While I’m still sick and feeling especially miserable, I think I’m finally feeling well enough to try and catch up on all of the blogging I’ve let fall behind this week. It’s kind of gotten a little bit on the ridiculous side. Still, no one wants to read something that I wrote when the sinus pressure in my head was making me feel so buzzed that I felt like my head could detach itself from my body and float away at any second (actually, maybe people would want to read that). One of the posts that I’ve been meaning to write since about Tuesday was my review of the seventh volume of Bleach (only 45 more volumes to go!…)which is what I would describe as the beginning of the infamous Soul Society arc whose ability to generate anger in the anime community only seems to be matched by the interminable length of the Namek arc in Dragon Ball Z (something like a good 90 episodes) and the 85 straight episodes of filler between the end of the Naruto story and the beginning of Naruto Shippuden. I can already see where this show is laying groundwork for future problems, but they haven’t arrived yet and I’m honestly still intrigued by the world that Tite Kubo continues to craft around the Bleach story.

The last volume ended with two soul reapers, Renji Abari and Byakuya Kuchiki (Rukia’s brother), arriving on Earth to arrest Rukia for the crime of letting a human steal her powers and to kill Ichigo. First, Uryu shows up to try and save Rukia but he quickly gets incapacitated by Renji. Renji is about to finish Uryu off when Ichigo arrives (who learns that Rukia is missing because she had tied Kon behind the toilet to keep him from spilling the beans). While Renji is initially nervous at how massive Ichigo’s zanpakuto is (the size of a zanpakuto is directly related to the spirit power of its wielder), he quickly discovers that Ichigo has no real control over his power and doesn’t even know the name of his zanpakuto (whatever that means). Basically, Ichigo is just releasing all of this power without even realizing it and without any control over what he’s doing, he might as well be wielding a massive stick. Renji evokes the name of his zanpakuto which transforms itself into a massive flail/sword hybrid. It’s pretty cool looking. He nearly kills Ichigo with it. Just when he’s preparing to deliver the lethal blow to Ichigo, Ichigo experiences the same kind of massive power surge he had when he fought the Menos Grande. His wounds begin to heal and then even with his basic, unnamed zanpakuto, he turns the tide of the battle and nearly defeats Renji. However, before he can win the fight, Byakuya intervenes, moving so fast that neither Ichigo or Renji realize he’s attacked Ichigo until Ichigo has collapsed in a pool of his own blood. At this point, Rukia agrees to go to the Soul Society in order to spare the life of Ichigo whose soul power and shinigami powers have all been robbed by his nearly fatal blow from Byakuya.

Before Ichigo dies from his wounds, he is rescued by Kisuke Uruhara who continues to prove that there is far more to this man than meets the eye. Uruhara takes Ichigo back to his shop to tend his wounds (with what I’m going to call magic pills for lack of any explanation as to how they miraculously cured him) and explains to him that if he wants to rescue Rukia, he’ll have to let Uruhara train him (for ten days) before he attempts to enter the Soul Society to save her. Chad and Orihime are also being trained (by talking cat Yoruichi) and though they want Uryu to train alongside them, he refuses, instead opting to open a mysterious box for his own private training. Ichigo goes down to a massive cavern beneath Uruhara’s shop for his training where Uruhara forces his spirit out of its body. Ichigo is no longer a shinigami so he’s just a normal ghost, with a spirit chain connecting him to his body and none of his superhuman powers (or his sword). Ichigo’s first test is to fight the little girl that works at Uruhara’s store, Ururu. Ururu is powerful enough to take on full-fledged shinigami and if she hits Ichigo, it would kill him. Still, during the fight, Ichigo’s survival instincts kick in which allow him to summon back the speed he needs to tap into his spiritual power though he still can’t be a shinigami. Then, Uruhara has his assistant sever Ichigo’s spirit chain. It is is slowly receding back to his chest and when it reaches the end, Ichigo will become a Hollow. That’s how long he has to figure out how to get his shinigami form back.

I would complain some more about how much I hate this whole “Ichigo gets his ass kicked and then suddenly goes Super-Saiyan” trope that is quickly becoming the heart of the fighting scenes of this series (seriously, he’s like Vegeta. He gets the hell knocked out of him until he just explodes on everyone. Well, Vegeta meets Goku), but that whole moment where he tapped into his power again led to him getting completely annihilated so I’ll let it slide. Bleach is great about doing this one thing very well. Ichigo became uber-powerful and destroyed the Menos Grande (well injured it and made it retreat anyways). So, when he started to “no sell” Renji’s attacks and just obliterate Renji’s defenses, you just assumed that’s how that scene was going to end. He was going to fight off these shinigami for now. And then Byakuya stepped in and it wasn’t even a fight. I’ve got to give it to Tite Kubo to have Ichigo just completely “job” a fight like that (sorry for all of the pro wrestling terminology here) to Byakuya. It wasn’t even a fight. Byakuya just destroyed Ichigo. In Dragon Ball Z, there were fights where the lower-level Z fighters would just eviscerated, but it almost never happened where the the Saiyans didn’t even at least put up a fight before losing. So, I like that I know there will be plenty of fights where Ichigo just doesn’t stand a chance.

I could probably write a little bit more about how I enjoyed the way that the training scenes have both subverted and played straight the tropes of shonen training moments, but I still have to write about Glee (one of the best episodes of the season), a concert write-up for work (The Boxer Rebellion), and I also have to do a write-up for an interview for work that I should have done this week but I’ve been too sick. Plus, I just realized that I’ve had the same three movies at home from Netflix for like two months now and I need to watch them so I feel like I’m getting my money’s worth from that company. It’s kind of ridiculous just how far behind I’ve allowed myself to fall there. I’ve been busy with work (which makes me not want to do a ton of writing when I’m home), plus I’ve been playing a lot of Xenoblade Chronicles lately. Like a ton. I think I’m already close to the 30 hour mark in the game (and hilariously not very far in the actual main story for that many hours). So, let’s just say that despite my concerns about where the story could be going, I’m still really into Bleach and I hope it stays that way for a while.

Final Score: B