Welcome to another week's worth of Fighting Friday, the weekly shounen battlin' recap that gets your blood pumping...ideally through your veins and circulatory system, rather than out of your eyes and mouth because this week's episode was just so damn bad.
[You can catch both Naruto and Bleach simulcasting on Crunchyroll. Bleach also airs on Adult Swim, with other episodes available via iTunes. DVD volumes are available at major retailers, published by VIZ media. One Piece episodes can be streamed on Hulu and FUNimation's official One Piece page.]
One Piece episode 471
This week the Pacifistas run wild on the pirate hoards. The pirates outside of Marineford's gates realize that Whitebeard's orders kept them from being traped by the laser-spewing robots but are now stuck dealing with them. Kizaru tells Sentoumaru to let loose with the Kuma clones and to try and keep marine casualties to a minimum. Whitebeard responds by telling his troops to sally forth and push back the marines as much as possible. Luffy's forward momentum is ruined by a teleporting Kizaru kick. Before he goes flying too far back Jimbei catches him. The two are joined by Whitebeard's commanders and they all move forward to attack the admiral.
Sengoku responds to the push by ordering all marines off the ice and to close the encircling walls after they've cut all video footage from the grounds. Thing is, they're missing a video Den Den Mushi...the one that Buggy and his misfits yoinked last week after taking a ride on Croc's sand whirlwind. They publish a silly promo vid for the clown before they get blown away by a cannon blast.
Back at the front line, Whitebeard is joined by Squard. The mustachioed leader says that it's time for him to join the fight, but before he does a bit of treachery unfolds. Squard pulls out his sword and stabs Whitebeard in the chest, cutting to a shot of Akainu before the episode ends.
I dig how they're able to stick in at least one amusing moment each episode to keep things relatively light. Buggy is always good for a laugh, so his bit was a welcomed respite from the oppressive marines beating down Luffy and the Whitebeard pirates. Things are only going to get worse, believe me.
Naruto Shippuden episode 182
After the disappointment of last week's filler, we see a return to (better) form as the filler continues on its previous path of using flashbacks to further develop key characters as the present-time plot arc is set up.
This time we return to a point in time between the Chunin Exam and...whatever came after the Chunin Exam, as the Leaf and Sand villages try to rebuild their alliance. Team 7 are sent on a joint mission with a bunch of Sand ninja to go take out a group of bandits. Leading the sand ninja is, of all people, Gaara, who's mellowed out quite a bit after being beaten by Naruto.
Not all is well in the Land of Sand, however, and a bunch of ANBU Sand ninja are out to off poor Gaara for the threat he presents to the village.
Of course, Naruto, being the "stick-by-your-friends" sort, takes exception to that, and delivers a beatdown to the masked jerks, demonstrating to Gaara's subordinates that the Scary Dude With A Gourd is actually a Nice Dude With A Gourd after all.
And then Gaara becomes the Kazekage. Hm. The wonders that proper professional networking can produce, eh?
As I've said before, it's this kind of filler that is the best - the sort that doesn't necessarily contradict the canon set down by the manga, but instead builds on existing characters. That way viewers can grow to care about them more, rather than simply regard them as simple statistics on a Ninja Info Card.
Of course, that's not always possible, as too many character-development episodes in a row can be as tiresome as boring non-canon storylines. Perhaps a new idea could be story arcs that feature side characters, devoid of presence from the principal manga cast? Think Railgun vs. Index. I'd certainly like to see the kinds of missions Team Guy might go on while the main cast were off doing something else, or for the series to expand on how everyone made Chunin/Jonin while Naruto was training under Jiraiya. Wouldn't that be an interesting opportunity?
Next week, another potentially squandered opportunity at proper filler. Then again, seeing Naruto hunted down like a disease carrier should be entertaining.
Bleach episode 293
This is how Hero Killers earn their titles.
Aizen finally backs up all the big talk he's been making this whole time, and all the captains try their level best to rip him a new one, all in vain.
