I talked to somebody who loved Suzumiya Haruhi no Yuuutsu so much that he hasn’t watched anything else after watching ShnY. He said that everything else just loses its luster when compared to an anime like that. Of course, being your resident Haruhi Suzumiya devil’s advocate, I disagree with him. I do, however, know of the feeling and totally understand it. And of course, you know of the anime I’m talking about: Honey and Clover.

Simply put, everything else just exudes a dim light compared to the radiance of that show. About a year ago, I loved Bleach for its sheer action and the exhilaration it brought me, because every episode has fights accompanying it. Then, fast forward to about two months ago, I discovered Honey and Clover, and I have re-watched it two times already and will do so for about three more times.

Is it because Honey and Clover is just a really good anime, or has Bleach deteriorated with its storyline? The answer, I think, is a combination of both. A lot of people who have watched H&C (except for Hinano, perhaps) have loved it. I love it very much as well. Human nature, the goodness of man, the responsibilities and trials of love and friendship – this is the visual romance novel that puts a lot of emphasis with the passage of time, and deals with something not normally dealt with in anime: unrequited love. Among the best parts of being a romantic is reading or experiencing visually the phenomenon of unrequited love. Both the pain and suffering is often tempered with an unswerving hope for the best that one is just amazed with the people enduring this – and a lot are, everyday. How the characters evolve through time and how their flux of relationships with one another shows their dynamism with one another is simply a joy to watch.

Bleach, however, with the start of the filler arc, did some self-flagellation. The inventive story that was once there on souls and spirits, and the copiousness of action often invited a lot of viewers. Right now, however, it has become only a money-making merchandise, and the magic of the story has been slowly lost because they’ve concentrated on the fighting and only on the fighting that they’ve forgotten the very important part of character development. Though shounen may be formulaic, it doesn’t give them the power to throw character development out of the window or is it an excuse for them not to develop their characters. Adachi’s works are often shounen, but I can assure you that if somebody told you Touch or Hiatari Ryoukou didn’t develop its characters, that someone deserves a kick in the ass. Although lacking in visual whoop-ass animation, these hone and make the characters evolve into something anthropomorphically believable – that is, the actions of the main characters in this series aren’t necessarily smart or wise, but they’re totally believable in the real world context. This character development is what I was looking for when I downloaded and watched the 89th episode of Bleach.

My expectations fell really flat. I mean really flat.

One of the reasons why I kept watching Bleach for some time after the 45th episode was that I was half-expecting Nemu, as a character, to be developed as the pair of Ishida. Although it may seem to be over-reading (and it most definitely is), I was touched with their interaction in the short moments that they talked to one another. I was really hoping for Nemu this time around to stop being a doormat and express what she feels towards Ishida. (I really did see her becoming infatuated with Ishida. It must have been the look on her face.) Instead, we see her speak a few lines that deserve to be linked with words like ‘automaton,’ ‘robot,’ or ‘doormat.’ This is just an example; there are a lot of other instances where a minor character could at least be developed a little further, make him or her at least a little more human, but I guess with the way Kubo Tite doesn’t even develop his main characters much, I’m just going to dream of a day where Nemu would say that she likes Ishida. I guess that is a far-fetched possibility, however, because there’s Yoshino. Still, I hope that Nemu could at least console Ishida or at least talk about something other than Quincies and powers.

I’m still hoping for good things to happen next week, but I don’t expect much. There’s always a good episode of Honey and Clover hanging around to launder the dirt away.

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