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sahugani
February 25, 2008, 05:17 AM
Sahugani’s Bleach Review 311

http://img401.imageshack.us/img401/6935/zarakikenpachibyavalantqd2.jpg (http://avalantis.deviantart.com/art/Zaraki-Kenpachi-49393493)
Its all about Ken-chan

Hello all! Well I’m back to single chapter reviewing for the time being and hopefully I can keep it up this time. I think my biggest problem before was letting the skipped chapters build up on me so as long as I try to maintain it weekly it shouldn’t be too much of a task overall. Anyways, let’s just get started. The pics in this review come from the M7 scanlation of the chapter and the title pic is a fantastic piece by Avalantis (http://avalantis.deviantart.com/) over at DeviantArt so check out the rest of her gallery later on.


Hollow’s Blade

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he must be great at magic tricks

As we left things last week, although Zaraki was still capable of overpowering Nnoitra’s four arms after releasing, the addition of a third pair of arms allowed the Espada to punch a hole in the shinigami. In addition to the added arms, it is revealed that he can spawn his scythes out of his wrists so that he is never disarmed. The fact that he can regenerate these blades the same way he does with his arms is clear evidence that weaponry of hollows such as himself and Neliel should be considered an extension of their bodies just like Chad’s armored arms. As I said in my last review, I believe the use of weapon based skills is a sign of a vastro lord or at least an extremely high ranking adjuca as the higher grade hollows have more human bodies and thus use more human combat techniques. Also recall way back to Chirucci’s fight with Ishida in which she said that detaching her wings and feather blades was like deliberately cutting off her own arm and would not grow back after resealing her hollow powers. This rule likely applies to most hollows. Lesser grade hollows (Grimmjow’s level and below) developed powers that utilized their bodies because they lack the power or skill to risk separating part of their own flesh to make a weapon. Higher grade hollows such as Neliel do have the power to keep her weapon in good shape. As a benefit from being capable of this these hollows are gifted with weapons of solid spiritual energy that makes them much tougher and much more offensively devastating than attacks made by a hollow’s body. Nnoitra is a special case though as his regenerative abilities make him unique when it comes to this topic. As the scythes are a fruit of his body his regeneration applies to them as well, allowing him to bypass the natural flaw of hollow powers. While in most cases even the creation of one weapon creates great risk as if it is broken or lost it cannot be recovered and the hollow or arrancar is left weaker than before. Thanks to his unique ability though Nnoitra does not suffer this and can create as many weapons as he desires since he can regenerate them back.


The More the Merrier

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does the insanity ever end?

Once again Nnoitra expects his latest surprise to instill a sense of fear in his enemy and once again he is disappointed. Kenpachi is more excited than ever before and laughs in pleasure while still coughing up blood from his wounds. He even mentions the fact that Nnoitra’s latest attack put a hole in his chest and points out that as the Espada has a hollow hole to match (though his is not in the usual torso area for hollows), they are now more alike than ever. Just like in his fight with Ichigo, Kenpachi is invigorated by the thrill of the battle and his numerous wounds actually cause him to fight harder while he unflinchingly takes on more and more direct blows. Up until this point he has been kind of annoyed by this battle but still enjoying it. Although Nnoitra’s many surprises have allowed him to land blows on the shinigami captain, the fact remained that throughout the entire fight Kenpachi was clearly superior in nearly all aspects of combat. After every stunt the Espada pulled, Zaraki was able to come back pretty quickly and pin him down again with his superior brute strength. Even after Nnoitra released and got use of four arms with four scythes that could not be cut through Zaraki still did not have his head fully in the game. All he had to do was attack with enough force that his opponent had to use all arms to defend. With the addition of a third set of arms and two more scythes to deal with though, Kenpachi is finally convinced that Nnoitra has the edge. While his superior combat stats are still apparent, Nnoitra offers an unprecedented ability to parry and attack at the same time, which entertains Kenpachi to no end.


Unproven Pride

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he needs a good stomping

Now that Kenpachi is seriously enjoying this fight to the fullest, his attacks become even more suicidal. Despite this power, Nnoitra still maintains the upper hand and is able to remain unscathed after the following clashes while slicing up his opponent. However, for Nnoitra, this is not good enough. He fights for recognition and to make others fear his strength. Even though he is currently winning against Kenpachi, the fact that the shinigami shows no hesitation in this disadvantaged battle irks Nnoitra to no end. He still considers himself to be the strongest Espada despite the fact that he’s ranked number five. His hierro while unreleased and regenerative ability while released does indeed give him a seemingly ultimate defense and is likely his reasoning for believing himself to be the strongest. The problem is that while his defensive abilities are clearly on the highest level, his offensive abilities lack the sheer power of the Espada 1-4. Due to this he feels a need to prove that his overall strength in combat is superior to any other. He’s driven by a need to make others admit that he is better than them. Neliel not only wouldn’t admit this but proved in battle that she was the better fighter, making Nnoitra feel like a failure. Since he couldn’t beat her, his only solution was to remove her from the picture by any means. Kenpachi on the other hand offers a different type of frustration. In this case he is already proving his strength in combat and at the current pace his victory seems inevitable. The problem is that Kenpachi will not give up and succumb to this strength or even give hints that he gives a damn about it. Without breaking his opponent physically or mentally Nnoitra cannot fully enjoy his victory.


