「Wrath as a Lightning」
The Soul Society will have to wait on their backup from Ichigo as this latest episode of Bleach tackles the consequences of Ichigo getting trapped in the soul highway. But as he tries to free himself, both the Soul Reapers of the Seireitei and his friends in Hueco Mundo are in for a series of difficult fights.
DO I SOUND LIKE I’M ORDERING A PIZZA?
This episode gave me a different outlook on the Soul Society as helpless without one really tough dude to look up to. I was deeply amused by how the Soul Reapers talked about Ichigo’s reinforcement as if he’s the delivery guy who will definitely curb their munchies with crates full of fast food. Later on, so many of them got pumped up because the spiritual pressure from Yamamoto’s rage-flying gave them enough enthusiasm to want to keep fighting, with or without their Bankai. Maybe Ego from Blue Lock had a point when he was rambling about teams being reliant on a star player because everyone likes to stroke them off.
That doesn’t stop them from trying to guilt-trip Ichigo while he’s trapped in the soul highway. As one last middle finger to Ichigo as he struggles to leave, Akon thought it’d be cool to call Ichigo and broadcast the Department of Research and Development’s destruction so he can be demoralized by the cries and screams of dying Soul Reapers.
They lay on the despair pretty thick in the early parts of the episode as Byakuya struggles against Nodt. Nodt has a ton of potential to be a really neat villain by virtue of the fact that he poisons his foes with fear. Byakuya’s subconscious is battered constantly with violent imagery of Rukia decomposing and flies swarming him as he’s left too stunned to protect himself. Renji was always kinda helpless, so it was an amusing coincidence that the one time he’d reveal his Bankai would’ve been completely negated by Nodt if he didn’t get accosted by the Lucha-inspired Sternritter.
TALK ABOUT OVERKILL
But I really have to give kudos to how intense the gore was with both the decomposition scene and Driscoll’s demise pushing the limits of what the Bleach manga could get away with. Many of this season’s anime have a deep love for cinema and animation as a medium to capture the same heft and gravitas of a live-action film. But with the Thousand Year Blood War, its art has a mixture of washed-out greys and poppy oranges & blues to add a dynamic touch that makes its violence even more visceral. The juxtaposition in Byakuya’s imagination between Rukia’s bright, vibrant smile and the gruesome bleakness of her slack-jawed corpse felt like something out of a 70’s horror film. And Driscoll’s death was only slightly tamer than the face-melting scene from the Baoh OVA, but only by a smidge because of the blurriness from Yamamoto’s fire effects.
Funny how the guy whose nickname is “Overkill” had his face brutally melted off as he was fried to death by Yamamoto’s rage abilities. In fact, this episode had a surprising amount of dark comedy like Kenpachi’s appearance. As he waltzes in with three Sternritters he’d murdered beforehand, he goes into depth explaining how it all turned out. I felt bad because The Question looked kinda cute, but they had a pretty comical end when Kenpachi just up and rips their throat out just as they started rambling about their plans.
I did want to give the episode a ton of credit for giving us a little more detail on who Sasakibe was. It’s a shame that he was killed long after we got to appreciate him as an aspiring pupil for Yamamoto. At the same time, you could tell purely from Yamamoto’s reaction that his relationship with Sasakibe really humanized him. Where he’d been so infuriated by the nickname of Eijisai that he wasn’t interested in confronting it until Sasakibe proudly called him by Eijisai in an admirable sense.
Through his fight with Sasakibe, the second scar he gave him, and the eventual mentorship he’d taken, he found this bond to be significant enough to inspire him to go by Genryusai from that point forward. It makes sense why Yamamoto would use his rage and his thirst for vengeance as a motivator to fight against the other members of the Wandenreich.