480: Final Arc - The Thousand-Year Blood War
Some say, he has been hanging out at Reviewer Island in a futile attempt to grasp even a fraction of The Underscore Mask's awesomeness which he could never achieve. Ever.
Others say, he's constantly been meditating for three weeks in an attempt to get a mental link with Kubo Tite in order to have the character KON return to BLEACH.
All we know is, he goes by the moniker The Underscore!
Or is what I would've loved to end this intro with, but there's a bit more to cover here. First off, there's the fact that the time has come. That's right, Bleach is marching towards its end. Sure, it will probably be five to nine years before we will reach the final chapter, but there's no turning back now. Kubo has decided to wrap things up in the Bleach-verse with a Holy War!
The second thing to mention is the fact that this review will be the last with scanlations provided by Mangastream. This considering how VIZ decided that enough was enough when it came to their scanlations. So many thanks to Mangastream for their releases of the big three and other such manga. At least we'll still have Fairy Tail!
On a more positive note to end this intro, I've added a new section to the review, one I've announced would arrive a couple of weeks ago. Look forward to the new section: Kubo Title!... if I can make it work, that is .
Bleach chapter 479, Goodbye to Our Xcution, rated by 14 voters, gets an average score of:
With the 'Lost Shinigami Representative Badge' arc having come to an end, it is of course no surprise that it has to be rated. Well, it kind of is, but still .
Bleach Arc: THE LOST SHINIGAMI REPRESENTATIVE BADGE, rated by 38 voters, gets an average score of:
With this, apparently, average arc having come to an close, and this final arc upon us, there was also the matter of what you guys wanted to see from this one. Though I doubt you guys voted considering the possibility of this being the final arc . Here are the results!
The Hougyouku still has mysteries surrounding it, which is probably why three votes went to the option of this arc having something to do with it. Is this tool of Gods an actual tool of a God? How did Aizen and Urahara both come to create this item, be it with differing results in the end?
Four voters didn't really care, so long as it's Bleach I suppose .
Ten votes went to the option of this arc being something surprising. Something unexpected, new, something with tables used for joke purposes, perverted stuffed toys, talking cats, bearded daruma's turning out to be mighty Shinigami. You know?
Twelve votes went to the option of a step further than the previous one. Not just something surprising, but something that's better than anything we've seen before! That would be a pretty awesome way to end Bleach's final arc.
Of course, seventeen voters saw what would inevitably come. Considering this final arc's title, they aren't far off if you ask me. That's right, the Soul King can make his entrance now! If it's up to these 17 voters that is .
But the majority feels we've waited for this for far too long. 25 votes went to the most obvious thing. Wanting KON BACK! Wait a sec, that's obviously true for everyone who voted. What these guys voted for, however, had to do with another pervert: Isshin! Let's face it, there's plenty to be told surrounding this father of three. Perhaps his story will be key for this final arc.
The man with the answers
See VIZ, you got Mayuri pissed as well...
In a more retro styled fashion, this arc starts with panic in Soul Society. The twelfth division headquarters is experiencing a category four on the Sutra scale, presumably explaining the fact that within two pages into this chapter there being 153 Hollows that have been destroyed while countless others keep disappearing into thin air. With this sudden increase in Hollow activity, the barrier between the real world and Soul Society seems to be compromised as well. Though Akon tries to play it cool in front of the others, he can't help but go to his captain for advice.
Enter, Mayuri post Aizen-pocalypse. For he is the one who reveals to us that a certain party is responsible for the disappearance of Hollows, besides the ones that have been exterminated by Soul Society. That's right, Hollows disappearing without a trace can only be achieved by one group: The Hollows themselves...
Three pages in and I'm already relieved by the fact that we're finally going back to Hollows. Sure, the Arrancar could be grouped with the Hollows, but it was all Aizen in the end. But this time, the Hollows decided that they should come out and play . Let's face it, there has to be some balance in power between Shinigami and Hollow, and the Arrancar weren't capable of providing it in the end.
