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sahugani
December 19, 2007, 05:51 AM
Sahugani’s Bleach Review 300-303 + Special

http://img502.imageshack.us/img502/7848/bleachwhilestarsshineonut0.jpg (http://behindinfinity.deviantart.com/art/Bleach-While-Stars-Shine-On-71486860)
YESH!!! Their Chad is a dead match!!!

I’m back baby!!! It has been far too long since I last reviewed Bleach. During the latter part of this previous school quarter, things got a bit hectic for me and it left me with more limited time for reviewing. As One Piece is my true manga love, I chose to limit myself to reviewing it and Bleach was put on hold till I had time to catch up. Now that I’m on winter break, I have that time, so here it is (though it is still a bit later than I would have hoped). The pics in this review come from M7 scanlations for chapters 300-303 and from Mangashare for the special chapter. As for the title pic, I know I usually use a Kubo original if available, but this cosplay photo by behindinfinity (http://behindinfinity.deviantart.com/) just made me so happy I had to use it.


300: Curse Named Love

Left Behind

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always good for a comic moment

Looking back about a month, the chapter starts off with a shinigami who, though charged with assisting Byakuya, was quickly abandoned by the speedy captain. It turns out that Hanatarou was sent with Kuchiki Taichou partly as Renji’s replacement (as Byakuya is the only captain whose vice captain was not readily available to be at his side) but more as a medical aide. Though left unnamed during this first scene of the chapter, it is already quite clear as to his identity and it is good to know that he is still the same goofy character as before. Technically, it would have been smarter to send the 4th division’s third seat (I forgot his name) as he likely had more combat prowess than the seventh seat that was sent. However, I guess with the war preparations still going on in Soul Society and with 3 captains having left and another 4 captains plus their vice-captains in Hueco Mundo, they need to keep as much upper management there as possible. In addition to that, Hanatarou has history with Ichigo’s crew and thus would be more willing to be the only non captain or vice-captain to take the very dangerous task of infiltrating Las Noches (as Rukia is clearly the best candidate for her division’s next vice-captain, she doesn’t count). I do admit though that it would have been nice to see Hanatarou actually use his zanpakuto’s ability as Kubo described it in a databook and was shown in an anime omake.


Meaningless Pride

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last time we saw him, those same words made us disilike him

The scene shifts to the main focus of Zomari and Byakuya’s duel. Zomari is trying to make sense of Byakya calling him arrogant. As he is an Espada, he considers himself as being of the same equivalent class as a shinigami captain, to which Byakuya replies that assumption is the very reason he calls the arrancar arrogant. Technically, pride or arrogance in this context would mean to imply belief in one’s skill to be equal to or greater than their opponent even before either has started to fight seriously. In that case, Byakuya is himself clearly guilty of the same pride he accuses Zomari of. However, Byakuya is not one to give much concern to that distinction and simply classifies Zomari as a lesser opponent the same way he did to Ichigo in Soul Society.


Ritual

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this will haunt my dreams after it appears in the anime

Upon seeing Byakuya’s own stubborn arrogance, Zomari decides to release his arrancar zanpakuto. As his sword’s name is Brujeria, which means witchcraft, the release procedure is quite fitting and on par with Zaerapollo’s Fornicaras in terms of creepiness (if you recall, the guy swallowed his sword). Zomari’s body contorts to awkward angles whlile his sword hangs in midair and does the same before spewing a bubbling sludge on him. After the sludge settles, he reveals what is easily the most unusual released arrancar form we have yet seen. His legs have been replaced by something resembling a powder puff and which has a number of cycloptic faces on it. Meanwhile, his body has been covered in eyes. It seems Zomari’s release is done in very much the same fashion as Neliel’s in that the appearance and abilities have nothing to do with their skills as an unreleased arrancar. As I’ve said in an earlier review, the arrancar do not have a set of skills to apply their reiatsu equivalent to a shinigami’s kidou. They basically have cero, bala, and sonido to work with. In their unreleased forms, they have little to no access to their true powers as unlike the shinigami, they do not have an intermediate release like the shinigami’s shikai. This means that they have only those select few skills to work from without releasing. Some like Neliel and Zomari learned to make the best of these skills and created new applications such as Neliel’s ability to swallow others’ cero and Zomari’s new form of sonido. However, these are merely abilities developed to cope with losing their true powers while unreleased. When released, the use of those abilities become irrelevant compared to their completely unique skill sets of their true hollow forms. Thus, Zomari’s sonido skills become irrelevant after releasing as he no longer has legs.


