The Underscore’s Bleach review 374

The Underscore’s

374 Grey Wolves, Red Blood, Black Clothes, White Bones

Hey there everyone, welcome to yet another Bleach review with chapter 374 in the spotlight this week. With an early release this week and my total lack of motivation towards my homework assignments I am also able to write this review a bit sooner than usual -remember kids, do your homework before you have fun- though this may come back to me one way or another. But I’ll deal with those consequences after dealing with this chapter. So using the early SleepyFans scanlation -thanks to them for the quick release- I’ll go over this week’s chapter, but not before going over last week’s poll.


Poll Results

So this week’s chapter revealed Starrk’s assailant, whom turned out to be someone I wasn’t expecting at all, though I wanted to see what you guys would predict in last week’s poll. There should be another day left for the poll at the time I’m writing this, but as I doubt people would wait to read the chapter until they vote in this poll I’ll just go with the current results consisting of 40 voters.
So of the eight options, two were apparently seen as even less likely than the Butler attacking Starrk, being Yoruichi and Hacchi. Apparently people thought it would be impossible for Yoruichi to suddenly show up like that -can’t blame anyone for that- though one person was hoping she might -can’t blame him/her either- though there was also just one person who thought Hacchi might have taken the time to join the battle against the Primera Espada. Another contender who scored lower than one would expect, with two votes, was Rose using a follow up attack or his Bankai. Even though Kubo couldn’t have built up the tension as much as he has right now if it would have been Rose, the odds of him being the attacker were still there as I explained last week. There were three people, however, who thought the shifty Shinji would have played a part in the surprise attack as he has the qualifications to do such a thing.
Then in fourth place, five voters better versed in detective novels figured this was a case of a classic “the Butler did it” plot. Though none of these voters were able to say who this butler would be, they didn’t leave out the possibility.
Third place was for Ukitake to make a miraculous comeback with six voters who may have thought along the same lines as I did thinking it may have been a physical diversion of his own damage. Or maybe they were hoping to see Ukitake so they could find peace in the knowing he is still alive.
In second place there were eight voters who just didn’t know! With all the people around in the fake Karakura town, the people suddenly popping up or having the opportunity to pop up, it was difficult enough to make a list of plausible options. But then there were fourteen voters who were sure that it was who they thought it would be. Some of these gave their thoughts on the culprit behind the stabbed Espada, though I mercilessly shot those ideas down -with mercy of course. And in the end my predictions were wrong once more -as they should be- as it turned out that the culprit is none other than…!

Solving the Mystery

And here we were complaining because the suspense was killing us

The battered Rose and Love look up surprised as they see the Primera Espada looking down at the blade sticking out of his body. Where his look was surprised at the end of last week’s chapter, he starts to grimace at the display of a rather familiar looking blade. So with the conditions of last week’s chapter set, the chapter proceeds with revealing the true culprit starting with the strangely familiar looking blade. The blade retracts into the shadows as Starrk looks around at what is happening. Following his own shadow, Starrk sees the person who attacked him rising from the shadow, quite literally at that.

The Culprit

It’s the pervert Captain, with a Zanpakutou, in the Shadow

How wrong could I have been by deciding that Kyouraku wouldn’t be someone to attack from the shadows? Based on the previous chapters with Kyouraku I deduced that his Zanpakutou would be based on the wind element aimed at deceiving his opponents. At least the deceiving part wasn’t too far off target, though I was the one who became the victim of Katen Kyokotsu’s deceptive ability. As Kyouraku rises from the shadow coming face to face with his opponent again, Starrk is the one to utter the surprise at the fact that Kyouraku has the ability to appear from the shadows like that. So why would Kyouraku not use the ability to transport himself through the shadows while firing gusts of wind at his opponent? It turns out the attack Kageoni wasn’t available to him as his Katen Kyokotsu wasn’t in the mood, which of course means he wouldn’t be able to do such a thing.

Let the Games Begin!

Fighting the Primera Espada like it’s child’s play…

So what does the Flower Sky, Crazy Bones, or better known as Katen Kyokotsu do exactly? It can make children’s games turn into reality! I won’t be able to give a decent explanation beyond what has been explained in the chapter on these games as they differ greatly from the children’s games I grew up with. But I’ll see how far I can manage. After releasing the Katen Kyokotsu, an area is created from Kyouraku’s Reiatsu in which the rules created by Katen Kyokotsu apply to both himself as well as anyone else who enters. The Takaoni attack we witnessed a few chapters back was based on a child’s game where the one who is in the highest place wins. The Kageoni attack that surprised us all, on the other hand, is based on a game where the one to step on a shadow loses. The latter game seems strange to me as I used to play a game of tag where the purpose was to step on other’s shadows, just to explain why I won’t be able to give a more decent explanation or any predictions on Kyouraku’s abilities as I just don’t know these games.
So Katen Kyokotsu creates a zone in which everything goes according to its rules based on children’s games, affecting reality itself in the progress. But the most important rule that stays in place is that if you win, you live, and that if you lose, you die. That sounds fair doesn’t it? Kyouraku then let’s us know that he finds Katen Kyokotsu’s rules to be quite bothersome as they affect him as well, but at least he loves his Zanpakutou nonetheless. You’d figure that someone who keeps being pushed around by someone with more authority wouldn’t do the same to others, though Kyouraku happily does the same to poor Nanao as we could see in chapter 105 where he forced her to throw flower petals for him. Leaving the hypocritical behavior of Kyouraku aside, he resumes the game of Kageoni as he stabs into the shadow. But this time Starrk is prepared as he flees into the sky.

