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sahugani
March 31, 2008, 11:39 PM
Sahugani’s Bleach Review -108

http://img520.imageshack.us/img520/1820/uraharaandyoruichibyhuelj4.jpg (http://hueco-mundo.deviantart.com/art/Urahara-and-Yoruichi-57199971)
the style of this pic is strangely perfect for a final review

Hehe. Sorry my reviews have been so few and far between lately. Initially this was due to a combination of time restraints and a growing lack of good material to review. Now that Kubo is starting to give us some awesomeness though, the issue is time alone. I’ve decided not to do a mega review as I don’t think I have the time or energy to review the end of the Nnoitra fight in addition to the latest stuff. I’m also sad to say that I’m officially stopping my Bleach reviews after this chapter. I just don’t have the time this quarter to carry on with both Bleach and One Piece reviews. However, this flashback chapter is just too good for me to pass up so I must try my hand at analyzing it. The pics in the review come from the M7 scanlation of the chapter and the title pic is a fantastic piece created by hueco-mundo (http://hueco-mundo.deviantart.com/) over at DeviantArt, so check out the rest of her stuff later.


Back in Time

http://img520.imageshack.us/img520/5243/1avd8.png
pendulums remind me of the rings hypnotists use to induce sleep

It wasn’t too long ago that we had another flashback chapter regarding Hitsugaya’s beginnings and just like then the chapter number refers to how many years in the past the scene is set in (well in this case there is a slight difference but I’ll get to that later). I generally go through the chapters pretty linearly, but there are so many spread out references to the timeline I’ll just deal with the whole thing here. I don’t recall Kubo ever setting a definitive year that the normal story is supposed to take place in but going from this chapter it seems that Ichigo’s story is set about twenty years from now. First of all, this situation takes place 110 years in the past. Also note that Shinji refers to jazz being a new music in the real world, which puts this story in the late 1910s to early 1920s. Put those two facts together and we get a timeframe of the main story at roughly twenty years in the future.

Please note that this analysis of the timeline is based on a single translation and could be deemed invalid if the information is worded differently in the original Japanese
Regarding a different matter of the timeline, Kyouraku states that the original set of captains were established a hundred years prior to this timeframe. I’m probably not the only one that assumed the Gotei 13’s legacy was a good deal longer than that but it seems its inception was much more recent than we thought (wiki says 2000 years ago but unless someone can confirm that, I’m going to assume roughly 200 years is the real number). The United States have been around longer than they have. While the squads may be relatively new, I’m quite certain that the various aspects of the spiritual worlds have existed from the beginning. Soul Society still was the home for souls at peace but was at the time ungoverned. Hollows still existed and traveled to the real world to devour souls, most likely accounting for the origins of a multitude of mythological creatures. Some souls still obtained shinigami powers and zanpakuto but they were unorganized ronin. Some would take a noble path and travel to the real world to protect human souls while others went down a selfish path of seeking more power. It is also likely that the Spirit King still existed back then. There may have been a regime change or something that caused Yamamoto to start the shinigami academy and the Gotei 13.

Now as I said at the beginning, it is odd that the chapter would be numbered 108 while the years backtracked is 110. The only explanation I can come up with for this is that this is just part 1 in a multi chapter flashback and all will be considered part of Bleach -108. The real incident that the flashback is supposed to show happened 108 years prior to the present story and thus two years after this chapter. This week just reintroduced these characters and established their roles in this event while the next chapter that actually occurs at the specified time shows the real deal. Why wouldn’t Kubo just call this Bleach -110 and the next one Bleach -108? My take is that since they don’t follow the regular chapter numbering anyways, he wants us to think of this as one long chapter, though it might have worked better if he simply took a week off and actually gave us a real double chapter. This idea is supported by the fact that the chapter claims to reveal the truth behind the masks, which we have not yet seen and thus means this is certainly not a single chapter flashback.