The dreaded Vasto Lords that could take on multiple captain class Shinigami weren't really there in the end. Sure, the top three could've been Vasto Lorde, but if only one of them managed to get a new Bankai to be revealed, it doesn't bode too well. But the world is a big place, and I doubt that Hueco Mundo is any smaller than that.
Before moving on, there's the matter of Mayuri's new look of course. In a way it's just as funky as you'd expect from Soul Society's mad scientist. Yet it stays true to his funkiness all the same. As time goes by, Mayuri's headgear increases in size, this being the epitome of that. The patterns on his face are interesting enough, somewhat reminiscent of Ichigo's Fullbring when it first manifested. Guess Kubo's into the black with white stripes now .
How irresponsible could anyone get, having Af-san be a mentor?
Yuuki Ryuunosuke makes his entrance in an entranced state. With the first words out of his mouth being that he wasn't listening to Af-san's explanation, the mood for this character seems to have been set. With Af-san pointing out the irresponsibility of sleeping during the briefing of one's new mission, the man has a point (and a 'fro).
The reason Yuuki is half sleeping has to do with his excitement for this new mission. Too bad for him, this excuse is an old one he already used on Af-san before.
With a good scolding by his Senpai, Yuuki is on his way through the streets of Soul Society. Someone then points out to him how he tends to get people angry at him. As Yuuki turns around to see who tells him that, he gets slapped from the other side where the voice came from. Enter, Shino.
So here we have two new characters already. This time playing for the good guys, it was obvious this was going to happen. Seeing these two, I'm less annoyed than I was by the appearance of the Xcution members. I don't really know why to be honest. Perhaps it's the fact that these guys already don't pretend to be serious from the get go. Where the Xcution members seemed to be forced in their behavior at the start of the arc, these two seem a bit more natural.
Yuuki appears to be the typical goofball of the bunch. Causing trouble where ever he goes, yet managing to get away with it for yet unknown reasons. Though judging by some of the conversations in latter parts of this chapter, it would seem this fellow has some talents. Something that's notable in his design is the six round hairpins. Could it be that Yuuki is a noble like Byakuya? There are four major houses in Soul Society, so for all we know this guy's from one of them.
Shino is the straight man in the duo. Be it the flat chested female straight man. She suffers the same blessing/curse as a certain vice-captain (Isane), being rather tall. Though it's obvious where her insecurities will be, especially considering some of the other female characters in Bleach, I still have some decent expectations for this one. Perhaps it's because she's something completely different than what I'd expect to see from a female character introduced at this point of the story. I'm curious about the flower in the hair though. Just something Kubo added on a whim, or does he have plans for Shino that will involve some backstory with the flower being part of it.
Speaking our minds
Just admit it, you were thinking the same thing
Shino tells Yuuki to get himself together for the mission they will be leaving for in the afternoon. Yuuki admits that he shouldn't be slacking off right now, but he's a bit scared about the mission's parameters. Shino tells Yuuki it makes no sense for him to be scared, considering she's with him. Perhaps academy buddies, or childhood friends, but at least we know there won't be any wasted time where these two fill up pages on starting to get along.
Yuuki reveals that he and Shino will be leaving to one of the most Hollow active areas there are: Karakura town. He doesn't feel confident about going to a place with that many Hollows appearing. Besides that, there's a certain Shinigami Representative who can easily handle any Hollow that will come along the way...
Shino is annoyed hearing this moaning, telling Yuuki that someone obviously acknowledged his skills for sending him as the replacement for the Karakura area. Considering their predecessor it doesn't really say that much though . Ever since Rukia left, the quality has been a bit poor... Something interesting to pick up from Shino's rant is the fact that Soul Society is actually trying to look out for Ichigo a bit. They don't want to bother him with Hollows unless the situation really calls for it. In order to ensure this, they decided to assign two Shinigami to the area.
Considering the high quality Reiatsu in the area, it isn't too strange for many Hollows to show up. It's good to see that Kubo decided to this fact again, be it rather indirectly. Doesn't change the fact that it's odd for Soul Society to double its guard even though there's at least four active Hollow hunters around.
