Hello, and welcome to this week's edition of Shonen Showdown, where we augment our sweet recaps with...with...Oh, damn, I can't finish this dumb intro sentence, I miss Bleach.
In the mean time, scroll on down and read our recaps of the Bleach manga, Naruto, Hunter x Hunter, Fairy Tail, One Piece, and the brand new Naruto SD: Rock Lee and His Ninja Pals.
*Sniff* Goodnight, sweet prince.
One Piece Episode 540 & 541
Jimbei begins the Otohime flashback arc, giving the Strawhats the context for the current situation on Fishman Island. Otohime, the beloved queen of the island, supported a petition to work with humans and the world government by presenting a petition at the World Summit. Unfortunately, the people of Fishman Island aren't ready for such a radical step and ignored the pleas of their queen to sign her papers. Others, like a younger Jimbei, are also pretty lukewarm on working with humans. There were others, like Arlong, who were dead-set against working with humans.
The big change happens when Fisher Tiger returns from his adventures, prepared to attack Marie Jois and free the Fishman slaves. Needless to say, he stands at the complete opposite side of Otohime's wishes. After his legendary attack, Jimbei and Arlong joined Tiger as part of the Sun Pirates.
We get a quick glimpse of young Hordy and crew as the pledge to go on a rampage when they get older. Up on the surface, Tiger and crew kick the crap out of the Marines that chase them. They eventually pick up a young former slave who escaped when Tiger rampaged on Marie Jois. The girl is severely mentally damaged from her time as a slave, which somehow manages to affect even the most cold-hearted of Tiger's crew. Hell, it definitely got to me. Chalk up another MANLY TEARS moment for One Piece.
Hunter x Hunter Episode 23 to 25
Training montage! While Gon and company take a break at the servants quarters, they discover that they really won't be much of a match for the Zoldyck family should they end up fighting anyone, as even the gatekeepers are ridiculously strong. Things go a little Dragon Ball Z when Gon, Kurapika and Leorio wear ridiculously heavy training weights to hopefully open the testing gate they couldn't budge before. It was good to see some progression like this, rather than the usual 'supernatural' methods you'll find in Naruto and Bleach these days. A breath of fresh air, if nothing else.
Kurapika and Leorio finally manage to open the first door of the testing gate, with the help of Gon whose arm as now recovered. It's not really surprising that they would soon run into one of the butlers who tries to keep them away from the mansion. Gon, in what seems to be a recurring part of this show, keeps trying to move past her, only to get smashed in the face with a staff each time, before he gets back up to try again. We also see an interesting development in that the butler actually cares somewhat for Killua, and we get to see a flashback from when they were both younger.
The Zoldycks slowly start to seem more eccentric than terrifying, though I'm sure we've yet to see a lot of things from them, especially Killua's dad and his robo-mum. It'll be interesting to see if, now that Killua has been 'released' from the house, whether we'll be running into the family sooner or later. For now, it's the butlers that must be dealt with.
Killua is to meet Gon and company at the butlers quarters, though the head butler (under instruction from robo-mum) decides to play a game with Gon instead of telling Killua, who is waiting it a room at the back, that he has arrived. If there is anything I've learned from this episode, it's that you really don't want to challenge a butler to a game of anything. Gon does well to keep up with the speed of the game, even going as far as to cut his own swelling on his eye to see the movements better. I'm not sure that guy can do much more to impress me.
After a heated battle, the butler concedes to Gon, leaving them able to leave the mansion with Killua. Some trick break-downs reminiscent of Kaiji later, we bid temporary farewell to Leorio and Kurapika while Gon and Killua get training for a future meeting with Hisoka. To the Colosseum!
Naruto Spin-Off: Rock Lee and His Ninja Pals
Back when this show was announced as the replacement for the Bleach anime and I voiced my trepidation, some users noted that this was a good thing, given that Rock Lee is, in their estimation, Naruto's most interesting character.
I disagree. He's certainly a cool character, but "least irritating" is not equal to "most interesting". He can't use ninja magic and is one of the physical characters. That's pretty much all there is to him. Naruto's hordes of ninja cast members and insistence on introducing new people rather than developing established ones have virtually ensured that little of consequence has happened to him since the first half of the anime.
Not that this is any kind of serious production. It's clear after the first five minutes that Naruto SD is pretty much just here to fill in until something else comes along to fill Bleach's plum time slot.
The content is pretty much the stuff of post-credits gag reels, except extended to ten times the ideal length. Lee acts all energetic, doesn't get into especially interesting action due to being super-deformed (and not in a Super Robot Wars game), and crows constantly fly by, cawing "A-ho, a-ho", because that's a shortcut for indicating to young viewers that what they're watching is a funny, funny joke-thing.
Say what you like about Bleach being a bad show, or unwatchable, or deserving of the axe it got. Chances are that Bleach's weakness is the reason Lee and co. are here in the first place.
Bleach's advantage in my mind, was that it was an actual action show. Spin-off gag reels for shows and manga like this exist because their source materials are too serious to accommodate that kind of levity. Levity was virtually unknown to Bleach, and as a result the moments it could let its facade down were enjoyably self-aware, acknowledging what the whole audience (particularly its adult viewers) was thinking and sharing the sentiment.
By comparison, Naruto is too earnest to hold that kind of water, and the result is pure banality.
