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sahugani
February 17, 2008, 07:10 PM
Sahugani’s Bleach Review 307-309

http://img168.imageshack.us/img168/171/nnoitrajirugabyninjaticuu9.jpg (http://ninjatic.deviantart.com/art/Nnoitra-Jiruga-76216459)
the bastard deserves the spotlight this time

First of all I seriously apologize for my Bleach reviews being so irregular. Schoolwork caught up with me and I didn’t have time for 2 reviews. After that the overall workload snowballed and I had to wait for this OP hiatus week to catch up. I’m not dropping Bleach, but expect that as I am an OP addict above all else, that review will get priority in case of reduced time. Anyways, as this review spans much of the long awaited fight, lets just get down to it. The pics in this review come from the M7 scanlations of 307-309 and the Binktopia scanlation of 310. The title pic is a great piece by Ninjatic (http://ninjatic.deviantart.com/) over at DeviantArt so go check out the rest of his gallery when you’re done.

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307: Bite It, Slash It

Generosity

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i can't decide if he's lucky or unlucky

The chapter starts out by returning to the scene of Szayel’s defeat as Mayuri is offering his own form of medicinal aid to Ishida. However, as Ishida does not have a great history with this particular shinigami captain, he is terrified about what the treatment entails. As this is Mayuri, the logic he uses to calm Ishida’s fears doesn’t exactly help. In his mind, as he is offering to heal Ishida’s wounds free of charge, the Quincy should not have the right to complain about the methods used to do so. From Ishida’s perspective though, his experiences with Mayuri have so far been that the shinigami was responsible for his grandfather’s death, he tried to capture Ishida as a research specimen before trying to kill him, and he infected Ishida with data collecting bacteria. It is unsurprising that he is now very skeptical of anything Mayuri offers to inject into his body. He is not overreacting though as in explaining why the Quincy should be grateful, Mayuri also mentions that the medicine may change the body’s form. Even though Ishida is no longer useful to him as a specimen to study, he is still available for use as a guinea pig for an experimental treatment. In the end, Ishida is not happy filling this role and is restrained by Nemu, who finds an effective way to stop his movements. As a gentleman, Ishida is easily embarrassed by women flaunting their bodies. He regularly goes out of his way to remain proper when it comes to dealing with women, so being smothered by Nemu’s bosom comes as a shock to the system that he does not know how to deal with.


Warning

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Their shared insanity leads to Mayuri's most sane words

Unlike Ishida, Renji shows no fear of Mayuri’s treatment methods and asks to be treated before the Quincy so that he may return to the front lines. While he knows full well the dangers of Mayuri’s experimental drugs, that fear takes a back seat to his sense of duty in continuing the fight against the Espada. As he had been fighting an Espada for a longer period of time than anyone else and in the end it was another that defeated his foe, he likely has a bit of shame over losing. Of the five original heroes that entered Las Noches, he is the only one that has not yet defeated an enemy. Despite his pleas to reenter the fight through the shinigami captain’s treatment, the news of who else remains in the fight is enough to silence him. Mayuri warns him that the only one of the rescue team captains still fighting is Zaraki Kenpachi, who has taken over the Espada battle at Ichigo’s location. In a rare moment of insight for the usually self-centered character, Mayuri explains the dangers of trying to interfere in one of Kenpachi’s fights. Normally, he is one of the most independent captains in the 13 Divisions and does not give a second thought to any of the others as they are scientifically uninteresting to him. Kenpachi though is a person that inspires interest in even Mayuri. The two are both uniquely similar and drastically different at the same time, which causes Mayuri to be slightly intrigued by him. On one hand, Mayuri is a man of science whose interest in battle is to keep the opponents alive yet immobile so he can research and torture them slowly. Kenpachi is the exact opposite as his interest is the thrill of the fight itself and the joy of being able to slice his opponent with no regard for either fighter’s survival. This extreme difference of methods disgusts Mayuri and inspires a level of fear since Kenpachi’s actions are blasphemy for scientists like him. On the other hand, Mayuri is the only other captain who can understand Kenpachi’s lust for battle in the presence of a worthy foe. The reason for this is that he gets the exact same rush from opponents whose abilities are intriguing. No other captains among the 13 Divisions can be so thrilled by the prospect of battle than these two when in the presence of their respective targets. It is due to this understanding that even though Mayuri fears Kenpachi’s feral nature, he respects his fellow captain’s desire to fight as he wishes.


