Bleach, Season Nine #2 Print
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R2 DVD Reviews
Monday, 03 September 2012 00:00
We're back in the afterlife for the conclusion of our little detour into the affairs of the Kasumioji clan, and it seems that the clean-cut Amagai knows more than he's letting on about what the clan's been up to. Anyone surprised by this, raise your hands...

While Kumoi steps up his efforts to secure control of the Kasumioji clan, eventually kidnapping Rurichiyo and sending further waves of assassins after her protectors, suspicion begins to rise amongst some of the Soul Reapers that the clan is up to no goog - but efforts to persuade head Soul Reaper Yamamoto that something is wrong seem to fall on deaf ears. The only person who'll listen is Amagai, who eventually joins forces with Ichigo and Rukia to find out what's really going on- except it soon turns out that he already knows, and may just have been behind the whole scheme all along...

::checks around:: Nope, no hands. Didn't expect any, either. While there was clear space last volume between Amagai's arrival in Squad 3 and the problems Rurichiyo has having with her clan, it didn't take a genius to realise that at some point there'd be a coming-together of the two threads - and so when Amagai's trusted friend Kifune is spotted in the Kasumioji compound, at least one of the Shinigami - Kira - is smart enough to put two and two together and figure out that he's up to no good. Convincing pretty much anyone else of that, though, proves more difficult - and had me scratching my head at several points over the volume about just how subservient to their orders (or just plain dumb, if you're feeling less charitable) the various squad captains and lieutenants can be.

To the point where, at one stage in this disc, we have Ichigo on the run from a small handful of Soul Reapers, all by now on friendly terms with him but who, having been given orders to treat him as a traitor, are quite happy to hunt him down without listening to his side of the story. There's some handwaving at the end of the arc to show that this was all part of a greater plan to do somethingsomething, but it all seems a bit... contrived.

It's not that the arc's overall plot was that great, anyway. Rurichiyo's problems turn out to almost be a sideshow, a distraction from the main event of learning what her usurper Kumoi is really up to and what Amagai has been making use of the clan for - her appearances this time around are limited to a few damsel-in-distress cameos, which is a real shame. She me have been one annoying ojousama, but at least she could think for herself most of the time. As for Amagai, he's revealed to have been making plans to do Bad Stuff for quite some time now, with his reasoning for doing so being well explained and believable - I did at one point believe he was a great case of righteous anger at work, and fully justified in what he was doing. Without wanting to spoil too much, though, his reasoning is eventually ripped from underneath him in a plot "twist" that pretty much undoes the whole point of the arc.

It's telling that the most entertaining part of this set was the next-ep-preview on the final episode, where Orihime, Ichigo and the gang team up to remind us that, before taking a detour for this arc, we were right in the middle of a daring attempt to rescue Orihime from Aizen. Sorry for the delay, we'll get back to that next episode. Ah, the joys of filler.

It's not so much that this arc has been bad, as such. There's a lot about it that was good, in isolation, and if it had been played out better - without the "twists" and with a little more forethought, perhaps - the foundations were there for a good story. It just didn't come together that way. Disappointing? You bet. Hopefully we'll be back to better things next volume.

Rating - **

Episode summaries via Wikipedia.

179 - Confrontation!? Amagai vs Gotei 13
Amagai proposes joint training between the squads of the Thirteen Court Guard Squads, citing the attack of the cleaners against his squad, but his request is denied. That night, Kira confronts Kibune for entering the Kasumioji compound, but Kibune denies he did so. An alarm activates shortly afterwards, revealing that there are hollows in the Seireitei. Despite Kira's orders, the third division members follow Kibune to attack the hollows...


180 - The Princess's Decision, the Sorrowful Bride
Kumoi schedules Rurichiyo's wedding for the following day, and Kenryu and Enryu realize that he will replace her with an imposter if she does not return for the wedding. Ichigo goes to speak with Rurichiyo, who reveals that she knew about the true goal of the assassins and Kumoi's connection to them. She escapes into the Soul Society, intending to participate in the marriage to keep Kumoi in line; however, when she arrives on the other side, her eyes have gone blank and she expresses no desire to leave. Ichigo, Rukia, Kenryu, and Enryu attempt to follow them, but are unable to reach Rurichiyo, after Kenryu and Enryu are blamed for kidnapping her...


181 - The 2nd Division Sorties! Ichigo is Surrounded
Enryu uses his shikai to destroy the building, and in the confusion, Ichigo reaches Rurichiyo. After revealing Kumoi's intention to gain control of the clan to Shu, Ichigo is attacked by Rurichiyo, who is revealed as an imposter. Soi Fon begins to fight Ichigo, allowing Rurichiyo and Kumoi to escape. Kenryu and Enryu are captured by the second division members, while Ichigo and Rukia escape with Shu's help. The three decide to escape by having Shu pose as a hostage. In response, Yamamoto orders a manhunt for Ichigo and Rukia. When Soi Fon voices doubts concerning Kumoi's intentions to Yamamoto, he merely agrees to take them under consideration. Kira voices his suspicions on Kibune's recent actions and relations to the Kasumioji family to Amagai, who reacts with skepticism, but asks Kira to observe Kibune...


182 - Amagai's True Strength, the Released Zanpakuto!
The second and third divisions begin to guard the Kasumioji compound, and Soi Fon returns Kenryu and Enryu to the clan at Yamamoto's order. Elsewhere, the real Rurichiyo is imprisoned by Kumoi's assassins and visited by Kibune. As Kibune leaves, he is noticed by a drunken third division member, whom Kibune kills. The following morning, Renji asks his captain, Byakuya, if he is worried that Rukia is being pursued. After Byakuya denies that he is, he gives control of the search party to Renji. Ichigo, Rukia, and Shu decide to rescue Rurichiyo, but are attacked by Amagai, who uses his shikai against Ichigo...


183 - The Darkness Which Moves! Kifune's True Colors
For siding with Ichigo, Amagai is branded a traitor by Yamamoto, who orders him to be hunted as well. Captains Shunsui Kyoraku and Jushiru Ukitake ask Yamamoto for permission to investigate the Kasumioji clan, but Yamamoto refuses. Meanwhile, Renji and Madarame begin to fight lieutenants Iba and Hisagi over their differences concerning Ichigo and Rukia's actions. Kira enters the Kasumioji compound and finds Rurichiyo, and is attacked by several assassins. Although he defeats all of them, one of the assassins escapes with Rurichiyo, and Kifune arrives to fight him...


184 - Kira and Kifune, Offense and Defense of the 3rd Division
Despite the patrols of the Thirteen Court Guard Squads, Ichigo, Rukia, Amagai, and Shu manage to make contact with the third division members, and head towards the training grounds of the third division, Rurichiyo's last known location. Kira begins to fight Kifune, and initially gains the advantage by using his shikai to increase the weight of Kibune's zanpakuto. Kifune uses his bakoto to negate Kira's shikai, as he continues to fight. Discussing his past, Kibune reveals that he was ostracized in the Thirteen Court Guard Squads for not protecting his weaker division members during missions, and assigned to squad specialized in hunting down hollows as a result. He states that the bakoto will give him enough power to gain respect from the Thirteen Court Guard Squads...


185 - Ice and Flame! Fierce Fight of Amagai vs Hitsugaya
Kira realizes that Kibune is using his bakoto to negate his shikai, and he manages to exhaust Kibune, enabling him to use his shikai to increase the weight of Kibune's zanpakuto. Kifune attempts to draw on more power from his bakoto, but is consumed in the process. Kira collapses soon thereafter. Ichigo and Amagai pursue a pair of assassins with Rurichiyo, and discover that the Rurichiyo they are carrying is a fake. They return to the arena, where Kira reveals Kifune's association with Kumoi. Renji arrives and takes Kibune's bakoto to Yamamoto. Ichigo, Rukia, Amagai, and Shu head to the Kasumioji compound, which tenth division captain Hitsugaya is guarding. Amagai fights Hitsugaya and Rukia fights Rangiku, as Ichigo and Shu enter the compound. Meanwhile, Yamamoto orders that the Thirteen Court Guard Squads attack the Kasumioji compound, after seeing the bakoto brought by Renji...


186 - Sortie Orders! Suppress the House of Kasumioji
Hitsugaya and Rangiku stop fighting after they hear the order to attack the Kasumioji clan, and the remaining divisions attack the compound. Yamamoto reveals that he suspected the crimes of the Kasumioji clan, but could not act until Ichigo revealed concrete evidence of their crimes. Kumoi, incensed about the attack, sends all of his assassins against the attacking Soul Reapers. Rukia and Shu find Kumoi, who is using Rurichiyo as a hostage, and reveals that he sought to take control of the nobility of the Soul Society. Amagai arrives, kills Kumoi, and teleports to Yamamoto's location with Rurichiyo...


187 - Ichigo Rages! The Assassin's Secret
Amagai reveals that he orchestrated the events surrounding the Kasumioji clan, and desired revenge against Yamamoto for killing his father, Shin'etsu Kisaragi. He further accuses Yamamoto for allowing the Kasumioji clan to create bakoto, declaring that he dedicated his life to killing Yamamoto. Yamamoto uses his shikai, but Amagai uses his bakoto to negate his attack, revealing that it surpresses all powers of the Soul Reapers save his own. Amagai uses his bankai, and Ichigo arrives to fight him...


188 - Duel! Amagai vs Ichigo
Ichigo begins to fight Amagai, but due to Amagai's bakoto, he has difficulty in fighting at full strength. Ichigo dons his hollow mask to increase his power, as Amagai's bakoto cannot negate his hollow powers. Amagai begins to attack Ichigo's mask, and Ichigo manages to hit Amagai with his getsuga tensho. Injured, Amagai declares that he is willing to die for his revenge, and starts to draw more power from his bakoto...


189 - The Fallen Shinigami's Pride
Amagai manages to regain control of himself after overusing his bakoto, and Ichigo defeats him. Undeterred, Amagai stabs Yamamoto, who is unharmed by the attack. Yoruichi and various captains and lieutenants arrive, revealing to Amagai that Yamamoto ordered Amagai's father, Kisaragi, to investigate the Kasumioji clan's bakoto. It is explained that Kumoi used a bakoto to control Kisaragi, and Yamamoto was forced to kill him. Upon learning this, Amagai forgives Yamamoto and to repent for his deeds, uses his zanpakuto to self-immolate...



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