Hello bleach fans, I have a special treat for you. Since it has just come to my attention that due to the miracle of iTunes, I have no new English dub reviews of bleach to review until January 22nd. So I have decided that I will do a best/worst of 2011 list. Yes I know it has been 2012 for over a week now, but hey Anime news network just put their list up, so why can't I! To be completely fair with the anime categories, the English dub and Japanese dub will be their own separate contests; therefore I can avoid being biased on either of them. So here we go, here's lemursrule’s 1st annual best and worst list.
Let's start the list on a positive note with the best and worst manga moments of 2011.
The longer this year was kind of hit and miss hit and miss. We had some great moments, so-so moments, and plain old mediocre or bad moments. But first let's start off the best.The best Manga moment of this year is easily the reunion between Ichigo and Rukia and the restoration of Ichigo’s soul reaper powers. To those who know me around the Bleach community know for a fact that loathe and despise shipping with a burning passion of 1000 suns (no offense to SunXia). Despite that, there is no denial that Ichigo and Rukia have a deep relationship. Is it romantic, HELL NO, but it is a fact that Ichigo and Rukia have one of the most unique relationships in Bleach, as well as being one the most unique duos in the Shonen in demographic. That's the thing I love about Ichigo and Rukia, they have a deep relationship, but it doesn't get dragged down over time by romantic Shonen clichés. As Tite Kubo quoted in 2008, “they are more than friends, but less than lovers.” And that's the thing that I just can't stop loving about these two characters is that, yes those two could have easily gone down the classic Shonen cliché of arrogant, stupid teenage male main character falls in love with bossy sidekick, which is a Trope of Shonen that has been done so many times that anytime I see it I just groan. So going back to late 2010, I along with many members of the bleach fandom were devastated when Ichigo and Rukia were torn apart at the end of the Arrancar Arc. Although Rukia did not play such a pivotal role in the Arrancar arc as she had in past arcs, Rukia is still an important character, and even though we knew Rukia would come back… eventually, the way Tite Kubo executed the goodbye scene at the end of the Arrancar arc, really felt like this was the end, and we would never see Ichigo and Rukia together again. Now, flash forward one year later, Ichigo has been betrayed by Xcution, and is now experiencing one of the darkest moments of his life. Then out of the blue, Rukia comes, restores his powers, and the former substitute team are united once more. Although Ichigo and Rukia have had big reunions in the past, this one was more prominent because this was the longest absence of Rukia to date. Not including the weeks Shonen Jump had off, the two weeks Tite Kubo was sick, and when Kubo took a vacation, Rukia and was gone for a total of 36 chapters, easily beating her old record of an absence of 29 chapters during the Arrancar arc (I am not including the first couple of chapters of the Arrancar arc, I am only counting continuous absences). I mean for a pretty big character in a series to be gone for over 6 months is pretty shocking. Although the readers have not had too much time to reunite with Rukia, I am sure in the future we will get plenty of bonding time. Plus I am secretly loving the new pixie cut Rukia is rocking, I think it suits her, and while I loved her old hairstyle, I think her new hairdo was a welcome change.
Now here's the worst manga moment of 2011. Now I had to seriously consider what I have loathed the most this year, but after much consideration, the worst moment Manga wise for me was Kenpachi Vs. Giriko Kutsuzawa. I was considering Renji versus Jackie and Jackie's revival, but I do not care for the character of Jackie so much that I honestly did not really care either way. But man oh man, Kenpachi Vs. Giriko what a complete and utter waste of time and ink. I mean what was the point of seeing Kenpachi yet again making organ and body tissue confetti out of the poor bastard who decided to go against him? That's right THERE WAS NO POINT! Now I can understand that Kubo may have been afraid of a repeat of the whole Barragan saga, but there was absolutely no excuse whatsoever to have Giriko, a character with so much potential is completely and utterly curb stomped by Kenpachi. Plus the whole “fight” or lack of in this case, completely destroyed Giriko’s character. Giriko had so much mystery to him, and had such a destructive power; he honestly could've been a very frightening opponent. But when we get instead, he gets an upgrade, goes nuts, and dies. Not only was it a disappointment for Giriko, but it was also a disappointment for Kenpachi. I know Kenpachi is a strong character, and that's why I like to see him have new challenges. Maybe Kubo was trying to show that can party had grown even stronger, but having him fight a human opponent does not really show Kenpachi’s potential new strength, if anything it shows that in the last 17 months Kenpachi is no stronger and potentially might be an even weaker fighter as the series progresses.
Now let's go on to best and worst anime moments of the Japanese version of bleach in 2011.
In the earlier part of 2011, we got so many great anime moments, but all in all my number 1 moment has to be the final battle (for now) between Ichigo and Aizen. I honestly don't have so much to say that I have already said already, the animation, art, and music (although I would've liked to heard Incantation  (Part C_Opus1) over Stand Up Be Strong (because I think that track as epic, but it is WAY OVERUSED) during Mugetsu and when Aizen transforms into his third and forth forms. The track was only used partial for the freaking Ichigo and INABA fight (will get to that in a bit) that any other bleach movie scores are really underutilized in the anime), everything was perfect.
