Gold Knight's Ten Comments (Bleach 239)

Gold Knight

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Who wants to vote Ichigo for President?

Surprise, surprise...! That's right, a review on something else other than Naruto this week! The loveable Dragonzair here once gleefully asked me to do a Ten Comments on Bleach, but I hesitated, because I wasn't sure if I even had the time. Now I do, kinda, but I still didn't this review all in one go, which is the reason why it took me until the next Wednesday night to finally post it. Well, following my Naruto 319 review, I started working on bits and bits every day. Not to mention since a Bleach chapter is structured a bit differently from the typical Naruto chapter, I had to think about how I wanted to organize my Ten Comments a little bit more than usual. In any case, I can't promise that I'll be able to keep it up on weekly basis (especially if Gigantor goes back to reviewing it) but still, it was fun to do something else than Naruto once in a while. :) Might take a crack at a OP chapter sometimes, too.

Anyway, so I'm known as a Narutard here, but some of you might be surprised that I read Bleach. Well, when Viz first started publishing it in America, around a year and a half ago or so, I liked the concept enough to pick it up (even though it resembled Yu Yu Hakusho a little bit, a similarity I would soon realize was completely unfounded). Much like Naruto, I've enjoyed Bleach from the set-go. I used to only wait until the latest volumes came out, but last winter my friend Mel (aka Occa) finally convinced me to start downloading Bleach, and I've never looked back since.

All the same, I haven't read Bleach for as long as I have Naruto, so I'm still relatively new to it. I've only re-read the whole series about.... 10 times! :noworry

First, let me just say this. Say whatever you want about his writing, Tite Kubo is most assuredly a master of character design. He has managed to give every single character in this manga a wonderfully memorable and well-rounded personality, and for that reason I consider the Character Popularity contests in Bleach considerably more interesting than the ones in most manga out there. Sequential story-telling is also another aspect of Kubo's craft that I consider nearly peerless - his ability to constantly charge his panels with emotional art is something I haven't seen very often. However, I do not consider him as skilled a writer as Kishimoto or Oda - although his characters might carry the chapters with their usually entertaining dialogue just fine, the story itself lacks a lot of momentum at times.

But in recent months, Tite Kubo may be knocking on the door a little bit as far as coming up with an inventive plot. So, I decided to start reviewing with Chapter 239 which definitely seems to be starting a whole new journey for both the characters AND the readers.

One final thing, because I just have to say so. Djudge of BleachForums, THANK YOU very much for continuing to translate Bleach all these weeks we've been here!!! It's because of your beautifully-done scripts that we've never had to be impatient for a Bleach translation. We really owe you one, dude!

Please enjoy and comment away when you have time. ;)

* * * Gold Knight's Ten Comments on Bleach Chapter 239: Winged Eagles! * * *​


'Cause Ichigo has some issues.

1. A Little Recognition Goes a Long Way. We see the green-haired Vizard, Mashiro, rushing to deliver a package to Shinji in her own charming way (being completely ignorant of the contents - good thing it wasn't a bomb from the Arrancar)! It's revealed to contain freshly-unwrapped bandages from the time Ichigo spent his time recuperating at the Vizards' hideout, and a quickly-scrabbled "Thank You" note. Typically in character for Ichigo, he found it too difficult to say 'thank you' to these odd strangers for all their help with his training.

Yet, even though Shinji was somewhat disparaging of Ichigo's intentions here, I'm sure that deep down he did appreciate that his recent understudy at the very least expressed some form of gratitude. The Vizards, being neither Shinigami nor Arrancar but both, seem like a lonely race, hungry for both recognition and some kind of acceptance by others. So this simple action may actually come back to help Ichigo tremendously at some point. As revealed in his battle against Grimmjaw, after all, Shinji had still not really taken any side in the Shinigami-Arrancar war, preferring to be neutral and only had participated out of concern for Ichigo (even if he didn't admit it), but he and his comrades may yet join the battle out of respect for the bonds they've formed with Ichigo. The little things REALLY do count...


Tsk, tsk, underage drinking.

2. I'll Take Mine On The Rocks, Please. Tite Kubo usually inserts his covers about four or five pages well after the chapter's already started. But with double spreads, he often does it right off the bat - and hey, why not? His work's almost always beautifully colored, fascinating, and usually loaded with pop culture references, and sometimes even seem to even be propagandic in nature. This one is no different.

This time Kubo seems to go back to the past with the Victorian attire. We see Ichigo, Renji, Urahara, and Hitsugaya in here, all sitting and stern-looking behind a row of 'Pigeon Ruby' bottles which look more like they contain blood. The message "All Peoples are Vampires," make it obviously an intentional thing, and I've gotta wonder if Tite Kubo's just pissed off at humanity in general. Ichigo certainly seems to be here.

