Bleach Recap 2020, Episode 71: The Bounts – An Existential Threat?

‘Taking advantage of another’s weakness is an established tactic, isn’t it?’

Ryo Utagawa

We’ve never seen Ishida like this… a sitting duck, and basically helpless… or is he?

Much like Ichigo, he’s pretty self-assured most of the time, never the coward, and cannot idly sit by and watch one-sided situations where someone is being cruelly taken advantage of by another (remember Mayuri?), and this is what the current situation has turned into, with Ryo Utagawa having taken an unconscious woman hostage, while Ichigo and the others, surrounded by Utagawa’s snakes, are in a stalemate.

So he offers to take the place of the woman in order to defuse the situation.

His teammates, who have previously rushed to his defense, protest for a bit, but Ishida is resolute...

They make the trade, and Friede quickly entraps Ishida, and draws his blood by smashing his head into the ground. Utagawa is sadistically drawing all this out for his own enjoyment, when he is blindsided by a huge fireball from above. As the fireball dissipates, it’s unsurprisingly revealed that Yoshino and Goethe, now fully reformed,  have arrived, and she is now holding Ishida’s body.

Ichigo and the others don’t see how the situation has improved, with his body just being passed along from one Bount into the clutches of another. However, both clearly have a disagreement of some kind. By the time Goethe is finished firebombing the scene, he and Yoshino, along with Ishida, have disappeared.

However, the battle isn’t over yet, and Utagawa, sore that he just lost his Quincy hostage, has an endless supply of material (ropes, electrical power lines, etc.) for creating his snakes. Even using their powers in full force, Ichigo and his team are struggling with the sheer onslaught, when they receive some much needed help just in time from Ururu and her bazooka, who has no problem mowing down the endless snakes in droves…… oh, and Urahara, Tessai, Renji and Jinta are there as well. Utagawa, who now has the tables turned on him, decides to get scarce, and so the day is saved, for now…

Back at the Seireitei, The Bount research project has not been going well, with all information on the subject of Bounts having suspiciously disappeared from the Central Library, so Captain Shunsui Kyoraku decides to go where he’s guaranteed to get more information: Mayuri’s research compound. He tries to sneak in, but of course gets made out from the time he enters. As usual, Mayuri is being uncooperative and difficult, and Shunsui’s attempts at flattery get him nowhere. Mayuri urges him to get his information from the ‘proper channels’, whatever those are. After Shunsui leaves, on bad terms and empty-handed, Mayuri tries to delete his data on the Bounts, only to find out he’s been locked out of his own system, on account of someone’s interference. The whole thing reeks of yet another conspiracy…

Back at Urahara’s, the mood is tense once again, as they try to figure out how to find and rescue Ishida. Ichigo asks for Yoruichi and her expertise, but at the moment she is nowhere to be found. The atmosphere remains like this, even after Kon tries to lighten the mood with a whoopee cushion gag, which you can guess does not go over well…

When Ishida awakens, he’s in old ramshackle surroundings, and finds that he has surprisingly been bandaged up and taken care of by Yoshino, who is also aware of his Quincy lineage. The Bounts don’t only all seem to know all about this, but it piques their interest for some reason. Yoshino asks him how he managed to lose his powers. Ishida gives her a vague reply, and also mentions that he is the last of his kind.

Meanwhile, the meeting at Urahara’s continues. In explaining the true threat that the Bounts pose, Urahara mentions ‘Hueco Mundo’, the dwelling place of the Hollows, for the first time, a plot point that will become very significant in the future. Apparently the interference of the Bounts may cause a tunnel to form between both worlds, which would spell disaster for the people inhabiting the World of the Living; the Hollows would basically be treated to the equivalent of an all-you-can-eat buffet. Rukia tries to explain it as well, using her trademark terrible drawings…

The meeting is interrupted by Tessai, with news that Ishida has been checked into a nearby hospital. Having blacked out again, Ishida imparts what he remembers from his conversation with Yoshino before he lost consciousness…

Yoshino’s explanation is consistent with what Urahara has been saying as well; the act of sucking out another’s soul gives them access to so much power, that they can affect space itself. Because of this, the practice was outlawed by the Bounts, who imposed this law on themselves.

Much like the Hollows, this concerns the continuing balance of existence. It’s clear that Jin Kariya, the Bount we met last episode, has nothing but contempt for this law, but Yoshino differs from him, in that she is conflicted about it; in order to become stronger and pose any kind of threat, she has no choice but to occasionally feed off of humans. She then drops a big piece of the puzzle on Ishida; in order for Kariya’s mysterious ambitions to work, he will need a living Quincy.

The team eventually leave Ishida alone to continue his recovery. While in his solace, he begins to reminisce about his mother, and the sense of melancholy that she tried to keep hidden, and can’t help but notice this similarity in the face of Yoshino. 

Later, we witness a quarrel between Ukagawa and Kariya, who is perturbed by the lax security surrounding Yoshino, Kariya’s careless attitude, and questions why she is allowed to roam about so freely. Kariya replies that it is impossible for her to leave him, as ‘steps have been taken’… I suppose the details of these ‘steps’ will be expanded upon soon enough…

One of the most fascinating concepts that continually arises in the narrative of Bleach is the concept of balance and its importance in the preservation of all existence. In this episode, it begins to be implied that the Bounts and their doings are not merely a trifling disturbance, but constitute an existential threat that may throw all known existence into disarray. The plot truly thickens from here on…

Published by dirksblogposts

My name is Dirk O'Brien. I'm a graphic designer by profession, and have had a lifelong interest in comics and animation.

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