Bleach continues to highlight Ichigo's path and Aizen's manipulations.
What They Say:
Aizen's revelation that Ichigo is his greatest research subject throws Ichigo into a state of shock. But before Aizen can reveal Ichigo's most startling secret he is interrupted by an unexpected person arriving on the scene.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Bleach has really hit an intriguing point in the series where we have such a potentially series-changing revelation made with Aizen supposedly masterminding nearly everything that Ichigo has gone through since the start. The inclusion of little moments here and there to show how he has overseen things is definitely going a long way towards making these kinds of episodes halfway fun since it is otherwise just a whole lot of recap. A greatest hits kind of gig to see what Ichigo has gone through since becoming a substitute Soul Reaper and then forging his own way. Learning that it may not have been his own way though, but rather manipulated by Aizen even up to the point now where the two are fighting, is the way to tie everything that's happened together in a way not previously seen in the show. So much of Bleach has been without purpose in a way that going this route is almost critical.
A large portion of this episode is once again given over to the recap side of things. It's somewhat interesting, having missed about a hundred and fifty episodes or so, to see some of the fights that I haven't seen before and to get those little nuggets tossed in about Aizen. But for the most part, it's the empty kind of recap that you usually get with no real context to give it something more with the fights themselves. It's useful to see in the way that Aizen claims to manipulate Ichigo and others for his own ends, and all of it leads into a rather bland speech by Aizen to Ichigo about what he's actually done over all this time. It's not so much that it's a bad speech, but it's kind of awkward at this phase to start throwing more confusion around as to how truthful Aizen is with what he's saying.
The episode does make a nice turn when Ichigo's father arrives on the scene, though this isn't something I'm familiar with from my run on the DVD side way back. There's a lot of confusing things coming into play here with who knows what and what Ichigo's true origins are, but Ichigo is seemingly avoiding all of it at this phase since he just wants to deal with Aizen. It's easy to see that it'll come up again soon, but the whole thing is just far too forced with the violin music and piano accompanying it. It makes it such a forced scene with emotions that it loses its potential impact.
With Bleach catching up closer to the seemingly slow moving manga version, the continued recaps aren't a surprise and you can just feel a whole wave of pure filler side stories in the offing soon. Thankfully, we do get some good scenes in this one of the current storyline, both at the start and at the end, with some action that helps to solidify things, but it also paints the glacial pace at which things move here. It's frustrating but good, which leaves you even more frustrated by it. There's a lot of potential in Bleach to really change how you perceive the series and I love it when authors do this, ever since Asimov tied so many of his novels together and Heinlein did the same. Bleach has that kind of potential here, but it may lose the impact of it due to the pacing and side stories that get brought into it.
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.