The mission continues to save Rukia… will Ichigo actually rescue her this time?
Name: Bleach: Soul Society・The Rescue arc (season 3)
Japanese Name: ブリーチ: 尸魂界・救出篇
Air Date: July 26 2005 – January 10 2006
After the unsuccessful rescue attempt which resulted in Ichigo’s rescue from Byakuya, Yoruichi promises Ichigo that she will teach him how to master the second stage of zanpakuto (Bankai) within three days. The challenge proves difficult because at the last minute, the higher-ups decide to bring forth Rukia’s execution even closer. As Rukia’s execution date dawns upon them, Ichigo and his allies are fast running out of time and will have to make their move… will they save Rukia on time? Or will she be punished for her crimes through death?
Season 2 was epic. Words can’t describe how dumbfounded I was when I watched Ichigo beat the consciousness out of Kenpachi Zaraki. That man was hench. And a sadistic battle maniac too. It was unbelievable how much Ichigo had improved in such a short amount of time… that boy can do anything when he puts his mind to it! He’s going to be one of the strongest shinigamis ever, I can feel it in my bones! When that day (or episode in this case) comes, I’ll be celebrating alongside Ichigo and crew because I will be overjoyed… how sad. I’ll just… sit in the corner where no one can see me.
My brain is overflowing with names that I’m trying to remember. Season 2 introduced a whole horde of new characters and my head is attempting to cram it all in. Man does my head hurt! I’ve never been good with names… let this be a warning to you all, if you ever plan on watching Bleach, be prepared to memorise around one hundred names. It’s like exams all over again, and that’s the last thing I want. Eurgh. WHY YOU MAKE SO MANY CHARACTERS KUBO-SAN?! But the cast of characters were praised because they were unique so… I’ll accept this for now.
Ishida faces off against a deadly enemy and leaves Orihime in the capable hands of the eleventh division. The twelfth division captain – Mayuri Kurotsuchi – is the Chief of Research and Development, but is also one creepy fellow. We all need at least one crazy scientist/researcher in an anime series! Mayuri has a rather twisted mind when it comes to test subjects… the methods he uses to research actually sickens me. I don’t even think he’s human… more like a monster in terms of appearance and personality. This guy is an absolute bastard and I would love the honour of
killing using him as a personal punchbag. He’s an inconsiderate bastard because he kills his own comrades AND critically injures his lieutenant to the point where she’s dying. She’s dying and he doesn’t help her, even though he says she’s “not allowed to die”. Captain bastard, you do realise that she can’t live if YOU DON’T FLIPPING HELP HER. That’s it… LET ME AT HIM ( ಠ益ಠ )!! It’s difficult to refrain myself in those matters; men who injure women are scum. Ishida, you better defeat Mayuri. This is the man who killed and mutilated your grandfather all in the name of ‘research’, so this is your chance for revenge! If you win, I will love you forever man… not that I already do ❤
Ichigo is now training with Yoruichi in some sort of underground bunker… where the hell do they have room for these things?! Anyway, Ichigo is training to summon his Bankai and how does he do it? He fights against his zanpakuto’s manifestation! His zanpakuto – Zangetsu – tells Ichigo that he must find the true form of the zanpakuto before he gets slain. In the bunker, there are thousands of zanpakuto but the true form is hidden amongst them so Ichigo has to come up with some sort of method to find it. Serious stuff going on, but will Ichigo be able to use Bankai within three days? There’s a lot of pressure riding on his shoulders so I can’t help but wonder… but of course he’ll do it! Stop being so pessimistic and be optimistic Jimmy!
This rescue mission is turning out to be a flunk. Chad, Ishida and Ganju have been captured and treated for their wounds. Surprised the shinigamis haven’t killed them yet? I’m not. I haven’t mentioned this but maybe I should have since this is a key point. In season 2, the captain of the fifth division – Sousuke Aizen – was brutally murdered inside the Court of Pure Souls. His lieutenant Momo Hinamori discovered his corpse (she was late for a meeting) as it was left hanging from a tower, stabbed by his own zanpakuto. Overwhelmed by shock and grief, Momo fought against fellow lieutenant Izuru Kira believing Gin was behind the murder. Both Momo and Izuru were arrested. Ichigo’s group have been accused of murdering Aizen so the shinigamis want to investigate and interrogate them. I do have my suspicions however… I have the feeling that it’s a set-up. I mean, Gin always has that smile plastered on his face when everyone else is anxious and on edge. But maybe it isn’t Gin at the same time. What if Gin was forced to play along? Hmm…
There are an awful load of plot twists in this season, I actually wonder if Pierrot+ and Tite Kubo did this on purpose. First of all, the higher-ups decided to troll us and go “hey, why not bring the execution to the next morning?” and they did just that. Now Renji is fighting against his captain, Byakuya Kuchiki?! Isn’t that like treason going against your superior? More like betrayal I guess, because Renji is going against his captain in order to save a traitor. There are so many complications and conflict for going on inside Renji, and I just want to reach out and cuddle him. I can totally relate to how he feels; he doesn’t want the most important person in his life to lose theirs. I’m actually crying watching him fight Byakuya. There’s no way he’s going to win, but I don’t want to give up hope that one day, Renji will surpass him. The fight was visually stunning and I’m sitting on the edge of my seat in suspense. With the revelation of Renji’s ability to summon Bankai, Byakuya was in a state of shock. Bet you didn’t expect that boy (¬‿¬) Byakuya turned the tide however and summoned his Bankai; defeating Renji after telling him that normally, shinigami train for ten years after being able to use Bankai. Renji is left for dead and Byakuya begins to leave… but Renji is not done yet and unleashes a surprise attack ＼(^o^)／
As usual, Pierrot+’s credibility goes towards the animation for it’s dynamic and elaborate battle sequences. Each and every one is unique and no two appear the same. Of course, if battles were the same and constantly repeated in a loop, it would get boring and people would lose interest. They have to be eye-catching, bold and challenging. Something that will always have me biting my nails in anxiety. And Bleach always provides that little kick I want… and shorter nails as a side dish.
