Giving Ichigo a little time off, it's time for the side stories which can be a positive for Bleach.
What They Say:
While slacking off on his duties, Omaeda falls from a cliff. Recovering from the fall, Omaeda finds a young boy named Ryuzaburo staring at him with admiration and learns that he has unintentionally saved the boy's life from a Hollow. When asked for his name, Omaeda lies and says he is the captain of Squad 2.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
With Bleach unable to really pull in much of anything from the existing manga material at the moment, the show has its options open to be sure now that they've made it clear how Ichigo's power level changes will be dealt with. That allows them to tell some basic stories after having him being so high leveled, but it can be difficult to keep an audience's interest when your lead goes from big time badass to your standard Soul Reaper again. But those stories can only go so far overall and at least with this episode, Bleach looks to be going the smarter route and focusing on characters and events other than Ichigo. Considering the size of the cast, this is an easy way to pad and flesh out the overall world to make it more of its own.
The story follows the Soul Reaper captain known as Omaeda, one that I'm not all that familiar with, as he goes about his usual duties in the Soul Society. He's something of a slacker as he wanders off and finds great places to nap for awhile, but he does have an earnest approach. We see him early on sensing a Hollow nearby and he saves a young kid, but it's through mishaps that it all plays out and he never actually sees the guy. But it does show how his life goes as we see a couple of other small moments similar to it. And those moments tend to land him trouble, which is why he's been assigned to essentially cleaning and sweeping the entire grounds since that's all they think he can handle at the moment and is an appropriate punishment for all his slacking.
Of course, there's a larger issue at hand that's lurking in the background with the Hollows, but a lot of what we get here is essentially Omaeda being sought out by the kids from before and getting him to help them. Through their time together, we see a good bit of the place and the way the kids revere him, which nobody else does, and how Ichigo manages to convince everyone to go along with it in order to make the kids think it's real. Some of them go over the top, some of them truly hate every moment of it, but it's good, simple comedy that works nicely with plenty of light moments. Omaeda's a fun character to go through such a situation and his personality is just right for it. It's also the way all the other Captains play off of him during this that makes it work as well as it does.
Bleach has a fun little episode that lets the focus on day to day events and life in the Soul Society take focus through the eyes of Omaeda. There is an actual story behind it that works well, essentially as bookends and the device that gets everything rolling, but it's the character interactions and situational humor that makes it work as well as it does. It's not fantastic or anything, but it's a good way to spend some down time from the manga adapted material and it doesn't come across as insulting. Which is pretty huge considering how some stories like this can go depending on the team writing them. Omaeda's a charming and fun guy that's earnest about everything and he obviously gets his moment to shine and it's one that's worth spending the time on, even if it is basically fluff. It's good, fun fluff which can be hard to come by.
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.