I actually spent a good chunk of time copying episodes over to the netbook right before Dreamation started. I figured I could watch them while at the con during downtime and at night if I couldn't sleep. While I did catch a few episodes, I ended up spending most of the con's downtime yakking with various people instead. Since coming back home though I've been on a Bleach tear, going through almost a hundred episodes in the past week and change. I finished off season 5, the end of the Bount arc, more out of a sense of obligation than anything else. I'm happy to report that it didn't suck nearly as much as season 4, most likely because it basically consisted of one fight after another. You have to hand it to the Japanese mangaka's in general, they really excel at fight scenes for shonen. I only wish it was around when I was a kid since I would have eaten up this sort of thing and it kicks the living crap out of wrestling or whatever we watched back then to get our violence fix.
I'm also happy to report that once I got through the Bount arc and back into the regular storyline, the episodes got better all around. I have no real idea why filler arcs suck so much. You'd think even a blind squirrel could find a nut every once and a while but they seem to uniformly stink across all anime. I have no clue if it's just because the writers they hire to patch in fillers general suck or that no matter the effort it's just not possible to write for another person's work. Things will always seem 'off' because you simply can't duplicate an author's style and knowledge of the characters/plot/whatever. A certain froggy je ne sais quoi if you will.
Anyway, I've been generally happy with the storyline so far and even more so after the introduction of Nel's character. Here's a picture.
She starts off as comic relief, basically babbling in baby talk. The main character 'rescues' her when he sees her crying and running from a couple of monsters. It turns out that they were just playing 'eternal tag' and the monsters were her adoptive brothers. Here you can see her response to why she was crying if they were just playing.
In case you don't get the above, she's saying she's a serious masochist.
My fondness for Nel's character reminded me that in the end, I really do like comedic elements best. I imagine there were probably tons of diehard Bleach fans pulling their hair out at the interjected silliness, especially as it took place just as the good guys were 'storming the castle' so to speak. I'll admit I sometimes find these mood whiplash elements a bit off-putting at first, but I like them better than endless fights, blood, and doom and gloom. If it were all just the latter, I'm pretty sure I would have stopped watching Bleach by now. My first love when it comes to anime was romantic comedies, and it really does show even now in the anime I choose to watch.
Of course, later on Nel does end up becoming more integral to the plot, though it uses the cliche of amnesia. She ends up not really being what she looks like at first and this is Nel in her true form.
All I can say is I liked her character even before she become hubba-hubba. It doesn't hurt though.
Right now I'm up to episode 220 out of the 259 that are out. I've assiduously skipped all filler arcs along the way, and since the last 30 episodes are also filler, I'm just about caught up. What's funny is that the last day in 'real time' has probably taken over 100 episodes filler and all. It's been nothing but huge ass fights, one another another, and you can imagine how long it takes to show a battle royale between 20+ combatants when you show each fight one at a time. It ends up taking so long that they have one season following the storyarc and then up to _2_ seasons of filler before they get back to the story. Since the characters are all locked up in the story arc, the fillers all have to be set 'sometime in the past', which has to be sort of jarring and strange. *fight fight fight* *filler arc about crap that doesn't matter because it's all in the past and can't influence the plot* *fight* *fight* *fight* *more filler crap* and repeat. It's almost, but not quite, entering Dragonball Z territory just for the sheer length of time everything is taking. 5 years to tell a story about 15 minutes. Sometimes I think it's amazing the readers/watchers don't just get tired of it all and tune out.
So that's what I've been doing with a ton of my time lately. I'm in the process of bittorrenting One Piece, another anime which has run into 300+ episodes. I figure if I go on to that after I catch up with Bleach I should have enough to keep myself occupied for the next month just about.