「Everything But the Rain」
Bleach takes Ichigo back to Karakura Town where he must learn the truth behind his lineage in order to seek out Zangetsu. But what he wasn’t prepared for, especially, was getting this information straight out of his father’s mouth.
A FAMILY AFFAIR
It was nice to be able to touch base with a lot of characters we haven’t seen in a while during this episode. I learned quite a bit about Ikumi from “Brave Souls” when I unlocked her as a character and leveled her up to absurd degrees before I deleted the game, so it’s always a delight to see more of the older women in Bleach.
Speaking of the series’ milfier characters, Rangiku has more presence in this episode as one of Isshin’s underlings alongside an adorable chibi Hitsugaya whom she and Isshin playfully bully. As with some of the other older VAs who showed up in Pop Team Epic, it’s a privilege and a delight to hear Romi Park appear in a couple of shows I’ve been watching this season.
But above all else, it’s cool to get some valuable insight into what Isshin was like back when he was a Captain in the Seireitei. He comes off as a highly valued leader and someone who is willing to let his guard down if it means treating his subordinates like good friends. Likewise, he carries the same selflessness that his son would go on to adopt as he puts himself on the line for both some of the rookie Soul Reapers and a young Masaki.
Masaki has a semi-scary resemblance to Orihime with her cute, pouty appearance and selfless dedication to protecting others. I was also a huge fan of her colder side as she outright grabbed that hollow from the back of the head and planted an arrow straight through his head, execution-style.
THE WEDDING PLANNER 2: THE THOUSAND-YEAR BLOOD WAR
At the same time, there were two different conflicts going on behind the scenes as Isshin and Masaki fell in love: Aizen’s Hollowfication experiments and Ryuken hoping to revitalize the Quincies once more.
Aizen was hilarious in this episode because, for all of the planning he had in mind for tinkering with composite hollows, he magically stumbles into the greatest experiment ever by watching a Soul Reaper and a Quincy get together. He wound up playing the long game by betting on their relationship to get far enough that they’d have children, and put all of his money on the possibility that a Soul Reaper/Quincy child could be far greater in power than any composite hollow he had in mind.
It was also a riot because he automatically decides to take credit for Ichigo’s creation because of this. As the guy who created the inciting incident that got Masaki and Isshin together, Aizen really held onto that long enough to gloat to Ichigo about being the matchmaker responsible for getting his parents together. It’s like the guy who says he passed the group assignment because he happened to be in the group where two other people did the work for him.
“Yes, Ichigo, I planned your life,” as if standing by the sidelines and throwing enemies around while his future parents were coincidentally in close proximity counts as being responsible for Ichigo’s birth. By that logic, the Soul Reapers who were killed were also matchmakers because they forced Isshin to fight the hollow.
I wound up talking about Aizen more because Ryuken came off as unusual to me. He’s semi-invested in Masaki’s happiness, but there is a ton of uncomfortability placed on Ryuken’s lap when he’s expected to treat her as a potential mother of the next generation of Quincies. It adds to the complicated nature of Ryuken for him to be constantly wavering between caring for Masaki and being all-in on trying to restore the Quincies out of peer pressure from his elders.
I get why the conflict racks in his head, but constantly switching to his point of view does a bit of a disservice to Masaki. Rather than entirely seeing Masaki as a headstrong, powerful girl who would share Ichigo’s selflessness, you’re seeing her more as a doe-ish cinnamon roll who Ryuken has to protect on the off-chance she mothers his children. We should have a better understanding of who Ryuken is by the next episode, but as a first impression, he has the same kind of dejected angst that his son would later embrace.