Bleach Chapter 489 – March of The Starcross – Review / Thoughts

April 18, 2012

This week I have to say that without a doubt, Bleach 489 was the standout chapter between this and Naruto. Whereas Naruto was firmly rooted in past events, Bleach was very much in the present, as well as setting up something brilliant for the future chapters.

Last week we got to see what looked like the beginning of Ichigo vs Kirge, but Ichigo instead starts off against a few other Quincy instead as you can see in the picture above. It doesn’t take long for Ichigo to realise that the people who before were only known to him as the Vandenreich were in fact Quincy. Kirge even comments on the fact that he invaded without even being 100% sure of who they were, not that it makes a difference to Ichigo as we all know by now.

Rather than Ichigo fighting, this chapter was more focused on the strange events that have been taking place in Soul Society, and who’s to blame for it. To begin with we just see Rukia pacing the floor in Soul Society where she is waiting for the captain’s meeting, with Renji telling her to calm down and take it easy, only for Kira to appear and interrupt. He tells them that something is bothering him, and explains how he used to think all the Vandenreich / Quincy stuff was connected with the disappearances from Rukongai, but now he realises that’s not the case.

Kira begins to explain his thoughts on the matters, and asks a question as well. When Yachiru answers, it confirms things for him, and he asks Nemu what Mayuri is hiding (having concluded that there was something odd about the way things had been done and investigated by his group). Nemu says Mayuri never told her anything about the disappearances, with Kira saying he will just have to report it to Yamamoto himself. Later in the chapter, we see Yamamoto confront Mayuri about it and asks him what’s going on. Mayuri tells him that it’s true he was behind the disappearances, as he had some Shinigami go in to Rukongai and kill the people to keep the balance between spirits and people even. Yamamoto asks why he didn’t ask for permission, saying that under the current circumstances it would have been approved anyway.

Mayuri says that if things had got worse, his unit would have been held responsible for it, hence why he went ahead and did it anyway. Yamamoto responds by saying that if they had reported things sooner, then maybe things wouldn’t have become so serious in the first place. Without hesitation, Mayuri tells Yamamoto he is wrong. He then says how right back when Ishida first invaded Soul Society along with Ichigo etc he warned him of what could one day happen, but that Yamamoto claimed his fears were baseless and denied it.

Mayuri then says Yamamoto is the one to blame because he didn’t lill “that man”  1000 years ago. Meanwhile, with Ichigo distracted by his battle with Kirge and the other Quincy, the king declares that now is the perfect chance to invade Soul Society, and so they head off to do just that.

 

But yes, that was the main content of the chapter. As you can tell, things are getting very serious with potential consequences being unthinkable. The dischord in Soul Society just reminded me of something Kubo said in the interview he did shortly before the arc came out, that being that Soul Society would be devastated like never before (or something along those lines).

I mean, while I know the Quincy invasion is going to have a huge impact on everything, maybe a part of what will make things so devastating and like nothing they have ever seen before will be that Soul Society will become full of rifts between the Gotei 13. With this chapter we can already see that Mayuri is unhappy with Yamamoto, and Yamamoto doesn’t seem too happy with Mayuri either. Of course we have no idea who “That man” is / was, but he could even come back to play some huge role, whether that be what happened in the past or even if he is still alive and active somehow today.

I was expecting this to be an action and battle filled chapter, but instead we were given something that is playing far more with the distrust and psychological aspect of things, and as a fan of that sort of thing then I enjoyed it a lot. Kubo really has done a spectacular job with this arc, and I can’t commend him enough for it. Kubo gets a lot of stick from people for all his trolling and “asspulls” that seemed to be brought up for every arc, but this time I can’t imagine there are too many fans who would criticise what he has done in this war arc.

This was a pretty awesome chapter, despite not being what I (and I suspect many others were expecting), and I really can see next week being fantastic, especially if the Quincy do indeed reach Soul Society by then.

Advertisements

Bleach Chapter 488 – Bond Behind Blast – Review / Thoughts

April 11, 2012

I have to say this was a pretty good chapter. This week I definitely have to say that Bleach was better than Naruto, so needless to say I was pretty happy with chapter 488.

