You thought it was over? You thought the tale was told? Anime Reporter sets its sights on Bleach season 12- The Zanpakuto arc – Part 3 (episodes 254 -265).
When last we left the world of Bleach, the villainous Muramasa had fled the soul society, bent on wreaking havoc on the mortal world and, in a fairly daunting cliffhanger, Ichigo and his friends were preparing to face down a veritable army of hollows. Meanwhile, the other soul reapers had just managed to free their zanpakuto from Muramasa’s control and form an alliance, if not necessarily a friendship, with them. You might be forgiven for thinking that perhaps there was not much left to the story arc and that everything should be more or less resolved in just a couple more episodes. And there, you would be completely and totally accurate.
Yes, the Zanpakuto arc is nicely and neatly tied up very nicely and with all of the appropriately intense and thrilling battles that you’d expect from the end of such a well-crafted and action-fuelled storyline. What follows is about nine episodes of filler material which stretch the effects of the Zanpakuto arc out much longer than feels necessary by giving us some glimpses into the personalities of the newly personified zanpakuto and the soul reapers adapt to their new partnerships. While these episodes are entertaining and interesting enough, there is a definite drop in energy for much of the collection and it can feel somewhat phoned-in in terms of plot.
Similarly, while the action is, as always with Bleach, brutal and frenzied, by far the most interesting fight scenes take place early on in the collection and the rest feels somewhat like a house party slowly winding down. Episodes which aren’t completely unrelated to the rest of the collection are mainly concerned with cleaning up in the aftermath of Muramasa’s schemes.
The characters themselves are well portrayed and in both English and Japanese versions there’s a great sense of personality and humour across all the episodes.
Perhaps it is fitting that the full name of the storyline is “Zanpakuto: the alternate tale arc”, as this series exists somewhere in between the lines of Ichigo’s ongoing battles against the Arrancar. Appropriately Season 12 may be set to serve as more of an interlude, or filler arc and the third part of the season seems to demonstrate this more aptly than the others.
Bleach Season 12 Part 3 provides a fitting end to the Zanpakuto arc and sets things back in motion for Season 13, though some of the episodes feel like more of an awkward silence than anything meaningful.
Bleach Season Twelve Part 3 is available on DVD now from Manga Entertainment.
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68% – “A Fine Companion”
Bleach Season 12 Part 3 is perhaps best viewed as a heftily extended epilogue to Part 2 as it spends much more time tying a ribbon on the tale than telling it.