「Rages at Ringside」

The latest Bleach: Sennen Kessen-hen – Ketsubetsu-tan has Vince’s booking written all over it (Either of the Vince’s) as Mask is given the push to mow through Kensei and Rose. But as with mainstream American wrestling, there’s always a bigger, badder dude on the horizon as Renji shows off his new and improved Zabimaru to bury Mask.


It wasn’t the best seeing some of the big name Vizards be jobbers for Mask to take out, considering how he’s not exactly the best the Sternritters have to offer. I can understand Kensei having a hard time because he’s a big guy whose main strength is how intense his punches are. With wrestling, scripting is more important than strength considering how many classic matches thrive off of watching shorter or skinnier wrestlers outmaneuver 7-foot beef machines.

But it does blow to see Rose get his big moment to whip out Kinshara Butodan completely derailed by the push to make Mask an intimidating foe. It’s the same issue with Shinji having to job for Bambietta where you have these really cool abilities that should be mind-blowingly strong only to be rendered obsolete because the Quincies got a random power boost or magically have the one ability that makes quick work out of some of the strongest guys in the Soul Society. Where all it took for Rose to keel over was Mask being the one dude who could rupture his eardrums and repair them in time for the next battle.


It makes it even more of a copout that the one to kill Mask was Renji when all of the stars aligned in favor of his new power-ups. As soon as Renji reveals Souou Zabimaru, it’s conveniently the one moment where Mask can’t keep his composure, kills all of the James clones who could patch him up, and suddenly becomes too angry to focus on Renji’s fatal moves. All of the goalposts need to be dramatically shifted just to get Mask in a scenario where he could be feasibly killed by Renji.

The timing is also suspicious given that it’s an opportunity for Renji to show off his new toy as it’s revealed that he hadn’t quite gotten to know Zabimaru as much as he thought he did. And through his newfound connection with his Bankai, suddenly Zabimaru has all of the right tools to be a beast that could surpass what the Vizards could do. The funny thing is that killing Mask is almost a guarantee that Zabimaru will be outclassed once again, given how Bleach’s one-sided Bankai fights guarantee that the same tricks won’t work again without a power-up or a second Soul Reaper to save their bacon.


  1. I must admit that Bleach is not the anime I look forward to weekly. I see its there and think I can wait a few days. While the animation is the best it has been I must have lost something in the wait as the whole wrestler taking out every one but Renji just felt as, as you said, suspiciously timed. Give him someone stronger to fight and have the other two beat the wrestler. That would have been more satisfying to me.

  2. One of the downsides of the TYBW arc is that it doesn’t give the antagonists time to be developed as full characters with their own character arcs, which is what Hueco Mundo did. You could also say that’s what caused the Hueco Mundo arc to just slog on for years.


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