To Your Eternity – S2 07 – Prince of Principle

Bon and Todo’s imprisonment continues, and Cylira makes it clear he won’t be released until he confesses to consorting with Fushi, a demon and servant of the devil, and begs for forgiveness and mercy of the church. Bon’s…not in a big hurry to do that.

It isn’t until he’s spent a fair amount of time in the cell that Bon even notices he’s not alone: there’s a little boy named Chabo, who is accompanied by the ghost of his mom (Bon tells him his mom is dead, but he doesn’t believe him). When Bon horks down his bread for the day, Todo gives him half of hers, and keeps doing so, because she loves him.

In between inquisitions from the church, Bon, Todo, and Chabo haven’t a lot to do besides sit or lie around. Todo learns that Bon really can see and hear the dead—it’s how he’s able to perfectly recite scripture, and know that Chabo’s mother was murdered by a member of the church. One evening Bon sees Todo’s shadow on the rocks and sees that she’s lost a lot of weight.

As she and Chabo grow thinner and Bon’s beard grows longer, Fushi is still alive, constantly sleeping and waking up. With only a couple of breaths of consciousness each time, he doesn’t have enough time to remember where he is or what he needs to do.

But as the weeks pass, rather than completely forget himself and waste away into nothingness, Fushi learns how to burn red hot like the metal that encased him. He melts the surrounding iron and begins to ascend from his cell, delighting his devotees but angering the followers of the church.

They douse the molten iron with water, resulting crude statue of Fushi frozen at the top of the metal cell. Cylira laughs and declares a great victory has been achieved by the church that will go down in the annals of the city’s history. He didn’t notice that Fushi actually escaped in the form of Tonari’s owl, Ricard.

Fushi flies to Bon’s cell, where Chabo has already wasted away and Todo is quiet on the other side. Once he burns through the bars and puts the gators to sleep, Bon tells him to take Chabo and Todo but create lifeless copies that will remain with him.

He’s decided to stay put and get released by the Church. He gets Fushi’s leave to confess to him being a demon, since that’s how he’ll stay alive. If Bon goes with him now, he’ll be a fugitive and the church won’t stop chasing them. He tells Fushi to tell Todo when she awakes that he’s sorry he didn’t make the right decision.

Of course, when morning comes and the church asks why a demon visited and killed Todo and the boy but not Bon, he claims that God protected him, proving he has God’s blessing. Cylira doesn’t quite buy it, but he does offer Bon a chance to confess and pledge allegiance to the church. But Fushi can’t do it. He won’t. He loves Fushi too much.

If that means he has to die, so be it. And so Bon is taken back to the capital to be publically executed by guillotine as a heretic. Bon is not alone on the walk to meet his end. The kind, gentle ghosts he’s seen and spoken with for years are right there beside him, assuring him death’s not so bad. Bon also meets his death with gratitude that he got to meet and spend time with Fushi.

No matter what the church says or does, It wasn’t able to destroy his faith or love in Fushi. Maybe his noble death will start a larger anti-Bennett uprising; maybe it won’t. But like Hayase’s will in Kahaku’s Nokker, Parona’s will in Fushi, and his ghostly friends, death most likely won’t be the end of Bon.

Rating: 4/5 Stars

Bleach: Thousand-Year Blood War – 09 – The First Kenpachi

Ichigo is healing up nicely in Kirinden, to the point that when Kirinji strikes him and he doesn’t die, he’s deemed healed enough to head to the next palace. Renji, not one to be left behind, also takes Kirinji’s punch and gets to depart with Ichigo. Kirinji tells his brothers that they exceeded expectations, especially Ichigo. He can see why the Soul King has taken an interest in him.

Back down in Soul Society, the Central 46 have appointed Captain Kyouraku the new Head Captain and Captain of 1st Squad. His first official act is to strengthen the Gotei 13 by finally teaching zanjutsu to Zaraki Kenpachi. His teacher is to be the first Kenpachi: Captain Unohana Retsu, AKA Unohana Yachiru. The 46 forbade Zaraki from learning swordsmanship lest he grow strong enough to rebel, but desperate times…

Ichigo and Renji are rocketed from Kirinden to Gatonden, the Food Palace. There, Hikifune Kirio, AKA the Grain King, prepares them a massive feast of colossal food. There’s not trick to it, either: now that they’ve been healed in Kirinji’s baths, they must restore and augment their strength with large quantities of food.

After Ichigo briefly feels guilty, Kirio emerges from the kitchen to support Renji’s encouraging words: they are preparing for battle, just like those in Soul Society. Kirio’s far more slender figure is a result of her pouring her spiritual pressure into the food she’s making, which means Ichigo and Renji are becoming more powerful than they’ve ever been.

Kirio tells them that she invented Gikon, which eventually led to the creation of Kon and Soul Candies—an extremely useful development. The next member of Squad Zero invented the Zanpakuto, and were Ichigo and Renji not itching to hold swords in their hands once more, the next palace might be quite an unpleasant experience.

The comic relief provided by Ichigo, Renji, and the Squad Zero weirdoes is fun, but I appreciate that the balance of the episode adopts a far more serious tone. Unohana and Zaraki descend to Muken, the very lowest level of the Soul Society prison. A vast, virtually limitless empty space, it is the perfect place for to ridiculously powerful shinigami to have at it.

I always assumed that despite her role as Gotei 13’s chief medical officer, Captain Unohana concealed hidden, never-used powers and/or a dark past. Turns out it’s both: she was one of the OG Gotei 13 and former Captain of the 11th Squad. Before she joined the Gotei Unohana was the most notorious criminal in Soul Society

Zaraki is one of my favorite captains due to the fact he cares so little for the pomp and circumstance of his station, and simply wants to fight the strongest opponents possible. In Yachiru he certainly gets his wish. He may have defeated her to gain the 11th Captaincy (and gave her a scar on her chest that itches when he talks) but she makes it clear her hands were largely tied in that battle.

Here in Muken, there are no rules or boundaries. She can summon any and all criminal tactics and dirty tricks of yore in this rematch. As the first person Zaraki ever fought that he actually feared could kill him, he knows he might’ve gotten lucky that last time, and she even seems to use a bit of Aizen-like illusion to make him think she had killed him.

But she didn’t; she only brought him to the verge of death, which as she knows is the only way he gets stronger. It’s basically the opposite of everyone else (except for the Hulk). And since this “training” exercise is almost certain to be fatal to either Zaraki or Unohana, we see their lieutenants grappling with the fact they may never see their beloved captains again.

If Unohana is the one to emerge victorious, she’ll likely return to her 4th Division duties, but consider herself a failure. The job Shunsui gave her to do is to make one of their strongest warriors even stronger. If that means sacrificing herself so Soul Society can survive, so be it. If Zaraki returns from those black depths as the victor, he’ll be a changed—and even more utterly fearsome—shinigami.

More than a married couple, but not lovers. – 09 – Not like that other summer

Summer Break has arrived, and Kamo has lined up a 3-day live-in beach resort job, both for himself and for Jirou. Jirou is not enthusiastic until he learns that Shiori will also be working there with Mei, and then he’s on board 100%. When Jirou comes home, Akari shows him her new skimpy, strappy bikini and revel in his embarrassment.

Talk of summer break feels kind of lonely to Akari (as she wears his sweatshirt), but when Akari hesitates to say he’ll be lonely without her, she starts to feel lonely herself, and pulls herself into an embrace to “recharge her batteries.” It’s yet another “couch event” that pits her longstanding desire to date Minami and her growing feelings for Jirou.

But as it turns out, they won’t be apart at all: she, along with Sachi and Natsumi, will also be working at the beach resort. So we end up with Jirou, Kamo, Minami, Shuu, Akari, Shiori, Mei, Natsumi, and Sachi all under the same roof for three days (albeit separated by gender).

Shiori is determined to make some progress this summer, and while Mei blushes at Shiori’s complements of her uncharacteristically cute waitstaff outfit, she also encourages Shiori to be more aggressive in pursuing Jirou. This results in her approaching Jirou, asking him where he’ll be working, and deciding on the spot she’ll be working there too.

That turns out to be the kitchen, where Mei sets up a situation for Jirou to grab something from a high shelf for Shiori, and then Shiori guides Jirou in the proper way to apply whipped cream to a parfait. This results in Shiori saying a lot of sexy-sounding double-entendres, and then Jirou squirting whipped cream all over his and Shiori’s faces.

When Shiori feels the warmth of Jirou’s hands on her face as he cleans her up, the two draw closer and closer into an imminent kiss—which is then rudely interrupted by Sachi and Natsumi. They get what they came to the kitchen for and then depart, telling the two they’re free to go back to their fun.

They don’t, which might be a mistake. Both of them think “there’s plenty of time”, but there really isn’t! They get three days, and then they’ll be with their parents the rest of the summer, unless they’re proactive about hanging out over that time (fat chance).

Despite the fact Akari and Shiori continue to be extremely cute together, and are making a little progress just enjoying each other’s company, it remains unlikely Jirou will end up with his childhood friend; that’s just not how these shows work!

I just hope that even if Shiori may never return Mei’s romantic feelings, Mei will still be there for her when Shiori’s heart is broken. It’s also unclear if, in a situation where Akari and Jirou are a couple, Shiori even wants anything to do with him anymore, or if they can make it work as friends.

We only have three episodes left, so this episode, in which the summer job everyone was hired for and the live-in scenario is established, is mere setup for (hopefully) bigger things to transpire. When Jirou spots Akari on the beach in her other swimsuit, he realizes she wasn’t joking when she said she was saving the racy one just for him. Could Akari be using this trip to confirm that her feelings for Minami have cooled and that Jirou is the one for her?

I’m almost certain Shiori wasn’t pointing at the love hotel perched above the beach like Jirou and Kamo excitedly believe. But we’ll have to wait until next week to see how that misunderstanding is corrected, and if this summer live-in job scenario will pay any dividends for its participants.

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