Bleach – Season 6: Arrancar: The Arrival arc

Bleach – Season 6: Arrancar: The Arrival arc

image
It’s back to Karakura First High School and slaying run-of-the-mill Hollows for Ichigo, now officially recognised as a Substitute Soul Reaper by Soul Society. However, on his first day back he meets new student Shinji Hirako, who is a person with controllable Hollow powers – a Visored. Led by Sosuke Aizen, Arrancars begin to spill over into the human world, but Ichigo has lost confidence in his powers and his ability to fight the enemy. Whilst the Soul Reapers try to hold the Arrancars back, Ichigo seeks out Shinji and his team of Visoreds in the hope that they can help him unleash his inner Hollow, just like them.

In this season, we finally see Captain Aizen return to the story with one of many tricks up his sleeve. He is creating Arrancars out of Hollows to increase their fighting prowess. After what was quite a bit of filler, I’m looking forward to things getting back on track with decent fights, convincing plots and starring characters that are actually in the manga.

image
To begin with, Uryu’s loss of power is addressed, we take a look at Ichigo’s surprising family history and we see Rukia finally returning to the forefront of battle. The latter is a little convenient, because I’m sure Rukia’s power loss was supposed to permanent… but quite clearly this is not the case, anymore. The same applies for Uryu’s Quincy powers. It appears, for the sake of convenience, that ‘permanent’ doesn’t quite have a traditional meaning in the world of Bleach. It would be nice for a setback to be permanent, for once. His father is also around, and a Quincy, so this brings into question his “I’m the last Quincy” cry he’s been rallying around since the first season and there’s no real explanation as to why Ichigo’s dad has chosen now to get involved with the Soul Reapers when he knew about them all along…

image
Not that unexplained plot twists aren’t uncommon in anime like Bleach, long-standing shows that realise that they’ve blocked off potential plot avenues early on and find themselves unashamedly back-pedalling and pretending that some things never happened. It’s lazy storytelling with no foreshadowing, and the sixth season begins things by dumping three sizeable (and questionable) plot points on its unsuspecting audience.

We see Captain Aizen making his return, setting in his Hueco Mundo headquarters and sending his Arrancars to the World of the Living. Thus begins Soul Society’s battle to protect Karakura Town, and therefore the world, from Aizen’s dastardly plan. This sets the scene for most of the season, with Shinigami vs. Arrancar being the name of the game – back Bleach‘s classic good versus evil foundations.

image
At the same time, we also have some amusing and touching moments interspacing all the fighting. Hitsugaya and his crew try to blend in as high school students, with comical results, and Rukia’s return was quite tender, playing nicely on the relationship between her and Ichigo and their recent separation. Bleach can do humour and emotion when it wants to, and does it quite well – it’s a real shame we don’t get a little more of it.

IMG_2639.JPG
This season takes a few differing turns. For the main part, we have the Arrancar invasion. We also see a tad more filler with Hitsugaya and lost souls Shota and Yui. It’s not the worst Bleach filler, but these type of side-stories just don’t go anywhere (filler can’t affect the canon episodes, after all). They leave off the main storyline at peculiar times and it is singularly the most frustrating thing about this series.

Meanwhile, with their power limits lifted, Hitsugaya, Rangiku, and Renji begin to defeat the Arrancars. easily dispatch their opponents. Ichigo is overpowered by Grimmjow, who is able to fight against Ichigo barehanded. Later, Ichigo approaches Shinji and the Visored, hoping to use them to find a way to suppress his inner Hollow (although his encounter with them doesn’t go entirely to plan).

image
The Visoreds are an interesting watch and really make this season for me. We don’t know much about them and can’t tell if they are ultimately on the side of good or evil. You don’t know what they’re aiming to achieve by getting Ichigo to embrace his inner Hollow and, in my opinion, we should have seen more of them rather than filler on Hitsugaya. Orihime’s side story was decent, though. After being told she’s no longer strong enough to fight with the others, she shows real character growth by not just meekly nodding along. After encountering the Visored herself, she finds what may be a solution to her problem.

image
This season is mainly about introducing the Arrancar in great detail. Though there are some good, concentrated elements to be had, unfortunately they don’t make up the bulk of this arc. It’s not the strongest start for Bleach‘s dive back into canon episodes, so I hope there’s more build-up further in. In short, it’s a bit of a mixed back. The Visored and Orihime in particular make it for me, but the filler story takes an unsatisfying bite out of their much-needed screen time. Let’s hope things get back into their old swing as the story (slowly) progresses.