Welcome to another review of Bleach! You may remember that I wrote a review last week as well, as the start of what I hope that will be a lengthy review series. It all depends on the author you know. He is delivering a string of excellent chapters, so as long as Bleach continues this, reviews will appear.
Last week we were introduced to the dreadful possibility that there will be only one survivor of this training, which is starting to look more like a settling of old scores, old feelings, grievances. And so the poll addressed the same question, and as predicted an overwhelming majority would like Unohana to survive.
However it seems like, that is not the case, or at least the tone of this chapter suggests that Unohana might be sacrificing herself.
This week is all about the characters. There's not much plot advancement, but nonetheless secrets and revelations are abound.
I'm not really sure what the title wants to express here. The word drop can be used in different contexts, so in order for me to gauge what it means, I would need to see the kanji that is used in the title.
But I don't know the kanji used in the title, so what I have is the content of the chapter, and there are a few instances where the word drop or its words synonymous with drop could possibly have any meaning.
- Kenpachi dropping his sword - this is a pretty important moment, because it shows that Unohana is very much above Kenpachi's level at the moment. But it seems like this was not always the case, since Unohana is telling us that Kenpachi is a dull blade in comparison to what he was when the first time they met.
And she's right, Unohana dispatches Kenpachi pretty quickly, and it's not surprising. Kenpachi always needs time to work himself up to fight properly. It seems that the first fight he truly enjoyed was with Unohana, and after that probably Ichigo managed to rile up to the same level.
Even against Nnoitra he didn't show much, he just screamed, made useless movements, danced around his opponent. And at the first serious moment he sliced his opponent in half. So I think this chapter is trying to tell us about the gradual dullness of Kenpachi as a fighter. So the dropping of his sword isn't just literal, but also symbolic, since the dullness is so far along that it's almost as if he doesn't even have a sword.
- dropping his current attitude, and trying to be the beast that he was once - now this is probably more relevant, and possibly more worthy for a chapter title, but who knows really. Sometimes Kubo's chapter titles only make sense in Kubo's head.
I think it's fair to say that dropping his boredom and lack of seriousness was supposed to be a requirement for entering this fight in the first place. However it took some time, and this happened after a most interesting development.
I think this is the most shocking moment of the chapter. If you take a closer look at the actual page of the manga, you can see Unohana's face having drops of blood on it, which came from Unohana's mouth. The blade itself is detailed and Kenpachi's assessment of his own condition seems to be real.
My first reaction to this development was that it's just killing intent, the same that Kenpachi did to Ichigo. But the blood, and the fact that in the next panels Kenpachi gets back his sword, despite dropping it before. Which leads to the conclusion that there's a short time period that Kubo chose not to show us.
The theory is that Unohana healed him after the stab, or maybe even as she withdrew her blade from his neck. Unohana's Zanpaktou is beast whose saliva heals. So it could be that upon choice Unohana can heal with the touch of her sword.
So as I mentioned at the beginning, there isn't much plot development in this chapter, however there are revelations and secrets, mysteries. This is the first one.
After dropping the necessity of thinking, and becoming more primal and feral, Kenpachi starts attacking again with renewed strength.
And Unohana provides the explanation for this newfound strength in Kenpachi. The revelation in this chapter is that their relationship goes beyond simple foes in the past. Something happened during their encounter, of perhaps after it, that is considered a sin by Unohana. Is this sin the reason why she was the most terrible villain of society?
The hints she gives are related to Kenpachi, and she manages to insinuate that Kenpachi cannot be killed. Assuming this is literally true, Unohana implies that this is the result of some self imposed rule, so it is not a natural state (doh). Anyways such a rule or mistake as Unohana puts it should come with a terrible price. Something like never hearing your own Zanpaktou? Is it even possible to achieve such an exchange?
Nevertheless, it seems that Unohana contributed to this scenario, but as to how she managed this and what else she shares with Kenpachi of her past will be revealed next week.
There's also the chance that it's not literal. I mean he is dead already right and in SS But leaving such nitpicking behind, this might be symbolic, or just a more colourful wording of getting to a near death state.
