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sahugani
June 25, 2007, 01:22 AM
Sahugani’s Bleach Review 278-280

http://img263.imageshack.us/img263/5462/untitledvt2.jpg
...that is a very orange afro

First of all I’d like to apologize for not being around to do these the past couple weeks. At first, I was dealing with studying for and then taking final exams. After that, I intended to catch up, but underestimated the time it took to get settled back in at home. Luckily, even though I was out of commission for a little bit, gigantor21 was still around to give you your fix so I thank him for that. Anyways, now I’m back to do some serious catching up, so lets get started. The first scan used for pics is from blood-scanlations and the second two are from the union of blood-scanlations and Bludshock. Luckily, we were blessed with a color spread for my title WP.


278: Heal for the Crash

Ulquiorra’s Request

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party pooper

As of the last chapter that I covered, Grimmjow’s plan to have Orihime heal Ichigo for the sake of fighting him himself was interrupted by Ulquiorra. Now, despite the fact that the situation is quite obvious, Ulquiorra questions Grimmjow as to what he is doing. Its times like this that I think I might be overanalyzing Ulquiorra and taking his words as more meaningful than he actually intends. We have seen such great examples of how he toys with people using words and I tend to extend that process to mean that every word he says has a motive and is intended to affect the listener a certain way. In this case, though all logic points to him simply asking why Grimmjow has undermined his authority. In my opinion though, Ulquiorra is smart enough and knows Grimmjow well enough to know instantly why this happened. The point of merely asking is to reinforce to Grimmjow that these actions are counterproductive to Aizen’s wishes. This is most clear in his final request to take Orihime back as she had been entrusted to him, though this is where Grimmjow draws the line and actively objects.


Grimmjow’s Reply

http://img263.imageshack.us/img263/7307/2ays5.png
who is more afraid to die here?

Throughout most of Ulquiorra’s questioning, Grimmjow remains silent. He doesn’t answer to the issue of reviving Ulquiorra’s kill because he feels it is none of his business. However, when Ulquiorra asks to give back Orihime, Grimmjow finally has something to say. Whereas before, Ulquiorra was simply being nosy in Grimmjow’s opinion, now he is actually requesting something that interferes with his fun. Grimmjow knows that Ulquiorra won’t leave with a simple verbal threat, so he starts a battle of ceros with the Cuatro Espada. He claims that Ulquiorra is afraid that the two of them will destroy each other, to which Ulquiorra seems to react. With the differences in power between various ranks, you’d think that there would be more of a difference in ability between the 4th and 6th espada, but they end up fighting quite evenly though Ulquiorra has a bit of an edge. He is able to both deflect one of Grimmjow’s point blank ceros and then get above him to start one of his own. When faced with Ulquiorra’s cero, all Grimmjow can do is match it with one of his own, thus proving that he is the crazier fighter. In the confusion after the blast, Grimmjow makes a surprise move to get rid of Ulquiorra.


No More Interruptions

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if only we could solve our own problems this way

Grimmjow drops a small cube into Ulquiorra’s hollow hole that apparently sucks him into a different dimension. When explaining what happened to Orihime afterwards, he calls it “kana nagacion.” It is a tool given to Espada that can trap weaker Arrancar in a separate dimension eternally, but if used on an Espada, the effect is only temporary and the length of time for the imprisonment is dependant on the Espada’s strength. Now that Ulquiorra is out of the way for two to three hours, Grimmjow can fight Ichigo to his heart’s content. While I am somewhat disappointed that we are not getting the three way free for all that I had expected at the end of 277, it is somewhat better to keep Ichigo’s fights with Ulquiorra and Grimmjow separate. Ichigo’s reasons for fighting each espada are completely different and work much better if he fights Grimmjow before Ulquiorra. His fight with Grimmjow is for the sake of proving his own strength to himself, while fighting Ulquiorra has more to do with saving Orihime. As his ass-kicking at the hands of Ulquiorra proved, he is not ready for that fight and so he must first overcome his own weakness by fighting Grimmjow and within that fight finding a new strength before dealing with Ulquiorra.


