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1TrueSensei
February 07, 2009, 05:14 AM
Hola, Bleach fans. 1TrueSensei here, new at this review game. I've gone over the first review hurdle by writing the Naruto 434 review, so I decided to try my hand at another of my favorite mangas, Bleach.

Ahh, who am I kidding? I just wanted to muscle in on -The Underscore-'s territory:D

Anyway, I don't like to do the long introductions, so without further ado, the Bleach Ch. 344 review, presented by the 1TrueSensei. Enjoy.





Bleach 344: The Pride

http://i281.photobucket.com/albums/kk205/LC9411/344-1.jpg

Last week, we left off with the third of the 7 Deadly Sins, the Gluttony. The end of last chapter saw Ishida bombing Yammy to kingdom come with one of Mayuri's little toys, along with shooting down any credibility his character ever had ("I swear on the pride of the Quincy!" and all that) but I digress...

This week we see Ichigo and Ulquiorra look on as Ishida walks away, action movie style, from the blast behind him. Yammy, showing true Espada toughness (good for you, perfectly wasted character; good for you) hangs on to the edge of the hole made by the bomb as Ishida, this time in true "Ishida" style, proceeds to tell Yammy just how screwed he is since he arrived. With a somewhat badass line of "Mala Suerte, I pity you," Ishida, who has shot an arrow at the section of floor Yammy was hanging on to, watches as Yammy falls down the hole and out of our lives:crying.





I'm Falling and I Can't Get Up!

http://i281.photobucket.com/albums/kk205/LC9411/344-2.jpg

As Yammy plummets into the hole, an expletive still fresh on his lips, Ishida comments on how he's broken every pillar on the floors below the mine, making sure that Yammy has a long, uninterrupted fall all the way to Las Noches' basement (good-bye perfectly wasted character; good-bye!). Ichigo, pulling off that blank stare that shounen protagonists have down to a tee in situations like this, (you know, this one-->)

http://i281.photobucket.com/albums/kk205/LC9411/344-9.jpg

throws a wondering glance in Ishida's direction. Our favorite bespectacled hero, still floating on his post-"perfectly wasted character"-high, decides to answer all of Ichigo's questions before he can ask them. After being healed by Mayuri (right after Renji of course, since the cooler character deserved seniority:D) our favorite mad, immoral scientist created a mine that reacts to an Arrancar's reiatsu. Ishida, presumably after destroying all the necessary pillars, applied it to the ceiling of the floor directly below where Yammy was and we all know what happened after that. With a classically snarky, "Any other questions?" from Ishida, Ichigo replies in an equally snarky tone, "I never had any in the first place; you're the one who wouldn't shut up."





Protect the Long-Haired Baby Seal with your Life!

http://i281.photobucket.com/albums/kk205/LC9411/344-3.jpg

Is it degrading to call a female character a long-haired baby seal? Perhaps. In fact, I'll admit that it probably is. But I dare you to tell me, with a straight face, that Inoue doesn't look like one in that panel. I dare you:mad

Ichigo asks Ishida to shield Inoue with his body from the reiatsu he's getting ready to unleash, and Ishida, continuing their long-standing tradition of never-ending snarkniness, tells Ichigo that he would even if he hadn't asked. Then, left hand reaching up to his face, Ichigo apologizes to Ulquiorra for the wait (can I get some of that apology too?:notrust) and promises him the Hollowfication that he's been waiting for.





100% Pure, Unadulterated Beastliness

Now, I'll be the first to tell you that I strongly dislike the change in Kubo's art from his earlier work. The characters look more like the fashion models they are only supposed to act as on cover pages than the characters they were originally drawn as IM(humble)O. The cover page for this week is a perfect example of this *still shuddering in fear at those eyes:crying*, yet it seems that Kubo made up for all of his past sins with this beauty:


http://i281.photobucket.com/albums/kk205/LC9411/344-4.jpg

Yes, Kubo. You're forgiven. The beastliness of the pose jumps off the freakin' page and shows us a glimpse of what Ichigo is steadily becoming while in Hueco Mundo. This isn't the same Shinigami who fought Byakuya Kuchiki, beating him through fierce determination. This is primal, basic, and unrestrained. With the black streaks of Hollow reiatsu racing away from his fingers, neck muscles tensed and straining, and his tattered Shinigami robes fluttering in the wind, Ichigo looks less like a Substitute Shinigami and more like a raging Hollow. Can you smell the fanboy coming off me right now? Good. Glad to know I'm not the only one:tem





Unlucky Number Four

Masked and ready for action, Ichigo slashes at the eternally calm Ulquiorra, putting a dent in his defenses for the first time in this match by cracking his opponent's sword with the strength of his Hollowfied swing. Dodging a swirling Getsuga Tenshou, Ulquiorra takes the fight outside through the hole in the room with Ichigo hot on his heels.