I've also got to chuckle a little over Tite Kubo's fondness for using Renji in particular for all the double spreads. Ichigo I would understand, because he's the main hero, after all. But Renji - I think Kubo's a little in love with Renji as a character more so than the others - not that I blame him, because Renji's indeed got a very interesting design. Especially with all these tattooes decorating his body.

Incidentally, note that the cover of Volume 23 was revealed here in the lower left corner, and looks to be displaying a pretty kick-butt cover of Ikkaku. Good thing too! Ikkaku was definitely the highlight of that volume, so I'm glad to see him on there.


Always knew Mizuiro was the boss.

3. See What Happens When You Don't Write Letters? You know when Ichigo's been away a long time when even his teacher gets on his back about it. This is the very same woman who not only dismisses no-shows as slackers, but also lets Ichigo run to the bathroom and miss class probably every day! Even Mizuiro, somebody who had likely gotten used to Ichigo's frequent leave of absences by now, became worried.

Guess even one month of being absent would have come across as being pretty bad, though. First there was the training he did with the Vizards, then the battle with Grimmjow, and then the recuperation from his injuries, which Orihime had a part in healing. I suppose he was lucky that his first mission into the Soul Society to rescue Rukia had been over the summer, because he would have had to re-take the whole year! (Along with Chad, Ishida, and Orihime.)

Although anybody who knew Ichigo even a little probably would be worried (except probably the dense Asano), after Ichigo's polite response to Mizuiro's inquiry.

After all, Ichigo is NEVER polite - unless he's bothered by something. Orihime, who knew his behavior pattern the best of anybody, was the first one to notice it in the series, and now we readers are attuned to his moods as well. And now the others are catching on as well - Mizuiro knew something was up immediately.

That's the beauty of Tite Kubo's character design right there - he's allowed the readers to understand Ichigo so well that we don't even question why Mizuiro was so suspicious. Even if we hadn't known that Orihime had been taken to Hueco Mundo, we probably would be going "Something's Wrong!" from Ichigo's reaction here, regardless.

Sidenote: I did enjoy the funny twist here Tite Kubo threw at us when we thought at first Ichigo was the one slamming Asano's head to the ground with his foot, but instead it was Mizuiro! Poor Asano gets picked on by everybody - even his closest friend! XD


I think he just let the cat out of the bag...

4. Away For Two Months? Way to go, Ichigo. By revealing that you'll be away until at least the 5th of December (and it's probably only October at the moment, according to Shinji's thoughts in Chapter 229), you probably didn't help matters much by worrying Mizuiro even more. And making him wondering "WTF" to boot. Oh well, I guess that's what happens when you're as distant as all-out and just thinking out aloud.

I wonder if Tite Kubo's also hinting that this particular storyline will last until December in real time, as well. It's August right now, so that's about four full months of chapters to come before the onset of winter. Hopefully at least this won't be as long an arc as the whole Rescue of Rukia mission, because that one did kind of drag on a bit too long.


Busted!

5. The Dragon Comes Out Roaring! Finally, Tatsuki, the dragon to Orihime's princess, comes onto the scene... and lets Ichigo know that she's known all along about their "extracurricular activies." Weirdly enough, and maybe it's because I haven't reread the series enough times, but somehow I just kept forgetting that Ichigo never really knew that Tatsuki could sense spirits as well. Tatsuki's such a cool character, and yet so often kept in the background, which is a big shame. I'd love to see her take a more prominent role.

Anyway, I don't blame Tatsuki at all for finding Ichigo and asking him what's going on. I'm definitely glad that Tite Kubo didn't forget about her relationship with Orihime. Obviously she would know something was terribly, terribly amiss, as well.


Quite a wallop there.

6. I'd Be Pissed, Too. Saw that one coming a mile away. Pow. Ichigo tries too hard to leave his friends out of his own problems, which is one of his real flaws - his tendency to try to solve all his problems on his own. While it may seem at first like he's trying to protect his friends, the truth is that he's afraid that anybody else would get hurt because of him. His pain-filled eyes said it all there. Even if his friends are powerful enough to come with him - he wouldn't have wanted them to get involved, as we saw later in the chapter. Much less friends that he knew wasn't prepared for the bad guys. Tatsuki saw right through it.

He's right though. Tatsuki wouldn't have been able to fend for herself at this stage of her character development, which she doesn't yet understand. She would stand about as much chance against the Arrancar as Ichigo's two sisters. But nonetheless, Ichigo at the very least should have been willing to tell Tatsuki the story of went on, and what transpired in the Soul Society and since they came back home. Because if one of Tatsuki's best friends won't tell her what's happened, who else will? Would have only taken a hour or so. So, I don't blame Tatsuki at all for punching him.

Especially after Ichigo said that Tatsuki had no business knowing what he does - well, wasn't it Orihime who Tatsuki spoke to all the time? She definitely had the right to know, more than anybody else, what might have happened to her. Being left in the dark about her friend was probably the worst thing that Ichigo could have possibly done to her at that moment.


