Sunday, 13 May 2012

Attack From Behind: Movie 4 Review


Alternate subtitle: Ichigo's Life Is a Travesty, Deluxe Edition

Fuck me, Ichigo's ekes out a miserable goddamn existence.

"Which dimension is in danger of crumbling this time?"

"Hell. And it's your fault. You've just condemned the whole of reality to become hell."

"Excuse me while I crawl in the corner and rock back and forth sucking my thumb."

Forgot the BLEACH universe had a hell? So did Kubo, probably up until his editors told him to use it for the movie. It first appeared in Chapter 12, and the entire realm of Hell is never mentioned again in the main series after that (not even filler). For perspective, the series is up to Chapter 491 as of the time this article was published.

The gates of Hell appear to snatch up any dying Hollow whose prior existence as a human was evil. Ichigo and friends defeated just such an evil Hollow (a serial killer, no less), and lo and behold,


"You know, it would have been awful nice of Soul Society to apprise humanity of the possibility of eternal damnation."

Two questions: a) What of the moral dilemma of infinite punishment for finite crimes? Doesn't that make Hell eviler than the evil? By like a lot. b) Who is it that's doing the judging here? If there's a separate realm reserved for evil people, there's got to be some higher power to discern who's evil, right?

In an earlier, article, I erroneously stated that Kubo wrote this movie, but apparently he was just the production director. Not sure what that means, I thought maybe he just came up with the character and setting designs, but the Wiki tells me the character designer is some other dude. The writer is actually the same chick who wrote Movie 3 (my favorite), Takahashi Natsuko. In any case, Kubo must have written the promotional manga tie-in chapter, the unforgivens, let's review that real quick.

21 pages!! the magazine boasts. Little does the reader know most of those extra pages are empty space. Until he or she reads it. Read it here.


Fucking hell, Kubo.

STOP DOING THAT. It's not artsy, it's unbelievably lazy.

Szayel and Aaroniero (or however you're supposed to spell their names, by the way, how is it that Hollows acquire names?) wake up in an unfamiliar realm, Hell. That must mean those two Espada were evil as humans, right? But if you think about it, all Menos are tons of Hollows mashed together; it's just that levels of Menos above Gillian (Adjuchas and the ultimate Vasto Lorde) have a single consciousness that rose up as the guiding intelligence. So, does that mean all the other individual Hollow spirits that comprise their bodies went to Soul Society while the guiding intelligences, Szayel's and Aaroniero's consciences, were cast down to hell in the form of their bodies when they were Arrancarized Menos, only much weaker because now they're just single souls? Or is every Hollow attached to the guiding intelligences condemned alongside them?

Aaroniero rounds on Szayel after he says he'd have loved it if Aaroniero's tank cracked so he could study the fluid, but Szayel says "hold up, shouldn't we try to understand where we are before we try to kill each other."

The main villain guy, Shuren, shows up with the answer.

The two Espada attack Shuren and ask him if there's a way to escape. There isn't. They'll have to listen to Shuren if they want to get by in Hell; just look at his minions.

Winners at life.

Aaroniero releases his Resurrecion, GLOTONERIA, which has supposedly absorbed the powers of 10,000 different beings. Szayel charges up a Gran Rey Cero (read: a beam that's slightly larger than regular beams). Shuren understandably sneers at both and wipes them out off-panel. Then he gazes into his magic scrying lantern at the only entity powerful enough to blast the Gates of Hell and free them at last:


And then Ichigo sneezed. Blood.

Since the chapter's numbering is "Imaginary Number 01," I'm not sure if it's meant to be non-canon, or if Kubo doesn't understand what the English word "imaginary" connotes.

Let's also cover the anime tie-in episode (299), which is definitely not canon.

The Hollow that got sent to Hell in Chapter 12/Episode 5, named Shrieker, breaks out and eats random shinigami in Karakura to draw out the object of his vengeance, Rukia. He wears the same cloak and mask the Sinner villains from the movie do whenever they're in the real world.


Rukia and Renji manage to defeat him, but he can just return to Hell anytime he wants using his impromptu portal.


This is the first time Sinners have ever infiltrated into the real world as far as Soul Society knows, and so Yamamoto has ordered Rukia and Renji to find out more--but under no circumstances must they involve Ichigo! They've also got an emergency retreat spell jiggered up and ready to go, which Renji will use in the movie.


The episode also covers the tie-in chapter (it's only about 4 or 5 minutes of screentime translated from the page, lol), with a few differences. Instead of an exchange between Shuren and Szayel as Szayel is charging up his Cero ("I no longer need you!" "No, I no longer need you!"), they use that time to explain that one of Shuren's minions (the tentacle one) offed Shrieker (he'd outlived his usefulness) after their experiment with him proved successful. The implication: Now they're going to infiltrate the human world!

