Welcome and welcome to another episode of Fighting Friday, the every-Friday recap of the biggest and best in Japanese battlin' cartoons and comics.
[You can catch Naruto, Bleach, Fairy Tail 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.]
Naruto Shippuden episode 200
Two hundred episodes! That's just over four years of Naruto (counting broadcast delays and vacations), and not even counting the first series.
And what do we get to celebrate with? A lot of talking.
The Five Kages get together in the Land of Iron (after the Raikage blows off Naruto's request to let Sasuke off the hook, of course), and then everyone talks. A lot. Items of interest include the use of mercenary ninja as equalizers as various nations cut their defense budgets. It calls to mind once more Akatsuki's early, so-mundane-that-it-has-to-be-fake agenda of "Domination Through Manipulation of Conflict-driven World Economy." I still can't believe they used a whole episode having Pain explain all of that to Hidan. What is this, Naruto Gear Solid?
For the most part the only action scene was a brief, tense Mexican standoff between all the Kages' bodyguards after the Raikage breaks the table. In more detail (say, on the level of the manga) it would be more compelling, but we're working on long-running anime budgets, here.
Once more, I'm off-put by how colorful everyone's hair is, especially since anyone in the Naruto manga that doesn't have black hair is left unshaded.
Next week, we'll see what the rest of the cast intends to do with Sasuke. Spoiler hint: It's not "give him a surprise welcome-back party."
Bleach episode 310
Three hundred ten episodes in, and for the first time in series history we see a "The End" card.
Of course, it's not the end, but only the beginning.
In case you haven't been reading the manga, here's a bullet-point list of features in this non-epilogue:
- An awkward attempt at humanizing Aizen is made, because waaaah, he's just sooo powerful that he's lonely and wants to destroy the world in order to find his equal.
- Ichigo goes into a ten-day coma in which he ages backwards because protagonists must always be the same apparent age as their peers, God forbid anyone befriends an old person.
- Byakuya and Kenpachi come back from Hueco Mundo, because no one is ever allowed to see those two lose to anyone but Ichigo.
- Aizen gets a 20,000 year sentence, but is guaranteed no job training to help him reintegrate into Soul Society upon his release. At that rate he'll just become a recidivist. Our revolving door prison system doesn't help anyone!
- Rangiku is on the rebound and Hitsugaya's trying to power up.
And that's pretty much it.
- Urahara notes something about Ichigo's loss of Spiritual Pressure and its various stages. First comes the ten-day coma and backwards aging. And then, after an undetermined amount of time, a blackout . After which Ichigo will wake up with no powers.
That is the key! If I recall the manga correctly, Ichigo woke up from the coma with his powers already fading away. One of my favorite frames from the series as a whole comes from that, which shows Rukia melting out of Ichigo's vision, Gurren Lagann-style, as he loses the ability to see her.
Do so see what Kisuke did there? By sneaking an additional step between the end of the fight and the new beginning, he has set up the next opportunity for a long period of filler.
Ichigo will still have "powers", but now will have new struggles as he tries to protect the city from non-canon foes with his strength constantly draining! It's genius!
Actually, Studio Pierrot has done this before, with the Bount arc and helping Uryuu deal with his power loss.
So yes. Filler. Next week, we catch up with Kon and a mysterious blond magician.
Fairy Tail Episode 67
It was obvious/expected that Natsu would beat the snot out of Zero, but it was definitely nice to get a cameo from Igneel. Seeing everyone else, including MISTER SPARKLES kick some lacrima butt was also nice. I definitely chuckled when Natsu basically head-butted Zero into the lacrima to destroy it. Also, SURPRISE! Jura! It made me happy to see him pop in like that.
Now here's the part that I'm actually...really pleased with. I wasn't expecting the show to take this turn, making Jellal go away with the new Council like that. I expected one of two things: He recovers his memories and turns on Fairy Tail, or he recovers (or not, doesn't matter) his memories and stays good for Erza. I did not expect option three: bring in the Council and get his ass hauled to Azkaban. Big props for surprising me! Another thing that surprised me when I was reading the manga was the connection I should have made between HotEye (Richard) and Wally (Mr Dandy). I'm glad things came full circle for him. I was wondering what they'd fill the rest of the episode with to avoid putting both major ends to this arc together, and it turned out to be a nice little flash-back to Richard and Wally's past. I enjoyed that bit, as cheesy as it was.
So next week (well, in a few days), we'll be saying good-bye to Jellal indefinitely and meeting Wendy's guild (finally!). It gets sad, but I'm excited for the next arc to commence. If it's any indication, the next episode is called "The Guild for Only One". Looking forward to it?
