A previous reviewer nailed it right on the head; this is basically a carbon copy of the famous Rock Lee vs. Gaara fight in Naruto where Byakuya plays as Gaara and Ichigo as Lee. There are quite a few plot holes, like how despite Byakuya already having mastered the flash steps, Ichigo is still infinitely faster than him. Maybe not a plothole as much as it is a deus ex mechanica that an average kid is able to overcome centuries of training in a matter of days. And once again this episode is littered with flashbacks. Despite it all though, the Rock Lee vs. Gaara fight was one of the best in anime history, and although it's a step down in every way, the fight between Byakuya and Ichigo has at least been worth watching and very entertaining.
The best way i can describe this episode is 'letdown'.
The animation is beutiful as always, but it doesnt mask the flaws here.
It begins with the revalation of ichigo's zanpukto ability, rather than following suit of other popular anime like naruto or death note that supply their protagonists with unique and interesting abilities, Bleach instead bestows its lead character with the power too... shoot energy... nothing new, nothing clever. Shooting energy, perhaps the most cliche power in all of anime. The dissapointment continues further when the actual battle begins, Byakuya releases his bankai, but rather than the chaotic storm of blades we saw against Renji, his bankai is now essentialy the same as his standard power, modified for the purpose of this battle for no explained reason. And once Ichigo revelas his equaly dissapointing (and again, cliche) bankai, the battle becomes an obvious clone of 'Rock Lee vs Gaara' from Naruto. Right down to the camera angles used, it is almost a 1:1 rip-off of that fight.
I could continue nit-picking the many smaller flaws in this episode, such as the seemingly random breaks from the battle to show minor characters, but i wont. You can see already why this episode is so much of a letdown, i can see why Bleach is struggling for popularity in japan if this is supposed to be a climactic battle.
the episode starts with teh last few minuts of the previous episode. Ichigo just lets out a 'Getsuga Tensou' and byakuya gets pissed and releases his bankai . ichigo is surprised to find byakuya letting his sword go. ichigo is able to escape the blades for a short amount of time until finally gets caught and gets cut up... then, in a bloody state he taunts byakuya and releases his bankai ! byakuya is damn surprised by ichigo's abilty to hav acheived bankai. spirit force flies everywhere, flashbacks are shown and we finally get to see 'tensa zangetsu' ! no spoilers about how it looks like... u just hav to watch the episode...=) ichigo manages to easily overpower byakuya in his new form in a matter of seconds right after 'bankai'ing. byakuya is amazed at ichigo's speed and power as he is overpowered and then stabbed at teh end of the episode. the episode also shows a bit of wat happened to hitsugaya, matsumoto and hinamori. inoue, sado, ganju,ishida and aramaki are on their way to soukyoku. all in all an amazing action-packed episode. not to be missed !
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