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gigantor21
June 22, 2007, 08:06 PM
280. Jugulators 2

This chapter continues the streak Kubo’s been on for the past month—but for a very different reason.

We got some more great looking art and melee fighting this week, which constituted a much greater part of the chapter than last week. Not only that, but Ichigo did a much better job of keeping up and holding his own than in his last 2 fights, when he was barely able to do anything without the mask at all. I think it was an indirect method of showing Ichigo has leveled-up, which complemented the change in the design of the mask itself. Hopefully, all of this will come to bear next week in a longer time limit for the mask, at the very least—though my hope is that the limit will simply be done away with altogether.

We already know Ichigo can’t fight the Espada without it, and having it on all the time wouldn’t be enough for Ulquiorra, let alone the top 3 Espada and Aizen. So from a storytelling perspective, there’s no point in limiting its use anymore. We get it already.

But the highlight this time around wasn’t just the art or Ichigo’s implied new strength. This time, Grimmjow’s challenge of Ichigo’s fighting philosophy figured in just as prominently, if not more. This is the first time that a major opponent has directly called Ichigo on his natural instincts, which signals the theme’s ever increasing prominence in the story. It wasn’t addressed for several volumes after Sakikuro and “Zaraki” first brought it up; in this arc, however, it has basically figured into every fight Ichigo’s had (though it was mostly indirect in the Ulquiorra match). So I feel that it’s just as important as any power-up would be, if Ichigo really wants to move forward. He can’t put his all into the fight if he’s not honest about why he’s fighting in the first place.

In the next week or two, I expect that we’ll get enough concrete evidence to determine just where Ichigo stands relative to the Espada now. I really hope that no one comes in and interrupts the fight, and that Grimmjow does release. It would be really cliché if someone stepped in and stopped him beforehand again (which was joked about in the Arrancar Research Time segment in the anime), so let’s hope Kubo doesn’t take that route.

Rating – 4 out of 5 (Very Good)

CopyNinjaKakashi
June 22, 2007, 10:09 PM
Excellent review as always gigantor!

Yeah, we have been spoiled the past month with Bleach. That was one huge cero, to say the least. I agree with you whole-heartedly that the time-limit has served its purpose and that it is no longer needed. Ichigo has found his resolve, but he still needs to be honest with himself and acknowledge that he lives to battle.

Been a while since I have read it, but didn't the fallen Espada (Dondierno, or whatever, too tired to look it up) target Nell to get Ichigo to put his mask on? That tactic always seems to work. Of course Ichigo is there to protect and rescue his friends. However he is, and always will be a fighter. Even before he was a shinigami, he was a brawler, fighting the other school students who attacked him. At first, the battles sought him out, but more and more, he is seeking them out as well.

Keep up the good work.

gigantor21
June 22, 2007, 10:17 PM
^ Thanks a bunch, CNK.

In regards to Doldooni, I think that's just a natural reaction most people would have if their friend was attacked in the middle of a fight. I don't think it speaks for Ichigo's desire to protect very much. I think it went both ways in his middle school years, too--in one of the Omake shorts, I remember him and Chad basically picked a fight with an entire gang in their first day of high school, for no apparent reason.

So I wholeheartedly agree that he fights as much for strength as he does to protect. And he really needs to accept that he can't cling to one without the other, because it's not his nature.

Quartz-pebble
June 23, 2007, 08:28 AM
Great review.

I'm quite sure that my "Bleachness" has been renewed over the last few weeks. Great art and plot movement really do wonders. I do however hope that has mask has a better limit though.

gigantor21
June 23, 2007, 03:34 PM
^ Indeed. These last few chapters have reminded me of why I got into Bleach in the first place, which is always a good thing.

But my question now is; what else is left for the HM arc after this fight? Ichigo's the strongest fighter in the rescue party, and we've already established that he can't beat Ulquiorra right now. Personally, I thought that was the case from the start, but I've already said that a million times so I won't get into it again. So where does it go next?

Unless the Primera or Aizen step in, Ichigo is not getting out of this fight without serious injury. If Grimmjow is pressed to release, then I don't see why Aizen would leave him around--and he obviously wouldn't care if a higher-up killed him off. Just look at what happened to Luppi. Plus, Grimmjow has directly flouted Aizen's orders several times by now, so he's already hanging on due to his popularity as it is.

I just don't see what else is left for him if he doesn't leave or get exiled, besides death or irrelevance.

The only other fight still going on (technically) is the Apollo fight--but is that really going to go anywhere? Even if they fight outside of the non-sealing chamber, he's still an Espada, and he still hasn't released. Plus, he has his Fraccion with him to heal himself up. Considering that Ishida's strongest non-Final Form attack didn't kill him, and that Renji was barely able to beat a non-Espada with his Bankai, I don't see why Apollo can't run away with the win.

I don't see this arc going for more than 2 more volumes, at most, even if there's some massive new development like a Vaizard or Urahara rescue party. I doubt Kubo is going to pull out all the stops with those, because he has to save the biggest stuff like Urahara and Isshin's Bankai for the War. He can't just whip them out here, especially since they won't do any good against the Primera or Aizen, anyway, if they step in. Besides that, it would be a search and rescue mission, not engagement, so the second rescue party would probably try and limit the fighting as much as possible to get out quickly. And I'm sure Kubo would follow suit.

Quartz-pebble
June 24, 2007, 11:09 AM
The Apollo fight is bascially finished, for the exact reasons you stated. One player just went and "restarted". Kinda lame, actually.

As for the other fight....I love Grimmjow, but I -really- don't want to see Grimmy vs Ichigo #4. As for options, well, Ichigo -can't- lose here. Not to GJ anyway, because he wants to win, and as of this chapter, he's playing for keeps. If Ichigo wavers here, he dies, Orihime dies, and to a lesser extent, Nell dies. Since that scenario is -not- going to happen, Ichigo will -not- lose to GJ.

That said, he's what we have:

1. Ichigo kills Grimmjow. It could happen, but kinda open-ended at this point.

2. Ulquiora kills GJ, whether finishing him off after Ichigo wounds him, or just interupting earlier than expected. Afterwards, I'm not sure if Ulquiorra would kill Ichigo again, or boot them out. He kinda told him to get up and leave if he could, but I don't know if illegal healing counts. ;)

3. The ever popular Deux Ex Aizen (Or Primera, if you prefer).


Of course, none of these -have- to involve GJ been killed, but like you said, his importance is shrinking with each passing chapter.

yanniv
June 25, 2007, 01:22 AM
Heh, nice review as always. I just wish Kubo would hurry it up and get to the main meal, instead of all these appetizers.

More character development throughout 280. Kubo keeps hinting at Ichigo's instinct to battle and how he so desperately needs to change from his delusion state of protection and turn to the fighter he really is.

281 will be all about max power vs. max power. Ichigo in Vizard form versus Grimmjow in release form. It has to be. Grimmjow wanted to fight Ichigo at max potential and now he will release to test who really is the stronger fighter here.