Bleach 282 Review/Op-Ed by Gigantor21

gigantor21

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282 – The Primal Fear

Wow…just, wow. What an amazing chapter.

Only once have I given a perfect score since I started the reviews, and I have since disavowed that rating due to the shitty ending of the fight it began. I’m talking about 264, “Don’t Say That Name Again”, which was given inflated marks due to Rukia fandom and potential that was going to be wasted. I deeply regret not giving it a 4.5, at the very least, because making it a 5 cheapened the ratings process as a whole.

A 5 is not something that should be given lightly. It’s like the difference between an A and an A+, between a 1st ranked fighter and the champion, or between a really good movie and one of your favorites. It should either be a shining example for others to follow, or such a momentous and brilliantly done piece of work that it changes your view of the field as a whole.

Of the 282 chapters in the series, there are only 3 others that I would’ve given this rating to:

165. Dark Side of Universe 2
175. end of hypnosis 7 [Truth Under My Strings]
178. No One Stand On The Sky

All three were incredible chapters in their own right, but there was more to it than that. Each of them altered the very course of the story itself, and changed the way I read it altogether. After all, could you look at Bleach the same way when Ichigo’s mask first appeared? When we found out about the Hougyoku, and the way it influenced the entire story? Or when an army of Menos broke into Soul Society, and helped 3 captains escape? I, for one, couldn’t.

That’s what I saw here, literally for the first time in years. And that’s why I’m rating this chapter so highly, even though I know I’ll only regret it even more if I’m wrong. But it seems well worth the risk.

So, without further ado, here’s the review.

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This chapter was incredible because it addressed my biggest problem with the series; Ichigo’s lack of depth as a protagonist.

To be blunt, I’ve never liked Ichigo. In fact, he’s one of my least favorite characters in the series. The main reason is the fact that, as a protagonist, he’s had no big, overarching goal to fight for since the series began. Sure, you could say it was “to protect his friends”, but how many goddamned shonen protagonists do you know who wouldn't protect their nakama?

Luffy does it, Naruto does it, Goku did it, and countless other main characters in a shonen have done it. It’s just a natural human response to protect those you care about, so why should Ichigo be any different?

Well, that's where the root of my problem is. He isn’t any different. He doesn’t have the manic energy of a Luffy, the single-minded determination and heart of a Naruto, or the charisma and presence of an older Son Goku. He’s just some punk with a shitload of power and a kind soul, the type of main character that the shonen genre is constantly flooded with, year after year. He’s always symbolized the generic aspects of this series, and I’ve never been able to like him for it.

This chapter has shown the potential to change that.

Remember back when Ichigo fought Renji in the real world? That’s what I was strongly reminded of when I read this chapter. But here, Ichigo’s bloodlust was grounded in a much more solid context, and it’s implications were much more profound. He didn’t just randomly get the urge to stomp some ass and the power he needed for it; it was an extension of something that’s been talked about since Ichigo’s second fight with Shirosaki.

Instinct.

For the first time, we saw Ichigo fight as a Shinigami for the thrill of it. No pretense of simply wanting to protect or rescue, and no heady monologue about nakama or whatever. He came right out and said he was having fun fighting Grimmjow, which just confirmed the idea that Ichigo isn’t only here to save Inoue. And it was just SO goddamn refreshing to see.

The horse and the king are finally starting to meld into the centaur. And I couldn’t be happier.

Beyond that, the art was amazing, the fighting was amazing, and the imagery at the end was some of the best we’ve seen in the manga. That single glance between Inoue and Ichigo symbolized how his internal struggle is neither internal nor simple anymore. He can’t just blame it on Shirosaki this time—it’s his own drive to fight that he must come to accept, and those that he loves could be hurt badly in the process. I saw that in his eyes as he looked at Inoue's horrified expression, and came to a stunning realization;

I’m finally starting to care about him as a protagonist, and not just a fighter.

Rating – 5 out of 5 (Critic’s Choice)
 
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Quartz-pebble

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