Now (sighs) for the worst animated moment or moments in this case of 2011 was (pathetic drum roll) the Gotei 13 invasion arc, otherwise known as the Regai arc or Mary Sue troll -itis train wreck Festival. MY GOD there was so many things wrong with this arc. It was like watching bad fan fiction, and I don't mean My Immortal funny bad, I just mean BAD insomnia inducing BAD! The thing that made it even worse was the arc had such a promising start, but went downhill really really fast, faster than most typical bleach filler arcs. Nozomi started out as a potentially interesting character, but turned into such a huge freaking Mary Sue, and her whole strange “love-affair” with Kon (which was really creepy and bizarre) but she wasn’t the worse part of this arc! That title belongs to INABA!!! (Echoes) I didn't think it was even possible, but Inaba is even more of a troll than Aizen! To those of you who have been fortunate enough to not see in its entirety or not at all this pathetic excuse for arc, if you can even comprehend this a filler character was more of a troll than Aizen, perhaps one of the most epic trolls in history. Yeah try to let that one seep in. The plot was stupid, the characters both original and anime only were stupid; the whole arc was JUST STUPID!
Trying to get back on the positive track (sort of) here’s the best and worst performances of 2011.This one was a really tough decision, there were many great performances this year, it was a really close race, but the best performance of 2011 was Shō Hayami as Sōsuke Aizen. To be honest it was a close race between Hayami and Kōji Yusa (Gin), but this was really the “deicideing” (bad joke sorry) factor for me I mean that was EPIC, every time I see it, it still scares the crap out of me. Hayami really showed how deranged Aizen had become and took Aizen from suave villain to homicidal maniac.
Now everyone had to see this coming the worst performance of 2011 was Kaya Matsutani as Rangiku Matsumoto. The worst part about this is that I saw this coming a mile away. No offense to miss Matsutani but I don’t think she has enough skills really to portray a character as deep and complex as Rangiku, especially when it comes to dramatic scenes. I don’t like how she portrays Rangiku (although I blame script writers for a lot of this) as being a two-dimensional woman who basically her voice tone in Japan is close to that of a prostitute (just stating a fact), but Rangiku contrary to her appearance is not a whore. Yes she’s sexy, but last time I checked sexy does not equal whore. To me, Rangiku is the Carrie Bradshaw of Bleach (yeah I know Sex in the City, but hear me out), sexy, caring, and smart, which is why I prefer Megan Hollingshead’s portrayal of Rangiku over Kaya’s (although it could be Megan’s New York Accent, it actually might be a factor for me). Kaya’s performance during the childhood flashbacks and Gin’s death were so underwhelming and I was completely disappointed. You might say that I am more for the dub, but honestly I don’t anyone could honestly say the performance was good.
Now short category best and worst episodes of 2011.
Easy best episode 309 (can’t top that) and worst episode 339 (indescribably bad).
Now for English dub best or worst of same categories as above.Best Moment of 2011 is the “Heart scene” in episode 215. It just translated so well into English and Tony Oliver and Stephanie Sheh, just gave great performances.
Worst Moment of 2011, thankfully there were not too many “bad moments,” but I guess I was upset when Adult Swim Still had Bleach in 4:3 SD for all of Fake Karakura Town Part 1, which you missed a lot of animation detail on. Thankfully Bleach is now broadcast in its proper aspect ratio and in HD (which looks amazing on my new 46 inch LED TV).
Now best and worst dub performances of 2011.Again like it’s Japanese counterpart, there were a lot of great performances this year, but one performance really stood out for me and that is Travis Willingham (congrats on your marriage to Laura Bailey) for his role as Findorr Calius. He was just epic, I was a little unsure when I first heard Findorr in the promo, but boy was I quickly proved wrong. Watch some of his epic performance.
Worst performance was Vic Mignogna as Senbonzakura. I just think Vic does not fit this part at all Troy Baker would have been a much more appropriate pick. Perhaps I am being too judgmental due to him not really being featured yet, but I blame bad casting for this case.
Again short category best and worse episodes of 2011.
Best episode 219 (one of my favs) Worst episode 223 (too much filler, waste of time).
Now for the grand finale biggest Bleach news of 2011.
So many things happened to Bleach this year; you know what they all are so I am not going to waste anytime typing them. But the most impactful news this year is the announcement of Shonen Jump Alpha and the near legal simulcast of the Bleach manga. SJA is debuting at the end of this month and it leaves the fate of scanlators in question, sure the will still be around but I have a gut feeling that mangastream will be done. The main goal (according to mangastream) was to translate manga and encourage faster official translations (thus why they only host 4 chapters per series and likely for server costs as well), and if that is true, they no longer have a reason to exist. What does it mean for us? I have no idea, we will just have to wait and see.
So that is my best of worst of 2011 and here’s to 2012.