THE MOVIE

The movie begins with the fight between Ulquiorra and asspull super-form Ichigo.

God I hate asspull super-form Ichigo. Hate hate hate. I know that the movie is somewhat admirable in trying to use that form as something other than a guileless plot device to kill Ulquiorra, but I just can't stand its existing in the first place. I'm not saying it doesn't make sense, I'm just saying it's lame and predictable (despite no foreshadowing apart from maybe concluding that's what a Vasto Lorde looks like, maybe). The whole Ulquiorra fight could have been so much better, and in the end we had to settle for the trite and tired "Oh no, he's unleashed THE INNER BEAST! Because Orihime fulfilled her role as transformation bait!"

After that, we get a brief flash of a Sinner in the bowels of Hell, chained and wailing as he is reconstructed from the skeleton to the muscles.

"Nooo, dissolved in grape juice foreeeeeveeeeeeeeeeeeer!!"

I think we can assume that after he witnessed Ichigo's asspull, his flesh exploded away in sheer indignation. I can commiserate.

Cut to Karakura, Ichigo is roughing up punks that kicked aside an offering of flowers left on the side of the road by the parents of a kid who recently died, exactly like in the first chapter, except it's a little boy instead of a little girl.

So many kids dying in Karakura, yeesh. We need guardian angels, not death gods.

Rukia and Renji meet Ichigo, and Renji chastises him for giving the kid another day with his folks before beaming him up; Ichigo replies that he's just a substitute, it's regular shinigami that should be beaming up these souls. Gotta side with Ichigo, another day in the world of the living skulking around doing nothing is better than the same day spent skulking around doing nothing in Soul Society. Rukia and Renji intimate that there's a mission they can't let Ichigo in on. And he's like, whatevs, it's time for the Kurosaki family scene where Isshin's a goof and his sisters are cute villain bait.

Isshin is written out as having to attend an overnight academic meeting.


Hey, Isshin, how about ever doing anything to alleviate your son's titanic burden? You captain-class shinigami, you. You can't save a few souls now and again? What the fuck, man.

A random explosion in Karakura High that almost kills some students, it must be 3rd period.

You'd think there'd be more students transferring out of Karakura High. And the whole town.

Chad saves a girl from getting crushed, and that will be one of his ten seconds of screentime.

There are reiatsu traces, but not of any spiritual entity they know. It wasn't a Hollow attack. Soon enough, the culprits reveal themselves: It's the Sinners! Renji joins the fray against them, and Renji informs Ichigo that one of their number has kidnapped his sisters. Go after them! It's clear the Sinners are after Ichigo from their discontent as his departure.


The Sinners are all wearing those masks and cloaks, and they showcase their various abilities (tentacles, energy absorption, being really dumb and strong, etc.). Ishida shoots off one of their masks, and the Gates of Hell immediately appear to drag the Sinner back (as seen in the article banner). I think that guy is the chained dude we see after the Ulquiorra sequence.

Rukia is fighting the Sinners who kidnapped Ichigo's sisters, but the tentacle one (Gunjou) is too strong. The main villain, Shuren, has a fire ability and beats Ichigo back ("You want your sisters back, come down to Hell and help us out."). Gunjou nearly absconds with both Yuzu and Karin.


But then a bandaged man bursts out and takes Karin back. An unexpected ally! And he seems to be a Sinner as well; the other Sinners curse his name.


However, the villains manage to take Yuzu away. Ichigo has every intention of chasing after them, but he'll need the newcomer's help.


His name is Kokutou (voiced by Zoro's seiyuu), and he says he's only in it to give those other Sinners what for. He was sentenced to a life in Hell after he committed an unforgivable sin avenging his own sister, but like the villains, he found a way to dance around in the real world for brief periods. Regardless, Hell will summon them for more and more torture and soul-crushing cycles of death sooner rather than later.

The same ragtag bunch that invaded Hueco Mundo--minus Chad because he spent himself shielding Rukia and Karin from one of Shuren's fire blasts, sigh--invade Hell, yet again for a girl kidnapee. 

"If you asked me which was which, I would said this was Soul Society and the other was Hell. Not for nothing."

If Yuzu stays in Hell for very long, she will become corroded and turn into a chained Sinner, soul purity notwithstanding. Hell exerts a similar evil influence over Ichigo, drawing out his Hollow mask when he's got his guard down.