Twister with a Twist

The lone wolf finally gets to play like the other kids

As Starrk leaps into the sky, old thoughts of loneliness come to mind. But he is unable to reminisce too long as Kyouraku charges at him. Starrk then forms a (pair of) sword(s) made of Reiatsu in the shape of his sealed Zanpakutou -if memory serves me right- (from his guns**), guarding himself from Kyouraku’s assault. Kyouraku then starts another game, this time the Irooni -color demon if guessed right- with the color grey. He then strikes Starrk’s right arm with enough force to cut off the arm, only to result in a shallow wound. In spite of the -according to his senses- severe pain, Starrk shows off the analytical ability we saw when he started to fight Kyouraku as he notices there is a new game name (Irooni), the color grey was mentioned, he’s got gray arms, and that Kyouraku has no grey on him. Kyouraku then urges Starrk to pick a color as it is his turn now. Starrk reacts by calling the color white, surprising Kyouraku by his sudden increase in speed as Starrk is the one to do a back attack this time.

** I just glanced over the chapter again, Starrk only drew one sword at this point and it was made in the same way as the wolves by taking Reiatsu from his ammunition belt. That’s what you get for being too hasty

Legalized Gambling

Good thing you weren’t facing a Quincy

Unable to dodge the attack entirely, Kyouraku is hit by the Espada’s attack. But in spite of the wound being relatively shallow, it suddenly becomes even bigger in a moment’s notice. Kyouraku then starts to praise Starrk for his ability to analyze the game in one go as Kyouraku explains the rules for Irooni -Wonderweiss probably would have had some trouble with this game. Irooni has a player choose a color during his turn which he is allowed to attack, the power of the attack then in turn is affected by the amount of color that same color the attacking player has in proportion to the defending player. Meaning that if Starrk chose blue -assuming neither one of them has anything blue on them- Starrk’s attack wouldn’t have done any damage at all, as seen by the fact that Kyouraku wasn’t able to do a lot of damage based on the color gray. Based on Kyouraku’s counter attack, it seems that the area which is attacked doesn’t have to be the same color as was chosen, so as long as he has anything white on him he can still attack a black area and do the same amount of damage.
One thing to note about Katen Kyokotsu is the fact that it actually dominates the attack forms available to Kyouraku from what we have heard here. Where most Shinigami appear to be able to use their Zanpakutou’s abilities as much as they want under the conditions such as the Shikai and the Bankai form, Kyouraku’s Katen Kyokotsu decides how the ability manifests. I say how it manifests instead of which ability he is allowed to use as I hypothesize that Katen Katen Kyokotsu’s ability is that of manipulation of reality bound by certain rules -in this case Children’s games- where the chosen set of rules decide what can be manipulated within an area based on Kyouraku’s Reiatsu. Though the games chosen by Katen Kyoukotsu are probably influenced by Kyouraku to some extend, the impressive thing on Kyouraku’s part is the fact that he’s able to communicate with his Zanpakutou during the battle to figure out which rules apply at that time. Perhaps he is constantly conversing with his Zanpakutou while it is being released or maybe it is something he’s learned to do through experience, but it is impressive nonetheless if you look at his current opponent who doesn’t allow slipups. Kyouraku also acknowledges the fact that his opponent is tough as he resumes the battle against Starrk, who suddenly starts to think back to his own past.

