Monday, April 14, 2008

Bleach 166

Last we reviewed Bleach, the gang was heading into Hueco Mundo to rescue someone from Aizen and his evil Spanish guitar music. Maybe Inoue. I’m not sure. I am sure that she has huge breasts. They fight some big Hollows, they meet Nel and some insipidly annoying sidekicks, Rukia and Renji join them and they crash into Aizen’s massive fortress.

Then they start fighting. And fighting some more. Everyone powers up, and powers up again, and it’s kind of like Dragonball Z where everyone yells for half an hour before unleashing a discombobulatingly devastating attack. Now, that doesn’t mean that any of this is very good. It’s entertaining though.

So Ulquiorra stabs Ichigo, our very favoritest protagonist, right in the chest. Grimmjaw frees Inoue, takes her to Ichigo, and tells her to heal him so that he can beat up Ichigo properly, and not in the half-assed manner that is Ulquiorra’s preferred idiom. They exchange tentative blows, and Grimmjaw fires off the greatest cero ever, but it’s not actually aimed at Ichigo. It’s aimed at Inoue and Nel, right behind him. Ichigo has to put on his Hollow mask to save the gals, which is exactly what Grimmjaw wanted all along. Everyone freezes; Grimmjaw has a menacing sneer; Inoue doesn’t know what the hell just happened. Ichigo looks at her, she’s scared, and he tells her not to be afraid, to relax. He’ll end all of this soon.

Grimmjaw is like a kid in a candy store. Do kids still go to candy stores? I assume so. With a cry of “Grind, Pantera!” he unlocks his sword. A huge windstorm whips up, and Ichigo tells Inoue to put up her shield, which she obediently does. The sand blows away and we see Grimmjaw, transformed into a some kind of feline antelope thing with a great mane of blue hair and fantastic eye makeup, and I'm pretty positive that an entire generation of amateur anime artists have been inspired to draw this handsome guy. Deviantart or whatever it's called is going to be overflowing with crudely drawn pictures by fanguys and -girls of this Pantera thing. Whatever. He roars, shaking things up so much with the sheer power of his vocal chords that even Ichigo is impressed.

Grimmjaw goes right on the attack, jumping up and kicking Ichigo through the landscape. Now, mind you, the landscape here consists of massive red columns rising up from the sand, so being kicked through them probably hurts a lot. Grimmjaw meets him at the other end and kicks him some more, and then slashed down at Ichigo with nasty nasty claws, sending Ichigo straight down through a big gray column. There’s a lot of smoke and Grimmjaw floats above looking for Ichigo, and they actually animated his eyes moving around, which is a nice touch. Usually people just blink on this show, or their eyebrows move a bit, and that’s about it.

Before the dust even clears Ichigo flash steps right behind Grimmjaw and fires off his GETSUGA TENSHOU! Grimmjaw just laughs. He hates Ichigo’s eyes, and, now that he mentions it, so do I. Who likes yellow eyes?

Cut away now to a ledge over on the fortress. We see one of the Espada, the large breasted one, and if you read the manga (and I know you do), then you know that her name is Halibel. Three of her hot arrancar lieutenants, Mila Rose, Apache, and Sun Sun, are yapping about the battle they’re watching between Ichigo and Grimmjaw. A huge blast of wind unsettles them all, and Halibel steps forward and says that’s it’s understandable that they’re afraid. Mila Rose and Apache look at each other and pretty much admit that it’s true. Halibel goes on some more about their fear, telling them to remember it, and then muses on how powerful Ichigo is, with his mightly reiatsu and evil aura. It’s almost like watching two Espada fighting.