Sovereign

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what a winning smile

As Zomari starts to display his power, he points an eye located on his palm in Byakuya’s direction. Instinctively, Byakuya dodges to avoid an expected attack, yet none seems to come. After a bit of mocking, Zomari reveals that he has in fact made his move and has taken control of Byakuya’s left leg through the use of a sun shaped symbol created by his ability. His ability is to take control, or “sovereignty,” over other people’s limbs. In terms of combat potential, this ability seems rather weak for an Espada. From the looks of it, Aizen filled the positions from 1 to 6 with individuals who are actually quite powerful and the lesser Espada are merely those whose abilities Aizen finds intriguing or unique. We have seen the sheer power wielded by Neliel, Grimmjow, Noitora, and Ulquiorra and their combat potential is not to be questioned. However, Zaerapollo, Zomari, and Aaroniero all have abilities that are simply unique enough to let them rise higher than their inferior physical forms should technically allow. Aaroniero was the only Gillian and the other two use abilities that minimize damage to their actual bodies and instead are used to manipulate or control their opponents. Zomari’s technique is one that would be difficult for most opponents to deal with or withstand and is the reason for his inclusion into the Espada. However, his opponent this time is the worst type for him as he will quickly realize.


Power of Will

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this dude is nuts

To combat Zomari’s ability of taking sovereignty of his leg, Byakuya slashes the limb to make it useless and thus nullify its usefulness for his opponent to control. Zomari’s skill is not to manipulate freely as in moving marked parts simply through telekinesis. As he himself says, the idea is to take control of the limb from its normal commander, the body. A leg moves due to movements of the muscles and signals from the brain, so Zomari’s ability simply allows him to control the muscle movements of the marked limb. By cutting the muscles, the leg has no means to move by any natural process and thus cannot be moved by the Espada. Seeing Byakuya’s determination, Zomari chooses a new target and uses a couple eyes on his shoulder to deliver marks to Rukia’s body. However, Byakuya is still fully capable of using shunpo even with one leg deemed useless. He shields Rukia from Zomari’s eyes (but notice how the Espada opened 2 eyes in Rukia’s direction and that Byakuya had only one hand block the technique).


In the Way

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i feel bad for the kid

Renji’s temporary replacement finally arrives and offers a bit of light-hearted observation before being told by Byakuya to get out of the way. As the 4th division seventh seat is not very accustomed to combat, he is basically just in the way for Byakuya (though the captain claims in a comic moment that it is merely because Hanatarou is an eyesore). In the end, he admits that in his current condition, he cannot guarantee the shinigami medic’s safety. This comment could be interpreted a couple of ways, both of which seem to simultaneously match and contrast the personality he has displayed thus far, making it an odd comment for him to make. On one hand, it can be seen as him stating that his anger towards Zomari has increased due to the latest attack on Rukia (though Byakuya’s face never shows his changing moods) and from now on he’ll be attacking with disregard to the surroundings in order to kill the Espada. The other option is that with a leg taken out, he may not be able to get around fast enough if Zomari continues to target people other than him.


301: Shut Up & Die

Priorities

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force push!!!

Although it wasn’t really shown at the end of the last chapter, Byakuya’s hand was indeed marked as a result of shielding Rukia earlier. As Zomari tries to use that hand to make Byakuya strangle himself, the captain simply does the same thing that he did with his leg and severs the muscles to make it useless. He then uses his remaining hand to blast Rukia out of the danger zone with his kidou and tells Hanatarou to get back as well. As Zomari notices, Byakuya feels no concern over discarding the use of his own limbs. However, he doesn’t really take note of the fact that Byakuya’s only concern is getting Rukia and Hanatarou out of the way. To me this reveals how idiotically Zomari is approaching this fight. The way he is making his moves shows no anticipation that Byakuya has more up his sleeve. It may simply be that we know the nature of Byakuya’s abilities, but I think any good long range fighter should be concerned when an opponent is only concerning himself with moving allies to a safe distance. To me, this simply screams to expect a large scale long range retaliation, which Zomari doesn’t seem to consider for a moment. He is perfectly content to keep distracting Byakuya with the symbols to keep the shinigami busy at a safe distance.


True Pride

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you know not what you are saying

As I said, Zomari only seems to notice Byakuya’s willingness to sacrifice limbs without seeing any of the many hints that should truly worry him. Zomari believes Byakuya is the one being overly arrogant. He believed that at the start of the battle they were equals, so naturally, he assumes that as he is unscathed and Byakuya has lost the use of an arm and a leg, he has a clear advantage. To him, the fact that the shinigami still proclaims superiority is a sign that confirms Byakuya as the one full of false pride. However, as the Espada has made this deduction before even asking to see the shinigami’s shikai or bankai, the inferiority of this arrancar is quite clear to Byakuya.


