The Underscore’s Bleach review 432


432 The Soul Pantheism

Welcome one and all to the first Bleach chapter of 2011 by Kubo Tite and the last Bleach review of 2010 by yours truly. I honestly didn’t expect to see the chapter popping up this weekend, but I guess the raw-providers and the scanlators decided to help out Santa by spreading some joy. And joyous it is as this latest chapter of Bleach has miraculously cured me of the skepticism towards the new characters and made me look forward to what’s to come. But more on that later in the review.

I’ll let you guys know that this Bleach review comes out today solely because I had intended to give you guys a random manga review today, just for fun. In fact, it would be so random that, even at this very moment, I don’t know what manga I would be reviewing . But Bleach is here, which makes the random manga completely obsolete. Just to remind you guys, I’m still hoping to see some submissions for the new review headers. Up till now I have exactly -add ten, divide it by…- 0 submissions… Of course, there’s still two weeks for the deadline, so here’s hoping a couple of submissions will be coming in during that time…

But enough about my reviews, let’s talk about my review. This week’s chapter is brought to us by the Mangastream/Binktopia scanlation group, so thanks go out to them for ignoring their families on Christmas -says someone who is doing the same thing right now – and putting so much effort into bringing us another dose of manga. Something tells me I don’t have any of those scanlators reading my reviews, but if one of them happens to stumble across this review I’d like to thank them for all the effort they put into the reviews in 2010 and tell them I look forward to more from them in 2011. With all that out of the way, on to last week’s chapter rating! The poll won’t change as it still applies here .

 

Bleach chapter 431, , rated by 18 voters gets an average score of:

6.8

Average

Annoyances

Oh Riruka, I’m in such a good mood that I no longer consider you to be annoying… just don’t push your luck

The chapter starts off at night where two figures are walking down the streets of Karakura town. The first thing heard is the ranting of one of these figures who is annoyed by the other’s resting place. As the other figure apologizes -as if the shoes don’t give away who it is – the second figure resumes the rant. Besides the fact that the other figure was staying at a place she didn’t want to be in the first place, she doesn’t get why she listened to Kuugo and looked for the other figure in the first place. Even though she keeps asking questions, the other figure doesn’t get the chance to answer, though knowing who it is he wouldn’t bother anyway .

We then learn the one ranting is none other than Riruka, who is now annoyed by the fact that the person who annoyed her in the first place isn’t saying anything. She then demands to know what the other is thinking, as he tells her he’s just amazed that Riruka is capable of talking to herself for such a long time. Much to her dismay.

Taking the first time Riruka appeared into account, it is obvious that Kuugo sent her out for a reason. Riruka was rather set on persuading Ichigo to come along as she felt that Kuugo didn’t do things right. Sending Riruka out to look for one of the Xcution members on the same day that Ichigo is introduced into Xcution was a smart move of Kuugo’s as I doubt Riruka would’ve stayed out of it if she were at the headquarters. Let’s face it, Ichigo gets too easily annoyed with people who rant on like this, especially when they’re just nagging .

Questions

This isn’t the look of someone who doesn’t care for his powers…

The scene changes back to the Xcution headquarters where we have a stumped Ichigo doubting his ears. Kuugo then repeats what he told Ichigo at the end of last week’s chapter: Xcution means to restore Ichigo’s Shinigami powers. Ichigo is completely thrown off by this as he semi-panicky asks Kuugo how he intends to get Ichigo’s powers back to him. Kuugo even seems to be surprised at this sudden change in attitude for a moment, only to enjoy it seconds later as Ichigo starts asking the same questions we all had for quite some time: Why would they want to restore Ichigo’s powers, what’s their purpose, and who are these guys really?

As all these questions come up, Ichigo’s desire for answers makes him grab hold of Kuugo’s jacket so he can shake the answers out of him. But Kuugo tells Ichigo to calm down. With everything Ichigo wants to know, he feels it’s best to sit down and go over things at an easier pace as they’ve got all night to discuss matters. Ichigo apparently agrees to take things a bit easier as he probably realizes he’s made a mistake by snapping like that.