The first level of Hell is inhabited by a bunch of drooling, demented Sinners in Hell-cubicles (how fitting) who get mangled by the Kushanards, the invincible sentries of Hell, without end, reborn only to get mangled over and over.


Why are some Sinners granted power? So that they can keep on attempting to defeat the Kushanards, and fail forevermore until they're mentally shattered and beg for a release that will never arrive.

Second level of Hell, a pool with stone platforms:


It's the level of Hell that lulls Sinners into a false sense of security, I guess. Either that or the Kushanards enjoy taking a dip to wash off all that blood now and again.

This is where Shuren's villain squad fights our heroes, and Ichigo runs off to Level 3 alongside Kokutou as his nakama buy him time. It's mostly predictable how the gang wins; just take whatever move Kubo used in canon and tweak it slightly. Rukia's is exactly the same as when she killed Aaroniero. After she gets herself impaled/ bound and her sword broken, she recreates her sword's blade inside her enemy's body.

This strategy can't be very healthy, Rukia.

Each one of them is defeated, but we find out later through Shuren's villainous "Come at me bro" monolgue that their defeat was part of the plan all along. Sinners can't "die," they'll simply be reborn at the very bottom ring. All our heroes have managed is to send the bad guy crew back down to where Yuzu is being held hostage. This makes me wonder why they put up such a struggle here; why didn't they just die as soon as possible? I guess to keep Rukia, Ishida and Renji occupied?

Level 3:


A scuffle with a Kushanard results in Kokutou pushing Ichigo out of the way of some of that lava stuff, and Kokutou gets burnt, revealing his invisible chains. Kokutou proffers his "I couldn't save my sister" sob story when Ichigo asks why he's going through all this just for Ichigo's sister. Together they enter Level 4:


All that sand is the pulverized bones of countless denizens of Hell. Hell is so much cooler than Hueco Mundo, which is basically just a run-of-the-mill desert. I honestly don't know which is worse, living as a Hollow or living as a Sinner. Hollows aren't routinely tortured, but at any moment they could get gobbled up by a bigger badder Hollow. It's the devil you know versus the one you don't.

Kokutou pleads to Ichigo, and Ichigo assents that, if it's within his power, he'll free Kokutou from Hell. When they get to Shuren and Yuzu's cage, Shuren springs his surprise and his minions resurrect from the lava-goo.


Kokutou can't believe they revived this soon--They say it's because they have "high intelligence" that they can snap back so quickly, we'll have to take their word on that. Wait, if that's the case, shouldn't Shuren have gleaned that from battling with the villain crew frequently enough to be a nemesis of theirs?

Kokutou takes a fireball aimed at poor helpless unconscious Yuzu, then drags two of the minions with him into the lava. Ichigo needs to draw down his mask to beat Shuren, but doesn't have to resort to losing his shit in his evil super-form, so Kokutou decides to help that process along by flinging a friendly sword into his body.

9 out of 10 doctors agree this is to be avoided.

That was some throw!

Yes, BLEACH Twist Syndrome once again rears its ugly head. Well, at the very least, this time it makes sense, and definitely telegraphed given Ichigo takes down the "main villain" halfway through the movie, but it's still a little Oh come onnn. Ichigo can never catch a fucking break, can he? He's, like, 15, and he's already been betrayed and stabbed through more times than Christ on the cross--or Hinamori!

"If you'd like me to twist the sword as I'm taking it out, gurgle for me. That's it."

Kokutou tells Ichigo he promised to free him; the only way to do that is to unleash the beastly power of his super-form. It was Kokutou that spread the rumor about Ichigo's potential in the first place, which lead Shuren and his cronies to mistakenly believe they could direct Ichigo's laser at the Gates of Hell and rush out to freedom--but it's actually the phantasmal chains that need to be blasted off, Kokutou asserts. How does he know that? He must have an insanely high intelligence, he snapped back from the lava in like a minute and a half.

While slicing at the lava to keep the other Sinners from regenerating fully, Kokutou raves that killing his sister's killers felt hollow and empty, and so now his MO is to make everybody feel his pain.

Remedial Ethics for you, sir.

He doesn't care if Hell leaks into the world of the living and everything becomes Hell, so long as he finally tastes liberty once more. Uhh, wouldn't you then just be moving from one hell to another? Not that that's a far cry from the norm in this universe, of course.

Kokutou easily pwns Rukia, Renji and Ishida in seconds, goading Ichigo to give in to hatred and assume his super-form. Then he tosses Yuzu into the lava below, and Ichigo jumps in to save her, but loses it after he lands.

Yuzu's class assignment: How My Brother Rescued Me from the Pits of Hell By Transforming into a Raging Demon Lord.

