The 2nd Dimension

Tuesday, August 07, 2012

Viewing Journal: Bleach (episodes 190-214)

Series Overview
Watch It Now
DVD Info

Overall= B-
Story = B-
Video = B-
Audio = C

Ichigo returns as— blah blah blah Who cares?
So this was the make or break season of Bleach for me. After close to 200 episodes, the series had gotten so long with so many ups and downs that I decided that I was either going to dedicate myself to watching the series to the end or I was going to give up on it entirely. So the gauntlet is dropped, and the verdict has been made.

And after watching the first few episodes of the "season" (of which the demarmarkation is nothing more than the change in opening animation — and even then, for this season there were two different openings) that verdict was to give up on the series. I remember back when I was watching episode 50 and the current episode in Japan was episode 170 or so, I was thinking, "Man I can't wait until I get caught up because surely awesome things are awaiting me." I thought how much more developed the overarching plot must be and how many mysteries must have finally been answered.

Now that I am well past that point, the plot has certainly come quite a distance and some quetions have been answered — most notable of which is Nell's past and that of her companions. The problem is that even when they do explain stuff, so much new stuff arises to explain the old stuff, that it feels like it's damn near impossible to ever get any closure to the series; like the series has gotten so convoluted that it will take another 200 episodes just to sort it all out.

Plus, there are still those acursed drawn-out fights that are made even more annoying when there are multiple occurring at the same time. So even when Kenpachi and the other soul reapers appear in Wako Mundo, the initial coolness is deflated by the frustrating tedium of skipping from one battle to another without any of them seeming to advance; and even when they do advance they never come to a completely satisfactory conclusion. I mean, I love fights as much as the next guy but things get mind-numbingly redundant after the fiftieth time you hear "Why can't you accept it? You can't defeat me!" or the sound of someone gasping as they claim that their enemies' fighting techniques are "impossible" or (my wife's personal favorite) Ichigo calling his opponent a "bastard!"

And while we're talking about annoying people; I have to say that Orihime' complete worthlessness as healer is really getting on my nerves. There is one point where Ichigo is fighting and Orihime can't help him because she is captured by an Arrancar (not that she makes any attempt to escape). But even when the Arrancar is gone, she STILL doesn't try to heal Ichigo. She just keeps repeating "Oh, Ichigo! Ichigo!" over and over in annoyingly melodramagic fashion so I'm thinking, "If you're so fucking concerned then heal the guy, you worthless bitch!" This is the ire that Bleach has drawn from me.

So at about episode 205 I had decided to completely abandon the series, but still figured I would finish up the "season" for the sake of writing this review.

Then the flashback happened.

Well, it wasn't so much a flashback as an arbitrary shift backward in time to when the soul reaper squads were in their formative years. And God help me but there was actual character and plot development not to mention improved animation. Now instead of constant battles, there is a constitant concentration on story as if the writers had been stalling this entire time to put together a complex set of events to explain the motivations behind everything that had happened thus far. It was actually good — even fascinating.

In this new storyline things take a dramatic shift with characters in entirely different roles. It was great because it brought so much of their personalities into a new light and upturned many presumptions I had about many of them. We also learn a lot of background info potentially explaining Ichigo's hollow mask, as well as many of the characters' origins. It's annoyingly good to the point where it seriously made me reconcider my vow to abandon the series.

But at the same time, many of my previous complaints were still present. For instance, there are too many characters and back stories for the show's own good. It still seems like we'll never get any closer to resolving the overarching plot because it gets dragged out with the addition of more characters, backstories, and characters within backstories.

Of course, nothing good lasts forever. The last two episodes in this collection are ridiculous filler. Essentially it's a blatent parody on super hero teams like Gatchaman / Battle of the Planets. I guess the fact that it is so silly gives it some entertainment value, but the goofy tone is jarring after the serious storytelling of the previous episodes. It's those stupid filler episodes that pop in like a sniper shot to the head at the most unexpected moments that really put me off to this series.

Ultimately, it's "one bitten twice shy" for me. I've gotten my hopes up way to often, only to be teased into oblivion. And so my final conclusion was to stop watching after this season.

And with that decision comes my final farwell. There's certainly something to be said for Bleach because it's the longest anime I've ever watched, beating out Ruroni Kenshin by double. I mentioned how back at episode 50, I had such high hopes for the series; and even now that attitude has remained, especially since the series ended back in March with episode 366. But even it if does to get better, there are so many other shows out there that I could be watching, that dedicating so much time to a single one just doesn't seem worth it.

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