It’s full of rainbow hair colors, moaning, and UNDULATING BREASTS. It’s also largely discounted due to the pandering aspects of its niche material, and yet anybody who watches anime at all could tell you of a show or two that not only defies the stereotype, but contains a product that matches even the best of western film and television. Of course you’d run into a few who will pull out art cinema references on you, like Tokyo Story or Ghost World or something, and challenge you to accept these kinds of films as the untouchable meridian of human meaning, as if those are the only things you should consume, and insinuate that these works of art place anime poorly in the cosmic order of our purpose on Earth or something, but well, whatever. Those people are actually misanthropes who’ve lost touch with the simple joy in life. And you know what?
It’s often better than you think. The secret to enjoying things is that you have to disarm notions of tying your sense of virtue to the media you consume. The endless supplies of bullshit in motion we have available today means that nobody will give a shit if you actually like Fate/kaleid just for the saucy brown girl. Let Zeta Gundam give you a lesson on how the blackness of space doesn’t care about your sense of worth or angst.
Don’t mistake it for relativism, though. Some things ARE better than others. Bleach Season 4 is basically a class example of how a particular product produced for a particular time can mean absolutely nothing to anyone long after being made. It’s the media equivalent of a McDonalds dollar menu hamburger. Except poorly made. Was there anybody at any point who genuinely appreciated this? Like basic television, I can only imagine mindlessly consuming this anime without investment, but with the preference of having a dramatic cartoon on TV and not, I dunno, a daytime court show.
To preface, I should mention that this entire arc is filler (but the rest of Bleach is no better, really; it just follows a longer narrative is all). The arc revolves around a class of humans called uh, Bounts, that are like pseudo-vampires, surviving on the souls of regular humans, and the drama comes from how these Bount plan on subduing humanity so that they no longer have to hide and avoid shame for their differences. It’s all pretty standard trope-y stuff, basically involving a story of a discriminated minority that decides to flip the tables and use violence and oppression to do so, which of course is the unrighteous way to pursue your goals and must be fought by the hero and etc. etc. etc.. A plain and straightforward plot, sure, and yet there is nothing wrong with this setup, because tropes are extremely useful tools, but the overall execution in Bleach, and especially in Bleach filler, is the most… perfunctory thing.
The Bount Arc in particular is like a conveyor belt that delivers endless plot points without concerns for pacing. A series of episodes without any trace of passion or care, an absolute on-rails delivery of mediocre, meaningless cartoon content that chugs along. It senselessly piles on events after events, introducing confusingly designed characters, swiftly eliminating them, and because it’s filler, it tidies up the Bleach mythos at the end of it all by eliminating everything that happens and leaving no lasting impact on Bleach’s canon-clad cast, so essentially nothing matters. What happens in the Bount arc? Who cares? Unfortunately, the series has a habit of making each character pause and deliver lengthly exposition on their intentions in the most literal way before committing to any narrative-moving action. It’s real mouthbreather storytelling that shonen uses all too often, but made worse when attached to filler.
Why tolerate this? Bleach is already a bad series, but even this kind of thing is an insult to the people who enjoy it. I had to endure all of the Bount arc running in the background while attempting to enjoy nice things, because fellow staffer Giovanna the Panda made me watch it, and worse, in stretched 16:9 widescreen aspect ratio when the original source for this season is standard definition. She is a professional video editor, she should know better! But she was too lazy to fix it. It’s madness!
All I can say about the whole deal is contained in the following images. I hope you enjoyed the read!