Division 5

http://img520.imageshack.us/img520/4117/2aeq1.png
short of Aizen being pure evil, Division 5 looks rather pleasant

The first people we see during this flashback are the captain and vice-captain of the 5th squad of the time, both of whom have very recognizable faces. At the time, Shinji of the vizards was the division captain and Aizen was his second in command. Shinji is pretty much the same as he is 110 years later as a vizard though his hair is extremely long. Aizen fills the role of the average vice-captain just like he filled the role of average captain many years later. Basically, his role is to make up for his captain’s flaws while he himself stays hidden in the crowd. I think it is safe to say that he was still plotting way back then. From this time up until his betrayal, his goal was to accomplish his grand goals while tricking everyone into trusting him as to not make anyone suspicious. Since it’s rare for a vice-captain to be without a shikai, I’m certain he had already realized the power of his at this time. Since no one 110 years later knew of the sword’s illusory abilities, that means that as a vice-captain he kept this a secret as well, meaning he had at least already started thinking about how he could use it to his advantage and start an evil plan. However, at the start of his plotting, he likely lacked the raw power that he does now and was less experienced at deception. Due to this, he chose to hide himself behind the most unorthodox of the captains at the time. In comparison to Shinji’s childishness, Aizen’s act of being the responsible vice-captain would be more convincing. This would pave the way for him to become captain quickly should a number of spots open up and from there he could handpick subordinates who he felt could be useful to him.


Shindig

http://img520.imageshack.us/img520/4769/3aof7.png
good times

According to Aizen, the setting of this chapter’s story is right before some type of undefined ceremony. It could be that it is simply the announcement of a new captain, but certain aspects of the chapter cause me to think otherwise. The biggest thing is that it is said later that Rose had just become the 3rd division caption a few days prior. The way Shinji talks about this ceremony as being similar to a festival implies that they didn’t just go through the exact same thing a few days earlier at Rose’s promotion. I don’t think Kubo will give us the details on exactly what it is so I might as well move on to other aspects. As the 5th division pair arrive at the 1st division headquarters, we meet more of the vizards one by one. Hiyori is revealed to have been Nemu’s predecessor as the vice-captain of the 12th division, though even back then she neglected the difference in rank between herself and Shinji and when together they both act like children. As one of the only two future vizards who were vice-captains at this time as opposed to captains or undefined, it somewhat explains why she had the longest time of the vizards learning to control her hollow and also establishes her as likely being the weakest among the vizards though their rankings in terms of strength may have been shifted by the vizard transformations or the century of time in which to train. The next person we meet is Love, who was Komomura’s predecessor as the captain of the 7th division. Back then he was quite the responsible captain with a strong sense of duty similar to his furry successor. Along with Kyouraku and Ukitake comes the future vizard Lisa, who came before Nanao as Kyouraku’s second in command. This explains quite a lot. Her liking of porn was likely a habit developed from spending so much time under the pervy captain (and this makes you wonder if the same might happen to Nanao). It also shows that Kyouraku has a distinct taste in women with dark hair and glasses. Though his entrance doesn’t get much of an announcement, Rose is also revealed to be the 3rd division captain that came before Ichimaru. Finally we see Kensei, who gets no announcement and we can’t even see what division he leads. However, by process of elimination he must lead the 2nd, 6th, 9th, or 10th division. I’m pretty certain it is not the 2nd but any of the other three are equally likely. Of the vizards we met in the present storyline, the two that don’t appear in this flashback are Hachi and Mashiro, both of whom are oddballs even among the vizard. Since a century had likely passed since they became vizard and their actions regarding Ichigo prove that they are constantly looking to increase their ranks, these two were most likely recruited during this time span much in the same way they intended to do with Ichigo.


