Bleach – 230
Ichigo awakens in his inner world to find Zangetsu asking if he can hear something. Ichigo can’t though, so Zangetsu lets it go. Meanwhile, in Soul Society, several of the captains and vice-captains have been noticing their Zanpakutou acting oddly, such as Byakuya when he’s sparring with Renji, and Hitsugaya when he tries to summon Hyourinmaru. It’s not until Yamamoto calls a late night emergency meeting that it all comes to a head. After almost everyone else has gathered, Yamamoto’s vice-captain Sasakibe shows up and collapses from cardiac arrest, but there’s still no sign of Yamamoto himself. Instead, a new figure appears, and he claims that Yamamoto isn’t coming.
Komamura immediately tries to get this person to say what he did to Yamamoto, and when there’s no answer, Komamura attacks. He even initiates ban kai, but to everyone’s surprise, his giant attacks him instead of the new enemy. Komamura is barely able to dodge, and he then has to fight the human form of his own Zanpakutou. This leads to his defeat, and when the other Shinigami try to release their own swords, none are successful. The new figure explains that he’s freed their Zanpakutou from them, and to make matters worse, some of those Zanpakutou are already wreaking havoc all over Soul Society. The Shinigami are powerless and can only watch as each of their respective Zanpakutou join the person who introduces himself as Muramasa. He then declares that the rule of Shinigami over the Zanpakutou is over and that from now on, the Zanpakutou will rule over the Shinigami.
The new ending song opens up sounding very similar to the current opening song, but the actual song is quite different, and I didn’t really care for it. At least the new animation is pretty colorful and shows off all the new characters with their respective Shinigami.
As for the episode itself, it turned out to be a good start to the new arc. I’ve set my expectations rather low, but just the fact that they’re focusing on Shinigami and their respective Zanpakutou already makes this much more interesting than a bunch of vampires or a bratty little girl. And this episode was particularly good because it had a battle between Renji and Byakuya, some cute Hitsugaya and Rangiku moments, and some fairly nice animation quality for the rest of the episode.
I did think that the new villain Muramasa’s character design looked kind of silly, and I don’t see him as really threatening yet since my initial impression was based on how he’s voiced by Nakamura Yuuichi, which immediately reminded me of Alto from Macross Frontier. None of the zanpakutou’s physical forms are cooler looking than Zangetsu either, but these are all pretty minor complaints. What’s important is that the new arc is off to a promising start, and I’m already wondering what happened to Yamamoto and where the Muramasa got his own sword. Those two things could even be connected if, when he said that the Zanpakutou will rule over the Shinigami, Muramasa meant that he’s able to turn Shinigami into swords or something. In any case, I’m keeping my fingers crossed for a good arc (there was no preview this time for next week though), and maybe they can get through it without Ichigo needing to come save the day.