New Target

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oh! now i hate this guy

Zomari then reveals the true nature of his eyes. Each one is capable of gaining control over a single thing. However, if one is attached to the head, he gains control over the entire body of the person. He used two eyes before and while one attached to Byakuya’s arm, the other attached to Rukia’s head. However, this brings up a very concerning question. If he can gain control of a person’s entire body by attaching a symbol to the head, why didn’t he do so to Byakuya (or Hanatarou) and end this quickly. If he could really take full control of any opponent by attaching a symbol to their head, it would easily be a skill most worthy of an Espada as it would be quite unavoidable. He had already shown that the technique works fast enough and stealthily enough to mark even Byakuya quite easily, so he could have just as easily put that mark on the head as he did the hand and foot. I at first I thought maybe he could only use this on unconscious minds, but I don’t think so. His intention in this fight now is to knock down Byakuya’s immense pride. Due to his ability taking control of the effected area by replacing the thing above it that controls it, doing so to the brain would mean replacing the person’s conscious thought, which would mean if he controlled Byakuya, the shinigami would be unconscious for the whole event, which is not what this arrogant Espada wants.


Sealed

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that looked a bit more painful on Renji

When Zomari uses his power to force Rukia to raise he blade to her own neck, Byakuya drops his sword and activates his favorite bakudou, rikujou kourou, to seal Rukia’s movement and thus stop Zomari’s influence on her. I realize now that up till now I have misinterpreted how this bakudou works. Due to the shape of it and how it sticks into the target, I assumed that it simply acted likes a series of stakes to pin a person to a specific position and prevent the person from moving from that specific location. As that is all that was really required from them when used against Renji, that way of thinking seemed logical at the time. Instead, it seems to actually work to prevent movement altogether. Otherwise it would be a useless technique to use in this situation as a mere inch movement from Rukia’s hand could slice her throat. The fact that they are not solid stake-like objects as previously thought is clearly shown by the fact that Rukia’s arms are phasing through them.


Unleashed

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good luck with that dude

With Rukia safely kept from harming herself within Byakuya’s bakudou (but Hanatarou still left bleeding on the floor) the shinigami captain begins his counterattack by skipping shikai and going straight to bankai. As Senbonzakura Kageyoshi’s countless blades spin around the Espada, he clings to the hope that with his power he can control all the blades. However, Byakuya correctly points out that while Zomari’s eyes count only fifty eyes, so if each eye can only control one thing, the thought of controlling these millions of blades is preposterous. All of Byakuya’s claims of superiority are confirmed to Zomari in this instant as he realizes how much he underestimated this opponent. Byakuya’s pride was not just puffery and this loss was as much his own fault for underestimating a shinigami captain as it was due to the vast difference in power Byakuya said from the beginning existed.


302: Pride on the Blade

Sphere of Destruction

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it looks like a big jawbreaker

Though it was used at the end of the previous chapter, the Goukei form of Senbonzakura Kageyoushi is explained a bit as the story backtracks slightly to before the blow actually connects. In fitting with the other forms of his bankai revealed in the fight with Ichigo, this too is labeled a type of “scene” and is representative of the form’s function. In the earlier fight, senkei (scene of a massacre) formed the millions of tiny blades into a high wall of swords, thus abandoning the ability to defend with the bankai and offering its full power to destruction. Goukei (pivotal scene) is in reference to a dramatic turning of the tides in this battle. The technique surrounds Zomari in an orb of sakura petal blades that in a single instant cut the enemy from every single angle. Compared to the other forms of the bankai, this one seems more deadly as it offers no chance to dodge. However, the use of this technique is actually more limited than it seems. Against opponents that are fast enough to parry each blade rather than dodge like Ichigo, it would be quite easy to come out unscathed. In addition, opponents with high defensive shielding abilities could survive as each blade is relatively weak on its own (I’m guessing Hitsugaya would be fine for the most part by merely shielding his body with his wings). The use of this form as opposed to the more powerful senkei is that the flurry of sakura petals shields Byakuya, Rukia, and Hanatarou from Zomari’s sight. There is no doubt that when he realizes he cannot control all the blades, he’ll become desperate and try to control something as a hostage. While immersed in the pink blades, he can do nothing but realize how screwed he is.


Survival

http://img502.imageshack.us/img502/400/13aci3.png
try diagnosing a person bleeding from fifty eyes and attacked by sakura petals

Fortunately for Zomari, it turns out that despite his indirect fighting style while released, he does in fact bear a defensive ability capable of at least allowing him to survive Byakuya’s onslaught. By submerging himself inside his lower body powder puff, he was able to avoid being killed by the many blades. Being that his entire offensive capability lies in an indirect skill while released and on a speed technique while unreleased, I doubt his defensive power even when hidden within his lower body can be that significant. The only reason he survived is because the cutting power of Byakuya’s petals was weak compared to a full blade. Even so, the attack did still do quite a bit of damage and if you’ll notice, the blood seems to be coming from each of the many now blank eyes on his body but from what we can see, he does not to seem to bear actual scars or slash marks nor is he coughing up any blood. My guess is that the damage he sustained was more due to the overstressing of his eyes rather than actual damage to his body. Even though he only has fifty eyes, he is still an Espada with very fast reaction time. If his defensive power is as insignificant as I assume, he likely survived from a combination of hiding in his shell and using his eyes to deflect petals and quickly change to a new target petal to do the same. Of course all of this is theoretical and with basically zero chance of confirmation, but it explains why only his eyes seem affected after the attack.


