Thursday, April 17, 2008

Bleach 167

Remember last time I mentioned how would be filled with drawings of Grimmjaw? I was right. Just go over there, search under his name (or “Grimmjow”), and be filled with horror. Some people trace other pictures, some jerk spasmodically with a pencil in their hand. Some draw Grimmjaw and Inoue in love (oh my Gawd) without regard to anatomy or perspective. Sure, there is an occasional quality piece, but just imagine all the people sitting out there, thinking, I must draw Grimmjaw. That frightens me.

So after what seems like a five minute recap of what’s been going on, we return to see Ichigo slashing Grimmjaw. But good. Grimmjaw falls to his knees, and Ichigo starts to relax, but Grimmjaw curses him. Does he really think this is the end? High up above, Inoue calls out for Ichigo. Watch out! We see blood splatter through the air. There is so much blood that it covers the whole screen, and that serves as a nice little transition to the next scene.

Seems that it’s lecture time on Bleach. Here’s how this works: Hollow eat human souls to feed the emptiness in their own souls. However, some Hollows have a greater thirst, and they start to feed on other Hollow. These cannibalistic Hollow all tend to gather together, and then they do, they all naturally meld together to form Gillian. Gillian are powerful, but have no consciousness. On occasion, though, there are Gillian formed from Hollow with exceptionally strong personalities, and the resulting Gillian might rarely retain its sense of individuality. Now, the narrator is explaining all of this the animation on screen shows, you know, Hollow and then Gillian, but then pans to a weird Gillian with a gate for a face. That could be kind of creepy. I think I saw a guy like that in an alley once, but I was pretty drunk.

These smart Gillian will eat other Gillian, and in turn become Adjuchas. Now we see a leonine Hollow leaping up from the sands of Hueco Mundo. It shakes its head, roars at the weird moon. Adjuchas eat each other, just like everything else in this wretched realm, and if they don’t continue eating, they regress back into plain ol’ Gillian and can never evolve in Adjuchas again. We watch the leonine Adjuchas chasing down other Adjuchas without mercy and eating them. It’s covered with green blood.

A shadow suddenly covers it, and it turns to face a whole slew of bigger Adjuchas. One threatens to eat the lion thing, and we pan over the new group, and they look distinctly familiar, maybe like some of the Arrancar who’ve been wiped out previously. The leonine one pauses for a second, and then attacks quickly, biting three of them in quick succession. They scream in agony. Like little girls.

One of the Adjuchas asks his name. It’s Grimmjaw, naturally. The other introduces himself as Showlong, who did, indeed, die a little ways back when Captain Hitsugaya froze him to death. Showlong and the others are on their way to becoming Vasto Lordes, the very highest level of Hollow, and they need a strong leader, like Grimmjaw, to lead them. They want him to be their king.

End flashback, and we see Grimmjaw skewering Ichigo with his claws. He pulls out his hand and they jump apart. Grimmjaw glowers at Ichigo. He hates Ichigo, especially the way he looks at Grimmjaw, for, no matter what’s happening, no matter how badly Grimmjaw is beating him up, Ichigo always looks like he knows that he’s going to win in the end. He attacks again, but Ichigo blocks his hand with his sword. Ichigo says that maybe Grimmjaw is upset that, he, a mere human, is fighting on equal footing with him.

Too bad that Grimmjaw has two hands! Ichigo looks surprised when he gets stabbed again. Grimmjaw drop kicks him like a football. Grimmjaw doesn’t care who he’s fighting. He’ll kill anyone who looks down on him. I think that Grimmjaw has deep, deep insecurity issues. He pulls back and his claws start to glow blue and…lines appear out of them, stretching up into the sky. They look strange, and not that scary, but this is apparently Grimmjaw’s greatest attack: Desgarron. That means laceration, in Spanish.

Flashback again, back to Adjuchas Grimmjaw and his merry band. Showlong says that they’re giving up. Even after eating three thousand other Hollow, they can’t feel themselves becoming any more powerful. Hence, they have evolved as far as they can. Grimmjaw scoffs and invites them to die in a ditch somewhere. I wasn’t aware that Hueco Mundo had ditches, but okay. He starts to leave, but Showlong begs him to eat them. They can go no further, they accept that, but Grimmjaw can continue to evolve.

In the now, Grimmjaw fires off desgarron. It mainly consists of those shiny blue lines dashing toward Ichigo. It’s not that impressive. Overall, the animation for this episode is of poorer quality than the last one. Yawn. Ichigo blocks desgarron with his sword and gets pushed way back. Grimmjaw laughs and thinks that he’s going to win! He recalls the flashback we just saw, and he says, fine, he’ll eat his companions. They’ll know what it’s like to evolve as part of his own flesh. He’s the king, after all.

Too bad Ichigo interrupts his thoughts, because he sticks his sword into one of the desgarron blades and breaks it apart. He tells Grimmjaw that he wants to win too, and he opens his eye and we can see that it’s his normal, human eye (by now he only has a quarter of his Hollow mask left, mind you), and he moves in to attack! Grimmjaw fires off another desgarron, but Ichigo sticks his sword in it and rides the wave like Mary Poppins riding through the sky with her magical umbrella. Ichigo shouts something about defeating all his enemies and saving his friends as Bleach’s determined-to-win music plays. The desgarron blades all fall apart and Grimmjaw just stands there as Ichigo stabs him.

Grimmjaw stares at Ichigo as he withdraws the blade, and he topples backwards. We see leonine Grimmjaw again, walking alone along the wastelands as he stops to look up at the moon. Mournful cello music plays. Blood pours from Grimmjaw now and he falls to the sand but Ichigo catches him by the arm. Ichigo’s Hollow mask falls away completely and he slowly lowers Grimmjaw to the ground, where he lays on his side with his eyes closed. Ichigo looks at him for a long time before finally turning away.

Frankly, I’m not sure how to feel. On one hand, this is just a cartoon, and these people aren’t real. On the other hand, you look at Grimmjaw and you think, he’s nothing more than a victim of circumstance. He’s vicious and angry because, if he’s isn’t, he dies; but he does have some noble qualities. He thanks Inoue for healing his arm. He doesn’t eat his companions, because they all become arrancar together. In the end Grimmjaw is a pitiable figure. So powerful, yet still terrified of being condescended to, and all he knows how to do is lash out. Point is, complex characters are good characters, and sometimes Bleach does things right. And Ichigo catching Grimmjaw as he falls? Very nice.

Ichigo goes up to Inoue. She’s happy that he’s back to normal; Nel is just happy that Ichigo is alive. Ichigo and Inoue hold hands and look into the sky. Everyone is waiting for them.

Next episode: Seems to feature someone who is decidedly not Ichigo. And the “Shinigami Golden” has Nel saying goodbye for some reason. Rumor has it that we are facing terrible, horrible filler episodes for a prolonged period. I’m sure this will be fantastic.

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