The conclusion is pretty clear though, and that is that we need more info, and we should get that info next chapter. But before entering the analysis part of the review I would like to address one more point. And that is the way this literal or not so literal death can provide a powerup.
Urahara explained in the distant past, that when a soul gets into an excited state, similarly to how adrenaline is pumped, the soul generates reiatsu. Near death states or arriving to near death states can be pretty exciting I think, so the powerup is not that surprising. Not to mention actually dying.
Characterization is pretty extensive in this chapter. Well extensive is a more relative term, to be honest, because a chapter of a weekly manga can only offer so much. What this chapter offers in addition to last week's chapter is the appearance of minor characters, support cast. And support cast in this context only refers to this arc, where Ichigo, Renji, Unohana and Kenpachi are all major characters. And that brief appearance tells us a lot.
You can pretty much tell from the two reactions the identity of who will die. A legitimate discussion can be made of course regarding the more sensitive nature of Isane versus the stronger and yet more innocent nature of Yachiru, but I think in the case of Ken-chan dying even Yachiru would shed a tear. But she is not and Isane's well of tears seems endless. This already sets the grim mood of the chapter, because it seems more and more clear that Unohana will actually die.
One of the reasons for her death, could be as simple the statement of last week's poll. The art of killing needs a victim. Even if this just an introductory lesson to the art of killing.
Now last week someone pointed out that there are different translations on the net, and one says "introduction to swordsmanship" and the other says "art of killing". The actual phrase uttered by Kyouraku is this. Zanjutsu no tehodoki. Zanjutsu as we know is the word for the usage of zanpaktous in Soul Society, so in essence it's the swordsmanship employed by the shinigami. However the word swordsmanship would be "kenjutsu" if we would like some precision.
The kanji for Zan from Zanjutsu means kill/murder/decapitate, so Zanjutsu is not just swordsmanship, but it's more like a discipline that perfects killing.
Tehodoki means introduction, or initiation, so I think both translations almost got the essence of what Kyouraku wanted to say, which is an introduction in the techniques of killing.
Continuing with a grim mood, I guess it's not surprising to see even some desperation appearing in the chapter
This is some sight. It appears that Kubo is exploring the extremes of his characters right now, not only with Unohana's 180 degree turn, but with Kenpachi as well. This desperation has its source in Kenpachi's reason for living, which is to enjoy fights and get better at it. However he realizes that the world is upside down, Unohana is using cheap tricks, he was actually getting weaker, not stronger, and if that's not enough, he is just moments from losing his pathetic life, without any second chances.
This pathetic display is pretty appalling, and Unohana quickly resolves the problem, but it seems "second chances" is somehow the middle name of Zaraki Kenpachi.
The art of this chapter deserves 2nd place after characterization. Some panels are a bit messy, or not so easy to figure out, but not that impossible. The paneling and angles manage to set an exciting pace for the battle, but the facial expressions and closeups to the characters are even better.
The pace of the story slowed down a bit to grant the characters the spotlight they deserve. Even so, there are quite enough revelations that make it up for the slow pace. The most interesting being the past of the two Kenpachis. It seems Zaraki's fighting style is copied from Unohana, even though Unohana berates fighting with just one hand. I think as the fight will progress and true kendo will appear, both will exhibit an even deeper connection.
But this panel is the peak when it comes to the grim atmosphere, and when it comes to the result of this fight. Meaning that Unohana expects Zaraki to treat her as an enemy, to let go of his respect, his praise, all the while she won't treat him the same way.
So yeah, I think Unohana will die.
Predictions/Want to happen
But my predictions are usually wrong, as was proved this week. So maybe, me going around and predicting all sorts of outrageous things means that they won't happen. That's the reason why this week I won't make any predictions. There are soo many things that could happen.
Kubo could revert back to Ichigo and Renji for a half a chapter and begin Unohana's flashback the next half, just to keep us on our toes.
Maybe it will be dedicated entirely to Unohana's flashback, or perhaps half flashback, half continuation of the fight.
Which one do you want? Do you even want the above mentioned? Do you even want a chapter next week?
Well I'll leave the answers to you
And with that, we arrive to the end of the review. By courtesy of Kubo, scanlation and Mangahelpers this review is considered delivered, and I'm looking forward to discuss the review and chapter with you guys.
