The Underscore’s Bleach Review 357: The Colossus of Fear

The Underscore’s

Bleach Review

357 The Colossus of Fear

Welcome to another Bleach review of a chapter which came out a lot sooner that we’re used to. Though the amounts of events in this chapter are few, they sure made up a nice chapter. So for this week’s review I’ll be using Juin Jutsu scanlation, but before I get to this week’s chapter I’ll go over last week’s poll.

Poll Results

Poll Results

So last week I asked you the following question: What do you think of Hitsugaya surviving Halibel’s attack? After gathering the results from the polls taken here on Wordonmars and at Mangahelpers there were a total of 69 voters as I am writing this review. The majority of these voters (28.9%) thought that Kubo made a mistake by having Hitsugaya come back in one piece last week. The question would then of course be whether they wanted him erased from the story, out of the battle, or at least be slightly injured by Halibel’s attack. But luckily Hitsugaya still has plenty of people (23.1%) who believe in his abilities and knew that Hitsugaya survived the attack and that the way in which he did it was executed perfectly. So our young captain can breathe easily with the idea that there are enough people supporting him. Nonetheless, there are also people who plain don’t care what happens to him (13%), or were rooting for Halibel (13%). The rest of the voters (21.7%) were glad that Hitsugaya survived the attack though about half of them didn’t like the way he did it, and the other half didn’t care how he did it as long as he survived. So it would seem that Hitsugaya’s future is bright if it’s up to the majority of the voters, though this chapter shows that it won’t be too bright for the young captain. So let’s get to the review to see what happened!

Dead man walking

357-001

Here comes the ghost of Christmas Future

After being enveloped in what turns out to be black flames, Barragan reappears as a decayed king. The appearance of this creature instills fear in his opponents as they ponder to what kind of creature appeared before them. So basically Barragan changed into a skeleton with a crown, dark robes and chains coming from his arms. If Brooke from One Piece didn’t come to mind when I saw this picture at first, I probably could have taken this form a bit more seriously. But now I’m sitting here with this absurd idea that Barragan is probably the thing that the poor people in One Piece wanted to summon from the deep ends of hell, only to get a skeleton sportin a fro (http://www.onemanga.com/One_Piece/524/04/).

So back on topic, we can see that Barragan’s Arrogante really did rot away at him, yet his arrogance remains intact as seen by his crown and royal like robes. What peaks my interest are the chains which appear to be coming from Barragan’s arms -and one from his crown. Could they refer to some mythical/legendary king who was so arrogant that he was locked up and left to die in a dungeon leaving nothing but bones? Or do they represent the chains of time, binding all mortals to an inevitable fate? Nonetheless, Soi Fon’s fear of this Arrancar is definitely justified. For I think most of us would agree that being confronted by a creature such as this would scare the living out of you -get it, aspect of death, scare the living out of you?…. darned skull jokes. Another nice touch to Barragan’s appearance is the crack in his skull, which coincides with the scar he had before he released. Something tells me that there could be a story behind that scar, perhaps one where he obtained the scar after he became a Vasto Lorde. Maybe he declined the offer to become an Arrancar due to his arrogance at first when he was approached, only to be confronted by Aizen who scarred him after showing his power. This then resulted in Barragan joining Aizen and explains why someone with his personality would follow someone else. The reason I think Barragan is a Vasto Lorde is because there is no trait of an animal theme to be found -so far. Like I said, his appearance resembles that of a king which is as humane as it can get. This would of course mean that Ulquiorra and Halibel are just very powerful Adjuchas or recently transformed Vasto Lorde. Though I prefer the latter idea, I would like to know your opinion on this matter in this week’s poll:

.

Touch of Death


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Do his feet smell so bad that they eat at the floor?

As Soi Fon utters her surprise at the appearance of the segunda Espada, Barragan starts to ease his way over to his opponent, showing that he has feet rather than just hovering around as a phantom. The magnitude of his ability seems to have increased exponentially as even the slightest touch by his feet causes the building he was standing on to decay. Barragan’s ability reminds me of king Midas, who had the ability to turn everything he touched into gold, where his ability is at least as fearsome as that. Soi Fon can’t hide her surprise at this sudden display of power, as Barragan once more explains that he governs age. Barragan then reaches out to Soi Fon, making her get her guard up and even showing concern for her lieutenant.