Clash of Joy

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this is like getting high for him

At long last we get to the meat of the battle we have all been waiting for. Despite the announcement that Nnoitra’s hierro is strong enough to keep him from being cut, Kenpachi is still all smiles. It is clear as the two clash blades that in a shoving match, Kenpachi is clearly the stronger of the two. Although Nnoitra is confident that he won’t be cut, the strength the shinigami captain displays irks him immensely. As I’ve said before, while these two combatants are similar in their berserker tendencies and love of combat, there is one key difference in their desires to fight. While Kenpachi fights for the thrill of combat alone, Nnoitra’s goal is to prove his own strength. This is why he doesn’t bother with weak opponents and only picks fights with those who he is confident he can beat but are strong enough to gain him recognition. The exception to this of course is Neliel, who he fought (and later ambushed) to regain his pride after losing to her. The way things stand in the battle, Kenpachi is still able to smile since he Nnoitra’s hierro has provided an exciting challenge for him. He knows he is superior to the Espada in terms of both speed and brute strength, so once he finds a way to cut, he can continue doing it as much as he pleases. Nnoitra on the other hand hates above all else to be seen as inferior. Even though he is certain that Kenpachi can’t cut him, he can’t stand the fact that this opponent is proving (in front of an audience) to be the superior fighter. In terms of strength, in a clash of blades it is Nnoitra that is thrown back. Even when the Espada tries a ranged attack using his weapon’s chain, the shinigami proves fast enough to dodge it and clever enough to use the weapon’s chain to bring Nnoitra back to close combat. In all aspects of battle except the ability to actually cut Kenpachi has put Nnoitra to shame.


Unexpected

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FAIL!!!

After dragging Nnoitra back down from the sky by tugging on the scythe’s chain, Kenpachi slams the Espada to the ground by his face and attempts to stab him while pinned. While up till now Nnoitra’s face has been one of annoyance, we now see a tinge of fear in his eyes and he knocks away Kenpachi’s hand so that he can dodge the strike. Kenpachi points out how odd it is that Nnoitra dodged that instead of taking the blow with the hierro that can supposedly block every cut. This means that is that there are weak spots in the hierro. The ability can be likened to a suit of armor. No matter how well a suit of armor covers a person’s body there will always be flaws to be exploited. The most obvious examples are parts left exposed like at joints for mobility or the face for field of vision. Other than this, there is also the fact that armor is generally thinner in some locations as compared to others. If piercing attack meant to break through armor was to strike through a thinner section it could break through. As Kenpach attacked with a sword stab instead of a slash this time, Nnoitra could have feared the attack would work. Despite this logic, Nnoitra passes off his dodge as merely being a part of fighting instinct.


Loopholes

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"Why won't you die?"

However, the flaw with that idea is that if Nnoitra’s fighting style is centered around his hierro (which his inferiority in other aspects prove to be the case), then that instinct should not be present to begin with. Kenpachi sees through this and after proving his superior strength once again by catching the thrown scythe in midair, he offers one more piece of relevant combat info. Even if people claim to be completely impenetrable, the eyes (and the throat but this is less of an issue) are a universal weakness. They are not directly coated by skin and are thus exempt from the hierro’s defense and they are a path of soft tissue that leads directly to the brain, thus allowing a quick kill. Unfortunately for Kenpachi, Nnoitra’s eye-patch that was stabbed did not yield the same effect that was intended as the Espada remains undamaged despite the pierced head and proceeds to counterattack. At this point it is pretty clear as to why the attack did not work. Even without reading the next chapter it is obvious that this is the location of Nnoitra’s hollow hole. This makes us wonder why he actually did dodge before when Kenpachi almost stabbed his skull since it would have just gone right through the same way it does now. I guess one explanation is that either Kenpachi was aiming for the other eye before and if it had been stabbed it would have gone just as Zaraki predicted. The other explanation is that had Kenpachi stabbed the hole while Nnoitra was on the ground, even though there would be no damage, it would limit his movement as the sword prevented movement to the sides and the ground prevented movement backwards to remove the sword from the hole.

