「Marching Out the Zombies」
Bleach: Sennen Kessen-hen – Ketsubetsu-tan’s grand return kicks off with Ichigo and his friends trying to figure out the best way to reconnect with Ishida. But all of this will have to wait as Giselle and Mayuri duke it out with the undead douchebags they have now recruited to fight one another.
This episode was quite a treat when it came to returning characters. Although the beginning scenes had Ichigo’s friends coach him about managing his complicated feelings towards Ishida’s Sternritter affiliation, Urahara’s arrival gives us an opportunity to check up on some sorely missed characters. I loved seeing all the vizards once again, and the bickering about Lisa seeing a rift in the wall as kinky got me good.
Although it was sadly a small snippet of the episode, my most anticipated moment was seeing Yoruichi once again. I wish there were some extra scenes with her, and I know that people were missing one where she swipes her hand through Orihime’s cleavage. Hopefully, there’ll be more of her in this season since I miss seeing Yoruichi in action and am hotly anticipating any (and I mean ANY) scene where even a fraction of her face is in the frame.
THE SOUL SOCIETY’S AZEALIA BANKS
The Giselle fight has been interesting so far because there are at least two instances where they pick her opponents very meticulously with Yumichika, Ikkaku, and Mayuri. With Yumichika in particular, he has the notable distinction of being the guy who has to fight all of the queer-coded antagonists, almost as a kind of hall pass for Kubo to make gender-fluid or gender-non-conforming villains.
In the past, Charlotte was the most obvious opponent for Yumichika given his theatrics and flair. Because he really put Yumichika’s beauty standards to the test, it was the first fight where I was thinking that Yumichika’s ambiguous preferences make him the only person who could feasibly get away with fighting queer-coded antagonists without the fights looking mean-spirited. I mean, Yumichika’s defensiveness about the concept of beauty and Charlotte’s laxness with being seen as the most beautiful princess in all of creation made the bedazzled arrancar the ultimate foe for Yumichika to go up against.
You may argue that Yumichika merely values beauty and vanity, and doesn’t tie any of that to romance. But while the story encourages you to see him as an authority on male beauty, he’s also attached to the hip with his long-time friend Ikkaku to the point where they share a Bert and Ernie dynamic with each other. He also has a disdain for pretty women because they encroach on his own expression of beauty, and so much of his bio reads like he’s meant to be way more than just a time capsule into the metrosexuality of the 2000s.
All of this is to say that when I found out that Yumichika misgendered Giselle, I immediately knew that he’d be the first and only person to do so. At the very least, Ikkaku managed to not lean into Yumichika’s hate. But Yumichika always had that toxic Barb energy to him, especially during the Charlotte fight where only he is allowed to transcend gender expression in the name of beauty. If you’re a villain who embraces femininity through your fashion and/or mindset, you are automatically encroaching on Yumichika’s territory and are now going to have your identity policed by the self-proclaimed most beautiful Soul Reaper in the Seireitei.
Before I watched this episode, I knew I wanted to write about how Luppi helped me come out to myself as bi back in high school to help give my perspective on the series. I figured it’d help set in stone that I’m doing my best to be careful about discussing both Yumichika and Giselle with consideration. Yumichika was never the kind of character to be an author mouthpiece with how spiteful and petty he was towards others. His primadonna mindset made him out to be someone who would talk bad about everyone around him, and his terrible attitude towards Giselle is just one of many Instagram essays he has on draft for his checklist of rivals.
Likewise, Kubo doesn’t make Giselle’s femininity the only character trait she has, so it’s been a delight to see just how much she revels in her necromancy, abuse of Bambietta, and disregard for human life. It makes it all the more compelling to see how she reacts to Mayuri given how his notoriety for being a complete monster makes him a more suitable equal for Giselle than any of the Squad 11 folks. It definitely makes sense for Mayuri’s interest to be piqued with Giselle since they’re both being equally unconcerned with both the people they manipulate and the people they work with
THEY’RE COMING TO GET YOU, BAMBIETTA
I spoke too soon with all the arrancar I mentioned. Here I was thinking that I’d only be mentioning Luppi to establish my bi identity only for him to show up again as one of Mayuri’s reanimated allies. It’s also nice to see Cirucci and Dordoni here as well since I remember seeing them get defeated in the old Adult Swim days. It’s good to see they both are demanding vengeance and have their sentience back to remember how their life was before being reanimated.
And Charlotte’s here too, so I’ve already established how significant he was towards Yumichika’s development. It’s great because here I was thinking Yumichika was going to get a pat on the back for telling Gigi off only for Charlotte to immediately hone in on Yumichika as the fugly guy he was killed by. While my theory on Yumichika being the guy who fights queer-coded antagonists is merely speculation, Charlotte was used primarily for this as he feels compelled to be the one to fight Giselle and hit Bambietta with the Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik.
But none of this will be as electrifying as the next episode where we see that Hitsugaya became one of the reanimated zombies that Giselle summoned. It was a major shocker to see Gremmy killing him, but it also makes the next episode something to really look forward to knowing that they’ll have to find some way to win against Hitsugaya without destroying his body in the next fight.
I’d also like to apologize to those who got into Dark Gathering, because I’ve gotten so busy that I had to choose between only keeping coverage of one show this season if I wanted to complete different projects or IRL happenings. I’m sorry again for this since I had a pretty good time watching it.