What I have to mention at this time is the fact that Soi Fon is once more showing some emotional instability. Where she tries to put up a guise of a cold and calculative captain who can handle any type of situation, she seems to easily panic or even change personality whenever things don’t go as she intended -her fight with Yoruichi being an example of that. In this case she shows that she does confine in Omaeda and that she was just bluffing when she said that he could just go off and die, as she warns him that he has to run from this powerful foe. Soi Fon shows her concern towards her subordinate due to the difference in power between Omaeda and Barragan, but Barragan points out that Omaeda isn’t the only one who won’t stand a chance against him. Barragan then uses an ability which proves that there will always be someone with worse morning breath than my neighbor’s dog.

Skull Joke!

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Barragan’s draining the blood from her nails, though she has no nails! Yohohoho

As I have come to the realization that Oda has ruined the image I have of walking skeletons forever by introducing skull jokes, Barragan’s Death Breath seems to help in creating plain motionless skeletons. As he unleashes his Death Breath, he creates a sphere in which everything starts to decay. Noticing this fearsome ability, Soi Fon tries to escape its clutches. Nonetheless, Soi Fon’s left hand gets caught up in this ability, causing all but her bones to be corroded. Undergoing the excruciating pain of her tissue being eaten alive by this Death Breath, Soi Fon screams her lungs out. While the Death Breath itself seems to have stopped, its effects seem to continue to eat away at its target as Soi Fon’s arm continues to rot.

Soi Fon, however, regains her composure as she tells Omaeda to cut off her arm. Though the lieutenant is reluctant at first, Soi Fon tries to explain in her own way that cutting off her arm is the only way of saving her. As Omaeda has to choose between cutting off his captain’s arm or to watch her die, he chooses the first option as he reluctantly cuts off her arm. The arm falls to the ground -with a surprising lack of blood splattering- as the second squad captain and lieutenant appear to be relieved that it worked. Barragan, however, can’t help but be amused as he states that even Shinigami appear to fear death. The fact that he doesn’t give some form of compliment for Soi Fon’s decision to have her arm cut off, but laughs at how she is struggling against his ability, is something I personally find to be a great way to show his personality. While most villains would give a -somewhat- stereotypical comment along the lines of “I’m impressed that you sacrificed your arm, but it won’t be enough to beat me”, Barragan just laughs arrogantly at the -in his eyes (though he has none yohoh….)- powerless ants struggling in a hopeless fight. With the comment that she as a Shinigami fears death, Soi Fon can’t help but be annoyed by Barragan’s behavior. The idea of the head Shinigami from the Assassination squad, fearing death is probably stings Soi Fon more than we can imagine. But while she is struggling with Barragan -who looks more like death now than any Shinigami we’ve seen before-, Hitsugaya and Halibel are still fighting it out in another part of the fake Karakura town.

Battle of egos

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It’s like she’s trying to wash away her past mistakes

Where Halibel first used a high speed attack to cut Hitsugaya in two, she has learned from her mistakes by using attacks which appear to be able to pack a bigger punch. Halibel’s attacks now clearly use water as its base, which Hitsugaya happily uses to his advantage. Thinking that his Hyourinmaru has the advantage with all the water around that can be used by him as a weapon; he appears to have fallen back in his usual routine. Where he reprimanded Halibel for her underestimating Shinigami and thinking too highly of herself, he once again shows that he as Captain Hitsugaya should not be underestimated as a proud Shinigami captain. As he points out the advantage he has with Soul Society’s strongest ice/water type Zanpakutou on his side, as opposed to Halibel’s water themed weapon, Halibel doesn’t seem to be worried about her situation. She tells Hitsugaya that her attacks can and will reach him if she wants to, which the young captain sees as nothing more than a boast to make him lose his calm.

Hitsugaya seems to have chosen a distance at which he can see all of Halibel’s attacks so that he can freeze and counter them, which is a commendable strategy. After having chosen that strategy he plans to stick to it, as he is coolheaded enough to not be provoked so easily. Too bad for him though, his opponent seems to be at least as coolheaded as he is. While he tells Halibel that she should stop underestimating Shinigami, Hitsugaya forms a dragon of ice which he fires off to his opponent.

Royal flush

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Down the drain with that reptile!

