Friday, 10 February 2012

Attack From Behind: Filler Arc Review [4]

On a very special article of

We shall discuss the great big web of MURDER and ASSASSINATION at the heart of the second filler arc, the Kasumiouji Conspiracy!

Oh... oh God, where are the assassins!?

With this many freakin' assassins, just as many people are bound to die, right!?

Before we begin, we must make mention of the odd placement of the arc. Kubo was taking beyond forever with the Arrancar saga, and so the anime staff was forced to shoehorn in a completely unrelated filler arc right after Ichigo defeated Grimmjow. They even make fun of it.

That happens with the next filler arc as well, which is shoehorned in after the final Ichigo vs. Ulquiorra fight begins. I can promise, however, that


Never. Never ever.

Okay, let's get this started. So we've got a new captain to replace Ichimaru for Squad 3. His name is Amagai Shuusuke.

"I was asked to design a 'shmuck,' for the new arc, whaddya think? Wha, you're gonna make him CAPTAIN!?"

And here's the main villain:

"Wha, AND the big bad!?"

Uhh, I mean THIS guy, Kumoi, is the main villain!

"For the last time, I do NOT have a fondness for goats. Why is that so hard to believe!?"

All right, all right, so you've come to the only conclusion one can draw: Amagai is indeed the main antagonist. For a filler captain, there are only two possible outs for when canon rolls back in--heroic sacrifice, or turning traitor. There's no way any good guy's going to die taking out an ugly old fuck like Kumoi, and this is anime continuity, where every other loser that's found an exploit has been scheming for ages to exact poorly reasoned revenge. Which leaves a single option.

And no wonder Kira--who will now have been serving under TWO traitorous captains--is so fucking miserable.

"Shh. Sh-sh-sh-sh. You know it. I know it. Let's just enjoy the ride."

However, this arc does give Kira a chance to shine by handing him an evil 3rd Seat to fight named Kibune.

"Am I Aizen and Szayel Aporro's love child, you ask? I abhor how we must append labels to everything."

Here's the other main antagonist, the assassin leader Hanza.

What is the point of the mask if you have an identifying scar.

 Aaand I'm going to have to introduce the folks in the banner, aren't I. You know what, fuck it, just watch the opening.

The moment at 0:43 where Ichigo's reaction to a random soul-assassin kidnapping is STERN LOOK makes me laugh

So much more time is spent on the two retainers of the young princess Rurichiyo, Kenryuu and Enryuu (neither of whom amount to much) than on the new captain, that I'm wondering if they thought the two might have become lingering comic relief filler characters after the arc ended, just like the modsouls from the Bount arc. In any case, if there's anything in this opening that made you the slightest bit interested in what might happen, then I admire your open-mindedness. But the fact that half of it is basically a whole lot of nothing tipped me off like a warning call.

Typically, when a new opening comes on, it takes a while to warm up to the music, but you're there after around three episodes. Such is not the case with this song, which at best could be called mediocre.

So was I predisposed to dislike the arc? Maybe. It's definitely not as entertaining as the Bount arc was. But I'll try my best to represent it fairly.

We start off with Amagai's introduction as he's promoted to fill Ichimaru's place as captain. Everybody in Squad 3 moans at the prospect of following the orders of an unknown newbie (he's back from a long mission on the "Expeditionary Patrol Unit"), but quickly conclude that Kira is not much better as a leader. Amagai's got to prove himself. Kira throws a welcome party at the 3rd Division, and Amagai passes out with a single saucer of sake.

"God fucking SHIIIIT, Kira, you've slapped me with the jones.  Like, BAD, man. Thirty years sober!"

Gillians show up in the Precipice World, and Amagai protects his division (as was his vow) from a rogue Sweeper, while drunk, with his rad tuning fork.


The next episode introduces THOSE WHOM ICHIGO MUST PROTECT, Princess Rurichiyo and her two guards, Kenryuu and Enryuu.

Likening your arrows to a pesticide is not an insult, Ishida. Now if Ichigo has said, "You pierced those Hollows like I pierced your momma, everywhere at once!"... THAT would be an insult.

Rurichiyo moves in next door to Casa Kurosaki (yes, really) and Kenryuu (the one that's not mute) acts like a conceited prick noble towards Ichigo and casts a barrier spell to ward him off, leading Ichigo to issue the ultimate insult, "Byakuya-like."

The tragic effects of Stockholm Syndrome.

After buying a special reiatsu-cloaking gigai for Rurichiyo, they... they... become transfer students. SIGH.

"This is still funny after the seventeenth time, right? RIGHT!?"

The level of  purposeful cluelessness on the part of everyone at Karakura High is breathtaking. With powers of deduction like that, it's no wonder they're in that same class for eternity.

 A light sword? But where are the rainbow droplets!?

The assassins after Rurichiyo's life use special non-Zampakutou weapons called "Bakkoutou," which aren't connected with any particular person, and so can be used and reused by different slayers of the night. However, they have a nasty habit of devouring the user if too much reiatsu is poured into them. This assassin's Bakkoutou, the mirror weapon Saiga, requires the wielder to always attack head on, which if you think about it is utterly useless for an assassin.