[hr]

308: Satan from Orbit

Unique

http://img168.imageshack.us/img168/1306/6adv6.png
well isn't that convenient

As we already figured out, the eye that the shinigami pierced is actually the location of Nnoitra’s hollow hole. This hole is unique in a number of ways. Other than his, the highest hole we have seen is Ulquiorra’s which is at the base of his neck but is still considered to be in the torso area. The fact that Nnoitra’s is in his head means the hole could be anywhere on the other Espada. We may see one whose hole has moved to his hand or another extreme. Another unique quality is that Nnoitra’s hole and his remaining hollow mask are apparently connected, which we have not yet seen on any other arrancar. More accurately, the remaining mask is a jaw across his head the same shape as his eye-patch that opens up to a toothed mouth around the hollow hole. While this is likely just an artistic choice by Kubo to make it cooler, there might be some significance. More importantly than this though is that this new location reawakens a very old question of how the hollow holes work in general. Unfortunately, I’ve tried and failed to create a satisfactory explanation for the hollow holes. After looking down every possible theory I could come up with I have just gotten more frustrated and am giving up for now.


Chuckles

http://img168.imageshack.us/img168/5761/7avq1.png
If Ken-chan smiles, run

After showing off his oddly placed hollow hole and expecting his opponent to be struck with fear and disbelief, Nnoitra is instead surprised to see Kenpachi laughing. Kenpachi explains that the reason he’s enjoying this news is because it means he can indeed cut him. The problem with this explanation is that throughout this fight Kenpachi has been unable to cut Nnoitra due to the hierro. Since the fact that Kenpachi’s sword went though a hole instead of flesh, it would seem that the news does nothing to prove whether or not the Espada could be cut. The key to this explanation is differentiating the ability to block a blade and making a blade useless. Up until now Nnoitra has used his hierro as armor to block attacks and prevent Kenpachi’s blade from inflicting wounds. When Nnoitra was completely unaffected by being run through the head, Kenpachi feared that Nnoitra had some other ability that made it so flesh was undamaged even if pierced such as a healing or phasing ability. If Nnoitra did have an ability such as regeneration or phasing, it would mean that no matter how many times the shinigami manages to pierce the flesh the Espada will remain undamaged. The fact that this matter was due to a hole being there means that Kenpachi hadn’t actually pierced flesh and thus Nnoitra’s survival can’t be explained by any ability that makes cutting useless. The issue is once again simply overpowering the hierro.


Blood Drawn

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batter up

After clashing a bit more, Nnoitra blocks one of Kenpachi’s blows with his arm and is shocked as the blade starts to cut into the flesh. Due to the somewhat confused expression on the shinigami’s face, Nnoitra interprets the cut as a fluke. However, Kenpachi proceeds to unleash a powerful test swing in the air and then calls the Espada over for another clash. This time he successfully cuts through the scythe and scars Nnoitra’s face. He claims that the reason for this is just because he needed to get accustomed to Nnoitra’s hierro, which is a bit of a hard concept to swallow but is actually quite accurate. If you look at any fight Kenpachi has had before this there has been no opponent whose skin had the defensive properties as Nnoitra. He could cut his opponents normally as long as they couldn’t dodge or parry while they were forced to control their reiatsu in order to pierce him. Due to this he never had any need to learn any reiatsu control or at least had no one whose defensive abilities required him to use it. During the first small cut he made on Nnoitra though he had instinctively refined his blade with his reiatsu rather than just slashing with the blade itself. Once he realized that he had to counter this skin hardened by spiritual energy with a blade sharpened by spiritual energy, he quickly acclimated his sword arm to applying this energy in this manner and after that cutting was no longer an issue.