It isn’t too strange for Ichigo to snap like he did just now, though I have to say it was rather unexpected. Ichigo’s mistrust when it comes to Kuugo made him decide to play things as cool as possible. But with all the questions he’s had for over a year being thrown at him all at the same time and the answers being in front of him, he has some trouble keeping his cool. We saw this last week when Ichigo showed up at 19:57, which isn’t an unreasonable time when you’re expected at 20:00, yet became defensive when Kuugo pointed this out. Ichigo was expecting to hear different things from Kuugo when he came there, most likely expecting to hear that they would want his help to get closer to his father or something along those lines. All of a sudden he hears that he won’t get any answers, but will be getting his Shinigami powers back instead.

Reacting the way Ichigo did, however, wasn’t part of his plans as he was obviously trying to be indifferent when it came to Kuugo and his offer. That’s why Ichigo declines the drink offered by Kuugo as they are sitting down and he’s looking at Kuugo with such an angered look. But Kuugo, being the showman he is, can’t let things go the way Ichigo wants them as he tells Kutsuzawa to give Ichigo some orange juice. I have to admit, this is a pretty stealthy blow by Kuugo. By giving Ichigo orange juice he effectively ridiculed Ichigo’s orange hair while making him out to be an unknowing child at the same time. When Ichigo gets his juice, Kuugo answers one of Ichigo’s questions as he reveals what the Xcution members are: Human.

Power

I know plenty of people who have the ability to have alcohol come to them…

As Kuugo tells Ichigo that he and the other Xcution members are human, Ichigo already raises his head in disbelieve. But Kuugo then tells Ichigo that he was right in thinking that Kuugo and the others aren’t just human. Kuugo then tells Ichigo that he was born with a special ability, same as the other Xcution members. This makes it more likely that the Xcution members have nothing to do with the Hougyoku, which granted Chad and Orihime their powers. Then again, the Hougyoku has been around for over a century, so there’s always a chance that they were affected by it one way or another.

As Ichigo wonders what Kuugo’s ability might be, Kuugo decides to explain it to him by showing it. Kuugo then puts his hand to his glass as strange lights are coming from the beverage inside. These lights are obviously similar to the one Ishida saw his assailant use, meaning that there’s some connection to Xcution and the Bookworm. But where the Bookworm used the light to move faster, Kuugo suddenly makes the beverage come out of the glass and flow straight into his mouth. As Kuugo gulps down an entire glass of alcohol in at once, even though he told Ichigo to take the time, Ichigo is amazed to see what’s going on there.

Kuugo explains to Ichigo that he pulled out the soul from the alcoholic beverage and told it to help him swallow it. Being slow on the uptake, Ichigo doesn’t quite understand what Kuugo means. Kuugo then dumbs it down by explaining that their (Xcutions’) power is to pull out the souls that reside in matter. Ichigo still doesn’t get it.

Fullbring

Just wait until Ichigo pulls out Zangetsu, then we’ll see who has a big sword…

After seeing the way Ichigo is looking at him, Kuugo decides to give a more detailed explanation on their powers. Kuugo tells Ichigo the reason he doesn’t understand is basically because Ichigo assumes that objects don’t have souls. Kuugo then explains the concept of Soul Pantheism -hence this chapter’s title- as he tells Ichigo that everything on the planet has a soul, the tiniest blade of grass to man made products. The difference with the souls of living creatures is that their soul mass is a lot smaller. Basically what Kubo’s decided to do here is to take the concept of Pantheism -that everything and everyone is divine/ a God- and apply it to souls, making it that everything and everyone has a soul.

Kuugo then explains how objects have souls as he gives Ichigo a rather simple explanation. He explains how using a tool that you’re familiar with is the same as understanding its soul. By understanding this soul, you get better at using that tool. Basically it’s the same as that one controller you wanted to use for your console, even though it was exactly the same as the second controller. Even though you know that the controllers are both the same, you still hit your little brother until you get to use that one controller . The reason you hit your little brother for that controller is basically because you feel better when using that controller and actually do better than with the other controller.