Attendance

http://img257.imageshack.us/img257/6711/4auy5.png
NEVER forget Retsu

In addition to the revelations regarding the former status of the vizards, there are also more clues revealed regarding other present or former captains. First of all, Ukitake makes reference to the predecessor of Urahara and Mayuri as the 12th division captain, Hikifune. She was promoted and thus left the spot open for Urahara but I’ll talk about that later. Ukitake also reveals that just like himself and Kyouraku, Unohana was one of the first captains to be appointed in the Gotei 13. In addition, Kyouraku also refers to her as dai-senpai, which means that he sees her as a superior though at the same official rank as him. This could mean that while still in academy, Unohana was uniquely gifted even more so than Ukitake and Kyouraku. Not only has it been implied on numerous occasions that Unohana’s battle potential is enough to terrify even captains, but her generally calm demeanor in combination of the implied threat gives her a leadership quality that surpasses the others. I’ll bet that if Yamamoto dies, Unohana would be the one to replace him as the first division captain and head of the academy. Kubo has been hinting at her power for a while now without revealing it and has also mentioned that she will end up playing a major role in the future. Since we still have yet to see the start of a Royal Dimension arc, it is safe to say that this war between the captains and Espada/traitor captains will not be the end. I think it is quite likely that we will see Yamamoto face Aizen in battle and lose in the end, forcing Unohana to take up his role while Ichigo (as in any combat shonen) goes and finishes off the evil Yamamoto couldn’t beat. Moving on to info on the 11th squad reveals that Zaraki’s predecessor achieved the title of captain exactly the same way as our favorite psychopath did. Unlike how the anime made him out to be an honorable man according to Ichinose during the fillers, he seems to have a temperament much the same as Zaraki. He was known as the tenth Kenpachi, a title that is customarily given to the heads of the 11th division as they have traditionally had insane battle potential. Finally, though it was just a brief mention, Kyouraku also reveals how the last three spots opened up. The 12th division captain was promoted and was succeeded by Urahara, the 3rd division captain retired and the position went to Rose, and the 10th division captain died, which gives makes this division slightly more likely as Kensei’s unit.


Promotion

http://img257.imageshack.us/img257/9089/5azx0.png
i craves knowledge of this 0 Division

When the topic of former 12th division Captain Hikifune’s promotion comes up, Aizen asks Kyouraku what it means to be promoted from being a division captain. Kyouraku answers that it means being accepted into the 0 division otherwise known as the Royal Guard. Probably as its name implies these are the individuals who are tasked with protecting the royal family of Soul Society. Since they are recruited from the captains of the Gotei 13, it is most likely a fairly small group of highly skilled individuals. I’d guess there are no more than 5 or possibly 10 at any time and they act as the guardians of the Royal dimension and bodyguards to the royal family. While to some it might seem that the Captains’ War in Karakura is a climax of the story and the end is on the horizon, the resurrected mystery surrounding the Royal Guard and the Royal Dimension strongly hints that there is still plenty more story to go. In addition to this, at this point I’d say the leading theory regarding Isshin is that he was a member of this elite crew. He certainly does fit the bill as the shreds of a captain’s robe is clamped to his arm, implying that he was a Gotei 13 captain at some point at least. Him being a member of the Royal Guard would be a great way to push the story forward after the war as Aizen enters the Royal Dimension and Ichigo prepares to follow.


New Guy

http://img257.imageshack.us/img257/9658/6azg0.png
he doesn't seem to fit, though neither does Shinji

As the chapter reaches the end, we are introduced to the new 12th division captain, Urahara Kisuke. As his departure from soul society was supposed to be 100 years before the current storyline, it means he was only a captain for a mere ten years yet in that time he made a huge impact. From the reactions of the other captains, it seems Urahara was seemingly recruited directly to captain out of obscurity. Most captains seem to achieve their rank through gaining recognition while still an underling in the Gotei 13 and make a name for themselves. There are three ways to become captain. These are to obtain bankai, be recommended by at least six captains, or defeat the current captain with at least 200 members of the division as witnesses. The third method is clearly the favored path for 11th division captains but I don’t think any others. The second method is rare as it allows non-bankai shinigami and is clearly not how Urahara got in as none of the captains had a clue who he was. The first method also implies the growth of status in the ranks of the Gotei 13. The shinigami who achieve bankai not only spend ten years learning how to do it but also are considered to be exceptionally skilled, so while they are learning it, they speed through the ranks of their division and many times achieve vice-captain before perfecting it. Urahara though is an exception as he developed the method of achieving bankai in three days. This allowed him as a new recruit or unranked member of the Gotei 13 to achieve bankai and after revealing this to Yamamoto he was qualified for membership as a captain. After being accepted, he is at first underestimated by Shinji, who sees him as being too carefree. Aizen however seems to immediately notice the true potential Urahara held and though he outwardly agrees with his captain, we can almost see the gears in his head turning as he tries to figure out a way to incorporate Kisuke in his diabolical ideas.


