Hello, and welcome to another week's edition of Shonen Showdown, the weekly battle manga and anime recap that got a tiny bit...overenthusiastic when setting up its Spider-Man themed costume for this Halloween. We really shouldn't have heeded that suggestion to combine our costume concept and Bagel-Head body mod technology. A mistake for the ages, it was.
If there was any benefit to this debacle, we did manage to catch our weekly dose of fighting manga and anime while we waited for the swelling to go down, so there is at least that positive. Read on to our recaps of the latest in Bleach, Hunter x Hunter, Fairy Tail, One Piece and Naruto below!
And remember, kids: A nifty Halloween costume lasts just a night, but an exploded chest due to having a sub-dermal saline injection go awry lasts for much, much longer.
Hunter x Hunter Episode 53
So, what didn't happen this episode? The epic battle between Zoldyck and silly earrings was cut short when we discover that big bro Ilumi has killed the ten dons, meaning his dad and grandpappy no longer have employers. Seems the big balls of energy weren't enough to knock out the Troupe leader anyway, but I wonder if he hasn't stolen any of the abilities yet. We still don't know how he does it.
Then there's the long-haired crazy guy from the Troupe, who shows his/her ability to create duplicates. Makes sense when they are running all over the place, stealing things. Also happens to be pretty darn handy for auction invasions. I do wonder just how long it'll take for Kurapika to realise that the eyes are fakes.
Speaking of the eyes, we get to see a pretty enraged Kurapika this episode. Perhaps even more so than when he was fighting Uvogin, but then I imagine he cares more about the eyes of his people than his revenge for them. Maybe.
The troupe top it all off by making copies of themselves, to make it look like they've been killed. The Zoldycks certainly aren't going to hang around to explain they aren't dead when they no longer have a reason to stay, and they certainly won't want to risk their lives for something other than a contract. Seems that Kurapika will be rejoining the other three guys next episode, so be prepared for a little more emo!
[Hunt for this show on Crunchyroll!]
One Piece Episode 571
With Hordy defeated, Fishman Island's main concern is meeting their candy tribute for Big Mam, one of the Four Emperors of the New World. Luffy, Sanji and Zoro walk in one of Mam's enforcers leaning in on one of the ministers. The rather tall bloke says that if Fishman Island cannot provide the usual 10 ton tithe in 24 hours, the Big Mam pirates will raid the island and destroy it. After a quick aside on Mam's island, they're definitely not a group of people you'd want to mess around with.
Big Mam decides to call her associates to confirm their findings, but Luffy picks up and takes the blame for the lack of candy. Luffy offers Mam their treasure to placate her, but she remains obstinate. What he is able to do is transfer her attention to the Strawhats and keep Fishman Island safe.
Naruto Shippuden episodes 286-287
In the continuing movement to mix canon and filler to pad out the war, the latest two episodes explore Tsunade's motivation for why she's so willing to risk it all on Naruto. We don't exactly need much more elaboration on that front, to be perfectly honest, but if nothing else, it provides some context for how the Raikage grew his arm back, something I only just noticed now, months after forums and comment threads everywhere erupted into confusion at seeing the same in the manga. Hundreds of threads and thousands of nerds raged with words similar to the following:
"OMG WHY RAIKAGE HAVE 2 ARMZ NOW?!"
And so on.
For some reason, the story also seems to set up a bunch of new filler antagonists, ninja-hunters of a sort with weird, non-canon-looking powers that will disappear into the ether once they are defeated and written out of history. I'm not sure where it's all going, though I suspect these villains are a stopgap of sorts while the show runs through November's episodes in preparation to celebrate the Naruto anime's 500th-episode anniversary.
Five. Hundred. Episodes. (between Naruto and Naruto Shippuden). That's a lot of animation. One can only wonder at the level of staff turnover at Studio Pierrot and its Chinese/Korean partners.
Speaking of anniversaries, JUMP and Naruto are also celebrating by debuting...a new filler arc, which they're so proud of that they gave it a title ("Chikara") and a teaser trailer of all things. Check it below.
