Joint Bleach review 465: Bad Blood Exhaust
This week there’s something different than my usual Bleach review. Instead of me ranting on my own, I joined up with a couple of other reviewers to write up a review for this chapter. Here’s the result. Enjoy the read!
A Joint Review by King of Letters, Billy Mitchell, Gangnrad, CakeEater and La Pierna Derecha del Penguin
“And with that I close up my part in this new type of Reviews. poka~”
Pheeeew, man, finally. I never thought we’d actually finish this… Hey! Why is the mic still working? The Review already ended. Huh? There’s another Joint Review? WHAT THE FU**? Why didn’t anybody tell me?
O.K., O.K, get over it. I know this intro s@cks, but I had to come up with something original, and I thought, why not continue from the point where we last stopped… literally. And thus we jump straight from our Joint Review of Naruto 551, to our BRAND-NEW AND SUPER-MEGA-AWESOME Joint Review of Bleach 465: Bad Blood Exhaust
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One more word before we start. Since our last Review, a lot of time has passed, and while you guys were enjoying your usual cup of manga and anime, our Reviewer Alliance gained 4 new members. 3 of them take part in this review. Just like last time, your task will be to find out who hides between these nicknames, and who wrote what section respectively. Also, guys, please post some guesses. Just imagine what funny post you can make, like, I think King of Letters is Kaiten because they both start with “K”, HAHAHAHA… O.K. a dumb example, I know, but you get the hang of it… Well, I can’t stand this idiotic silence anymore, I’m outta here. The next time you’ll hear from me will be in the prediction section, so, yeah, go and laugh you’re a** off, I know my intro posts fail
Actually they don’t. Admit it. Right… RIGHT?
EDIT: That banner. Yeah, I know. Sh** happens. I don’t mean the banner itself. The banner is awesome, without questions (credits go to ~coffee~ btw). I mean the usernames. Back when I was discussing how the banner should look like, a blackout happened and the whole house went just bzzzzzzt. And so, out of that unfinished discussion appeared this unfinished banner. You get it? Anyway, you know what reviewers took part. You don’t know who hides under what nickname. Isn’t this funny? O.K. I know it ain’t, but remember this. You don’t post guesses ——> You don’t read Joint Reviews.
With Kenpachi wrapping things up in a moment’s notice, last week’s chapter showed us a couple of pairs for the upcoming fights. Ichigo and Ishida prepare to face the first Substitute Shinigami as Ishida touches upon somewhat of a mystery. Toushiro has problems of his own as he is faced with the game-centric Yukio. Rukia faces her greatest challenge yet in the face of Riruka’s battlefield, because what self-respecting female wouldn’t be charmed by all the stuffed toys sitting around her? The star of the show, however, was Byakuya. Byakuya was the one who got matched up against Tsukishima and happy to step up to this challenge. Putting Tsukishima in his place and showing a true Kuchiki’s pride, Byakuya immediately set the mood for the upcoming battle. Which explains why Kubo decided to move on to someone else in this week’s chapter . On to this week’s review for BLEACH 465: Bad Blood Exhaust
Last week ended with Byakuja saying some badass things. Of course Kubo does not pick up at one of the main fights (Byaku vs. Tsukushima and Kurosaki/Ishda vs. Kugo), but instead we get to see two different ones. First up are Ikaku versus Shishigawara, the only Fullbringer without an actual power upgrade. Ikaku is trying to figure out the power of Shishigawara, who is punching trees and forcing them to fall. Considering his powers I would say that when using Jackpot Knuckle the chances of the tree falling down are increased to 100%. And Ikaku confirms another thing for us: The punches are in fact really weak, the only dangerous thing about Shishigawara is his ability. No wonder that Tsukushima didn’t want them to be upgraded. Try to imagine that he could use Jackpot Knuckle with his whole body… Oh, and he punches Ikaku and dislocates his shoulder because of his ability. But, Ikaku is badass and relocates it with muscle-power only. Okay, I’m not a doctor and I know nothing about medicine… but that is just totally unbelievable. However, it is Bleach and I will just go with it. Shishigawara then charges towards Ikaku and it is time for this week’s title right before Ikkaku can finally get serious and Shishigawara runs into his spear: Bad Blood Exhaust. Okay, what? I don’t really get it, someone else should talk about it.
Kubo jumps to the second fight this week: Renji versus the upgraded Jackie Tristan. Renji is refusing to attack a woman first, and as feminist I have to say: Dude, that is totally not cool. Have you ever heard of the term “equal rights” and everything? However, Renji does identify Jacky’s upgrade as a motorcycle engine (one is on her right shoulder, and two at the top of her thighs). Renji then tells us the story that Hisagi-senpai one brought a bike to soul society and got whipped by the boss. Okay, why should we care? Renji has been in the real world a lot, he should know about bikes regardless of this story. But I digress and am excited what will happen next…
Jackie reveals the new nature of her fullbring. The power she gained from Ichigo causes the motorcycle engine on her shoulder to expel enough mud to fully cover her body. Jackie’s ability is no longer limited to her boots. She gains a muddy full body armour that boosts her power and speed. Like she did against Ichigo, Jackie warns Renji that he should draw his sword before launching toward him with a superfast attack. A nonplussed Renji disregards her advice and ably dodges the incoming attack. Jackie believes that it won’t be enough though because of the destructive power her fullbring demonstrated by destroying the surrounding terrain.