Back to Ichigo and Grimmjaw. They’re flashing around, explosions abound, huge shock waves rattle the air. Grimmjaw slams Ichigo into one of the big red columns and notices how Ichigo can keep his Hollow mask on for longer now. Much longer. Remember how at first he could only use it for eleven seconds? I’m pretty sure more than that has passed, even in cartoon time. Grimmjaw wonders why, but doesn’t really care. He just doesn’t want the mask to break off in the middle of the fight. He thrusts a razor sharp hand at Ichigo, but our guy catches it and says that he doesn’t want Grimmjaw to release his own form yet. Then Ichigo slashes Grimmjaw right across the chest, and blood spurts all over. Ichigo presses the attack, but Grimmjaw parries his sword with little arm blades, and then flies into a whirlwind of kicks. Ichigo avoids them, but it’s just a feint, and Grimmjaw smacks him right back to the earth. Seems that Ichigo can’t really keep up with Grimmjaw’s speed and agility. Too bad.

He dives down to finish Ichigo off, but Ichigo is waiting for him with his sword. Grimmjaw manages to avoid it, but still manages to get a sword dragged along his arm. They attack and slam into each other and throw up a huge atomic bowl of sand.

More fighting, kicks and blows, and Grimmjaw dashes around to outflank Ichigo. The animation is really much better than usual. The producers should take more time between episodes (there was a two week gap between the last and this one), if this is the kind of quality they can produce when they’re not being rushed. I wouldn’t mind the wait, and neither should you. More blows are exchanged, and Ichigo gets knocked up along a column but manages to skid to a midair stop.

Grimmjaw snorts and aims his elbow and fires off a quintet of weird missiles. Ichigo avoids them, but realizes that (again) they’re heading toward Inoue and Nel. He corrects his mistake and intercepts the projectiles with his back, and they must really hurt because he spits up blood. Ichigo says he’s fine and looks directly at Inoue, who starts freaking out because she has a sudden vision of her brother as a Hollow, from way back in the second episode of the series. Remember that?

Ichigo flies down to face off with Grimmjaw. He notes that Ichigo is breathing prettily heavily. He jerks up his elbow and casually fires off an elbow missiles at a big red column behind him, and it sort of breaks in half. Five of those in Ichigo’s back? He must be hurting, and to prove the point, his Hollow mask starts to crack a little. Ichigo says he’s not even close to his limit. That pleases Grimmjaw to no end, but then his own mask starts to crack! Can’t anyone find a non-crackable mask here?

Inoue watches them fight some more and continues her freaking out. The eyes are the thing, you see. They remind her of her brother’s terrible, terrible Hollow eyes. Down below, Ichigo’s mask is really starting to go to pieces and Grimmjaw finally gains the upper hand, kicking him into one of those big red columns, and it falls apart too. Nel starts to mutter something that I don’t care about, then she begins to cheer Ichigo on, because what he really needs now is a cheering section. Then she starts to yell at Inoue, something to the effect that Ichigo’s using a terrible, ominous power, and being cut and thrashed because of you, Inoue, so the very least you can do is cheer for him. Inoue has an epiphany, naturally, and starts to talk about her womanly feelings. Point is, everyone came to save her. How could she be afraid of Ichigo?

By now half of Ichigo’s mask has fallen off. Grimmjaw makes like a spinning top (awesome) and slams right into him. They even animated the very moment of the hit, with Ichigo grimacing in agony. Grimmjaw says that this is the end, and he even looks a little sad for Ichigo. Ichigo pants and pants some more.

But, “Don’t die!” Inoue shouts from above. “You don’t have to win. Just don’t, you know, get hurt anymore.” Gee, thanks. Ichigo looks amazed, however, but doesn’t have much time for that, as Grimmjaw dives toward him with a cry of “Kurosaki!” Ichigo, I suppose inspired by Inoue, suddenly grabs Grimmjaws hand, says that he can’t afford to take any more hits, and cuts the Espada, but good.

Next week: More Ichigo and Grimmjaw action. Grimmy does the voice over, and his voice is just full of anger and hatred. He's not evil; he's just sad and misunderstood. I feel like I'm the only one who understands that.

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