Loneliness

One is the Loneliest number that you’ll ever know

As Kyouraku counterattacks, probably based on the color white, Starrk thinks to himself Kyouraku is a tough opponent. Starrk then asks himself why he is the one that has to fight strong opponents as he looks back at his past as a Vasto Lorde (!!!). Starrk then gives us some insight on his past revealing a few interesting points. First off, I was right in saying that Starrk and Lillynette split into two because they were lonely and they couldn’t have anyone around. The only thing that I assumed was that Starrk is the one who created Lillynette, though it seems it isn’t even clear to Starrk who was the original Hollow. So to counter the loneliness they experienced as a Hollow, Starrk and Lillynette split into two beings. But the cause of the loneliness is both impressive as well as pretty sad as it turns out that their companions couldn’t even stand to be around them without dying. In the same way Tatsuki’s soul almost shattered under Yammy’s power, Starrk’s power crushed the Hollows around him just by being around them. The primera was also cursed by the fact that they surpassed the Gillian stage as they were no longer able to become part of a Gillian as he was already the dominant soul. Perhaps Starrk and Lillynette were the two strongest souls in the Menos, resulting in the two forms we have now come to know, as the usual Adjuchas and Vasto Lordes are the dominant souls of the Gillian stage in the Menos Grande class. Envying the fact that weak Hollows are able to congregate into a whole, he wanted to be weak so he could do the same, or find someone as strong as he is to keep him company. From the looks of things here, it turns out the last part of his wish came true in the form of the former captains and now Kyouraku. The latter one, however, may give him more than he bargained for.

The Primera’s loss?

That’s what you had coming by revealing your name Coyote Starrk

Rudely waking Starrk from his daydream, he suddenly sees the eight squad’s emblem floating in front of him. Striking at the robe, it turns out the owner isn’t wearing it. Coming from below, Kyouraku strikes with the color black as the condition for the attack as he slashes Starrk with an upward move. So would this be the end of Coyote Starrk? The Hollow regeneration doesn’t seem to be working as well as I had expected, so maybe Katen Kyokotsu’s ability prevents him from regenerating. Perhaps the Primera Espada will be save by the fact that there are other Starrks lurking about as they may be able to either heal the Espada or take him outside Katen Kyokotsu’s area of effect. Or perhaps a certain Gingerback may turn out to play a bigger part in all of this than we could have predicted. Only time will tell as the chapter ends with this sudden counter by Kyouraku.

Overview

Was this a great chapter or what? We finally learn exactly how Kyouraku’s Zanpakutou works and we see how overpowering it can be even though it is still in its Shikai form. A part of Starrk’s past is also revealed in this chapter as we learn that he was a Vasto Lorde with so much power that just being around other Hollows was enough to crush their souls. So with the tables turning for Starrk it would almost seem that he may yet meet his end as the conditions of a flashback and his entire name have already been met. With a good pace in the chapter, plenty of story development, and it being drawn out rather nicely I am once more pleased with this installment in the Bleach Manga. But this means that I have even greater expectations for the next chapters with things happening such as…

Predictions

Starrk will live. That is one thing I’m pretty sure of as Starrk hasn’t shown signs of turning into ash or whatever’s left of Hollows once they die. Starrk will find a way to counter the effects of Kyouraku’s Koten Kyoukotsu, either using the wolf pack, his guns, or even a Gran Rey Cero to disturb Kyouraku’s Reiatsu field in the same way Grimmjow’s Gran Rey Cero caused a disturbance in the sky of Las Noches. The fight will start with the Primera Espada and Kyouraku in the next chapter. The fight between the Primera and Kyouraku will resume, though the question may be who the Primera Espada will be. Perhaps Lillynette will be the one to go into her resurrección next week where Starrk will be the one to act as the Zanpakutou. The odds are greater that the wolves Starrk released in the previous chapter will cause enough mayhem for Starrk to recover, though a player sub could work out nicely. The only thing that could happen if Lillynette was to take over is that she may pull a Nelliel on us by turning into an adult form as well, though from what we could see in the flashback she was a kid back then as well. The reason I mention this is that this wouldn’t necessarily work out so well as it has already been done by Nelliel, but we’ll have to see if it is even possible for Lillynette to do a resurrección.
Now this is what could happen once the fight between Starrk and Kyouraku resumes, but this may be the moment for Kubo to change scenes to Harribel vs. Lisa as both of them may have interest in the other fight. So Kubo may decide to give Harribel the spotlight before returning to Kyouraku vs. Starrk and Lillynette.

Well, that’s it for this week’s review. I think I covered everything this chapter had to offer, so I hope you guys enjoyed it. Be sure to let me know if I overlooked anything, share your thoughts on this chapter and/or review, and be sure to vote in this week’s poll. I’ll see you next week!

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~ by The Underscore on September 17, 2009.

10 Responses to “The Underscore’s Bleach review 374”

  1. Fucking Kyroku!! although im glad we finally know what his shikai does he better at least use bankai before killing stark! no way he kills the Primera with just shikai!

  2. That was a bad ass shinkai no wonder Kyroku is concidered so strong. This makes me remember what he said after seeing Hitsugaya’s Bankai at full power.

    http://www.onemanga.com/Bleach/361/10/

    He said that maybe it would take 100 years for Hitsugaya to catch up to his power. I can’t even begin to imagine the full extent of Kyroku’s Bankai.

    This makes me wonder whether or not Kyroku’s bankai should be used on the Primera espada or maybe on someone more powerful like one of the former captains or even Aizen himself.

