Bleach – 350, 351, 352
「死神代行を殺した男！？動き出す月島 」 (Shinigami daikou o koroshita otoko!? Ugokidasu Tsukishima)
“The Man Who Killed A Shinigami Substitute?! Tsukishima Makes His Move”
Inoue confronts Tsukishima, and she tries to decide on her next action. Tsukishima suddenly appears behind her however and slashes through her torso with his sword. As Ichigo and Chad arrive, she realizes there is no wound, and tells them she had simply met with a friend. Confused, Inoue says everything is fine and privately wonders why she thought Tsukishima as a friend.
Ichigo and Chad leave, and Chad tells him not to worry about it, planning to discuss things in private with Inoue later. Ichigo senses something is going on however, and visits Ginjou. Ginjou reveals that it was probably Tsukishima involved, a fullbringer and their former leader. Several of their members had succeeded in transferring their powers to a substitute shinigami, but then Tsukishima had decided to turn on them and kill the shinigami and several of the fullbringers before disappearing. Ginjou shows Ichigo the substitute shinigami badge and tells him that Tsukishima probably wants to prevent them from contacting Ichigo.
Ichigo then visits his boss Ikumi telling her that he will be taking time off from work. Ikumi tells him to trust her and tell her what’s wrong, but he simply thanks her and leaves. On his way home, Ichigo sees his dad meeting with Urahara, and he is reminded again of how little he really knows about Urahara.
Inoue privately tells Chad she was cut, but found no wound and had suddenly felt that Tsukishima was her friend. Elsewhere, Tsukishima states that no further action is needed concerning Inoue, and plots his next move.
I don’t usually comment on the Bleach omakes, but they have always been quirky with plenty of tongue-in-cheek humor; this one involving some cute art, Urahara, and cats is probably one of my favorites so far.
「フルブリング、忌み嫌われた力！ 」 (Furuburingu, imikirawa reta chikara!)
“Fullbring, The Detested Power!”
Ginjou explains to Ichigo that he is the only one who must develop his fullbring with his will, since they developed their powers naturally. Ichigo wishes to rack up his training in order to protect his friends, and asks to fight one of the Xcution. Both Jackie and Giriko are against it however because of risks of forcing out fullbring. Jackie criticizes Ichigo’s ego before storming off, and Ginjou agrees, deciding to take things one step at a time. Riruka then sends Ichigo into a birdcage where he faces off against Mr. Pork and Mr. Chicken.
Giriko goes outside and attempts to convince Jackie to return. A short flashback is shown of her bloody past, and Jackie states that she can’t like her powers.
In his mansion, Tsukishima asks Shishigawara to tail Chad, who has been contemplating Tsukishima’s power, wondering if he has the ability to manipulate memories. He senses someone following him however, and begins to run. The Xcution feel the change in his reiatsu, but refuse to let Ichigo out until he defeats his opponents. The timer on Ginjou’s powers runs out again and Mr. Pork and Mr. Chicken transform into monstrous beasts. Ichigo’s initial attacks fail to damage them, but by charging his reiatsu he is able to knock them out. Chad then calls, letting him know that he was fine, and a relieved Ichigo pushes forward with his training. He is sent into a fish tank this time and fights Jackie, who reveals her fullbring as “Dirty Boots”.
「月島、強襲！妨害された修行 」 (Tsukishima, kyoushuu! Bōgai sareta shugyou)
“Tsukishima Attacks! The Training Has Been Thwarted”
Jackie and Ichigo battle it out. He is unable to land a hit however and Jackie holds the upper hand. As the dirt begins to turn to mud, Jackie’s “Dirty Boots” become stronger and Ichigo is beaten back. She berates him for being ineffective and predictable, but Ichigo reveals that he has adapted, and counterattacks, earning Jackie’s respect. However, Ichigo’s fullbring suddenly goes out of control. Though Jackie wants to stop the training, Ichigo insists that they keep fighting.
Chad speaks with Ginjou about Tsukishima’s ability, but Ginjou says that he was unaware that Tsukishima’s sword had special abilities. Tsukishima himself suddenly cuts down the door to their hideout. Ginjou confronts him, but Tsukishima cuts open the tank that Ichigo and Jackie are training in. A large amount of reiatsu pours out, and Ichigo reveals himself cloaked in a black robe.
The plot thickens on several different fronts, with multiple layers of conspiracies or conspiracy theories. And poor Ichigo is of course caught in the middle of it all. Inoue ends up as the next victim of the attacks, but this time it’s even more troubling since there’s no physical injury, but mental manipulation instead going on. Again, hiding things from Ichigo is a bad idea, especially since he’s smart enough to know that something is wrong, but instead of confronting his friends he begins to trust the fullbringers more, shedding some of the prudence he had in the beginning. Xcution hasn’t been completely forthcoming and Ginjou’s attempts at planting seeds of doubt in Ichigo’s mind against Urahara are pretty sketchy too. Tsukishima’s motives aren’t clear at this point either, but more and more he’s starting to feel like a second Aizen, especially with the “know it all”, “planned everything out” look he always has on his face.
The plot aside though, there’s some pretty good battles throughout these episodes, even if they are only training fights. I thought it was especially interesting how Ichigo bruought up the fact that his training has always involved intense life or death battles. However, Jackie’s criticism that Ichigo doesn’t take the risk to his own life into account was also spot on, and that if he died while training then all was meaningless. It is also true that Ichigo has a bit of a hero complex and always insists on being involved, at whatever cost. On the other hand though, his resolve and courage is a part of what makes him a slick protagonist.
The anime is also bringing up some of the character development earlier than Kubo did in the manga, which I actually think is better since there needs to be some time to flesh out personalities and backstories. Cramming everything into a flashback right before a character dies just isn’t a very effective way to do things. Here we get some hints to Jackie’s past, and some anime-specific stuff are added before she fights with Ichigo; for example, if I recall correctly, there was no birdcage fight in the manga (nor did Mr. Chicken show up). There are several other minor changes in the adaption, but most of it isn’t a problem.
As for Ichigo’s fight with Jackie, it wasn’t very impressive visually, but at least things are progressing quickly. It’s nice to see Ichigo learning from his past experiences too, and becoming more of a smart fighter rather than just an all out brawler. Unfortunately I don’t really like Jackie’s character (or her fullbring for that matter), and I’ve been somewhat desensitized to sob stories in flashbacks, but it seems her role here will be over soon, as Ichigo has released some crazy fullbring, that also happens to look a lot like his shinigami uniform.