Yamamoto’s Advice

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Zaraki Kenpachi...listening to others?

After receiving even more gashes from Nnoitra’s blades, Kenpachi is finally forced to admit that if this keeps up he’s going to die. However this is by no means an admittance of defeat nor is it a sad declaration. It is more of an irritation to him because he’s forced to pull out a new trick that he had hoped he wouldn’t need to use. Apparently after he took the seat as the captain of the 11th division, Yamamoto made him learn kendo. Outside of the technique itself, the truly surprising thing is that he actually followed through with the suggestion. Kenpachi’s level of loyalty to his job and to his boss has never really been solidly established. During the Soul Society arc he went against the Gotei 13 and joined with Orihime on a whim to increase his odds of running into Ichigo. On the other hand he was willing to join Byakuya as a mere intimidation force to make all the shinigami in Hitsugaya’s forces in the real world to come back. From what I can see he doesn’t really give a shit about his role as captain and will do his own thing but if Yamamoto gives him a direct order he will grudgingly follow it even if it forces him to act outside his usual nature. For some reason the captain commander has some degree of control over the wild beast. It could simply be that the old man’s reiatsu dwarfs and humbles even Kenpachi’s with the eye-patch removed. No opponent Kenpachi has faced has had a reiatsu that surpassed his and they only posed a challenge because they bore some unique ability that the simple hack and slash Kenpachi had trouble with. It could be a case similar to his battle with Ichigo where after losing a battle yet surviving he has respect for the victor. However Ichigo’s battle was just barely won and so Kenpachi taunts him in order to push the substitute shinigami to remain a challenging opponent for their next match. In Yamamoto’s case it was more likely a sound and complete victory for the old man. With a reiatsu comparable or surpassing the demonic captains in addition to having full use of shikai and bankai Zaraki stood no chance. He recognizes the old man’s power as insurmountable at his current level and respects the will of the captain commander.


Strength of Style

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shikai? he don't need no stinkin shikai

I know many of you are disappointed by Kenpachi’s “upgrade” in this battle being the mere use of kendo when you were hoping for shikai. I actually think this type of boost is quite fitting and logical for him as I have never really liked the idea of him ever achieving shikai powers. As is to be expected of him, even though learning to use kendo was ordered by Yamamoto he still considered it a pain in the ass as it was more fun for him to simply run right into combat and hack away as he sees fit. However, within kendo he found one aspect that made learning it somewhat worth it. Though it is a relatively simple concept he realized that using his sword with two hands dramatically increased the strength of his attacks. Unlike his eye-patch, holding back this trump card was not a matter of making the battle more interesting. Instead he was more irked by the restrictions using two hands put on his movement. Using only one hand allowed him to strike with his blade from any stance and left his other arm free to move about. To him this was more valuable than the strength of his cuts as his berserker style was enough to break the defenses of any enemy he came across. What kendo offers him is the ability to cut deeper than he ever could before as it channels the strength of not only both arms but the entire body to back a single slash. Nnoitra sees only the simple logic of 1 + 1 = 2 as a way to calculate the strength of using a two handed style. Instead what Kenpachi unleashes on him is a slash bearing the full weight of his powerful body. Zaraki already proved to be superior in brute strength using only his one arm so an attack like this is many times more powerful. This is highly unfortunate for Nnoitra’s style of combat as he tends to parry attacks and then counter with attacks of his own. The problem with this strategy is that if the opponent is strong enough to break through the parry it not only causes considerable damage to the now undefended body but prevents the initiation of the counterattack. As Nnoitra’s speed is nowhere near good enough for him to try dodging instead of parrying, I’d say Kenpachi’s upgrade this chapter is all he will need to finish this battle quickly.