There was a fight with the three Fraccion loyal to Harribel – Sun-Sun, Mila Rose and Appaci in this chapter, and Nel was doing her best to hype them up to Ichigo. Speaking of Nel, she was pretty funny in this chapter as she was riding on Ichigo’s back and doing stuff like covering Ichigo’s eyes so he can’t see where he’s going etc. But there was also some serious stuff in the form of the battle I mentioned above, and also with Soul Society preparing for war with the Vandereich.

This chapter confirmed what everyone knew already, that being that the Vandenreich are in fact Quincy. Mayuri confirms it during a meeting between the Gotei 13 and Yamamoto where they are relaying all the info they have on the Vandenreich and preparing to go to war with them. Yamamoto asks if they have found where the Vandenreich (who from this point on I shall refer to as Quincy since it’s been confirmed now) are located, but he is told that they still don’t know yet. Yamamoto tells them to start preparations for war immediately since they were given the 5 day deadline, with Yamamoto saying that they can’t trust people as despicable as the Quincy to even live up to their word, and that they could strike at any time.

Elsewhere, the trio (who Nel referred to as Tres Bestia) finally stop arguing amongst themselves, and instead start fighting and defeating some of the Quincy soldiers. Nel tells Ichigo that they are really powerful and scary, and tells him that he doesn’t even need to do anything as Tres Bestia will probably wipe out the entire army themselves in no time. Of course Ichigo still continues on anyway, while one of the Quincy runs up to the captain and says they are really strong and that they should retreat for now. The Quincy who said it is then just mercilessly killed, and the Quincy captain tells the Fraccion that he has a proposal for them.

He says that they are strong and that it’s wonderful, as they would be perfect pawns for “his majesty”. He says it’s why he doesn’t want to kill them, and suggests that they surrender instead and become pawns, where at least they would be reunited with Harribel. He then says that there could be no greater joy for them than what he just said, but the Fraccion refuse to listen, telling him not to underestimate them, with them then trying to attack the captain. The Quincy captain says it’s a shame they don’t want to negotiate with him.

Ichigo meanwhile hears a loud explosion, and Nel says it’s probably from the 3 devils and that she won’t make fun of Ichigo if he decides to go back. Just after she finishes saying it however, we get to see the Quincy captain standing on top of a rock or a hill (or something like that anyway) with the three bloody (and presumably) dead bodies of Sun-Sun, Mila Rose and Appaci at his feet. He then notices Ichigo, and comments that now with a Shinigami having arrived that it has been a really busy day for guests.

So yes, that was pretty much the content in the chapter, and it all tied together pretty well. We had the classic mix of seriousness and light hearted scenes / panels which has always been one of my favourite things about Bleach as a whole, and of course it was nice getting 100% proof and confirmation that the Vandenreich are members of the Quincy afterall. No doubt fans of Sun-Sun, Mila Rose and Appaci will be pissed off that they were wiped out so quickly and effortlessly, but I guess Kubo is doing it just to build up some hype and add some feats to the Quincy before they go up against the Gotei 13 and Soul Society.

Speaking of which, of course it was very interesting to see Ichigo being noticed by the Quincy captain, as it means there could very well be a fight between the two of them in the next chapter. Obviously it’s no guarantee as the captain could have other plans, but if it does go ahead it should be awesome, especially if / when Urahara eventually catches up to Ichigo as well. There is still a lot to come and a lot to expect from this arc and the upcoming chapters, and admittedly this chapter didn’t advance things too much, but overall it was still an enjoyable chapter and one that I really liked reading.


Bleach Chapter 487 – Breathe But Blind – Review / Thoughts

April 4, 2012

Just as promised in the previous chapter, this week with Bleach 487 we got to see both Ichigo and Urahara, and even some colour panels like the one above! But aside from the awesome colour pictures of Urahara, how was the chapter itself?

My first impression of it wasn’t that great to be honest, compared to previous weeks it just didn’t seem as good. Upon reading through it again though my opinion of it is a bit more favourable. I loved the colour panels with Urahara and Ichigo as you probably guessed, and was more than happy with them. Urahara was his usual silly self at times which always makes me laugh, and in what was a mostly serious chapter this kind of humour is a welcome distraction.

