Friday, 14 September 2012

Attack From Behind: ~~Fullbringer Fullbullshit~~

So, I watched the anime up to where it abruptly sputtered to a close. I wonder when they'll make OVAs of the manga stuff after the Fullbringer arc, but as it stands now, the anime-only public must settle for a single-episode denouement of a 360+ episode series.

Yes, I watched the anime treatment of the Fullbringer arc, a serious contender for the worst, most slapdash and nonsensical arc of all published mainstream fiction. The only reason I haven't declared it THE worst is because I haven't read all of fiction. But I'm pretty sure that it's got to be at the very least #3 on the list.

I'd heard the anime pitched in some effort here or there to salvage this fivefold abortion of a storyline, and decided to give it a shot. The following is a comparison. And an excuse to fling my own shit at the Fullbringers--especially Riruka! Read the Daz's hilarious takedowns of the Fullbringer arc's absurd black hole knots of logic HERE and HERE and HERE.

For completion's sake, a rundown of the fundamental problems of the Fullbringer arc:
  1. Riruka.
  2. Riruka.
  3. Riruka.
  4. Riruka.
  5. Riruka.
  6. Yukio. Okay no, I take that back, this slot deserves to go to Riruriruriruka. Also, Yukio's name is now Asshole Beret.
  7. Everyone's total lack of intelligence, consistent characterization, and the believable behavior of real human beings. None of the main cast, not even the Gotei 13 members, come out of the arc as anything but idiots with severe personality disorders.
  8. Extreme contrivance; at no point does it feel as though the arc is moving forward in a logical manner. Successive-chapter level inconsistency and retcons.
  9. The ultimate driving purpose for the arc in the first place--giving Ichigo back his powers after the last blatantly contrived final final final Getsuga I swears on me mummy's grave it's the final Tenshou--could have been accomplished with a early spring stroll to ol' Urahara's. You know, like it was last time.
  10. Even the fights are largely godawful. Whoa I slash at you with your GETSUGA TENSHOU, whoa now you slash at me with your GETSUGA TENWHOA. Oh no I'm defeated because plot oh no plot. Meanwhile Asshole Beret is a god who controls this video game world, because that's origina-- oh shit he got freezed,  guess that's that. Not everyone has Araki Hirohiko's gift for entertaining as hell fights, but come on, some effort beyond the bare minimum would be appreciated.
  11. The pacing, dear god. Glacially slow in the beginning, exponentially rushed towards the end because of plummeting JUMP Table of Contents rankings. What a transparent disgrace to storytelling, what a slight on the noble art of manga, to your own fans. Fuck you Kubo, seriously.
  12. Chad having no relevance in what was supposed to be his own arc. He's the color spread only character, I swear.
  13. No Kon.
  14. Riruka.
  15. Riruka.
  16. Ririruriruka.
  17. I really, really fucking loathe Riruka.
  18. Before men devised the number zero, its place in mathematics was taken up by an arcane symbol meaning "Gliblord's respect for Riruka." 
  19. The very core of cosmic evil and time's juggernaut corruption scheme are actually fueled solely by my hatred for Riruka
Okay, I think it's for the best I



I suck a lot
No but seriously I'm an atrocious character
Beyond atrocious even, like balls, man
... best I stop there.

Let's see what the chapter to episode ratio was like as we kick off our manga::anime comparison.

NOTE: I won't be talking about scenes getting shuffled around. I will be talking about scenes or flourishes that have been added to or cut from canon.

Episode 343: 3rd Year High School Student! Dressed Up, and a New Chapter Begins!
Covers (2) Chapters 424-425

"Is even Asshole Beret too lazy to get more than one light installed?"
"Installing more lights would require something to do besides 'appear ominous.'"


The high schooly hijinks that make up the very beginning of the arc are, in all honesty, refreshing and executed reasonably well (Kubo's massive panel wastage notwithstanding).

That little dash is one of Ichigo's thoughts fleeing out his ear, terrified that if it rose to the surface, it might give Ichigo a compelling personality.
Kubo even deigns to give us some decent Kurosaki family interaction, fucking FINALLY. Moreover, while Ichigo was passed out, Orihime and Chad told the rest of their clique of friends (since everyone besides Orihime and Ichigo proudly stand together as the unbeatable "Useless and Forgotten Club," stand by for their spinoff series!), which makes sense given the entire city got beamed up to Soul Society during the previous arc. We can only assume there's a serial gas leak in Karakura that's rendered every other civilian blissfully oblivious.

That reminds me, the utterly bone-headed mistranslation of this throwaway line made by the initial scanlation is a sight to see.

Ahh Mangastream. I'm sure it made sense after the uppers kicked in.

Really, scanlators? Ichigo revealed his secret to his ignorant companions, Chad and Orihime, by SLEEP TALKING?

Anyway, does all this mean Yuzu still doesn't know about Ichigo's having been a shinigami? If not, what's the harm in telling her anymore? Karin is doing okay as a spirit medium, but does she know about how her dad is a captain class shinigami? Out with it already.

Speaking of Karin, it majorly sucks how Fullbullshit hinted Karin would get a character arc ("Now it's my turn to protect Ichi-nii."), and then that went exactly nowhere. Good buildup, no resolution. Fuck's sake.

How about, I don't know, fucking asking her, you clod?
Before we move on, I'd like to address this little nugget:

Lol, the Mangastream version had Isshin go "So you've finally become able to say it." My Japanese is better than that.
It's a bit funny, yeah, but doesn't that same logic apply to absolutely everyone (except so-called Sinners, I guess)? What's the point of preventing anybody's deaths? We don't know the great beyond, Ichigo and friends do. So where's the anxiety?

Ichigo: NOOOO! I need to PROTECT!

Hollow Ichigo: But--

Ichigo: Proteeeeeeeect

Hollow Ichigo: ...But they'll just become souls anyway. What's so great about meat bags? If they really need to be ensconced in flesh to go shopping or whatever, they can use gigais. Everybody wins.

Ichigo: But, like, there's a chance they might become Hollows?

Hollow Ichigo: Did any of the Arrancars seem especially tortured to you?

Ichigo: LOL you're right, everything I've ever known is upside-down, superior life form here we come. Hey everybody, I'll protect you INSIDE MY BELLY


Well that sketch got away from me.

On to the meat and potatoes! Ichigo might be able to pummel two-bit thugs, but there's an intriguing new plot hook and a shadowy organization now! That dude whose bag got janked by a random hood, has a Shinigami Substitute Badge himself! LOST SHINIGAMI SUBSTITUTE BADGE ARC, SUTAAATO

Okay, now the proper scanlation team fucked up. Guess it can go both ways.

"Are you sure you can't train the camera closer to my mouth? Yeah, that's it, zoom in... more. More. MORE."

"Words come out of mouths."
This shot of Ginjou's teeth was pivotal, symbolic of his rank ramen halitosis.
The anime already shows us Ginjou chilling with the other Fullbringers in the first episode, because otherwise there's not really all that much of visual interest to keep a casual viewer wanting to find out what happens next. If they'd ended it on the stupid Ginjou camera wink, that'd have been a weak hook to be sure. That's why in the manga Kubo had to write the name of the arc underneath that image, lol.

Episode 344: A Dispute in School?! Ichigo and Uryū, Fight Together!
Covers (4) Chapters 426-429

"What, Ishida, are you shocked at the guy walking in the sky? That happens like twice a day."
"No, I'm shocked at how lame his suspenders are. And I'm in a sewing club."


Really, anime guys? Ishida slaps a dude INTO A LIGHT POLE!? And that light pole crumples!?

Proving there is such a thing as too much visual interest.
In the manga, he just pushed that guy to the ground, and he skidded a little. Anime Ishida just BRAINED the poor guy at like 15 yards. GOD DAMN. Ichigo said earlier that now all the Hollows are getting exterminated Quincy-style, he hopes Ishida doesn't "overdo" it and catch Soul Society's attention. I think Ishida might be overdoing it a bit crushing the skulls of living humans as well as obliterating their souls. But it's okay, Ishida only flew off the handle because one of those punks asked if he was Ichigo, and Ishida got offended for them comparing him to Ichigo's "brutish face"! ...Pro tip Ichigo, you might want to keep a sharper eye on this guy, he seems shady.

Ishida only exterminates Hollows when he gets an order from Urahara to do so, and he believes Urahara must know what he's doing. Just like Urahara knew what he was doing when he created the Hougyoku, right? But I'm sure Urahara must have some ace plan that somehow necessitates soul obliteration, why I can think of two right now: a) replace lost population of souls by pumping out tons of kids, and b) turn evil.

In the manga, there's a callback with some ruffian (using the classic "protagonist doesn't remember offended fodder" gag), but for the life of me...?

"Sure, I saw the afterlife. It's only reaffirmed my conclusion that a thug's life is where it's at."
Well, apparently he's the thug guy from Chad's flashback.

"No, I don't ever learn. Why do you think I'm a yankii to begin with?"
I couldn't tell though because the manga's flashback panels were so messy. In any case, the anime blows past the callback nature of this guy completely, and just proceeds immediately to Ichigo's boss Ikumi tearing through them and kidnapping Ichigo back for some odd jobs.



Ikumi was pretty funny, wish she'd stuck around. She can form a club of her own with Rukia, Lovable Characters Who Never Get Screentime.

But never mind her, it's time for the main attraction. That's right...

"Yep. The only thing I'll ever allow to obscure my beautiful, beautiful mouth is a hot salty bowl of ramen."

Oh, and that familiar-looking dude behind the ramen, probably just the ramen's lackey.

Later, the true nature of this seemingly innocuous bowl of ramen will be revealed, as Ginjou's super anti-surveillance camera electronic interference device. Oh and it's also like the Hougyoku times twelve
Kubo: Looking back, I just kind of wanted to do a new manga about ramen and the ghosts that love it. But my editor shot that down.

Ginjou claims he simply stumbled into the odd job store and bumped into Ichigo by sheer coincidence; Ichigo obviously counters, then why did he randomly bring a bowl of ramen with him? This is excellent storytelling, since it foreshadows well Ginjou's fascination with pointless lying.

That's a given with you, Ginjou's eyeball
It also expertly foreshadows Ginjou's all-abiding love for ramen, which will ALWAYS carry over, no matter how many times history itself is rewritten! At least, that's my headcanon.

The anime cuts out a lot of little bits of conversation, but none that leaves a chasm in the soul for its absence quite like

How dare Ginjou's eyeball prattle on like that, Ichigo's eyeball doesn't have this sort of time to spare!
Well what do you know! Ichigo is a human who likes a thing!

The thrust of this scene, of course, is that Ginjou trolls Ichigo over how little he knows about his own dad and about Urahara, and hands him his business card ("Welcome to Our Xcution").

The anime introduces Tsukishima a bit early as a mysterious observer, studying Ishida and Orihime while standing atop a tree branch, and disappearing once Ishida catches him in the corner of his eyes. It makes more sense this way, since in the manga when it happens later on Ishida just chases after Tsukishima without that prior buildup. If he saw the same dude twice like in the anime continuity, it seems less random. Either way, in the middle of his hot pursuit of the namby-pamby suspender guy skipping about with his light novel (probably something ero like "My Little Sister Is Really Cute, Wish Society Would Let Me Grope Her!"), Ishida gets sticcccked.