Untouchable

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thats a convenient skill

With most of his eyes now out of commission, Zomari reveals a set of eight more on his forehead with which he attempts to use his ability once more on Byakuya. Unfortunately for him, Byakuya has discovered a flaw in the technique. The ability is similar to kidou and so is effected by outside interference the same way kidou is. By using bakudou #81, Dankuu, Byakuya erects a shield that blocks all hadou techniques of class #89 and lower, effectively nullifying Zomari’s ability. It makes sense that Zomari’s skill would be classed as being like kidou. Although the hollows or arrancar have no set of skills that are equivalent to the shinigami’s hadou or bakudou, the basic properties of their powers and reiatsu are similar to a shinigami’s and their true hollow powers can be likened to a shinigami’s zanpakuto powers. Since a shinigami’s zanpakuto can be classed as being a kidou type weapon that uses kidou skills beyond the regular hadou or bakudou abilities, it is not unusual that a hollow’s abilities would bear the same properties of merely being kidous outside the normal set.


Hollow Cries

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do you realize who your audience is?

With his only really effective weapon made useless, Zomari starts to lose it and desperately tries to make the technique work despite the clear futility. Blinded by this desperation, he fails to notice as Byakuya steps behind him and puts his blade to the hollow’s throat. In the end, the arrancar submits and begs for mercy, thus making all his earlier pledges of being a shinigami captain’s equal null and void. However, when he sees that Byakuya has no intention of offering forgiveness, the Espada starts to rant about how unfair the roles of hollow and shinigami are. Having seen that Byakuya’s own personal pride as a warrior surpasses his own, he clings to the idea that the very existence and role of shinigami is in itself a declaration of their arrogant pride. All the composure he held at the start of the fight is lost as he rambles on about how shinigami had no right to claim the role of protecting humans and slaying hollows. As he has lost his own pride, he wants his final moments to at least take pride in something. He believes that it is hollows and not shinigami that are the lesser sinners. To him, shinigami have overstepped the bounds of their reason for being in taking on roles that were not for them to decide. In his mind, hollows are without sin because they merely do what they were created to do in eating human souls.


Cost of Arrogance

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that was relatively quick

While Neliel is proof that there is a chance for coexistence between shinigami and hollow, Zomari seriously picked the wrong person to make his argument to. To Byakuya, this fight was never about defeating hollows for the noble cause of the shinigami. To him, this fight was all about Zomari raising his blade to Rukia. Although we know Byakuya does care very deeply for Rukia and it is clear that her safety was the reason he left Hanatarou behind to reach Zomari as fast as possible, he has up till now given us a very different definition of his pride. Due to the context of the words between him and Zomari, he seemed to define his pride the same way as he did against Ichigo; that a lesser individual could not hope to reach his level. However, in the instant of defeating Zomari, he makes it crystal clear to the reader that his true pride is Rukia. Pride is more than just the confidence that one person is better than another. To take true pride in something is to place a value on it greater than your own life. For Byakuya, up until fighting Ichigo, that was his status as a shinigami and a noble. However, he has softened on the inside and realized that Rukia is the one thing he values greater than any other existence in his life. In raising a sword to Rukia not once but twice, Zomari had threatened something that meant more to Byakuya than a leg, an arm, his status, or even his life. All his talk of Zomari being overly prideful was in reference to him having the arrogance to threaten that valued existence and expect anything other than relentless retribution.


New Aid

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Blarg! i wanted to see her skills

As Zomari boils away screaming his praises to Aizen, it is revealed that 4th division vice-captain Isane had arrived at the tail end of the fight. Upon feeling Hanatarou’s reiatsu fade when Rukia slashed him, Unohana sent her to take his place as the medical aide at Byakuya’s side. Unfortunately, as Isane is now with the very powerful Byakuya, my hope of seeing her combat skills in action are severely diminished from the already small chance they had beforehand. Had Unohana gone herself, I could hope for some teamwork from her, Chad, and Gantenbien possibly as the arrancar decide to prey on a group not being guarded by a captain. It does make sense though that Isane was sent rather than Unohana. While the group that needs to be healed over by Byakuya consists of only shinigami, which the 4th division is accustomed to treating, the two that the division heads first came across are an arrancar and a unique human with a hollow-like reiatsu. As I doubt even Unohana has had any experience in these types of patients (except Chad during Soul Society, but his powers were not so developed back then), the treatment would be too much for Isane to handle and so she was sent to heal Rukia and Hanatarou.