In this chapter we do get to see Ichigo, Urahara and Nel etc go to Hueco Mundo like they had planned in the last one. When they get there, the first thing they notice is that they are surrounded by the dead bodies of Arrancar who had been killed during the Vandenreich’s invasion.  The group soon notices that there are a group of Vandenreich gathering yet more Arrancar just as the king had previously requested. The Arrancar are seen being dragged away, and when Ichigo asks what will happen to them, Pesche answers that they will be taken to a camp and be divided in to two groups – one that will end up becoming abducted and held prisoner, and another where they will all be killed immediately.

Without hesitation, Ichigo stands up and says he is going off to save them too, despite Pesche telling him to wait and saying Dodonchakka wasn’t amongst the ones captured. Ichigo replies by saying that it doesn’t matter, and that he will still save Dodonchakka but that in the meantime he might as well save these captured Arrancar as well.  Urahara jokingly comments about how he wonders if Ichigo realises that not too long ago these people were his enemies, but Chad comments on the fact that they all know it doesn’t make a difference, as with the type of person Ichigo is he always wants to save people. Everyone else then begins to follow after Ichigo who had rushed ahead while they were talking.

We then see the supervisor/captain of the Vandenreich’s hunting team – Kirge Opie – who is watching as all the captured Arrancar are made to line up in front of him. A couple of the hooded Arrancar debate amongst themselves whether to go through with their plan or not, with it pretty much being agreed they would soon after. The person in charge then tells all the Arrancar that, starting from the right hand side, he was going to stab them all to death. He then asks if they absolutely wish to live, and to become their comrade, and that if they did, then they are to bow down in front of him and lick his boots.

One of the Arrancar asks that if he agrees to it right away, will they spare his life. He is then stabbed right through the chest, with the captain saying that anyone who fails to understand what he just said will end up the same, and that there is an admission test they all must pass. It’s so illogical even a couple of the other Vandenreich nearby are commenting on whether the captain had any real intentions of taking any of the Arrancar alive in the first place. Just as the captain is about to stab another Arrancar, his attack is knocked back by a sword, which is then pointed in his face.

The captain doesn’t even flinch, and comments that it’s weird they have their swords, as they were supposedly all removed from them.  Then the cloaks are flung off by the Arrancar, who proudly proclaim themselves as aides of Aizen-sama, with them turning out to be Loly and Menoly. Despite their claims that they were superior, both Menoly and Loly are slashed and taken down in almost an instant by the captain. The other Vandenreich nearby asks if they should kill them both, but are told to instead keep them alive, but just give them a severe beating. He then comments to himself about Aizen, thinking that he must not have been worth much if he had such lowly people working for him, though at the same time remembering that even the much stronger Harribel was still no match for the Vandenreich king.

With his back turned, something is suddenly thrown at him, though he catches it without taking any damage all the same. As he turns around, he asks his attackers what they are. They reply by saying that despite badmouthing Harribel-sama, he doesn’t know who they are and refer to him as a useless underling. The people who attacked him turn out to be Apacci, Sun-Sun and Mila Rose.

So yes, that was the content of the chapter, and overall it was a pretty dark one. The Vandenreich of course are extremely oppressive and treating the Arrancar like crap. Anyone who is put in front of them is either cut down on the spot or else taken prisoner, so Kubo is actually doing a great job of making them come across as true villains and complete assholes.

Despite the claim at the end of the last chapter, there was no kind of fighting with either Ichigo or Urahara, so we will unfortunately have to wait a bit longer for that. This chapter did also show the return of more than a few familiar faces, though I personally am not particularly fond of any of the returning characters. But that said, with all the Arrancar members making returns recently, it does mean there is a pretty damn good chance that before long we will end up seeing Grimmjow return as well, and I know myself and plenty of other people will be genuinely delighted with that.

One thing that did piss me off (though in a good way if you get my point) was the way the captain of the hunting team badmouthed Aizen. Now I know Aizen acted like a jerk and trolled countless people, and for that some people dislike him, but I always liked him because he made for a great villain. He was someone who you could love to hate basically. The way he was basically being called weak or inferior by that piece of trash Vandenreich captain really annoyed me though, and made me wish so much that Aizen were free so he could go there, kick his ass, and have him begging for mercy.