In the Karakura Times, a high schooler found lying on the street with his arm randomly missing makes page 15 at best.

And yet, somehow, somehow, it turns out it was actually Ginjou who slashed Ishida up. Tsukishma must have rushed towards him in order to pass "My Little Sister Is Really Cute, Wish Society Would Let Me Grope Her! [7]" off on him before Ginjou chopped off his arm to measure how far the blood would spray. Maybe Ginjou attacked Ishida from afar with a Fullbring love-infused strand of ramen.

This is BLEACH, a papercut is enough to unleash a veritable blood tornado
Anime Ishida's got both arms intact? But how will Kubo get his rocks off now? BLEACH typically features more disembodied arms than a mass grave of lepers.

"In order to seal his totally feckless, half-assed assault, Ginjou then transformed into the moon."
Tsukishima was all like "grumpy hugs" and Ishida was all like "...friend?" but then Ginjou wanted the ramen to himself so he chopped Ishida's arm off, then Ginjou spotted a pair of paper bags in a gutter and that was too fascinating to resist so they forgot him there. Subsequently Ginjou had Shuu-chan stab a bunch of Fullbringers he called "Xcution" because his mouth was making funny noises, but not before hitting the local pharmacy for crayons so he could draw on the sidewalk and explain his master scheme of mega convoluted double-triple brainwashing.

Episode 345: Uryū is Attacked, A Threat Draws Near the Friends!
Covers (3) Chapters 428-430

"Hey Ruks. Should I hum Nothing Can Be Explained or should I let you handle it?


Ichigo and Orihime learn Ishida got sticcccked, and visit him in the hospital, where he refuses to tell them anything, I guess because of his dumb pride. Ishida's shitty surgeon dad, Ryuuken, spends a bit of quality time berating Ishida for being a weakling loser, with no hint of affection whatsoever. But he was the one who patched him up. Ryuuken then tells Orihime this is most likely the work of a human hunting other humans with powers, like herself and Chad. After returning home, Ichigo feels like he can't do anything to save anybody anymore, and in his desperation he caves in and calls up Xcution.

You know, the arc really wasn't bad at all up to this point. I think it started to roll rapidly downhill when Ichigo began his fullbring training. 

There was a ton of filler shoved in I wasn't expecting, meant to lend more depth to Ichigo's confusion and worry.

A mystery foot drops a steel girder on Mizuiro and Keigo. Tatsuki just happens by, and saves them. Too bad she can't shrug off girders like Chad can.

Now, targeting non-powered schlubs like Keigo and Mizuiro might seem incongruous, but it's actually quite appropriate, given Tsukishma's ultimate sinister purpose of killing time. Ramen's not cutting it anymore, man.
Ichigo, resolving once and for all that he doesn't need to become a shinigami again, tosses his badge into the river. Which is, again, anime-only. Also anime-only, Ichigo dreams that Rukia totally forgot about him.

While Ichigo is out shopping with his sisters, Tatsuki tells him Mizuiro and Keigo were attacked. Alarmed, Ichigo runs off towards the construction site, only to find his two school chums unconscious on the floor, an obvious trap! He's forced to hold up a bunch of steal poles from falling and crushing the two saps, and then he's accosted by his one true menace--the random thief who made off with Ginjou's bag!

Truly his presence cuts a crippling fear
He tells Ichigo he was sent by "a person" (whom we know is Tsukishima from an earlier scene), and then he starts edging in cheap shots while Ichigo can't risk moving, lest the heavy beams clatter on Keigo and Mizuiro's unconscious forms.

"MY EXCELLENT PAL Shuu-chan also instructed that I 'kick you like a cartoon prospector.'"
You're gonna kill all his friends and even his family? Uh... how? What, are you gonna glare at them until they play dead out of sheer pity? And it was already difficult to take you seriously when your ambitions ended at "make Ichigo's side smart in the morning." After Ichigo beats him off, Tsukishima randomly appears, only to be chased off by Ryuuken randomly appearing.

Seem pointless? Look at it from their perspective, they had to hype up their massive villain cast of a pair of suspenders.

Episode 346: The Fullbring User·Kūgo Ginjō
Covers (3) Chapters 431-433

I can see why you'd need key cards for an organization of 6. An organization of 6 who enjoy the unique ability to manipulate the souls of objects. Totally see why they'd need key cards.


Ichigo gets on the line with Xcution, only to be answered by a robotic voice that, after confirming they were expecting a Kurosaki Ichigo to call, orders him to redial the same number followed by 00800. Following that, he's told to hang up on the second ring, because only the third attempt will connect through. Does Ginjou's love of trolling know not limits?

It'll be another fourteen rings if you want to talk to Ginjou's face.

I'm sure in Kubo's bizarro world, this exchange merits at least a full page spread. Damn editor.
Ginjou doesn't explain what he knows about Isshin at all, admitting that was simply a pretext to draw Ichigo's attention. He instead teaches him about Fullbring. Xcution's goal: to return Ichigo's shinigami powers back to him. They need someone to pawn off their HATED CURSE Fullbringer powers to, and they can only manage that with a human with shinigami powers--the opposite of a Fullbringer, who is a human with Hollow-like powers. Fullbringers are born of pregnant mothers who came into contact with Hollows. Some time ago, a number of Fullbringers did indeed transfer their powers into another human with shinigami powers who existed besides Ichigo, returning back to being " ordinary humans." Apart from the Hollows upskirting human chicks upon catching whiffs of amniotic fluid, as well as this being explanation # eleventy as to the origin of Chad's powers, there's nothing particularly stupid about any of this. So far.

Meanwhile, Orihime notices Chad's been gone from school (which Ichigo apparently didn't, such bosom buddies they are), and she goes to check up on him, worried for a moment that he might be another victim. However, Chad's fine, he's just bumming with Xcution. Way to apprise your iron soul-bond companions, Chad. Well, I guess he was busy doing nothing, as well as doing more nothing. Riruka does nothing but shriek like a harpy the entire time, and satisfyingly hurts her hand punching Chad in the gut. Dumbass donut bitch. Though I'm sure swarms of pathetic otaku all across Japan find this tsuntsun shit "cute."

Chad's pride is his skin, right? C'mon, Chad's abs, fucking crush her hand in. C'mon. Crush it
Whereas the manga opted to cut away from the "Oof" moment with an arbitrary shot of the crescent moon.

It's a bit tough to build atmosphere this way when every fucking night is a crescent moon, Kubo.
We don't even get an "ITTTAAAAAAAAI" from Strumpet McDonuts, which the anime at least displayed the common courtesy to provide us.

Episode 347: A Creeping Danger in the Kurosaki Family?! Ichigo's Confusion!
Covers (1) Chapter 433

"So you can afford to rig our hideouts with key card readers, but not with florescent lighting?"
"Shhh. Product placement."


So, in the anime, instead of answering "yes" immediately like he does in the manga, they have Ichigo go through some filler first. And it's time to make Tsukishima an even higher profile evil-for-its-own-sake twat.

A poor Plus soul is nearing its end, about to become a Hollow any day now.

Tsukishima arrives, remarking that he's glad the shinigami haven't found him yet, and that he'll relieve the immense anguish of the poor soul's indelible grudge, as long as he does him a favor. He then stabs him in the Hollow hole and hastens his transformation.

If you think about it, there's no reason Tsukishima couldn't simply friendify this guy. He could probably friendify a petunia, of course he could friendify a Hollow.
Riruka, who's got the hots for Ichigo, stalks him under the pretense of confirming whether or not he'll be useful for their cause. The anime tries so valiantly to make her something more than a groin-wilting extraterrestrial high demon, but as we'll see later, it tries a bit too hard and only succeeds at annoying us more.

Orihime, sweetheart that she is, visits Ishida with tons of DVDs. He tells her not to heal him, since he's "got his reasons."

They sense a Hollow, and Orihime rushes off to protect Ichigo.

I take back the mean things I said about you, Orihime. Now... just call him Ichigo. Please.
Riruka, still skulking behind Ichigo, becomes jealous of Orihime. Ichigo reflects on everything that's happened and begins to regret tossing his badge into the river.

The Fullbringers get tired of waiting for Ichigo to return. Chad accosts Ichigo by the waterfront and tells him that however much Ichigo may hide it, he still wants to protect everybody--and to do that, he needs his powers. "It's been unbearable to watch you since you lost your powers. You want to fight! That's what makes you who you are."

In the manga, that was right after Ginjou's Fullbring lesson; here, Ichigo just sort of passive-aggressively leaves after clapping Chad's shoulder, saying they'll be late for class.

Karin and Riruka both sensed a "strange presence" near Ichigo's house (Ishida denied his sensing it had anything to do with his attacker, because ____).

All Ichigo can detect is a strange body odor.
Ichigo, of course, recognizes the world's number one chum from the construction site incident and bolts after him, after realizing this is who it must have been that Karin sensed by Casa Kurosaki. Tsukishima toys with him by disappearing around a series of corners. Ichigo stumbles upon Yuzu, and that's when the Hollow from earlier descends. Neither Yuzu nor Ichigo can see or sense it. Yuzu of course serves as victim bait, which is what she was born to do.


Ichigo attempts to attack it with a steel beam. Remember when normal Hollows posed a threat? Good times.

What a surprise, a slight poke caused a river of blood to pour out!
Ginjou saves the day by catching Yuzu in midair.

"...You're not ramen."
"Let's go for some ramen after I take care of this guy." And audiences cheered.

Fancy that, the anime gave Ichigo a reason to trust Ginjou! Riruka, sweetheart that she is, later bitches to Ginjou that he should have ensured Ichigo's cooperation by telling him he'd only save Yuzu if he agreed to work with Xcution. Lovely. Of course, Ichigo says yes anyway. Ginjou flings him his badge back. So we can picture Ginjou scouring every inch of the river for it, drinking as he swims.

Watching the thirty second end of episode gags is usually worth your while.
Either this is once again masterfully foreshadowing Ginjou's singular love affair with pointless lying, or he really did eat one bowl of ramen too many that evening.

Episode 348: Power of the Substitute Badge, Ichigo's "Pride"!
Covers (3) Chapters 434-436

"I'm more attached to having been a pig plushy for two minutes than you've ever been attached to that stupid badge." 


All right, this is about where the arc slides into WHAT HUH THIS IS STUPID. Riruka using her shrinking power to place Ichigo in a box so he can fight a plushy infused with a low-level yakuza is okay; Giriko (time butler guy) placing a timer on the box so Ichigo will get bashed into a pulp unless he unlocks his fullbring within fifteen minutes, not so much. Why bother with the time limit? Why does only Chad have a problem with her pulling this stunt? Albeit, I know the Fullbringers' true characters are essentially "do whatever is the most idiotically dangerous option possible."

