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sahugani
January 20, 2008, 07:46 PM
Sahugani’s Bleach Review 305-306

http://img248.imageshack.us/img248/6297/mayurivsszayelbyshiroifju9.jpg (http://shiroifushicho.deviantart.com/art/Mayuri-Vs-Szayel-74529372)
there are no words to describe my joyous reaction to this piece

Hi everybody!!! It’s been a while huh? I’m trying to use this three day weekend to catch up on some things and it’d just be wrong if I didn’t include Bleach in that list. In other news, I’m currently in a search for more stand-up comedy so if you have any you’d like to recommend, tell me in my meet the mods (http://mangahelpers.com/forums/showthread.php?t=9246) thread. The pics in this week’s review come from the M7 scanlation for 305 and the Binktopia scanlation for 306. The title pic is a masterpiece made by shiroifushicho (http://shiroifushicho.deviantart.com/), so be sure to check out the rest of his gallery later.


305: The Rising Phoenix

Perfect Being

http://img248.imageshack.us/img248/8306/1azj4.png
i don't think phoenix wings have those drippy parts like yours

At the end of the last chapter, we saw one more gruesome reason why Fornicarus got its name as with its power, Szayel actually impregnated himself within Nemu and used her life energy to rebirth himself. Now he is once again standing at full health while she lies on the ground withered and near death. Szayel describes this as a cycle of life that is in essence a form of immortality and likens himself to a phoenix. In many ways this symbolic reference is quite accurate. A phoenix will die and be reduced to ash only to later rise once again from his ashes in his full glory. Similarly, Szayel’s ability allows him to rebirth himself to his exact form at peak condition. This also gives some explanation as to why his released form bears wing shaped extensions as they are part of a weak attempt to mimic this symbolic reference. He believes so strongly in his likeness to the firebird of mythology that he believes himself to be immortal and untouchable. By simply letting a piece of himself infect his opponent secretly, he can not only live again, but take out the enemy in the process. However, as I do so deeply love the mythology surrounding the phoenix, I must poke some holes in his claim. First of all, the phoenix rises from its own ashes and uses its own magic to do so. It was no mere parasite that used another’s strength to remake itself. The biggest difference though (that kind of foreshadows what will happen) is that a true phoenix will build its own funeral pyre and burns itself to ashes when it dies of old age. It does not use resurrection as a way to cheat an untimely death but a way to rekindle a flame that had faded out naturally. If he does not live out a full life, he does not deserve the right to true resurrection.


False Prophet

http://img248.imageshack.us/img248/6616/2auk6.png
he might be a tiny bit cocky here

On another note, there is one more obvious reference to his resurrection on the cover page that Christians can identify pretty clearly. Szayel is mimicking Jesus on the crucifix and the lines Kubo provides on the cover clearly show the intention of this mimicry. He compares Szayel’s vices to Jesus’s virtues and points out that even without God’s blessing Szayel has performed resurrection. I doubt this has any intention of mocking the Christian faith but is instead used as a tool to showcase Szayel’s immense arrogance and to show his basic outlook that becomes critical during the course of this chapter. Basically, this is a way to show that he believes he has surpassed the powers of God with his science. Resurrection is without a doubt one of the greatest miracles of Christian mythology and is something that up until now has been considered a power wielded by Him alone. As Szayel has created a way to rebirth himself every time he dies, he believes he has mastered an art that was supposed to be impossible for lower beings. The basic gist of Kubo’s notes are that Szayel, a being of pure vice, has no need of the virtues Jesus embodied in order to obtain the powers of God.


