Bleach – Season 2: Sneak Entry into Soul Society arc

Bleach – Season 2: Sneak Entry into Soul Society arc

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After the events of the first season, Rukia Kuchiki is taken back to Soul Society and sentenced to death after performing the illegal act of transferring her powers to Ichigo Kurosaki – making him a substitute Soul Reaper in her place. In order to save Rukia from her impending fate, Ichigo has trained with Kisuke Urahara to regain his Soul Reaper powers. After gathering his allies, Ichigo must now begin his perilous journey into Soul Society. The group are walking into the dragon’s den to rescue their friend and must face great challenges and greater opponents, but Ichigo’s determination to ‘repay Rukia’ drives him to get to the tower in which she is confined. But Ichigo’s little group of interlopers is far from Soul Society’s only problem.

The pace really picks up in this season and we see a great deal more of the dynamic fighting action that makes Bleach what it is. The twelve Soul Reaper squads are after Ichigo’s small group, which results in a giant game of cat-and-mouse spliced with some intense battling scenes. These fights can get quite mind-boggling at times, but I am continuously impressed how the stakes continue to be raised in every battle – characters pulling tricks from out of their sleeves time and time again, though it was sometimes difficult for me to comprehend from a logic point of view (something that I’m beginning to think I might have to let go of when it comes to this season).

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Since this season often has back-to-back battles, sometimes with Ichigo having no time to recover before setting off against his next opponent. I think it’s supposed to be common knowledge that, for some reason, Ichigo can survive being mortally wounded to overcome all odds and be victorious against Soul Reapers who have been around for nearly a century. I hope that this phenomenon might be explained in the future, but I think it’s more likely to be just one of those things that I have to accept as shounen anime gospel.

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Like the first season, the animation remains at the same high standard and is as visually-appealing as ever. The battle sequences are even more spectacular in this season, boosted by the unique style used by the producers. Ichigo’s battles in particular clearly demonstrate his growing strength in spirit power and his determination to protect his friends. But as he faces off against Soul Reaper squad captains and vice-captains the viewer sees a broad spectrum of individual Soul Reaper powers and how each character uses them to shape their fighting style. Every character’s special skills and abilities were particularly well-animated and defined – the most impressive of these was arguably Byakuya’s first form of sword zanpakuto: Senbonzakura.

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Since the setting of this season has changed from the last, many of the secondary of tertiary characters from the World of the Living are left behind in their world. We see less of the comic shenanigans of Kon, Ichigo’s father and sisters and Orihime and Ichigo’s tomboyish friend Tatsuki. In order to split and confuse the army of Soul Reapers, Ichigo’s team has to split themselves up, which means that even main characters like Uryuu and Chad aren’t around as much. And with Rukia awaiting execution the limelight is well and truly focused on Ichigo and his extended fights with the Soul Reapers. We also get some explanation behind the machinations of Soul Society and the civil unrest that’s shaking the foundations of the capital and dividing the attention of the higher-ups

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The soundtrack remains fairly similar to that of the last season except for the opening and ending themes, which change frequently to reflect the current plot. J-rock band UVERworld perform the opening ‘D-Technolife’ and the composition is of good quality and fits well with the opening animated sequence.

The action and suspense of Bleach‘s second season is a edge-of-your-seat roller coaster of action that results in Ichigo facing down Byakuya Kuchiki after trying to free Rukia from her prison. By now, the characters and the world they live in has begun to grow on you. The last few episodes really gather momentum in preparation for the launch into the third season.