The Underscore’s Bleach review chapter 356: Tyrant of Skulls

Thanks to Manny for the heads up.  Bleach 357 is indeed out!  Check it here.

The Underscore’s

356 Tyrant of Skulls

Hey there, welcome to a Bleach review here on Word on Mars. I’ll be posting my reviews here as well as on Mangahelpers, though I’ll put up different things on this site as well. I hope you guys will enjoy this review as I’ll be posting them after each release. So what can I say about the chapter itself? This chapter had its ups and downs and was a pain to review, though it was worth the wait nonetheless. Thanks goes out to SleepyFans for giving us the scanlation for this week’s chapter after this long time without Bleach.

Taking a break

He’d better relax while he can

So to start off, Kubo gives us a color page with Renji relaxing on a sofa. Renji might be able to keep his cool, but seeing him relax like this is a rare sight indeed. Though this is probably one of the few times we’ll see Renji relaxing for now, as he is now trapped in Hueco Mundo facing a life threatening situation in the form of gigantic opponent. But for now he can relax while on the couch with his gold watch -knowing him it’d be a fake one-, golden ring, purple glasses, and a belt with what appears to be writing on the buckle. There’s little else to say about this picture other than that I think, so let’s get to the chapter.

Still Something Fishy

I dare you to take a dip with this mermaid around

The chapter starts off with Hitsugaya cut in twain as the right side of his body falls with such an impact that it causes the ground below to crumble. The left side of Hitsugaya is still up in the air as a massive amount of blood starts to gush out from him with so much force that some splatters of blood even seem to reach Halibel. As Halibel is enjoying the bloody show displayed by Hitsugaya, we have the opportunity to look into her appearance.

First thing I noticed was her… Anyhow, after that I noticed her sword looks broader than it was in the last chapter. While last chapter I thought it looked like the back fin of a shark it looks more like a tooth after seeing it a bit more clearly here. The sword also seems to have a horizontal hilt, rather than a vertical one, inside the blade itself. Another thing that’s worth mentioning is her legs, as it seems that she no longer has feet which she can move, unless the legs aren’t made of armor of course. Other than that there’s little we couldn’t see last week, which is somewhat disappointing as it turns out that she doesn’t have a visible Hollow hole on her. Maybe it’s hidden underneath the neck armor, or maybe it goes from shoulder to shoulder, but it isn’t visible for now. Nonetheless her design still looks good, in spite of the sword looking a bit blunter than it did last chapter.

After enjoying Hitsugaya’s fall, Halibel turns to her next target, Genryuusai, who was looking at the released Espada. Halibel tells Genryuusai that she’ll make him pay for taking the lives of her Fracciónes, as they were taken down by one swing from the commander. But as she tells Genryuusai, who is very calm for someone who saw a fellow captain cut in two, that he will pay, we find out why Genryuusai didn’t seem to care that Hitsugaya was cut in two.

Rise of the Ice Dragon

Why would you duck if you can fly down?

Hitsugaya fans can rejoice as the young captain returns from the shards to strike at Halibel. Too bad for him Halibel noticed the attack and dodged it at the last moment. Halibel immediately changes her sword to her left hand while dodging to counter his attack, showing that she is an experienced fighter even though the young captain is still in one piece. While I thought Hitsugaya’s defeat would help to make it clear that Soul Society is in grave danger, Hitsugaya seemed to have miraculously survived being cut in two. So how does Kubo explain this phenomenon? Hitsugaya apparently was expecting something along these lines to happen, even though the increase of power displayed by Halibel is greater than he anticipated. Because he was expecting something like this he prepared himself for this kind of situation. Using Hyourinmaru he created a huge ice screen to double as a mirror of some sorts to fool his opponent. Though it seems that Hitsugaya is only able to use this technique once, which is why he didn’t want to use it, but it was necessary for an opponent of Halibel’s level. He then tells Halibel not to underestimate “them”, which could refer either to Soul Society or Hitsugaya and Hyourinmaru. While the first seems most likely, the latter option would be a good way to show that Hyourinmaru and Hitsugaya have reached a new level of power through hard work. Now before I go over to the rest of this week’s chapter, I’m going to look into this convenient Ice Screen.

Plot technique

I scream, you scream, we all scream for… Ice screen?