It has occurred to me that many characters either fear or despise Gin Ichimaru. Rukia is a prime example. It’s easily noticeable how afraid she is of Gin because fear is distorted on her face. In episode 53, she describes Gin as “a snake slithering around her” and it’s quite obvious that he makes her uncomfortable with his presence. His presence sends her mind and heart into turmoil, and that alone seems unnatural. What is it about Gin that makes everyone around him feel at edge? He is a very mysterious man, since his almost constant smile and slitted eyes, combined with his heavy use of sarcasm and mocking politeness, make it very difficult to know his thoughts. I kinda feel pity towards the guy but at the same time, I feel unsettled about him. Maybe it’s instinct, but there’s a siren is going off in my head warning me to be wary. I have my suspicions… but on the plus side, I heard that Gin’s character was received very well in Japan. Tite Kubo remarked that Gin’s popularity, especially among women, was a great surprise to him, as he had attempted to make Gin creepy and off-putting in appearance… I plead guilty, because I like Gin too xD why do I like you so much?! (ಥ＿ಥ）
The plot reaches a typical note; the hero must journey through a foreign location where he faces trials left, right and centre as well as learning new powers and become stronger to face the major villains, and ultimately pull off a heroic rescue. The main point of conflict during this story arc spins off into separate confrontations which are faced and also reveal nice backstory tidbits in the process. Naturally, there is a greater evil pulling the strings behind the scenes, but Bleach scores points for the amount of depth and intricacy of the underlying scheme that is to arise and the for the misdirection pulled off. The identity of the main antagonist comes as no surprise to those who have managed to piece together all the evidence along the way, however the others aiding the main villain comes as a shock. Even though I managed to figure out the answer, the aides to the antagonist both surprised and confused me more than the revelation of the conspirator. Bleach also gets credit for setting up plenty of dramatic moments in this season including Rukia’s rescue at the moment of her execution, and Ichigo achieving Bankai. Topping those events though was the long-awaited and simple apology in the final stages of episode 62.
The plot twists managed to keep my brain functioning, and let me tell you, you’ll really need to use your heads during this arc! It takes pure logic to solve the mysteries surrounding Soul Society’s current state. The majority of these developments arise during Rukia’s execution ritual: the mass murder of Central 46, captains turn against each other, and a conspiracy against Soul Society is revealed – the main antagonist is identified including his aides, and all three are marked as traitors. I am debating on whether I should reveal the perpetrators or not since this is a major spoiler… *whispers* I’ll give you a clue… the traitors are three captains.
What separates Bleach from other shounen series is its art design and animation. The costuming is sharp and the overall visual impression is appealing. The black and white contrasts of the kimono outfits of the shinigamis make for a sharp look, especially those in the captain uniforms. For other characters who don’t the captain uniforms, they seem dull in comparison. All zanpakuto in any forms – whether it be Shikai or Bankai – stand among the best anime sword designs and the vast creativity of their many forms, are superior to any equivalent in other shounen series. Bleach’s ability to keep its cast easily distinguishable without going to overboard deserves several more points. It stands among some of the best action series due to its dynamic and nail-biting fight sequences.
Character development may have improved slightly from the precious season. Ichigo pulls out all the guns during this season; he puts his life on the line to reach an phenomenal level of spiritual power, and rescue Rukia no matter what consequences lay ahead. introduces yet more of the ever-growing cast of soul reapers and shows off some frenetic action sequences with more blood and an array of new zanpaktos. We also see some nice characterisation of established characters such as Toshiro Hitsugaya (tenth division captain), Yoruichi and Byakuya Kuchiki. Furthermore a shocking backstory is unveiled about the eccentric handyman Kisuke Urahara and his links to Soul Society; something you’d never expect… unless you’ve read spoilers – oh, cheeky!
Bleach definitely trumps other shounen series when it comes to sound and music. Its themes have different sounds to them, one leaning towards electronic instruments, which makes it sound heavier and slightly darker/edgier tone that works well with the intense fight sequences Bleach has to offer. Its trademark goofy theme also allows the mood to change with a click of your fingers. BGM mostly remains the same throughout this season so no major changes have been made. The only changes in sound are the opening and ending themes around episode 52. ‘Ichirin no Hana’ by High and Mighty Color provides a hard rock upgrade while ‘Life’ by YUI is more wistful and replaces the cheerful ‘Happy People’.
Bleach: Soul Society・The Rescue is the turning point for the entire series – everything has been built up to this point, and everything that occurs in the future will be because of this. Ultimately Bleach works despite its flaws because it provides plenty of backstory, just enough story and characterisation and the occasional humourous outbursts. Season 3 ends on the perfect note of giving a satisfying finale to the Rescue story arc, while at the same time, laying down the foundation for future arcs.