303: Dumdum-Dummy-Dumbstruck

New Toy

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he looks almost cute as a little doll

With Byakuya’s duel out of the way, the scene shifts over to Mayuri and Zaerapollo. As the Espada holds a new doll of Mayuri, the captain is on his knees coughing up blood. Compared to Byakuya’s fearless face while calmly severing his own tissue, Mayuri’s performance thus far at first seems somewhat pathetic. Zaerapollo didn’t waste time with the lesser abilities he had already used on Ishida and Renji. He went straight to the use of the voodoo doll. However, as Mayuri has not even drawn his zanpakuto, it is quite clear that he has not taken this fight seriously whatsoever. I doubt he simply stood and took the techniques from Zaerapollo or it would be all too obvious that he, as a captain class fighter, was not fighting seriously. He probably fought with some body modifications like he did in the Ishida fight, but due to his new appearance, these modifications have likely changed. Unfortunately, Kubo seems to have skipped past any scenes where we could see what they are. We can only assume that they were mostly for show. Their function in this fight was merely to give the appearance of a captain class fighting ability.


A Joke

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who says being a captain isn't fun and games?

As Zaerapollo celebrates his apparent victory over a shinigami captain, Mayuri’s expression quickly changes to a rather silly face. The purpose of the comical face is basically to mock the Espada for being stupid enough to think he had won. Enraged, Zaerapollo crushes the whole bottle full of pills, but other than a bit of coughing up blood, the captain is completely fine. This fight is nothing more than a joke to Mayuri. He intentionally aggravates Zaerapollo by showing off how useless all the Espada’s power is but holding back on the explanation of how. As I have said many times before, the big difference between these two as scientists is that while Zaerapollo enjoys the end result of knowing his advantage over his opponents after experimentation, Mayuri enjoys the process of experimentation itself. Zaerapollo uses his intelligence to figure out his opponents’ techniques and form counter-techniques outside of battle so that he can smugly establish superiority in a fight. If anything occurs during the battle that did not fall into his calculations, he panics and gets frustrated and stupid. Mayuri on the other hand remains calm up until the point where he actually seems to be about to lose. He views the entire battle as part of the experiment and any unexpected events are to him just new things to test out.


Tired of Playing

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Hahaha!!! Zaer loses at life

Enraged by his own apparent failure to figure out how Mayuri is nullifying his ability, Zaerapollo keeps stomping the now crumbled Mayuri doll and the pills inside it while all that seems to happen to the shinigami is that his clothes get a bit torn from the effects on the doll’s outer shell. After questioning Mayuri directly about the ability being used, the captain claims it was no ability. He’s just tired of pretending to feel the effects of the voodoo doll. Zaerapollo’s fixation on figuring out the details of enemy techniques automatically led him to assume that whatever caused the effects of his powers to stop being useful was a defensive skill activated by Mayuri. It also didn’t help that his own arrogance would not allow him to accept the fact that it was Mayuri who was toying with him this entire time rather than the other way around. As I said, Zaerapollo likes to figure out all the details of an opponent before a fight or at the beginning so that he can prepare himself for any eventuality. The only thing that scares and insults him more than an opponent unleashing a technique he couldn’t predict is that the opponent could have possibly figured out his techniques before he could figure out theirs. The latter is exactly what happened in this case.


Beaten at His Own Game

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I-"so you saw me ALL the time?" M-"Yes, and you should be ashamed"

To explain how Mayuri was able to survive Zaerapollo’s techniques, we are taken back to his fight with Ishida during the Soul Society arc. Even though Ishida won the fight, Mayuri had managed to infect the Quincy’s body with observatory bacteria that monitored all his actions afterward. With the bacteria, he was able to view the battle up till now and in preparation, replaced all his organs, effectively making Zaerapollo’s technique utterly useless. It is at this moment that Zaerapollo is forced to realize how out of his league Mayuri is as a scientist. The shinigami has pulled off Zaerapollo’s own strategies and surpassed them. The use of bacteria on Ishida should seem familiar as Zaerapollo did basically the same thing with his brother, Ilforte. The difference between these two instances is that while Zaerapollo was forced to wait until Ilforte had died to extract these data-collecting microbes, Mayuri was able to make full use of his version secretly while they were still inside a living host. In addition to this, Mayuri was also capable of analyzing the acquired info and creating a quite elaborate counter strategy in a time frame that for Zaerapollo is deemed impossible. After this, it is quite clear to see who is superior as a researcher (and who is more insane).


