Welcome to Shonen Showdown, the weekly battle anime and manga recap that's coming soon to mobile devices everywhere! And by "mobile devices", we mean "weird magic ninja swords that look more like those placards store owners pay hobos to hold up at busy intersections to direct drivers to the nearest outlet sale". Those mobile devices.
In the meantime, feast your eyes and glands upon the bounty of wondrous coverage that we have on the big players in the shonen battle scene, including Bleach, Naruto, Hunter x Hunter, Fairy Tail, and One Piece!
Hunter x Hunter Episode 38
I think I just watched CSI: Hunter x Hunter, and I'm not convinced that's a bad thing either. Gon and Killua turn their attention to the next strange device in the box, which turns out to be a memory card for a JoyStation games console. Gon's dad is found to be working at Valve and Gon helps him make another non-Half-Life game. After snagging a console from a toy shop, they find it full of save files for a game known as Monster Hunter Greed Island, an obscure title with a huge price tag.
It was pretty cool seeing Killua actually calling his older brother, especially as we know he has plenty of reason to despise the guy. It sure seems that he wants to help out Gon as much as possible, so I feel that the angry, spiteful Killua we saw at the hunter exam is gone, at least for now.
Okay, so now we have Gon and Killua hunting down a video game instead of doing the usual butt-kicking stuff. I think I'm still okay with this. Sure, it's not on the same level as that glorious Gon versus Hisoka fight from a few episodes back, but I'm still really interested to see where we're heading. I suppose the main difference between this and other shonen shows is that this directly relates to the end goal. Progress!
[Hunt for this over at Crunchyroll!]
One Piece Episodes 554 & 555
Now that Luffy is out of the bag/whale, we find out what happened between our pirate hero and Jimbei a while back. After their clash, Luffy agrees to help Jimbei. Nami and Robin are sent out to help recover the Celestial Dragons' letter and grab the key to the cuffs of the royal family, Franky and Sanji go out to save the Strawhats in the palace and Luffy is jammed into the trojan shark. While the plot is revealed, Hordy recovers from Luffy's attack and sends the 100,000 pirates he's forced into servitude. Luffy's response? The rubber man walks out and unleashes his Conquerer's Haki and knocks out about half of Hordy's troops. Every body is quite impressed, to say the least.
The next episode shows off how strong the Strawhats have become. Everybody gets their moment to shine and show off their new moves. Of particular note are Zoro and Sanji, who still remember getting their ass kicked by Kuma two years prior. Sanji shows off his Sky Walk, a modified version of CP9's Geppo, which allows him to jump into the sky and knock down a bunch of punks. Besides that, Luffy declares that he'll be taking Hordy out as soon as he takes care of the punks that he's sending at him.
Fairy Tail Episode 139
After Natsu finally gets the sucker-punch in at Byro's face, things only really go downhill. He (Byro) goes a little crazy and demonstrates that he's got no cause whatsoever on a personal level. He's one of those, you know, misguided villains that go nutso over some concept they take as their identity. In Byro's case, it's this obsession with chaos. It's like stupid Zero all over again, which makes perfect sense since the crew decided that it'd be a swell idea to remind us about that by bringing back a few characters.
Coco and Dan seem to have pretty much changed their stance on things, but now that the clock parts have come together, we have been presented once again with the Oracion Seis, who had their asses handed to them by Fairy Tail guild already in the past. Curiously enough, this same episode we find out that this girl was a snake at some time, so now I'm guessing she used to belong to Cobra. It's kind of sad when you think about it, especially since Cobra got screwed over by Zero previously; but now that they're facing off against Fairy Tail again, I guess they're over it.
As much as I think it's kind of clever that the fillers are bringing back a bunch of characters that aren't in current canon, I'm already tired of all there surprises. I didn't need Oracion Seis to return with a renewed vengeance and another end-of-the-world cause (previously: Nirvana) and a stupid dumb leader that only cares about wrecking faces. Why recycle characters that were already good as they were left off and making them look stupid now?
