Bleach – Season 12: Arrancar: Decisive Battle of Karakura arc

Bleach – Season 12: Arrancar: Decisive Battle of Karakura arc

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The fight to protect Karakura town continues as Aizen now brings with him Tosen and Ichimaru, complete with the top three espadas Stark, Barragan and Halibel, to stand against the Thirteen Court Guard Squads. In order to protect the town and its inhabitants, Head Captain of the shinigami Genryusai Yamamoto places pillars in the four corners to switch the real Karakura with a replica created in Soul Society to avoid any collateral damage. The battle is taken up another notch as the very best espadas and their fracciones square off against the shinigami and the powers of their zanpakuto. But who is the strongest when it comes to one-on-one battles between the highest-rated espada and the soul reaper captains?

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Getting back into the main story after the last arc, things start off very promising. Before we jump right back into the fighting, we get a bit of light comedy with the earthbound characters that have been somewhat forgotten in this continually complex narrative. The humour  gets a bit nostalgic, reminding us of the days when the cast of characters were a broad range of conflicting personalities that worked well despite their differences. After this distraction, it’s back into the fray. And here we will stay until the end of the season. Rather than one big war being waged, the opposing sides split up and stage a number of fights around the faux town.

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PLEASE.

These battles are good – don’t get me wrong. The very best of Soul Society and the best espadas Aizen has to offer are the kind of battles we have been waiting for all this time. However, with the narrative constantly jumping from fight to fight, we lose some of the emotional engagement that could have made this season really great. It’s no secret that the amount of characters has now gotten a little out of hand, and a sizeable chunk of time is given to making these sub-characters have their own personalities, no matter how ridiculous. For example, an absurd amount of time is given to making Charlotte, a huge man who loves his drag queen clichés, a so-called big personality. I wonder why these secondary characters have been given so much development and yet the main cast is made to suffer?

imageThere doesn’t seem to be a definitive ending to this season, either. The big, raging battles that I was so keen to see continue to go on. Every time they look to end, the espadas suddenly have another ace up their sleeve, upping the ante to unbelievable proportions. We see Halibel’s fracciones Apache, Mila Rose and Sun-Sun combining their left arms in order to summon a terrifying creature called Ayon seemingly out of nowhere. This should be the clear indication to everyone that the battles are nowhere near ready to end if the minions of the top espada still haven’t bitten the dust yet. Will the espada only stop playing around when all their underlings have bitten the dust? I expect so, since Bleach doesn’t like to differ from its typical structure.

imageEven more unfortunately, this season decided to end with three non-related filler episodes that completely jolt you out of the high-octane battles and leave you feeling disoriented – especially when they involve a trip to the beach and having to fight huge watermelon monsters. I’ve given up asking “Why” now as the filler is just half-hearted attempts at comedy with little or no character development, however separated from the main story it may be. Even the characters who do the ‘next episode’ summary at the end point out how silly it is to be straying so far from the main plot. At times, it was even painful to watch.

imageWhat’s most disappointing is it feels that the main story is being dragged out for no reason and we are seeing more filler than the actual Tite Kubo plot nowadays. This season, out of 17 episodes, five of those have been filler. And then they all get wrapped up together in a DVD release and people  are paying for padding. It’s a shame that what should have been a strong arc for Bleach was dampened by what is now considered to be the inevitable filler. And now there will be another 30-plus filler episodes for the next arc in order to allow catch-up for manga releases. Well, at least the filler arcs have definitive beginnings, ends and objectives, which is more than I can say for the indefinable main story arcs nowadays. If people aren’t already seeing the beginning of the end for the Bleach anime, they should be seeing it now.