Whatever the case, Shino tells Yuuki to just do his best, stick his chest out in pride (I know, we all saw this one coming), and prove that he is worthy of people's acknowledgement. Hearing this, Yuuki can't help but laugh. Shino can't help but punch.
Okay, now that I haven't explained anything on site, I'm done here!
With a mysterious figure standing on one of Karakura's buildings, breaking something before leaving, only one thing comes to mind: Hollow bait.
Af-san leads his two replacements through the Dangai to Karakura town. After their arrival, Af-san notices something's off... Yuuki's face looks off. Yuuki tries to play it cool by saying there's nothing wrong with his face, in spite of the oddly swollen left side. Af-san, being the relaxed guy he is, accepts that Yuuki just looks weird, somewhat to Yuuki's surprise.
Hearing Yuuki's face is the same as always, Af-san decides to leave knowing that he's done everything he needs to. He leaves the replacing duo with the wise words of not fighting amongst themselves. Most certainly not implying that they should fight more amongst themselves.
With Af-san gone, Shino tells Yuuki they're going to split up. Yuuki is against this because he's scared. Though if you ask me, he just wants to tick off Yuuki some more, which requires her to be around. Realizing this, Shino just up and leaves.
Yuuki is left behind and starts to whine a bit. Until he hears a rather disturbing sound...
He just called to say Hellow
The good old fashioned Hollow makes its entrance. How I've missed the original Hollow designs made by Kubo. Weird mask, with an even weirder body, this is exactly what we'd expect to see from a Hollow. Yuuki, however, wasn't expecting it right now. He immediately runs away from the Hollow yelling and screaming to Shino that he found a Hollow.
As Yuuki runs around screaming that Shino has to come and make fun of him, it's actually evident that there's more to Yuuki than what he's showing. He easily dodges all the attacks launched by the Hollow while managing to pinpoint Shino's location all in one go. This doesn't change the fact that he is still a newbie to this as he never noticed what was going on with Shino.
Hollow's night out
It's like that painting of dogs playing poker... except there's Hollows trying to decide how to eat a Shinigami
Though I've been saying Yuuki has been pretending to be scared all along, witnessing what he does right now makes it obvious that he knows some fear. Four Big Hollows are looking forward to eating some tasty Shinigami. With the situation being four against one, with a knocked out Shino at stake, Yuuki finally realizes that this isn't the game he thought it to be. Trouble's a brewing with there being no option for him than to raise his Zanpakutou at four Hollows at the same time. Lucky for Shino that Yuuki came running to her when he did. It's not like he had troubles of his ow... wa~~it a second. One, two, three, four... wasn't there a fifth?
Knocking some sense into Yuuki, he's sent flying by the Hollow that was following him in the first place. In a single blow, Yuuki's world starts to fall apart. How could it be that they're both taken out so quickly. With the life dripping out of him along with his blood, Yuuki realizes that there's quite a lot of blood that flows from wounds in Bleach. I suppose that has to do with the fact that it's his own blood in the first place.
Just as Yuuki thinks to himself that he doesn't want to die, the Hollow that first attacked him and the one that's holding Shino both get struck in a single blow. Time to cue Hazel Fernandes
Look, it's the face that we've seen on this week's magazine!
Though I've had my trifles with the previous arc, at least two good things came out of it. First, Ichigo got his Shinigami powers back. Second, Ichigo's renewed Shikai. Boy does it look awesome in action against Hollows.
Anyways, Ichigo asks Yuuki if he's the one who took over Imoyama's place (he finally remembers Af-san's name and now the guy's gone!). He tells Yuuki that if he is, he really has to up his game. He can't possibly be more useless than Af-san, can he?
Yuuki can't help but ask who the big strawberry standing before him is. The strawberry introduces himself as the Shinigami Representative, Kurosaki Ichigo! With Ichigo ready to rumble, the shadow that released the Hollow Bait in the first place seems to have achieved his goal. Keeping his eyes on Ichigo, we know what's going to happen next week. With Ichigo making his appearance, we also get the title of this week's chapter, which brings me to the new section of the reviews!