Why do they want to kill Rurichiyo? Kumoi (the monocled goat man) is the dastardly old schemer who manages the family affairs of Rurichiyo's house, "Kasumiouji," and so he's determined to off the heiress for to place his grubby mitts on power (or so we're lead to believe). However, her guards are keeping that a secret from Rurichiyo herself.

And so Ichigo has to piss away time with a screechy spoiled little brat all day, pretending it's not just an obligation thrust on him by Kenryuu. However, the cat's out of the bag when Ichigo tells Rurichiyo to EAT HER GODDAMN CARROTS ALREADY (okay, maybe not like that).

"So how many girls does this make, Ichi-nii? Six? Seven? No wonder you're gone all the time."

Kenryuu tells Ichigo to lay off her, and he (understandably) gets pissed at him for imposing so much on his generosity. Rurichiyo gets pissed at Kenryuu and Enryuu for sheltering her so much that she didn't even know carrots were grown by hard-working farmers, and she storms off.

A chinstrap for the reishi-concealing veil might have been a sound investment, guys.

The bakkoutou that generates walls, Kakuyoku, is kind of cool and definitely creative. Makes sense for an assassin to wield. Later on, a stronger assassin will be able to merge with the walls, which is even handier for the trade. If I were to discover there's a half dozen trained killers whose sole mission is to send me to my untimely grave, I wouldn't mind getting eased into that notion with fun wall magic.

Kenryuu's release covers the enemy's weapon in flower blossoms using a cloud of pollen. I wonder what his bankai would be.  Maybe the pollen attracts a massive swarm of soul-bees. Or maybe...

Flower-fox, flower-fox! Does whatever a flower can!

Back in Soul Society, everyone likes Kibune over Kira, and then there's a standoff (in the old Hollow pit in the ruins of the execution ground) when Kibune reveals himself to be a callous cockmongrel. (As if the glasses weren't enough proof.)

"He'll hit the bottom!" The debate, finally settled: Kira does know how gravity works.

"Now, rampage... RePOOOOOOOOOO!" 

Okay, several things. One, there are still Hollows here even after the pits are no longer used--Mayuri couldn't find a better place to cage up his experimental Hollows? Two, there's no one looking after them. Three, shouldn't these Hollows need to eat human souls for sustenance? Four, isn't this torture? Hollows are tortured by hunger, after all. Five, if the Hollows make it outside, as Kira fears, there's an entire citadel of soul reapers whose job is to kill/purify Hollows. Five, Amagai looks like he's concerned when both Kibune (Amagai's expeditionary force buddy) and Kira keep mum about whatever might have happened--why bother, if in the end it's revealed that Amagai doesn't really give a shit about anyone in Squad 3?

Six, this:

Kibune, you are aware that you can spin your ridiculously overpowered floaty blade around Kira's pathetic toothpick of a sword, right?

Rurichiyo sneaks off back to the Kasumiouji compound and the rest bolt over to Soul Society to search for her. Old conniving goat Kumoi locks Kenryuu and Enryuu in a prison, while Ichigo finds Rurichiyo at a tea party. Rurichiyo slips off, refusing to be rescued, and then.

This happens.

Assassins in all fiction everywhere: you're not supposed to pause and look menacing before the stabbing bit. You're supposed to kill your target, and then stand there and look menacing.

Lulz high point, so soon!?

Gee, I wonder if Ichigo will step in before she gets stabbed. It sure is lucky Ichigo always has such impeccable timing.

I like the dub extra that went "She's a fighting machine!" Maybe it's less that she's a fighting machine, and more that you're JUST STANDING THERE AND LETTING HER STAB YOU ALL.

Let's also give it up to the incompetence of the assassin, whose number one strategy for defeating Kenpachi is AAAAAAAAAAH

Next up is the battle of the Kasumiouji Assassins, back on Earth!

When I said just as many people would die for the number of assassins, I wasn't joking--I just didn't mention that the dead people would be the assassins themselves.

One wonders what Kumoi must have said to make all these assassins so suicidally determined. "Hey, if would mean a bunch, to me, if after you guys failed after, what's this now, the... 54th, time, you finally reaped a sure kill."

The mirror sword, Saiga, is far more interesting than Nukui is. When I first watched this, I thought, hey, wouldn't be cool if Ichigo used Saiga himself as a sort of supplemental side arm to defeat whatever threat he'd have to take down at the arc's finale? This was not to be, but then I hadn't known that BLEACH is, in fact, the series of perpetual disappointment.
Kumoi finds a new head of house, Shuu.
"I say, how long's he been looking at that squirrel?" "Ten hours, sir."

"No, young master, it's 'adieu.'"


"Say it with me now: adieu."

"A... doooooy." 

Lol, those aren't even real jokes. Already I'm struggling to find things to say. Gurgh, no choice!


