Weekly OP: Bleach (2)

Every Monday we share a video of Weekly OP or ED that we like. It could be from a show we’re currently watching, watched long ago, or never watched. Note that the videos may not hang around forever, since we have no control over them.

How did we find out about Bleach? By opening up the Baltimore Sun to a story about Otakon in 2005, where we saw a pretty good Rukia and Ichigo with his giant sword thing. Bleach would become the first show we watched regularly,  and ultimately watched it longer than we should have.

The first 26 episodes actually weren’t that bad. The world-building, character design, music, and comedy were imminently watchable, but the thing is we just hadn’t watched that much other anime, and so couldn’t compare it to anything. In any case, we liked the shinigami/hollow mechanics of the show, and were immediately charmed by Rukia, the death god who became a transfer student.

By the time this OP came along, Rukia had been taken captive and it was up to her human friends to save her. The first OP was very light-hearted, hip, and playful, but this one is all business, successfully capturing the urgency of the rescue mission and all the new characters who would stand in the gang’s way.  Our first glimpse of many shinigami captains and lieutenants whose lives we’d follow for years came right here.

Unfortunately, the mission, like the show itself, didn’t have the same urgency as this OP, perhaps because the anime was rushed out before adequate source material was published, resulting in lame filler arcs. But for a while there, Bleach was good watching, as long as you cared about the characters, which we did.

White Album 2 – 13 (Fin)

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Kazusa and Haruki go to his apartment and make love. The next morning, Kazusa leaves early with his jacket buttons. Setsuna arrives to find a guilty, dejected Haruki, but insists they see Kazusa off. On the N’ex Haruki tells her everything, but to his shock she’s not mad, knowing full well Kazusa and Haruki’s feelings for one another. Setsuna says she only asked him out so the three of them could remain together longer. At the airport, Haruki is about to leave when Kazusa finds them both. Kazusa and Haruki embrace tearfully before she leaves for Vienna. Haruki tells Setsuna she should go, but she stays with him as the snow falls.

We haven’t been on the N’ex enough times to know if conversations of the type Haruki and Setsuna had on it are a common occurrence, but if they are, the conductors must have some stories to tell. Still, the talk Haruki and Setsuna had was something that had to happen, and part of why the second White Album came to a very strong close is that things that had to happen happened, leaving nothing left on the table. Kazusa and Haruki have their (tastefully edited) passionate night together, but it’s only the one, and who knows if there’ll ever be another. After coming between them for so long, Setsuna brings the two together one last time at that airport and lets them have a proper goodbye, even if it’s painful for her to watch. But wait, not...everything is off the table, is it? With Kazusa gone fir the time being, all that remains is Haruki and Setsuna.

While she told Haruki that she liked Kazusa more than him, she didn’t mean it (and Haruki could tell she didn’t). The trio who had so much silly fun together may be no more, but the two of them remain. If you’ll indulge us, we’re reminded of Monogatari’s Kaiki’s talk about there being “no peerless person”, and that “nothing (or no one) is irreplaceable.” In Vienna, Kazusa will repair her bond with her mother and fulfill her musical dreams. Would we have liked to see Haruki jump on a plane after her? Sure, but he may be just as “useless” there as Kazusa would be remaining in Tokyo. People can move on, and because of that, there may still be hope for Setsuna (she’s there, after all). But Haruki and Kazusa were awfully in love with each other here. They may find themselves apart for now, but we see no reason why that arrangement should be permanent.

The three of them may never be as happy as they were on that stage at the school fair, but the future may yet hold happier times for at least two of them.

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Rating: 9 (Superior)
Final Cumulative Rating (26 episodes): 7.462
MyAnimeList Score
 (as of 12/30/13): 8.10

Stray Observations:

  • Carefully edited as they are, the dialogue-free love scene that starts the episode was really well done, mixing cuts of the cold, open, snowy city with the increasingly hot, steamy, intimate apartment.
  • The jacket button thing in the morning was a nice touch, but some pillow talk would’ve been nice.
  • Setsuna calls on Haruki’s phone, but not to be denied their night together, he and Kazusa ultimately ignore it. Still, dude shoulda turned that shit off.
  • We also appreciated that all peripheral characters are given the episode off; this is all about the three leads, as it should be.
  • The episode also ends by finally showing the trio perform an arrangement of the OP “A Love That Cannot Be,” which we thought was the best of a great batch of songs to come out of the show.
  • While it may not have topped our rankings,we still enjoyed this series a great deal. The musical milieu and love triangle worked, we were sympathetic to all three leads, the romance was honest and believable, and there was no simple fix in the end. It was way better than we were expecting and, along with Golden Time, makes us very optimistic about the future of romantic anime.
  • On that note, if the story of Haruki, Kazusa, and Setsuna is ever picked up (White Album 2-A?) we’ll be watching.

Koimonogatari – 06 (Fin)

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Sengoku traps Kaiki in a enormous mass of snakes. Kaiki starts to talk himself out of dying, telling her he knows about her dream to become a mangaka. He tells her that nothing is irreplaceable for humans, not even her love for Koyomi, and if she remains a god she will never be happy. She eventually cools down and the snakes disappear.

Kaiki implants a slug oddity to extract the snake talisman. Koyomi arrives; Kaiki tells him to take the exorcised Sengoku home and disappear from her life. While departing from town, he is ambushed and beaten to death by someone he believes to be a junior-high victim of his past con, who mentions the same name Sengoku blamed for her predicament: Ougi.

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“Then do you want to become a manga artist?”

Sengoku has seen through all of Kaiki’s intricate lies and preparations. He’s beaten, and he knows it. But those seemingly innocuous, small-talky words above, he changes course. Armed with fresh insights on Sengoku’s situation, he abandons his previous strategy for a new one. In this regard, he practices what he preaches to her: nothing should be so important that it can’t be replaced. Humans can re-do anything at anytime, be it god-deception plans, romances, or dreams.

Half-forget what we said last week: Kaiki doesn’t quite regard Senjougahara a daughter, but  as a past love. One who was as useless with him as Sengoku would be with Koyomi; some people fit others better. In their last phone call before Kaiki’s demise, Senjougahara expresses satisfaction that she was able to deceive him into believing she loved him. We read that as her saying in her very Senjougahara way that she’s glad her (genuine) feelings reached him, even if only for a time, and it didn’t work out.

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Even if we never learn the truth—be it about Senjougahara and Kaiki or the conspiracies that Kaiki contemplates before he dies—in future series, we can say with certainty and with no intent to deceive whatsoever that this was our favorite arc of the series, which transformed Kaiki into the anti-heroic, romantic, ultimately tragic human being the arc’s retro opening portrayed.

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Rating: 9 (Superior)
Final Cumulative Rating (26 episodes): 7.957
MyAnimeList Score
(as of 12/30/13): 8.79

Stray Observations:

  • Now we see the reason for the retro OP: the retro-styled half is the romantic ideal of Sengoku’s secret manga, while the contemporary-styled half is the harsh but human reality. Very neat.
  • We’ll admit that for someone ruthless enough to casually add to her kill-list, Sengoku sure keeps Kaiki alive for a long time, doesn’t she? Perhaps she didn’t gag him with snakes because part of her was giving him the chance to talk her out of godhood?
  • Sengoku blamed Ougi for her becoming a god. The kid who killed Kaiki got his/her info from Ougi. We suggested that Ougi was related to the darkness that dispatched Mayoi; was all this Ougi’s way of dispatching Kaiki?