Ichigo reasons that while Riruka's Fullbring medium is based on her love of cuteness, Ginjou's pendant (which he transforms into his broadsword) isn't something he seems particularly fond of, so it might also work with something that's simply always on one's person. Since Riruka, the person who threw Ichigo into this needlessly life or death situation in the first place, is too busy eating tsuntsun sweets, Chad tells Ichigo, just as Ichigo realizes it himself, that the thing he's closest to is his badge, so that should prove the ideal medium for his Fullbring.

Giriko's got a hand in this too, since he unilaterally set the parameters of the training to be as lethal as possible; if Ichigo is pulled out of danger, the God of Time will see a breach of contract and incinerate him and the dollhouse. XCUTION, everybody.

Chad shouts that as his powers were activated by his pride in his own skin (as opposed to the medallion his beloved abuelo and mentor passed down to him, but whatever), Ichigo should recall when he felt pride in his shinigami powers. A few flashback panels confirm that he can't even begin to count all the times he was proud of them--even though his character has essentially been "I want a normal life" this whole time. I guess if you squint that's sort of character growth?

Great job not redrawing those panels, Kubo, these totally gel with your evolved art style. Those two separate Orihime panels? Dead fucking ringers. It's incredible how hard you work.
Well, it hasn't gotten truly stupid quite yet. But it will, ohh how it will.

Go go tokusatsu~
Episode 349: Next Target, The Devil's Hand Aims at Orihime!
Covers (3) Chapters 437-439

"Kid, *I* read more nudie mags than you do. You should try 'My Little Sister Is Really Cute, Wish Society Would Let Me Grope Her,'  it's got an anime now."

Ichigo's badge fullbring power forms an energy signature that looks like the tsuba (guard) of his bankai, a big ol' swastika.

This is why each Hitlerjugend was advised not to consult with occult powers
Yes, I am aware that's not really a swastika (as I am aware lepers don't really drop body parts, sorry lepers). It's an ages-old symbol called a manji that expresses--

Lunchtime for a Hitlerjugend was referred to as a "Swastika Break." During Swastika Breaks, the little boys were allowed to wear clothes.
Well shit. It's totally a swastika. However, anime companies are still chickenshit about potential backlash, so they changed it.

Ichigo needs to learn Fullbring because the badge is still etched with the memories of his having fought countless battles as a shinigami. Ichigo now stands a fighting chance, and after he wins, Mr. Pork reverts back to normal and is released (Riruka needs to sneeze on her victims in order to roll back her power. FUNNY). For a fleeting moment, Ichigo hears Rukia's voice in the substitute badge; Ginjou glowers askew. That means the badge being a Soul Society surveillance device that Ginjou resented was foreshadowed all along. In any case, for the time being Ichigo can't train anymore because fullbring puts too much strain on his body.
Rukia isn't being ramen enough for Ginjou's liking.
Meanwhile, Shishigawara, Tsukishima's only canon flunkie, tries to attack Orihime in order to prove he's worthy of EVERYBODY'S BEST FRIEND FOREVER, only to find himself unable to mar her beauty. He's able to look her way, though, once Orihime adopts a serious face, interrogating him over who attacked Ishida. Suddenly, Tsukishima appears in a vacuum of whiteness

No! Boromir, a traitor!?
The anime decides to make it clear that the hallway, in fact, exists.

"And then Harry entered Diagon Alley..."
Tsuki admits, aye, 'twas he who attacked Ishida (but not really). Then he pulls out his sword and promises not to attack her; it's Shishigawara whom he'll punish for not staying put like he ordered. Orihime steps forward to protect Shishigawara; not out of the kindness of her heart, but because she can't let Tsukishima escape (though that line wouldn't fly in a novel).

Cut to Ichigo and Chad walking back towards Chad's place (finding Orihime's bag of leftover bread there on the doorknob), when Chad informs Ichigo he sensed something's happened to Orihime!

Episode 350: The Man Who Killed A Shinigami Substitute?! Tsukishima Makes His Move
Covers (3) Chapters 440-442

"Hi, Sado. Oh, don't worry about the slash MY DEAR FRIEND Tsukishima gave me. I was just calling because my back is acting up again! Could you come lift up my gargantuan boobs again, thanks. Usually it's Shuu-chan but..."

Tsukishima stabs Orihime, and the friendification process takes hold.

Now if only Tsukishima's power had stayed that way (as a friend-maker), that would have made for an interesting, powerful but defeatable villain. Unfortunately, this will degenerate into silliness the likes of which have never been seen before.

Orihime elects not to tell Ichigo and Chad she's begun to see Ishida's assailant as a friend, because uhh she's worried for them? Nobody tells anybody anything because they've only been through innumerable ordeals together, and should trust each other to cope by now.

Ichigo demands info from Xcution, and he's told Tsukishima is a Fullbringer who was once their leader. After some Fullbringers gave away their powers to a substitute shinigami, Tsukishima went rogue and killed them all along with the shinigami. Ginjou shows Ichigo that former substitute's badge, as proof, and subsequently speculates that Tsukishima's been doing all this to get Ichigo's attention. You might puzzle over why Ginjou's only choosing to tell Ichigo this now, but don't waste the energy, since all of this is bullshit anyway.

Ichigo stumbles upon Isshin, who's evidently meeting with Urahara. Isshin deliberately moves their conversation out of earshot, in case Ichigo's eavesdropping. In light of their objective, this makes no sense whatsoever. Their goal is to restore Ichigo's powers, why can't they just fucking tell him?

The seeds of doubt have been planted. Preventably and stupidly.

"I know how much you love false tension, Ichigo, you live and breathe it. So this is my true gift to you."
Orihime tells Chad the truth about Tsukishima's attack on the phone. Buuut. Not Ichigo. The love of her life.

When Orihime mentions a "Sushigawara" on the phone, Shishigawara sneezes on Tsukishima accidentally, because FUNNY. You know, I'm starting to think Kubo got a sudden sneezing fit, and grew paranoid that everybody he knew was mocking him behind his back. DAMN JUMP TABLE OF CONTENTS

Tsukishima's history is full of hundreds of professional fork throwing lessons
Episode 351: Fullbring, The Detested Power!
Covers (2) Chapters 441-442 + some of the flashbacks from Chapter 471 (Jesus)

"Jesus, even the DUST is pink."

So many episodes without any filler? Since BLEACH chapters are what astronauts contrast against the relatively less empty expanse of the cosmos to keep from going mad, this cannot go unchecked.

We open with a brief flash of Jackie (mocha boots chick)'s tearful history. Take notes, Kubo, you don't just pile everybody's backstories into a single fucking chapter. That's retarded.

The anime gives us a reason they're putting Ichigo under so much duress. Unlike the rest of the Fullbringers who were born with their powers, Ichigo needs to develop his powers through force of will. In order to do that, they need to put him through mental and physical extremes.

Ichigo wants the fast track so he can become useful again before Tsukishima hurts anybody else. He asks to fight one of them directly; in the manga he fights Jackie right away, here Jackie refuses, since everybody here hates their powers, or so she thinks. According to her, Ichigo may spam the word protect all he likes, he's just a naive fool who'll risk his life for his ego--he wants to be the hero of justice. Moreover, Giriko explains that if they push too hard, Ichigo's Fullbring will spin out of whack and drive his soul out of his body.

Since Jackie stormed out, and they'll be needing her later for Ichigo's training to proceed, Giriko goes after her, and they talk. Jackie asks him whether he really hates his powers, and Giriko replies with a parable.

"A certain old man had a wound on his leg from some time ago. He could predict sudden changes in the weather, gauging by how much it hurt, and so he never got drenched in the rain. When you get to be my age, you learn to live with things that once disgusted you."

Riruka sticks Ichigo in a bird cage with a Mr. Chicken and the fantastic Mr. Pork (whom Riruka ordered to be on call whenever she wants). And this time, the timer is set for ten minutes. The Fullbringers get the heebie jeebies about Chad, which distracts Ichigo. Ginjou admonishes him that Chad can defend himself.

Ichigo counters that it's not about wanting to play the hero; it's that, if he doesn't at least try, he'll regret it for the rest of his life. Jackie tells him to escape the bird cage if he wants to rush to Chad's aid, and that's when both Mr. Pork and Mr. Chicken go into Crazed Beast mode as per the timer.

Doesn't really look like a birdcage from the inside. Animating the exterior would have been a bit tough.
Ichigo overcharges his badge and overcomes.

Chad calls, he's fine. He wonders why he's just being tailed, and not attacked. Nearby Tsukishima thanks Shishigawara for doing that thing for him.

It's back to canon, and this time Ichigo enters a fish tank to fight Jackie.

This filler is way better than canon. Seriously. A reason to care about the Fullbringers? Competent tension and suspense? I feel spoiled.

I don't see Riruka donating to kindergarteners, do you? Mr. Pork is the true hero of justice: the everyday hero.
Episode 352: Tsukishima Attacks! The Training Has Been Thwarted
Covers (3) Chapters 442-444 + some more Fullbringer flashbacks

"'Cloaked with power'? Fucking gyp. Why can't I rewrite history, too? Think of all the Rirukas I could unbirth!"

Jackie's Fullbring power is Dirty Boots; the dirtier her boots, the stronger her kicks. She chides Ichigo for taking fighting in a flesh and blood body too lightly; he's lost his sense of reality. However, it's Ichigo who's got the upper hand in battle experience, and he feints her out. The badge responds to his battle acumen and a portion of his past power returns as a sort of inky shroud. Jackie freaks and demands a time out for Ichigo, but Ichigo's having none of it.

Anime-only: Riruka comments while gazing dourly into a shop window full of cute shit that she hates Jackie's fullbring, and wants to stay cute and pretty forever. See, trying to make her seem deeper than the zero-dimensional moe trash she is will always backfire, because nobody wants to get to know somebody who makes everyone's lives a little more miserable with every word she bellows from her hellmaw.

Meanwhile, Chad asks Ginjou whether Tsukishima's power is time manipulation, to which Ginjou brilliantly responds to the effect of: "if it were memory manipulation, I'd have remembered it." Furthermore, despite Chad's protestations, according to Ginjou Fullbrings never evolve new abilities, if a Fullbring appears to change, those are just growing pangs.

Wait, Ginjou asks, has Ishida been experiencing those lapses of memory? No?

Did Kubo honestly plan ahead that it was Ginjou who slashed him, or did he retcon it in his head once he realized Orihime and Ishida's incongruous conditions?


"I changed the history of the door so that it mocks the laws of perspective. A fitting salutation."
Tsukishima acts friendly towards the people whom he brainwashed to be his enemies because Ginjou ran out of cocaine-flavored noodles, and then he cuts through the fish tank; Ichigo emerges fully shrouded with his power. BE EXCITED, READERS.

Didn't Riruka have to sneeze on people she shrank in order to undo her power? I laugh immoderately at the thought of Tsukishima crushing Ichigo under everybody's favorite sneakers.