Orihime’s Hesitation

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this is an opportunity for another amputation

After explaining how he got rid of Ulquiorra to Orihime, he asks her to continue healing Ichigo, but she refuses. She has already failed at her attempt to gain the trust of the Heuco Mundo forces, so now all she can do is try to minimize the damage to her friends. Since she knows that after healing Ichigo, Grimmjow will fight him, Orihime refuses to heal him in hopes of preventing the fight. Even though logically there is more to loose by not healing him first, she doesn’t like the idea of becoming part of the process that leads Ichigo to more pain. Even after Grimmjow starts to resort to violence to make her obey, she still steadfastly refuses to cooperate. She is still trying to take the entire burden upon herself as she feels responsible for all the pain her friends have endured.


Ichigo’s Will

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Ichigo looks less threatening in that condition

Grimmjow crosses the line when he starts to resort to violence to force Orihime’s obedience. The still bloody Ichigo reaches out and stays Grimmjow’s hand and forces him to release his grip on Orihime. He requests that Orihime finish healing him and then to heal Grimmjow, whose arm was damaged by Ulquiorra’s cero. Grimmjow at first takes this as pity, but then agrees when Ichigo taunts him about using it as an excuse. Ichigo is seeing eye to eye with Grimmjow and decides to fight according to the same rules. Ichigo also does not want Grimmjow’s arm damaged as this fight is important to him as a benchmark. If he cannot beat Grimmjow now, he has no chance if he has to rematch Ulquiorra or fight any of the higher Espada. He does not want to let himself think that the reason he won was due to Grimmjow’s injury. He needs to prove to himself that he can win against the Espada after his utter defeat at the hands of Ulquiorra.


279: Jugulators

Reassurance

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Since when has Ichigo gone into battle without a bandage or two?

Now that both Ichigo and Grimmjow have been fully healed, both Orihime and Nell fear for Ichigo’s life in the upcoming battle. Ichigo reassures them by telling them to lose their worried faces because he will make sure that he wins. His words are reminiscent of when he was saving Rukia from Byakuya and the Sokyoku (minus the humorous arguing and Rukia toss). He shows no fear as he is about to enter this fight for his life because he knows how much he has to lose if he is killed and won’t allow himself to lose it. He has faced Grimmjow and had the battle interrupted twice before and has since witnessed the power of an opponent superior to him. He cannot afford to believe he will lose now. In addition to this, he has watched both Orihime and Nell step up against opponents far stronger than themselves to protect Ichigo and doing so has put them in danger. If they don’t believe that he can win, they will try to stand between him and Grimmjow and might die in the process. Ichigo does not want that to happen at any cost, so he both assures them not to worry and decides to change locations to keep them from harm.


Battleground

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This better be the last fight between these two

Ichigo proposes that they move to a new location to fight and Grimmjow obliges. They take off and Ichigo enters Bankai in mid-flight. It is pretty clear that from here on out, shikai is pretty useless as was proven in Ichigo’s fight with Doldoni. He stands no chance without using Bankai and so he might as well not even think to start the battle with anything less. Due to Kubo’s strong inclination to be overly cinematic, he takes quite a few beautiful pages to span the time between the fighters taking off and their first clash of swords in their new battleground. What is of interest though is the chapter title given after the two clash. Jugulators, in addition to being the name of a Judas Priest album, instantly brings to mind the jugular vein, which is a vein in the neck that stereotypically is the target for carnivorous animals making a kill. This fits in well with Grimmjow’s bloodthirsty and animalistic theme. He doesn’t want to cripple Ichigo and torture him. He wants the thrill of the hunt and the opportunity to deal a killer blow.


