Bleach: Arrancar Arc (Episodes 143 – 150) Review

A smaller chunk of episodes this time, and one that actually has several episodes of filler in it despite my claim to cut all filler out of these reviews, but the filler in here has a special wrinkle in it. You see the filler here was actually in Tite Kubo’s original outline but he cut it due to pacing concerns… and those concerns were absolutely correct for the record, but I still felt like including it in this rundown. So, with all that out of the way, let’s take a look at the first chunk of episodes set in Hueco Mundo… The first of many!

Synopsis:

Orihime has been kidnapped by Aizen and is forced to show her power by restoring Grimmjow’s arm. Meanwhile Ichigo, Chad and Uryu arrive in Hueco Mundo to rescue her, and they’ll soon find out that they’re not alone…

*spoilers appear from here on out!*

The Good:

Our band of heroes admire the view … The view of black skies and sand. Hooray?

Ichigo, Chad and Uryu were heading to Hueco Mundo as we last left them, so you won’t be surprised that this chunk of episodes kicks off with the trio arriving in the Hollow’s dimension. Well, actually the first thing we see is Orihime being forced to show the Arrancar her powers by healing Grimmjow’s arm, and then the spot on his back where the number 6 was before he was kicked off the Espada. Luppi, the current No. 6, is confused and angry for a few seconds before he’s impaled by the man he replaced and then blown to bits. We get a good episode or so of Ichigo and friends running across the empty desert (including some filler scenes with a tornado and stuff) then they run into a trio of child Arrancar Nel and her two Hollow friends Pesche and Dondochakka. This is where the show wavers between legitimately funny antics and grating screeching child over-reacting… Often the latter (even if Nel’s child speech pattern like saying “Itsugo” rather than Ichigo is amusing)

Anyway, they get confronted by a Hollow creature named Lunuganga who is primarily made of sand and nearly get sucked into a vortex until its frozen by the sudden arrival of Rukia and Renji, who then smack Ichigo around for leaving without them. Before their reunion can get too far Lunuganga returns and actually sucks them under the sand, which leads to the Forest of Menos, which I’ll get to in the next section. When they escape they reach the base of Aizen’s operation, “Las Noches”, and break through, have a bit of a run, then find a split path. Instead of running together as a group they, of course, decide to take a path each, doing a little team motivation chant before they head off. Idiots…

Always happy to see the Menos Grande in action. Despite becoming brainless fodder I still love their design…

The only other things of note are Aizen and the Espada, as we see a meeting of all 10 Espada, Aizen, Gin and Tosen, complete with the classic “show all of the foes in two rows” panel… turned to animation. We also get Ulquiorra manipulating Inoue some more, Inoue deciding she was going to try and use her powers to “reject” the Hogyoku into non-existence and Espada #5 Nnoitra being a bit of a dick to Ulquiorra before getting Aizen’s manipulation plan explained to him… All good fun.

The Bad:

I wonder what happened to Ashido? I guess nobody ever bothered to return to Hueco Mundo and find out. Poor bastard!

As much as I like Tite Kubo’s work, there’s no getting round that fact that the storyline is a repeat of the Soul Society arc, but with Inoue captured instead of Rukia, Hueco Mundo rather than Soul Society and the Espada instead of the Gotei 13. Not a big deal, and the story does get more complicated as it goes on, but it’s worth saying…

Obviously the main chunk here is the Forest of Menos part of the story, which if you still want to cut out all filler including the Kubo-inspired bit than just skip over 147 to 149. Basically they fall through the sand and arrive in an underground cavern … place… thing, where all the massive simple-minded Menos walk around, and a few powerful Adjuchas-level Hollows controlling them. Rukia is separated from them and meets a Shinigami named Ashido, who had followed some Hollows to the forest hundreds of years ago and has since spent all that time killing Menos in hopes of making a difference to the real world attacks, all due to not being able to leave his friends behind… despite the fact that they were soon all dead. Rukia eventually convinces him to return with them, but he is reluctant until he hears she’s here to rescue a friend. After defeating some of the Adjuchas our protagonists and Ashido reach the exit but the new red-haired survivor stays behind because… he’s not in the manga so can’t continue on (thankfully as the anime team didn’t feel that way about the Bount filler characters at the start of the arc…) It’s harmless, but not very exciting, as most filler is…

Overall Thoughts:

It’s your classic Kubo “new group of foes gathering” screenshot!

Due to introducing some comedy characters and a few episodes in dull filler land, this chunk of episodes barely moves the story on from where it started. It’s not the end of the world, and I enjoy the Espada scene-setting and introductions (I remember being very excited about that when it first aired) but I can’t say this is a must-see set of nine episodes…

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