Episode 353: Ichigo, Mastering the Fullbring!‎
Covers (2) Chapters 445-446

"Yeah, thanks Ginjou, I'm sure that sword is a huge help. I don't know what I would have done without ANOTHER BEAM SWORD. Why couldn't you have really loved ICBMs or something, like normal people?"


Chad realizes that Ichigo's Fullbring, like his bankai and its unique shihakusho, "wreathes him in power." Ichigo and Tsukishima tussle. In the manga, Ichigo hasn't encountered Tsukishima before now; in the anime, he has, which makes this a more anticipated encounter.

Chad intervenes before Tsukishima can say he's the one who attacked Ishida and Orihime, blowing a hole in the wall of the HQ (which the Fullbringers bitch about). He doesn't want to upset Ichigo now that his Fullbring is haxing out, but Ichigo overhears him anyway. Can you blame Chad, what with Ichigo's violent mood swings? Ichigo's talent for Fullbring techniques like air jumping is increasing rapidly, but Tsukishima talks shit about how Ichigo hasn't mastered his Fullbring quite yet and slaps him down hard, spurring Ginjou to come to Ichigo's aid (much to his consternation).

Meanwhile, Shishigawara thinks Tsukishima is taking a dump in the bathroom, because FUNNY.

Tsukishima and Ginjou stupidly go "I'll kill you." "No u."
Chad: Dude, you told me Tsukishima's blade could cut through anything, he's going to kill your ass--
Ginjou: I tell you a lot of things.
Tsukishima: Pathological liar does not begin to describe Ginjou Kuugo.

Here's something else that's stupid: Ginjou somehow knows which buildings are abandoned so he can slash down care free with his energy sword.

"Now let me just press this button on my forehead which fumigates the imps in my brain. Ahhhh."
Ginjou, the responsible lunatic.

Anime-only: Ginjou is shocked that while Tsukishima clearly seems to be aiming at his vitals, he doesn't sense any killing intent. Is this meant as foreshadowing that this entire arc is all just Ginjou and Tsukishima's extended playdate?

As you may have predicted, this episode is budget as hell.

Whereas in the manga we get panels like this:

"D-did I just chop your head off? I know you're about to fall apart, but damn, son."
Asshole Beret uses his PSP power to place Ichigo inside his virtual world, where he can't be attacked. In the anime the save bar fills up at a sloth's pace, and Tsukishima just sort of stands there and lets it happen. Then again, since this entire story is just an astronomically, willfully convoluted plan concocted by Ginjou to steal Ichigo's power, it actually does make sense that Tsukishima doesn't do shit to stop Asshole Beret.

If it takes this long to save your game, your coding is shit, Asshole Beret.
Episode 354: Ichigo vs. Ginjō! To the Game's Space
Covers (2) Chapters 447-448

"All right, I'm in charge of the minutes of this meeting, but so far all I've got from you two is 'keep Ichigo in the dark for lulz' and 'troll Ichigo as much as possible.' You know, I'm not sure Ginjou is terribly off the mark."

Sick of training? Well, we're finally past the training portion of this arc now that Ichigo and the main villain have crossed blades! They even commented at length over how Ichigo's powers are accelerating rapidly on their own! That can only mean one thing. That's right. MORE TRAINING.

Asshole Beret didn't download Tsukishima because he hasn't got enough battery life for him. What, is Tsukishima a party animal or something? Is he a Power Glove wizard? What am I missing here?

Riruka pulls her Love Gun on him, much like she pulls the love guns of others off. The Love Gun is Tsukishima's invention, and it fires furniture; as hax as Tsukishima is, nobody wants to have to throw together an Ikea while suffering upper spine fractures, so he leaves.

"I also invented the cure for cancer as of STAB the year 1277. I'm a hero of justice k bye~"
Ishida, still bed ridden, asks Orihime to heal him now that Ichigo has met Tsukishima already. She informs him he also attacked her, to his surprise.

Manga-only: By way of explanation, Ishida says "I was thinking my the information I had wouldn't resolve anything by itself, and since I was being targeted, I had to get myself away from everyone."

Ginjou ponders why Tsukishima didn't hurt any of them when he was easily able to. Then he starts training with Ichigo inside Asshole Beret's reiatsu-blocking virtual space, summoning Orihime for support.

"The fangirls voted, Ichigo, you don't have time to replace your shirt."
Anime-only: They do a gag where they briefly provide Ichigo and Ginjou a fighting game background.

They fight and Ginjou owns Ichigo's shit.

Once Orihime arrives, Riruka gives her the warm Xcution greeting of "if you heal him, he's just going to get hurt over and over." She learned from the best: Ginjou, who courted Ichigo with insinuations his father was evil, and is now slashing him in the gut. Orihime, unfazed, fires back that she got over that a long time ago, but Riruka herself seems a bit worried about him. Yeah, she's so worried she forgot to place a timer on his head in the morning so that if he can't recite pi to the thousandth his tongue becomes attached to the sole of Tsukishima's shoe. Ginjou calls Orihime a "healing item," which cuts a bit close, but she does exhibit some character growth with her upcoming evolved shield, and her confident declaration that she'll heal any injury no matter how grave.

Now this is when the infamous Isshin, Urahara and mystery foot meeting happens. Well, it's only a mystery foot in the manga.

The anime doesn't bother to hide it's Rukia. What were they going to do, mask her voice?

"And this time, I'm not an exchange student. This time, I'm a foreign laborer."
During this scene, where the three are crafting a sword that will restore Ichigo's shinigaminess using their own reiatsu (but we don't know that yet), Urahara asks Isshin whether he's sure he's going through with this, since this is a matter of whether or not he'll "rob his son of his future." I have no idea what this means. It's probably one of Kubo's fabled "4th level secrets."

Episode 355: The Shinigami Enter Battle! Seireitei Also Has a New Year Special!
Covers nothing, not even itself

"I wish Yamamoto-soutaichou would quit beating off so furiously to Sasakibe's tomb."
"You mean with Sasakibe's tomb."

There is nothing else of note here except that screencap. Just had to make another tasteless Yamamoto jizz joke.

Episode 356: Foe or Friend?! Ginjō's Unseen Heart!
Covers (3) Chapters 449-451

"But enough with the acid trips, let's get to the training."
In contrast with that last episode review, I'm going to talk about this episode basically forever, sorry


What happens indeed. This. THIS is about where this arc becomes a thing of legend.

"As you can see, I've brutalized him so thoroughly, he's been reduced to a barely recognizable blob of ink."
Meanwhile, Chad has Asshole Beret create a separate training chamber with "enhanced environmental parameters," cutely holding out hope he'll serve as anything other than friendification bait.

This would have been a more believably draw door
Tsukishima had friend-slashed Chad back when they were fighting, but no one even noticed. Chad settles for becoming stronger as quickly as he can.

"Why's it gotta be a desert? Fucking racist."
Orihime's evolved shield deflects blows and counterattacks; Ginjou won't be rekindling the battle until Ichigo is healed to her satisfaction. An awesome moment, in canon? Kubo blows our minds by temporarily dipping above mediocrity.

Orihime vows never to be a burden again.

This panel makes me sigh soooo much.
We've already had an arc (the Ulquiorra fight) where Orihime was faced with her own inability to be useful (despite being able to resurrect the dead but whatevs). Now, now is when we'll see her shine. Give us this much, Kubo. Give us, at the very least, this much.


Racist Beret presses Fast Forward, because that's something video games have.

"...Get to the part where Orihime and Ichigo start making out."
The Fast Forward effect clearly causes some glitches in-game, because otherwise this panel would be a fucking disgrace for a mangaka.

"Hilarious, Kubo, now where's the manuscript really? Deadline's now."
 Maybe it's because Kubo's slipping ratings made him go all blind solitude

"Don't you fret, Ichigo, I'll get you your blind solitude."
"Blind solitude" describes that panel exceedingly well.

Riruka enters with donuts; Orihime's puppy eyes melt her and she lets her have some. Finally handed something to chew on besides tremendous whoredom, anime Riruka will now be obsessed with donuts.

Orihime divulges her family situation, only 450 chapters in! Her parents were batterers, so her brother absconded with her when they were young; now that he's dead, a distant aunt provides for her as long as she achieves good grades. What a depressing, lonely ass life. She's helped save the fucking world, somebody throw her a fucking bone, Jesus. Just like Ichigo should be living in a mansion with a bevy of concubines in each of his ninety bedrooms, Orihime should be living a similar life of ludicrous luxury. What do girls like? Uhh... a basket of leftover donuts every day? I kid, she should be given a mansion with a bevy of Ichigo clones in every bedroom, all in various states of undress from total nudity to with a tie. And she can hang donuts on their members if she likes, it'll foster a festive atmosphere. I'm filing the papers for the nonprofit to make this happen as we speak.

C'mon, Orihime, your power is reality rejection. REJECT HER. Every ethicist in the world has already deliberately exempted Riruka from their human rights systems and scientists are still amassing proof she's a changeling from a planet orbiting Betelgeuse.
NO ONE ACTS LIKE THIS. THIS IS NOT WHAT A HUMAN BEING DOES. Riruka is the only person who makes me wish Aizen were back, even he would recognize the planet's aching need to enact a grandiose scheme that ends with every bone in her body spontaneously replaced with a sword, while the nations of the world scream with jubilation at their screens.

Orihime thinks Riruka's a good person because she lets her eat the rest of the donuts. So she's a good person because she' a league shy of Satan. By that logic, Aizen was a good person because his plan didn't involve kidnapping all of Karakura's infants and weaning them for a year on rat blood. Her standards might be a tad on the low end of the spectrum, is what I'm saying. 

Of course it is later revealed Tsukishima wasn't supposed to kill him.
Kubo forgot he meant for Ginjou to seem shady, so now we're in for a glorious golden shower of it. You think Ichigo's got mood swings? Boy oh boy.

Ginjou berates Ichigo some more and slices his eyeballs clean. Ichigo lacks Visine at this critical juncture.

You're not used to fighting in a flesh and blood body, Ichigo, your eyeballs are taking too long to gloop out after having been sliced like that--and they just don't have that kind of time to spare!
But Ginjou's not insane or anything. This was all part of his plan to be there for Ichigo. He just pretended to be a homicidal maniac and threatened to kill Orihime after blinding him, because he's FUCKING INSANE.

Actually? You're one of a kind, Ginjou.
Ginjou: I lured you to our shifty base under false pretenses after a meeting at your workplace during which I blatantly lied to you multiple times and talked shit about your family.

Ichigo: TRUST

Ginjou: Two of my group worked in concert to place you under a ludicrous, inescapable training regimen that could very well have killed you as well as a random other dude we kidnapped. Furthermore, you've never heard of any of the Fullbring shit we're telling you now, never appeared during prior Hollow attacks to defend the city, and exhibit no sad or angsty feels over such attacks, despite our HATED POWERS deriving from them, and our moms having been gently tapped in the bum by Hollows.

Ichigo: TRUST

Ginjou: Aizen cryptically told you that everything from your birth has been planned. You still don't know what that means. I've specifically told you the man who defeated Aizen, Urahara, is not to be trusted--which sounds a lot like somebody who was working under Aizen would say. Furthermore, we're doing this without any SS supervision.

