Bleach – Season 15: Gotei 13 Invading Army arc

Bleach – Season 15: Gotei 13 Invading Army arc

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Only a month after the demise of Aizen, Soul Reapers start going missing once they travel through the Precipice World, the path that connects Soul Society to the World of the Living. Imposter squad members are getting into the Seireitei shinigami ranks and attacking their original counterparts. The originals are immediately on-guard, unable to tell a friend from a foe as they try to locate the mastermind behind this invasion. Meanwhile, Kon comes across a strange girl by the name of Nozomi who may have a connection with the attacks. Ichigo is desperate to help the Soul Reapers, but he is finding himself slowly losing his powers.

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Finally returning to the World of the Living, Ichigo spends his limited time as a shinigami hunting down stray Hollows with what little spirit energy he has left. Watching him, Rukia realises that the time of their parting is fast approaching. However, when a team of skilled shinigaim Captains goes to investigate further, they find evidence that points towards Ichigo. Now he has become the prime suspect, but did he really do this? Or is there someone working from the shadows?

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No big surprise when I tell you that the vast majority of this arc is full of traditional Bleach fight scenes. Most of these fights are between the Captains and their doubles, but we also have a huge fight later in the discs between Genryusai and the enemy. Bankais are released and high-level Kido is cast as the shinigami square off against the imposters. With the Soul Reapers squaring off against themselves, there’s no way that character development can be wasted on enemies, so we see some good characters actually getting the time to re-establish themselves and show a bit of extra personality.

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With the conclusion of the previous season storyline, Ichigo is now back to where he started in the World of the Living, but with less spirit energy than he’s used to. It’s meant to be almost like a reset to zero with no real ramifications from the storyline, which was a given considering it was an original arc. Gotei 13 Invading Army arc is, of course, yet more filler episodes. Did someone not want this to end on the high that was the defeat of Aizen?

imageWe see some quite tender scenes between Rukia and Ichigo, which we haven’t really seen since the first few Bleach arcs and, as a result, it’s quite refreshing. Ichigo is considered to have ‘served Seireitei’s purpose’ by getting rid of Aizen and now they have no more use for him. It’s a harsh situation for Ichigo, and it also affects Rukia, since there’s nothing either of them can do this time. This allows the show to take a quieter and more personal approach to some of the main characters, slowing things down to let the viewers remember just how much they have gone through and how their relationship has progressed. It has a sweet, welcome feel to it and is a nice break from the relentless fights, which sometimes tire me out just by watching them.

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I imagine that the main point of this arc (excluding the fact that it’s a stall to allow Tite Kubo to write more chapters, of course) is showing the fallout from the fight against Aizen. We see how events are drawing to a close for Ichigo and how he’s going about handling it – from not wanting to be a shinigami to it becoming a big piece of his life. It’s quite poignant considering the past, the histories and the shared experiences he has had with the members of Soul Society, and how he will be losing good comrades and friends.

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One of the things that I always wish Bleach had was a larger, stronger narrative. Amidst all the dragged-out fighting, huge cast of characters and random filler episodes, the tender and sentimental scenes get completely lost and I think that is a shame. This arc had a smooth and well-executed ending with Ichigo quietly trying to move on.

However, with Aizen dead, it’s no secret that Bleach‘s days are numbered. This shounen giant has definitely run its course. Although there’s one last arc to go, you can easily make the ending of this one the conclusion and give yourself closure. If not, then we move onto the Fullbringers…