You can say a lot of horrible things about this anime (with which I totally agree, by the way), but you have to admit: this episode really was unique for Bleach standards. The creators decided to let one episode focus around the history of Claude (the big guy who plays with large marbles), and they managed to choose a great setting: a poor, 18th-century farming village. And for once, they just take their time in telling the story. Almost no action at all. Just two bounto living together, and having their own problems. Okay, the animation looked horrible, but this is such a huge improvement. I also just loved the generic design of the young man who was introduced this episode. He was nothing special, he just looked like the son of a farmer who has just reached adulthood.
But then, of course, the ending of the episode completely ruins the good mood when the flashback ends, Ichigo’s about to die and the vice-chief of the 3rd squad arrives just in time to save the day while making the same mistake Naruto did while in his utmost beginner-days. (Ambushes? Who needs ambushes? Ambushes are for sissies!) Not only that, the creators also throw away every chance they could possibly have at a strategic battle, as it’ll be certain that the bounto-woman will drive Inoue and Rukia in a corner, only to be taken out by one of the other three shinigami who were sent to the human world as well. Next week will feature another 1-hour special, and it’s just a hunch, but at the end of that episode I’ll probably be gouching my own eyes out with a spoon. I’m going to pray for the bishie-shinigami (forgot his name) to save the day. And my eyes.