So yes, I do have a theory on how this technique doesn’t necessarily come out of the blue, as well as a few reasons to be in favor of it. On the other hand I’m also disappointed by Kubo’s choice of using this technique and thus have a few reasons to be against it. So let’s go over this Ice Screen technique, starting with a few questions that came to mind after reading this chapter and the answers I came up with while writing this review.

Q&A about the technique

So how was Hitsugaya able to put up such an elaborate technique without Halibel noticing it? Well obviously, her release was the perfect time for Hitsugaya to put up this technique. While she was wrapped in the twister during her release she wouldn’t be able to see what was going on around her. So it’s very likely that he had put up this Ice Screen while she released.

But how could someone ranked as the third Espada not notice that she cut through a wall of ice? Well, let’s just say that she was in a hurry as she thought that Hitsugaya was nothing more than a weak pest. She is probably itching to kill Genryuusai for killing her Fracciónes, which made her impatient and caused her to be satisfied with the image of Hitsugaya being cut in two. This could be seen by her turning to Genryuusai and threatening him. Also, the massive amount of blood coming out of the Hitsugaya look alike could make anyone think that he is done for. But I’ll get back to this later.

How does this technique work? Well, my guess would be that the Ice Screen is formed in front of Hitsugaya, as it does not seem to be a mirror image of him -see the previous chapter- and he did say something, which I don’t think a wall of ice would be able to do. Hitsugaya probably talked for the image created in the ice screen when it was cut down. Here it gets a bit tricky, as it seems that there was something inside of the Ice Screen, which we also saw falling down at the start of this chapter. My guess is that this has something to do with Hyourinmaru, which was able to exist in two places at once as was seen in one of the Bleach movies when there were two. So maybe Hyourinmaru was able to create different densities of ice within the Ice Screen to give it color at the moment that the screen was cut through, while it was a projection of Hitsugaya standing behind the screen until that time. The same way that the Hitsugaya figure was colored in the ice, Hyourinmaru may have been able to create blood colored ice which flowed from the screen. This would of course mean that Hitsugaya has an amazing control over all the water and ice in the area with the help of Hyourinmaru up to the point where he can refract light to create a spectrum of colors fitting of his own appearance. I know this is farfetched and greatly in defense of this technique, but seeming as how this technique is a fact for now I might as well give an explanation that fits it.

Why let Hitsugaya live? This is a no brainer right? Popularity saved the young captain from certain death as most opponents would have died in these circumstances. But that’s not the point I’m trying to make. I want to know why Kubo did not incapacitate Hitsugaya for the remainder of this fight. The prospect of several foes that are able to one shot a captain in his Bankai state could only add to the suspense. So having Hitsugaya come back unharmed like this only makes it seem like Soul Society has little to worry about.

But let’s make a quick recap on the pros and cons of this technique so I can get to the rest of the chapter.

In favor of the Ice Screen

+ Hitsugaya lives.

+ We won’t see this technique anymore.

Against the Ice Screen

– It plain feels like a plot technique and it changes nothing other than that Halibel released and Hitsugaya remains amongst the living. Especially after specifically pointing out it can only be used once

– Halibel loses some respect points for not noticing that Hitsugaya’s power did not diminish after cutting him down.

– Bloody ice and a clone. How can ice turn to a blood like substance?

– Soul Society seems unable to lose making the fights seem useless.

So this is my view on this technique for now, but I expect that this is the only break Hitsugaya will have in this fight. Halibel probably sees that she should be sure to finish Hitsugaya as he is more resistant than she first thought. But we won’t learn what will happen between these two in this chapter, as the scene goes to the fight of the number twos.

Spring cleaning

Nice dodge Omaeda

We see the second Espada fighting off the top two of the second squad with relative ease, as the two get back up from being thrown onto a building. Barragan doesn’t stop to chat, however, as he swings his axe once more with enough force to cut a building in two. Soi Fon dodges in a manner that is expected from the captain of the assassination squad, while Omaeda is miraculously able to dodge it as well. Soi Fon then goes from dodging to an immediate attack as she tries to kick Barragan. But just as she is about to hit the Espada she slows down, which seems to be a recurring problem in her fight against this Espada, allowing Barragan to grab her by the leg and throw her away.