Ichigo: TRUST

Ginjou: Let's train. Whoops, slashed you in the gut.

Ichigo: Don't worry, Orihime. I TRUST.

Ginjou: I wonder why you're doing so terrible against me when I've slashed your flesh and blood body in the gut, Ichigo

Ichigo: TRUST

*blades cross*

Ichigo: Oh shit, a vague feeling his heart has a lid on it! UNTRUST

Ginjou: I'm going to kill Orihime now, I'm a villainous cad just out of the blue, all of that other shit was totally pointless


Ginjou: Lol I joshed. I just needed to be here for when you exploded. Welcome to our Xcution!

Ichigo: TRUST

Somebody needs to review Xcution on their Meetup page. "Unexpected life altering experience, if you're okay with covered in mucus following a brief brawl with a demonic plushy. Don't mind the Meetup leader, he can be a bit cuckoo, but after a friendly eye-slashing and some random spots of flagrantly evil murderous lunacy, you'll warm up to him. Bring flashlights, the headquarters can be quite dim, and it can be fun to watch Ginjou chasing the light on all fours and panting."

Almost as detonative as Ginjou: Fullbringers explode when they unlock their full potential. They fucking explode. You never saw it with Chad, but that's only because he already farts equally explosively after fajitas. And, and, and, if there isn't another person to help contain the puberty outburst of Fullbringly specialness, then you're plum fucked and you slosh onto the asphalt as a Fullbringer puddle.

Who was there for the Xcution members when they exploded? Tsukishima probably, lol. What, did you think it was a coincidence there were so many Fullbringers in Karakura? Tsukishima could stab them all and retroactively make them Harlem Globetrotters if he wanted to. You can't use the "so many Hollows after Ichigo touched that ghost girl in Chapter 1 for some reason" excuse as an alternative, they were born before that happened two years ago.

No wonder they hate Fullbring. Teenage hormones, high school drama, and copious alcohol can't mix very well with random explosions. But if they'd thought to use Fullbringer tricks like high speed acceleration for track and field, they could have gotten laid so much. Not to mention telekinetically slurping up rivulets of booze would make you quite popular at kegger parties.

Ichigo's half-completed cloak-type Fullbring:.

"I look cool, right?" "Suuuuuuuuuure!"
"Ginjou, why didn't you just tell me I was going to explode?"

"It's because uh YOU NEED STRESS~"


"You wouldn't have been able to see my reiatsu if I didn't blind you first."

"Really, Ginjou. There was no other way."



"Well really, if you must know, I'll tell you the story of how I unlocked my Fullbringer power. It was a tragic day indeed. I found a steaming bowl of ramen in a ditch out in the woods, an amazing, tantalizing bundle of aromatic noodles that was just out of reach, and so, under tremendous amounts of mental anguish and strain, I transformed my necklace into a sword and scooped up the bowl. Unfortunately, some of the ramen ended up on the soil, but you can bet your ass I ate it anyway."


"See now you're just not listening."

Episode 357: Creeping Menace...Tsukishima's Ability!
Covers (1) Chapter 452




Excuse me

And I wasn't even in SS at the time

If I ever became a dictator, that image of a sword through Riruka would be my flag. I'd have a coat of arms with sword-through-Riruka heraldry at every corner of the badge. The national anthem would be "DIE, RIRUKA, YOU FUCKING GAAHHH" and 90% of my drug money would go to financing the 1,000-strong orchestra. The violins of that orchestra will be crafted by the finest Swiss artisans to look like Riruka's chest, and the bows of those violins will be facsimiles of swords; the orchestra's percussion instruments will undergo a similar process. I will spend every waking night of my reign authoring an epic saga to rival the Iliad, depicting the juicier details of this seminal event. My army will dress up an effigy as Riruka and ritually stab her once a minute until a new one is required. This will be my army's only function. Even the fishes in the oceans surrounding my palace-island will be painstakingly hand-painted by divers in hated Rirukan colors so that fishers can stab a Riruka with each catch.

Wait, she's... she's alive? In my delirious glee, I'd forgotten the true tragedy of our times--Riruka continuing to draw breath within a fictional world. I feel the walls of this room closing in on me.

Ohh, right. She just gets soul diabetes. Sense of justice: restored.

Why are his shinigami powers returning?

"Transcend the shinigami? Like that Aizen guy? I'm fond of him, so okay."
Ichigo activates his Fullbring and reveals what it is he's most fond of in this world: Super Sentai.

"Oh boy, what's a clad-type's ability, Ginjou!?" "They get to wear clothes." "Oh boy!"

I'll be honest, this design is actually pretty neat. But it was too hard to draw so it's soon replaced. Here's hoping his next power up will look like:

Ichigo's Fullbring, disappointingly, doesn't seem to be anything but a generic buff--which is exactly what his bankai was. Come the fuck on, Kubo. It doesn't even get a name, I mean I get the shinigami powers are the end goal and the Fullbring form is just a stepping stone to that, but if you're going to be giving him a Fullbring form, why not keep it? You even had Ginjou go Fullbring + shinigami = super hax, so why not ever follow up on that? You're just going to have Ginjou nullify this boost when they fight? It's so transparent a ratings grab, (something needs to happen again!) it doesn't even get a name.

And with that ardent forlorn glance, Ichigo knew the perfect name in his heart: Superchunky from Hell.
In the manga, the very next thing that happens is Ichigo arrives home, only to find Shuu-chan has friendified his sisters.

Ratings ratings ratings, ratings ratings ratings

This is around the point where the arc shifted from slow as shit to blistering ballzerko speed. The pacing is so odd (Ichigo fought him like a month before syndication-wise). But I guess when you only thought up of a single guy and his useless lacky who can be outwardly antagonistic at this point in the story, that's what happens.

The anime gives us quite a bit more to chew on. Chad reasons that, if he was really aiming for Ichigo's neck, Tsukishima's actions have been counterproductive, so he must be trying to get Ichigo to realize his Fullbring potential instead by targeting his friends and family (ding!). He and Orihime discuss what Tsuki's powers might be; Orihime's started to even have flashbacks of ol' Shuu-chan, like he's invaded her memories.

"Shuu-chan hadn't aged a bit since then. I'm fairly certain he's a vampire."
Shuu-chan's impending out-of-nowhere friendathon is foreshadowed in the anime; Chad and Orihime notice traces of reiatsu on their schoolmates (e.g., Keigo and Tatsuki), meaning they must have rubbed shoulders with an entity of strong spiritual power and not even realized it. They even put in a short scene showing Shuu-chan leaving his mansion (oh hey, he's got a mansion, sees the viewer).

Of course, in the manga it turns out to be quite the magic TARDIS-dimension mansion.

"Are you surprised, Ichigo? You saw what the man could do to doors."
Riruka stalks Orihime. The following scenes is brought to you by Stupidity: Riruka recalls how the Fullbringers teased her for taking a liking to Orihime, and she blurts out to nobody that she doesn't.

Let me ask you something. Have you ever had a sudden vivid flashback, and then blushed and explained yourself to the voices in your head, out in the open? Look it up in the DSM-IV, it's there under It Doesn't Fucking Happen to Anybody, Not Even Crazy Fucks Syndrome.

Tatsuki stumbles into her and Riruka asks where Orihime and Chad are. She then literally runs smack into Orihime and Chad at the hospital (they'd gone there only to find Ishida had left). "I was just going to buy donuts!" "At the hospital?" "Does it matter where I buy my donuts?"

The only conclusion I can draw is that Riruka was reared by mole people. Sociopathic mole people.

She warns them not to fuck around with Tsukishima, and that they're way in over their heads. And then she leaves by air walking offscreen; I'm sure everybody peopling the streets of Karakura is too busy eying the giant Mexican palling around with the K-cup bombshell to notice the pigtails flying back to their home in the Crab Nebula while Unseen Force #6,070 punches a hole through a gaggle of unattended two-year-olds at the nearby playground.

After Orihime recalls Shishigawara had said he frequented Miyashita High, they even investigate there. Lulzily enough, it's a school of nothing but delinquents.

I know Ichigo looks a ridiculously fit 28, but I still can't help but sit in awe at how many times that guy that's posing with his back turned must have been held back.
With this trope I always wondered why these guys ever went so regularly to school to begin with

Riruka keeps on spying on the pair while they throw the thugs out on their asses, but then Tsukishima strolls on by. Riruka wigs the fuck out.

"You're not donuts!"
Tsukishima stabs her and skips off on his merry way to troll Chad and Orihime.

Sorry, could only find an AMV.

This (filler) fight is sex as hell, so watch the end of Episode 357.

Tsuki's insidious friendification catches up to them and they become unable to battle him. They get some shots in, but he remains a formidable foe indeed.

Clever use of a visual medium, why I! SHIELD KUBO'S VIRGIN EYES
Chad understandably really goes at him after that disturbing image (the disturbing image of being tied up and helpless while there's a lanky dweeb in suspenders begging to be dunked by the ankles into a toilet)

Don't worry, I'm sure Ginjou held a few seminars on how to check buildings for people before smashing them
Tsuki makes his best David Schwimmer O-face while he trolls Orihime.

I take it back, Riruka, THIS guy belongs on Planet X

By the way, I am very, very, overwhelmingly and head-smashingly surprised Chad and Orihime jobbed to the main villain

Episode 358: Clash?! Xcution Attacks Ginjō
Covers (1) Chapter 453

"But... but I'm hot. It shouldn't matter how many suspender weenies I deck! WHAT'S COME OF THIS WORLD!?"


The is another episode with tons of filler. Ishida kicks about town for some investigation of his own. The explanation papa Ryuuken gave the school, apparently, is that he fell out of a tree trying to rescue a cat. I wonder what it was Ryuuken told them in the manga continuity, there Ishida's arm was chopped off completely, only to return to him fit as a fiddle. Prosthetics?

And I really have to wonder why any of them really bother with school at all anymore. They all have to rush out to kill Hollows constantly, and it's not like most of them have even got parents to fund their college years. Serving as defenders of the planet should net them pretty decent job security, don't you think??

Not to mention they now know everything that the teacher tells them during Comparative Religions is a fucking joke, lol

17. How do the Buddhist and Abrahamic conceptions of the afterlife differ from each other?
Answer: They don't, because they're both completely wrong. *snicker snicker*

At that moment Ishida thought to himself, wtf is this shit
This is actually the episode Ichigo turns sentai on us and then bumps into a most Tsukishimy nightmare. Here, Racist Beret gives him some digital Hollows to slice up for audience effect.

Yeah but they were only Lvl. 1
Shuu-brainwashed!Ginjou asks what's up to the stony-faced Shuu-double-brainwashed!Fullbringers. Aren't they happy they're gonna get rid of their HATED POWERS soon?

"Sorry, Ginjou, but Shuu-chan loves it when we all awkwardly pose in front of you such that we're all in the same camera span. And we mustn't disappoint our greatest friend, who is Shuu-chan."
Ginjou gets a hilariously abrupt flash of them all getting Shuu-sticked, and then Jackie just straight up attacks him out of nowhere. This is almost as plotfucked as in the manga, where hey they're just bad now.