Useless Hostage

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that shot REALLY showcases just how short Nemu's skirt is

Just like Zomari in the previous fight, when faced with a completely futile situation, desperation takes control of Zaerapollo. He grabs Nemu with a tentacle in an attempt to take a hostage and gain an advantage over his opponent. However, as Nemu correctly points out to him, she is not valuable enough to her captain to be an effective hostage. Nothing seems to have changed in the relationship between these two heads of the 12th division. Mayuri still has no concern over her well being during the fight and she is still more than willing to sacrifice herself so that her captain can win. However, in Zaerapollo’s desperation, he doesn’t want to hear anything that leads to his defeat and simply yells at her to shut up. As Mayuri has heard more than enough from both Zaerapollo and Nemu, he finally decides to end the battle and pulls out Ashisogi Jizou.


Not Enough Time

http://img502.imageshack.us/img502/4913/23afn5.png
...why exactly does the giant catapillar baby have a cape?

Rather than toy with the Espada for a while with his shikai release, Mayuri jumps straight to bankai. As it is most likely the largest bankai form of any of the shinigami captains’ zanpakuto, it is understandable that Zaerapollo feels quite intimidated by its presence. Immediately, the gargantuan head begins to spew its viral toxic gas, which is quickly recognized by the Espada. As a scientist, he knows he is fully capable of countering it to save himself, but as Mayuri points out, that is only if he has the time to do it. With these words, Konjiki Ashisogi Jizou charges forward to crush the Espada. Here, Zaerapollo is forced to face a double dose of humiliation and fear as he realizes Mayuri’s superiority. He has to face that he is too slow to come up with a cure for the virus before he is crushed by the massive creature. In addition to this, he panics like he always does when faced with unforeseen circumstances and is thus slower still in his analysis. In the end, he appears to be crushed under the weight of Mayuri’s giant golden beast. While Zomari’s fight with Byakuya took a few chapters, this fight was rather quick. Kubo had already drawn Zaerapollo’s role in the story long enough. It was time for his part to be brought to a swift end.


Special: Death in the Ice Field

Dream

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Go, Shiro-chan!!!

It seems this past week, Kubo has decided to take a break from the regular storyline and instead give us a background chapter for Hitsugaya in anticipation for the new Bleach movie. If the manga author is using up a week of his time to make a canon chapter in celebration of a movie, it must be good. Although most of the time, events in movies and filler anime are taken as non-canon material, the fact that Kubo seems to be setting up the events of the movie with some untold past for Hitsugaya from his solo journey might give it a significant amount of credibility as compared to other similar works. Either way, I can’t wait to see it.


The Day She Left

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what a lovely face to wake up to

The special chapter starts off with Hitsugaya dreaming on the day Hinamori left for the shinigami academy. In the dream, he is in a frigid plain and hears a voice calling to him that is powerful and fearsome yet unthreatening and familiar. It ends with his death on that ice plain, though the shock of that comment is contrasted with his ever present lack of emotion and concern. Apparently he has had this recurring dream for a while but has paid little attention to it. He simply casts it aside as Hinamori wakes him and brings him into the daytime. He doesn’t let it or the fact that Hinamori is leaving that day affect his normal cold demeanor. Both are things that would cause most people to at least show some emotion of fear or sadness. Recurring dreams that foretell one’s own death is a matter that most people would classify as a nightmare and would install a sense of fear in the person. Similarly, having one’s best friend leave him is usually met with tears rather than insults. This is simply to show that before becoming a shinigami, Toshiro’s personality was even colder than it is at the present day. This is mostly because during that time, he did not allow himself to be honest with his emotions.


Fear the Unusual

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"I'm so ronry..."

While yelling his final insult to Hinamori as his own form of “goodbye,” Toshiro takes notice of a couple boys from the house next door who fear him. While he has done nothing intentionally to make them scared of him, his unusual white hair and his generally cold personality make him seem quite unapproachable to the children who live near him. The only people around who do not feel this way about him are Hinamori and his granny (unrelated most likely). While his cold personality allows him to easily shrug off the fact that he is disliked and distrusted by the populace, he clearly is greatly appreciative of the fact that those two women have accepted him (though he finds it more difficult to admit that fact to Hinamori). I said earlier that the reason he is colder at this point than as his present self is because he did not admit his feelings to himself and these two are the reason why. Knowing he is unwelcome to other people, he instinctively clings to those who do care about him and above all fears losing them. He wants things to stay exactly as they are because in truth he is afraid of what life would be like if he was to somehow lose both Hinamori and his granny.