Ulquiorra prepares a Cero, calm face looking on Ichigo impassively, and fires a pretty impressive one in Ichigo's direction. But you didn't think it'd be that easy, did you? Course not.:p


http://i281.photobucket.com/albums/kk205/LC9411/344-5.jpg

In another impressive panel, Ichigo blocks the Cero with his sword with little effort, and Ulquiorra, seeing that this Ichigo is no pushover, flies above Ichigo, prompting our hero to pursue. A burst of debris shows Ulquiorra launching himself out of the dome of Las Noches and into the dark, Hueco Mundo night.


http://i281.photobucket.com/albums/kk205/LC9411/344-6.jpg

With the curved sickle of the Hueco Mundo moon as a backdrop, Ulquiorra informs Ichigo that under express orders from Aizen, Espadas #4 and above are forbidden from releasing beneath the dome of Las Noches, and as the chapter draws to a close the last thing we see is Ulquiorra muttering one word: "Bind", the command for his Resurrecion form.

I liked this chapter much, much more than just about all the chapters that have come out this year, and many stretching back into last year. The plot moved forward significantly (though at the price of a perfectly wasted character) and the long-awaited release of Ulquiorra will be revealed next week, barring a character shift by Kubo of course. Don't jinx the manga, you say? Too late:p

It seems that the predictions of many fans as to the top four Espada being Vasto Lordes might come to pass, as it is only these four who are forbidden from releasing beneth Las Noches. So looks like next week we can look forward to a Hollowfied-Ichigo on Steroids against our first ever Resurrecion Form Vasto Lorde. Sounds epic, and I hope that Kubo delivers and digs himself out of the hole many of us see him in.


Chapter Rating: 7/10

Jaime F.
February 07, 2009, 08:23 AM
Hey TrueSensei, I just read your post in the Naruto section about your first Bleach review, so I decided to read it. Well, it was definitely a good read, so much so, that I decided to comment on it at 4 a.m. in the morning. Also, just to let you know, I did read your Naruto review before this, and I thought it was good. However, I think you did better with this one, so good job.

As for my opinion about this chapter, I agree, this was 1 of the best chapters we've had in a long time. I even enjoyed Ichigo, and Ishida's interaction. As for Yammy's fall, it made for good action, but like someone in the forums stated, the scene calls into question the ability most Bleach characters have, to float in mid-air. I'm not sure how gravity works in Hueco Mundo, or in the Bleach world in general, but I do remember Yammy floating in the air above Karakura town.

As for Inoue looking like a baby seal with long hair, lol, you're kind of right. They're both kind of cute to, but never mind that. The best thing about this chapter was the action. First of all, I didn't expect Ulqiourra's sword to crack like that. Ichigo's strength in vaizard form is definitely increasing, and it's most likely do to his increased time in Hueco Mundo. Another thing that surprised me, was that Ichigo could open the mouth part of his hollow mask, and scream. For the longest time, I thought his mask was one solid piece, but if he can open, and close the mouth like that, then I was wrong. Either that, or it's because Ichigo is continuing to become more like a hollow and as a result, his mask is becoming part of his face now.

Well, I'm definitely looking forward to seeing how this fight plays out, and I'm hoping the action continues to get better. Ulqiourra's release should look interesting, and hopefully we'll find out if the top 4 Espada are really Vasto Lorde's. Also, I'd like to know your opinion about Ichigo's hollow. If all hollows fall into an evolutionary category, then what would Ichigo's hollow be? Is Shirosaki, as many call him, a Vasto Lorde? My opinion, is that he most likely is. Although I think it's never been said, out of all the hollows I've seen, Shirosaki is the most human like form.

1TrueSensei
February 07, 2009, 11:24 AM
Thank you very, very much. I appreciate the feedback you gave me on both reviews, and I'm glad you enjoyed reading them as well. It's fun to do these reviews. Definitely time consuming, but most definitely fun as well:D

Now, as to my idea on Ichigo's Hollow evolution, I wrote an in-depth theory yesterday and I'll copy and paste it here:


As to Ichigo's Hollow powers the conclusion I came to is this. When Urahara helped Ichigo draw out his powers, either intentionally or unintentionally he made him a Vizard. Now, because he was a Vizard, his Hollow powers increased exponentially with each fight, seen as the stripes on the constantly reappearing mask kept increasing.

Zangetsu, the representation of Ichigo's Shinigami powers, was forced to increase at the same rate as his Hollow powers in order to keep Ichigo from going too far to the other side. This is the reason behind Ichigo's insane growth: both his Hollow and Shinigami sides grew at the same rate until his Shinigami powers seemingly hit the ceiling of his potential upon achieving Bankai.

It is at this point that White Ichigo took control of Ichigo's Shinigami powers for the first time. Getsuga Tenshou in Bankai isn't Ichigo's move, but his Hollow's. This is the start of Ichigo's Hollow problems. His powers, which both used to be balanced, are now unbalanced and fluctuating. This is the reason behind his whole struggle after the SS-arc. At times his Shinigami side would suppress the Hollow side, yet the Hollow side was steadily growing stronger. That's also why when Ichigo reached this point he became hesitant to use GT in Bankai; doing so would actively draw on his Hollow's power.