Overall

This chapter was pure gold and I thank Kubo for this blessing. However, I want to kick him in the head for his timing as he is making things interesting right when I need to stop reviewing the series. Anyways, I love getting this background on the vizards as well as the past of the Gotei 13 captains. As I said, I don’t think this flashback is over and we still have yet to see how what I think was Aizen’s manipulation of Urahara that led to members of the captains and vice-captains to become the vizards. After the flashback is over though and we get to the war, I’m hoping that Isshin makes his presence either in front of Kyouraku in a fight with Stark or Yamamoto in a fight with Aizen as if he was indeed a former captain, only those two, Ukitake, and Unohana would remember him. On a final note, I’m going to miss reviewing the series. I might start back up again when summer starts but until then I’ll probably pass on a few thoughts on each chapter in the discussion threads or if someone else takes over reviewing it I’ll post there.

Valen123456
April 01, 2008, 03:27 AM
Thanks for the good review sahugani ... youll be deeply missed here

maaru
April 01, 2008, 09:44 AM
We'll definitely miss your reviews.

Some theories I've heard being passed around is that Kensei could be Yamamoto's vice-captain. The hakama he wears doesn't seem to be cut just like the captains', but rather more like Sasakibe's, the current vice for 1st division.

Division 0 is indeed rather intriguing and I also end up wondering if it could be related to, dare I say it, Isshin? ^__^ He's such an anomaly in the story right now, there has to be a reason for him to be a captain-class shinigami without any of the gotei that he has currently encountered to not recognize him.

dedal_x
April 01, 2008, 10:11 AM
I think you're really mistaken there.

Even though in the pic you pasted Kyouraku says "The only captains still around from 100 years ago are me, Ukitake and Yama-jii..."

And you still interpret this as "The only captains still around from the foundation of Gotei13 100 years ago are me, Ukitake and Yama-jii..."

It was stated once in the manga(ch17,5 I think), and in every databook there is, that the Shinigami Academy was founded 2000 years ago by Yamamoto Genryusai Shigekuni, the head of Gotei 13 at that point of time(and till now, obviously). So, Gotei existed back then.

Ukitake and Kyouraku were the first sudents of the Academy to reach Captain rank. Them calling Unohana a sempai means that she became a shinigami before Academy was founded, and most probably was trained by Master-Disciple educational pattern, instead of Class pattern.
[hr]
Another thing is Kenpachi's title.

As you remember, Zaraki took his name after the 80th district of Rukongai, from where he originated. And the title Kenpachi - is the title of the strongest swordfighter in Rukongai. He took that title the very same day when he met Yachiru, and he 100% wasn't a shinigami back then.

This calls for some corrections: granting the title of Kenpachi isn't the tradition of Gotei 13. It's just so happened that 10 last captains of 11th division claimed that title for themselves.

If you want I can explain it:

the "first" Kenpachi was the best swordfighter and most fight-driven in Rukongai. It's obvious that eventually he grew bored on the situation and left off for Seireitei, where he just found some strong guy and fought him till death. It turned out that the guy was 11th division captain and the witness' rule gave the First Kenpachi the position of Captain.

Now, some time passes, back in Rukongai some new fight-crazed bastard claims the title of Kenpachi for himself. Eventually he runs out of formidabble opponents and starts desperately seeking for a new crazy and fun fight, and learns that the guy who was previous to claim the title of Kenpachi is still alive and kicking as Gotei 13th Captain. The new Kenpachi sets off to Seireitei and I bet none of the two can slip this opportunity of a fuckin' great fight, but the 'old' one has 'become rusty' because he hadn't fought formidabble opponents for a long time, and so he gets done in, while the new Kenpachi takes his position as 11th division captain.

So you see - it's the other way around - it's not that 11th div. has the tradition to grant their Captain the title of Kenpachi, but rather the Kenpachi's have the tradition to claim the 11th div. Captain position...

sahugani
April 01, 2008, 11:21 AM
@maaru - thats a possibility, but if you look at him a few frames later as they wait for Urahara to open the door, he's standing next to Ukitake rather than Hiyori, putting him on the captains' side rather than vice-captains (not really stellar reasoning, but its something)

@dedal_x - regarding the first matter, the point you make is the very reason i felt i needed that disclaimer above it. i did not feel like searching through the manga for the reference to the number 2000 and the wiki entry was unsourced so i didn't have much to go on. all of your points on the matter are completely valid

regarding the Kenpachi matter, i might have accidentally generalized a bit. you're right in saying that the title does not necessarily go with the title of 11th div captain. its just that there is really no set standard in soul society for the acquisition of the title so anyone who thinks of themselves as the strongest can simply start using it. the only semi-standard method of determining the true Kenpachi is to defeat a previously established holder of the title, who has traditionally just happened to be the 11th div captains

dedal_x
April 01, 2008, 11:35 AM
@sahugani

God, even I find it difficult to understand the point of what I've said above, but you managed to do it perfectly. ^__^



Anyways, I wanted to express my sincerest gratitude for your reviews.

