With everyone ganging up on Aizen, it's now time for things to step it up a few notches.
What They Say:
The Thirteen Court Guard Squads and Visoreds launch a full-scale attack against Aizen. But Aizen makes quick work of their combined efforts. Just when all hope is thought to be lost, Hirako uses his Zanpakuto's power to draw away Aizen's attention, giving way for Hitsugaya to deliver the killing blow.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
With Ichigo facing one of his greatest challenges yet, and one that dates back a fair way to the earlier part of the series, Aizen is giving him a definite run for his money. And Aizen has certainly caused enough waves in this arc that he's got just about everyone else against him as well. While we haven't gotten a full payoff in the episodes prior to this as it's focused more on side fights, it's built up fairly well and it provides for an engaging setting as we see the city being destroyed below them as they fight it out, a nice contrast from the earlier arc with Ichigo running around the Soul Society and causing lots of trouble there. It's also a welcome change of pace that the others that are there aren't letting him fight alone since they all have a vested interest in seeing Aizen taken down and that it makes logical sense for it to be a group effort.
Of course, that doesn't exactly go to plan as there's a bit of one on one going on here but eventually they do get into the game of all of them attacking at different times with different methods, pushing Aizen to defend on multiple fronts. But because of who he is, he's able to handle it fairly easily for the most part with only a few instances of a slight grimace about dealing with a particular aspect of it. But all it serves to do is to show that Aizen is more powerful than even they thought he was as he's able to deal with it all while still remaining calm, something that definitely gives him a strong psychological edge over the rest of them. And as he starts to get serious and really causes damage, it only builds up more from there.
As Aizen starts taking them out though, it's disconcerting to see that after having them all stand with Ichigo that Ichigo is hanging mostly in the background, rather stunned at the sight he's seeing as even the Stealth Force has managed to suffer a pretty strong blow from Aizen. Hitsugaya has a pretty good arc in this episode as he deals with Aizen but when it comes down to it, especially after his past, he's not someone to be believed no matter what. There's the old adage of don't believe they're dead unless you see the body, but with Aizen even then you can't believe it. The captains and others involved in this particular fight shine brightly, but it all comes down to the same problem in that there's that belief that no matter what they do and who they say will die, they really won't die and that causes it to lose a good deal of its tension.
While there are some minor issues overall that I have with the episode, it's definitely a bigger payoff episode than we've had in some time and Aizen really does shine as the villain. While we get many that are loud and brash, the cold and calculating ones are the ones that tend to be far more threatening in the long run. Aizen's put to the test pretty well here but with Ichigo out of the picture and the others getting whacked pretty hard, events are once again moving forward to the obvious angle that Ichigo has to man up. This is all stage dressing for that event, good stage dressing, but little more than that. It's infused with some nice emotion and really good action, but it lacks the really big moment of everyone attacking at once with strong animation to make it sing beautifully.
Japanese 2.0 Language, English Subtitles
Sony KDS-R70XBR2 70" LCoS 1080P HDTV, Dell 10.1 Netbook via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.