Curiosity

http://img248.imageshack.us/img248/5641/3asz9.png
there's that winning smile

After a bit of staring, Mayuri goes to Nemu’s side. If one didn’t know Mayuri well like Szayel, it would be easy to assume he is showing compassion for his injured subordinate. She is clearly still alive and offers her apology to Mayuri for her being in this now useless state. Szayel wrongly assumes Mayuri is feeling guilty that she is in her current state and continues to mock the two of them in an effort to antagonize the shinigami captain. Unfortunately for him, Mayuri’s only reason for going to Nemu was to inspect the ability Szayel just showed off. His interest is now piqued and he asks to see more. Up until now all of Szayel’s abilities have been seen through quite quickly by Mayuri and were easily countered, making them instantly boring. Mayuri is always looking for new projects to analyze and figure out, so when Szayel finally pulls out an ability that Mayuri didn’t expect, it is like Christmas day for the creepy scientist. He asks like a greedy child if his opponent has any more unique abilities to show off. This talk is half serious and half mocking as he is indeed trying to pull more techniques out of Szayel, but doesn’t really expect much out of a scientist who is arrogant enough to claim perfection. Szayel on the other hand is thoroughly irked by the fact that Mayuri is having so much fun. His entire purpose in perfecting his abilities is to make others realize his superiority over them and enjoys the look of despair they get when faced with his control over them and his apparent immortality. The fact that Mayuri is enjoying himself is an insult to that superiority.


Discarded

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eew!!! baby made a mess

Though still pissed at Mayuri, Szayel decides to give in to the shinigami’s request and takes control of Konjiki Ashisogi Jizo. Apparently after anything eats his body, the cells of his corpse will take control of the thing’s nervous system, allowing him to control it completely. He makes a point of mentioning that he has successfully obtained full control of Mayuri’s bankai without even obtaining data from it. While this is intended to prove his own scientific superiority over Mayuri (basically “I can infer more with less information”), the shinigami quickly shows the flaw in that manner of thinking. He has already modified his bankai to self destruct if it ever became victim to mind control. Once again Mayuri has proven himself to be one step ahead of every technique Szayel has in his arsenal. The only thing the Espada has going for him is his “immortality,” which is the one thing Mayuri had apparently not been able to counter. Still, he believes that alone will be enough to pull him through to win this match, so he is still rather calm.


The New Drug

http://img248.imageshack.us/img248/2672/5ayu6.png
haha!!! you fail at life

Unfortunately for Szayel, it seems Mayuri had indeed been able to counter the “resurrection” as well. Mayuri had already implanted Nemu with a large number of drugs so that if she was ever eaten or invaded, the opponent would obtain large doses of the drugs to which their body is not accustomed. The one that Mayuri figures has been applied to Szayel is a drug that induces the hypersensory feeling of warriors that are clashing swords. This increase in the person’s sensory speeds creates a sense of slowed time. In the natural experiences of this sensation, the feeling is momentary and simply allows the person to experience slowed time so they can take in their surroundings more effectively, making it easier to see incoming attacks and in general being a good thing for battle. However, this drug multiples the effect many times over. It causes this sensation to remain for an extended time and makes the sensation extremely powerful. For Szayel, one second in real time feels like 100 years to him. Unfortunately, his body cannot keep up with this sensory speed and is actually slowed down as his brain is overloaded and finds difficulty in processing motor skills. In reality, Mayuri piercing Szayel’s heart does mark the Espada’s death. I don’t think Mayuri explained things very clearly as it is easy to misinterpret his words as meaning that Szayel will remain standing there on the verge of death for 100 years. What really occurs is that Szayel is dying in real time, but experiences the few seconds of Mayuri piercing his heart over the span of a hundred years from his own slowed down perspective.


306: Not Perfect is Good

Szayel’s Agony

http://img248.imageshack.us/img248/3947/6axg0.png
i don't envy him

We backtrack slightly to Szayel’s thoughts in the instants before he dies, which to him seem like decades. Although we see his face withered, it is important to note that that is just a mental image of himself and not reality. In reality, he dies in his youthful form right in front of Mayuri. However, as the simple act of moving his eyes would take years from his perspective, he cannot see what he truly looks like. All he feels is the slow passing of time and the pain of Mayuri’s blade piercing him. Due to this, he feels like centuries have passed and so imagines himself as an old man. This is the flaw with his phoenix symbolism. As I said, a true phoenix lives out its life fully and then chooses the time of his own death and rebirth. Szayel is now forced to live through what seems like centuries lacking the power to end his own suffering and with no hope of resurrecting himself at his life’s end.