Time Passed

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there's a reason why he shares a VA with Edward Elric in the anime

The scene shifts to five years later. In fitting with his ideal, Toshiro has remained completely unchanged in his attitude or height. His granny though has shriveled a great deal to a quite frail form. From his comment on Hinamori finding a goal for herself, we can assume this is around the time that she began her obsession with Aizen, which has caused her to stop by less frequently. Though Hinamori is around less and his granny’s weakened body threatens that it will give out soon, he still remains happy that he still has them around, though those factors are likely causing a fear of losing them to build up within him. As always though, he ignores this fear and doesn’t admit it even to himself.


Close Encounter

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if you could choose a method of being knocked out, what would it be?

In an effort to be helpful to his granny, he goes to buy some food. When the man at the counter acts rudely towards Toshiro by slamming the change down, we hear the voice of another familiar face. The event marks the first meeting of Hitsugaya and Matsumoto and this meeting is one that is quite deserving of the nosebleed Toshiro receives afterward. Then in a quite ironic moment, Matsumoto scolds Toshiro for simply taking the abuse from the salesman. As Toshiro responds in his very first of many arguments with his future subordinate, Rangiku for some reason is surprised and loosens her grip on the boy. From the later events of the chapter, I assume this is because she sensed the immensity of the reiatsu coming from him and was simply taken aback.


Form Revealed

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TROGDOR!!!

After running from Matsumoto, the scene shifts once again to Toshiro’s dreams that night. However, this time the dream is different. This time he is not alone on the ice plain. He is joined by a gigantic winged ice dragon that is the source of the powerful voice he has up till now only been able to hear without seeing its origin. We know this to be the true form of his zanpakuto, Hyorinmaru, but at the time, he had no knowledge of its identity. Similar to Ichigo’s first interactions with Zangetsu’s true form within his own inner world, Hyorinmaru attempts to tell Toshiro his name but as the young boy is not yet mentally ready to accept his fate, the name is left unheard to his ears. However, despite the fearsome appearance of the dragon, Toshiro’s curiosity to know the name of this figure that has haunted his dreams surpasses the natural instinct to run from such an immense beast. Despite the prediction of his own death in previous dreams and the thunderous quality of Hyorinmaru’s voice, on a subconscious level Toshiro knows not to fear it and thus keeps trying to ask its identity.


Sleeping Power

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yet another lovely face to wake up to

Before he can obtain any of the answers he sought from Hyorinmaru, he wakes up to find Matsumoto standing over him. She sensed his immense reiatsu and found her way to his house. Apparently, while he slept, he had unconsciously released his icy reiatsu, which severely lowered the temperature of the house and if it had gone on much longer could have killed his granny. I would not be in the least bit surprised if her weight loss over the past five years could be attributed to the physical stress of surviving the nights while Toshiro released his icy reiatsu. She cares deeply for the boy and as long as he was happy living there with her, she did not want to burden him with the knowledge that his own unconscious power was killing her. Matsumoto suggests that he become a shinigami so that he can learn to control his immense power. When he at first begins to protest, she describes the voice calling to him as a sign of their inner power. She makes him understand that it is that voice that marks those destined to become shinigami and that coming to understand that voice is the key to tapping his true potential.


Reaching for Answers

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what a sweet old lady

The next morning, Toshiro tells his granny that he intends to become a shinigami, to which she gives her full support. Her greatest happiness is to see Toshiro follow his dreams and be happy himself. His decision to heed Matsumoto’s words go against his earlier intention of trying to leave his happiness in living with his granny unchanged, but there are two main factors that precipitated this huge change in his character. First of all, there is the realization that it was his very presence that was causing his granny to fade away. Though he loved living with her, he could not live with himself he his unharnessed power one day caused her to die. The second reason is that he had found in Matsumoto another person who did not fear him. Her words to him were not out of fear of his power or anger at his unintentional actions, but as a suggestion from one concerned friend to another to genuinely aid in the other’s well being. Toshiro has had so few people up till now who actually gave a damn about his well being that having a complete stranger actually offer him caring words touched him. After her words, he realized that becoming a shinigami was the best way to show his appreciation for all those who cared for him. For his granny, it is a way to save her from the fate of death at his own hands. For Hinamori, it is a way to prove that he too is moving on with life and growing. For Matsumoto, it is the first instance of him showing his complete trust in her despite their clashing personalities. Finally, it is the best road for himself as going down that road is what he knows will lead him to the identity of the ice dragon and ultimately himself.


Overall

Blarg!!! Remind me to avoid reviews of this size in the future. I do enjoy reviewing but when it gets this long it becomes a tad bit tedious. Oh well. It’s done now. As for the normal plot of chapters 300-303, I must admit the fights were not that stellar compared to many others we have seen. They are merely there to build up tension to get us really excited for the Zaraki fight, which I’m expecting to be out of this world. As for the special chapter, I think it was nice to get a bit more back story on one of my favorite shinigami captains (but Ukitake is still my overall fav by far. When do we get HIS special chapter?). It really has me pumped for the upcoming movie even though it will still be quite a while after its release that those outside Japan will actually get to see it.