Overall

Well once again Bleach is lacking in the number of points that can be made, but as I have said before, this fight is simply badass and this chapter does not diminish that aspect in any way for me. The big point of the chapter is that Kenpachi’s next move in this pissing match is the use of kendo. I know a large group of you (most likely a majority) were hoping to see a shikai from Kenpachi out of this battle and are sadly disappointed but to me the idea of Kenpachi’s shikai is something that is better left to our own imaginations. Kubo has done such a great job building up Kenpachi as the ultimate badass without a sword release that if he did reveal a shikai for the big guy it would only end up disappointing us as one of two scenarios would play out. The first scenario is that since Zaraki is a physical fighter through and through his shikai would not offer much in the way of special abilities and to all of us who have ideas of utter awesomeness in our heads it would seem lame. The other scenario is that in order to match his massive reiatsu Kubo makes it way overpowered and he is put on a level far beyond any captain save Yamamoto, thus negating the chance of future battles for him since he’d destroy them too quickly. In short, him getting shikai would only lead to disappointment in the blade or the disappearance of his character into the background.

Tsucchi
February 25, 2008, 07:30 AM
Great review as alwais mate.

U have hit some basic point, like the "no-need" for the char Zaraki of a Shikai or some "non-melee" upgrades.
He is This, a mere powerful shinigami with a terrible reiatsu.

dedal_x
February 26, 2008, 12:11 PM
There is no fuckin' way any Bleach reader in his mind would anticipate for Zaraki's release...


P.S> I love reading your comments, sahugani!

igotthegoods
February 26, 2008, 11:58 PM
i really shouldn't open this can of worms, but don't forget about those people that think kenpachi's zanpakuto is a full-time shikai type like ichigo's (i prefer to think he doesn't have shikai). they're waiting for his bankai in this fight. ;)

i agree with you, though, that kenpachi should not upgrade to whatever his next stage of release may be. it would ruin the best part of his character, imo.

and, of course, thanks for the review :)

dedal_x
February 27, 2008, 01:15 AM
i really shouldn't open this can of worms, but don't forget about those people that think kenpachi's zanpakuto is a full-time shikai type like ichigo's (i prefer to think he doesn't have shikai). they're waiting for his bankai in this fight. ;)

The worst part of this is that Kubo actually stated this in the SOULS BLEACH DATABOOK. It said "Ken's Zanpakutou is in a constant-shikai-release state"...

BLEH. How stupid of him... T____T

sahugani
February 28, 2008, 06:45 PM
thanks for taking my side on the issue guys. there are quite a few people who were looking for a sword upgrade in this fight and would be disappointed by the statement that it will not happen.

and i agree with dedal_x that it was not a smart move for Kubo to say that in his databook because it misrepresents the truth of what Zaraki's sword is. in fact, Kubo has not really doe a great job in explaining zanpakuto in general because in nearly every aspect from creation to releases he makes it appear to happen in one way for Ichigo but then provides exceptions to these ideas in other characters. he needs to explain these processes fully in a databook one day so we can make sense of it

IchigoSoul
March 14, 2008, 12:48 AM
I agree with you, it is good for kenpachi not to release his sword yet=) It just makes bleach a little more suspensful

chrisb3
March 16, 2008, 08:42 PM
it was not a smart move for Kubo to say that in his databook because it misrepresents the truth of what Zaraki's sword is.

I think Kubo knows better than you what the truth of Zaraki's sword is.

gigantor21
March 21, 2008, 03:57 PM
Sorry to voice the dissenting side, but I'll have to disagree on the kendo thing.

As I said in the spoiler thread for this chapter, and the prediction/discussion threads afterwards, Kenpachi not getting Shikai wasn't the main problem. In fact, I AGREE that he shouldn't get one now. It was how Kubo made up for it that got to me. He went from getting a draw against Ichigo (with no Bankai or Mask) to overpowering Noritora at every turn, with no real explanation. And to cap it off, Kubo hurriedly retconned some Kendo training to let Kenpachi win, which goes against the basic internal logic behind every fight in the series. That was an insult to our intelligence IMO.

I mean, come on. It was Kenpachi himself who said "reiatsu level dictates who cuts and who gets cut". He demonstrated that with his own body against Ichigo. From that point onward, we saw nothing that refuted his statement--nor did we see anything that suggested the "two hands" theory worked. It was just tacked on for the sake of Kenpachi winning without the use of a Shikai.

Still, even that wouldn't have been so terrible if not for the way people defended it. You, Sahugani, are one of the few people to argue for the kendo with logic--in the spoiler thread, me and the other dissidents were bombarded by Zaraki fanwhoring, as people defended the move by saying "OMG ZARAKI'S THE COOLEST HE CAN DO WHATEVER HE WANTS!!!!1!". Or, they'd use the bulletproof claim that "It's just a manga, and you're taking it too seriously", as if they can decide when basic storytelling rules and tenets apply to the series. THAT'S what frustrated me the most.

But the other side of the coin here is fear. I'm worried about what else we'll see Kubo get away with now, since this fight shows he doesn't have to follow the rules he's established when they get in his way. I've seen that happen in several shonen manga before, and none of them managed to recover afterwards. That worry has been especially acute recently, as we're about to see a litany of fights between top-tier characters. Who knows what Kubo will throw in?