Perfection’s Flaws

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parents shouldn't claim their kid is perfect. the kid will only be disappointed later

With Szayel standing still and unable to save himself from his own final moments of life, Mayuri explains to him the error in claiming a perfect existence. Perfection is an impossible concept because there is always something that can be changed for the better and always some flaw that can be exploited. People seek it out because it offers them a chance to make them feel superior to their presently imperfect lives. If perfection was ever indeed reached, there would be no need for curiosity and this life would have no meaning. This is especially true for scientists. Mayuri points out that perfection would render men like Szayel and himself obsolete as with no mysteries left to question, there is no need for the men whose purpose is to question them. The entire purpose of a scientist is to explore the endless number of unanswerable questions and try to answer them. A new question is simply a new opportunity for a scientist to utilize his craft. This explanation from Mayuri perfectly explains his philosophy on science. I have said many times over that the process of experimentation and not the result is the part of the scientific process that he really enjoys the most. This is because once the result is obtained, the question is answered and there is no mystery left. Once that is the case, to expand one’s knowledge, a new mystery must be explored and the old one has no more use.


Loose Ends

http://img248.imageshack.us/img248/1744/8aci9.png
the fact that she's blushing doesn't help

Mayuri leaves Szayel standing up in death and breaks off his sword rather than removing it. While it could be seen as leaving Szayel to rot with the blade still piercing his heart, in all actuality, this is simply Mayuri punishing his sword for attacking him. After leaving the standing corpse, he notices something and calls Nemu over, but soon realizes that she is still suffering from Szayel’s technique. With some off camera sights and sounds that completely disgust Ishida and Renji, Nemu is restored to her former self. While we are not told exactly what happened, the nature of the sounds and Ishida’s reaction to what he thinks happened seems to imply some very dark and disturbing deeds that are wrong in so many ways that I’d rather not get into it. The really bad thing is that I actually start to think about it and given the fact that she is cloned from his genetic material, her recovery actually starts to make a tiny bit of sense. I can handle yaoi, but this is just a new level of creepy. That said, even after the battle is over, Mayuri has proven that he is not only the better scientist of the two, but he is also the creepiest by far.


Ignored

http://img248.imageshack.us/img248/7261/9akp3.png
they weren't all that useful were they

Moving on from that episode of icky, the newly revived Nemu summons immense strength to obliterate the rubble covering Mayuri’s discovery. In the process of clearing it, they come across Pessche and Dondo Chakka, who are still as energetic as ever. However, before Pesshe can finish talking, he is interrupted by Nemu apparently trying to strike him. He assumes that they are being mistaken for enemies due to the fact that they are hollows. In reality, they are simply standing amongst the rubble that must be cleared and so Nemu is instructed to clear them along with it. They are of little interest to Mayuri as they are failures amongst the hollow specimens to begin with. What he is searching for at the moment is of much greater interest to him.


Mayuri’s Treasure

http://img248.imageshack.us/img248/9906/10apr2.png
only he'd get giddy at corpses in a storage room

As the rubble is finally cleared, it is revealed that Mayuri’s true goal was a room that has remained standing even after the immense destruction. He explains to Ishida that even an inferior scientist like Szayel is smart enough to make a room for storage of his specimens strong enough to withstand any amount of force. After all, the specimens are the most critical instruments a scientist possesses. The general tools of the trade can always be rebuilt or replaced, but the specimen is different. It is what houses the knowledge that must be extracted and is the possessor of the variables that must be tested. If a specimen is allowed to be damaged, it ruins the integrity of the scientific process and nullifies the use of experimenting on it. The real interest Mayuri had in defeating Szayel was so that he could gain access to this room and pirate all the specimens the Espada had collected. Upon opening the doors, he instantly notices two bodies hanging from the ceiling that he takes immediate interest in. The first thought is that they are Ciruuchi and Doldorni as their bodies were indeed collected from the exequias. However, Mayuri already has a current Espada corpse outside, so those two would be less useful to him. Also, Doldorni wasn’t that short and Ciruuchi had a skirt. I guess we’ll find out who and what these are eventually, but it won’t be for a while.