Don’t get me wrong here, I am not angry with or criticising Kubo, in a way this is actually praising him. With Aizen he had almost that cool guy feel to him despite being a villain, someone who was just so powerful and hax that you could almost like him for it, but with the Vandenreich they are just being portrayed as purely loathsome and hateful pieces of trash. I have no problem with this, and being a villain is all about getting people to hate you, so in actual fact by getting me to hate them and get so angry with them is actually Kubo doing exactly what he set out to do, and I commend him for his writing.

But yes, it was an enjoyable enough chapter. It wasn’t the best in the world and far from my favourite, but with the colour panels, the few comedy moments, and the possibility of seeing more Arrancar return in the future, it certainly had its’ good points too.


Bleach Chapter 486 – The Crimson Cremation Review / Thoughts

March 28, 2012

With chapter 486 I feel Kubo did a great job of placing emotion in to Sasakibe’s funeral, while also possibly hinting at some big stuff happening down the line.

As you probably guessed, this chapter has the funeral of Sasakibe in it. I want to praise Tite Kubo though, because considering what an incredibly minor role the character played in the series, it still felt emotional because of the way Kubo wrote it. Byakuya is with Renji and gives a little speech about the kind of man Sasakibe was, and basically it went a long way to showing how loyal and dedicated he was to working with Yamamoto. Yamamoto himself, in a rare turn, is shown to be upset over it too. When he has his back turned to everyone else, it’s clear Sasakibe’s death has made an impact on him, with even Byakuya commenting on how he doesn’t know how Yamamoto must be feeling at the moment.

Moving on, we also found out a little more about what has been happening with Hueco Mundo. As well as Nel’s return, in this chapter we also see that her friend Pesche has come to the human world as well. It’s explained that after the deaths of Starrk and Baraggan, Harribel became the new leader. However, Hueco Mundo was invaded during this time and she was dragged away, while Dondochakka was also kidnapped. Elsewhere, we get to see a bit more from the Vandenreich king, who is seen talking with one of his men. The white haired guy is looking at Ivan’s medallion and comments on how it seems like Ivan couldn’t capture Ichigo’s Bankai. The king then says that it seems like they will need to use a special way to get him, and then orders that the hunting unit of Hueco Mundo is sent out to bring him a few more “idiots” to use.

Back in the human world, everything has clearly been explained to Ishida, Chad and Orihime. Chad immediately knows that this means Ichigo will want to go to Hueco Mundo to rescue the prisoners and says as much, but then Ishida tells them that this time he won’t be joining them. He doesn’t give any reason, but Ichigo doesn’t make a big deal out of it and seems happy enough, saying that he won’t need Ishida’s help anyway. Then, Urahara appears at the window and asks if he should arrange the trip to Hueco Mundo. The chapter ends with a guy in Hueco Mundo ordering some unseen people to keep moving and not to stop. Though with that said, the writing underneath flat out says that next time Urahara and Ichigo will be attacking the enemy army.

This was a really good chapter, and Kubo has delivered once again. The Sasakibe part was awesome as I said, and I loved the Ishida / Ichigo part too. This is a great way of hinting at a possible turn from Ishida, or at the very least having thoughts or doubts about certain things. Since Ishida has helped and backed Ichigo in practically every situation he has ever been in, it does raise questions as to why he is opting out this time. Of course we can guess because he is a Quincy he will play a big role somewhere down the line, and as an Ishida fan I welcome this possibility. I have been wanting more panel time and more of a main role for him for ages, and if he does end up siding with the Quincy it will be very interesting indeed.

I am also extremely excited to hear that Urahara and Ichigo will be fighting in the next chapter. Considering how rare it is for Urahara to physically get involved, this should be a real treat and a real epic moment. It also goes to show how serious things must be if Urahara is willing to get involved again, only previously doing so during the Aizen arc.

I am very excited by a lot of possibilities with this arc in all honesty, Kubo has done a brilliant job thus far and I can forsee that will continue since it is to be the last Bleach arc. A lot of major events are going to happen over the coming chapters, and I can’t wait to see them unfold. With this arc so far, Tite Kubo is showing Kishimoto just how a war should be written.


Bleach Chapter 485 – Foundation Stones Review / Thoughts

March 21, 2012

Let’s see, what can you expect from Bleach chapter 485?  A character’s death? Check. Two characters returning to the story? Check. More info on the Vandenreich? Check.  Kubo has really outdone himself this week, and between this and Naruto the Shonen Jump Manga is doing one hell of a great job to make up for the sadness of the Anime coming to an end.