So cue in the whole moral dilemma, showdown with the Vizards, and subsequent training with the Vizards in which Ichigo comes to an agreement with the Hollow inside of him. Ichigo shows the Hollow that he has the raw instinct to fight and survive and grow stronger, which is basically all that drives a Hollow. There is no difference between the Hollow in Ichigo and the numerous Arrancar (including the Espada) in Hueco Mundo. They all fight for survival and grow stronger, with the strongest among them ascending and evolving until they hit their limit (Gillian, Adjucha, or Vasto Lorde).

The reason why Ichigo is becoming so strong each time he pulls on that mask is because he's acting exactly the way the Hollow wants him to act. Fight for the sake of fighting. Grow strong through battle, and crush all your opponents. Ichigo is keeping his vision clear so far because he's fighting to protect Orihime, but notice that when Orihime is safely in someone else's hands his demeanor completely changes. He's steadily becoming the Hollow inside of him.

Now what is the point of this insanely long post, you ask? I'm getting to it right now lol. This change in Ichigo brings up some interesting possibilities:

1) Ichigo's Shinigami and Hollow powers ultimately merge, forming a different, stronger reiatsu than any seen before. This is a good conclusion

2) Ichigo comes to rely on his Hollow powers and rejects his Shinigami ones (when was the last time he's talked to Zangetsu? Gotten to know his Zanpaktou better like he promised? When was the last time he tried to come up with an attack of his own creation instead of steadily relying on the Hollow's attack?) This is the bad option, and can lead to option three which is

3) Ichigo becomes a villain/anti-hero. He finds himself increasingly becoming the Hollow inside of him in everything but name, and he finds that he truly doesn't care. What type of hero would he be then, if he automatically crushes his opponents because they're weaker than he is? What distinguishes him from the Espada, or their Fraccion? Nothing. Ichigo could become what he hates most very easily.

His Hollowfication is definitely a double-edged sword waiting to cut him slowly. I can see it happening.



Now, there is the definite potential, like many fans have listed, that Ichigo's huge growth in Hollow form recently is because like Chad, he's "come home". Personally, I see Aizen factoring this into his plans. Had this been the case, I don't think he would have let Ichigo stay in HM. But that guy's mind is ridiculously convoluted, so I really wouldn't put it past him.

Now, as to Shirosaki being a Vasto Lorde, I have never heard that one before. But it makes a startling amount of sense. We never saw the inner Hollows of any of the other Vizards' so we don't know what those representations look like. Buy Shirosaki is definitely the most human-like to the point that he is human in looks. Very intriguing theory, and I'd like to ponder on it a bit more.

Once again, thanks for taking the time to read the review, and thanks for the feedback. It's a good feeling to know that others are reading and enjoying your work:D

kakuro
February 07, 2009, 11:43 AM
great naruto and bleach reviews man. though I honestly don't understand why Yammy didn't just use sonido to avoid falling in the first place, though hopefully once he's finished falling he 'll run right into Chad and they'll have the fight that was meant to be. your right Orihime does look like a seal in that pic though she hasn't got much development though besides bitch slapping Ulqiourra for burning the roast after she'd had a hard day at work XD. (blocking his attack doesn't count as she had a perfect chance for a follow up and didn't take it thanks to Ichigo) seriously ichigo I know you want to protect your friends and all but if they want to help let them help. any way sorry about the rant got off topic. i find it interesting that espada four and above can't release in Las Noches, if these are Vastro Lorde is it becuase they could destroy the very foundation of Las Noches if they did? just a personal theory but it's definitely something worth explaining next chapter any way once again great review post more if your up to it

AlphaOmegatron
February 07, 2009, 04:44 PM
Entertaining read again. I really hope we get to see Ulq's ressurecion next week. And the first time i saw that panel it blew my socks off too!

Andonan
February 08, 2009, 02:25 PM
Nice work True, good stuff in both reviews, i also noticed you've developed a catch phrase which i like and i think you should keep with "but i digress" it also kind of means you have to digress initially but I like those momentary rants so keep it up I say :D

anyway mate good stuff keep it up, and don't listen to the negative comments just read them, acknowledge them, and then either respond or take their bitter advice if you think it's appropriate, you know the saying "everyone's a critic"

1TrueSensei
February 08, 2009, 10:25 PM
Thanks for your feedback, and I'm very glad you enjoyed it. I appreciate the fact that of all the people who actually view the thread, a few stop to make comments and let me know what they think. Working to make this more professional while unique to me and enjoyable for readers makes doing this worthwhile:D

Also, I have a new format planned for this week's release, and I hope its viable for this site. Anyway, I won't know until I try it, so I'm looking forward to the release this weekend.