Welcome to the latest edition of Shonen Showdown, the battle anime and manga recap that could use a hand - a few hundred thousand of them, to be exact.
We've got our many, many, many hands full this week with hot-stuff recaps of One Piece, Hunter x Hunter, Fairy Tail, Naruto, and Bleach. Lend us a hand by contributing your enjoyment to the consumption of sweet synopses below!
Hunter x Hunter Episode 68
I suppose it isn't really surprising that the group of fifteen did not succeed against the pirates, but with that friend of Gon's dad being involved, I'm starting to wonder whether the pirates aren't just real people. I suppose there's no reason that they aren't NPCs, but all those Nen abilities are making me think otherwise. Also, how exactly did that guy manage to escape relatively unharmed after having his face set on fire before plunging himself through a wall? It's happened to me a few times, and I can tell you now that it'll certainly claim an eye or two.
It's good to get the Hunter Olympics arc out of the way, as I think Bleach was the show to put me off seeing sports in a generally non-sports anime. Better to save all of that time and energy for a cake baking episode, right?
Hisoka doesn't seem all too fussed about being approached by four randoms, and even if he's trying to keep the whole Chrollo thing a secret, is he really tagging along just because he's bored? Let's be honest, regardless of the fascination he has with wanting to fight Chrollo, he's way more likely to follow those two boys around. I would like to see him fight with Biscuit, even if just briefly, to see what kind of a level they fight on. We still haven't seen Hisoka in that much trouble during combat.
You can't help but be amazed at the kind of shenanigans Hisoka can get up to with his Texture Surprise ability. It's just a bit of a shame he can't disguise the pervy glances at young boys. I know it was Gon and friends that used the accompany spell to find the guy, but I can't help but think Hisoka somehow knew this would happen, using it as another opportunity to get naked.
[Hunt for this show on Crunchyroll!]
Fairy Tail Chapter 320
I feel like there's way too much going on in this chapter. We got a glimpse at what's happening with a bunch of different people, but the story didn't necessarily move anywhere.
Alright, so Grey and Juvia are fighting Lyon and Shelly. Lyon has decided he doesn't want to hurt Juvia at all, which is kind of strange. Is he just not taking the competition seriously? Or maybe he's just saying that to encourage some other plan. Either way, considering that Juvia and Grey are pretty in tune with their magic skills and are capable of combining their spells with each others', this might turn out to be a spectacular fight.
Then we've got the Laxus and Jura face-off. In a move that should surprise noone, Jura got sucker-punched in the face by Laxus when he thought he'd won a fight. I personally don't think that Laxus should come out of the fight winning, considering how strong Jura is and how long he's held his title, but I do like that we're seeing more character stuff here. I've always found Jura to be a super interesting character, and I think that this could be good fight, but maybe it'll be interrupted by the next big catastrophe and they'll finish with a draw. It'd be a little unbelievable if Laxus beat him, unless he awoke some kind of lacrima dragon skills and decimated the playing field.
Everyone else? Nothing's changed.
One Piece Chapter 699
What happens when Aokiji and Doflamingo meet? The flamboyant pirate tests the abilities of the former admiral and is promptly frozen in place. Doflamingo breaks out of his frozen state and begins his journey back to Dressrosa. There's an implication that Aokiji may have joined Dragon's Revolutionary army, though little else is revealed.
The next day, the newspaper reports that Doflamingo has renounced himself from both the Shichibukai and as king of Dressrosa. On top of that, the paper announced that not only have Luffy and Law entered into an alliance, but that Kid, Apoo and Hawkins have made one too. The chapter ends with Doflamingo answering the transponder snail that Law left him.
All this seems to be gearing up for another massive conflict in the future. The world of One Piece went from having a few dominating figures to alliances of younger pirates challenging authority. Add to that the threat of the Revolutionary army and Akainu's new Marines and things will likely be pretty messed up. Eventually. You know how long these things take.
[Read One Piece each week in Weekly Shonen Jump]
Bleach chapter 527
Well, she's dead. Not to sound harsh, but I hope she stays that way. Would kill the drama otherwise (not that Bleach has shown much caring for it, though). To sound a bit sappy, but I was also hoping the Kenpachis would share a kiss at the very end. That would totally hit fanboys "in the feels", as they say.
