sahugani's Bleach Review 297

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Sahugani’s Bleach Review 297


Where the big man goes, the little one is sure to follow. let's hope that rings true next chapter

Rejoice!!! For the first time in a while I’m doing my Bleach review before One Piece. There are a couple reasons for this. First of all, THIS CHAPTER IS SO FUCKING INCREDIBLE I CAN’T HELP IT!!! The other reason is that with the fires down here in SoCal, college classes are cancelled and so I’m here for the Edited Manga releases and Bleach is faster. In any case, let’s just get right down to it. The pics for this review come from the Mangashare Edited Manga and the title pic is a piece drawn by Sleepar over at DeviantArt, so go check him out.

Down the Barrel of the Gun


its painful to watch

At the end of last week’s chapter, Nel’s centaur form wore off and she was reduced to once again being a mere child. Ever the asshole, Noitora jumps on the chance to deal out punishment without fear of retaliation. Instinctively, Ichigo runs to help but is quickly overpowered and taken down by Noitora. Even after getting knocked around by Neliel first as an adult and then as a released Espada, Noitora is still quite easily capable of taking down Ichigo effortlessly. This just goes to show exactly how much damage the shinigami sustained in both the fight with Grimmjow and the short and pathetic duel with Noitora earlier. As Noitora only has a single rank separating himself from Grimmjow, the level of power he displays against Ichigo must be calculated based on the circumstances. In Ichigo’s fight with Byakuya, at one point he determined that his opponent had increased his speed when actually, his own speed had decreased. The same idea applies here as Ichigo’s exhaustion makes Noitora look worlds more powerful than Grimmjow. I think Kubo could have done a better job at showing us how tired Ichigo is, but I guess he refrained for the mere purpose of intentionally making Noitora seem overpowered.

White Beast


Yarr!! It be the great white...pig?

Since Ichigo is too weak to fight back, Noitora decides to give the task of killing him off to Tesla. He quickly passes off Orihime to Noitora and draws his sword to release. While his sword’s name is Beluga, it is quite obviously anything close to resembling the whale of the same name. I can only assume that this release is all white so that it gives some reference to the name’s actual meaning. Instead, Tesla’s release takes the shape of a massive half-human/half-boar. In addition to the somewhat uncharacteristic name, Tesla’s release seems to drop any reference to the circle theme that has become symbolic of himself and Noitora. While I don’t think this little fact holds any relevance, I do find it a bit odd. Normally, Ichigo would likely have no problem with an arrancar of Tesla’s caliber, in his current state, he is pretty much helpless against the behemoth’s blows. Meanwhile, Noitora corks Orihime’s mouth with his fingers and forces her to watch as his subordinate beats the life out of her protector. This seems to be the main difference between the Hueco Mundo Arc and Soul Society Arc. In Soul Society, every time Ichigo encountered a new enemy, eventually, he’d beat them down. In this arc though, Ichigo seems to be going back and forth between victory and defeat. He beat Doldorni, was nearly killed by Ulquiorra, beat Grimmjow, and is now being destroyed again by Noitora and Tesla. While Kubo hasn’t stopped his habit of almost constantly keeping Ichigo front and center, he’s slowing the rapid pace of his progression with these losses.

Brains Over Brawn


we need an omake with him as an overdramatic thespian

We return to the Zaerapollo fight to learn that Pesshe and Dondo-Chakka’s attack has failed. Apparently, the Espada has known all along the true identities of the former fraccion. As he had dealt with them years back during his united front with Noitora, he already knew the basics of their battle abilities and reiatsu patterns. After keeping an eye on them while fighting Renji and Ishida, he was able to update his knowledge on them and use the data to predict their current combat strength and techniques. With that, he was able to use the same nullification ability he had previously displayed on Renji and Ishida, thus making the cero cincretio absolutely useless. Since he nullified it, it is only logical that in his released form he is still fully capable of incapacitating the abilities of any of his current opponents, which even before this there was really no evidence against the idea. He has been allowing Ishida and Renji to use their weapons simply so that he can toy with them. With this in mind, victory seems impossibile. There are only two paths to victory that I can see. The first is to destroy his ability to nullify abilities. Since he wielded this ability before releasing, this power is more likely to be a product of his research rather than one linked to his own power. This being the case, if the former fraccion can get rid of it, Renji should have no problem obliterating the Espada (that is assuming his internal damage isn’t so bad that he can’t get up). The second option (which is starting to seem more likely given how the chapter ends) is that a new fighter joins the heroes’ side. Without knowledge of the fighter’s powers, the new guy can easily destroy Zaerapollo if he puts his full power into a single attack, thus not allowing the Espada to get back up and utilize the new data.

Aaroniero’s Failure


Oh noes!!! someone save Rukia-chan

For the first time in a long while, the scene shifts to Rukia’s inanimate body, which is now at the feet of the unnamed black Espada. As he stands on the ice-covered ground, he looks down on Aaroniero and criticizes him for his mistakes. He also mentions that Aaroniero was the last of the original Espada, which is somewhat confusing for the timeline Kubo has set up. Assuming that Kubo has not made any errors and it is all intentional, it gives us some idea of when Aizen took over Las Noches. Given that Arroniero was the last original Espada (meaning Noitora and possibly Neliel were not) and that he couldn’t have been an Espada till he was reborn as an arrancar, that places the start of Aizen’s rule somewhere between Kaien’s death and Nel’s demise. At this time, he started replacing the Espada of that time with ones that were created or recruited by him with his own powers. These non-hougyoku members of Aizen’s arrancar include at least Noitora and Zaerapollo. After he got the Hougyoku, he improved his process and likely had a large shift in the Espada members. Getting back to Rukia and the other Espada, the shinigami’s fate doesn’t look good. She can’t fight back while he is drawing his zanpakuto. I’ll return to this matter in the last section for obvious reasons.