Frustration

http://img168.imageshack.us/img168/1908/9ayu5.png
"You have no chance to survive make your time"

At this point Kenpachi is really getting on Nnoitra’s nerves. He has already proven to be stronger, faster, more skilled, and finally has broken through the one aspect of combat that Nnoitra thought he had the edge in. The Espada does not take losing very well and attempts to blast Kenpachi away with a cero. However, the shinigami captain once again proves himself superior as he deflects the powerful blast with his bare hands. As a man who hates losing more than anything, he continues to attack desperately despite Kenpachi’s clear advantage. Although Nnoitra’s hatred of losing generally leads him to avoid starting battles he doesn’t think he can win he refuses to accept a loss once he is in such a fight because he can’t stand the thought of someone else proving themselves stronger than him. Unfortunately for him, in his last desperate attack, he inadvertently removes Kenpachi’s eye-patch, which unleashes the demonic shinigami’s full power and earns him a deadly wound.

[hr]

309: Pray for the Mantis

Beast Unleashed

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Ken-chan looks way different when he's bored

At the end of the previous chapter, Nnoitra made the mistake of removing Kenpachi’s eye-patch. As the shinigami held the advantage in the fight even before this, this new turn widens the gap between them further still. The Espada is thoroughly confused by the sudden boost in his opponent’s reiatsu and though he is still alive he manages to inquire about it in between pants of exhaustion and pain. Kenpachi tells him about it in a somewhat bored voice. Now that his advantage in the battle has been made crystal clear, much of the fun has left the duel. Now that his eye-patch’s removal has given him a huge boost in reiatsu and Nnoitra is now reduced to a severely weakened state, this fight now is not worth his attention. Fortunately for him, Nnoitra is too stubborn to accept defeat even when injured this badly.


Irony

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A saintly weapon is evil and a devil's arm is good...O...K

In order to once again gain the upper hand in the fight, Nnoitra decides to release his true form, Santa Teresa. Like many releases, this name carries a double meaning. The most obvious influence behind the name is that it is the name of an actual Christian saint. This is highly ironic as among the Espada Nnoitra is among the least redeemable. It is this irony that is the basis for the name. As the title of the chapter and the appearance of the released form make quite clear, the true influence for the design of the release comes from a praying mantis. As such, Kubo has gone beyond simply designing Noitra’s true form after the insect by also including the same irony that surrounds it to the Espada. The mantis species was given the name “praying mantis” and given the scientific name “Mantis religiosa” due to the fact that the insect’s uniquely folded forearms resembled he act of praying to god. Despite the peaceful name, the species is actually quite brutal. Their predatory abilities are so great that some can even prey on small reptiles, birds, and rodents. They are even cannibalistic in most cases and even display this during reproduction as the female bites off the male’s head. This makes the name “preying mantis” one of the most ironic in the whole animal kingdom. In naming Nnoitra’s release after a saint, Kubo only further establishes the character’s connection with the brutal insects. He has even displayed many of the same tendencies in the battles before this one with Kenpachi. The mantis are known for ambushing prey, which fits perfectly with Nnoitra’s actions in how he unfairly dispatched Neliel. It also factors in to his fighting style as he waits for his opponents to attack him and he counterattacks them after their attacks fail to pierce his skin (the exception is this battle as his frustration causes him to lash out more readily).