Serpent
December 19, 2007, 06:50 AM
yey mega review tks a lot it was great :spaz

fenix2012
December 19, 2007, 12:37 PM
Good point there Sahugani maybe in the future movies we will get to see more background on other captains (Yamamato perhaps :)).Once again Great review.
p.s so the movie will be out (subbed) by the end of this summer??

Sarmad
December 19, 2007, 04:49 PM
Great Review! I enjoyed it ;)

I was just wondering, when is that damn Ulquiorra coming back? ^^ He's still missing

pirate-hitman:L
December 19, 2007, 06:23 PM
It's probably only been an hour. Two more hours...

sahugani
December 20, 2007, 03:27 AM
thanks guys

@fenix2012 - i'd love to get more history on every one of the captains (preferably Ukitake though). i doubt this will become a regular thing for the movies though. as for when to expect it to be available to us, i don't know but that time frame sounds about right

@sarmad - you're right. we haven't seen that bastard for a while have we. he probably won't come out until after Noitora is all wrapped up though

@pirate-hitman:L - i think that time frame is about right. i don't have my Bleach library with me here to confirm it though

maaru
December 20, 2007, 09:01 AM
Yay, you're back!! >_< although I got another moment of (*^%#WTF when you posted that cosplay pic because we know that Chad in person, and we make fun of that particular cosplay of his. You'll know who to blame if we manage to get him to pose in a sombrero with a taco.

Back to topic, I think the recent chapters sure are pretty charged, but it looks like the Syazel fight isn't over yet. I think it also builds up in the way that the Kenpachi fight could be very pivotal to this arc, or whatever happens after it, since there's pretty much only five of the Espada's gonna be left standing, and anything could happen.

sahugani
December 20, 2007, 01:40 PM
@maaru - hahaha!!! if you can, please get me that sombrero and taco pic. as for the actual chapter, i agree that the Kenpachi fight will be very pivotal though its hard to tell at this point what direction it will take afterwards. as for only having 5 Espada left, notice how its the top 4 plus #10. if Yami doesn't die at the hands of a hero soon, he'll likely be deemed useless and killed by his own side

Stone
December 21, 2007, 06:40 PM
Quite the read, and as always enjoyable.

Good thing you're keeping on placing in small Pictures with some text, else this would had been way to much in one go to read.

Looking forward to read more reviews from you

igotthegoods
December 23, 2007, 08:02 PM
thanks for a great review, as always. i love that you put a little humor into your reviews with your pics and captions, especially with the outside references to things like team america and strong bad :thumbs

i agree with your overall assessment of these chapters. the main story chapters were not the most exciting for me either. i love that you pointed out that zomari could have simply taken control of byakuya's head and made him kill himself. that's exactly what i thought when i read it! of course, doing so would not have been good for the story and the whole arrogance theme that they had going. anyway, i'm also on the edge of my seat waiting for the zaraki/nnoitra showdown, as i'm sure most bleach fans are. it's gonna be sweet :)

HunterX7
December 26, 2007, 01:41 PM
I was totally blown away by that review. I can't really imagine just how much time and effort you put into this. Thx for this great work because your reviews really give me some more insight into the story! :)

Sealed Melody
December 28, 2007, 09:14 AM
While your reviews are a pleasure to read, especially when they are in this magnitude, i think i prefer to have you back weekly. Thank goodness you're back! I was thinking of making my own reviews and see if i can fare, but of course, the entire fandom was saved by my lousy reviews just by your return.

You have again provide us with insights that inspire us and make us understand the manga more. Kudos.

Words fail to describe just how much i revel in just seeing your reviews again, and while you may feel obligated to review every single week, do not pressure yourself. Enjoy the manga immensely, just like how you had implied in each in every review of yours. While some may not express it, we just love your efforts.

Well, i agree that Zomari is pretty much very careless in his fight against Byakuya, and that Byakuya had somewhat deserved to wim just because he was underestimated. This is the first time that Byakuya was seen to be looked down upon, previously, Ganju and Ichigo goad him with challenges instead of underestimate him. Looks like he fared well in rising up to the ocassion.

As much as i wanted to see the captains fight better opponents, like the ones ranking top, but i had a feeling that it will be saved for the very last battles. This is good considering that i think Bleach had much room to develop, and that ending in abruption seemed as unlikely as it will be unsightly.

I'm very much in anticipation for the Nnoitra/Kenpachi fight. Let's see.

dedal_x
December 31, 2007, 04:53 AM
Mayuri's BanKai is clearly not he largest of Captain's. Remember Komamura, don't you?