THANK YOU, I enjoy reading them very much!!!! And even though sometimes I disagree with some points, I think it's still great, because it sparkles discussion, which is always a good thing. ^___^

P.S> Not an April Fool's joke. ;)

bittman
April 01, 2008, 08:53 PM
Great review as always Sahugani ^_^

Now if they could just throw Gin/Tousen in this flashback I can die happily.

Also, I never thought of Isshin as royal guard though it's probably a good assumption. After reading this chapter I had the feeling that he might be the newer (11th?) 'Kenpachi'. Just felt strange that they put a bit of discussion about it, I feel it is leading to something interesting. Royal Guard would definitely be better for him though ^^

chrisb3
April 02, 2008, 03:05 AM
You got the three ways to become a captain wrong.
It's:
Get recommended by several Captains and most of the others confirm.
Kill a Captain infront of ~300? Shinigami.
And the one you missed - Take the Captain test overseen by several Captains.

You don't need Bankai although it is probally almost impossible to complete any of those three ways without one.

If they say somewhere that the test is purely showing Bankai then I apologise: you're right :)

sahugani
April 02, 2008, 04:41 AM
@dedal_x - thats why i like the review sections so much. discussion is generally at a higher level and does not get lost in the sea of posts in discussion/prediction threads

@bittman - i doubt we'll see Gin or Tousen in the flashback. they are from the next generation that Aizen searched through for minions after becoming captain

@chrisb3 - ya you are right. it is the captain test rather than simply bankai, but bankai is a large part of it and it is the part that was applicable to my analysis of Urahara's speed method as the reason for his promotion. as its the only aspect of the test we know (unless i missed something) and Urahara's method was so unique, thats the part i focused on

Luckas
April 02, 2008, 05:42 AM
I can't remember where it was said that Lisa was the former Vice-Captain of the 8th Division :confused

Stone
April 02, 2008, 05:46 AM
:/
No more reviews... In a series where atm you were the only one reviewing that i knew off...

Well has always been good read and entertaining to read(Especially the comments under the pictures)

Great Review but the first part about the timeline seem to have problems.
As For Hitsugayas story, Hinamori left more then 40 years ago.
It is plausible that he made it in and became captain within 17 years though

Hard to tell time in SS


Thx for the many reviews and hopefully someone will pick up where you leave

bittman
April 02, 2008, 07:56 AM
I can't remember where it was said that Lisa was the former Vice-Captain of the 8th Division :confused
Actually yeah noticed this too. 8th vice captain is still definately Nanao and not Lisa judging from the type of glasses and the hair-do.

Think you got a bit excited seeing Vizards Sahugani =P

P.S. Actually, be nice to see a Shiba in the flashback. If Yoroichi is in this one and they get banished in the next few years, the one armed woman (whose name eludes me given how long shes been out of it. Kuukaku?) may make an appearance.

sahugani
April 02, 2008, 10:32 AM
@Luckas & bittman - you may want to compare more closely because Lisa is definately the 8th div vice-captain. they do have many similar features though, which just goes to prove Kyouraku's type
http://img406.imageshack.us/img406/9597/20814748vg4.png - Lisa as we saw her as a vizard
http://img291.imageshack.us/img291/3811/30114155cu9.png - the 8th div vice-captain of the past
http://img291.imageshack.us/img291/1798/19812521xh7.png - Nanao-chan

Stone - haha. you said it. timeframes are extremely difficult to set up in this series. i think Kubo probably could have done a better job making these more set in stone to prevent a whole slew of confusions regarding the events of Soul Society and Hueco Mundo

Luckas
April 02, 2008, 12:58 PM
@Sahu: I wasn't saying that Lisa isn't the vice-captain showed in the gaiden but that I can't remember where it was said she was a vice-captain in the past.

sahugani
April 02, 2008, 01:14 PM
unfortunately she, Kensei, and Rose did not get the official black text box that the others got, but its obvious enough to make the connection anyways