Ichigo's demon hax lasers were just really big beams in the manga/canon, but here they're RIDICULOUS. They engulf the ENTIRE PLANE OF HELL in nuclear-scale explosions and even burst through the Gates into, of course, Karakura.

 Karakura Tourism Board: Spiritual fire blasts periodically tear through the air, and this one time, it was merely a signal flare that brought us glad tidings from the very maw of Hell as it came reduced to nothing."

Renji bravely charges forth to cut off one of Ichigo's horns and casts the emergency teleportation spell on him before all of Kokutou's chains come off. Ichigo wakes up in Soul Society, desperately seeking medical aid for the still-unconscious Yuzu. Orihime tries her hand at reverting Yuzu to normal, but her healing barrier cracks. Ichigo's VA does a superb job relaying Ichigo's sheer anguish as he's told there's nothing he can do for her--she's been doomed to ceaseless misery in Hell. Your little sister dying is one thing--already the pain must be unimaginable. Hearing your sister is doomed to HELL!? I'd have died of shock. Not only that, but Rukia, Ishida and Renji are still rotting in Hell, too. THIS IS NOT THE LIFE A 15-YEAR-OLD SHOULD LEAD.

ONE MILLION YEARS OF TACT

Because Ichigo destroyed the chains and the Gates of Hell, Hell itself is encroaching on the real world. If Ichigo hadn't acted so selfishly, this would have never happened.

Know how you might have avoided this catastrophe, Yamamoto? You could have started by NOT BEING AN INCOMPETENT ASS AT EVERY INFINITESIMAL, BARELY EXISTENT ATOM OF AN ATOM OF A THING IN THE FUCKING MULTIVERSE, YOU VACUUM-BRAINED FUCKCLOWN.

How about telling Ichigo basic information he should know ANYWAY, let alooooone restraining him from entering Hell. How about posting protection for his loved ones? Telling Isshin something's amiss? Fucking ANYTHING apart from keeping Ichigo in the dark, and then berating him for attempting to save his sister from eternal damnation. Yamamoto, YOU are the scumbag of the millennium, no question about it.

Oh, and guess what? Yuzu gets better anyway, with no medical intervention at all. So Yamamoto was talking out of his ass.

Is every dimension in BLEACH absurdly easy to destroy, or what? This universe is more fragile than a case of china held by a Jason victim at a summer camp in the center of the Earth.

Byakuya tells Ichigo to think about what Rukia, Renji, and Ishida's sacrifice means--they allowed Ichigo to escape. Ichigo settles on invading Hell again for them. Byakuya, you rule breaker, this is unexpected. There's some good in you after all! Now you're going to join Ichigo in his quest to rescue your adoptive sister haha of course not let the peon handle that.

Orihime gets Ichigo to promise to return from Hell safely, which is not something every 15-year-old girl has to do. The barrier team erecting a force field around the ruptured Gate of Hell, including Captains Hitsugaya and Ukitake, tell Ichigo to back off, but he flies through after Byakuya ravages a Kushanard with Senbonzakura.

Ichigo plummets down through every previously traversed level of Hell to face off against Kokutou. Kokutou flaunts the chained bodies of his comrades.

But enough about Kubo's writing chops.

Then Rukia is reborn from the lava-goo as a Sinner.

"Well, it all started when you gave me your powers because you forgot to release your sword, then unwittingly accepted a gigai with a magical wish-granting artifact in it that sealed away your powers in an attempt to destroy the artifact..."

Kokutou says Ichigo will need to destroy their chains, too. Ichigo says he'll destroy their chains without destroying Kokutou's, but Kokutou's too strong for him to forgo Hollowification. They fall to the true lowest level of Hell:


Kokutou monologues about how hatred and revenge made him stronger; Ichigo begins to succumb to the rage once more--which spurs the hulking Kushanards to gang up on Ichigo for some damage control--but he resists and tells Kokutou that's a bunch of bullshit.

Ichigo shucks his Hollow form just in time for the Kushanard's hand slap to turn from SQUISH to GRANT SKULL POWEEEER


LOL. I like how the Kushanard designed the armor for a person with one more ab. YOU'RE UNWORTHY, ICHIGO.

He beats Kokutou (who briefly rejoices that his chains have been severed, only to be chained up again), returns with nakama in tow, and after the credits Yuzu and Karin wake up and are okay, the end.

Final Verdict: 6/10
The animation was the best yet. The plotting was very tight, and the movie was quite creative and cohesive with its setting. It also tried something new with the plotting, setting up the main antagonist by giving us some downtime in between Ichigo and Kokutou's fights. Moreover, Ichigo's gut-clenching pathos over his horrid situation definitely established a sympathetic link with the viewer. Finally, that worked thematically with the main villain's obsession with hatred and vengeance, and Ichigo's conscious decision to eschew both. Kokutou was a decent villain, and even though his twist did provoke a groan, it sort of worked in the end.