Didn't want to fight Aizen, anyway. That mother's crazy.

Anyway, guess this would be a good time for me to explain why I still find Ichigo a very interesting protagonist. Most are dissatisfied with him because he seemed to develop too quickly, too fast - for example, his battle with Kenpachi. I've heard people say that Kenpachi should have won that one, based on pure experience and battlepower, even despite Zangestu's intervention. Then Byakuya, another case of rising to a new level of invulernability in what amounts to almost only couple of days. Only the amazing prowess of Aizen cut short Ichigo's streak of wins in the Soul Society.

I won't deny that Ichigo's definitely a powerhouse, but what really holds him back are his own emotional shortcomings. He's his own worst enemy, and that's what still intrigues me about him. He's never really gotten to the point where he was more comfortable with the people around him, even now. Will he ever learn? That's where I believe his character will develop the most over the course of the series.


Good thing he's not a U.S.-Mexico border guard.

7. Back to the Magician! Not at all surprised Ichigo went back to the Urahara Shoten shop for help. Urahara is the one guy who could probably care less if he's going against the rules of the Soul Society and who CAN pull any kind of rabbit out of his hat in order to help Ichigo achieve his objectives. Such a convenient stand-by character like that must be nice for Tite Kubo to have, but I suppose you can't argue that Urahara isn't just awesome one way or another.

I'm glad, too, that Urahara admitted that it was somehow his own fault that Orihime was captured. I was worried for a while that he actually manipulated everything so that Aizen would capture her to serve some hidden purposes of his own. I was pretty happy that Urahara was shown to be completely surprised when Yami, Luppi, and Wonderwyce were all pulled back to Hueco Mundo before their fight was over. And now, the confession that he didn't foresee any of this happening really had me relieved. After what he pulled before with Rukia and the Hougyoku, the last thing I'd want to see is Urahara doing something similar with Orihime. Ichigo would have never trusted him again.

Even though Urahara is a great darkhorse-type character, I'd still like to see him firmly on the side of the angels for a while.


Doing what they do best: intimidate the heck out of the readers.

8. Guess Who's Here. I expected Chad to appear before Ichigo went to the Hueco Mundo, but not Ishida at all. That was a surprise. I'd have thought that he would have come later.

Very interesting development. Came without any warning at all - I thought we'd be seeing some last words from Ishida's father before we saw him again. Well, he seems dressed in Quincy attire once again, so I'd daresay it's fair to assume that he's regained all his powers.

And probably more.


I think I heard Zangetsu moaning in pain there.

9. Chad's Ready to Go! You know, being the hero's friend must be tough. To have a friend who's immensely powerful, yet somebody that you used to imagine yourself fighting side by side together. And then to find yourself suddenly becoming more often the victim than any real help. Tite Kubo seems to be exploring that point of perspective of being the "sidekick" in Yasutora Sado aka Chad here, and I'm liking it so far. Chad's not a particularly war-like guy, but he does have pride, and he doesn't like being left behind.

I'm sure we all remember the last time Chad tried to help Ichigo along his journey, and he got pwned by Shunsui. So this time, now that they're going into a land where the enemies are decidedly less human and more cruel, I'm cheering for Chad to prove his mettle. Maybe through Chad, Ichigo will come to recognize that he needs at times to accept the support of his friends, not outright refuse it out of fear.


Here We Go...!

10. Deja Vu All Over Again. Before Ichigo set off to rescue Rukia, Chad and Ishida were among the party that joined him to help him. Missing this time, of course, is Orihime, now the damsel in distress.

While I don't enjoy the idea of another "Save the Princess" storyline, something tells me that it won't quite turn out the same way as the last time. Orihime did say back in Chapter 228 that the next time Ichigo and she would meet, she wouldn't look to him for help, but rather be able to fight on her own. For her to once again depend on Ichigo to save her would defeat that promise, and be somewhat of a disappointment. I think Tite Kubo's preparing the readers for a completely different kind of story this time around.

One where Ichigo may actually be the one looking to his friends for help...! Perhaps his inner Hollow will cause him problems again at some point?

I'm glad they're finally going to invade the Hueco Mundo. The Arrancar have come to Earth enough already to disrupt things, now it's the good guys' turn to fight back.

I also have to wonder here: is Urahara going with them? He said, "Finally, it seems that WE'RE ready. Let's go." I'd love for that to be the case.

RATING: 4 out of 5 stars. As good a prologue to a storyarc as any. Very emotional.

Predictions: Probably going to see the team start down some kind of teleportal portal similar to the Senkaimon on their journey to the Hueco Mundo. I also tend to think/hope that Mizuiro, Asano, and Tatsuki may be sneaking along, but that's probably just wishful thinking.

Credits: Thanks to des's Edited Manga, and of course, Djudge's translation!

Hope you enjoyed, and looking forward to seeing what you think!


Comment quickly, Asano can't hold her back for much longer...!
 

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