Captain Commander Yamamoto, the New Transfer Student!?

Yamamoto Genryuusai Shigekuni, and Komamura Sajin

Ichigo's brilliant teacher and classmates

"All right, everybody, greet our new transfer student!"

"A BEARDED OLD MAN!?" blurted Keigo. "That's downright unusual!"

"And he looks REALLY WEIRD in a traditional Japanese middle school uniform!" added another one of the named classmates who have gotten maybe three panels in 500+ chapters. "Have we explained the joke enough yet?"

"SILENCE!" The gnarled staff struck the floor and the offending humans were taught the importance of living every day as though they'd get turned to ash the next morning. No, that was merely a passing dream.

"All right, children, no probing questions or malicious rumors until after class, and you're all to learn these kanji when writing his name... that actually might take a while, since these characters can't be less than a 1,000 years old..."

Come to think of it, Yamamoto came to think, why shouldn't I simply incinerate every last human on the planet, and thereby give all the lazy ass shinigami squads some actual work reaping souls!?

"Eyes on the prize, Most Honored Commander," came Mayuri's voice through the little receiver in Yamamoto's ear. "We're here to appraise the gullibility and incuriosity level of the average teenager of Karakura Town, so don't blow your cover."

"But you've already got Sajin here for that," Yamamoto whispered.

Komamura, way in the back row of the classroom, would have flashed Yamamoto a sympathetic look, were it not for his face-concealing bucket-mask. Yamamoto rued the Gigai Division's flippant sense of humor. Well at least they hadn't slapped poor Komamura's gigai with a... tail.

Yamamoto violently cleared his throat to distract attention away from Komamura's unfortunate slip up. "Ahuhehem, Huma--children! Have you noticed anything strange lately? Around town?"

"Hmmm... Well, there was that one time the whole city got beamed up to another dimension... or was that a Don Kan'onji episode?" Keigo's effort at thinking thoughts could only be called cute.

"Don't you remember the butterfly man? Of course it was a Don Kan'onji episode!" fired back another classmate.

Komamura held up his binder, and scribbled on it was: I THINK WITH THAT WE CAN CONCLUDE OUR INVESTIGATION.

However, Yamamoto's own curiosity was now sufficiently piqued by humanity's sheer stupidity. "Render all of creation unto ash, Ryuujin Jakka."

The "chemistry class disaster" that would cause Karakura to vanish off the map yet again would make international news the next morning, the #2 item under a celebrity buying a litter of ten poodles.

It's one-off matchup time, starting with Rukia's.

You've got to understand, Jinnai didn't exactly have a wealth of alternative lifestyle choices. Not every hunchback can be a Quasimodo.

This dude eats a chunk off his Bakkoutou's blade to sprout more sharp spikes, which is a fairly creative extrapolation of the "Bakkoutou consumes the wielder" drawback. I guess he's trying to outconsume the blade? Here's a question: Couldn't the assassins have figured out a better way to get around their weapons' fatal drawback? Like, I don't know, being a little sneakier than AAAAAAAAAAH. For the most part, these assassins display no guile or strategy whatsoever, they just pour all their energy into their blades--didn't they read the memo?

Let us not forget that there are plenty of reiatsu-concealing items and stealth spells for an assassin to play with. Like the veil Rurichiyo uses, for just one example.

The next assassin could rival Snake Whip Master Utagawa for wackiness. His name is Kuzu Ryu.

 Sure, okay, doesn't inspire confidence, but would you turn down a guy who can pick two locks at once, with just his hair!?

 Appropriately, "Kuzu" can also mean "garbage," and...

1: waste; scrap; garbage;
2: (Computer terminology) chad


"First it was Soul Patch the Snake-Maker, and now I get this guy!? Actually no, Snake Guy's in a class all his own."

I don't get it, what was preventing Ishida from distancing himself from the blast?

The anime guys must praise the high heavens whenever Kubo comes up with new weapons or attacks, since it frees up new writing possibilities. But they can only ever do a fight that way once. And anytime Kubo comes up with a new attack, the question will come up as to why that character didn't use that attack during whichever filler fight. It's like a tug of war match.

Haha, Genga's dub voice is really giggle-worthy. "...this kataNAA."

You know what amuses me? Any bystander watching this battle would just see Chad talking to himself and punching the air (without, I believe, even the transformed arm visible to an ordinary human), and then they'd see all the massive property damage. Wouldn't they conclude everything happening around Karakura is Chad's fault? Luckily for our heroes, people don't walk the nights in Karakura anymore. Can you really blame them, lol.

Jesus Christ, did Chad get stabbed in the fucking spine? What a beast.

Let's round off this article with Ichigo vs. Hanza Round 2, otherwise known as the Mommy Issues Match.

Hold on, Hanza, didn't you say that you understood the consequences of using a Bakkoutou? Way to die in denial.

Storytelling-wise, this is the best moment of the arc. If you watch no other video, watch this one.

Though I probably should have warned you ahead of time. Oh well, see you next week!

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