Loving this screenie, yessir
Presumably, Ginjou escaped their clutches with a strategic propulsive ramen fart.

Then the friendathon happens. Ichigo comes home to find Shuushuu besmirching his couch. His sisters rejoice at Shuu-chan's surprise visit, but Ichigo's fist isn't as thrilled.

"Oh, by the way, girls, did I tell you how I got this scar? One time when I was rescuing a cat in a tree, Ichigo-kun slashed at my eye with a rusty X-Acto knife for kicks. He's a real character, your brother."
Shuushuu even calls Keigo and Tatsuki and the rest over for an impromptu "everybody bask in my glory" party, and when Ichigo's fist says "him? really?" they turn on him. Lord knows what amazing feats of heroism ol' immaculate saint Shuu-chan performed for each of them, kicking away alligators on rafts down the bayou, beating off cheating SOs caught in the act using his penis as a baton, and sorting out tax forms. They bid Ichigo apologize for acting so uncharacteristically antisocial, it's not like he spends all day either in his room or out doing god knows what for days on end without a word spared for his family.

All kidding aside, this is definitely a shitty situation. But having Ichigo run out the fucking window? Really, Kubo, fucking really? Like I've said before, Zangetsu taught Ichigo never to run. When Ichigo was slashed up and left to die by an enemy who was above him in every way, did he give up? No, he had the audacity to reach out and grasp Byakuya's foot. What a crock of shit.

I can't stand to look at this picture, where's the Riruka getting stabbed picture
If Ichigo weren't such a moody ass chemically imbalanced mental pendulum as of this arc, he might have done what any hero with a half a brain would know to: Play a long and start asking questions. There's no doubt that if a villain has gotten to all of your loved ones, some serious shit is going down, but that's when you buckle up, not buckle down.

Running like a ninny, Ichigo stumbles upon Ikumi as she's driving; they share a moment, but soon it's apparent that Shuu-chan's been thorough, and friendified her, too.

Then he sees Ginjou and, well, it seems the friendifying bug's gotten way out of hand.

"What? Yeah, everybody else in Xcution fell prey, but whatever, listen: THE BASTARD STOLE MY RAMEN."
Everybody in Xcution but Ichigo and Ginjou!? So we've tripled the villain cast! I see your Fullbullshit plan now, Kubo.

Episode 359: The Sorrowful Battle! Ichigo vs. Sado & Orihime!
Covers (3) Chapters 454-456

"And with your help, we came to understand just how barren and useless we are compared to you, OUR DEAREST WEAREST SHUU WUU!"


"Just you wait, Isshin, this new blue'll put Heisenberg and Pinkman to shame."
One doesn't typically hold a sword by the blade, Isshin.

When Ginjou told Tsukishima to change his and their pasts so that Xcution existed the way they were when Ichigo joined, he made sure to detail where Headquarters 1 and 2 were, and also told him to retroactively whip up a third, final hideout two of the others arbitrarily wouldn't know about. Perfect sense making this is.
Ginjou explains. Ginjou explains. Ginjou explains that when Tsukishima cuts somebody, he's inserting himself into their pasts. Judging from the Fullbringers' clarity of mind, it can't just be memory manipulation, it's retroactive HISTORY MANIPULATION.

Well. Congratulations, Kubo. You just flapjacked your villain from interesting power to totally invincible power. Let's wrap things up, everybody: Realistically, there's absolutely no way whatsoever to win against that ability. Tsukishima could literally pratfall one second and become king of the universe since the dawn of multicellular life the next second. Fuck Ichigo's efforts thus far, Tsukishima could have loosened up the time stool of Soul Society's MILLION YEARS OF RIGIDITY in a snap, an effortless stray sword tap. He's a god in suspenders.

And that's not even getting into the glaring inconsistency on full display (earlier it took some time for Tsukishima's ability to take with Chad and Orihime; now it works instantly, with no mind-muddling at all?)

And that's when the musical duet started.
The first time Ichigo was faced against daunting odds to save a loved one (i.e., SS Arc), he exhibited no fear, as per Zangetsu's lesson, and pressed on despite crushing opposition. The next time, the Arrancar Saga, he caved once and pulled a shiny new super form out of his ass. Now, here's his measured response:

In the space of one panel, Ichigo aged another 20 years. Fear will age you, Zangetsu said it himself! Of course, Zangetsu is nowhere to be found in this arc or the next, so bully
Ichigo's character has been regressing all this time. He's gone from fearless to unhinged.

Uhh, yeah it does, you say so yourself during the climactic Fullbullshit battle!
Coherence, where art thou

Asshole Beret finds them through a digital tracking device placed on Ginjou (in the anime Ginjou tries attacking him), and he escorts them to Shuu-chan's mansion for a friendathon intervention.

Jesus, what did Shuu do for everybody to make them love him so much? Well, he did stab Riruka, so he is indeed a friend to all humanity
It's scenes like this that make me think Kubo's never had a real friend in his life. Anyway, Ichigo's response before was a tad ignoble, but he's learned his lesson now, right?

They think Ichigo's crazy, but that's not the case at all! Now WHERE'S THAT BASTARD SO HE CAN KILL HIM IN FRONT OF EVERYBODY!? That bastard who technically hasn't done anything wrong to any of his friends in their entire lives, from his friends' perspectives.

"How DARE you spend time with them!"
Actually, Ginjou destroyed the stairs leading up to that room, so they're not privy to goings-on. All they can hear is Shuu-chan grunting in pain and Ichigo yelling at him to die, they'll never be able to put two and two together. Oh, he did it so that the Useless and Forgotten Club wouldn't get hurt in the battle? Somehow, I think the range of the all-out energy beams of 8+ death gods might find their way a floor below.

In the manga, Shuu-chan loses an arm, because Kubo had his urges. Why do you think Ichigo suddenly became so murderous?

In the anime, Ichigo pulls a fairly comical shadow clone thing.

If you're that fucking fast, just attack him. Christ. They only ever use the teleportationy super speed when they want to show off, but they never apply it practically.
Written on Chad's shield: How do you rate our burdensomeness? Call with your thoughts at 888...
"I didn't get stronger to hurt you!" goes Chad. No. No he didn't, Kubo. You supreme anus.

I like how Tsukishima LITERALLY TELLS HIS BFFs HIS POWER IN FRONT OF THEM, and they're not fazed by it at all. The anime does nothing to fix this obvious wank.

There's a reason Science Fiction novels might follow a concept that makes a lick of sense, Kubo. You're not being audacious, you're being obtuse. How does it make sense for people to have experienced totally incongruous pasts, and not only that, but to still be wherever they are in the present despite how you've altered their respective histories?

Ichigo rages with the rage of a beast, because that'll get him anywhere. Somebody stab Ichigo, I want a better protag.

If my opinion wasn't clear, this is where the arc became irredeemably awful. And it only gets worse from here.

Episode 360: Ichigo vs Uryū?! Who is the Traitor?!
Covers (2) Chapters 457-458

"Sorry, Ichigo, but nobody beats Tommy as White Ranger."


Tsukishima slashes Ginjou, but he's okay at first. Meanwhile, Ishida enters the fray--is he turned, too? Ishida answers: Watch out, it's the guy behind you who attacked me! Ginjou tells Ichigo that Tsukishima merely reverted him back to his past, unbrainwashed (un-pastwashed?) self! He janks Ichigo's Fullbring, and Ichigo goes "I'm in despair!"

We also discover Shishigawara's power (Jackpot Knuckle) changes probability to his favor whenever he punches something.

That's all I really have to say here.

"You will be yummy in my tummy, Ichigwo."
Episode 361: A New Appearance! Meet the Gotei 13!
Covers (2) Chapters 459-460



Ichigo's Life Is a Travesty, Limited Collector's Edition Ultra Size

And to think, Ginjou stole away his Fullbring before he even got a chance to name it.

Need a motive for Ginjou to go through ANY of this convulted shit just to snatch away Ichigo's Fullbring? Kubo's got you covered.

There's a word in Japanese that's perfect to describe Ginjou. It's saiwai. It's composed of the words "sigh" and "why," and it means bliss and blind luck.


Why couldn't Tsukishima have just stabbed Ginjou so that he had a stronger Fullbring? If it had to be Ichigo's Fullbring he acquired, fro God knows what reason, why not have Tsukishima stab him so that it already happened, so he can reap the benefits in the present without a sweat? IT DOESN'T MAKE SENSE EVEN WITH THIS RETARDED EXPLANATION.

Kubo has officially stopped trying at this point. So, why should I? Why, as a reader, should I give this arc anything above a 1/10? Why should I hold any investment in such an unbelievably contrived story? Is any of this going to affect Ichigo's character later? Hell no, Rukia arrives with the hax sword to give Ichigo his shinigami powers back, with no effort on his part whatsoever.

But not before Ichigo thinks he's been stabbed by his own dad, because that makes perfect sense. All those other times Ichigo caught his dad at the edges of his bed with a knife, he can't even count them. But only because Ichigo can't count past -1.

The sword contains a little bit of reiatsu from most everybody in the Gotei 13, but none of them could be assed to keep an eye on Karakura. EVEN THOUGH THAT'S THE POINT OF THE BADGE: SURVEILLANCE. Come the fuck on.
Poor Ichigo gets stabbed so many times you could swear you were watching a Saw movie.

All the most popular shinigami characters arrive to boost the flagging ratings.

"Ichigo's keen fashion sense inspired us most of all."
Then Ichigo and Ginjou fight a bunch. Why is Ginjou doing any of this? I'm not even sure Ginjou himself knows at this point.

I will say this for the anime, they drastically improve the despair scene so that Ichigo doesn't swing wildly from total anguish to total confidence once he's given his shinigaminess back.

This arc was worth it because our magnanimous mangaka wanted to tweak his look a little!
They included a scene where Ichigo destroys the chains of despair. Without this scene, Ichigo's performance in this arc would have been utterly 100% pathetic.

I'm kind of torn. The rational side of me wants Ichigo to have called up his death god buddies way sooner. The part of me that wants a satisfying story wishes Kubo had found a reason for Ichigo to develop an antagonistic relationship against Seireitei again. That might have happened with the "they're tricking you with the badge" revelation, and the fact that SS is essentially coldly analyzing Ichigo in this fight to see whether he's still worthy. But Ichigo will never feel resentful towards SS, just because. They're the designated good guys!

The anime also includes a scene to explain the prior filler, with Tsuki intimidating the random bag thief dude.

"Your fearsome mien has captivated me."
I like how, while Ginjou and Tsukishima are explaining everything, Ginjou's got his sword through Ichigo's heart the entire time. Flesh and blood body, yep. But I guess Ichigo and Tsukishima have a bit of Hollow in them, so they don't require their hearts so much.

Again, if they were aiming at getting Ichigo to join Xcution, then why not just friendify him?