This gives us an explanation on how Barragan was able to remain in one place until he decided to draw his axe. Every time that he was about to be hit by Soi Fon, a relatively fast character, she slowed down to the point where Barragan could easily hit her. After what seems to be one in a series of failed attempts, Omaeda can’t help but cry out to his captain to see if she’s still able to fight -probably so he won’t have to. Soi Fon lets him know that she is doing fine, though she doesn’t seem to be able to get a grasp of what is causing her to slow down. She considers the possibility of spiritual pressure slowing her down, which is interesting as this could explain why Ichigo’s Bankai seems so slow against most Arrancar. But after realizing it’s her own body that’s slowing down, she considers the possibilities of gravity control or the control over muscles as a part of Barragan’s abilities.

Barragan notices that Soi Fon is trying to figure out his ability as he decides to reveal his ability in his arrogance, not even thinking of the possibility that she could use that knowledge against him. In order to explain his ability he explains why there are ten Espadas and what their abilities are based off.

Aspects of death

Which one do you want?… That’s a bit morbid…

Well this saved the chapter in my opinion. Not only do we get more insight into ten of the most memorable characters of the story, but it is original as well. While most character themes are often based on elements in most shounen stories, the Espadas are based on something entirely different. With death playing a major part in Bleach, using ten aspects of death is only appropriate. So which aspects do we have?

On one, for Stark, we have Loneliness. The solitude of being separated from those around you is one of the things that come with death. Stark also seems to prefer to keep to himself as he quietly stayed in his room sleeping when Aaroniero was defeated. He also seems to keep to himself even though Lillinete is around, whom he seems to keep around because she wants to rather than because he chose her.

On two, for Barragan Luisenbarn, we have Aging. Which I’ll get back to after the others, as Barragan explains this in this chapter.

On three, for Halibel, we have Sacrifice. In the old days people would be sacrificed in order to appease the Gods, which could be the type of sacrifice that is referred to here. Though there are people who sacrifice themselves in order to protect someone/thing which sadly can result in death. With Halibel, however, I’d have to go with the first type of sacrifice for now, as she is willing to sacrifice the life of Hitsugaya and any other captain to appease Aizen. But we’ll have to wait until we learn more about her to see how this ties in with her and her abilities.

On four, for Ulquiorra Cifer, we have Nihilism, or Emptiness. With the idea that there is nothing more to life than what you can see with your own two eyes, this does seem to go along nicely with Ulquiorra’s ideas. And with Ulquiorra’s ability to turn things to nothingness using his Lanza del Relampago, it might also tie in like that. But in his fight against Ichigo it has been shown that Ulquiorra’s form of Nihilism isn’t necessarily right.

On five, for Nnoitra Jiruga, we have Despair. Nnoitra seems to fit this one to a glove, as he enjoys bringing despair to his opponents by showing the difference in power between them. Being unable to stop the imminent death brought by someone who can’t be cut down -toughest hierro- and can even grow several arms to kill you can be described as a desperate situation. Though Kenpachi has shown us that there’s no reason to be desperate, Nnoitra was certainly able to profess this idea until he was cut down by him.

On six, for Grimmjow Jeagerjaques, we have Destruction. Plain and simple, being destroyed is certainly an aspect of death. Grimmjow always aims to destroy those who oppose him. But his fight with Ichigo showed that there are some things that can’t be destroyed.

On seven, for Zommari Leroux, we have Intoxication, though in the spoiler thread over at Mangahelpers dflynchimp gave the term Indulgence. And I think he gave a pretty good explanation on how it fit Zommari, so I’ll be quoting him here:

For #7 Zommari the kanji could also imply indulgence, perhaps indulgence in his existence or indulgence in pride. The fight with Byakuya and Zommari sort of highlights the kanji’s meaning.

Seeming as how Zommari was indulging in his pride of being a Hollow, pride may also fit him. And pride is one of the seven deadly sins, which also falls in line with his personality. His ability, however, seems to fit Greed a bit more, as he takes control over all that he sees. But that one’s reserved for another Espada.

On eight, for Szayel Aporro Granz, we have Madness. Going mad can result into terrifying things such as death, though once again dflynchimp noted that the Kanji read something along the lines of arrogance, hubris, vanity and the hallmarks of an egomaniac. How this one exactly fits into death isn’t too clear to me for now, though the theme certainly fits Szayel Aporro. Szayel Aporro also seems to fit into the deadly sin Lust, looking at his release.