However, there are several things that put me off. While I loved that the Gotei 13 didn't swallow up the screentime like in every other movie, I hate how Chad got sidelined again. I hate how Karin and Yuzu only ever serve as excuses to get Ichigo fighting (Ichigo never spends any time with them, or engages with them. They're not characters, they're plot devices). I fucking hate that bullshit Vasto Lorde or whatever super-form of Ichigo's, regardless of whether or not the movie based itself around it, I just can't help but despise it and everything it stands for. Even Ichigo's new regular mask is stupid; it changed for no other than reason than it's easier to draw.

And then the Kushannards grant Ichigo yet another super-form, ugghhh.

Let's talk about something that is actually the movie's fault again! The designs of the villains, they're so tokeny, just like in Movie 1.

You've got your dumb big bruiser guy
His sin was roiding it up at a bodybuilder's competition

Your asinine flamboyant one that talks all stupid-like and looks like a toilet
His sin was existing

And wait what fuck, that last one, again

Lips all over him? Point off the movie, it's now 5/10.

7 comments:

  1. Everything is good except that Szayzl was killed by a zampakutou after he got slipped some drugs because Mayuri wanted to make sure to kill him. We also got some lines about him waiting impatiently for the zampak to pierce his heart. On another note, what are your top 10 favourite and least favourite bleach characters?

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  2. Sorry for nitpicking, but old Aaron is a gillian. Also could you please post your least favorite and least favorite bleach characters in a countdown?

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    1. I don't know that I could come up with so many least favorite characters. I'll try my hand (picking from canon).

      Favorites:

      1. Neliel. I know, she's pretty much a stupid asspull too, but I can't help but love her.
      2. Rukia, of course.
      3. Ichimaru. He really should have stayed the main villain.
      4. Yoruichi, mostly just because she's hot. No one ever said I wasn't shallow.
      5. Mayuri. Ol' bastard's got that mad science mojo.
      6. Chad. What a waste of what could have been a great character.
      7. Tatsuki. Ditto for her.
      8. Komamura. He's cool.
      9. Uhhh... Keigo, I guess?
      10. Keigo's sister, lol.

      Least favorite characters:

      1. Kenpachi. Whoa, he's so insanely invincible, yawn. *HE'S* fucking boring. He loves fighting, and that's pretty much it. How is a character coming to pwn someone awesome if that character is basically unbeatable from the outset?
      2. Aizen. I ought to knock your smug teeth out.
      3. Riruka.
      4. Ryuuken. That's Ishida's dad. Isshin never helps, either, of course, but at least he isn't a humorless turd. Speaking of humorless turds--
      5. Hitsugaya.
      6. Orihime. If you're going to be calling out "Kurosaki-kun" ad nauseum, CALL HIM ICHIGO, YOU DUMBSHIT.
      7. Let's see. Starrk. Because I was really hoping against hope Kubo was going to make Halibel #1, but of course it went to the bishie whose release turned out to be, sigh, really big fucking beams.
      8. Tres Bestias, all three of them are annoying. Shut your gobs.
      9. Luppi. Yeah, remember him?
      10. Findor. EXACTA!! Shut the fuck up, Kubo.

      Cuulhorne is in the limbo of alternate love and hate.

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    2. I think Ichigo is way worse than Kenpachi. At least with the latter, you know what to expect and don't have to fear a new bullshit powerup...

      And oh Starrk, you poor chump. Considering this whole mystery about the exact rank of the top Espada which left fans arguing for years, you really didn't last nearly as long as Halibel or Baraggan - not to mention that you were kinda lame (at least his weapon was a slightl breth of fresh air)...

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  3. Super-Form Ichigo was a huge asspull - but so was Ulquiorra's second Resurreccion. Either Kubo couldn't decide on a single design for his Resurreccion, or he needed an excuse for Ulqie to be the TRUE top Arrancar - not that he needed to: He was already kicking Ichigo's ass before, so by powering up even more he probably had to pull his punches as to not kill Ichigo will a single strike Oo

    Oh, and speaking of the infamous Bleach Twist Syndrome: What if Yamamoto is actually evil? All his incompetence would suddenly make sense! It's so brilliant that I doubt it'll ever happen, though...

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    1. It's a running joke between me and my friend taht Yamamoto is nothing more than a senile old man, who's actions are mostly motivated by someone stealing his juicebox (Which he already drank).

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