Last time on!
Urahara put Ichigo and friends through twisted mind games in order to properly introduce his three new filler-only modsoul characters with outrageous powers and personalities! Those modsouls are also BOUNT DETECTORS, created in anticipation of the BOUNT MENACE. Bounts are ageless vampires that feed on human souls and whose weapons are talking "dolls"! A female Bount named Yoshino engages in something of a romance with the de-powered Ishida, but the other EVIL Bounts need Ishida's QUINCY HAX for their own nefarious purposes! Kariya Jin is the UNDISPUTED leader of the evil Bounts, and he also has an annoying butthurt former shinigami liutenant of Squad 11 named Ichinose on his side! How can they possibly be stopped!? And, most importantly, how will Ichinose face karmic justice for killing the lulzy-ass snake whip Bount?
Without further ado, it's Part Two!
I like how even Sawatari's cane is glowing. Such is the power of vampires on bug juice soul steroids.
This is around the point, I think, where the fourth, Bount-centric opening is used.
1:19--BUY THE DRAMA CDS. BUY THEM, NOW.
Yes, it is, in fact, entirely in Engrish. If you think the next filler arc's opening can't be worse than this, ahahahahaha. At least this opening has cash lines like "As goddamn DJs chattered, how to SOOVIIIIVE..."
Pop art visuals? Check. Characters wearing posh designer clothing? Check. Criteria for Bleach arcs where next to nothing happens COMPLETE. They should have saved this opening for the canon arcs, even less happens in canon. Also, I like how for the designer clothing section they made sure you couldn't see Ganju past his chin. Also also, WHAT IN THE FUCK IS KENPACHI WEARING.
For a fan at the time the Bount arc aired, the most infuriating aspect of this opening was the fact that sometimes, that still image that would come into view when we the audience zoomed through Kariya's right eyeball would be teasers for the next canon arc, like Grimmjow or Shinji.
And then, we'd get entire episodes of nothing but Bounts! And, and Ichinose
The guy who voiced the Hollow must have had a freakin' blast. "First I will fill my stomach with fresh SOWUHLS!!"
I... I don't think a more contrived explanation is even feasible. This is maximum contrivance.
So Ichinose just happens to stumble upon the living world while angst-wandering. He just happens to stumble upon a Hollow attack while enervated, and Kariya just happens to stroll by and save his sorry ass. Kariya, who has zero reason to trust a shinigami whatsoever, then invites Ichinose to come along with him, on the assumption that this battle must have been a fluke and Ichinose must be really strong.
Kariya sure has a poor gauge of strength, because he has Ichinose test Ichigo's power and finds him lacking--it's, according to the dub, the Quincy that will "more richly color his world." How Kariya's voice actor managed to say that line with a straight face is truly flabbergasting.
Naturally, Ichigo fails to defeat any of the Bounts at the mansion, and he has to be bailed out by Jinta and Ururu and the modsouls, and that's the end of that TRACK DOWN THE BOUNTS TO SAVE ISHIDA story thread. When you can't tell which is more pathetic, the heroes or the villains, maybe that's a sign something of the show's cool factor has been lost. Ishida makes sure to save Yoshino as well, a sign of the undying devotion she earned after she exposited to him on the mostly predictable Bount history of persecution. Of course, as the last of his kind, Ishida springs a boner for tribal pride.
The next story thread is the much anticipated SOUL SUCKING BUG RITUAL, with a side of SAVE KEIGO. It starts with the climactic clash between Yoshino and Kariya. What could Kariya have in store for her!?
If you guessed "sacrifice her through an arcane ritual to generate a teeming swarm of soul sucking bugs," you got it!
It would seem Yoshino is the only fertile Bount, which somehow translates into being able to use her to birth oodles of masterless insectoid Bount dolls called "Bitto" that convert human soul essence into convenient energy steroids. The shit they came up with, I swear.
Kariya and friends come to their nondescript cave hideout to sample some of their bug juice spoils. And it is glorious. This, without a doubt, is the lulz high point of the Bount arc.
Kariya, the pimp. Kariya, the motivational speaker.
Whenever I watch this wonderful scene, I get the selfsame boost in energy and feel like straight gut punching all my problems into walls.
Unfortunately, Keigo has no such luck, as he is beset by itty bitty Bitto.
