Hello and welcome to a new week of Fighting Friday, the weekly battle manga and anime update that's surprised at how useful female characters have made themselves in this week's Naruto and Bleach chapters. And here we assumed they were only good for getting icky cooties.
We've got the full lineup here this week, on the cusp of June, with new chapters and episodes of Fairy Tail, Bleach, Naruto, and One Piece to recap for you, because we're spending this Memorial Day weekend training!
For what, I've yet to know. Maybe to win the Japan World Cup?
[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 onHulu and FUNimation's official One Piece page.]
Fairy Tail Episode 80
Naruto Shippuden episode 213
Thanks to the unfortunate need for a battle anime to streeeeetchh eveeeerythiiiiiing ooouuut fooor aaaaas loooong aaaas poooossiiible iiiinn ooordeer tooo leeet theee maaaangaaaa puuull aaaaheeeaaad, this episode consists almost entirely of an extended reflection on Naruto's relationship with Sasuke.
Just like last week was an extended reflection on Sakura's relationship with Sasuke.
Next week, an extended reflection on Kakashi's relationship with Sasuke.
Bleach episode 323
Battle anime, especially those adapted from an ongoing battle manga, are usually built with two purposes: to give manga readers a thing to watch that's in color, and to cater to people who'd rather watch than read.
That in mind, it's sometimes kind of fun to figure out a given studio's intentions when they attempt to construct filler story arcs, which are invariably original content that is not in the manga.
In this episode, the way I'm reading Studio Pierrot's intentions are that they:
A. Wanted to give Chad the only action he's had in some six months.
B. Realized that all the low-level fights against the evil clone Soul Reapers were pretty boring.
The first goal is met midway through the episode, as Chad gets to go a couple of rounds with Evil Renji. Incidentally, Renji is the only major character Chad's ever dueled, barring his brief run-in with Kyouraku back during the first Soul Society arc.
The second goal is met by a (very) brief moment of bankai, when Ichigo pops in to cream all of the lower-ranked evil clones, including Evil Rukia, Evil Ikkaku, Evil Oomaeda, Evil Shuhei, Evil Yumichika, and Evil Rangiku. The only non-captains left (that we've seen) are Evil Nanao and Evil Tetsuzaemon, both of whom are in Soul Society.
Next week, it's Yamamoto versus Evil Shunsui and Evil Jushiro, and Kenpachi-on-Kenpachi violence.
One Piece Episode 499
Oh those lil'uns. Still trying to take out the giant tiger, Sabo and Ace continually get their ass handed to them while Luffy goes off to train with Naguri. All that Luffy has to show for his training is the ability to keep his Pistol in a straight line and all that we get for it is a Naguri flashback featuring Gol D. Rodger. Naguri beats a belligerent Ace and go sea.
After a montage and an inspirational speech or two, the ship is complete and Naguri heads out to look for his old crew. However, before he leaves he decides to watch the kids fight the ginormous tiger in the woods. None of the kids can do it on their own, so they team up manager to finally take out the beast. The old man leaves with knowledge that he helped these little punks out and we leave the episode with the knowledge that Bluejam has found Sabo. Hope there's something interesting next week for episode 500 and not more of this filler.
[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.]
Fairy Tail Chapter 235
Naruto chapter 540
I shouldn't be surprised at this point, but it's amazing how long it's been since Sakura actually did anything. I guess it comes down to career choice. Her becoming a medic really wasn't good for her career as a key character in a ninja manga, because ninja medics don't get no love. Sure, Tsunade's a medic, too, but she's also the Hokage, and at this moment is about to face off against Naruto and Bee.
But now, at least we can be reminded that yes, Sakura is supposed to be a younger incarnation of Tsunade: a young medic with a fiery temper and a punch to crack mountains. She uses said punch (elbow, really) on Evil Neji, who was actually (gasp!) a White Zetsu using its chakra-draining ability to infiltrate the camps and assassinate dudes.
They pulled an interesting red herring in the last couple of chapters, prominently featuring Itachi and Nagato, making people who weren't keeping careful note of who has what powers (like me and anyone else not responsible for editing the Naruto wiki), then doing a bait-and-switch to show "Oh, wait, Zetsu does have that power, he used it to fake Kisame's death last year."
This, ladies and gentlemen, is what passes for subtlety in a battle manga.
Bleach episode 449
Finally, finally. For the first time in many, many years, Orihime Inoue has done something besides heal people and get into situations she needs rescuing from.
She even manages to cut Ginjou, who had up until she arrived, been totally trashing Ichigo in their new training dungeon. Girl power, or something.
Now, one can't expect this to last. Given the nature of her powers and personality she's unlikely to ever get into anything resembling a duel, but seeing her take care of herself for once is practically reinvigorating.
Next week, Yukio hits a fast-forward button on his training sim. Will it make more stuff happen on a chapter-by-chapter basis in Bleach?
One Piece Chapter 626
So what happens when somebody is nearing some sort of lasting peace in any anime or manga? Well, they usually get merced and unfortunately for Otohime, she's no exception. After all the work she put into getting one of the Celestial Dragons to sign an acknowledgement of Fishman Island, some bastard shoots the queen in front of her subjects and her kids. This distraction is also what gave Vander Decken the opportunity to touch Shirahoshi, thus allowing him to aim any manner of projectile using his fruit ability.
Having told her sons about Shirahoshi's ability to summon the Sea Kings, they keep the young princess from flipping out while reassuring their dying mother. Once again, I had to shed a tear at the sheer cruelty of the situation. Otohime's reward for peace is a bullet in the chest and the only thing her sons can do is protect their sister.
The one thing I really dig is seeing how these brothers have such good hearts. After seeing how cruel the various royal families can be, their vows mean so much, especially with the promise they make in the final panel.
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