Green-haired Nozomi has been abducted and taken back to the Soul Society by Kagerosa, the mastermind who has created the Reigai doubles of the Soul Reaper officers to bring about a rebellion. Kon is distraught that he could do nothing to protect her. As Ichigo and his friends gather at Kisuke Urahara’s shop in the world of the living to plan her rescue, they begin to realize the depths of Kagerosa’s devious plot – even if they’re not yet sure why he needs Nozomi to bring it to fruition. Faced with the ticking clock of Ichigo’s rapidly dwindling spirit powers, Kisuke, Ichigo and Kon infiltrate the Soul Society on a life-or-death rescue mission to try to stop Kagerosa. Is there a chance to restore Ichigo’s spirit energy before he loses it altogether and is forced to return to life as an ordinary human being, unable even to ‘see’ Rukia and the other Soul Reapers any more?
At the end of many hero legends, the hero wins through but in the process selflessly sacrifices his powers to save the day; the price of victory is the loss of those powers. If you’re a Bleach aficionado (and if you’ve stayed with the series for over three hundred episodes, then you surely must be) you’ll find it hard not to be moved by the final episodes of this arc. In fact, if Ichigo’s story ended here, it would feel ‘right’ in many ways. Of course it doesn’t end here, there’s about another twenty-four episodes or so to go. But it has to be stressed that this arc works really well in story-telling terms (and, at the risk of offending purists, rather better than some of the impossibly drawn-out and tedious Espada battles). The fights and duels are vibrantly animated, the character designs are attractive and consistent, and even Kon is given a significant role that allows the Mod Soul the chance to show he’s not just there for (often tedious) comic relief. Okay, so there are still a few too many info dumps, but they’re woven in rather less clunkily than in the first episodes.
New Ending Theme “Haruka Kanata” by UNLIMITS offers us a different character from Bleach at the conclusion of each episode, with a dazzling montage of past clips, resulting in the impression that all the important moments in Bleach are flashing before your eyes. The theme also has that wonderfully energetic, tuneful anisong vibe that you don’t hear so often these days.
The Invading Army may be filler, but it’s skillfully put together and delivers a well-paced story that gives screen time to all your favourite Bleach characters.