OP: 「Scar」 by Kitani Tatsuya
Episode 02 of the latest Bleach throws Ichigo at the forefront of a counterattack against the Quincy’s brutal genocide of Hueco Mundo’s hollows and Arrancar. But as Ichigo puts it upon himself to intervene and help fight off any active forces aiming to exterminate his former enemies, Uryuu finds himself unable to commit to joining Ichigo on his trip.
THEY FRIEGAN GOT LUDAAS
The tonal shift in this arc is fascinating because of how surreal it is to see Bleach venture into grittier territory. We started off with a slaughter across the Soul Society and now we’re watching arrancar being lined up to be brutally executed by letter J of the Sternritter crew, Quilge Opie. It was also impressive to see the cut where they synched up the funeral pyre at the Soul Society with Yuzu turning the burner on for cinematic effect.
What caught my curiosity, however, is the dynamic that Ichigo and Uryuu might potentially have in this arc. Ichigo has an easy time empathizing with Uryuu’s disinterest in protecting hollows and Arrancar, especially as a Quincy. But knowing that the current folks causing widespread slaughter across the Soul Society and Hueco Mundo are a part of a Quincy army, it makes for a dicey situation for Uryuu to chip in on.
He seems to have a tricky time internalizing that fellow Quincy would be in direct conflict with people that Ichigo has aligned himself with, even with Ichigo trying to help him feel less conflicted about distancing himself from what Ichigo’s current objective would be. At the same time, he looked pretty shaken when Ebern arrived for someone who wasn’t Ichigo. I’d imagine that there’s enough on Uryuu’s mind to make him feel all the more troubled by whether he can remain side-by-side with Ichigo or if he would have to consider what would happen if he was pulled aside by the Quincy to fight alongside them.
I HAVE A HARRIBEL FEELING ABOUT THIS
It’s a brutal reminder of the stakes that have been raised since the time skip passed, especially when we wind up revisiting some of our older characters. Unfortunately, many Arrancar that we’d become acquainted with as antagonists find themselves in dire straits.
For the more beloved arrancar, the Tres Bestias composed of Apache, Sun-Sun, and the gorgeous Mila Rose are unable to beat Opie. Likewise, Orihime’s favorite bullies Loly and Menoly were attacked by Opie and hilariously spared because it would’ve made their massive fanbase upset if they were written off for good.
Now if you want some real injustice, they capture Tier Harribel and they have her imprisoned in a compromising position like Saber in Unlimited Blade Works. Even worse is that they bring back Nel, Pesche, and Dondachakka. Those three were one of the main motivators behind me falling off of watch Bleach back then and started reading ahead to escape the voices. I understand what Tim Curry must have felt when he read that the Scooby Doo movie would feature Scrappy. I can tolerate Nel in doses, but I cannot do Pesche and Dondachakka.
Dondachakka was captured because Pesche was too much of a filthy coward to save him, which makes sense because he sucks just as much as his friend does. I don’t think I can keep my wits if Pesche and Dondachakka are prominent fixtures in this arc. It’s impressive how, just by shouting and screaming at each other and making that their preferred method of communication, they manage to be worse than some of the more annoying Bleach characters out there. There are despicable anime villains who have done horrible things that I would excuse more easily than the cacophony that came from those two monsters back in the Hueco Mundo arc.
On a more sympathetic note, it does add to the grim atmosphere that we are seeing many of the returning characters in terrible shape because they were brought in to be beaten down by the newer batch of antagonists. I remember it being a common occurrence with Bleach where they go the pro wrestling route of introducing new villains by having them wipe the floor with cast members who have an easy time jobbing for the crowd. But with the blood war raging on, I’d expect to see more extreme examples of characters spending their grand comeback being beaten to a pulp.
ED2: 「最果て」 (Saihate) by SennaRin