Welcome to another edition of Shonen Showdown, the weekly battle anime and manga recap that's got a dirty little secret to tell you: It likes fighting.
OK, that's not much of a secret, but it IS the crux of this week's chapter of Bleach, as well as the ultimate, occasionally unstated motivator behind the existences of the other series we're rounding up today, including Hunter x Hunter, Fairy Tail, Naruto and One Piece!
Besides, it's not like you DON'T like fighting, so surrender to the truth and get on below!
Hunter x Hunter Episode 67
You've got to wonder why Tsezgerra didn't predict that something would happen during the trade with Genthru. They even had some suspicions in the previous episode, so I don't why they didn't play cautiously. Surely that amulet Gon has would have worked? I'll be honest, I'm not even sure if it would, as I'm fairly certain there were some limitations detailed in an earlier episode that I can't quite remember. It would have been an interesting scenario had one of Genthru's minions blew himself up with the risky dice, though. Speaking of which, there's no way in hell he's letting those two come with him if he can leave the game.
Gon, Killua and Biscuit prove once again that they make quite the formidable trio, sussing out that they can earn some rare cards by monopolising a commonly used spell card. It's something that all of the powerful alliances have been doing, only with restricted cards to ensure other teams can't leave the game. I'm not really sure why everyone is so against other teams leaving the game, though I'd have to assume it has something to do with the reward from the guy who bought up all the consoles at auction.
It might also just be because Genthru is a bit of a nut job. It's a situation that is worrying several groups, so a select few have been called together by not-Trafalgar Law in order to secure Patch of Shore any monopolise it before Genthru gets to it. I get the feeling that this won't neccesarily help. Let's be honest, the best thing they should have done when they found out you need 15 people to activate the event would have been to walk away. It's not going to happen when everyone involved wants the card too, but Genthru only has to steal it from someone after all of this. I also think that he'll be after Gon's copy of card 75, so we might get to see Hisoka help him out a little.
Why do I think Hisoka will help out? Well, ignoring the opening sequence, we saw a brief glimpse of him naked in the episode preview. What was he doing last time we saw him naked? Talking to Gon, that's what. It must be habit or something.
[Hunt for this show on Crunchyroll!]
Naruto Shippuden episode 300
Wow. Three hundred episodes. And that's just the post-timeskip count, so by now we're probably closer to five-fifty. And yet, this episode passes without much comment, probably since we're right in the heat of the big battle between the allied shinobi and three undead Kages, complete with some padding in the form of an exchange between the Mizukage and the horde of nameless extras he's trying to help kill himself (somehow it feels strange to write that).
Still, you'd think they'd inaugurate the occasion with some kind of celebration. Bleach tended to do that a bunch in its post-credit previews, at least. Then again, Bleach is now off the air, and Naruto is still going, so take that as you will.
In any case, a strangely monkey-faced Gaara is all we're getting to commemorate more than 300 episodes of Shippuden. That, and the release of Ultimate Ninja Storm 3 in two weeks or so.
[Stare dumbly up at your descending protagonist on Crunchyroll]
One Piece Episode 584 & 585
A skeleton dressed like Jimi Hendrix fencing with a disembodied torso would be the epitome of weird in just about any other show. In One Piece, it's pretty much par for the course. Add in an arrogant pirate and his band of centaurs and…well, that's weird even for One Piece.
We've got a lot of jumping between the different fronts. There's Smoker and the G-5 rejects trying to break through the ice outside of the island, Luffy's group in the center of the island, Nami's group protecting the large children, Sanji's group fighting off the dudes in the hazmat suits and Brook chillin' on the deck of the Sunny. My problem with this many fragments is that it means that not a lot of progress occurs.
The biggest bit of news we get is that Smoker and his men manage to penetrate the ice drifts and arrive at the hidden lab, which happens to be one of Vegapunk's old, abandoned facilities. They literally knock at the front door and they get a rude answer from, of all people, Traflagar Law, now one of the Shichibukai. Smoker and Law have a rather tense conversation that's interrupted by Nami, Chopper and the escaped kids, who all burst through the front door. When Franky and Sanji join the others, it becomes clear that Law's claim of being alone on the island is false. Law activates his powers and destroys the G-5 ship. Not really much for two episodes, but that's the One Piece way: slowly giving you multiple updates until everybody meets up again, then everybody breaks up to deal with the big bad. So it goes.
[Head over to Funimation to watch One Piece!]
Fairy Tail Chapter 319
Could we just talk about how amazing Gajeel is? Because that's seriously the only thing this week's chapter had going for it. Sure, the executioners came back for round two with the rescue team, and the "white knight" is about to lay down the law with the princess and whatnot, but definitely I'm just thinking about how much of a badass Gajeel is. (Though, I guess it kind of is an important plot point that this guy is now turning on the princess and believing Lucy instead. What kind of crazy stuff is going to happen?)
