「一護VS銀城！代行証の秘密 」 (Ichigo VS Ginjou! Daikousho no himitsu )
“Ichigo vs. Ginjou! The Secret of the Substitute Badge”
「変わりゆく歴史、変わらぬ心 」 (Kawariyuku rekishi, kawaranu kokoro)
“Changing History, Unchanging Heart”
The final phase of the battle rolls in, and all that’s left is for Ichigo to wipe off that smug grin from Ginjou’s face. Ginjou reveals that he can also use Ichigo’s other powers, including Getsuga Tenshou, but he decides to stop the battle and explain that he isn’t Ichigo’s enemy (yeah, right) and that they were both used as pawns of Soul Society. Instead of turning against Soul Society however, Ichiga realizes that Ukitake, and Soul Society wanted him to find out eventually and make his choice then. Both Isshin and Urahara, and even Ishida, know the truth already themselves, however, and I don’t really understand their rationale for not telling Ichigo earlier and letting Ginjou reveal everything to him. However Ichigo decides that he wants power, and that is reason enough. Soul Society really didn’t do anything that terrible to Ichigo, at least not compared to the amount of crap that Ginjou and his crew did. Whatever motive it was for though, thank Ichigo for cutting short the chit chat. He releases his bankai in an epic blast of power that breaks the very dimension containing them, and reveals a new form that’s even cooler than his previous ones. On the other hand, Ginjou turns into some mutant fairy, and I think we all just want to see him dead as soon as possible. Even with that in mind though, their battle is surprisingly shor, and he gets is cut down before he gets to show much of his power, including his supposed hollow abilities.
Ginjou quickly dies without much fanfare — a huge contrast with Tsukishima who is still standing and screaming with a hole through his chest. The aftermath of the battle is spent on closure for the Fullbringers, which was sentimental, but not explained very well. Jackie survives with the loss of her fullbring powers, Riruka recovers at Urahara’s place before secretly leaving, Sushigawara carries off Tsukishima into the sunset, and Yukio goes off on his own way as well. Ichigo pays a visit to the Captain-Commander (where he also meets several of the new captains) and asks to bury Ginjou in the real world as a fellow substitute shinigami. In the end however, Ginjou’s role remains unclear. The fullbringers view him as their savior, and he’s portrayed in a redeeming light after his death; yet I can’t help but remember his desire to subjugate and destroy people, his sadistic and psychotic treatment of Ichigo, and his arrogance and cruelty. Ichigo did not “save” Ginjou in any way, aside from maybe “salvation through death”. Other than that though, their final fight wasn’t terrible, and the way the episode wrapped up this arc was done well. I’ll admit I got chills near the end, and the production in this last episode was great too. Overall however, this arc was quite deficient, and even more so as a finale.
Never did I think the day would come when I could put (END) into a Bleach post. This anime was not very good, the main reason being that it suffered from a severe case of Never-Ending Shounen. The very first arcs were not bad, but things began to go downhill quickly after that. I truly hoped that Kubo would put an end to the story after Aizen’s defeat, but this did not happen and for one reason or another this show continued to crawl forward long after its prime. No doubt Bleach does have its great moments and there are definitely some epic highlights I could point back to; however it has also been chronically plagued by fillers, which in turn have suffered from shoddy writing, poor production quality, and a general lack of appeal. These problems have been extended to the canon material as well, manifesting in a very inconsistent quality and suggesting a production budget that varies wildly from week to week. It came to the point where my standards fell so low that the only thing I hoped for each week was decent animation, no major plotholes, and a good fight to hold my attention. When even that success rate dropped to a substandard level, watching Bleach each week became a huge drag.
Granted, Bleach battles for the most part have been successful in holding the tension and excitement that make things interesting, but the explanations of powers or motives are often ridiculous or completely absent. Cheap plot devices, nonsense character abilities, dull/dragged-out scenes, and illogical developments abound. In addition, the inundation of shounen cliches throughout Bleach quickly grows tiresome, and many things become quite predictable. Unfortunately, the abruptness of this finale is really just begging for a sequel to finish off the final manga arc (which is still ongoing), so I don’t think this is the last we’ll see of the Bleach anime. I’ll leave these brief final impressions here, but if you do plan to continue following Bleach or wish to start, the manga is by far a better choice, even if only for the fact that the latter takes less than 3 minutes per chapter/week instead of 25 for the anime, and that you can avoid the dreaded filler arcs. Whether or not this last arc is animated, I intend to read Bleach until the very end as it does hold a special place for me as one of the shows that got me into anime initially, and also happens to feature some of my all time favorite anime songs. If you also desire a more complete conclusion than was provided in episode 366, chapter 480 of the manga is where to start, but all in all, I find this a very difficult series to recommend to anyone, so a thank you goes out to all of you who’ve been stuck with me for the past two years ＼(￣▽￣)／