Inner strength trumps spiritual energy for one Soul Reaper that's about to be discharged.
What They Say:
While sparring with Ikkaku and Renji inside Squad 11's dojo, Ichigo meets Seizo, whose mild-mannered personality seems out of place within the hot-blooded Squad 11. Once a powerful Soul Reaper, Seizo lost most of his spirit energy after taking a hit from a Hollow meant for Ikkaku. Ichigo, having seen Seizo's unfair treatment within the squad, questions if he is truly content with his current life.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Bleach continues to let the supporting cast stand out for the filler run which is definitely a very welcome thing considering how badly the show could go if it let it focus on Ichigo with his reduced power levels while having a hard time dealing with certain threats. Additionally, it's spending its time up in the Soul Society itself which is a definite plus since it lets us see the various Soul Reapers that we've known for years in their own element rather than bumming around on the World of the Living where they simply feel too out of place at times. Still, going back to dealing with issues surrounding seemingly basic and standard Hollows feels a bit odd after the scale of recent events, but it does let Ichigo play in things a bit without making him the central focus.
For this episode, it has some of the daily routine events going on as Ichigo and Renji get in a little training while investigating a Hollow attack with Ikkaku. They end up dealing with another emember of Squad 11 named Seizo who lost the bulk of his spirit energy previously and comes across as basically a servant within the squad who does the little chores and the like. You'd be hard pressed to think of him as a squad member with his posture and attitude at this point, but we do get a flashback to his younger days where we see some of his potential and ability as he spars against Ikkaku, though he regularly lost to him. It's easy to see how he could have become a solid member if not for the incident that cost him his spirit energy.
Naturally, Ichigo tries to set things up in order to get Seizo to fight with him a bit to show that he has some real potential to him and doesn't have to do what he's doing, especially when he learns that Seizo is going to be discharged in a few days because of how useless he is. There's some issues surrounding it, but everything is thrown off when Seizo ends up being one of the few men left when the Hollows attack again and he has to do or die. It's good to see that Ichigo can be somewhat inspiring of course and he does just that for Seizo, though you can't be completely certain how it will turn out since his character isn't a lengthy, established one. Having that edge to it works since it lets Seizo feel not entirely fully scripted and plotted in a way.
Bleach again has a rather solid episode here as it deals with moving past the large, epic storyline that dominated it for awhile. While I still find myself believing it would have been the most ideal place to end the series, episodes like this do reaffirm that the writers have a better shot at working through an extended run of original stories than a lot of other shows would. There isn't a push to be overly silly or campy or to do things that feel very out of place. By working through smaller stories for the supporting cast, letting Ichigo have some involvement in it, it lets others shine while reinforcing his place in the world. And by so far keeping it to the Soul Society, we avoid really potentially bad stories set in the real world that would likely be even goofier. At least until next wek.
Japanese 2.0 Language, English Subtitles
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