It's been made clear that Rogue was definitely possessed, though I have no idea why Frosch is still being all weird about it. I mean, does Rogue depend on that shadow? It's a weird thing, but I guess it'll be explored later.
One Piece Chapter 698
Remember all those guys that got petrified? Yeah, they're OK. Shouldn't be a big surprise, as Oda hates to actually kill anybody that isn't named Ace. Before anybody in the G-5 can breakout their buddies from their hard shells, Doflamingo arrives on Punk Hazard. After knocking out most of the Marines with a Haki blast, he starts cutting up the chumps and demands the location of Law and the Strawhats.
Lucky for them, they got the eff out and have begun their quest to Dressrosa, where they'll begin their plot to take down the Four Emperors. Ambitious, perhaps, but if anybody can do it, it's Luffy and Law. They decide to start with Kaidou the Beast, who has been giving his men the genetically-created Devil Fruits. By stopping Caesar, they've already dealt a huge blow to Kaidou and I assume whatever they're going to do at Dressrosa will improve their odds.
Back on Punk Hazard, Doflamingo is ready to kill off Smoker, but he's stopped by a rather gummy Aokiji. From what I've heard, the ice guy lost his leg in his battle with Akainu, so I'm curious what he looks like now, besides the whole living out of a bag look he's cultivating. Maybe we'll get some more info about their battle in the next chapter, which is on break for a week. BOO!
[Catch One Piece every week in English at Weekly Shonen Jump!]
Bleach chapter 526
Here's a dirty little secret: Kenpachi likes fighting!
That's not saying much, at least not as applied to the Kenpachi we've all grown up with, the Zaraki version. But the Unohana version...well, that's another thing entirely. And of course, since there can only be one Kenpachi in a given age, one must die for the other to be strong(est).
Guess who dies?
There's a compelling argument to be made against this latest set of character developments, one that asserts that a lot about this part of the arc smacks of contrivance.
I say "contrivance" more than "retconning", mainly because while, say, recent revelations about the nature of Zanpakuto seem to contradict what we've learned over the course of the story (they might not, depending on your perspective), Kubo's sin when it came to developing Unohana's character was that his lack of development for Unohana effectively renders the twist impotent, because there was very little to Unohana to twist.
Even counting anime filler, all we ever knew about Unohana was that she was a nice healer lady. The running jokes about how even the other badass Captains were scared of her never carried any weight because "nice people having a sadistic side" is such a common cliche that it never prompts any additional interest.
Just as when it tried to drum up sympathy for Gin way back in the day, Bleach has made the mistake of assuming we're invested with characters we've barely been given the chance to remember, much less fall for.
And that's a shame, because if I really did give a crap about Unohana (and I imagine a few of you do), there are some powerful moments in this chapter that capture the drama and even give a decent justification for Kubo's whole "I don't draw backgrounds" reputation.
[Try to figure out just what Unohana's Bankai does this week on Weekly Shonen Jump]
Naruto chapter 620
I usually refer to the Ultimate Ninja Storm games as the "crazy over-the-top" interpretations of what happens in a typical Naruto fight, but the scale on display in the core material seems to really be ramping up to match. When Ultimate Ninja Storm 4 comes along (and you know it will), Cyberconnect2 will have its work cut out for it trying to outdo what threatens to happen over the next set of chapters.
And really, it's kind of crazy. Remember the days when just making one Shadow Clone of yourself was a super-powerful forbidden jutsu, and it was nearly inconceivable that Naruto could maintain the chakra needed to power the hordes he can spawn nearly at will?
Now that we're entering a recap of the First Hokage's time period, very much a "when gods walked the earth" sort of time by the looks of it, we're looking at some intense Power Creep. Not necessarily that that's a problem, given that all signs point to Naruto ending sooner or later anyway, so they may as well go out with a Big Bang-sized Rasengan or something.
Speaking of the First Hokage's time, does anyone else think it's really weird that the ninjas refer to it as a near-mythic period that no one really understands anymore, when it was less than a century ago?
We're really only talking about three generations worth of passage. Hell, if not for all the scheming by Obito and the rest, both the Third and Fourth Hokage would be alive and well!
Look at it this way: There are still people alive today who can recall living during the Great Depression or World War II. This is literally like trying to summon your great-grandfather back from the dead so you can ask him about what it was like at Normandy. Except perhaps the closer analogy would be if your great-grandfather were B.J. Blazkowicz from Wolfenstein and you as his angry descendant wanted to ask him about the time he fist-fought Mecha Adolf Hitler on top of the Reichstag as it flew into orbit on its nuclear rocket-boosters.
*Note to self: Pitch Shonen Jump a Wolfenstein manga featuring B.J. Blazkowicz fist-fighting Mecha Hitler on top of the Reichstag as it flies into orbit on nuclear rocket-boosters.
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