The Xcution members take this concept a step further. They use their own souls to enforce the souls of objects to increase their properties. From making the asphalt more elastic to jump higher (e.g. when Kuugo suddenly popped up behind Ruriko and Kutsuzawa) to making liquids do the work for them. With better control over their powers, the members can even walk on water. But it’s not like the Xcution members solely use their abilities to constantly bounce around or tell their drinks to help them drink it. When the members are more attached to the objects, they can even go further than just increasing their properties.

Kuugo then shows Ichigo the object he is most attached to, his necklace. He then uses the same ability as before on the necklace, turning it into a claymore. This ability is called Fullbring.

Now, I have to say, I like this concept of Fullbring. It isn’t even too farfetched from other concepts in Bleach. In fact, it explains how the Quincy are capable of using their powers in the first place. Quincy use Reiatsu around them to form bows and arrows. Reiatsu comes from souls, so it only makes sense that things around Quincy have souls to take power from. But rather than taking power from them like the Quincy do, Fullbring add their Reiatsu to objects to increase the objects’ power. Perhaps this is the reason Ishida was attacked in the first place, as their abilities are basically opposites.

The ranter returns

Riruka and I are somehow wondering the same thing: Is Kuugo stupid or something?

Riruka makes a dramatic entrance into the headquarters, surprising Kuugo in the process. She managed to complete her objective sooner than Kuugo expected, meaning his time for explaining was cut shorter than he wanted. Riruka tells Kuugo that she found the guy she was sent out to look for, but asks whether it was Kuugo’s sword that was shining a moment ago. The fact that Kuugo transformed his necklace before Riruka entered the room suggests that those with the Fullbring ability are capable of seeing when the ability is used through other objects as Riruka says it was shining.

Of course, only a moment later, Riruka complains about the light in the headquarters as she’s apparently as blind as a bat. This suggests that it isn’t so much being able of seeing the particles as it is more of a sixth sense. Kuugo tells Riruka to put on her glasses if she wants to see something because he sure isn’t planning on putting up more lights. Riruka then throws a little rant on how she hates her glasses and detests the use of contact lenses. Something tells me she will be able to use her Fullbring ability to its full potential when using her glasses…

Ichigo then asks Kuugo who it was that just entered the room. Kuugo explains it’s his ally Riruka. With the bad lighting in the place, Riruka can’t make out Ichigo. This is probably for the best as Riruka would probably just bother Ichigo if she knew he was the one sitting next to Kuugo. The fact that she doesn’t know it’s Ichigo, however, suggests that Xcution has more guests at their headquarters besides the members. This would suggest that Xcution might be some sort of Jack-of-all-trades shop for Spiritual matters. What’s may be more interesting to those of you who like the idea of Isshin having regained his powers with the help of Xcution -though I honestly have my doubts- take a look at the scene here and this colored page. Perhaps not exactly the same as the pattern on the walls are different, but who knows…

Anyways, Kuugo tells Riruka to shut up and get inside. She once more uses the “who died and made you king” remark as she tells the man she sent out for to enter.

Yasutora “Chad” Sado

I FRIGGIN KNEW IT! I never should’ve doubted my crazy suspicions!

The man called in by Riruka is one Ichigo knows all too well. Chad enters the Xcution headquarters only to find his good friend Ichigo, much to his surprise. Boy am I glad to see Chad alive and kicking. Sure, this raises a lot of questions, but still. I did suspect Chad to be involved with Xcution, even guessed he might be working for them after school. The way Riruka spoke to Chad at the start of this chapter suggests that they do know each other as colleagues. But with the way Xcution members use Fullbring, whereas Chad has Hougyoku based powers, it makes you wonder how and why they came into contact. Then again, why would they want Ichigo to regain his Shinigami powers then? So many questions in spite of a few answers. Still, I’m glad Chad finally made his appearance. Now for Kon and Rukia to show up soon…

I really liked this chapter. The concept of Fullbring is a good one in my opinion as it opens up plenty of possibilities that Zanpakutou have as well. It would be strange for another scenario revolving around Shinigami fighting each other or Arrancar coming back again as those have been covered during the past couple of saga’s. The Fullbring ability even fits in the other concepts of Bleach, such as the powers Quincy have and perhaps even Chad’s abilities.