On nine, for Aaroniero Arruruerie, we have Greed, which goes nicely with his Gluttony release. And with Greed and Gluttony being deadly sins, it is natural that they are considered aspects of death. Greed and Gluttony tied in nicely with Aaroniero’s ability to absorb other Hollows and their abilities in order to expand his own.

And finally on ten -or zero-, for Yammy Riyalgo, we have rage, or wrath. With wrath being one of the deadly sins as well, it is only logical that this one goes with the aspects of death. And Yammy is clearly an embodiment of rage.

So that’s it on the ten Espadas and aspects of death, with the exception of Barragan, just to look into them. I may have interpreted them wrong, but I think this is how these aspects tie in with the Espada.

Captain Obvious

Thank you for stating the obvious Captain Obvious, where would we be without you?

So Barragan’s aspect of death is “old age” – who would’ve guessed…-, which he explains to be the most powerful of all aspects of death as it is inevitable. Indirectly his ability is tied with time, which he can manipulate in his victims. He shows this by rapidly appearing next to Soi Fon and touching her shoulder, which breaks due to the aging caused in the bones. With what we’ve seen in this chapter, Barragan’s ability allows him to manipulate time in spaces near him to slow down things – see Soi Fon’s kick in this chapter- and he can make bones age at a rapid speed up to the point where they break. Whether he can actually age his opponents isn’t clear for now, though the ability is frightful enough in its own. Soi Fon notices this as her arm broke after a small pad on the shoulder.

Barragan then says something interesting, as he tells Soi Fon that she does not know what death is. Even though Soi Fon is a Shinigami and part of the assassination squad, she probably never died like other souls in Soul Society have before coming to Soul Society. Soi Fon is one of the Shinigami that was born in Soul Society, which effectively means that she never lived before and thus could not die. So with Barragan telling her that she doesn’t know what death is he is probably talking about losing ones live, rather than the concept of death itself. Nonetheless, Barragan tells Soi Fon that this isn’t the only thing she won’t understand in this battle as he chants his release.

All hail Skeletor!

This guy’s bad to the bone apparently

Telling his sword Arrogante -Arrogant- to “rot”, the eye in the center of the axe shows signs of live as it lets out waves of black energy -similar to Ichigo’s Black Getsuga Tenshou. After being enveloped in these waves of energy, Barragan appears as a skeleton wearing a heavy fur like coat, a crown, and a necklace. The arrogance can be seen through the crown -and could also be found when he took command on the assault on the captains-, while the age aspect is shown through his appearance as a skeleton -and an old geezer before his release. With his release it would seem that the top four Espada all release by having some form of liquid or energy come out of their Zanpakutou to cover them in order to change them into their resurrected forms. Perhaps this has to do with their (possible) Vasto Lorde level, or maybe it’s the easiest way to animate the releases. Nonetheless, with Barragan’s release shown we only have to wait until Stark’s release before we are finally familiar with all releases. As to Barragan’s release itself, we’ll have to wait a week before we know what it pertains and how it looks.


Having to wait two weeks for this chapter may have been too much if you look at the first few pages of the chapter. The fact that Kubo practically reset the fight between Hitsugaya and Halibel is just disappointing to me. I don’t mind that Hitsugaya is alive mind you, but as I have pointed out it really doesn’t help with creating suspense in these battles. Thank goodness we have Barragan whose ability and appearance at least give a reason to fear the Espada. With a broken arm and a helpless lieutenant, Soi Fon may show us her Bankai in the upcoming chapter. Finally, using aspects of death as themes for the Espada was a great move from Kubo, somewhat compensating for the plot technique used by Hitsugaya. So all in all it was still a decent chapter, though we’ve had better chapters in the last few months. So in light of these developments, what could my predictions be?


In light of this chapter’s developments I expect that the captains will manage against the Espada. After defeating the Espada with a Bankai or two, the captains will face off against Aizen and the others, who end up defeated by none other than the Vaizards. The Vaizards then decide to use the Hougyouku themselves in order to achieve a different sinister plot spurred on by their Hollow selves! Or that’s what could happen given that Soul Society doesn’t seem to be likely to lose unless something drastic happens.