Demon Awakened

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at least he's still prettier than Yami

In addition to the mantis based symbolism of this form, Nnoitra in this state also has one of the very few weapon based arrancar releases. This is only the second one we have seen as the first was Neliel, who used a spear. This is quite notable as every other hollow we have seen besides these two have had their powers tied to an ability their bodies have rather than channeling it through a weapon. Since most hollows naturally have animalistic or at least inhuman forms it is not common for them to use weapon based combat. As such when a hollow becomes an arrancar, their released forms return an amplified version of their original hollow powers, which in most cases do not include weaponry. Their fighting styles revolve around either some unique ability they bore as a hollow such as Szayel Aporro’s or they are physical combat styles that are a modified form of hand to hand combat such as Grimmjow’s. The use of weaponry in a released state implies two things regarding their pre-arrancar existence. First of all, this means that they had hands capable of grasping a weapon in this state, which means they were more physiologically similar to humans and thus closer to a vastro lord than other hollows like Grimmjow. The second issue is how their weapons were created. These weapons were clearly made by their own power rather than by an outside force since they are the key aspects of their fighting strengths. However, they are not born as a piece of their souls like the zanpakuto are for shinigami. To give insight into the creation of these weapons it is best to analyze Chad’s power as like them he wields hollow-like abilities yet has a human form. In his case, he can remove and reapply his armored arms from existence because unlike zanpakuto, the arms have no soul of their own and are simply extensions of his own being. Similarly, Nnoitra and Neliel’s weapons are simply born along with their bodies. Being closer to vastro lord, along with their more human body shapes comes a more evolved or human method of fighting.


Utter Joy

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the anime better not dull down this expression one bit!!!

All in all, this new form is on an entirely different level than his former self. As Ichigo notes, he has even healed the huge wound Kenpachi gave him after the eye-patch was removed. This hints at a healing ability that is to be further explored in the next chapter. However, Kenpachi doesn’t seem to notice this and instead stands in awe of the powerful reiatsu his opponent is now revealing. With this latest development, it is no surprise that Kenpachi is as excited as he has ever been. He finally has an opponent who offers him a real threat and thus a much more interesting battle. He goes on the offensive and attacks the same way he had before this upgrade. Before, he could cut right through Nnoitra’s weapon easily by simply concentrating his power a bit. With four blades this time it is easy to assume that each of these scythes is weaker than the original, but unfortunately for him that is not the case. Nnoitra successfully blocks Kenpachi’s sword with one scythe and with another one is able to attack the defenseless opponent. With this turn of events Nnoitra once again lays claim to his bragging rights and mocks the weakness of his opponent. After all, that is his main reason for fighting.

[hr]

310: Four Arms to Killing You

More Targets

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Kubo's Engrish hard at work on this week's title

Needless to say everyone present is absolutely shocked to see Kenpachi fall to the ground bleeding. Although their reactions are not unexpected, the scene at least lets us look around to the others for the first time in a while. Yachiru, whose presence has been pretty much ignored since her arrival is finally shown again, which is nice. It seems that Orihime is not finished healing Ichigo either, which shows just how short a time span this fight has taken. Unfortunately for them, Nnoitra also turns his attention to them. In the true fashion of the overly arrogant bad guy, he assumes his attack was enough to slay Zaraki and turns his scythes toward the others. While I’ve said time and again that Nnoitra doesn’t like to fight those who won’t gain him bragging rights, this whole fight has a unique situation for him. After being so thoroughly humiliated by Zaraki before releasing, the Espada has quite a bit of frustration to get out of his system and these insignificant whelps make perfect targets to release it. His first target of the three is Yachiru, who as always shows no fear whatsoever. Unfortunately Kubo has decided to keep us completely in the dark regarding the adorable vice-captain’s fearsome strength as it is quite obvious how things will proceed.


Orihime’s Upgrades

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The woman told you to stay put!!!