Clean-Up


HAHAHA!!! CHAD'S BACK!!! :pmg

Yaaay!!! We finally return to Chad. Technically, we only see his back, but at least he’s back in the story. Like Rukia, he has been granted a visitor that is only there to finish him off, but instead of an Espada, he gets the crew of Exequias. According to the crew’s leader, both Chad and Gantenbien are still breathing, so their job is to slaughter the two while unconscious. While I should expect this from Kubo, I admit that I am still disappointed. Rukia gets an Espada sent to finish her off, but Chad doesn’t get the same respect. After his upgrades, he is certainly superior to her in power, but as Rukia is a female lead and Kubo is notorious for neglecting our Mexican fist-fighter, it really shouldn’t come as any shock. I’m just gonna have to settle for being happy he is back at all. I know this section is a bit short, but I’ll come back to the matter later.

A Demon’s Will


ZOMG!!! The awesomeness is unbearable :spaz

The story turns back to Ichigo’s subplot and before we see any development, we first get a few pages of solid beatings from Tesla. After breaking Ichigo’s arm and sending him flying, the giant boar attempts another strike that ends up being blocked by none other than Zaraki Kenpachi. Some of us have been expecting a relief squad from Soul Society for quite a while now and it seems that they have finally arrived. Zaraki has not only arrived with perfect dramatic timing, but has luckily come to just the right place. Recall that he cannot sense reiatsu worth jack and so by pure dumb luck he has come to Ichigo and Noitora. When it comes to fighting Noitora, Zaraki really is the perfect opponent. While the two might be seen as very similar to the casual observer with their eyepatches, hard skin, and berserker fighting style, they are near opposites when it comes to their philosophies. Noitora is obsessed with being seen as the strongest and thus doesn’t take any fight that would not gain recognition or that he might lose (the first fight with Neliel years back is anotable exception). Zaraki on the other hand, doesn’t give a shit about recognition and merely fights for the thrill of fighting. He doesn’t fight the weak because they are no fun and is more than willing to fight those stronger than him because he knows he won’t be disappointed. Noitora’s constant put downs that he uses to boost his ego amount to nothing for the 11th squad captain and this is looking to be a very memorable fight. On another matter, given the way Kubo has left Chad, Rukia, and the four battling Zaerapollo all on the verge of destruction, the appearance of Zaraki also spells the return of other reinforcements to help the others. I’ll start off by saying I doubt Hitsugaya will be one of them as Kubo has used him as a hero far more than the other captains already and this is an opportunity for others to shine.

For Renji and Ishida, I’d say the most likely to appear is Byakuya. As he is Renji’s captain, he is the most connected to this fight. I’m not even going to give Mayuri a chance for two reasons. First of all, it is way too fanfic style to have two scientists battle and to even explore that dynamic would mean another long extension of the fight that should be wrapping up. Also, as Mayuri is the research division head, I doubt that he actually leaves Soul Society that often. Byakuya on the other hand, is a specialist at making his battles quick, which is exactly what is needed for this battle in particular. He’ll simply take out Zaerapollo in one blow while other fighters would likely make the mistake of trying to feel him out first.

As for saving Rukia, I know the popular choice id Byakuya as he is her brother, but I’m hoping for Ukitake. The opportunity for him to hear the truth of what happened to Kaien and for him to hear how Rukia has finally come to accept her vice-captain’s legacy will be one of the most priceless moments in the series for me. While his illness might be considered as a reason against this happening, given his personality and the fact that he is both the last one to see Orihime in Soul Society and Rukia’s captain, he personally feels responsible for both. I wouldn’t doubt that Hanataro was sent with him though to maintain his health and to lend medical aid to Rukia. Ukitake is one of the many shinigami who Kubo has teased us with the prospect of his abilities yet failed to deliver. It has been so long since we got to see a new bankai and his is the one I want to see more than anyone else’s.

Now onto Chad’s protector. For this I’m going with Komomura. As the closest thing Chad has to a friend in Soul Society is the guy who cut him down, Kyoraku, his options are limited as to which captains would go out of their way for him. Although Kyoraku is still a viable option as he is friends with Ukitake, who I earlier predicted would come, I think Komomura is the better candidate. While he does not have the same emotional reason for saving our heroes as the others do, his reason for joining the war against the Espada makes up for it. As many of you know, I have long theorized that Tousen will die at the end of this arc. The one thorn in the side of my theory is that he wouldn’t have resolved the issue with his best friend. This Soul Society invasion lends the perfect opportunity to bring Komomura in to allow this goodbye to occur. In addition to this, finding a decent opponent for a team of Exequias is different from the individual Espada like Noitora, Zaerapollo, and the black guy. Given their low rank and Kubo’s habit of ignoring Chad’s story, this battle should be over pretty quick. Who better than Komomura to offer quick intimidation and the strength to destroy everything in a large range?

Overall

I must say Bleach wins at life this week. While the series has a habit of dragging things out, this week we got an unusual amount of development not to mention the sheer awesomeness that is Zaraki Kenpachi. This is the kind of chapter that reinvigorates the interest of those who have grown bored with the series. Lets hope Kubo keeps up this positive momentum.
 

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