Truth in his Words

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OK. Orihime is officially my favorite female manga character

Despite Ichigo’s words, Nell is still scared for his safety. Luckily, Orihime is there to give her reassurance. She knows Ichigo very well and knows she can put her faith in him to fulfill his promise to win. She has seen Ichigo in both his confidence and his insecurity and can tell that this time, there is little need to worry. When he went to save Rukia, despite the fact that there was no hope of victory, he vowed to save her and he did. On the other hand, when Yami and Ulquiorra first arrived, she could tell something was wrong with hi just from the feel of his bankai’s reiatsu. From events like those, she inherently knows when he has the will to win or is just fighting out of desperation. However, despite her trust in Ichigo’s strength, there is a part of her that is still worried. She feels that she has put her friends in danger and caused them pain, so on the chance that Ichigo loses, she will consider it her own fault for putting him in that situation. Nell notices this insecurity as she watches Orihime’s quivering hand. This is the start of a supportive friendship between the two that will last throughout the arc. When Ulquiorra releases himself, I would not doubt it if instead of fighting Ichigo, he decides to take back Orihime and Nell. The two will give each other strength until our heroes come to rescue them.


Scar’s Memory

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a blast like that should topple the whole building

As we resume Ichigo’s fight with Grimmjow, we get to witness the truly bestial fighting style the Sexta Espada wields. He abandons his sword so that he can attack Ichigo’s unprotected side with a cero. He abandons his own defense for an opportunity to exploit a weakness. After the smoke clears, he mocks Ichigo for not adopting the same offensive tactics. Ichigo claims that unlike Grimmjow, he is fighting for the sake of protecting others rather than for the fight itself. While that may be true for Ichigo’s fight with Ulquiorra, it is not thecase for this fight and Grimmjow makes a point of making Ichigo realize it himself. Ichigo is fighting Grimmjow because he has been denied the opportunity twice before and needs to prove to himself that he is strong enough to continue on. Grimmjow fights for the same reason. He had finally found someone with the potential to kill him but was twice denied the chance to prove his strength. He didn’t let Orihime repair his scar because their battle is not yet over. As the chapter ends, he makes one more reference to the chapter title as he expresses his wish to slit Ichigo’s throat and put an end to this rivalry.


280: Jugulators 2

Offensive

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so far no arrancar has really favored swordsmanship, have they?

After Grimmjow retrieves his flung sword from a high tower, he comes back down to try and unleash Ichigo’s true strength before attacking again. Ichigo still has not adopted the demeanor necessary to fight this battle and Grimmjow makes a point of it. He claims Ichigo doesn’t have the guts to kill him, which angers Ichigo and nearly causes him to lose focus as his opponent disappears and attacks him from behind with a fast Sonido kick. It is in these higher level battles that I must admit Ichigo’s bankai has been made slightly obsolete. Other bankai offer the wielder unique abilities that are hard to replicate for anyone else. Tensa Zangestu offers Ichigo two things: increased speed and a more powerful Getsuga Tenshou. As he faces off against stronger opponents, their speed is naturally higher so they can match or surpass the bankai’s speed boost, thus making it into a normal zanpakuto with the black getsuga. While I’ve always been the person who has no problem with the small repertoires of characters such as Ichigo and Naruto, I’d really love to see some evolution of the skill set in this case. I’m fine with the small skill sets as long as those skills can still be considered unique for the character.


True Motive

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sometimes it takes an unapologetic ass to show you the truth

As Grimmjow forces Ichigo backwards, he taunts Ichigo and still tries to make Ichigo admit the real reason for fighting this battle. He points out that if Ichigo really came for the sole purpose of saving Orihime, he’d have grabbed her and fled. Instead of caring for her safety, Ichigo was more concerned about his match with Grimmjow. Ichigo still doesn’t want to believe it, but Grimmjow is speaking the truth. While obviously, simply running is not really an option, if Ichigo’s sole motive for his actions was saving Orihime, he would have increased his chances of success if he had let Grimmjow fight with an injured arm. Instead, he went out of his way to make the fight fair so that he could prove his own strength. While saving Orihime is a concern, he sought out this fight in particular as a way to get stronger. Despite whatever reasons Ichigo has for wanting to fight, the fact remains that in a fight like this one, there must be a winner and a loser. The only thing that matters is to beat the other person so that the winner can live on. Grimmjow likens it to the age-old feud between shinigami and hollows, but the essence of its meaning is much deeper.