No Fun

http://img248.imageshack.us/img248/944/11akt5.png
Yachiru-chan!!! Ken-chan is sad!!! ...fix it

Finally, the scene shifts over to the duel between Nnoitra and Kenpachi. For the first time, we see Kenpachi fighting without a smile on his face while Nnoitra laughs hysterically. Just like Zomari had specialized in sonido and Nel had in cero, Nnoitra apparently has specialized in hierro, the tough skin of an arrancar. His is unsurpassed by any member of the current or former Espada. This explains why Kenpachi isn’t smiling. He has been denied the ability to cut, which is usually his main reason for joy. This is clearly not the end though as he still has yet to remove his eyepatch. On the flip side, Nnoitra has also yet to release, so all in all, this battle definitely seems to be in Nnoitra’s favor. I guess there is always the option of Kenpachi actually releasing, but I don’t think it’s such a good idea. Mayuri won in his battle because he kept his intelligence and creepiness one step ahead of Szayel at every point and in the end he was the same mad scientist as before except we found out he’s crazier than we previously thought. Similarly, Zaraki’s personality that we have all grown accustomed to is that he is a battle hungry berserker that relies on his own strength alone. For him to actually release would diminish that quality as it means he’s putting faith in another’s (his sword’s) strength. In addition, if he had indeed come to terms with his sword, I doubt it would still maintain its jagged appearance, which is a result of the disharmony between the sword and wielder.


Overall

Well the Szayel battle is over and the Nnoitra battle is now at the forefront, which makes me very happy. The 8th Espada’s presence in the story spanned way too long a period, but at least he got a rather fitting end. The most apparent thing in the chapters was the development of Mayuri’s intelligence and creepiness. I think the effect of the drug on Szayel definitely could have been explained better than it was, but the premise of it was at least intriguing. Also, that one scene is hell for people like me who can easily over-think things and it will haunt me for a little while. :iik

fenix2012
January 21, 2008, 01:42 AM
One more great review in the books.Thank you.Sahugani do you happen to know what the simbolistic of the Goat means in aspects of Mayuri (and generaly aslo), cause the picture on page 07 really intrigued me.

igotthegoods
January 21, 2008, 02:10 AM
thanks for the great review :)

mayuri "healing" nemu will certainly haunt my dreams :s ishida and renji's faces were pretty funny, though....

sahugani
January 21, 2008, 01:05 PM
@fenix2012 - i know there is some deep symbolic meaning but i can't seem to find it no matter how i look. if anyone has a clue please tell us

@igotthegoods - that really was just a horrible combination of perversions that i don't wanna wrap my head around

Luckas
January 21, 2008, 01:23 PM
@fenix2012 - i know there is some deep symbolic meaning but i can't seem to find it no matter how i look. if anyone has a clue please tell usI didn't say anything because I was sure you will pick it easily and you can surely elaborate about it better than me. However the symbolism is, imho, that the devil is often depicted as a goat.

Taken by Wikipedia:

Middle Ages

Particularly in the medieval period, Satan was often depicted as having horns and a goat's hindquarters. He has also been depicted as carrying a pitchfork, and with a forked tail. None of these images seem to be based on Biblical materials, as Satan's physical appearance is never described in the bible, Qur'an or any other religious text. Rather, this image is apparently based on pagan horned gods, such as Pan and Dionysus, common to many mythologies [10]. Pan in particular looks very much like the images of the medieval Satan. Some images are based on Baphomet, which is portrayed in Eliphas Lévi's 1854 Dogme et rituel de la haute magie (English translation Transcendental Magic, its Doctrine and Ritual)Levi. Even some Satanists use Baphomet as the image of Satan in Satanic worship. Neo-pagans and others allege that this image was chosen specifically to discredit the Horned God of ancient paganism to convert people to the Christian faith.

