sahugani's Bleach Review 265

sahugani

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Sahugani’s Bleach Review 265

i'd have liked to have a WP with the editing, but i really wanted to use this new one

Welcome once again to my Bleach review. Before I say anything else, I’d like to give a HUGE thank you to Kylara, the hero who supplied us all with very nice quality RAWs for Bleach and Naruto. This week was just too good to wait for. I’d try starting the One Piece review but my mind kept straying to the final page of Bleach from the spoiler pics. I’ve been eagerly awaiting this as I’m sure you guys have too. Let us begin.

A Beast in a Snare

...how exactly can HE be useful to Renji in the fight?

Last week we saw Renji and Zaerapollo come face to face as Renji fell into the espada’s trap. Now we finally get to start Abarai’s first fight of the arc. The start of this chapter deals with the issue that was better left out for the dramatic cliffhanger last week, Dondochakka. Unlike Nell, Dondochakka seems incapable of having a non-comical scene and that is reflected here as well, but actually becomes useful in setting the tone of the upcoming fight through his interactions with the other two. While it seemed like Zaerapollo caused the hollow to fall on top of Renji, his lack of amusement in the next screen indicates to me that Renji was just unlucky as hell (and probably at the fault of Dondo somehow). Had the Espada chuckled at Renji’s pain, I don’t think I could have taken him seriously. After that bit of comedy, Dondo gives the reader a detailed description of Zaerapollo’s status in Heuco Mundo (probably his longest single train of thought he’ll have the entire arc). This short and sweet method of giving him characterization allows us to confirm what we already suspected of him as the scientist among the Espada from his chat with Aizen and is important in that it means Kubo will likely not be developing him much in the future. Opponents who move on to later development display their threat through actions before their position is known. Byakuya beat Ichigo before he knew the danger of captains. Ulquiorra acted similarly before knowledge of the complete arrancars’ power was known.

didn't see that coming, did ya

Once the fight is underway, Renji does exactly what is expected of him. He releases his Bankai and goes all out against Zaerapollo. However, his Bankai shatters due to the special qualities of the Room Zaerapollo created. This creates an interesting dynamic to the fight and actually convinces me even more that Renji will win the fight in the end. Zaerapollo has said himself that he is not very strong in direct combat, which happens to be Renji’s forte. His strength comes from his use of traps and preparations. If Renji were able to access his Bankai, Zaerapollo would not stand much of a chance. While this seems to be evidence to the contrary of my statement, if one looks at the situation correctly, it makes complete sense. As I’ve said since last week, Renji is a character who doesn’t seem to have anything spectacular for him to pull out as a finishing move and so I was questioning how Kubo could have Renji win without it seeming anti-climactic. This solves that problem. This fight will take Renji out of his element as he is forced to avoid Zaerapollo’s traps in order to survive and get in hits on the Espada with his normal sword (or possibly shikai). However, Renji is so reckless and Dondochakka is so bizarre that their actions are too unpredictable for Zaerapollo’s planned approach. At some point, they can take out the cause of the Bankai seal (probably by accident) and Hihou Zabimaru will achieve the spectacular finish in taking down Zaerapollo as its sheer force rips through the traps that guard him.

Brotherly Indifference

they must have been really screwed up children

As Renji’s Bankai is dispelled, Zaerapollo reveals that the reason he was able to create the room that forbids Hihou Zabimaru is because of data he acquired from the body of his brother Illforte. The lack of respect showed for his sibling goes a long way to show the way arrancar interact with one another. To Zaerapollo, his brother was simply a tool to analyze Renji’s abilities. I assume that the data collecting parasite technique he used on Illforte is the same thing he used to get the data from Doldorni. If so, then I can also assume that he has not shared this info with Aizen from the way he reacted to Aizen’s question about Doldorni’s body (but lets face it, Aizen knows the whole thing). This would also imply that he is on good terms with Gin. We saw Gin manipulating the passageways to put Rukia with Kaien, so it is likely that he also allowed Renji to enter Zaerapollo’s trap room. The room was specially prepared for battle against Renji, so Zaerapollo had to have set up not only the room beforehand but made a request to make Renji his opponent. Gin probably has some interest in seeing how Abarai has advanced and loves a good manipulation anyways. Going back to the matter of taking Doldorni’s data, I believe that may come into play later. It won’t be prepared for the Grimmjow fight, but near the end, Aizen, Gin, or Ulquiorra will use the deceased Zaerapollo’s data on Ichigo to knock him around a bit (Aizen wouldn’t really need it and Ulquiorra would simply try to kill him, so my money is on Gin using it so he won’t be forced to bankai).