Hitsugaya seems to have the advantage after all he said, when Halibel points out that he is the one underestimating her as she unleashes her burning current attack. This attack has enough power to melt the dragon of ice and turning it into her advantage as the ice turns to water which can be used in her attack. So where Hitsugaya is able to freeze water to manipulate, Halibel is able to melt ice to manipulate. Halibel then shows Hitsugaya’s inexperience by telling him that the advantage he thought he had isn’t necessarily one solely for him. She even goes as far as saying that this is the iron law of fighting. It seems that the one who has most control over the water’s temperature will be the one to have the advantage in this fight. So with my guess being that Halibel has more Reiatsu to spare during this fight, my money’s on her for now. After using her burning current, Halibel unleashes the most powerful attack we’ve seen from her so far, the cutting waterfall, to wash away her opponent. And with this attack, we are once again left to wonder what will happen to the young captain.

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Overview

So what can be said about this week’s chapter? Barragan’s release was most certainly one of this chapter’s highlights, though I was hoping to see a Bankai from Soi Fon this week. But Barragan’s release was enough to entertain us this week I think, and the fight between Halibel and Hitsugaya has finally become more of what I was expecting. Hitsugaya is still able to keep face with the abilities he’s been showing, while Halibel still seems to have the advantage.

With Soi Fon’s arm cut off and decayed, my main concern has to be whether she’ll be able to use her Bankai or not. Losing her arm may even become her downfall, but if she survives there are plenty ways to restore her arm so that’s a minor problem in this case. And Barragan’s Death Breath seems to be an attack that can only be countered by long range attacks, which raises the question of who will be the one to solve this problem.  All in all this chapter was a good one, as it has shown us that the fights can become very entertaining as both the captains and the Espada have plenty up their sleeves. So what do I think could happen in the upcoming chapters?

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Predictions

In next week’s chapter I expect to find Hitsugaya relatively unscathed by Halibel’s attack by having made a shield of ice by continuously freezing water in front of him. The fight will then continue between these two as Soi Fon and Omaeda are faced with Barragan’s incredible abilities. Depending on the setting, either Komamura or Ukitake may take over the fight. My personal preference would then be Ukitake taking over, as his abilities are more likely to be long ranged than Komamura’s -which may rot away due to Barragan’s ability. I would also love to see how Ukitake tells Omaeda and Soi Fon to play with Lilinette in his place -can you imagine the reaction of those three as he says that?- as he goes to face off against Barragan. Besides, Ukitake is probably one of the captains who won’t fear death as he is confronted by it on a regular basis due to his illness. The question would then of course be whether Ukitake’s Zanpakutou will have long range abilities or if he will use Kidou to fight Barragan. Another thing to take into account in the fights with Barragan is the possibility that he can use his Death Breath to even decay attacks from his opponents. So I would expect to see the new line ups in the next chapter, where Ukitake may show us some of his skills in the chapter after that.

So this is 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 and to vote in this week’s poll as well. See you again next week!

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~ by The Underscore on May 15, 2009.

5 Responses to “The Underscore’s Bleach Review 357: The Colossus of Fear”

  1. This is a long comment. I apologize in advance that I was unable to sum it up better, and ask for your patience while reading.

    As always, an excellent summary of Last Week’s Bleach chapter. I am especially thankful for the poll results – the fact that it was hosted at all means that the previous review was impartial to both Hali and Hitsu fans.

    To be sure, after Aizen’s utterly-confident proclamation of the top Espada’s strength levels, I have to agree that Hitsu just isn’t as strong as Halibel. But the boy is a Captain, after all, which means that if he goes down, he would first give it all he’s got. I am thankful that Hali didn’t one-shot him; the entire battle, being set in FKT and with the fate of the Real KT and the Bleach Universe in the balance, should be an epic one, with both sides generously showing us their very best combat skills and moves (even the short-lived fraccion and lieutenants). For all we know, we may never see either side fight as hard as this in future chapters, and therefore the fact that Hitsu is putting his best effort to fight Halibel is a testament to the drama and scale of this “winter War” that Kubo is setting up. I am happy that everyone’s showing us that they really deserved to be in that place, at that time.