Ultimate Destruction

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that doesn't seem physically possible

After Grimmjow’s speech, Ichigo at first is able to match blows, but is eventually overtaken and slashed by Grimmjow. In his heart, he knows Grimmjow’s words to be true and is simply having trouble accepting it. However, this mental dilemma is causing him to lose some focus and gives Grimmjow the advantage. Grimmjow gets a bit fed up and unleashes the ultimate form of cero in the direction of Orihime and Nell. Since Ichigo is refusing to accept that he sought out this fight on his own, Grimmjow decides to eliminate the reason Ichigo is hiding behind. At the very least, by killing Orihime, all of the thought Ichigo is putting into protecting her will be converted into rage towards Grimmjow. By doing that, he forces Ichigo to think of this battle as a simple matter of one man trying to kill another.


Insubordination

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Grimmjow must die now

In addition to its effect on Ichigo’s resolve, Grimmjow’s action effectively demonstrates his level of obedience toward Aizen. Although his earlier actions of taking a team of what I assume were his Fraccion to Earth and later eagerness to go after Ichigo once he entered Heuco Mundo were taken as overzealous attempts at fulfilling Aizen’s will in his own way, his current chain of actions both directly alter our view on his loyalty and put those earlier actions in question as well. Unlike the previously mentioned events, the acts of attacking Loli and Menoli , kidnapping Aizen’s prisoner, directly undermining Ulquiorra, and now trying to kill the special prisoner are in direct violation of any form of loyalty toward Aizen’s goals. He has put his feud with Ichigo (which started at the mere mention of Ulquiorra letting him live) above even his loyalty to Aizen at nearly every step. The way his character is going, if he survives his fight with Ichigo, I would not be in the least bit surprised if he ended up aiding the heroes at the end of the arc in an act of direct disobedience to Aizen. As this fits with my long-held theory, I’m still hoping that this means Grimmjow will kill Tousen at the end of the arc.


Dark Mask

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he'll need more than 11 seconds for this

As I know other people have noticed, when Ichigo donned his hollow mask this time to protect Orihime and Nell from the ultimate cero, the left side was darker than ever. As time has progressed, the stripes on Ichigo’s mask have gotten bigger and bigger so that now they basically cover the entire left side. While the color of these stripes has not been officially established in the manga (I looked desperately through the volumes and color spreads but searched in vain) I personally accept the anime’s portrayal as a deep red. Whether the stripes are red or black, both colors have been strongly associated with Ichigo’s bankai, so either one would mean basically the same thing. Before fighting his inner hollow, the marking consisted of three separate stripes on his forehead and two under the eye. After subduing his inner hollow, his mask had four stripes on his forehead that merged at the nose, the tips of the two below his eye merged, and he got a new set of three stripes on his chin that also merged at the tips. Though it is hard to tell without a close-up shot, it seems that with his latest transformation, the stripes have thickened to the point where only slivers of white distinguish the former pattern. Symbolism is a pain in the ass, but in this case I think it is crucial. In terms of how these pattern changes are reminiscent of Ichigo’s skill as a vizard, the initial fusing of the stripe tips likely represented the ability for him to focus this chaotic power and halt its random outbursts. It is only a guess, but I think this new thickening of the stripes means an expansion of his control. As he has finally accepted the teachings of instinct told by Grimmjow and Kenpachi, he no longer considers himself a shinigami wielding hollow power. He is now a full vizard and as such is no longer limited to 11 seconds.


Overall

Despite the fact that a little while back, I was disappointed with the direction Kubo had taken the story in Bleach, the latest chapters, while still maintaining the ever present slow plot development, have had me very excited. The best part in my opinion is the new dark mask from the final frame. It is things like that that make me think I might be overanalyzing, which gives me a level of uneasiness. In a series like Bleach, in which many events are highly predictable, the best parts are the little nuggets of unpredicted material within the methods of how the plot devices arise. I cannot wait to see what will happen with this new mask.

Hahahaha!!! All my mega-reviews are finally done!!!