Episode 362: Revival! Substitute Shinigami・Ichigo Kurosaki!
Covers (3) Chapters 461-463

This is only my fourth form this arc!

I'd like to remind readers that Ichigo is the aggressor here. Ginjou wasn't going to kill him, and Ichigo got his power to protect back anyway, without having to steal it back (which you know might have been suspenseful). What crime has Ginjou committed? Yeah, so he lied, but that's not a crime. And whom has Tsukishima hurt? He's only helped them. Sure, he helped them through problems he invented, but that doesn't change the fact that they're still fine.

Many think this panel is meant to show Ichigo and Ginjou clashing generically in the sky, but I think it's Ginjou transforming back into the moon.
Well, at the very least, the Gotei guys give Ichigo a much deserved pat on the back for all the shit he's gone through on their behalf. In fact, it was Yamamoto himself who ordered the creation of the sword, so as not to shamefully trample over their debt to him. Yep, now they've given him the responsibility to solve all their problems for them again! How thoughtful!

Ginjou is revealed to be the real former subsitute shinigami.

"We never told you about him because we were afraid the ramen fumes would corrode your brain, too."
Meanwhile, Orihime why is sad.

Oog oog
Orihime thinks to herself, why am I crying after having seen Ichigo crying? Despite the fact that they're still comrades and she has no reason not to still be in love with him.

Last arc, she spent her time crying and doing nothing, as well as healing enemies. This arc, she spent her time crying and doing nothing, as well as healing enemies.
 Tsukishima arrives to put the fear of their privileged white male better in Orihime and Chad's hearts.

This totally sounds like something a lifelong friend with no ulterior motive would say.
Tsukishima's ability changes people's pasts, so they have no reason to be wigging out in their heads. Naturally, they do, because coherence is the enemy of all storytellers who have checks to cash and truckloads of ink to buy.

Of course they had to be taken down in the most pathetic way possible, they couldn't be allowed to upstage Ichigo's own pathetic performance!
Isshin and Urahara come to neck chop them and render them unconscious; you couldn't see it in the final product, but the preliminary sketch of this panel was just Kubo coating his outstretched middle finger in ink and stamping it on the page.

Ginjou gives each of the other Fullbringers (besides Tsukishima because that would make too much sense) Ichigo's clad-type Fullbring power, as he promised.

And now that they all looked hideous, they REALLY REALLY hated their powers!
Kubo makes sure to have Riruka say "she didn't come here to get Ichigo's power," to make her even a little sympathetic before he inevitably lets her live. But then she uses the power Ginjou grants her to attack Rukia for no reason anyway. IT'S NOT HER FAULT, IT'S SURVIVAL OF THE FITTEST, THE FITTEST EAT NOTHING BUT DONUTS AND SPEND THEIR DAYS SHOPPING FOR CUTE THINGS AND ARBITRARILY ANTAGONIZING THOSE CLOSEST TO THEM.

Ginjou deliberately doesn't enhance Shishiagawara since his power will be too great and hard to deal with; kill him later. Yes, because the guy who can make arbitrary timers that induce the God of Time to boil you alive is a cakewalk to defeat. That was just the throaway line Kubo gave him to make him evil.

Speaking of which, Giriko uses his tremendously hax power to... hulk out.

Damn midlife crises.
Kenpachi simply slices him in half and calls the fight boring (I concur whole-heartedly). What gave Kenpachi the right to slice the dude in half? He's a designated hero, that's why. Of course, Giriko was the one who was stupid enough to attack to begin with, despite all these shinigami being way stronger and faster than regular humans. Fucking dumb ass.

Giriko after his bifurcation.
This raises the question, why are they even fighting to begin with? Why did they collude for so much power, what's their eventual aim? They have no motives! But then, Kubo has a track record of about a 0 to 1,000 when it comes to coming up with believable motives for his baddies.

NOTE: Watch these last few episodes if you're in the mood for some truly sexy animation.

Whoa, the anime staff remembered these shmucks, even after their villain bait purpose had been served!?
Episode 363: Fierce Fight! Shinigami vs. XCUTION!
Covers (5) Chapters 464-468 + some more Fullbringer flashbacks

"Ugh. Fangirls."

I think it's safe to say that every one of the shinigami vs. Xcution battles is fucking ridiculous.

Despite his having done exactly that.
By now the TV ratings had slipped quite drastically, and so the death knell of the anime had finally sounded. The Xcution fights are all as rushed in the anime as they are in the manga.

Shishigawara fights Ikkaku (the luckiest guy in SS, Lucky~), and uses Jackpot Knuckle to dislocate Ikkaku's soul-shoulder. Ikkaku merely flexes his biceps to set his bone back in immediately.

"I'll show you a million years of rigidity."
Then he gives Shishi a dumb speech about how he shouldn't throw his life away for superiors who treat their underlings dispensably and who wouldn't sacrifice themselves on their behalves. Whereas in Seireitei that's almost official policy.

Renji fights Jackie and suddenly develops a sense of chivalry. Jackie explodes upon losing, taking herself out so that a nice chivalrous man like Renji won't be deleted along with their Asshole Beret virtual dimension.

"Oh don't worry, exploding happens all the time to Fullbringers."
Later she will be okay for no reason. And she will have a chat with Asshole Beret as though he had no hand in her exploding herself.

Hitsu vs. Asshole is very stupid indeed. Blondie laughs it up that he can do anything within his virtual world, too idiotic to think maybe he should get out of his virtual world before he gets frozen today.

And really, Asshole? You can do anything in your world, and you settle for random monsters? Against a Gotei captain? What a fucking loser. I like how he coded the appearance of each monster individually, that's really something. How many months of pixel art did that take?

"Captains are just elites who were raised in warm homes! They could never defeat me!" Yet another 4th level secret, because I have no idea what the hell he's talking about. Because you killed your (neglectful) parents, that makes you stonger than a captain... how? Come back to us when killing your folks gets you magic eyeballs.

Shrimpo threatens Asshole Beret to cancel all his virtual scapes within five minutes or he'll die. He's not going to be able to peel back Ginjou and Ichigo's battlefield, however, because of [plot].

Episode 364: Desperate Struggle!? Byakuya's Troubled Memories
Covers (5) Chapters 468-472

"You wasted all that time setting up this trap and didn't even make it anything more lethal than a big slab of concrete shooting up? If I were human I could survive that."


Tsukishima vs. Byakuya is the most ridiculous fight by far. Tsukishima shouldn't have been able to touch him at all, but he does indeed get a shot in, and changes Byakuya's past so that he regards Tsukishima as his cherished mentor. Not only does this give Tsukishima an instant and insane boost in power, but it makes the timeline all kinds of fucked (before Tsukishima was born, he was a soul up in SS teaching Byakuya everything he knew). Then, Byakuya exhibits no qualms whatsoever killing his own treasured mentor, just because he apparently likes Ichigo more now. All of this harmonizes to make for a veritable awe-inspiring crescendo of WTF.

Rukia fights Riruka's pants-wetting weapon, the Love Gun, which fires furniture that's too tasteful to destroy.

Rukia demonstrates she's earned her new position as Vice Captain by succumbing easily to Riruka's power and getting placed into a plushy. But, that's only because she's the only one among them who takes her duties as a shinigami seriously, recognizing that she's NOT supposed to just kill humans willy nilly.

This has got to be on Etsy somewhere.
Riruka uses this opportunity to explain how they're merely following "the law of survival of the fittest," as people who are above regular humans and are thus persecuted. Everybody's extremely brief backstories are unveiled.

Riruka's backstory is that, when she was a wee lass, she imprisoned an older guy she liked within her dollhouse and fed him sweets and treats until he loved her back. When she finally let him go, she was forced to run away. The anime glosses over the other Fullbringers' tales entirely, so here they are from the manga:

With the exception of Jackie, each one of the Fullbringers in or near Karakura just happened to be complete reprehensible dickbags. How convenient. And before you tell me they were dickbags because of their powers, I don't buy that for a goddamn second. Most of their particular Fullbrings are so niche they'd never be that tempted to use them in daily life anyway.

Riruka goes on to say that the survival of the fittest thing is just an illusion to give the weak the notion that if they worked hard they could become the fittest. And, it's not the weak who are persecuted, merely whoever's in the minority. Ginjou saved them, declaring that it's always been the minority who really ruled, and that the world is too lenient to idiots who would persecute them.

I really kind of hate pseudophilosophical garbage like this. Typically it's just flinging a ton of big words at the reader to hide the fact that the author doesn't really understand what makes people tick on an everyday level. It rings hollow.
"Those idiots that would restrain my just rule!! Why, in Ginjou's country, having a coherent past would be the highest of felonies, you must always be running around like you're 40 different people at once to be recognized as a citizen contributing to society. And slashing through people's eyes with a gigantic broadsword would be the equivalent of a how do you do."

Riruka cancels the plushy ability after Rukia turns the tables on her, and she enters inside her. This is so she can take a blow from Tsukishima later. Tsukishima renders us and the universe the grand justice of stabbing Riruka more than once.

Episode 365: Ichigo vs. Ginjō! The Secret of the Substitute Badge
Covers (5) Chapters 470, 473-476

"Well OF COURSE my bankai's design would be as confused and slapdash as my character is!"

Ginjou became disenchanted with SS upon learning that the badge Ukitake had handed him was secretly a device to surveil him and control him. Apart from that, it has no function of authority (a short flashback of Ichigo showing his badge to a confused low ranking shinigami confirms this). That's all we find out, really. Maybe they were justified, Ginjou, seeing as you turned into a peerless nutbar. Anyway, before that he tells them that since Tsuki will die soon, and with him will go all his pastwashing antics, Ichigo's got no reason to fight.

"My final regret is using my power in the stupidest way possible. Geeeerhhg..."
So why doesn't Ichigo fight SS instead? That's the enemy he SHOULD be fighting! The Gotei 13 never formed a bond of friendship with him! He should be fighting Ukitake, the "most peace-loving captain," the man who manipulated them!

Chapter ending: Ichigo bankais with rage.

Next chapter opening: He's perfectly calm, and was only telling Ishida to shut up. How dare he butt in with pat concern.

BOOM! The unbreakable barrier of the virtual dimension breaks like nothing, because [plot].

Ichigo's amazing logic for why Ukitake couldn't possibly have meant to deceive him: Ukitake's too smart, so if he really wanted to, he would have made it so that doubts would never have sprung to Ichigo's mind in the first place. Ukitake must have wanted Ichigo to realize that the pass served no real purpose, and make the decision to support or reject SS on his own.

Or you know, he could have simply stated it outright and allowed Ichigo to make that choice explicitly. But people in BLEACH would rather frantically scrape at the concrete beneath them and bury themselves upon seeing a friend coming down the street than engage in a frank conversation.

Ginjou bankais in response, but the way I see it, they still don't really have a reason to fight. I can understand why Ichigo might want to take down a dangerous loony like Ginjou, but why doesn't Ginjou just flee? Is he really that insanely confident? Does he resent Ichigo's choice to support SS that much? At any point, Ishida could fill his body with holes. Except in the anime where he's apparently able to dodge Ishida's arrows by hopping like a frog all over the place. But he's not insane or anything. Imagine ordinary Karakurans looking up to the sky and witnessing a loony in Harley gear doing the lambada with a sword the size of a small zoo (the reason they'd look up to the sky is because that's where they smelled the ramen coming from).