    A few things I would like to bring up:

    1.) Starting with Ulqi, the Espada numbers disappear post-resurreccion (does Barragan have one?). They didn’t change like Yammy’s tattoo did, but rather disappeared completely after release. My theory is that the Top 4 (I still think of espadas 4 to 1 in that way) are so close together in terms of power that they can only be sorted out, power-wise, when sealed, yet their level of power is far above that of the rest of the Espada. Granted, on more than one occassion it has been shown that the Espada 9-5 can take on full-power Captain-level opponents, yet the 4-1 Espada can clearly subdue even Shinigami Captains fighting at full power + Bankai while remaining sealed. Their sealed fighting styles also improves the higher the rank gets: Ulqi can deflect a full power Getsuga Tensho from a Masked Bankai Ichigo using only one hand; Halibel can use an unreleased zanpakutou technique (similar to shikai); and Barragan doesn’t even require sonido or high-speed regen technique (or does he?) to fight a captain. Perhaps this is what it means to have achieved the limits of Hollow power before Arrancarization, similar to a Shinigami’s max power limit w/out the Hougyoku. A perfect analogy would be to compare the Captains who have, or are implied to have, reached the full limit of their shinigami potential: Yamamoto, Kyouraku, Ukitake, Aizen (and Unohana?). In this case, “oldest” no longer means strongest in terms of power, but only due to acquired experience on the battlefield. In the same thread, I figure Aizen had a little bit of difficulty ranking Ulqi, Hali, Barry, and Stark. Do you have a theory why this is so?

    2.) There is a way to reconcile the “Humanoid” and “Animal-like” attributes of VL-level Arrancar. For instance: one theory has it that Stark’s resurreccion, which is related to his theme of “Loneliness”, is a “Lone Wolf”-styled release. If Stark was an Adjuchas before arrancarization, following the nuances of this theory, the logical name would be “Lobo”, or Wolf (a very animal-like release, similar to Grimmjow’s Pantera). But, if he was a VL, it would be “Lupino”, or Wolflike, i.e., having characteristics of a wolf but otherwise humanoid in appearance. Having a Segunda Etapa is not a prerequisite to VL-hood, nor does having some type of usable weapons like swords, etc., after release, but your opinions may differ from mine.

    c.) The resurreccion of Espadas 4, 3, and 2 have kana or Japanese translation that signifies or alludes to the height of Hollow power (i.e., Ulqi: “Great Black-winged Demon”; Hali: “Shark Empress”; Barry: “Skeleton Emperor”). Stark may follow suit. For instance, “Lupino” may be taken to mean as “Lord/Master of Tempests” (I am one of those who believe that Stark can control wind, as Kyouraku is implied to).

    d.) The resurreccions of other Arrancar characters increases/enhances certain standard Hollow abilities (like “Cero”, “instant Regen”, etc.), and/or allows the use of other special abilities, like Lanza del Relampago. However, Ulqi and Hali’s resurreccions explosively increases their Hollow abilities in all relevant categories, from sonido, hierro, reiatsu, and even Cero, to the point that they potentially have the clear-cut ability to defeat Captain-level opponents with their first attack alone. This astronomical increase in power is also reflected in Aizen’s rule which forbids Espadas 4 to 1 from releasing inside Las Noches. I am not a proponent of VL theories, but at this point of time I see no other explanation for this and other occurences. And there are zero instances of coincidence in Bleach. Aside from the exponential increase in reiatsu, Hali hasn’t even shown us anything that would make that rule apply to her as well. (Why am I not including Yammy in this list? Many reasons, but chiefly because of Ulqi’s admonition that his job was to fight the Captains in Las Noches – a task he clearly could not have accomplished without releasing.)

  2. Here is the 358 spoiler if you guys want to check it out.

    source : MS

    蜂女が逃げ切れなかったって事は他の誰も逃げられないって
    絶望する大前田
    “Soi Fong was unable to get away, No one else will get away,” Omaeda says in despair.

    いい案がうかんだ
    A plan was hatched.
    蜂女が大前田に囮をしろと命令
    Soi Fong ordered Omaeda to act as a decoy.
    蜂女はどこかへ行ってしまう
    Soi Fong went somewhere.

    素人へ
    To the amateur (probably referring to Hitsugaya).

    攻撃をなんとか防いだ素人だが前にもまして
    They somehow defended against the attack, However, what’s in front of them is twisted.
    強気な素人
    Stubborn Amateur.