Although Yachiru is still standing her ground stoicly in the face of such an intimidating force, Orihime still worries about her safety and rushes to her aid. Ichigo in turn tries to run off to protect her but is repelled by the wall of the Soten Kisshun (Orihime’s healing ability). I don’t know about you guys but this little piece of info is like a diamond in the rough for me. The growth of Orihime’s powers has been one of the most intriguing things for me in this arc. We have seen the enormous growth of Chad’s unique abilities (though they were unfortunately crushed by the very bastard being fought now) and so similar enhancements should be expected in Orihime. We have even seen her healing powers bring people back from the brink of death and heard them described as godly, which sets a pretty high bar for their capability. This is the first real enhancement we have seen besides the simple power-up of her healing capability. Her Soten Kisshun now carries the properties of her Santen Kesshun (defensive ability) as well though likely not quite to the same degree. It is a very useful application though as such a skill serves two functions while healing. First of all, it prevents enemies from attacking her already injured patient. Secondly, it prevents her injured patients from recklessly joining the fight before they are fully healed. Both of these applications fit Orihime’s personality and goals perfectly. Even though we are being treated to all the wonderful upgrades to Orihime’s Soten Kisshun, Kubo is still refusing to let us see how well her other two abilities have advanced as I’m certain they have. If her healing ability now bears properties of her defensive ability, I wouldn’t doubt if her defensive ability had offensive potential as well such as reflecting damage back onto an enemy instead of simply blocking it. Overall though I’m pretty sure that these slowly revealed hints are all leading up to a huge upgrade to her Koten Zanshun (offensive ability) since Kubo made a big deal about it being sub par before she was taken to Hueco Mundo. Possibly the single thing that would make me happier than to see Chad get another winning fight is to see Orihime deal the finishing blow to Ulquiorra.


Not Over

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"I especially liked the part where you died. bravo. encore"

Just when we’re about to see the power of Orihime’s Santen Kesshun, Yachiru reveals to us and Nnoitra that the previous fight is still far from over. Behind the Espada we see a glimpse of Kenpachi’s massive and terrifying reiatsu. Before Nnoitra can even turn to look Kenpachi has already severed one of the arrancar’s arms. I know a lot of people were counting on Zaraki releasing his sword to overcome Nnoitra, but at this point I’m highly doubtful of it. Throughout this fight the entire idea behind Zaraki is that he is simply the man who will not die and every time Nnoitra pulls something out, this demonic shinigami comes back with a smile on his face. I think if he was going to release he would have done it by now. As I’ve said before I actually prefer that Kenpachi remains without a shikai as it keeps his character truly unique among the captains. There are two main qualities about his fighting style that can be observed in all his big fights that make it so that Kubo can continue to use him effectively even though he shows none of the stereotypical upgrades in shonen characters besides his eye-patch. The first quality is his general berserker attitude that he will just continue to fight happily even when dealt fatal wounds. This quality was what made him interesting in fighting Ichigo and in the early stages of this fight and the one with Tousen and Komomura. The second quality though is what makes a shikai unnecessary for him. Although for most fights he simply charges ahead and slices wildly, when he is faced with a truly difficult battle, he actually shows a good deal of strategic thinking. The truly unique aspect of his strategies though is that due to his own willingness to take damage in order to dish it out himself, he comes up with truly effective ideas that no one else would imagine due to fear of injury. This was apparent in the fight against Tousen’s bankai and allowed him to overcome a seemingly deadly ability without even releasing his sword or his eye-patch. I think we will see another such plan here, though the one he comes up with in this chapter is clearly not of the same caliber.


Faulty Plans

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this is why we love Yachiru-chan

After a bit of light banter between the shinigami captain and his lieutenant, Nnoitra gets pissed that Zaraki feigned death. Kenpachi says he wasn’t playing dead but was rather trying to figure out how to beat Nnoitra’s four arms. Unfortunately he hasn’t been able to come up with a suitable plan yet. The only idea he could come up with is removing the Espada’s arms one by one. Yachiru points out the flaw in this plan that if Nnoitra has no arms, he won’t be any fun to fight. Kenpachi takes this comment into serious consideration, which shows that this game is not yet interesting enough for him to start thinking seriously. He knows he can still cut Nnoitra, so that part of the fun is gone already. The only problem is that with that many arms, it is easy to block Zaraki’s sword. Due to this, the only concern on Kenpachi’s mind is getting rid of those obstacles to cutting, which he has also just proven to be possible. After that it is just too easy to cut and is thus no longer fun at all.


