Bleach’s first cour is over (episodes 12 + 13)

It’s the end of the year. I hope everyone had their fill of amazing food during Christmas and is ready for the new year. I love the new year because it feels like a new start. I’m well aware that half the things I promise I’ll do better or more off will fall to the wayside by mid-January, but it’s still exciting. Also, I have eight full days off starting on the first of January so I’m hoping to at the very least get a head start on some writing. I have big plans and I’d like to make it a month or two before it all collapses. All that aside, before the year is over we still have two more episodes of Bleach to go over. I’ll write some of my thoughts down here and give a quick opinion on the first cour at the end. Without further ado;

This point in time paved the way for the entire story of Bleach.

How old is Isshin supposed to be here? Seeing that Masaki is still in high school. Should we just continue to ignore the fact that soul reapers are like 10x the age of humans and quincy? Probably for the better. We get a quick glimpse of ol’ hat-and-clogs in the human world bumping into Masaki before the opening theme greets us. Remember how part of the Hollow latched onto Masaki? I would wager good money that’ll be a problem in the near future. To oversimplify Urahara’s long exposition; Isshin has to live in a gigai in the human realm for the rest of Masaki’s life to protect her. Ryuken is understandably unhappy with this, but there is no other choice. Of course Isshin is an absolute chad and has unwavering resolve, so the problem gets solved quickly. This does make Ichigo a mix of quincy, soul reaper, hollow and human. The ending plays before we learn more about Masaki’s death.

This was such a massive reveal in the manga.

It turns out that Masaki should have been fine against Grand Fisher, but she lost because of Yhwach stealing everyone’s power. Basically, Yhwach killed Masaki and Katagiri, both Ichigo and Uryuu’s mothers. I’m starting to think this Yhwach guy is kind of a dick. This brings me to another big issue I’ve had with Bleach for the longest time. Their major villains never have a goal I understand. I’m sure it’s something other people can argue for, and that’s fine, but both Aizen and Yhwach feel like bad guys for the sake of being bad guys. I much prefer more human villains. This is why Pain from Naruto was such a great villain. You could empathize with him and he even got his redemption. I feel like too many shonen villains become psychopaths without redemption. Maybe that’s just the whiplash from finishing God of High School which has a great villain who is very flawed in the way that he’s supposed to be flawed. Either way, we move on to the final episode of this first out of four cours of Bleach.

Professional Douchebag: Yhwach

Ichigo gets picked up and put back in the zanpakuto jail. Time to pick up a new weapon. We jump back to the rest of Soul Society for a training montage. Poor Toshiro finally completed his bankai before getting it stolen. Kensei is going to teach Shuhei to get a Bankai with the help of Mashiro. I love how one of them is a lieutenant and Mashiro is a super lieutenant. Shuhei still cares for Tosen, who is not a great role model. We jump again, this time to squad twelve where Akon looks in on his captain creating a new Zanpakuto. Next jump brings us to Omaeda who tries really hard to not make his little sister cry. He feels a bit sad because Soi Fon didn’t bring him with her for training. Next jump brings us to Komamura speaking to his Clan Elder. There’s a secret technique to learn but he’s undeserving. After jumping around between captains it’s time for Ichigo to say goodbye to Zangetsu. 

The real Zangetsu is here.

So the Asauchi used to make Ichigo’s Zanpakuto is his inner Hollow, which is the White Hollow created by Aizen. His old Zanpakuto wasn’t an Asauchi but a pretender. Who’s that old man? It’s Yhwach. There’s the plot twist of the century. Ichigo’s Soul Reaper powers were actually the slumbering Yhwach. Why did nobody notice this? Why did no one question his lack of real Zanpakuto? There are so many question marks but at the very least I feel like the explanation of Ichigo’s weapon is a lot more clear this time around. In the manga I was far more lost. This means that the person responsible for Ichigo’s mother dying as well as many deaths in the Soul Society is also the one who fought with him from the majority of Bleach’s runtime. That feels weird to me. Yhwach also says he’s not really Yhwach and not really an enemy. It all feels a bit contrived. Why does this version of Yhwach feel bad about having to kill Ichigo, while he killed many people without a moment’s hesitation. Maybe it’s me, but it feels poorly thought out. Zangetsu Yhwach sees Ichigo as his son and so does regular Yhwach, but the latter doesn’t quite show it. It’s time to say goodbye to the fake Zangetsu and say hello to the real Zangetsu. That’s right, it’s two blades this time around. One for each Zangetsu. That would have been a pretty cool reveal if it wasn’t in the opening from the very first moment. I hope that anime only viewers missed it, but you can oh-so-clearly see two swords in Ichigo’s hands during the opening and it bothered me a ton. 

I’ve got swords, they’re multiplying.

Before we finish up, there’s one more reveal. Uryu has decided to side with the man who killed his mother and was instrumental in hurting many of his friends. And with that the first cour is over. I’ve enjoyed it more than I expected. It still feels contrived at points, but it was great seeing a young Masaki brought to life in animation as well as seeing all the cool fights in this first part. There’s much more Bleach to get to before all is said and done, and I’m curious in what ways Kubo will improve on this story as it’s brought to life once. But for now, we’ll take a well deserved break from Soul Society. Thank you all for reading these weekly posts and I hope you all join me in a few months when we pick it back up!

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