Dear Bleach Animation Studios:
I've been loosely following the recent manga chapters and the recent anime episodes and realize that one is about to fall behind the other. In the past, this has resulted in anime-only filler arcs being shown instead of pulling the current manga story arc out of Kubo's ass. This has resulted in two major filler arcs so far, mostly referred to as the Bount arc and the New Captain arc, along with a few smaller two or three episode arcs that have also appeared. The anime is rapidly approaching the manga and soon it will be time for a new arc.
In light of this, I propose that rather than introducing a slew of new anime-only characters that will likely never appear again or even mentioned, that the upcoming arc(s) be constructed to reveal more of the existing backstory of certain characters, or to flesh out the current stories of certain characters. Mr Kubo Tite has developed this rather distressing habit of creating somewhat interesting secondary characters that either have ties to major characters or ties amongst themselves and never really following through with them. This is an opportunity to take care of that. In fact, here are two concepts for possible filler arcs that I believe would be quite entertaining:
The Secret Forces are on a mission to discover just who's capturing Hollows alive and for what purpose, fearing that Aizen may be up to experiments yet again. What they discover is instead along distant ocean shores where ships are carrying an incredibly dangerous cargo and an underground gambling ring is forcing innocents and criminals alike to battle Hollows in a desperate bid for survival. A seal is placed upon all combatants to lock away any spiritual powers or zanpakuto, forcing them to rely on brute strength and fierce cunning to stay alive while spectators place bets on who will perish and who will emerge victorious. A covert group is sent to infiltrate both the betting ring and the fighters to discover who is behind it all and what goal they could possibly have. Along the way, the shinigami will have to learn who they can trust in an increasingly lethal game and just how desperate some people become to survive in the Rukongai.
BONUSES: NINJAS, PIRATES, small scale epic battles, Hollows that can actually be scary, shirtless men, more NINJAS, and Ganju showing the shinigami how to brawl RUKONGAI style.
DRAWBACKS: None. There are NINJAS and PIRATES, so stfu.
The second basic concept:
The Captains and Vice-Captains are scattered across Heuco Mundo and the false Karakura Town in a fierce battle against Aizen. With her strongest fighters absent, the greatest threat to the Seireitei now might come from those the shinigami were sworn to protect. Tensions in the Rukongai run hot and vicious in the wake of Aizen's betrayal and even defeated, Kariya's words continue to poison and twist the ears and sympathies of many Rukongai citizens. With the strongest of the shinigami absent, who will protect the people of the Soul Society from the Hollows and Aizen's machinations? And who will protect them from themselves? An army starts to amass on either side of the Seiretei's walls, split between those in the Rukongai who wish to overthrow the Court Guards, and those within the Seireitei who wish to extend the control of those same Guards far past Yamamoto's original intent. It's a race against time for a small band with loyalties to both sides to fight and keep the peace and protect Seireitei and Rukongai alike from the threat that is emerging from the sleeping Karakura Town that could consume them all.
BONUSES: Secondary characters can shine, reveal more of what actually happens in the Rukongai and the social structure, logical followup to the mess that was the Bount arc, room for backstories, and more Ganju showing the shinigami how to brawl RUKONGAI style.
DRAWBACKS: Captains and Vice-Captains missing is sort of a big deal and Kubo might actually have something planned for that.
Both of these proposals should be good for at least ten episodes and could possibly be extended to twenty or more, depending on the number of battles that can be crammed in. I wish to note, however, that extending episodes with the method used in the Bount Arc, for example with long, monotonous dialog and episode long flashbacks
, may only serve to alienate your audience and there's nothing wrong with keeping it short and simple if you can't flesh it out with plot and proper action.
In addition, there are numerous unresolved plot lines or minor plot 'threads' that could be expanded to fill entire one or two part episodes, such as Renji's flashback episode to his and Rukia's childhood in the Rukongai. It would be highly recommended to touch upon these with close feedback from Mr Kubo Tite, as this could afford him the oppurtunity to delve further into backstories that he may or may not have an oppurtunity to address in the manga in the near future. These are listed in no particular order:
- Kenpachi and the first Yachiro and why that name was bestowed with such reverance upon the second.
- The Shiba clan. Specifically, what lead to the fall of the family from full noble status, Byakuya Kuchiki's past interactions with Kaien Shiba, Kukaku's use of a powerful kido spell, the origin of Kukaku's connection to former shinigami Yoruichi and Urahara, the form of kido or 'spells' that Kukaku and Ganju both use, why Ukitake didn't tell Kukaku and Ganju the truth himself and instead let the live however many decades hating the shinigami and believing Kaien as murdered in cold blood, and a possible fourth Shiba (There's a pattern to the names and each roughly translates as: Kaien Shiba - "Swallow of the Ocean," Kukaku Shiba - "Crane of the Sky," and Ganju Shiba - "Eagle of the Rock." Both Kaien and Ganju's names match their elemental ability, Kaien having a water-based zanpakuto and Ganju using some form of earth-based kido/spell. A bird of fire is still missing and no, Kaien's wife doesn't fit the pattern. More name information can be found here).
- Spirit ribbons. Just... spirit ribbons. Oh, and the Gateway to Hell while we're at it. Listed mostly because while Kubo still might toss it back in when the current arc wraps up, it's been 200+ chapters.
- The first shinigami that gave their powers to a human. If they made a law against it, either it had to have happened or something close enough to make them think, "Okay, um, yeah, maybe we should make this illegal guys?"
In conclusion, with the anime rapidly closing in on the current manga chapters, now's a good time to start thinking about this sort of stuff, although at this point in time the upcoming filler is probably already in post-production stage. Best of wishes, however, and please try to avoid the mistake in the Bount arc mentioned above.PS: Yes, I am a Ganju fangirl as well as of the whole messed up family.