Recovery

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hollows are freaky individuals

Fortunately for Kenpachi, Nnoitra reveals a new trick up his sleeve as he regenerates his missing arm from the stump Zaraki left. He also somehow manages to retrieve his missing scythe from the arm Kenpachi severed. This offers a new obstacle to Kenpachi beyond the fact that Nnoitra once again has four arms. This event and the healed wound that Ichigo noticed after the Espada’s release both imply that Nnoitra has a general healing ability in his released form. This type of ability seems to make cutting attacks useless as the wounds heal up rapidly. It is this type of ability that will force Kenpachi to think like he did in fighting Tousen. There are a number of loopholes that could be exploited when fighting a regenerating enemy depending on how the ability is made possible. Severing the head is a likely solution, but Kubo has not yet resorted to that very graphic style of death and I doubt he’d start now. The ability to regenerate could be very costly to his energy, so by forcing Nnoitra to regenerate over and over again he would be worn down. That solution I doubt though as I expect Zaraki’s method of winning to be more suicidal and to end in a single bloody strike.


A New Set

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thats just more flesh waiting to be cut

After exchanging a few blows back and forth and insulting each other’s strength each time they do so, Zaraki finally seems to have Nnoitra pinned. Even though he has one weapon compared to Nnoitra’s four, he is still the superior fighter in terms of brute strength and so the Espada is forced to use all of his arms to shield himself from the shinigami’s blade. There is one more surprise though as even though all four weapon carrying arms are busy defending, Nnoitra grows another pair of arms and stabs Kenpachi with one. This is more or less simply another step forward in this pissing match the two combatants are having. At this point, though the new set of arms were effective in dealing an initial blow after Kenpachi halted the use of the scythe wielding arms, in the end it doesn’t change much in the dynamics of the battle from fighting a four armed Nnoitra. Every time Nnoitra has pulled out something unexpected and assumed it to be enough to beat or scare his opponent, Kenpachi has simply risen back up and proven that nothing will take him down. This entire fight Nnoitra has been the one making overconfident claims and then getting frustrated when they prove false, thus allowing Zaraki to take advantage of his opponent’s mistakes. This new set of arms is the same type of situation as when he revealed his hollow hole. It is not an ability superior to what he has already shown but is rather simply a unique trait of his that allowed him to escape from a tough situation. The real issue for Kenpachi is still the Espada’s regeneration.


Overall

Whew!!! Reviews this size are annoying. At least in this case the review spans a single fight so it’s easier to think of it as a single scenario. Its also probably better that I do the review for this fight in bigger chunks since even within Kubo’s writing, Kenpachi fights are quite a bit more straightforward than anything else. This means fewer points to analyze per chapter, so doing it at this scale makes it feel more complete. Anyways, despite the straightforwardness of the combat, I am loving this fight. Kenpachi always delivers a degree of badass that no one else can and Nnoitra’s release is visually my favorite arrancar release so far (though the analysis of his release took quite a bit of wiki work). Also, that little bit of Orihime’s developing powers brightened my day quite a bit when I read it. Other than that, I can’t wait to see how this battle of demons will end.

Vegetoacs
February 18, 2008, 05:22 AM
Brilliant Analysis as always. I too am finding this fight to be one of the more interesting ones in this arc. This is the sort of battle in which Kubo seems to depart from the seemingly standardized shonen fighting format of see-sawing between an enemy overpowering a hero, only to have the hero return fire in kind, and then force the enemy to again return with another ability, so on and so forth until a clear winner is given by way of some crazy overpowered ability.

For mine, this is playing to the more interesting component of Bleach's unique character abilities and powers, the tactical devices behind the character's ability rather than their aptitude for an eventual overpowering their opponent (alla DBZ). As you've stated, we see this more clearly then any of the other characters in Bleach, as Kenpachi has no "release" to fall back on (nor would he likely want to, given his lust for truely thrilling, even suicidal battle), and must therefore resort to his unique strategies to eventually succeed and emerge victorious. What i've noted about Kenpachi is that he seemingly has no desire to "win" as such, nor does he place too much value on survival. In all the fights we've seen so far, he's only fought an opponent for as long as the fight is interesting...in the case of an enemy as opposed to neutral adversary, the latter a scenario in which he wears as much out of the fight as can until he and his opponent are completely spent, the former is only time he seems inclined to want to kill, and thus end a potentially interesting opponent, likely more out of necessity rather than actual desire.