the freaky ones have equally freaky hilts

Just like Noitora had a lot of thematic and personality connections to Kenpachi, Zaerapollo seems quite similar to Maiyuri. In terms of appearance there is little as he does not seem to share Maiyuri’s love of self mutilation. The only discernable similarity is that Kubo likes giving mad scientists strange looking zanpakuto. Maiyuri’s had the needles at the hilt and Zaerapollo has the jewels. In terms of attitude however, they are quite similar. Both use their family more as tools for battle and information than as people. This connection in and of itself is good reason to assume that Renji will win. Kubo has gone out of his way to make him unlikeable. If he was a major enemy like Byakuya was or Aizen will be (eventually), this could be a benefit as the buildup of hatred until he fights Ichigo makes that fight all the more dramatic. However, as he is Espada 8, I doubt this will be the case. Also, the sudden nature in which that hared was brought on also implies Renji’s victory. We were kept in the dark as to his motives but the sudden revelation allows the reader’s hatred of him to peak quickly in preparation for the fight at hand. For a minor enemy, there would be nowhere to go with him after that and so his part in the story must end here just as it did for Maiyuri after he showed his cruelty to Ishida.

Drowning in Memories

he was there through her sweat and tears and now he makes it all null and void with the point of a sword

While Renji’s fight certainly is interesting, I’m willing to bet that most of you are more interested in Rukia’s fight with Kaien overall. The end of this chapter did indeed bring us back to their duel and we witness Kaien’s effortless evasion of Rukia’s Sodeno Shirayuki. The evidence keeps piling up to provide Rukia with undeniable proof that this is the real Shiba Kaien. If the fact that he knows exactly how to avoid her two dances isn’t enough, the release of Nejibana has to be enough. The fact that there was no external transformation along with the shikai transformation means that his body cannot be that of an arrancar. This throws me back to my original theory from the first time we saw Kaien. I once again believe Kaien to be a vaizard. As the shinigami zanpakuto is a part of their soul, it would not react if it was the soul of the hollow who died with Kaien was in control. However, Ichigo’s hollow has shown us both the ability to control his bankai and that he shares all of Ichigo’s training and memory, so it has to either be that Kaien himself became a traitor or that he developed his own inner hollow and lost to it. I prefer to believe the latter as it will be a major turning point for Ichigo when they meet as it is like a mirror image to see what will happen if he lets his inner hollow win. Also, one more thing I realized while proofreading this. Zaerapollo claimed that Renji was the first person he has met who is capable of bankai, which means that if Kaien has not been holding back, he must have some boost to his abilities to make him worthy of Espada ranking and we have seen the huge boost of power the vaizard mask has given Ichigo and Shinji, so it is very likely.

if this were pokemon, Rukia would have the advantage

Now I’d like to discuss Nejibana itself in all its glory. At first I didn’t like the idea of a trident as I haven’t played or seen clips of the game, but after carefully thinking over the idea, it is awesome and that was amplified further when I saw the release. This is the first water type zanpakuto we will have seen (except Aizen’s which is assumed to be water, but with an ability not for direct attack), so I look forward to seeing what it can do. The actual release process I found amazing and can’t wait to see it animated. The phrase for release I have heard in many variations but my favorite and the one I accept is “uncoil the liquid heavens” especially now that his role in the Espada has been revealed. In hindsight, it was a foreshadowing as his presence in Las Noches both unravels the threads of truth and logic for Rukia and shows his intent to attack heaven itself with Aizen. Now as to the reason that his release was seen in the video game before the manga, I don’t think Kubo gave them the design early. For a character this important whom he intended to bring back at a later date, it is highly unlikely that he would do such a thing. Instead, I think it is more likely that the design was from the game creators, who (like the rest of us) assumed Kaien’s character to be done with and free to improvise with. Kubo likely saw this design and liked it enough to incorporate it as the look and abilities of the sword have much less to do with the story than the psychological trauma of Rukia seeing it released. It is not unheard of for comic writers to see adaptations of their works in other formats and like the ideas so much that they are incorporated. I must say that this Nejibana looks kick ass enough to wow Kubo.

Overall

While this chapter was extremely enjoyable, I don’t think it quite stood up to the ones before it as its only big moment was the release of Nejibana (and I can’t complain about that). Much of this chapter was reinforcement of already assumed truths rather than actual excitement of battle or real development of the plot. I’m just glad we got to see Kaien release as it is something I’ve wanted for a while.

finally, thanks to des for the Edited Manga i used for the pics
 

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