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Hey Bleach fans its Tuesday and that means all new Bleach. Just a few quick announcements before I begin. The first part of Shonen Jump Alpha's Kubo interview is available, and I have posted it on my mangastream blog, but here are links to the interview in cause you missed it.  
Well this is the episode everyone has been waiting for, and again, Pierrot did a damn good job. Pierrot is really embracing the new art and animation style and I love it. One of the main reasons why I love it, is because the shading and color style is similar to Kubo's new volume cover style. The colors are bold, the movement is fluid, it is animated the way Bleach should be animated. Bleach should be "sketchy" but at the same time be really clean-cut, and I think Pierrot has accomplished this. With the dawn of flash animation, one thing I have found over the years is an increasing amount of well-polished animation, which sounds good, but in reality the animation looses something. When you have something that is too-polished it looks generic and manufactured. Although the overall animation looks nicer, you loose the personality in the animation and it ends up making the show look cheap.
Now, don't get me wrong, I am a supporter of flash animation...only when it is done right, Disney's recent Winnie the Pooh movie is a great example of this. Flash and computer assisted animation 2-d animation should only exist to assist the animator in the animation process by removing the the step of the converting the paper drawings to digital drawings, thus saving time, money, and trees. I like the fact that Bleach's animation style stands out a mile away, you know that is Bleach, an advantage that Bleach has over many anime these days.
The key to making your show successful is to make it memorable, otherwise you make a quick buck, and people forget about it in six months. The problem with the anime industry and much of the international entertainment industry, is that studios focus too much on the short term and don't look for ways to keep your product popular and relevant. The Lion King is great example of this, because Disney has kept a continuous flow of Lion King products over the last 17 years, including a Tony Award winning Musical going on its 15th year on Broadway, and numerous direct-to-video sequels, a spin-off tv series, video games, and re-releases, the Lion King brand is just as powerful now as it was almost two decades ago. Dragonball Z has also done this, and new video games and action figures come out every year. The point is Bleach is starting to do this more, and we need more marketable animation series, not only in Japan, but around the world to ensure that animation has a future.
Sorry for that unexpected lecturer, back to the actual episode.
The acting was great, Fumiko is better than ever as Rukia, and everyone did a great job.
The episode had a bit of filler, but it was to explain things and was a tolerable amount of it, so that's ok.
The music selection was excellent, and really fit the moments perfectly.
The only thing I really didn't like was the omake, but thats not really important.
- Story 9/10
- Art/Animation 10/10
- Sound Effects 10/10
- Music 10/10
- Acting 10/10
- Omake 6/10
I give Bleach 361 a 9.2 out of 10. Join me next week when I review episode 362, and join me Saturday when I review episode 242 dubbed. Also be sure to check Shonen Jump Alpha out, SJA comes out every Monday.
Until Next Time! -- 17:07, February 21, 2012 (UTC)