The chapter actually starts out pretty grim in tone, we find out that Sasakibe really has died from the wound inflicted upon him by the Vandenreich, and Yuki is informed that he is to go back to Soul Society immediately to attend the funeral. Ishida speculates that the reason Soul Society called to inform someone as low down the ranks as Yuki about what has been happening recently is because they know Ichigo is with him, and that it’s a good indirect way of keeping him informed too. Ichigo is clearly upset and can’t rest properly, so he decides to go out and patrol Karakura just to try and clear his mind. Then from out of nowhere, Nel comes falling from the sky and crashes straight in to Ichigo.

I am delighted to see Nel again, and she is back in her child form for those wondering. Ichigo is rightly surprised and asks about why it has taken all this time for her to come and see him, but then we move on to the palace of the Vandenreich where the king is asking for the reports to be given to him.

I am going to cut to the chase here to keep the review brief and fluid. The king of the Vandenreich is a ruthless S.O.B. The guy he was talking to, Luders Friegen, the same person who’s arm was hacked off by him in the last episode, was lying on the floor in agony. He is panting away and trying to get up off the floor, only to be told by the king that he can stay on the floor if he wants. As Friegen is seemingly about to accept, the king says if he won’t be sitting then he doesn’t need his legs anymore and that he will hack those off too. Friegen is obviously terrified and makes some comment about never lying on the floor while talking to the king as it would be so disrespectful. Friegen then gets up and speaks to the king about the plan to take down Soul Society in 5 days, and comments that in the near future Soul Society will lose it’s balance of souls with the human world.

The king then asks him if he is some sort of prophet. Friegen isn’t sure what he means, but the king repeats himself. Friegen hesitates and says he isn’t, only to be asked why he is talking about the future then, and that the king only wants to talk about now. As soon as he finishes saying that, the king slaughters the guy with one fell swoop, and then starts speaking with Ivan. He tells Ivan that he has no reason to praise him, though he has nothing to blame him for either since he at least slowed down Ichigo. Ivan thanks the king, only to be told that his job is now over and that he would serve as a foundation stone to build peace. Again, as soon as he finishes his comment, the king cuts down Ivan without a shred of mercy.

One of the hooded Vandenreich ask if it was really ok to do that, saying that Arrancars are excellent soldiers because they don’t need to be taught how to fight. The king however says he doesn’t care, as he can easily get as many Arrancars as he likes. Then we get to see a full page of just Harribel chained up somewhere (as you can see from the picture at the top of this page), and one of the hooded Vandenreich comment on the fact that they have already taken over Hueco Mundo, while the king says it’s just another foundation stone to invading Soul Society.

Wow, what an incredible chapter this was! So much revealed, plus the return of both Nel and Harribel just like Kubo spoke of in the recent interview! I am delighted to see them both return, though naturally I feel bad for Harribel being held prisoner by the Vandenreich. Speaking of whom, it was nice to see Ivan confirmed as an Arrancar and proving my earlier guess about him right. The way some of the Vandenreich were speaking, it again hints at the fact they are Quincy too. But having taken over Hueco Mundo is an amazing feat, and if they really can create as many Arrancar as they like, I think Soul Society is going to be in an awful lot of trouble very soon. An army of Vandenreich and Arrancar could finally be the thing that takes down Soul Society, and I really can’t wait to see how things turn out during the war!

The king of the Vandenreich really is merciless and I genuinely wouldn’t put anything past him, I can’t wait to find out what’s in store with him either. And of course, for all the people who have made jokes about Kubo never killing off characters, they can now keep quiet for a while at least since Kubo has done just that in getting rid of Sasakibe. Granted he is hardly a big name or an important character, but I get the feeling his death will be the first of many during this arc, and it wouldn’t surprise me if we end up seeing some of the most popular characters losing their lives at some stage.

Anyway, an absolutely fantastic chapter that reintroduced a couple of awesome characters and also answered some of the questions posed in earlier chapters. And of course, as always, feel free to leave a comment below on your thoughts and predictions for this and future chapters!


Bleach Chapter 484 – The Buckbeard Review / Thoughts

March 7, 2012

Chapter 484 of Bleach was pretty interesting for a few reasons, and once again leaves some questions to be answered. Oh, and who doesn’t want to live in an ice palace?

