Bleach Recap #6: Storming Las Noches

When people talk about Bleach, they often mention the Hueco Mundo arc as the point where the story started slipping in quality. I have to say that although I am still definitely enjoying myself watching this, it’s not nearly as cool as the Soul Society arc or even the early Arrancar Invasion where the Visoreds and the Espada were being introduced. The Privaron Espada in this arc feels like filler and although this next bit only becomes obvious with hindsight; Nel’s character feels like it’s been wasted. That will become a theme for Bleach, where characters end up feeling like they didn’t live up to their potential. But let’s not dive straight into that, and start by going through the fights in this arc one by one. Besides fights, there’s not a lot that happens so I’m going to talk about them one by one, instead of chronologically since the anime jumps from fight to fight regularly. Today we’ll be covering up until episode 167, the last episode before a lengthy filler arc.

Don Bloodsplattery

After the gang splits up, Nel follows Ichigo down one corridor, the two of them quickly encountering Don Perdoni. He seems like a goofy character but ends up revealing he’s a fairly powerful opponent. It turns out all the arrancar with three numbers are called Privaron Espada. They used to be Espada before they were dethroned. I don’t care much for these characters and these fights, they feel like filler to me. Ichigo and Perdoni fight, the latter driving Ichigo all the way to his limit and having to use his hollow form here, even though he wants to save it for the Espada. Nel shows there’s more to her than meets the eye by reflecting Perdoni’s Cero. After defeating Perdoni they heal him up a little bit and he drives them away by attacking them again. It’s then revealed that he did so since the execution squad is about to show up, sent by Szayelapporo. He is presumed dead after this fight.

Ishida is joined by Pesche, who is looking for Nel but fails to find her. The two end up fighting against another Privaron Espada; Cirucci Sanderwicci. I feel like her name is supposed to translate to Thunder Witch, but I can’t help but see it as sandwich and it makes it hard to take her seriously. This fight allows Ishida to show off his Seele Schneider, his bladed weapon made of vibrating reishi. He defeats Cirucci who is also found by the execution squad shortly afterwards. Ishida moves on. 

The dream team

Sado is off fighting Gantenbainne Mosqueda, a boxing type Privaron Espada with an afro. The two exchange blows and Sado shows off his newfound powers. It turns out the arm he’s been using all this time was a hollow power and it was a defensive power. His other arm grows hollow armor too and with his new el diablo arm he defeats Gantenbainne with ease, leaving a skull shaped crack in the walls behind him. Moments after he wins the fight, Nnoitora shows up and defeats Sado in one hit after he fails to do any damage with his own punch.

I think this might be the only opponent that Sado ever defeats of note.

While all of this is happening, Rukia has been approached by the ninth Espada, Aaroniero. Aaroniero is two Hollow skulls in a test tube masquerading as a person. They reveal to actually be Shiba Kaien, Rukia’s old Lieutenant and the man she had to kill when a Hollow had taken over his body. Rukia struggles but after she slowly figures out that Shiba Kaien’s heart’s not in the creature, but with her instead, she deals a fatal blow. The fight ends in a tie and it’s reported to the other espada that both Aaroniero and Kuchiki Rukia have died. This information quickly gets relayed to the rest of the party, who are all in disbelief.

It’s definitely not an Espada pretending to be Kaien

Ishida and Pesche join up with Renji and Dondochakka, who are struggling against the eight Espada; Szayelaporro Granz. Szayelaporro is able to cancel out Renji’s bankai as well as some of Ishida’s abilities. The two devise a strategy and after Renji distracts the espade enough, Ishida attacks with a large explosion and the two in. Except that’s not how it goes. Szayelaporro is definitely hurt from the attack but after absorbing one of his subordinates he fully recovers. Fortunately, he’s a very vain person and goes away to change into new clothes, leaving Renji and Ishida time to recover.

It’s everyone’s favorite sad boy! I never understood the hype around Ulquiorra.

Throughout all of this, Ichigo has gotten entangled with two of the Espada. He first encounters Ulquiorra who reveals his responsibility in kidnapping Orihime. Ichigo and Ulquiorra clash with Ulquiorra winning with ease. Ichigo is shocked when Ulquiorra reveals to be the fourth Espada, meaning there’s three stronger Espada out there. While this is going on, Grimmjow kidnaps Orihime and brings her to Ichigo to heal him, so that the two can fight on even ground. Ulquiorra catches wind and tries to interrupt it, but Grimmjow locks him up in a special prison that might take him some time to get out of. When Ichigo is fully healed he starts his fight with Grimmjow.

We’re not quite done with this scumbag yet

And that brings me right back to the start of this post, where I talked about characters’ potential being wasted. I personally think that Orihime’s character is done dirty in this arc. Not only does she go with Ulquiorra to Hueco Mundo, which seems like the dumbest decision she could possibly make. His threat to attack her friends should hold no weight since Aizen wants to do that anyway, not to mention there’s no chance Orihime didn’t consider Ichigo would charge straight into Hueco Mundo to come rescue her. While in Hueco Mundo she almost refuses to heal Ichigo so Grimmjow can fight him. What’s the alternative? He just dies without a fight? Once he’s healed she’s scared of his masked form, even though at this point she should very much be aware of the Visored’s existence to an extent. She should understand that Ichigo training with Shinji and him having a mask now are probably linked. It just feels like she went from an interesting character with potential and amazing powers to a pure damsel in distress with nothing going for her. It’s a real shame. 

Ichigo Vs. Grimmjow is an iconic Bleach fight

Eventually she does get a second wind and tells Ichigo to survive, which reinvigorates him. He uses this newfound vigor to deal a strong blow to Grimmjow. We get a little bit of Hollow lore. Gillian are formed through cannibalism and if a particularly powerful Gillian appears with a sense of self, they consume other Gillian to become an Adjuchas. Being an Adjuchas puts you at risk of regression, so you have to keep consuming. This is arguably the coolest bit of information from this arc. It really puts into perspective the kind of mentality that hollows need to survive in Hueco Mundo. They never really had the chance to be civil. Grimmjow joins a gang of hollows striving to be Vasto Lords, which we saw fight against Ichigo and his gang back in Karakura. And with a final clash, Grimmjow giving it his all, the fight ends with Ichigo the winner. Orihime is saved and Grimmjow is left on the ground, unconscious or dead. We move into a filler arc after this that I won’t cover. I hope this clears up the early Hueco Mundo stuff for everyone, tune in next week for the continuation! Thanks for reading.

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