Serpent
June 25, 2007, 05:20 AM
Absolutely great review congrats
I must say this week i'm mostly looking forward to Bleach , cause I really like how things are going , this being a crucial steep in Ichigo's evolution , with him accepting his power's form and realising how much he can grow throw embracing his hollow powers and instinct to fight

Ewino
June 26, 2007, 04:06 AM
wow...
you really look deep into the story!
a very refreshing view on the series and things I haven't noticed.
thanx!

Az3r
June 26, 2007, 05:25 AM
Congratulations for completing the mega-review packs, dude! It's a fun read really. I'm a little slow on Bleach since I don't always read it after downloading a chapter. But I can tell it's been a great story developing on recent chapters. Especially with the return of "The King and the Horse"! Personally, the reason why Bleach is a 'secondary reading material' to me is because I get bored with the Las Noches arc. Seriously, I didn't even know what's happening since perhaps chapter 245, and has just tuned in again probably since the death of Rukia (is she really dead?). I hope the story keeps getting better and make Bleach 'main dish' again for me. :smile-big

Anyhow, great review as always. Keep it going! :thumbs

ANBU4U
June 27, 2007, 01:31 PM
I thinks its just distance and angle on that mask. I'd wait for a close up b4 looking into it further.

Tomodachi69
June 27, 2007, 03:37 PM
Excellent reviews, as always!

On a little side note, I do believe that Kubo made a color spread with black stripes on Ichigo's mask. It was the one that was "Black vs White!" and had Espadas (Grimmjow, Yammy, Ulquiorra, and Wanderwyce) on one side and Shinigami (Ichigo, Renji, Ikkaku, and Hitsugaya) on the other.

sahugani
June 27, 2007, 03:56 PM
thanks everyone

@serpent - i really hope that Ichigo does get a viable upgrade in this fight as ultimately that is what fighting GJ is all about. He sees GJ as a barrier he must break before he can concider himself strong enough to move on, so if he doesn't break his 11 second limit soon or get some other strength, then i'll be disappointed in Kubo

@Az3r - from the second half of the Aaroniero fight, i also found myself dropping interest. now things are getting interesting for me and i hope they do for you too

@ANBU4U - you very well could be right. with the lack of a detailed close up, its hard to tell. its just that Ichigo needs to break that 11 seconds and if the mask upgrade is real, it gave me a thread to pull and theorize with, so i took it. i hope that its real, but admit that a high likelyhood exists that it is a misinterpretation

@Tomodachi69 - could you find the chapter where that spread may be found. i looked through basically every chapter after Wanderweiss's birth and couldn't find anything, but if i missed a chapter by accident, please let me know

Tomodachi69
June 27, 2007, 04:03 PM
I'll send you to the BleachAsylum's page. :p
Their banner has a picture of Mask!Ichigo from the spread I was talking about

http://www.bleachasylum.com/

sahugani
June 27, 2007, 04:14 PM
that picture is a fusion of different pics. Aizen and Gin are from a color spread i recognize. the Rukia and Ichigo are either from spreads i don't recall or fan colorings or art, so i doubt that mask is official. nice find though. if it is a fan coloring, its very convincing

Tomodachi69
June 27, 2007, 04:54 PM
Chapter 232. The Mascaron Drive 2

http://lupussol.files.wordpress.com/2006/06/jojo002s8ew.jpg

The mask officially has black stripes :]

sahugani
June 27, 2007, 04:57 PM
thanks. for some reason, this spread is missing from my scan

Tomodachi69
June 27, 2007, 04:59 PM
I got my scan from Ju-Ni and they included the Jump cover and the spread with the scan, so.. /shrug.

ANBU4U
June 27, 2007, 07:06 PM
I got my scan from Ju-Ni and they included the Jump cover and the spread with the scan, so.. /shrug.

GREAT find! I always wished that those stripes were black....and officially resent the Anime for changing the color.....the burgundy doesn't match his bankai well at all...in fact if you're as anal as I am you'll notice it straight up clashes not only with his hair, but with the more crimson red of the hilt and jacket lining as well (who the hell came up with burgundy?) Why on earth would they have done that? Grrr.