On a serious note, this chapter was pretty awesome. We get to see the leader of the Vandenreich, someone who is clearly easily annoyed and very ruthless considering the way he just chopped someone’s arm off because the in-fighting was annoying him. Also revealed was the fact the Vandenreich can use a weird teleportation thing that instantly transported them away from Soul Society before Yamamoto even had a chance to react, as well as also saving Ivan from Ichigo.

I don’t know what on earth it is yet, but it’s definitely not a Garganta as Ichigo commented himself. Interestingly Sasakibe also told Yamamoto that the Vandenreich can use Bankai. This was the really shocking and interesting moment for me, as it really does leave me wondering if they can be Quincy after all. Of course Quincy don’t work the same as Shinigami, but to be able to use Bankai suggests these people must at least have some knowledge or be connected in some way to the Shinigami, as no way would a Quincy be able to use it. Then again, they told Yamamoto that it should be easy for him to work out who they are, and that’s a hint that it is Quincy.

After originally assuming they were Quincy I am now left having doubts, and I really wouldn’t like to say who they are. The favourite still has to be the Quincy, but they are probably modified versions at the very least judging by the Bankai thing and also the way they teleport. The ice palace they are staying in looks awesome too, definitely check out a picture of that if you get the chance.

Overall this was a pretty good chapter, and one that posed a lot of questions. Maybe next week it will shed some light on at least some of it, but for now we are left guessing.

 

*Feel free to leave a comment below with your ideas / theories on who the Vandenreich could be and how / why they have these powers


Bleach Chapter 483 – KriegsErklärung Review / Thoughts

February 29, 2012

So, with the oddly named chapter 483 we continue the final Bleach arc. Last time we were promised war by the mysterious group of people who invaded Soul Society, and this week we see they have the deadline set.

 

This was a pretty good chapter that also threw up a couple of interesting points. Firstly, I will start with Ivan Azgiaro vs Ichigo which took place in this chapter.

We know Ichigo is strong even without using his Bankai, so when Ivan began taunting Ichigo and trying to get him to use it then I am sure many of use were curious as to why he wanted it to happen so badly. When Ichigo finally relents and uses his Bankai, Ivan begans chanting some weird incantation while thinking to himself that this will put an end to Ichigo’s Bankai for good. I don’t know how or what type of attack it was he used or indeed what he is hoping to accomplish by taking Ichigo’s Bankai away from him, but some people have said that it feels like the kind of thing Ginjo already tried in the last arc – ie stealing Ichigo’s power for himself.

Ichigo shocked Ivan though when, despite being hurt by the attack, he still managed to smash through it by unleashing a Getsuga Tensho. I think Ivan must be working alongside the group who are planning on taking down Soul Society, and heck, he probably thinks that if he can take out Ichigo’s strongest power then that will be a massive blow to Soul Society’s chances of putting up any kind of resistance.

Which brings me to the next point, that being not only did we find out the name for this new group of mysterious people – the Vandenreich – but they also set the deadline for when the end of Soul Society would occur. They have already seemingly killed Yamamoto’s assistant Sasakibe, though maybe he will end up surviving a spear/lance through the chest what with this being Bleach, only time will tell.

But I find it interesting that Kubo probably has plans for the next couple of years at least for Bleach, and yet now the people who appear to be the main enemies have declared Soul Society will be destroyed in five days. Now I personally don’t believe that, and I also have a feeling now that the Vandenreich will not turn out to be the main villains or challenge Soul Society will face. Just for the fact there is still no sign of the Arrancar such as Grimmjow or Nel, as well as the fact Kubo himself has said he hopes to show Aizen in the Manga again at some stage tells me that there is no way he will allow things to be settled so quickly. I know in Manga time 5 days can be stretched out a lot, but to continue for any reasonable period of time then there is really no way 5 days would be enough even in Manga time if Kubo wanted to get more from the story.

I predict a good few twists and turns yet to come that will throw this stuff out the window, and despite the amount of criticism Kubo seems to get and being called a shit writer etc, I have faith that he will come through on this arc and do a great job. There is certainly plenty more to come and to look forward to though regardless of what does or doesn’t happen, so Bleach is definitely a series to keep your eye on now.