The medieval Cathars identified the devil with the demiurge of older gnostic and Neoplatonic tradition. Earlier sects believed the Old Testament Yahweh was, in fact, the devil, based partially on ethical interpretations of the Bible and partially on the beliefs of earlier gnostic sects (such as the Valentinians) who regarded the god of the Old Testament as evil or as an imperfect Demiurge. Early Gnostics called the Demiurge Yao, the Aramaic cognate to the Tetragrammaton, YHWH (Yahweh). Moreover, modern research into Ugaritic texts revealed that the names of the Jewish god were the same as earlier gods worshipped in the same region; Yahweh is cognate to Ugaritic Yaw who was the Semitic deity of chaos, evil, and world domination.

Baphomet (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Baphomet) wikipedia link with a representation of it.

sahugani
January 21, 2008, 02:11 PM
i looked into the goat symbolism in statan, pan, and capricorn, but didn't think any of their qualities really matched up well enough with the message Mayuri sends in the chapter. of the three i would say satan is the closest though

Helltroll
January 22, 2008, 10:40 AM
well..it's a baphomet:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Baphomet

sahugani
January 22, 2008, 10:56 AM
ya. thanks to you and Luckas for finding that. i knew i had seen that form before but i couldn't recall where and didn't do quite a good enough job wiki'ing

Quartz-pebble
January 27, 2008, 05:51 PM
Well the chapter before was Szayel as Jesus, so perhaps it's a play on their opposite views/methods on science?

IchigoSoul
February 06, 2008, 03:48 AM
Good review

Gold Knight
February 12, 2008, 04:51 PM
I checked to see whether you had a new review here, but realized I had missed this "double review."

GREAT review. I think it's your best so far. You explained each important scene very nicely and gave some good additional opinions on them. I loved your analysis of the Szayel "False Prophet" cover as well.

Very good move, also, to explain the effects of the "superhuman drug" on Szayel, because that IS a confusing bit. However I think Kubo Tite purposefully left the explanation vague on Mayuri's part in order to achieve a little more of a dramatic take on that scene. After all, the next chapter did open with Szayel as a prune-face in his own mind.

Only thing I think you left out is a little reaction at Nemu's own "immense strength" - wait a minute, is Nemu actually doing something other than sacrificing herself? You know? I was wondering all this time why Mayuri kept Nemu around if she wasn't that useful. We had never seen Nemu wield a sword in Mayuri's defense, rather just throw her body at the sword. Maybe that's more of a distraction for the opponent, and gives Mayuri a rather insidious advantage, but it seems too little to keep her around. Now we see that Nemu is like a "wizard's golem" to Mayuri essentially - she's the brute force to counterbalance Mayuri's cleverness. Who would have expected it?

Of course we see Mayuri's distate for imperfection and maybe he even goes as far as make sure all his creations have some imperfectness. He certainly did with his own sword when it turned on him due to Szayel's manipulations.

That's also another thing I liked about Chapter 306 - how Mayuri treats his sword, pretty much the same as he does everybody else around him - as a tool. That reminded me of when Ichigo was battling with "Hollow Ichigo" - and trying to gain the right to be the "king." It's obvious Mayuri is indeed the "king" of his blade. We learned so much about Mayuri's philosophy and character through these chapters, that it gave us all more of a chance to understand him and why he thinks as he does, and for that reason alone I thoroughly enjoyed these chapters. Good job by Tite Kubo. And good job again on reviewing them ;)

sahugani
February 12, 2008, 05:15 PM
thanks alot man

regarding the drug, i can see why he pulled it off the way he did as an effort to emphasize Szayel's suffereing when we see his aged self image, but i think in this case he sacrificed too much for it. the way he did it could easily lead people to believe the drug has effects that are in fact the exact opposite of what it is

regarding Nemu, she is basically there to do Mayuri's grunt work. as he basically engineered her, its not surprising that her strength is artificially increased. this both allows her to do all the prep work for his experiments and increases her chances of survival when he uses her as a human shield

as for Mayuri's sword i think it is more accurate to say he treats it like a pet than as a tool. he acknowledges that the sword is alive unlike Zaraki (or at least Zaraki when we first met him). him breaking his sword was an act of punishment for disobeying him.

as for my next review, if i don't get the triple out by today i'm just going to hold back for a quad this weekend