The only thing I’m not too happy about when it comes to this chapter has to be Ichigo’s reaction to what Kuugo told him. Though I can understand it, like I explained in the review, it was a bit over the top even for Ichigo if I’m completely honest. Other than that, this chapter was a really good one for me.

This chapter really makes it feel that Bleach is moving forward with something fresh. Not just because of the concept of Fullbring, but because of the fact that Chad is willingly working with Xcution. At the start of this new arc, Xcution felt rather shallow. Another group of bad guys who want something from Ichigo, yada yada. But if Chad is working for them, it means there must be more to them than just that. What’s even more intriguing because of this chapter, is the Shinigami representative badge Kuugo had on him. I am still fairly certain that the badge Kuugo had wasn’t the same as Ichigo has. But how could he have that badge on him? Did he receive it from Soul Society, did he take it from them, or did Xcution present it to Soul Society? This arc finally has the set up for some (unexpected) twists in the future that should make Bleach interesting to read. The way we (finally) have more than solely battles taking place only does Bleach good. All I can say is that this chapter somehow managed to do what I was waiting for since the arc started: I’m finally looking forward to see how it is going to unravel itself.

Chad (finally) made his appearance in this week’s chapter. The look on Kuugo’s face at the end of the chapter suggests that he knew Chad and Ichigo would react the way they did.

The fact that Kuugo and Chad most likely know each other -seeming as how Kuugo called for him- raises a simple question:Why didn’t Kuugo send Chad out to get Ichigo to him?

Is it possible that Chad doesn’t want Ichigo to get back into the turbulent world of spirits and Hollows? Does Kuugo have plans that Chad doesn’t know about which involve both him and Ichigo? Does Xcution do something that Chad would want Ichigo to stay away from? Why wouldn’t it be best to send out Chad, Ichigo’s close friend, to find him instead of having Kuugo approach Ichigo?

The next chapter should be a good one. I can already imagine Ichigo trying to get some answers out of Chad while things going the same as they did here. Of course, Ichigo will then turn to Kuugo for more answers as he gives Ichigo some more answers. He will give a short and vague explanation on what Xcution does, which explains what Chad has to do with them. But the focus will be on how Kuugo will be able to use his Fullbring ability to restore Ichigo’s powers and what the risks are. Ichigo will then be given the time to think about whether he wants his powers back, as a sign of good will from Kuugo’s part. Ichigo will then confront Chad about his association with Xcution and we’ll learn how and when Chad ended up meeting them. More importantly, we’ll learn why Chad decided to help them -unless they’re helping him of course- which may be enough for Ichigo to decide to get his powers back.

That’s it for this review. I hope you guys enjoyed this (probably) unexpected review. Be sure to let me know what your thoughts are on this week’s chapter and/or review, give any theories that you may have and to vote in this week’s poll. Make sure to give some predictions based on these new events and don’t forget to rate this week’s chapter! Those of you who are still waiting for a reply on last week’s review, the lost but not forgotten section will be up later this week. Anyways, I’ll see you guys again in 2011!

 

Click on the picture above to rate this week’s chapter, and as a reminder here’s what the ratings are:
1.0: Abysmal
1.1 – 3.4: Awful
3.5.-5.4: Bad
5.5-6.9: Average
7.0-8.9: Great
9.0-9.9: Awesome
10: Perfect

Advertisements

~ by The Underscore on December 26, 2010.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

 
%d bloggers like this: