Saturday, February 25, 2012

Bleach 5 - filler arc overview

I did say that one of these days I'd go back and figure out where the filler arcs are and post them.   You know, just in case someone might want to follow the main story line only.  So this post gives a synopsis of where the filler arcs are.  Of course, I didn't go back and figure out where every random Don Kan'nonji - Karaku-raizer episode is, so you may run across those, but this post gives the episodes which contains main plot line, and the general position and content of the main filler arcs.  Here goes:

Episodes 1 - 63:  Main story line - This is the start of the Aizen arc, through the rescue of Rukia, the uncovering of Aizen's scheming and the departure of Aizen-tachi from Soul Society.

Episodes 64 - 109:  Filler Arc - This is the Bounto arc.  Yes, 45 painful episodes of the Bounto arc.  If you're going to skip any of Bleach at all this arc has my vote.  Like most filler arcs this one introduces characters who show up later in random episodes and fillers, but not in the main story line since they don't exist in the manga.  This arc introduces three mod-souls who show up often in subsequent filler arcs.

Episodes 110 - 142: Main story line - This section covers Ichigo's interactions and training with the Visored, various other character's training efforts, and various Soul Society members helping out in Karakura town.  I split this from the next section which is also main story line because the next section is where the gang actually enters Hueca Mundo and to my mind begins the Hueca Mundo arc.

Episodes 142 - 167:  Main story line - This section covers Ichigo-tachi entering Hueca Mundo to save Inoue Orihime who has been captured by Aizen-tachi.  The early interactions of the group in Hueca Mundo are in here.  Also in this section is a short arc between Rukia and a lone shinigami who is there fighting Hollows.  I'm pretty sure that arc isn't in the manga, which makes it a filler arc, but it's short. 

Episodes 168 - 189:  Filler Arc - This is the Captain Amagai arc.  This arc is not as painful as the Bounto arc was, but also not especially exciting.  It introduces Rurichia-sama, who comes back in other fillers.

Episodes 190 - 203:  Main story line - This is a short taste ofwhat's going on in the main story line in Hueca Mundo.

Episodes 204 - 205:  Filler arc - sort of.  A two episode Rurichia story before the main story line goes to the past.

Episode 206 - 212:  Main story line:  This way-too-short, 6-episode section gives the background of Aizen, Urahara and the Visored and explains where everything began.

Episodes 213 - 214: Filler - or rather two random episodes

Episodes 215 - 226:  Main story line - The main story line was struggling to stay behind the manga at this point, as you can tell from short random episodes and short bursts of main story line. 

Episodes 227 - 229: Filler - three more random episodes

Episodes 230 - 255:  Filler arc - This is the Muramasa arc, and it's far and away the best filler arc in the series.  I recommend you do not skip this arc, as it introduces a whole slew of new cool characters to a series which already has an amazing amount of cool characters.

Episodes 256 - 265: Filler - Random zanpakuto stories - spin off fillers from the Muramasa arc.

Episodes 266 - 310:  Main story line -  end of the Aizen arc.  Nothing else to say about that.  Or rather I've said it before.

Episodes 311 - 316: Filler - random episodes

Episodes 317 - 341: Filler arc - This is the Nozomi, or Reigai takeover of Soul Society arc.  As filler arcs go, this one isn't too bad, but because Ichigo is losing all his reiatsu, he's not as effectual as you'd like him to be.

Episodes 342 - current:  Main story line - This is the new post-Aizen story line and it begins with a fairly painful (as in emotional, tear-jerker, not as in Bounto-painful-to-watch) couple of episodes as Ichigo and Rukia say goodbye.  After he loses his reiatsu he can no longer see her or any other spirits.  I'll do a separate post later on the new story line.

So that's it.  I may be an episode or two off in a couple of places, but this is generally  how the series runs.  Of the current 360 episodes, about 212 of them are main story line.  Or another way of looking at it would be that there's a pretty impressive roughly 150 episodes of filler story.  The only fillers I would not watch if I were doing it again would be the Bounto arc and any and all Don Kan'nonji - Karaku-raizer episodes.  The rest are probably worth watching.  If you just want the main story though, you now know where it is.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Fruits Basket

I've been thinking that I need to write a post about the series Fruits Basket, so here I go.  This series was one of the earliest series I watched when I first began watching fan-subbed anime.  It's still high up on my list of all time favorite series.

Fruits Basket is what I call an "everyday" series.  Modern day, everyday, normal life - with something of a twist in this  particular case.  The story follows three high school kids through a short period in their lives.  The main characters are a girl named Honda Tohru, and two boys who are cousins, Souma Yuki and Souma Kyou.   The picture shows these three and the boy's older cousin Shigure, to the far left.  Yuki and Kyou are in school uniforms, Yuki with gray hair and Kyou with orange. 

Tohru is a girl who is always smiling and always positive, despite the fact that her father died when she was a toddler, and she had lost her mother in an accident shortly before the story begins.  After her mother's death Tohru lived with her grandfather until his house began undergoing renovations.  Then, instead of being a bother to her friends, Tohru pitches a tent to live in.  She happens to pitch her tent on the property of the Souma family.

Souma Yuki is in Tohru's class at school and he is living with Shigure in a house near where Tohru is living in her tent.  When Yuki and Shigure discover Tohru in her tent and her tent is destroyed by a storm, they invite her to live with them free of charge in exchange for cooking and housework.  She agrees. 

And that's the basic story line except for one pretty major detail.  The Souma family is under a curse.  The curse of the Juunishi affects 14 members of the extended Souma family who are born with the curse.  12 are cursed by each of the 12 animals of the Zodiac (thus Juunishi), one is cursed by the cat, which is not a member of the zodiac, and one bears the brunt of the curse and is thus the head of the family.  This particular Souma, Akito, does not have an animal form but he will die young due to the curse.  For the most part these cursed Souma's live pretty normal human lives, however, sickness, embarrassment, or bumping into a member of the opposite sex, will cause them to transform into their animal form. 

When Shigure (dog) and Yuki (rat) take Tohru in, they vow to be careful around her, but Kyou (cat) shows up, and through his carelessness Tohru discovers the Souma's most important secret.  In this picture Shigure, Kyou and Yuki have become the dog, cat and rat after accidentally bumping into Tohru, and she's pretty freaked out by that at first.  Luckily one of the Juunishi can erase portions of people's memories in order to keep the secret, however in doing so, Tohru will lose all memory of the Souma's.   Yuki doesn't want Tohru to forget him and Tohru doesn't want to forget any of them.  Akito, as head of the family, decides to allow Tohru to keep her memory and to stay with Yuki, Kyou and Shigure, assuming that she will be driven off by the nature of the curse.  However Tohru's personality lets her always accept others for who they are and she stays.

This story line is wonderful, and often very fun, as Tohru meets various members of the Juunishi and helps many of them come to terms with their own issues.  Tohru changes each person she comes into contact with, often helping them by just accepting them and being her happy, occasionally oblivious self.  The story is about growing past hardship, staying true to yourself and your friends, accepting other's frailties and seeing past them.  There are a multitude of lessons to take away from this series, and all of it's incredibly well done.  There's humor and sadness and triumph and loss.  You end up feeling good about the series.  In the end, Tohru even takes on the bitter Akito who goes out of his way to hurt others because he hates his own life so much.   

Along with the excellent plot line, the series also has very good music and a great character style.  The story is a non-ending ending, with life going on for Tohru and the Souma's, but you're actually happy to see that.  If you haven't ever seen this series, I highly recommend it.  Maybe I'll watch it again.

And if you're wondering where the name Fruits Basket comes from, it's explained in the series.