A second prediction would then be that Barragan finishes Soi Fon, even after she releases, making Komamura step in who falls as well. Then Ukitake fights Barragan using his Bankai, while Hitsugaya gets beaten by Halibel. Genryuusai will try to finish Halibel using only his Shikai, when Stark interferes with his resurrection. Then the Vaizards join to fight the Espada as well. They then manage to beat Halibel and Barragan, when Aizen and the others break free. Tousen then uses his Bankai to fight the Vaizards and captains, having to resort to his Hollowfication as Komamura, Kyouraku, Genryuusai, Ukitake, Shinji, and Kensei can handle his Bankai. Meanwhile Aizen and Gin proceed to Soul Society in order to make the King’s key!

So that’s it for this week’s review. I hope you guys enjoyed this review. Be sure to let me know what your thoughts are on this chapter and/or review. See you again next week!


~ by The Underscore on May 8, 2009.

11 Responses to “The Underscore’s Bleach review chapter 356: Tyrant of Skulls”

  1. This chapter was great if i had to rate it i would give it an 8, not a 10 because not enough action but it did explain a lot of things about all of the Espada. The last image set me up for the next chapter i wish the would double up weekly.

    From all i can say is to me that this is the strongest Espada release ever. i haven’t seen number 1 releases so i wouldn’t count him out just yet.

    i like your prediction and it brought some questions with all this long time couldn’t Aizen use the cube to become a vizard as well and he still has bankai. this made me think that he wouldn’t be defeated easily.

  2. […] On Mars Of This World And Beyond « WordOnMars will be back come Friday! Bleach review chapter 356: Tyrant of Skulls […]

  3. Better than I could have done…welcome to the team

  4. Thanks for your comments.

    I don’t like to give ratings to a chapter, though it was still a pretty decent one. Barragan’s release does look like it can pack a punch. Can’t wait to see Stark’s release. As for the predictions, there has to be something to give Soul Society a run for it’s money which is why I chose those two. Though the first prediction would be a bit too parallel to the Soul Society Arc I guess.

    @ Ms.Mandi: Glad to be here, though you probably could have written a review of at least the same caliber. But I do enjoy the compliment ;P

  5. I didnt like the reset thing with Hitsugaya’s fight as underscore7 already mentioned.But the reset thing could mean that he has a chance of winning now.He seems pretty weak against that chick i wonder what will happen.I think the fight between Barragan and Genryuusai is inevitable which could mean that Soi Fon will be defeated.Soi Fon had her arm broken and is also slower then usual which means its very unrealistic for her to beat Barragan.

  6. @Underscore my reviews leaned towards being more funny and entertaining, while yours are more technical. But still, yours is awesome and i’m a bit jealous 😛

  7. And, I was really disappointed by this weeks chapter. The whole Hitsugaya thing was really lame, the only thing I thought was cool was when Halibel pulled her form and she was standing in the middle of a heart…the rest of it sucked balls IMO.

  8. i Enjoyed your reviews as well ms. Mandi it was funny and interesting. Underscore great review. This chapter was an explainable 1 to me I am disappointed for no action at all :=( I’m a little slow at getting these things. What if Aizen succeeds in getting to the soul society king? Could Aizen actually beat the soul king and lastly how did the both of you became writers for this site? Keep up the great work underscore

  9. Well Soi Fon does seem to be heading to a loss, though her Bankai might save her if it is able to avoid/withstand Barragan’s ability. Though a fight between ages would be funny to see -even if Barragan stands no chance against Genryuusai in my book.

    As for this chapter, it was lacking in the action department I admit. Though you could see this as a little breather in the story. As for Aizen beating the King of SS, I think he’ll have to go through the Zero squad first. Unless -sudden insight- Aizen has accomplices in the Zero squad as well! That would be a shocker :).
    As for becoming a writer for this site, I got hunted down by broken1i and he practically forced me to join… Or that’s the exaggerated version I’m putting down here :P. But I will keep up the reviews, so be sure to come back here next Friday for a brand new review :).

  10. What if Aizen is actually working for someone in the zero squad could explain a lot. How did Aizen recruit Kaname i though he was a captain before Aizen. If it is true that Aizen is working someone in the zero squad then that person could take over the all the worlds. ( Not just the soul society Aizen)

  11. hey guys 357 is out 😀

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