As we all know, swarms attack one insect at a time
Keigo is in bad shape when Ichigo arrives to save him, and the poor comic relief lad goes through some pretty major near-death pathos, teary-eyed and frightened as his high school chum dukes it out with paranormal terrors, with his own life as the stakes. And then, go figure, he returns to clueless comic relief once canon rolls back in. Again, bizarre creative choices.
Then John Goodman attacks with the enhanced Dalk. Despite the fact that Dalk spouts off stuff like "I like to aggressively chase my love conquests!" this is easily the battle that's the least unintentionally risible. In fact I might even go so far as to say it's... g
Poor Ichigo, yeesh.
John Goodman decides to explicate his backstory while Ichigo is down for the count. Make up your minds, villains, when the hero is down is it time to explain stuff or isn't it?
Cain's fatal flaw, his refusal to answer the call of destiny and become a Depression era newsie
This is an effective flashback (apart from the ridiculous random angry mob). John Goodman is by far the most likable original character in the arc when lulz is taken out of the equation.
Kira comes to save the day with his sword, whose ability, you'll remember, is to double the weight of anything it hits with each strike. One wonders why weight matters if Dalk's metal bearings can levitate.
A human that's reached his maximum potential? That there John Goodman must really retain water then, huh
Apparently, "when a Bount gains power by sucking the souls from living humans, it also increases the power of all the other Bounts, due to the Multiplier Effect."
But John Goodman doesn't even need that to kick Ichigo's ass, behold as he grapples and manhandles the death god with nothing but his bare hands (okay, and a steel girder).
John Goodman leaves out of pity for the youngin', since Ichigo reminds him of his old Bount buttboy Cain because... he doesn't want to be killed? Like I said, it sure is lucky for our plucky heroes that John Goodman has a heart, otherwise they'd all be fucked. I bet Kariya wished he had a doll like Dalk.
Ichigo takes Keigo over to Urahara's for some nice false tension "will he survive?" healing. Meanwhile, fearsome fan-wielder Yoshi attacks the girls (of course)!
1:34--Um... the fan clearly didn't deflect the entire blast. Not that I'm against that fan taking large lightning bolts to the face.
Kuroudo's shapeshifting power even copies swords and abilities. How is he not the most broken plot convenience hero on the show? And why, why, why pick Renji? I suppose his shapeshifting hax is balanced out by his flagrant retardation.
Yoshi is the token baddy that really likes fights. Here's a question, whom was she fighting before now?
A twenty-foot frontflip, Mabashi's declaration of war.
Then Mabashi (the rebellious one!) butts in on Yoshi's fight, essentially to show off. Mabashi's doll is a flying flower-fox thing with an elevator theme named Ritz, and it can burrow into the bodies of its victims for some mind control.
A brilliant YouTube comments holds: "Rukia's the best for being possessed..." Ruminate on this.
"It was amazing how you handled that stick, it was just like a Japanese samurai!" As opposed to what, a Lithuanian samurai? Thanks as always for your amazing insights, Kuroudo, I know you must be thinking hard on your next one in lieu of actually helping, but might I suggest you, I don't know, step in somehow while RUKIA IS CHOKING ORIHIME
Fancy that, we get to see Orihime's fairies again. I believe this is the last time they ever appear in anime continuity. Mostly because Orihime never really gets to do much of anything.
I REJECT I REJECT is right
Is Hisagi completely useless here or what? I know you guys didn't know what Hisagi's sword release was, (and Kubo was presumably too busy drawing a super form's long hair to be asked), but then... why select Hisagi to begin with?
It's such a shame this fight is so padded and boring, too, because the "Rukia possessed" plot bunny had so much more potential for character exegesis. Let us not forget that the love of Rukia's life, Kaien, died because he got possessed by a Hollow. (Hell, Hisagi basically looks exactly like Kaien except with tattoos, so there was your avenue right there.) Instead we get the staid and extremely cliche friendship speech.
I think I'll use this space to complain about something (yes, I know, a shocker). It's one thing to have reasonably threatening villains. It's quite another to have them constantly make the good guys seem absolutely pitiful. Every time the good guys have scored a win so far, every single time, they were bailed out. The core gang couldn't even defeat the stupid water twins without Ganju suddenly appearing to rescue them. And those are for the very few instances where what transpired could be called a victory, most of these skirmishes ended up with the Bounts tossing the good guys around until they accomplish their objective and escape. Sometimes fights only end because of other Bounts butting in. These guys aren't exactly the most cohesive, tight-knit fighting force, yet up to this point they've been toying with the heroes seemingly effortlessly.
