Well, the festival came and did not disappoint! This episode was one of the best I have seen in a long time! The art direction was absolutely flawless and this is coming from someone who has pretty high standards when it comes to animation. Bleach continues to be one of the best anime series in terms of overall quality and I am helping the poor animators who get paid peanuts to entertain us week after week. I was able to purchase a crunchyroll subscription using rixty, a service that lets you convert your coins in any coinstar machine and turn it into credit-card free online cash. I know the vast majority of us don't have credit cards to blow money on anime, but I was able to buy a three-month subscription using change I had lying around. The HD on crunchyroll is flawless, so if you can afford it great, if not than support these great people by buying Bleach merchandise and maybe send a letter or two to Pierrot to say thanks. Enough of my plugging for legal streaming on with the review.
Ok I know this episode has been hyped-up for quite awhile now and I was MORE than satisfied with the final product. I was blown away with the animation and art direction in this episode. Mashashi Kudo really outdid himself this time! Plus this is the first time in awhile we have had an episode directed personally by series director Noriyuki Abe, who has been busy with hell chapter the last few months. Abe continues to prove himself a legend in the anime industry. His style and absolute perfection is seen in classic episodes like episode 60 and episode 62 and I think this one can sit on the same pedestal as these treasures. He is always so passionate when he talks about Bleach and has not directed a non-bleach project for atleast 4 or 5 years now. When you have a director who loves the series as much if not more than it's viewers, than you have something extremely rare and special. Bleach has the secret formula that a lot of anime these days no longer have...heart and soul.
Alright episode summery
We have a 4 or 5 minute recap of the last episode...ok I'm going to play devil's advocate for a second and say the flashbacks could be shorter and the pacing would be faster...but than we would run out of material and have to go to filler...I would have to pick the former, I would rather sit and watch a 3 or 4 minute recap than watch 20+ 24 minute episodes of filler. So, after the recap we have Toshiro preparing to attack Aizen. He attacks Aizen using Hyōryū Senbi and Aizen avoids the attack. Toshiro counters using Zekku and Aizen is then attacked by Komamura and Love(I have to credit Tetsu Inada for changing his voice enough so that Love and Komamura did not sound too similar). Eventually Rose and Lisa join the frey...long story short everyone but Toshiro at this point are curb-stomped by Aizen. Then Suì-Fēng attacks Aizen using Nigeki Kessatsu, which is overpowered by Aizen's spiritual pressure. Then Toshrio rushes full force towards Aizen and after telling Toshiro that he is young, notices Shinji with Sakanade released...but it is too late Aizen is stabbed. Izuru shouts out that the captains have finally done it. Momo suddenly gets up and begins walking away. Shinji looks over at Gin and tells him that it looks like things are finally turning around. All of a sudden Ichigo yells at everyone and asks them what they’re doing. The "defeated" Aizen is revealed to actually be Momo. Shinji looks over to where Momo was at, only to see Kira and Iba being cut down by Aizen. Momo asks Hitsugaya "why", which causes Hitsugaya to attack Aizen in a blind rage. The other captain-level fighters try to stop him but it's too late as Aizen points out that they're all full of openings, and he cuts down Hitsugaya, Suì-Fēng, Shunsui, and Shinji.
Again I can't say enough on how much I loved the art direction in this episode. My favorite part was near the end as Aizen easily defeats everyone, the background is grayscale and the color of the blood and the characters pop out and creates frankly a quite terrifying feeling of despair and I actually shook a little when I watched it the first time. Plus the amount of blood is the most I have seen in a single Bleach episode, ever I think there was more blood in this single episode than most of the Soul Society Arc. Plus Romi Park gives another(I don't mean this to be a joke) "out of the park" performance, I officially dub Romi the "queen of scream." The acting the last few weeks have been phenomenal and now I feel really bad for poor Steve Staley(Hisagi and Toshiro's english voice actor) by the end of Fake Karakura, I don't think he will be able to voice young boys anymore(I hope this won't happen though of course). And Aizen...OH AIZEN HOW CAN YOU BE SUCH A BASTARD AND BE AN OH SO SEXY DEMON AT THE SAME TIME! Aizen looked phenomenal in this episode especially the close-ups. Again excellent music selection no problems here, but I can't wait until the use some of the new tracks from Hell Chapter's ost in the anime early next year. Plus the omake POOR Chōjirō! Aizen you BASTARD, YOU MAGNIFICENT BASTARD! Ok so here is the final rundown.
- Animation/Art 10/10
- Story 10/10
- music 10/10
- acting 10/10
- Omake 10/10