Ichigo gaining back his powers is just the beginning (of the end).What They Say:
Under the orders of Head Captain Yamamoto, the 13 Court Guard Squad Soul Reapers share their Spirit Energy to restore Ichigo’s lost powers. With his Soul Reaper powers fully restored, Ichigo returns to challenge Ginjo.The Review:Content:
(please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
With the news that the series is ending at the end of March, this arc takes on a little more meaning as it unfolds as it's now formally a goodbye for the show (one I expect to return in another year or two when the manga gets further ahead). The previous episode was certainly a welcome one though and this episode starts off with the good stuff again as we see Ichigo return to form, powered up by the sword he now has, and surrounded by those that are definitely his friends and comrades. Facing off against Ginjo, who he know understands quite plainly has manipulated him from the start, and Tsukishima, it has a good sense of intensity and urgency all around yet Ichigo is still essentially calm and in control. Things are now once again familiar
to him and it puts him in the right mindset to do things.
We get a good bit of action at the start here as Ichigo uses his power to go against Ginjo, who smartly knows that he's off balance and has to retreat for the time being. What we do get is a really good bit of exposition following that as Ichigo really gets a chance to take in those that came to save him. With a look at what the Head Captain has said, his reasoning behind saving Ichigo at this point, you can see how it's not really conflicting for those Soul Reapers as it's something they can get behind and understand because of their own connection with him, but there still feels like there's a little reluctance to it. But there's also a darker edge to all of it as these Soul Reapers are here for a reason bigger than Ichigo as well as it turns out that Ginjo was actually the first Substitute Soul Reaper, the reason certain rules were put in place. And it's an old mess that needs to be cleaned up at long last.
While we do get the small bit of back story, really just the skeleton of it, we also get things moving up quickly to the next level. With Ginjo having messed with the minds of so many through Tuskishima, he still has a good number of people to help him. Including those that Ichigo considers friends. It's kind of disheartening to watch as Chad goes on about how the Soul Reapers should be stopping Ichigo rather than helping him, but there's also a small bit of resolution when it comes not only to them but also the others under his control, like Ichigo's family. It all works towards narrowing the scope down to the real combatants as the Xcution folks have arrived as well and are ready to do their controlled part to help Ginjo achieve his goals. With a few small surprises along the way.In Summary:
Bleach does set things up for a bit of action to come with a Soul Reaper vs. Xcution matchup, but as we see from the bit of it we get here it's likely to go fairly quickly. Which is good, since these are people at the top of their game and not overconfident considering the things they've been through and seen. This episode gives us a good bit of action throughout, some good back story teases that are unlikely to be fleshed out in detail and enough structure to tie it all together well. With the knowledge that there's just a handful of episodes left, it does alter your view of things and events so far are painting this as a good way to close it out. This arc has taken its time to get rolling, but now that it's hitting its stride, it's doing it just right. Not fantastic, but it's a solid way to start closing things out.Grade: