The Prodigal soul returns…
I’ll just type up some background info for those who aren’t aware.
In Japanese culture, just like in American Culture, comics or what they refer to as Manga are translated into animated form like the cartoons we have over here. Over there though, this is referred to as Anime.
Now unlike the cartoons we get over here that have an artistic licence, the Anime generally follows the manga pretty accurately. This is as the age demographic for those who read manga is usually the same group the anime is marketed towards. Cartoons in the west are generally marketed towards kids in order to try and sell toys etc. Toys like this ejaculating…gun…… (and they say the far east have weird tendencies)
Since there is only so much story one can tell in 25 odd pages a week in comparison to 30 minutes of animated show, you find that from time to time, the Anime needs to give the manga breathing space so it doesn’t catch up with it and run out of content to show. The normal gap is usually around 18 months or so I believe. When it closes up to around 9 months, the studios will create story arcs for anime that aren’t part of the manga to get that gap back up again.
These arcs are usually described as filler arcs.
Most are shit but some can have elements that surprise you, like the one I’m about to discuss………now 🙂
What is Bleach?
Bleach is a show I’ve spoken about many times on here and is about the tales of the Shinigami, written by the wonderful (although sometimes trolly) Tite Kubo.
Shinigami translates to death gods and they are basically the ones who keep us safe in the night from all ghouls and hellish beings that would like nothing better than to eat our miserable, yet nutritious souls.
In their battle against evil, they have weapons known as Zanpakutos. Zanpakutos are essentially swords manifested with the soul of the user in order to create a unique being. This being is the central conduit of most Wielders powers. Since everyone’s soul and personality are different, each users zanpakuto will have a different set of names and powersets which will complement the owner.
Right, now that you know the basics, I can get on.
Bleach’s Zanpakuto rebellion arc
A plot is raised by the Mysterious Murumasa, a being who is capable of extracting the soul of a Zanpakuto from a Shinigami’s sword, so they can fight against their master, rendering the user nearly powerless to combat an enemy who knows their every move.
Now in order to reclaim their Zanpakuto, they must best it in a dual and re subjugate it.
This brings us to a Character called Toshiro Hitsugaya.
He is a relatively young character, possibly in his very early teens who by incredibly skill has risen to the ranks of Captain amongst the shinigami. This is generally due to his hard work and dedication and his incredibly latent powers. Most importantly, he is tanking one seriously powerful Zanpakuto soul which manifests itself as the great Hyourinmaru, the Ice dragon.
Toshiro will undoubtedly become one of the most formidable characters in the show’s history, once he gets a little older but at this moment he’s still small fry and has yet to even begin to master the sheer magnitude of the soul which resides within.
So here comes this arc and Toshiro now confronts a humanoid form of Hyourinmaru (who has amnesia) in order to try and claim it back. This is showcased in probably one of the greatest short pieces of animation I have ever watched.
The reason I find this scene so beautiful comes down to many factors,.
1. The Setting
The night setting and musical scores used to tell the emotional rollercoaster between the two characters are beautiful. I always find that orchestral pieces and choir music always bring out the best of a scene and this scene uses plenty of it, borrowing heavily from the animated film based heavily around the Toshiro character (The Diamond Dust Rebellion).
With that came an increased musical budget which is utilised greatly and helped lift this fight to give it a level of grandeur rarely seen in animation. The animation itself is top notch and there is very little distraction taking you away from the story unfolding. It is a extremely simple tale which is easy to get wrong and its timing had to be perfect and they manage to get both right almost effortlessly.
2. The Bond…The James Bond…
In bleach, it is usually the Zanpakuto that guides its master through trials and tribulations. The owner has to entrust their faith in their Zanpakuto spirits in order to harness its power through harmony, rather than calling forth upon it using brute force.
Yet in this situation, a soul this powerful clearly has no intention of following the commands of a boy. The very idea of belonging to such a feeble looking creature is laughable.
The white haired prodigy not only has to deal with this but has to deal with the anguish of hearing that his soul was lost. This is ironic as the soul actually felt identical to what the owner once felt.
The boy too was lost once upon a time, unable to gather an idea as to what he was or his place in the world. He had no idea or control of his powers which spilled out of him, even without a sword to manifest itself in. It turned his hair white and nearly killed the grandma he resided in as he would freeze their rooms as they slept.
An image of this dragon would come to him in his sleep and it would call out to him asking for him to hear its name but each night he would never hear it. That is until he eventually did and he learned of his true purpose was to train to become a powerful shinigami.
Toshiro instantly remembered what it felt like to be lost and alone, looking for a home, a place to reside and felt passionate that the one thing that once gave him purpose, had lost its way and now felt as he once did. He was now obliged to return the favour as the scene was a complete role reversal from their very first encounter in his dreams.
So even with little power, he managed to conjure up all he could and face and beat the impossible opponent which stood before him.
It was upon this revelation of Toshiro’s sheer determination, that Hyourinmaru finally managed to revel in the boy’s strength of character and realise that he was indeed a formidable opponent. No, that he was his master.
With that, the Ice dragon had finally remembered his captain’s name but most importantly, its way home.
I wish all those who feel their souls have gone wayword, that they one day manage to find their way home too.