[You may as well just watch the main show, but if you insist, Naruto SD streams on Crunchyroll]
Naruto Shippuden episodes 256 to 257
There's not much reason to recap Naruto Shippuden this week, or next, as it's a lengthy clip montage covering the whole series from episode one to the present. Yep. If you've got a PS3 or Xbox 360, I recommend you just rent Naruto Shippuden Ultimate Ninja Storm Generations and play it through. Good times!
If nothing else, last week Naruto got around to mustering the armies. As Naruto lets himself get conned into training up his Nine-Tails mode - which incidentally looks exactly like Asura's rage form from Asura's Wrath. Then again, considering chronology and Cyberconnect2's development record, I'm thinking it's the other way around.
Given that all of Naruto's best fights have involved a lot of mixing techniques, tactics, ninja magic and other such things, I don't exactly buy the concept of ninjas dividing their whole, hundred-thousand-strong army into four groups organized by effective attack range, then sending them all out piecemeal. Bad tactics, but then again we're talking about ninjas, not scholars. Though there are some scholarly ninjas.
Anyway, at least we won't have to let it eat at us for another two or three weeks, while we wait for the clip montage to peter out.
[Clip montages can be found on Crunchyroll]
Fairy Tail Episode 123-124
It's a good thing these two episodes landed on our come-back from April Fools', so I could just recap them at the same time. Not much happens in the span of 123-124, we just get an idea of the things that have been going on in the seven years (surprise time skip!) that our heroes have been absent. For anyone wondering about Remus and why he said the skinny form is his natural way: it's because of Makarov's magic that he got all bloated up. I'm not sure how or why, but that's the explanation I read somewhere.
We learn that Fiore has become a rather aggressive place. Fairy Tail is leagues behind the top guilds with their skills from seven years ago. The next step for them in this arc is to realize that and hone up their skills to try and make up for lost time. We're going to be meeting lots of new people as they jump back into this world, so hang tight.
Lastly, in what I think is the most hilarious additional dynamic ever: Lyon has fallen for Juvia at first sight. Gray doesn't seem to be completely oblivious to the situation he had been in, and he doesn't seem to be willing to let her slip away to Lamia Scale, either, so it'll make for some more funny moments later on. As it is, there is plenty of romance to be enjoyed within the guild, and it's something I think separates it a little from your typical shonen.
Side note: If you're a figure collector and you hadn't seen my post about it on Tomopop, there are actually some high quality Natsu and Gajeel statues up for pre-order via small company Tsume Art. They aren't badly priced at all, and the Gajeel statue in particular looks fantastic. You should, at the very least, give them a look. They're the first of their kind!
[Catch all the action on Crunchyroll, FUNimation and Hulu!]
One Piece Chapter 662
After taking out Tashigi, Smoker and Law duke it out in front of the out-classed Marines. Unfortunately for Smoker, Law uses his crazy abilities to pop out the vice-Admiral's heart and win the fight. Nearby, Luffy's group hears the fight while they take a ride on the croc-centuar whilst wearing some rather cozy coats! We also get a peek inside Law's castle, where the scientists discuss the arrival of the Marines and the Strawhats. We also see the harpy that Usopp spotted earlier. The chapter ends with Luffy happily stumbling on the aftermath of Law and Smoker's fight.
Fairy Tail Chapters 277-278
In which Elfman is a total and complete amazing BOSS. I was definitely looking forward to his match because I wanted to see what he had up his sleeves as the master of take-overs, but I didn't expect his match with Bacchus to be so quick! Elfman quickly deciphered that the best way to take him down was to just let him tear up on him until he wore himself out - and it was a roaring success. Three cheers for Elfman!!
On the conspiracy front, it looks like Lucy is definitely the target for something, as Carla's premonition suggested. She hasn't been caught yet, but it won't be long before that and who knows what will happen then. Lucy is a force to be reckoned with; I'm still upset that she lost her match against that other chick, and I'm double surprised she's getting even more of the limelight of power in this arc. More on this next week!
Bleach chapter 486 and 487
Nazis! Nazis in white have taken over nighttime desert ghost Spain and are using Day of the Dead celebrants as shocktroops in their fight against daytime ghost Japan and are for some reason out to steal bankais.
And also, a bunch of minor characters that I totally thought were burned to cinders are about to get their asses handed to them by a rather fabulous one of the Nazis.
Plus, at this point it's very obvious that they're Quincys or related to them. Their whole power set is tailor-made for conquering nighttime desert ghost Spain, after all.
How will this all shake out? Who knows? Ideally, I'm waiting on Nel to get to adult form again.
Naruto chapter 580 to 581
The reunion of the Brothers Uchiha continues as they fight Kabuto and his all too many tricks. With all the stuff he can do, what with the raising undead, the liquefying the insides, the seeing in the dark, and all that stuff. Then again, the family with by far the most BS tricks up their sleep after Kabuto are the Uchiha, and Itachi's the most full of BS of them all. He's like zombie ninja Batman.
The latest trick to come out of his undead eye-hole, something called "Izanami", the ultimate ultimate Sharingan thinger, something even more powerful than the reality-altering Izanagi that was the previous ultimate Sharingan thinger.
Seriously, guy has even more gimmicks than the ones who supposed to have the ultra-super ninja eyes, the Rinnegan folks!
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