When you're drafting new villains, it's tempting to make them the be all end all--they're your villains, after all. You like them. They're your babies. I get that. But maybe the rest of us would find them more likable if they didn't prevail all the time.
Next up is the geezer Bount, Sawatari's fight. His doll is an interdimensional space whale named Baura. Ururu gets swallowed up into Baura's inner dimension, where she'll surely suffer slow digestion forever.
Skip ahead to the end for some epic freakout face. Magical last minute animation budget augmentation ritual?
Rangiku calls Soul Society to make the battle area safe to fight in. I'm sure from now Soul Society will be quite snappy with providing their soul reapers what they need to fight effectively and covertly in the real world, he wrote sarcastically.
The whole "good guys need bailing out" thing is even worse when it's an original character (Noba, in this case) doing the bailing. However, this fight is worth watching solely for Sawatari's awesome faces. It's also got some decent tactics going on. Chad eventually manages to land a punch on Baura, and it spits her back up unscathed.
You know, Sawatari, I think your idea for a surprise attack is mitigated by Baura's being a gigantic space whale.
The next story thread is INVADE THAT CAVE, featuring Dr. Insano's dear vampire brother Ugaki.
Son of Insano all grown up
He's the guy who helped Kariya devise the soul-sucking bug ritual through his MAD BOUNT SCIENCE. Ugaki prefers to attack from the shadows--LITERALLY!!
Pretty sure ash doesn't work like that.
Ugaki's doll of shadows, Geselle, seems to be controlled via Tarot card. Is there a specific combination of cards to signal "plunk the blonde one with a finger flick"
3:31--Orihime protecting Ichigo with her shield, and it's not a chapter ending!? YOU SPOIL US, ANIME
Since Geselle can only emerge from shadows cast from the light of the floating demon eye thingies, they devise a plan to destroy them. This plan consists of slashing them until they're dead. Ugaki is unnerved by this unexpected display of basic competence--these real human beings react completely differently than his 5-inch figurines!!
Geselle can apparently morph into anything, which means Ugaki suffers from the same lack of imagination as Green Lantern. Facing an adversary whose sword can immobilize your weapons by increasing their weight? A SPIKE BALL WILL SOMEHOW WORK THIS TIME
If Ugaki needs a permanent light source, all he needs to do is push up his glasses.
Geselle manifests in full form, and Renji sticks around alone to face it with his bankai. Renji is so terrible at his job he has trouble defeating this loser even with a humongous energy cannon snake god on his side. Geselle wigs out and turns on Ugaki as the cave crumbles, leading Ugaki to shout why Kariya would leave him to die. No, not really the sharpest judge of character, is he?
1:17--Kariya, you run like a ninny.
Kariya deflects Ichigo's sword strokes with his bare hands, and then HAND PLUNGES Ichigo's gut (what is it with Bleach and finger-puncturing people anyway?), but only after Ichigo impresses us all by managing not to cut himself in two rolling with his sword in hand like that.
Oh yeah, since Bounts have the oddly parsed ability to "manipulate the atmosphere," Soul Society theorized the Bounts were gathering energy to merge the real world and Hueco Mundo. Kariya's actual motive is to crash into Soul Society (using Ishida's arrow to power their Bount space portal) and destroy it, for revenge. Join the club, Kariya.
Kariya lifts Zangetsu to spear Ichigo with it, but Ichigo shoves it into his own heart and, through an inner world bit of dialogue, unlocks his bankai once again, enabling him to fight on par with Kariya. However, Ishida arrives to unilaterally open the gate to Soul Society with an energy arrow, presumably intent on making every day for Ichigo as miserable as possible. Oh, and also because everyone will be stronger fighting in Soul Society. Including the Bounts. Now that's thinking outside of the box, Ishida! But could you go apply your massive intellect somewhere else next time, please? Like Minecraft or something.
Ishida was able to use his powers again due to a doodad given to him by Nemu after she visited him while he was moping over Yoshino's death, but the bangle was only meant as a temporary training crutch and can explode at any moment due to its fragility.
THIS must be why, when Ishida encountered Mayuri again, he didn't fly into instant kill at all costs mode!
Join us next time for our next and final part, BOUNTS IN SPAAAAAACE, ahem, Soul Society.