reigned supreme. And I guess that is sort of the case, but instead of the rampant hysteria I imagined, it turns out to be a gray arid desert where Hallows roam about. Ichigo spends a good amount of time in the initial episodes just trying to find how to get to Aizen's seemingly unreachable fortress. And -- much like when Ichigo first arrived in the Soul Society -- when he does finally reach the fortress in Hueco Mundo, he has to fight a bunch of enemies as he strives to save his friend (this time it's Orihime instead of Rukia). But back in that Soul Society story arc, the concept of soul reapers and their fighting abilities was still a fresh concept and Ichigo was still learning to use his powers. But in Hueco Mundo the main cast's powers are mostly at their peak and the fights seem redundant and monotonous with no purpose other than to delay plot progression; so the action scenes are more frustrating than exciting.

And in that same vein, the new characters in this season are horribly cliche and trite. Usually this is not a problem if there is some unexpected depth or complexity added to the cliche, but at this point in the series I don't see it. First you have the friendly hollows Pesche, Dondochakka, and the arrancar Nelliel who all are nothing more than comic relief. The fact that they end up traveling with Ichigo et al. is a plot point that is forced into the story, since Ichigo gives in way too quickly to Nell's demand to follow them. Meanwhile, the new enemies are like the red-shirted pawns that are only introduced for the main characters to fight before being tossed aside. Their back stories are neither compelling nor do they help move the plot forward. Plus -- other than Chad (if I remember correctly) -- they don't challenge the regular characters enough to unleash new powers. In the end, they only add to the frustration by delaying the main plot line while adding nothing new or interesting to the story.

To be honest, there are points in the story that are somewhat intense and dramatic -- I can think of maybe two episodes in the entire series -- but even so, in the end it doesn't move the story forward much. For instance, I thought that the fight between Ichigo and Ulquiorra was pretty intense, but in the end it didn't result in new developments. Ichigo is no closer to saving Orihime. He is no closer to uncovering or foiling Aizen's evil plot. The number of enemies he and his compadres need to fight seem endless, and each individual fight drags on. So in the end, it's hard for me to even remember where the show is going -- and I'm not sure I even care anymore.

So, yeah, I'm not crazy about this season of Bleach. It's getting harder and harder to get motivated to watch new episodes when even the regular episodes are this bad. And the next season seems to be pure filler, so you can imagine how much of a chore those are to get through. If the extensive backlog of unwatched episodes on my DVR is any indication, it may not be long before I give up on the series altogether.

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