Apparently it'll star a few throwaway ninja zombies revived by Kabuto for one purpose or another. It's a new delaying tactic as everyone waits on the Kage vs. Kage battle that should have taken place by now, but given the significance of the occasion we can at least hope it'll be well-animated. My current standard for well-animated filler (that I've seen) currently lies in the last Bleach filler arc, which was a good example of the studio taking advantage of the medium rather than slavishly copying every manga frame and angle.
I'm hoping it skews in that direction.
Fairy Tail Chapter 306
This week brought the much-anticipated Grey vs Rufus chapter, which ended of course with Grey as the victor. More than that though, it brought some seriously brilliantly drawn panels that I can't wait to see animated sometime. I loved the panels when Grey finally pulled out his can of whoop-ass, in this case, a super fast-cast weapon ice-make he just hurled straight at Rufus.
I was definitely curious as to how he was going to win this fight. In a way, I guess it makes sense for him to pull the "I've handled tougher flames than this" card (referring to Natsu's) we've seen before, which always makes it a sure win for him against other magic users that throw fire at him like Rufus unwittingly did. Finally, I do always love the hilarious blank-eye knock-out look that opponents get when they've been bested by a member of Fairy Tail.
The only thing I kind of didn't like about the writing this chapter was the whole, "emotion can overcome calculations" angle. Granted, the whole theme with Fairy Tail guild members is their heart and companionship (and pride) overcomes all obstacles, but it's like First didn't have faith in Grey's skills to begin with. He beat Rufus... rather easily I think! He was caught by surprise the first time, and then he brought is A-game the second time. Her lack of visual faith in Grey throughout the chapter built this sort of fake anxiety I could have done without, despite her overall certainty that Fairy Tail will come out on top. Then again.. I'm not the comics creator here.
With Rufus out of the picture, as deduced by First, the other team will be at a heavy disadvantage because they've lost their slickest player. The next big fighter I'm excited to see in the arena is Juvia! Mashima always pulls some creative moves for her (well, for everyone really, but hers are so nice...), followed by Erza for bad-assery + pretty factor.
One Piece Chapter 687
Most of the chapter deals with Zoro and Tashigi's fight with Monet. Zoro shows a soft side, as he refuses to fight Monet, instead being satisfied in holding her back from attacking everybody else. Tashigi does not share Zoro's sentiments and goes on the attack. She doesn't do too well, so Zoro eventually steps in and does a simple, monstrous slash that terrifies Monet so bad that she can't even keep her form. The idea that Zoro could've used his Haki to cut her in half is too much for Monet, so that leaves her open for Tashigi to step in and finishes off Monet.
Bleach chapter 514
I usually dislike using this phrase but I honestly can't think of a better way to sum up my initial reaction...
Time to break out the "NOOO!!" button, I guess, because Bleach has just had its Vader moment.
Yes, Ichigo is somehow related to the Quincy, and may well be a "son" of the Big Bad himself.
To build on the suggestion of an astute commenter from last week, all we need now is to hear that Ichigo has naturally orange hair because he's actually descended from a long-lost branch of the Saiyan race that landed on a strange planet full of ninjas founding a colony called the Uzumaki clan. That would bring everything full circle.
I get accused every so often in comments that I'm an irrational hater of Bleach, but it's quite the opposite. If I hated this dumb crap then I'd have dropped it a long time ago and picked up something else. But much as I like to poke fun at it, I like this dumb crap, and believe it or not, I'm liking it more now than I have in quite a while.
Why? It finally seems like Kubo's getting ready to quit spinning his wheels on some parts of Bleach that have been nagging at me since day one. After ten years, five hundred-odd chapters, three hundred seventy-six episodes, half a dozen movies, and nearly ten thousand pages, we're finally on the verge of getting answers to Bleach's longest-standing question:
"Just who (or what) is Ichigo Kurosaki?"
Everything, absolutely everything in Bleach has hinged on Ichigo. For all its talk about having friends and not being alone and all that sentimental bull, Bleach has always been about Ichigo ultimately coming to save the day in some one-on-one duel with the most powerful enemy ever.
The boring old "why" of that question has been known since shortly after the first few pages: like in any work of the genre Ichigo's a hero, with an unshakable will that will never be broken.
Now, finally, we're getting to the "how", and I can't wait to see what those answers are, for better or worse.
From other sites around the web