Still, while we're unsure as to whether we'll eventually hear the name of his sword or not, I don't believe this will degrade the character at all. He's already in a permenant state of shikai, so it can hardly be treated as a release as such, only affording him the potential for a more defined set of unique abilities. It's more akin to an advance of his current abilities rather than a full blown power-up A unique ability might indeed only broaden his tactical range to allow a few more interesting strategic options. I also believe that it's likely that he will become adept with his sword in the context of a partner rather than a master, as he highlighted the desire after his encounter with ichigo to get to know his sword, so that he may once again enjoy a battle to the fullest.

The travesty in which you highlight concern for would likely only occur if he ever attained bankai, which would be more of a straight release, with accompanied power boost and advanced ability. I believe this would tend to dull the coolness of seeing Kenpachi take down an opponent with a clear tactical advantage with his own insane strategy from a clear underdog position rather than make a victory on his part seemingly artificial by placing him on more even terms with his opponent.

sahugani
February 19, 2008, 01:40 AM
what i particularly like about the fight is that it lacks the use of named techniques which have become standard for nearly every single shonen fight ever. in a real fight would you see the combatants yell out the technique's name while attacking? no. this makes the current fight particularly unique in that it is all about the action rather than the techniques being used.

as to what you say about Kenpachi's goals in a fight i agree completely. he could care less about winning or losing. it is all about interest to him. i'd say that as long as the fight is interesting he puts his full effort into killing them. as soon as an opponent no longer offers him the thrill of combat he no longer cares. that is the reason he left Ikkaku alive. if an opponent survives his rampage but is left incapable of fighting back, Kenpachi has no motivation to finish him off. If Nnoitra survives in this same manner i suspect we'd see the same thing

as for the concerns i have regarding if he got shikai or bankai, it actually had little to do with the insane power he would wield or the loss of an underdog status. even without either he still inspires awe among the other captains and can clearly fight on par or better than many of them. my concern is the loss of uniqueness. characters have certain aspects of their personalities that define them such as Byakuya's cold attitude and Mayuri's delightful insanity and it is these qualities that make them unique among the cast. Kenpachi's is his maniacal and singleminded lust for combat. using shikai too rapidly deviates from this trait. if an author decides to develop a character away from these signature traits, he does so slowly such as Byakuya being hinted as the cause of nice deeds while not accepting credit for them. i really just can't see it happening myself, but there is always a chance

Gold Knight
February 19, 2008, 03:21 AM
Man, Sahugani, you've outdone yourself again. And I think this is the first time I've seen anybody here also post a review with a comparative size to one of my volume reviews. :XD

I'll come back when I'm more in a Bleach mindset so I can make some better responses.

sahugani
February 19, 2008, 03:32 AM
haha. there's a reason it took me so long to finish this bastard. i'm just thankful its a Bleach quad review and not One Piece or the length would be insane

i look forward to the reply :D

igotthegoods
February 20, 2008, 03:17 AM
great review! it was worth the wait :)

i liked your analysis of nnoitra's release regarding how his (and nel's) are weapon-based as opposed to the other released forms we've seen. the idea that their pre-arrancar forms having opposable thumbs = more human-like = closer to vastolorde is interesting. it seems plausible since nel is formerly a high-ranking espada.


You have no chance to survive make your time

this had me cracking up......somebody set up us the bomb :XD

Inkovic
February 23, 2008, 01:04 PM
Does anybody find it weird how Ichigo defeated Kenpachi with blows nowhere near as vicious as the ones Nnoitara gave him yet he's still loving it?? This fight is a real cut fest to sya the least