One Piece episode 488
We left off last week with Akainu fighting Whitebeard's commanders and Sengoku facing down Blackbeard and his crew. The marine bloodlust only gets worse when dozens of men come out from beneath platforms in the island. This doesn't really mean much for Blackbeard, who just activates the Tremor-Tremor fruit and almost up-ends the entire island. The earthquakes are so bad that people on Sabaody are forced to hit higher ground to avoid being drowned by tsunamis.
Coby continues his freakout, hearing the deaths of the hundreds of pirates and marines on the plaza. Even marines like Smoker and Tashigi are disgusted with the marine desire for destruction. Coby flips out and steps in front of Akainu, asking him to stop all the death and madness. Well, Akainu don't put up with uppity little kids, so he steps into kill Coby. Lucky for the little upstart, Shanks decides to come back at the moment. As Coby collapses from fear, Shanks congratulates him for his sheer balls and how he may have changed the fate of the whole world with his several second delay. Shanks clearly states to Akainu and the rest of the marines that he's here to end the war.
Hearing Shuichi Ikeda as Shanks brings me no end of joy, as I had recently watched a ton of old-school Gundam and the recent Unicorn OVAs. Ikeda is one of those guys that switch from happy-go-lucky to utterly dead serious in a second and sounds bad-ass no matter what. It's also pretty impressive considering how terrified the marines are at his arrival. Hell, he stopped Akainu's massive lava attack with a sword. Even his subordinates are scary, as Ben Beckman pointed a simple gun at Kizaru and scared him enough to stop attacking Law's ship. The Whitebeard War is wrapping up soon, but it's a treat to see characters like Shanks and Beckman again.
[Naruto, One Piece and Bleach manga volumes are available for purchase via VIZ Media, and Fairy Tail volumes are available through Del Rey/Random House.]
Naruto chapter 529
It's a passing-of-the-torch moment for today's Naruto chapter, as Ino, Shikamaru, and Choji take the fight to the Nine-Tails-powered Kinkaku. Now, normally passing the torch from one generation to the next require that the previous torch-holder die. It's happened in Naruto several times, in fact.
Fortunately for the three, this one involves fathers, and Naruto has yet to off a parent in the presence of the child outside of flashbacks. Father-figures are fair game, as evidenced by Jiraiya and Asuma and others' fates. So these three are lucky for now, and are made part of the big scheme to capture Kinkaku, who picked up his Nine-Tails power from being stuck inside the fox and eating its "chakra meat". I feel sorry for the fox. Must have felt like really bad ulcers.
The ninjas unveil the last of the Sage of Six Paths' Five Great Treasures, which is a big ol' pot which does almost exactly the same thing as the gourd that steals your soul, except more easily. One only has to call out the target's name, and should the target respond, poof, sealed away.
Basically, it's like a ninja-magic version of the "Loser says what?" joke. And it works, using the classic InoShikaCho tactic of possessing someone with Shadow Jutsu to use the Mind Transfer, then trigger the weapon. It's been done, but having it follow through on a big boss fight is always fun to see.
Next week, Asuma may take the stage. Also, we are given a brief glimpse of Naruto being bothered by something, just to remind us that he's still around.
Bleach chapter 438
It seems like Ichigo's Soul Reaper badge is not just a symbol of his power and FullBring catalyst, but an eavesdropping device. It can hear Rukia! And from her lines, something's happening in Soul Society. But enough about that, let's learn how Riruka turns off her "Doll House" power.
She has to sneeze on the stuff she shrank. Must be great, coming out of a training room covered in a cosplayer's snot.
Anyway, to Orihime, who was casually asked to die by a discarded Kenka Bancho character model named Shishigawara, who can't do anything more than that because Orihime is pretty.
Sadly for her, though, Shishigawara's boss Tsukishima is also there, and he's the guy who cut Uryuu up about 4 months ago. Sucks to be either of them, really. But Orihime's still got powers, so next week might give us an opportunity to see how she's grown lately.
Fairy Tail Chapter 223
So, the Council is involved (Yay?) and Loke has challenged Caprico. I'm glad he got back in his snappy suit there, cause I like that look for Leo. Caprico claims to have no master, but I'm not too sure how truthful that statement is. I suspected Hades was his owner, because I have no idea how he'd last so long outside of the Spirit realm (apparently 17 years), but he was apparently Lucy's mother's. Okay, so is this heavy foreshadowing or complicating the plot? At least Loke had the foresight to make her run off and get a head start before Caprico had a chance to do...what ever it is he wants to do to her.
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What is pending eruption is what we in Spanish would call "un arroz con mango" (a big friggen huge crazy mess).
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