In any case, the big takeaway from all this is that (gasp!) Zaraki's sword is now talking to him! We may finally squeeze a bankai out of the (alleged) strongest Soul Reaper around. That said, it's hard to imagine a bankai that would make him more badass than he already is.
What would it look like? Would his sword grow bigger? Repair the chips and dents in the edge? I imagine some kind of bankai that just makes his sword look more refined, one that he'll be holding with two hands all the way through.
Meanwhile, on the Ichigo front, plot twists!!! And ones that frankly were long overdue. All the way since the end of the Soul Society arc we've been hearing about how Ichigo is just different from pretty much everyone in the Bleach-verse. He's a Human, a Visored, a Fullbringer, probably a Quincy, and a Soul Reaper.
Actually, scratch that last part. According to the Killerbee rip-off (Bee rules!), Ichigo is "unworthy" of an Asauchi (the proto-Zanpakuto thing), which means he's apparently not a "true" Soul Reaper (unlike Renji). But! He's got the raw power to withstand 3 days straight fighting the true form of every Soul Reaper's most distinctive ability, so there's that.
Sadly (or fortunately), that means he gets kicked out of Soul Society. Who's a guy to train with?
I predict several possibilities:
1. Training with Dad, and/or Uryuu or Uryuu's dad. It's been a long time coming, and they clearly know more than they're letting on. If Bleach is heading towards an endgame of some sort, this would be a big flag for it.
2. Training with Ganju, Ginjou and the remainder Xcution, and Kuukaku Shiba, and maybe Yoruichi, Chad, Orihime, Urahara, and maybe even the surviving Espada, like Halibel and Grimmjow. Just as Ichigo is obviously an outsider, so are this lot, and from the looks of things, they actually have the most similar power set to his own. It would also be an opportunity for Ginjou to make good on his implications that he knows what Ichigo's about.
3. The Vandenreich and/or Aizen. This the way Ichigo learns about his Quincy powers. Heck, this one might actually happen, since the Quincies are more sympathetic villains than Aizen (who might change his mind about helping Soul Society), and this could be followed up by a final session with #1 or #2.
4. A merger of #1 and #2. This one could be a doozy, as it sets up Ichigo and the residents of the Human World as a 3rd faction in the war. It's currently a Soul Society vs. Quincy thing, but the Outsiders could easily be a spoiler to join the fight at the last battle.
Either way, this snowball is a-rolling, finally.
[Read Bleach in Weekly Shonen JUMP]
Naruto chapter 621
If I didn't know any better, I'd have thought Naruto the manga had grown jealous of the Naruto Ultimate Ninja Storm games for being so insanely over-the-top that Masashi Kishimoto's decided to outdo both the games AND Bleach in absurd scale. Also Asura's Wrath.
The results are nothing short of incredible. Seriously, just look at that monster! One can only imagine how much effort it took to draw an amazing rendition of the Senjuu Kanzeon Bosatsu (Thousand-Handed Boddhisatva).
Between this and jutsu like the Quintuple Rashomon and even the naming conventions used for the Six Paths of Pain, Naruto has reached a, dare I say enlightened new level in its employment of visual motif.
If this is the result of Naruto's dramatic Power Creep, I demand more powers!
Madara isn't to be outdone, though. Seeing the Nine-Tails wrapped in an armor made of Susano'o is a real visual treat, though it's admittedly less dramatic than what Hashirama's done so far. It's hard to believe that he actually lost this final fight. At least, that's what I remember the explanation being.
It looks like there's still plenty of territory to cover now that we're in flashback territory, and if there's anything that feels a bit tiresome right now, it's the revelation that Madara and Hashirama were practically a replay (or is it a pre-play?) of the Naruto-Sasuke dynamic in their time, like Obito and Kakashi were in the last set of flashbacks.
Further, previous chapters hint that Madara had his own Itachi to love (or was it his own Sasuke?) to the point of evil.
I understand that the whole point is to illustrate this cyclical pattern, but it does feel predictable.
[Take your thousand hands and wrap them around Weekly Shonen Jump for some Naruto-reading goodness]
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