Just admit it, horrific pun though this may be, it's a good title for this section. But you don't even know what this section's about? I've had some requests on whether I could deliberate on the titles of the chapters more often. Though some titles are self explanatory, others seem to be more deeply woven into the overall story or even the chapter itself. Some titles are just plain goofy though . All in all, these titles are given by one man, Kubo Tite. So one could say, each chapter gets its own Kubo Title!
The Thousand Year-Blood War
With this being the final arc, it would make sense for Hollows to be the villains to beat. Especially considering how this is supposed to be the "Final Holy War". Then again, judging by the people who appear on the color spread, it might not be that cut and dry.
My guess is that this will have something to do with Genryuusai and Isshin. Genryuusai because of the fact that this apparently is a Thousand Year old war. Isshin because of the fact that Ichigo seems to be targeted and the Blood War bit.
From what I can tell from the spread I'm using as a header for this section, there should be at least five leading members in a mysterious group (okay, this part lacks originality, but what's the point of there only being a single villain?). But that's for the predictions.
Anyways, back to the title. With these five members standing around, who show no signs of being Hollow (as of yet), it is possible that this holy war has something to do with a different group all together. Just look at the Hollow bait that has been used. Could there be some Quincy involvement as well? Perhaps this is how Ryuuken will tie into the story as well.
All in all, this chapter's title doesn't seem to have much to do with this current chapter as much as it is a prelude to this final arc. Sadly, that's all I can say about this title for now. If only I could've done more with the introduction of this new section .
I'm excited about this new arc. Sure, it's the final arc, which makes it somewhat disappointing, but I'm still looking forward to it. Some elements in this chapter were predictable, even cliché. But I think the right tone has been set for the upcoming chapters. We see how things are settling in Karakura town, following the events with Aizen (and Xcution, I guess) while a new villain already starts using Hollows to (most likely) test Ichigo. The disappearing Hollows could have everything to do with this, or absolutely nothing at all. The barrier between the worlds is once more being compromised (if we count fillers that is), meaning Soul Society will have to divide their attention.
With decent characters and story progression, along with Kubo's usual amazing character art, I've quite enjoyed this extra long chapter. Taking comfort in knowing that Kubo already knows where he wants to go with the story from this point on, I can't deny I'm expecting some great chapters. I can't say we won't be getting a couple of disappointing chapters, this still being Bleach, but I'm expecting there to be a great rise in quality as this arc progresses. Even though it wasn't necessarily this chapter's contents that made me think this, I still enjoyed this chapter with this comforting thought.
Oh, Vasto Lordes. Could you finally be making your appearance bringing the threat once prophesized at the beginning of the Arrancar arc? Could you guys finally be opponents worthy of forcing some of the long awaited Bankai out of Soul Society? Could you guys be the reason for Isshin to have used the Mugetsu? Does the Zero squad's existence have something to do with you guys?
Makes you wonder how it is that Aizen never found these beings when he was recruiting for the 'overthrow the Soul King' plan. Could there be some Hollow Homestead inside of Hueco Mundo, where Vasto Lordes stand as captains same as the Shinigami in Soul Society?
Next week will start off with Ichigo taking out the remaining Hollows on the rooftop. As Ichigo first thinks that the danger is over, asking Orihime to come out and heal the two newbies, more Hollows appear. Ichigo will be saved by a swift arrow released by a certain Quincy, as countless of other Hollow start appearing over the place. Ishida will make the connection with the same Hollow bait he once used (be it during the fight, or after) as Chad joins in as well.
With Ichigo, Chad, and Ishida cleaning house, the mysterious shadow figure will report his findings to his colleagues. He will report that there were some unexpected Shinigami who showed up after he released the bait, only to reveal that it wasn't much of a problem at all. Within the next couple of chapters, this fight will end with Yuuki and Shino at Urahara's coming to, as Vice-captain Rukia arrives in the real world to discuss this incident.
That’s it for this week’s review. I hope you guys enjoyed it. Be sure to let me know what your thoughts are on this week’s chapter and/or review, give any theories that you may have and to vote in this week’s poll. Don’t forget to rate this week’s chapter! I’ll see you guys again next week!
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