[Watch Fairy Tail on Crunchyroll, Hulu and at FUNimation]
Naruto Shippuden episode 269
The war continues to continue as Darui, Atsui and Samui take on Kinkaku and Ginkaku in a fight that leaves two minor characters permanently placed in a magic ninja jar that sucks in your soul after your soul gets cut by a stupid-looking sword that displays your favorite word, and the whole thing is triggered when - get this - you think or say that word. Really! It's a hilariously specific gimmick that is almost Bleach-grade in its specificity of application. It's weird and fits in with the whole "ninja magic is crazy" angle that Naruto has, but man, there are lines that shouldn't be crossed!
One Piece Chapter 673 & 674
The withdrawal overwhelms the mutated kids and the break out of their binds. To make matters worse, Caesar appears behind Usopp and Nami, signaling that the other Strawhats were defeated. Well, except for Zoro, Brook and Sanji, who are running away from the Slime and heading toward the labs. Speaking of the labs, we jump back in there and see that Vergo is watching the prisoners, which include Luffy, Law, Smoker, Tashigi, Franky and Robin. We find out that Vergo was a pirate before he joined the Marines and has kept feeding information to the information dealer, Joker. Oh, and Law reveals that Joker is the Shichibukai Doflamingo. Well, I guess we now know why that guy is as powerful as he is.
Back with Ussop and Nami, Caesar gets the kids riled up and rowdy. Usopp tries to take out Caesar with some fire ammo, but the clown removes the oxygen from the air around him to smother the flames. Caesar starts suffocating Usopp and Nami, but Brownbeard pops in and manages to get Caesar to let go of his ability. Unfortunately, Brownbeard takes another explosion to the face while Usopp and Nami get knocked out. Caesar hops on the horn to inform all the illegal "brokers" that he's got a weapon of mass destruction that's perfect for taking over a county. So now, the only Strawhats out of the clink are Chopper, Zoro and Brook, as well as Kinemon. That should be interesting.
Bleach chapter 500
Woah, five hundred. It's almost fitting that this chapter, roughly marking ten years of Bleach's existence, is one of the most tense and exciting, genuinely novel chapters in maybe five years. For most of its run Bleach has been characterized by two things: steel resolve and general invincibility. The protagonist is characterized by his one trait - unwavering determination - and it has seen him to victory countless times.
The rest of the core cast, up to and including the villains, have been in turn characterized by being unbeatable badasses, always and forever winning without ever seeming like they expended any effort to do so. Wwhile it's ultimately enjoyable (thanks in no small part to Tite Kubo's mastery of posturing and presentation), it has also been infuriating to readers who want change, development, and complexity. It feeds upon the worst impulses of adolescent boys in search of a power trip, the kinds of kids who read a chapter, then pick up a stick and pose in the mirror.
But now - finally - with the last few story arcs Bleach has been confident enough to put a few cracks in the facade, and the move has proved utterly compelling. Though there's barely any significant activity this chapter, the tension and sense of crisis has been ratcheted up to 11, as Ichigo sits helpless in a cage while everything he knows collapses, with all the attendant screaming and horror, all over the phone. Unwavering resolve is pointless when you can't actually do anything about whatever you're resolved to do. It's the same way with his friends, the formerly invincible badasses, now stripped of their most badass modes and feeling fear for the first time, backed into a corner by the least likely of foes: the humans.
It's still a shame that the other humans of the cast have thus far been getting the shaft, reduced to the people that get near-killed every time the baddies need to prove their power. Just can't catch a break, those meatbags! I'm finally looking forward to what happens in Bleach, and that's something of a small miracle.
Also, someone with a sword ups and mega-kills the guy that got killed twice in Hueco Mundo. Any guesses as to who it is? My money's on one of the surviving Arrancar, the ones with an interest in keeping Ichigo and company alive. Perhaps Grimmjow?
Naruto chapter 593
Though I can't help but be annoyed by it, it does make sense that Orochimaru would have to make one last appearance before Naruto's conclusion. All throughout the series it has been his influence that moved and shook the ninja world and the development of the Leaf, and especially Sasuke. It was Orochimaru who founded the Sound village and offed the Third Hokage. It was Orochimaru that empowered Sasuke and Danzo and Kabuto, the last of which has been critical to the enemy's whole war effort. And now he knows about some McGuffin that may just make Sasuke as impressive as Naruto has been so far. Maybe.
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