Last edited by benelori; January 23, 2013 at 03:41 PM.
Ahhhh, good revive, thank you for sharing! The three major point of this chapter that need discussions are for one the meaning of the title "The Drop", the short unconciousness phase of Zaraki and what Unohana's "sin" may be. You mentioned all those topics!
I'm not completely sure what to think of the title myself yet, I agree with you, it could be the drop in Zaraki's spirit and/or strength, as she said he was stronger before. I can't think of anything else at this late hour.
And your analysis of the interval between her cutting his throat until him getting back his conciousness made me think it indeed was not her healing him, but it was he himself, or maybe his zanpakuto. Her comment made it clear she was not involved into it.
About her sin, I want to believe it's the creation of this new monster Zaraki, who will become a more powerful and bloodlusting criminal, than she was in her days.
But I think you rushed here a little with the pronouncement of her soon dead. I am still convinced the conflict will be solved without one death of those two. The death issue is just to raise some drama. If she's forced to use her bankai later I might rethink it, but for now, no. No bankai, no dead body.
Good review benelori, i was expecting unohana own zaraki but not beat the crap out of him like this and, you made good review this week and last week. You should try naruto even though, naruto is going through an rough time with a bunch of asspull of jutsus..
Last edited by EMS; January 23, 2013 at 10:06 PM.
Benelori nice review and very fast as well. I thought the review was very thought out especially examining the titles meaning. The only thing I want to say is that I think it's fairly obvious that Unohana is healing kenpachi as she's killing him, especially based on what she last said (You're a mighty Saiyan...) whether its her bankai true abilities or some other thing going on I don't know. It seems that Kenpachi takes fights as whatever with the bells and eyepatch. It's cool and all but a real monster wouldn't play down to his opponents, I think Unohana will sharpen Kenpachis blade by killing him over and over figuratively and literally. I could be wrong tho...(cue KT troll).
bene,I didn't know you started reviewing chaps . about this chapter,I think the timeline is a bit confused,but your prediction must be right: we are gonna have a flashback concerning their past. I hope it will clear a bit the inconsistencies of the timeline...
Could Zaraki have a monster sealed inside him? One which cures him and was sealed inside him by Unohana? (maybe i've just read too much naruto). Perhaps the one that appeared in Yama jii's flashback... This manga keeps getting more and more interesting, great review by the way, I don't agree with some points but it's great that someone is giving himself the trouble of writing such a detailed review and share it with us.
Last edited by mangus; January 25, 2013 at 01:00 PM.
Well I hope my prediction is wrong...I mean Kubo did this exact same thing in this arc with Byakuya...all the chapters were built to make us believe he will die, but he didn't...
---------- Post added at 10:10 AM ---------- Previous post was at 10:06 AM ----------
I did review Naruto in the past, but I got tired of it, because of the war, and I don't think I'm gonna start reviewing it again, since it hasn't gotten any better since...
---------- Post added at 10:15 AM ---------- Previous post was at 10:10 AM ----------
Well the title almost always relates to the central theme of the chapter, so it's useful to look at it...especially since Kubo is the more artsy type and likes his titles weird and ambiguous
About Kenpachi...it's not that obvious...as Evil3ye mentioned above, it could be that Zaraki's sword is reacting as well...perhaps, Zaraki stays dead until the sword gets back into his hand, and then is revived thanks to the huge amount of reiatsu from the Zanpaktou...
Of course healing could be involved as well...I guess we'll see this week
---------- Post added at 10:16 AM ---------- Previous post was at 10:15 AM ----------
And yeah...started last week...Bleach has gotten interesting, and I've been longing for some reviewing since I last did Naruto...
---------- Post added at 10:19 AM ---------- Previous post was at 10:16 AM ----------
Thanks for coming by, and next time please share those points you don't agree with!...different POVs help everyone to understand the current and subsequently the next chapters better...
Nowadays, Naruto can only be reviewed for fun by using deep sarcasm. You had better keep it on Bleach
And the review was great, which surprised me since even I didn't think the chapter was revealing by the standards Bleach kept as of late, but excellent job (=