We’re in the final stretch of it all now. If Bleach ended with this arc I would have probably rated it a lot higher than I currently do. Like many though, I still have hope that Kubo makes some serious improvements to the final arc. A lot of the issues people had with the Thousand Year Blood War arc was that the fights were chaotic, it felt very rushed and the art had lowered in quality. But that’s for a future time, when we start talking about the new episodes. Today we’re still talking about the original Bleach anime and the clash with Aizen. There’s a handful of episodes to talk about, but they cover a lot of stuff so let’s jump right into it.
Ichigo finally hurts Aizen with a Getsuga. Aizen then reveals the Hogyoku to be embedded in his own body, quickly healing the wound dealt to him. He then goes on his famous rant about how everything in ichigo’s life that led up to this moment has been according to keikaku. He planned every fight, every encounter and every bit of growth from the moment Ichigo was born, because of course he did. He is about to reveal Ichigo’s parents’ past when none other than Kurosaki Isshin appears to shut him up. Isshin and Ichigo have a quick heart to heart before jumping back into action. Ichigo faces Gin, while Isshin steps up to fight Aizen. It’s unclear at this point in time if Isshin has seen Aizen’s shikai but looking at the fight that’s happening so far, it’s possible he hasn’t. Maybe there’s a chance still.
Ichigo and Gin talk, and Ichigo is somewhat confused by Gin’s lack of having a heart. To put it in his words, he can somewhat sense what people are thinking when they’re fighting him, but Gin is the exception. I wonder what that means? The irony of Gin calling someone creepy definitely isn’t lost on Ichigo. Gin’s a talkative fellow. I wish his character had gotten more screen time up until this point. His sword can extend up to thirteen kilometers in its bankai. Did no one tell Gin that it’s not the size that matters, but it’s what you do with it? Then again, if what you do with it is to cut cities in half, then maybe it doesn’t matter. Ichigo figures out the dangers behind Gin’s bankai very quickly while Matsumoto is waking up in the background. While Ichigo and Gin are fighting, Aizen is busy making sweet love to the Hogyoku as Isshin watches on. I do love Gin’s fighting style here, he’s very cunning and does a lot of pretending to attack to make Ichigo wary and jump back without having to put in any effort.
Ichigo gets pushed into where Aizen and Isshin are fighting and things get hectic until the man of the hour, inventor of the Hogyoku, resident sandal-wearer: Urahara Kisuke finally shows his face. Things are really getting serious now and we’re in the endgame. Urahara uses Kido as well as some tricks he developed to put Aizen on the defensive, but unfortunately it doesn’t do any real damage. He then works with Isshin to lock Aizen in place as Yoruichi pummels him into the ground with special armor. Unfortunately it doesn’t do any real damage. Starting to see the problem with this arc? At this point Aizen has transformed into a pure white looking creature. Not quite a hollow, just weirdly white and hairless.
Gin and Ichigo have a heart to heart but Gin is disappointed by the fact that Ichigo doesn’t have a better mental fortitude. Matsumoto is on her way to the battlefield to deal with Gin. As she’s headed there, the fight with Aizen continues and he’s slowly being hit more and more by our trio of fighters. The craziest thing is that we see Isshin release a Getsuga. Like father, like son, I suppose. It cracks Aizen’s shell and he’s just goop on the inside. Aizen defeats everyone and transforms. He now has long hair. Man, if I could transform and regrow some of my hair I’d probably fuse with the Hogyoku too. Anyway, Isshin brings Ichigo with him to Karakura town and to help him train on the way there. Ichigo fights a fusion of his inner hollow and Tensa Zangetsu, a younger version of his Zanpakuto that’s there when he enters his meditative state while in bankai. They don’t want to teach him the Final Getsuga, but Ichigo is persistent.
