Sorry about the delay guys, real life always takes priority, but I always find time for Bleach. As promised, I plan to give (for a lack of a better word) "enjoyable" reviews over the next few weeks. For those of you not already aware, the English adaptation of Bleach has finally reached the dreaded Tōjū or sword beasts mini-arc. For those who are (luckily) not familiar with the arc, I will give you a brief history lesson.
The sword beasts arc is an anime only arc that occurs right after Murumasa's defeat and is a series of 10 one-shot episodes. The following information was never "officially" confirmed, but by going through several sources, this is basically what happened. The Zanpakutō filler arc was supposed to end at episode 255, however, after episode 255 was well into production, higher up personal at Studio Pierrot decided that it was to soon to return to canon material, and decided to produce 10 one-shot episodes at the last minute, thus the sword beasts arc was born.
Although in retrospect episode 256 is not "that bad" in terms of writing, but knowing what I know now, this is pretty much the only decent episode in this mini-arc. That's right people, it only goes downhill from here. This is your last chance to get out, if you decide to stay, I cannot save you!
Other than the obvious hashed together storyline and "explanation" of why the Zanpakutō spirits are still materialized (even though last episode we saw them return to their respective swords), episode 256 overall is a decent episode. The first thing I quickly noticed that the quality of the acting surprisingly exceeded my expectations. I don't know why, but in the english adaption of Bleach, the acting quality of filler material for me is far better than the original Japanese. Now, I have come to two conclusions to why that is: One, the voice actors want to do their best job, no matter how crappy the material is. Two, the fact that I don't have to pain myself to reading subtitles to something that is clearly subpar makes the experience much more enjoyable. I though Michelle Ruff was really on the top of her game after a few "iffy" performances over the last couple of weeks. I really was pleasantly surprised how vocal she was getting with Rukia and it reminded me of her portrayal of Rukia throughout the Soul Society arc. Tara Platt also did an excellent job this week and I really wish she did more on Bleach other than Lisa and Sode no Shirayuki. Both Tara and Michelle (to me anyway) had excellent onscreen chemistry, which especially when the writing is so poor, is definitely needed in Bleach.
As for the story itself…well as I said before this really is the only decent episode in this mini-arc, even so, the writing really isn't that good. The story was so obviously put together at the last second, the logic is dumb, there are characters that are so clearly out of character(in particular Byakuya)and overall the episode was just lazy. The problem I have with this arc (other than the writing) is that I don't mind if Pierrot needed more time (I kind of, but I still understand) before returning to canon, but why did they have to do filler that added nothing to a storyline that was clearly finished. Now, I can understand that likely this was dumped on the Bleach production team at the last second and the writers were low of creative steam, but that still does not excuse anyone from lazy writing.
Overall is was a decent episode and…I will see you guys next week.
- Story 6.5/10
- Art/Animation 7.5/10
- Sound Effects 10/10
- Script adaptation 10/10
- Music 8.5/10
- Acting 10/10
I give Bleach episode 256 an 8.8 out of 10.
Join me on Saturday when I review episode 257 dubbed, and please watch Bleach as it continues to lead the new Toonami.
Until Next Time! -- 10:54, June 6, 2012 (UTC)