    We might need someone who fight’s with illusions to be able to compete with Aizen’s.

    I’m not sure whether Stark is dead or not but if he doesn’t die and Kyroku doesn’t use Bankai then i would expect Kyroku to be a lead in the fight vs Aizen.

  3. Makes me think how powerful yamamoto is to have been able to handle ukitake’s ability to throw everything back at him and kyroku’s weird games at the same time. All three are bamf’s.*

    *assuming any of them were actively using their shikai’s powers’ during the fight.

  4. @ TakashiD:
    We’ll have to see whether Kyouraku actually manages to kill Starrk or whether Starrk and Lillynette will be able to pull something else out to force out a Bankai from him. Starrk only being beaten by a Shikai would be rather disappointing I suppose, though Kyouraku’s Shikai may already be one of the most powerful ones around -though Suzumebachi’s death in two strikes may be the most powerful Shikai around if you think on it.

    @Manny814:
    Kyouraku is possibly the second most powerful individual in the Gotei 13, with only Genryuusai above him -Ukitake’s illness prevents him from reaching second place, he may even be fourth if the hints towards Unohana are true.
    But Kyouraku’s Bankai is even more interesting now as I don’t have the faintest what it could turn into while multiplying his Shikai ability.
    If Starrk does fall after this, Kyouraku will have to be one of the leading fighters against Aizen. The only thing that is troublesome in all of this is the fact that Aizen’s perfect illusion ability also can be multiplied with his Bankai.

    @Alec:
    Genryuusai’s status does seem to rise even more knowing he was able to hold off both Ukitake and Kyouraku. Both sides even held back by not using their Bankai, so they still had plenty to offer. If those three were to fight each other it may have even resulted in the destruction of a big part of Soul Society if you think about it.

  5. Yeah i have to admit that kyorakus shikai is ridiculously powerfull, but i really want to see his bankai now because of that. Also i was really hoping that starrk might survive this battle somehow seince he does not really care about killing the shinigami and is does not seem very loyal to aizen. i know its unlikely but then again im one of those people who is still hoping that Ulquiorra Survives/comes back from the whole “Ash” thing so i guess ill just have to do the same for starrk.

  6. also i loled at the “Pervert captin with azanpakto in the shadow” thing that was pretty funny.

  7. If Stark dies i would also predict that Harribel would be a quick fight as well. That way they’ll leave us with a bit of a cliffhanger with all of the espadas defeated and the former captains getting ready to show us why all of the espada follow their command.

    It would seem like a good moment to switch scenes from these battles to Hueco mundo where Zero Espada is fighting the whole gang.

    After all its been a real long while since we saw the main character.

    Did someone say Ichi-who?

  8. Well, after seeing that shikai, its no wonder Kyroku is so lazy. Its so much work and all!

    I’d want to see Starrk live like Takashi said above but between Lillynette’s speech and Underscore’s “Rules Of Espada Deaths” I just don’t see it getting to happen. BTW when will Grimmjow ever die off or show up again?

  9. @TakashiD:
    Starrk still has a VERY SLIM chance of surviving after having used his resurreccion and revealing his name as Grimmjow might still be alive -though we don’t know what Nnoitra’s attack actually did to him- so maybe Kyouraku and Starrk may end up as friends. Ulquiorra coming back to live, however, is something I don’t see happening outside of flashbacks in the mange, and cameos and fillers in the Anime I’m afraid. Especially if you figure he died from a lack of energy and wasn’t killed by a zanpakutou to cleanse his soul(s) -conglomeration of souls being a Menos and all- and send it to Soul Society.
    As for the perverted captain in the shadows, I was going for the game Clue as it related to both the mystery of the previous chapter and the game theme Katen Kyokotsu has going. I’m not too sure whether everyone got that though 🙂

    @manny814
    Harribel has revealed her name a long time before Starrk, as well as her resurreccion, so if Starrk is to die any time soon, she’ll probably have 3 or 4 chapters left at most.
    The end of the Espada’s in Fake Karakura Town would make for a nice time to change scene’s to the protagonist of this story. And I see you clearly forgot who it was, shame on you! It’s obvious to all the main character is… Kon! Or wait, orange?… Strawberry!?

    @Tony
    Kyouraku’s laziness could be considered as just fatigue due to him having to work with Katen Kyokotsu all the time, he is pretty tiring for Nanao as well which makes it obvious his Zanpakutou is just like him.
    But whether Starrk will live is, like I said, something that’s very unlikely. But maybe we’ll see whether Grimmjow will llive once the scene goes to Kenpachi and Nell as they are closest to Grimmjow.

  10. If a small wound on the arm cause extreme pain to Stark I wonder how much pain he was in after almost being sliced in two.

    OUCH !! 😮

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