New opening, new arc, still not from the manga, but it may have potential.
What They Say:
Peace has seemingly returned to both the World of the Living and the Soul Society with Aizen's defeat. But reports of Soul Reapers going missing after entering the Precipice World begin to surface in the Soul Society. Meanwhile in the World of the Living, Kon finds an unconscious girl lying in the street and brings her home to care for, while Ichigo and Rukia discover that they are unable to contact the Soul Society.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
After several enjoyable standalone stories that let the supporting cast shine, and not the usual big name ones, Bleach is ready to move on to its next arc. While the manga is not yet being adapted for the show again, there have been some decent anime original stories over the years, but also some that just went on too long which can make people a little nervous. Bleach tends to, in my opinion, largely have solid original episodes compared to certain other shows of a similar nature which leaves me more open to seeing what they can do. A lot of this is simply coming from the fact that they opt to not do flashback stories for the most part and to try and work within the confines that they've been given. Generally speaking, the writers here seem fairly capable and understand the characters they're working with. It may not be the same as a manga adapted story, but they generally work pretty well.
While things have been pretty quiet since the defeat of Aizen, that time is drawing to a close. In the World of the Living, the Hollow incursions have been growing and becoming more problematic, seeming like they're getting to be pretty regular. What may be explaining some of it are events afoot in the Precipice World as the Soul Society captains learn that there's a time gap forming there that's going to separate the two worlds in the space of a day. Contact between the Soul Society and the World of Living will disappear and, for however long, leave the two sides stranded from each other. There are quite a few Soul Reapers in the world though so it wouldn't go to hell in a hand basket quickly, but it would become a problem. Especially if there is something or someone manipulating things from behind the scenes.
Like the start of many new arcs, this one is a particularly slow builder as it reveals some of what's going on with little teases. Kon discovers a strange mostly naked girl in a parking lot with green hair that has some meaning to her that has yet to be figured out since she's still unconscious. Communications between the two worlds has already been cut and Ichigo and Rukia head to the Precipice World to see if they can get across. With the events that transpired there during the Aizen arc, it's little wonder that something has happened which could have caused all of this to transpire. There's a good sense of foreboding with all of this, as well as a nod to Ichigo's situation since he exerts himself and his spiritual abilities weaken quickly. It's a good tie to larger events without making him seem ineffectual right off the bat.
I've rather enjoyed the run of Bleach episodes since the end of the Aizen arc as it dealt with various members of the Soul Society, but the show definitely needs something that's designed to draw you back to a continuing story week after week after a bit. What the series offers here is certainly intriguing as it builds off of the Aizen arc while coming up with something that shouldn't impact the larger storyline from the manga itself. It's a delicate balance since you have a lot of things to keep track of and you don't want to put Ichigo in a situation where he looks really bad, but you can't ignore what he's going through. There's a lot of potential for it here, and if the new opening sequence is any indication, it could be quite the ride. The start of the new arc offers plenty of optimism about where the series can go.
Japanese 2.0 Language, English Subtitles
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