This, of course, is no surprise to any viewer with half a brain, but I have to say that there's a certain satisfaction to be drawn from seeing people do something rather than talk about how they're going to do something and how well they're going to do it.
An extra treat for this big brawl is the first (perhaps only) glimpse at captains actually exercising some group tactics rather than pairing off for one-on-one fights. While I fully understand that most Bleach character power sets are tailor-made for the duel, it's refreshing to see those same power sets employed in a way that they complement each other. The Kyoraku-Hitsugaya-Soifon team attack is especially inventive.
Then again, it's this very episode's particular ridiculousness that spawned the following 4chan comic:
So yeah, it's not all roses-and-cake this episode.
Next week, Naruto's going on break again, but Bleach is coming back! Rejoice or despair? You decide!
[Editor's Note: If you're only following the anime series, you might want to skip this section, as there will be spoilers. Naruto, One Piece and Bleach manga volumes are available for purchase via VIZ Media.]
[The Bleach manga will return next week, while Naruto takes a one-week break.]
Naruto chapter 514
I was looking forward to a Tsuchikage vs. Deidara face-off this week, but that sadly was not to be. It seems that Masashi Kishimoto would rather that the readers stare at a giant armadillo's genitals (see above).
That said, the Tsuchikage's Dust-element powers are hinted at, and they're implied to be quite destructive. Plus, they'd probably be wasted on Deidara anyway, who's kind of boring.
Yamato and the other Leaf ninja seem incredibly adamant about keeping Naruto in the dark about the fact that he's being hidden on the island for his own safety, to the point that they thank the heavens that the poor boy is pretty damn stupid. That's just just mean-spirited, no matter how you slice it.
After successfully convincing Naruto that examining armadillo penises is indeed a mission worthy of an S-rank, Yamato and the others go out and get into a brief scuffle with Orochima- I mean Kabuto, who seems to have mastered his snake powers to the point that he and Orochimaru sound the same. I hope that doesn't mean that Nobutoshi Canna, Kabuto's regular voice actor, will be out of work, because I loved it when he voiced Lancer in Fate/stay night.
Anyway, Kabuto examines the odds and decides to take Deidara and bug out, but not before capturing Yamato. Given that Yamato's more or less a clone of the First Hokage, it'll be interesting to see what Madara has in store for him, especially now that he's replaced his left Sharingan (which he busted while killing Konan) with one of Nagato's Rinnegan.
One Piece chapter 601
When Brooke escapes his last concert, the Strawhats are finally ready to leave Sabaody. The only things missing are the cook, the first mate and the captain. Kind of important in my opinion. The cook and the first mate continue arguing as they make their way back to the ship, stopping when they see a commotion on the nearby island. That commotion is the fake Luffy and the posse he's round up getting cornered by the marines. The fight is quickly subdued by Pacifista's lead by Sentoumaru, who is now an official marine. Sentoumaru takes out the fake Luffy and turns his sights on the real deal. Luffy quickly activates Gear Second and destroys the Pacifista with a haki-infused Jet Pistol. Right after that Sanji and Zoro get to the square, only to go face to face with a Pacifista. The two demolish the giant robot with a kick and a slash and the three of them finally greet after two years apart.
Before the trio can make their way back to the Sunny they see Rayleigh chillin' in a nearby tree, watching the festivities. The old man complements Luffy, saying that he's honed his skills even more since the last time he saw him. Luffy thanks him and before he leaves he reminds Rayleigh that he's going to be the Pirate King. The Dark King's eye slightly moisten with MANLY TEARS.
It was nice to see a quick reference of how much the top three members of the crew have grown. Luffy one-punched the Pacifista and I'm pretty sure Zoro and Sanji could've taken one out on their own. Definitely a "passing of the torch" moment at the end. It was sweet how even a bad ass like Rayleigh could be moved by our rubber hero!
And that's it for this week's Fighting Friday! What did you think of the week's blow-by-blow? Tell us in the comments!
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