    二人の攻防で周りが水浸しになっていく
    Flooding out the surroundings becomes both offense and defense.

    お前も待っているんだろ?周囲の変化を
    What are you waiting for? For your surroudings to change?
    そんでもって最大奥義使う気なんだろ?おみとおしだぜ!
    So, are you going to use your greatest secret? Let it out!

    大事なことなので…
    Seriously, though…

    氷輪丸は氷雪系最強!!
    Hyourinmaru is the strongest Ice-Snow type [zanpakutou]!!
    ばんかいした状態でやるのは初めてだが
    This the bankai state at the start, however,
    俺の力は 天からも~(空から何か降ってくる描写で終了)
    My power is… from the heavens… (From the sky, something is seen falling at the end.).

    必殺技はなったところで終了
    The chapter ends with the special move.

  3. Saying it’s a long comment almost borders to being an understatement, I’ve tried to reply on several occasions only to run out of time right after reading it -_-‘. Oh well, I’d better learn to read faster then right? 😉 I’ll be going over everything paragraph by paragraph, so let’s see how long it’ll take me :).
    Thanks, glad to hear you enjoyed the review and the poll. I’m just trying to find a way to incorporate the results better.
    I’m expecting Aizen to have plenty up his sleeves if he dared to go up against Soul Society already. The top Espada are proof of that, so that’s probably why this battle will get to epic proportions in one of the upcoming 10 to 20 chapters -I hope- just to show off all the captains’ abilities. Depending on Kubo’s plans for the story this could be one of the last chances to show off his characters.
    R1.) The Espada ranked 1-4 do seem to lose their number after releasing, though this seems to hold true for most Espada with the exception of those who have their numbers on their faces and Yammy. It could of course be true that the top 4 Espada are relatively equal when it comes to power, but I think there could be a great gap in power between Ulquiorra and Stark -for example. And I honestly doubt that Aizen would have trouble ranking his Espada. But it does seem that the Espada’s sealed abilities increases with their ranking, which may be proof of being a higher level of hybrid, which could in turn explain their ranking.
    R2.) What you said about Stark does seem to fit the profile, so it could hold true. And I sincerely doubt we’ll see any segunda etapas from the other Espada, especially after the explanation given by Ulquiorra.
    Rc.) I’m not too familiar with the kana aspect of the Espadas’ ressureccion, but it may even be possible that Stark will receive the deity status with his release. That would fit his position in the Espada.
    Rd.) These all seem to point out that they most likely are Vasto Lorde, though we’ll have to hear it from Aizen’s and/or Kubo to be sure of this. The fact that Yammy didn’t follow the no release rule does seem to be a bit strange for now, but we’ll find out in due time I suppose.
    I hope this answered your questions, if not you can just ask me again of course ;). Hopefully I’ll respond a bit sooner then….

  4. The only thing that we know about Vasto Lorde is that they are the size of a human and their power is far greater than that of a Captain level Shinigami. The following is an explanation of Vasto grande by Hitsugaya

    So I was wondering if maybe the ability to have a second more powerful resureccion is what separates the espada that are Vasto Lorde and the ones that are Adjunchas. I think that Ulquiorra’s second release was deffinetly a step above a Captain level Shinigami.

    If a first resureccion creates a close battle between Ulquiorra and Ichigo (a shinigami that is almost at captain level that the Second resureccion is probably the ability of the Vasto Lorde that we may be looking for.

    Maybe we’ll have a close almost lost fights by the shinigami in what is left of the battles that the top three espada are fighting in. At which point when the battle seems to be turning in favor of the Shinigami the top three will reveal a power that Ulquiorra thought that only he had and maybe explain that this is the true power of the Vasto Lorde.

    If this happens then the existance of the Vasto Lorde will be confirmed and we will also know who is the only person that maybe able to deffeat them : Ichigo in his second mask hollow form.

  5. Oh and by the way i really enjoy your reviews. I like how you take things step by step and don’t forget a single thing.

    The thing i liked about chapter was Soi Fon’s emotional distress after viewing and experiencing Barragan’s Power. I really was able to hear her cries of desperation as her arm was being eaten away. It was awesome and made Barragan an even greater villan. She deffinetly has to redeem herself as Captain a captain and as an assasination specialist.

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