Part 2 of this filler arc (yes, rubs eyes to check if not dreaming, but yes it is still filler) continues as it began, delivering a well-plotted story that manages to increase the tension in a genuinely effective way, with well-placed twists. I’d been yawning my way through most of the last Hueco Mundo episodes, longing for the endless duels to reach some kind of definitive conclusion. In Season 9 the key duels, though protracted, hold the attention and also create that essential sense of tension, that question hovering at the back of the mind: Will they make it out unharmed this time?
High-spirited little princess Rurichiyo has defied her faithful bodyguards – and Ichigo – and returned to her palace, intending to sort out her own affairs – and has walked straight into her uncle’s trap. It’s nice to see Izuru Kira playing a significant role here as his growing suspicions about smooth-talking megane Third Seat Kibune are proven to be justified and he finds himself fighting for his life against almost impossible odds. In fact, it’s nice to see favourite Soul Reapers playing their part in the race against time to rescue Rurichiyo and foil her uncle’s dastardly plot. Let’s face it, it’s just a fan-fest for Soul Reaper enthusiasts (yup, I’m still one, I admit it) and even if the overall story line eventually plays out rather predictably, at least it’s been fun along the way.
Good news for fans of the ‘Illustrated Guide to Soul Reapers;’ it’s back and adds a welcome touch of off-the-wall Bleach humour at the end of every episode. Look out for Kon’s brief appearances here as well…
On the minus side, there are some moments of dodgy animation, and some poorly drawn and disconcertingly inconsistent facial features, which is a shame, given the overall improvement in the character design. However – if you can ignore such moments (particularly noticeable with new character Captain Amagai whose features are sometimes barely recognisable and not just for plot purposes) – this filler arc is a winner on several counts.
An action-packed conclusion to the story of Princess Rurichiyo which will please fans of the Thirteen Court Guard Squads.