Bleach – 202
Unlike Ichigo and Inoue who have become concerned now that Nnoitra has sprouted two more arms for a total of six, Zaraki actually relishes the challenge. The two fighters go at it yet again, and even though Nnoitra is the one scoring most of the hits, Zaraki doesn’t seem intimidated and doesn’t let up. It’s not until Nnoitra cuts Zaraki’s neck that the captain realizes that he could actually die. This leaves him with no choice but to use something that Yamamoto taught him a long time ago: kendo. More specifically, he knows that swinging a sword with both hands is more powerful than with just one hand, and he demonstrates this power by using a two-handed blow to bring Nnoitra down.
Although Nnoitra survives, Zaraki considers him defeated and starts to walk off, but Nnoitra insists that it’s not over and gets back up. As the two face off for the final time, Nnoitra remembers how Nel once lectured him for wiping out a bunch of Hollows in their search for a Vasto Lorde. She had called him a child, but she had later saved him from what she called suicidal actions. Since Nnoitra was confused as to why she stuck with him even though she knew that he hated her, Nel explained that it was because he was weaker than her. The pity really pisses Nnoitra off, and he vows not to show mercy to anyone, but these feelings aren’t enough to allow him to beat Zaraki. The captain finally finishes the Espada off, and the last thing Nnoitra sees as he’s falling is Nel waking back up.
Ummm, wow. I know Bleach has had spoilers before in the OP and ED, but I think showing all the Turn Back the Pendulum characters was a little excessive. It takes a lot of the surprise out of that arc. Having said that, it’s still exciting to see them there because I’ve been itching to see that arc animated (apparently it’ll begin episode 206). As for the song, I liked how it started and how they made it look like Inoue was singing, but I kinda cringed whenever the words “sky chord” came up. That part just didn’t work for me.
Save for a couple of minor things, I enjoyed episode. They did a fairly good job animating the conclusion to the battle and this arc in general, but there was that mysterious lack of blood spurt (even though the sound of it was clearly there) in this scene. That made the scene confusing until Zaraki started clutching his new neck wound. Nnoitra also should have been a lot more bloodied up in this scene that instead made him look like he just got the wind knocked out of him or something. The story meanwhile made Nnoitra into a bit less of a murderous jackass and a bit more of a tragic figure, but what I found interesting was that, despite all the talk about pity and mercy and pride, there was so much emphasis on his relationship with Nel (especially with the way the episode ended) that it just seemed like he was completely obsessed with her.
In any case, now that this fight is finally over, we’re heading into the next big story development next week and then the flashback arc in episode 206. However, it looks like episodes 204 and 205 will be anime originals, and as I mentioned last week, I suspect we’re getting pretty close to the point where the anime will have to break off again for another completely original arc.