Next, we have the shinigami. Sure, they're dead, but they have awesome spiritual powers, which makes them the life of any party they go to. There are thirteen squads (paramilitary squads, that is, charged with purifying lost souls and Hollows), and each squad has a captain and lieutenant, and most squads by now have introduced even more supporting members. We've also met other residents of Soul Society. As I mentioned last time, that's where humans go where they die, but it definitely isn't paradise. There are slums, and fighting, and you can still die. I imagine that you're reincarnated to someplace even better, like Earth.
Sunday, April 22, 2007
Now, one of my favorite aspects of Bleach is the sheer number of characters they've thrown at us. First, we have all the humans. With protagonists, supporting cast, friends, and family, there are over a dozen of them, and each is wackier than the last.
If you die and you're bad, you go to Hell. We haven't seen Hell, only it's door, where some hand just jabs out a big sword and grabs the evil spirits to drag them to eternal damnation. Does Hell have a shinigami equivalent? Does it?
The third spiritual realm where the deceased can end up is Hueco Mundo, a dark and shadowy realm which for some reason is filled with Spanish guitar music. This is the home of the renegade shinigami captain Sosuke Aizen. He's been busy creating arrancar, Hollows with shinigami powers. So far we've seen a few, but we've been told that there are ten captains, and who knows how many supporting soldiers. If I were a slower person I might need to write this all down on a piece of paper, or at least refer to the extensive wikipedia articles devoted to the series.
So as episode 121 ended, we left Grimmjaw facing Aizen and Tousen. Tousen is in a blind rage over Grimmjaw's reckless actions, which have resulted in the loss of five arrancar, but Aizen doesn't seem too worried. Tousen spouts something about how slaughter in the name of a higher cause is justice, and then he cuts off Grimmjaw's arm and burns it up with a spell. Tousen honestly makes no sense. His sense of justice seems to be whatever pleases him most. He claims, for instance, to follow the path of least bloodshed, but, in this case, wouldn't that be to not cut off Grimmjaw's arm? Grimmjaw, looking oddly asymetrical, leaves in a huff, and Aizen also leaves...for Exposition Staircase. Ichimaru Gin, the last of the shinigami captains who left Soul Society with him, asks Aizen if he's worried about the loss of the arrancar. Aizen says that they were among the weakest. He looks out over the dark landscape as the soft refrains of guitar music sweep into our ears...
Back in the "real world" Uryuu Ishida, a former Quincy (I'll explain this later, too), is training with his cold, bastard father to regain his powers. Daddy tells him not to worry about the shinigami battle that just took place outside, and to instead concentrate on not dying. Dad then teleports right next to Ishida and looks menacing, which is exactly what my own father would have done, and, in fact, did many a time when I was a young child. So this scene really hits me pretty hard.
Some other things happen, but the main point is that Ichigo is suddenly missing, and no one knows where he is. We know, of course, because we're following him in our perverse, omniscent way. He's gone to see the Vizard, shinigami who have gained Hollow powers. They're pretty much the opposite of the arrancar, and Ichigo obviously hopes that they can help him control his inner Hollow, and isn't that exactly what we're all trying to do?
After some discussion, some veiled threats, Ichigo and Shinji, one of the Vizard, start to fight a bit. The other Vizard gather to watch, and seven line up, so, counting Shinji, there must be at least eight of them. More characters! What are their names? What are their histories? Which will be my favorite? So far, I'm rooting for the girl with glasses. There's something about her I like. I'm sure others will disagree. mrLang, for instance, probably likes the big guy with pink hair. Or the girl in the white with the goggles.
The Vizard watch and note that Ichigo is afraid, so Hiyori (the l'il'est Vizard) steps forward. She throws Shinji out of the building and tells Ichigo that the decision to train him lies with them, not with his own desires. She commands Ichigo to fight at his full power, or else she's going to kill him. She puts on her Hollow mask and suddenly appears right in front of him, apparently ready and able to fulfill her threat.