Episode 366: Changing History, Unchanging Heart
Covers (4) Chapters 476-479

Truly a QUALITY farewell

They gave Ginjou wings, I have no idea why. I'll chalk it up to a two and halfth level secret. Anyway, watch it for the animation sex.

Ginjou succumbs, despite supposedly being totally on par with Ichigo. I would have loved to see Ginjou do the silly shadow clone thing, too.

"My one regret in life was neglecting to slurp up ramen every second of every day."
Ginjou wonders whether or not their attitudes would have been the reverse had Ichigo been the first substitute and Ginjou been the second. Considering both Ginjou and Ichigo have proved not altogether there this arc, that is a fine question indeed. But then again, Ichigo's had to fight titans like Kenpachi and Aizen (and a dozen other baddies if you count anime continuity), and whom have you had to fight, Ginjou? What's this great strife you've endured, hmmm? What, are you butthurt because Soul Society didn't lick your ass? How did you even get the job, anyway?

It's turbo speed wrap up time. The Gotei guys had come to witness for themselves what choice Ichigo would make once he found out from Ginjou about the badges's purpose. They knew Ginjou would come after him sooner or later. The real reason they let Ichigo gallivant about town as a susbtitute was to lure Ginjou out. Then they'd kill them at their leisure. However, Ichigo won their hearts, and instead of treating him as a dispensable pawn, they worked in concert to give him back the powers he was due. This took over a year because SS is a bureaucratic hellhole that can barely tie its own shoelaces but proves quite snappy when it's time to kill tens of thousands of Rukongai residents at random.

Rukia (the only one who protested against observing Ichigo's choice so coldly) understood from the beginning that Ichigo was unflappable, and that his iron will would never bend. It was he who changed SS and its "million years of rigidity" (it's been rigid since before homo sapiens existed, that's impressive. I hope that's just a figure of speech). People up in SS must be indecisive wimps of the seventieth order if Ichigo's unflappable. He's flipped and flopped and flapped quite a bit in this arc.

Huge soul-phoenix with the power of a million years of Zampakutou? Ichigo can shoo that shit away like a fly. Your spirit medium sister goes to visit a spirit medium shop? It's a vast conspiracy aimed at making Ichigo's boxers smelly and brown, so he can fertilize Karakura's gardens as he bolts like a fucking mental deficient away from horrible ordeals like his friends being happy.

Tsukishima attacks Ichigo despite having a hole through his chest, and having been shown as dying moments earlier. Rukia gets in the way, and then Riruka escapes from the hatch in Rukia's chest and takes the blow for her. Little did we know she only did this to safeguard the stash of donuts she hid inside Rukia. You thought the Hougyoku was bad, wait til the soul diabetes catches up to you, Ruks. Maybe she emerged from inside Rukia because she saw how fabulous the hole looked on Tsukshima's chest and wanted to see how it looked on a petite. (Why yes, I am incapable of saying something good about Riruka.)

"Don't die, Ginjou!" Shuu-chan cries. Suddenly he shows an emotion apart from perfect sociopathy--it was Ginjou who taught him from an early age. Riruka counters that Ichigo's only saved him.

Reasons Ginjou simply wouldn't pop back up as a soul in SS: -5

How convenient that it's only the Fullbringers who are a bit penitent (and conventionally attractive) that have managed to survive so far. With the exception of Asshole Beret, who isn't dead because he's not an old man, old men obviously deserve to be bifurcated.

This will never be followed up on, which is bizarre because this might have been one of those rare occasions where the "sympathetic flashback after villain dies" shounen staple could have actually worked.
Shishigawara comes to usher Tsukishima unto a sunset so bright it's like you can't even see anything.

Someone punch a hole in his fucking skull so we can end this farce.
Tsukishima, you never showed the measliest inkling of a heart before now. But Kubo wanted to wring some undeserved pathos out of you, and so he came up with a sunset he couldn't even be bothered to fucking draw. Did this work on anybody? What a goddamn joke.

And what of this completely unforeshadowed bond of the heart between Ginjou and Tsukishima? From what we saw before then, it only seemed like they were in it for the lulz. Why am I supposed to feel sorry for them? They sprung this stupidly suicidal stage performance (that played with people's lives like they were toys, no less) on themselves. What enormous hypocrites. You hate SS for treating you like a pawn, Ginjou? How about treating Xcution like pawns? How about when you told Shuu-chan to ice Shishigawara because he could become a threat? You could of course object "but that's why they're villains, they're supposed to be wrong!" But no. They're supposed to be wrong, yes, but they're supposed to be consistent in the way they're wrong. Otherwise, they're simply designated villains, with the author contrivedly tailoring their personalities from chapter to chapter to place them in the BAD camp when he so wishes. It's the most bullshit non-compelling conflict ever, no matter how much vapid philosophizing Kubo wants to use as duct tape for this boring nothing story. If it weren't for how awful this all is, we the readers would have fallen asleep a long time ago. None of this shit MATTERS, of course it won't have an impact.

Jackie meets up with Asshole Beret randomly. She lost her Fullbring somehow, which, suddenly good Asshole Beret says, is great because she's the only one who really hated her power. However, now that she's lost them (somehow), she finds herself envious of Giriko, whom she buried, for getting to die with his powers intact--Fullbringer powers were the only reason the members of Xcution bonded under Ginjou. (Burying both halves of the hulked out Giriko must have taken a pinched nose indeed.) Asshole Beret says he'll take three years to grow his company three sizes, and then employ Xcution. What he didn't tell her is that he intends to do this by expanding into child labor.

Riruka flies off into the clouds after receiving a dose of true honesty and compassion from Orihime, who stayed with her all night as she convalesced. Riruka, the mole people are the other way.
Believe me, Riruka, I try to forget about you every waking moment.
While Jackie is busy wiping green Giriko bits off her boots, Ichigo's got his own burial to take care of. He comes to SS to retrieve Ginjou's body for a proper grave. Why'd they beam it up to SS to begin with? Ahh, right, the ramen fumes.

New Capain Shinji asks why Ichigo is doing this for a schlub who messed with his loved ones.

"What I can't forgive is your stylist."
He's just doing this for Ginjou as a fellow substitute shinigami. Since he'll be continuing on as one. Oh, and would you mind telling future substitutes about the badge?

If I were Ichigo, I'd punch every one of these useless lumps on the fucking nose. WHY ARE YOU OKAY WITH THEM!? Soul Society has caused you nothing but endless heartache, but they're fine by you because the fangirls want to shove Byakuya's peen into your mouth. Blush, Ichigo, blush for them. Meanwhile it's okay by the fanboys because BYAKUYA'S POWER SURE IS COOL HERP DURR HURR.

SS agrees with his softball demands, the end.

Overall Visual Appeal Comparison:

It's hilarious how Kubo tries to deflect attention away from his laziness with unconventionally gigantic and empty-ass panels by pulling artsy shit like constant mouth close-ups. But it's also infuriating because Kubo is NOT creatively bankrupt.

Take this for example. Kubo figured he should show Urahara Shop actually functioning, as well as how Karin had to deal with being able to see spirits. So he came up with a line of products:

But, with just a little more effort, the anime one-ups him:

What was once only faintly amusing becomes rather endearing and funny.

As another example, there was nothing stopping Kubo from spicing up the panels when Ginjou was just sitting on his ass, explaining the (initial) nature of Fullbring.

I think I know where the real tool here is
The anime found a way to make this way more visually appealing:

Can I also say that the anime staff have a far better sense of humor than Kubo does, for the most part? I mean, I haven't read the extra side material, which a lot of gag episodes are based on, but the end-of-episode thirty second gags are by and large quite funny.

This is all it took for me to cotton on to Ryuuken.


A complete fucking insult on nigh every level
or more succinctly

Tried valiantly to salvage this legendary fajita shitstorm of an "arc," but the oil spill was too great

I was originally going to rate the manga version a 0.5/10, but then I remembered Riruka.

"Fuck you, you think I want to be the most horridly unlikeable and inhuman character this side of an Ayn Rand novel? I was BORN TO A HOLLOW-ATTACKED MOTHER WHO WAS IMPRISONED IN A DOLLHOUSE and fed only a diet of DONUTS, I'm tragic"
If you think this rating is overly merciless, you need to go reread a truly great series, a series that gives you the chills and makes you laugh and cry--and then get back to me. After that, do you really think this arc deserves a rating above a 0? You could try picking at something salvageable here or there (like Orihime's evolved shield and Ikkaku's flex), but ultimately, bad is the absence of good. Bottom line, if you honestly believe there couldn't possibly be a more stunning tour de force of bullshit in the whole of shounen history, a 0.5 might be overselling it.

Furthermore, the Fullbringer Arc isn't just a laughably shitty arc. It's a fundamental betrayal of the discipline of storytelling. It sprays contempt at readers at every turn. It makes a mockery of mangacraft. It is unforgivable dreck.

Normally I don't heap scorn on the author of a bad work of fiction--I give the author the benefit of the doubt that he or she is merely misguided--but this, this is just, no. The only other time I ever wanted to go "Fuck you, Kubo," is when Hinamori was stabbed again in Fake Karakura. But this whole arc is like that fuck you moment stretched out over a year's worth of chapters. The utter pointlessness of it makes me weep. The only benefit of having read it is that I now get to mock it.


  1. LOL loved your analysis of the Fullbring arc. I think Kubo wanted to have a filler arc before Bleach ended, but had no idea how to go about doing it, so he just made stuff up on the fly.

  2. Hey Gliblord, I hope you don't mind but I post the link to this review on Y-Ruler of Time's The Downfall of Bleach part 2 video.

  3. All of the fullbringers minus Jackie could have instantly killed the people they fought against. Giriko could have just made Kenpachi die from being unable to do an impossible task, Beret could have used something like thwack, fissure, or even sheer cold on Histu, Riruka could have used that ability from the start to imprison Rukia in a dollhouse and then burn it down, that punk kid could have made all the blood in Ikkaku's body spontaneously relocate to the outside of his skin, and finally, Tsuki could have just done something like put a bomb inside of Byakuya that would go off in 20 seconds.

    1. It's almost like they're following Aizen's master plan of stopping to use their powers in a clever way after getting a major upgrade oO

  4. This Arc hurts me as a fan and viewer! This was Bleach's chance to be good again in what could/should of been a simple story of back to the basics, but was killed by terrible pacing, no dirction, character derailment that was completly unnecessary, and dumd revelations.

  5. You're so insightful, and you had me laughing more than I've laughed in years. No joke. I get a chuckle every now and then, but this article is the first time in recent memory that I laughed dozens of times in succession. I was so loud that I was glad to be the only person in my house. You really got me when Tsukishima called Ginjou a pathological liar, and from there it hit a crescendo.