Meanwhile Gin and Aizen have made it to the real Karakura, where some of Ichigo’s friends are waking up. They get stuck in a horror movie with Aizen slowly chasing them through the streets of Karakura while Gin goes off to deal with Matsumoto Rangiku, who also made her way there. Gin “kills” her and Aizen notes he can’t sense her presence. While they’re chasing Ichigo’s friends, Gin tells Aizen that he’ll handle it and puts his hand on Kyoka Suigetsu. He reveals that it took him decades to find out that this was the only way to counter the full hypnosis, as he thrusts his blade through Aizen’s chest. He leaves a small part of his sword in Aizen’s heart and expands it to blow up his chest. Aizen is about to heal up when Gin grabs the Hogyoku and runs away as fast as he can. Unfortunately, Aizen saw Gin’s betrayal coming and he was just curious what he was going to do. He reforms around the Hogyoku and kills Gin. It is now revealed to us that Gin once saw a group of Aizen’s thugs beat up Rangiku and on that day decided to kill Aizen. He spent all these years trying to find a way to do so effectively, only for his sacrifice to not matter at all in the end. Although you could say he saved Ichigo’s friends and Rangiku, is that really worth all those years of killing innocents? Gin becomes another name on the long list of characters underused. My problem with Bleach’s later story deepened a lot in this arc and it’s unfortunate really.
Gin’s sacrifice bought Ichigo enough time to finish his business with Tensa Zangetsu and he appears in a new form with his unconscious dad slung over his shoulder. His sword seems to be fused with his hand through a glove and he looks older. He did spend the equivalent of two months there, and he’s a teenager. They can grow up quickly sometimes, especially under extreme stress like this. After making sure everyone is okay, and letting Gin die in peace, he takes Aizen to the outskirts of town to finish their fight. Tatsuki remarks that Ichigo has no spirit pressure at all, which is strange to her because Aizen’s is so overwhelming. Gin notes that Ichigo’s eyes have way more power in them.
Ichigo successfully dealt with Tensa Zangetsu. The thing Tensa Zangetsu wanted to protect all along was Ichigo. These inner arcs get a bit confusing to me in hindsight but I’ll talk about it later. Ichigo gets impaled by his sword but it doesn’t hurt. This is how he unlocks the final Getsuga Tensho, at the cost of losing his powers after this fight. He is now getsuga himself and he has black hair. He’s finally embracing his inner emo. Both Aizen and Ichigo are now at the top of their respective evolutions. Aizen still can’t sense Ichigo’s power though, and it’s not because Ichigo is weak. That leaves only one reason, right? Exactly, Ichigo’s power is so incredibly high that Aizen at his very peak is too weak to sense Ichigo’s power. This definitely pisses him off. And just like that Aizen ends. Not with a bang, but with one sad silent slash. Three hundred and ten episodes worth of chasing after this one powerful villain that was prepared for every single eventuality and in the end he can’t match up to one teenage boy.
Aizen still stands up and recovers from his wounds as Ichigo is in the process of losing his powers. It turns out I lied a few sentences ago. It wasn’t Ichigo who defeated Aizen. He only set the stage. It turns out Urahara Kisuke set a trap from the very start. Because Ichigo weakened Aizen’s powers, the trap he set could do its work. The Hogyoku no longer recognizes Aizen as his master. And now, with Aizen sealed by Urahara’s trap, it’s truly over. Don’t mess with this Dagashi shop owner unless you want to be sealed for eternity. Everyone rejoices and we go into one final episode for this arc.
Seventh seat Yamada finally getting some respect for the things he’s been through is pretty big. No one seems to be getting out of this fight well. Hiyori is stable but unconscious. Kurotsuchi still has no chill, but his squad mates are more ballsy now. Urahara mentions Aizen is going to be judged by Central 46. It does seem interesting to me that there’s some sort of Trias Politica going on throughout Soul Society’s history and I’d love to learn more about it.
As all of Ichigo’s friends are gathering around him, he collapses. We cut to Aizen Sosuke in his favorite chair. He absolutely loves his chair. He’s still a dickhead even after being restrained. He hasn’t lost any of his power after all and is still immortal. He could be a threat until the end of time. But for now, he’s locked in a prison. The fact that Hinamori, Hiyori, the Captain Commander and all of the captains came out of this fight alive is kind of weird. But that’s in the past. I am sad about Gin’s story. Mainly because I feel bad for Rangiku. But there we have it. Aizen is defeated, the world is saved and Ichigo loses his powers. It’s time to move on to the final arc of Bleach: The fullbringer arc. In my opinion the worst arc in the series, but we have to get through it either way. It’ll probably be 2 or 3 weeks before I get to recapping it since I don’t really want to spend too much time on it at once. Yeah, it’s that bad. But what do you think of Bleach so far? Let me know in the comments down below and as always; thanks for reading!