What’s more lethal than one Kenpachi? Two of them! This week’s Bleach makes it clear that our Squad 4 Captain has far more to her than meets the eye as she’s revealed to be as much of a ruthless killer as Zaraki, but has kept herself restrained in times of peace.
PURIFY YOURSELF IN THE WATERS OF LAKE MINNETONKA
Admittedly, Ichigo’s section isn’t exactly as juicy as some of the food he got to eat with Renji this week. It was great to see more of Kirio since she’s a very interesting character with a long, storied history with some of the vizard dudes in the Soul Society. But whereas her grand debut had told us shades of her past, we get a better sense of her abilities and understand that her chunkiness is similar to Choji from Naruto’s ability to convert spiritual pressure into body fat.
But much of Kirio’s presence lends itself to the hierarchy of the Soul King’s palace. Tenjirou and Kirio are considered the first two places Ichigo has to hit up because the former captain heals his wounds while the latter helps him regain his spiritual pressure. It was interesting how Tenjirou had realized that his powers were getting on the rustier side after clocking Ichigo and Renji, but I can see that being yet another way to make Ichigo look like he’s just THAT good.
Also, Renji and Kon are tagging along the way, but they mostly serve to lighten the mood for an already mellow experience. While Nimaiya is going to prove to be a captain who puts Ichigo to the test, Kirio’s main thing was catching the guys off-guard when they realized the chubby lady was more conventionally attractive than they thought. A bit underwhelming, but it’s a good thing that it shares an episode with the Kenpachi fight.
AN UNSTOPPABLE FORCE MEETS AN IMMOVABLE OBJECT
I really missed Nanao, but her screen presence takes a backseat for the time being because Shunsui’s first act as Old Man Yama’s successor is enlisting Zaraki to learn enough new skills to strike fear into Yhwach. What everyone secretly realizes about this, however, is that the best way Zaraki can learn new skills is to be locked into a fight to the death with Captain Unohana.
The reveal that Unohana was one of the OG cold-blooded killers in the Soul Society did surprise me. She came off as so calm and unassuming that I didn’t expect her of all people to be selected to be the reason Zaraki has the brutal, crazy reputation he has. To be honest, it feels like Kubo pulled this reveal out of his rear given how there’s little to no build-up towards Unohana being a cold-blooded killing machine before she settled down as a healer.
It’s a shame that Unohana is being used as a tool to develop Zaraki instead of being utilized as a character who exists outside of his growth. Where she serves to challenge Zaraki’s sudden hero worship of Unohana’s strength, and toughen him back up to the fearsome and terrifying Soul Reaper everyone dreads to fight. While we only get glimpses of Unohana’s intimidating side through more comedic scenes, we haven’t gotten substantial details about Unohana until this fight where she pulls a 180 and becomes an entirely different character.
It’s a shame, especially since I really enjoy Squad 4 as the slagged-upon healer group who proves their worth by being the squad that keeps the Soul Reapers from succumbing to basic injuries. But even with some of the cool shadowy moments in the Unohana vs. Kenpachi duel, it feels like a waste that we didn’t get much time with Unohana as a fighter before they started throwing death flags her way.
I wouldn’t say that the Unohana reveal came out of nowhere, there have been quite a few moments of other captains being afraid of her when lets her calm demeanour slip, mostly because her reputation proceeds her
I have looked forward to Kenpachi Unohana being animated for a long time and am glad with the atmosphere chosen for their fight. If nothing else, this season of BLEACH have elevated their animation level and am looking forward to the rest of the arc.