Jackie lands a solid kick on Renji, but he’s barely pushed back a few feet. Renji asserts that he’s seen enough of her ability and implies that he can withstand her strongest attacks. Naturally, this sends Jackie into a rage because she feels she is being disregarded as a warrior due to her gender. What she fails to realize though, is that she is guilty of exactly the kind of arrogance she accused Renji and Ichigo of succumbing too. Without truly evaluating her opponent’s ability, she lets the magnitude of her power lure her into a sense of superiority. Jackie attacks Renji with her full might, but Renji easily blocks her terrain destroying attack with his forearm. He then uses the hilt of his sword to knock the wind out of Jackie, choosing to spare her life, and reveals how deeply the Fullbringers have underestimated Soul Society. Renji wasn’t looking down on Jackie because she was a woman. He disregarded her abilities because he’s been training all this time to fight Aizen, a class of enemy that Jackie falls far short of.
This is one of those chapters. One of those chapters where all the good guys come out looking cool beyond words, and utterly unbeatable. One of those chapters were all the bad guys come out looking stupid beyond comprehension and mildly insane for picking this fight in first place. One of those chapters where it seems like the only reason the bad guys lived long enough to explain their powers is because good guys felt like being polite. One of those chapters that I should hate for being so predictable and so unimaginative; but I love for being so fun. One of those chapters where seeing characters I love obliterate characters I hate makes a huge grin appear on my face. It’s one of those chapters that Kubo does better than anybody and one of those chapters that makes me love Bleach despite all its faults.
Let me give you a little perspective here, I winced when I first heard the term Fullbringer. I thought to myself, this is the stupidest term I’ve ever heard. Then I saw a Fullbring and I began to laughed, not a sane laugh mind you. One of those piercing high-pitched crazy laughs because Bleach, the most stylish of manga had adopted the single most hideous looking series of abilities I had ever seen. Bleach had gone…ugly, and the world just didn’t make sense anymore.
Now back to this chapter. I think I finally understand. Kubo played a prank on myself and the rest of us Bleach readers. He created a group of characters that were intolerably annoying, gave them atheistically displeasing abilities, and threatened to pack them into Bleach’s already overcrowded cast. In so doing, I think he intentionally manufactured characters that the fans would loath. There is NOTHING more enjoyable to me as seeing a character I can’t stand getting manhandled by a character I love. It’s predictable, it’s simplistic, and it’s satisfying at the very deepest level of my being. And that is exactly what is happening this week.
Ikkaku eas having a merry old time toying around that little moron and his stupid brass knuckles. He’s using brass knuckles against Ikkaku’s spear… just think about that for a minute and let the stupidity of it soak in. Ikkaku could end this anytime he wants to.
Renji for his part seemed to spend the majority of his fight trying to suppress a condescending smirk. He even pulled a “Kenpachi” and gave his opponent a free shot, not that it did her much good. Then he calmly delivered a pride shattering assessment of her abilities, ”You lot just don’t cut it”. Well said Renji, well said.
Relocating one’s shoulder using only one’s muscles is something you just don’t see happening. It’s the same as seeing people enjoy the newest addition of characters in Bleach. Sure, it’s interesting if it works, but did it really? In the case of Shishigawara, it’s one of those missed opportunities. How much fun could you have between a man who enjoys doing a lucky dance before a fight (which we haven’t seen ever since that fight with Ichigo) and a guy who manipulates probability, or in laments terms, luck? Answer: a lot more than we’ve seen in this week’s chapter. Not to say things can’t turn around, heck, the fight between Ikkaku and Shishigawara has only started. But that doesn’t mean it didn’t have more promise to show. In fact, considering how this could’ve been Byakuya’s time to shine, this was quite the letdown.
But back to what I was talking about: missed opportunities. Renji vs. Jackie being another one of those. One of the view redeeming qualities Jackie has, is the fact that she isn’t the standard Bleach girl. Sure, in a way she was like someone from a different Manga or Anime, but she could’ve broken the mold. Someone who gets stronger by getting dirtier. Her upgrade gave her a motorcycle engine, which is odd no matter how you look at it, but it could’ve been fun. Instead, she oils up (which, mind you, sounds nicer if you think about it than it was in this chapter) gets dirty (again, sounds nice, but in practice…), and gets knocked out in a single blow.
Don’t get me wrong, I love the fact that Renji has gotten this much stronger ever since the Aizen incident. I even enjoy the fact that he is implying that Aizen levels of power are going to be the new standard for new major villains. Mind you that I’m not talking about ButterflAizen levels of power. But I’m just disappointed with how another female character is knocked out with ease in Bleach. There are only a handful of female characters in Bleach that can be considered true fighters. Jackie could never have won against Renji, I won’t deny that, but a single blow to the stomach with the back of a sword? Really? Really, really?
Like it’s already been said, another “Kenpachi” has been pulled. This actually sets the mood for the other fights, doesn’t it? Renji might be captain level, but he isn’t amongst the top-tiers currently present in Karakura town. Jackie, however, was one of the more adept Fullbring users. How does this bode for the rest of the fights? I’m almost rooting for Kuugo and Tsukishima to actually put up a decent fight.
But to end on a brighter tone (much like the sparkle on Ikkaku’s head in this chapter), I actually enjoyed the read. Ikkaku looked hilariously awesome while relocating his shoulder, and Shishigawara’s wackiness was fun as well. Jackie once again thinking she’s better than she actually was (remember when she faced Ichigo?), was redundant. But Renji was excellent in the way he handled things. I wouldn’t have expecting anything less from a man who is trying to surpass Kuchiki Byakuya. The fact that we learned about Hisagi trying to get a motorcycle to work in Soul Society made me laugh as well. Can you imagine him trying to impress Rangiku with his motorcycle before Genryuusai burnt it to a crisp? Not to say it happened like that, but I can imagine it happening . With Jackie out for the count, it’s two Fullbringers down, five to go.
This week we got a colored cover to start the chapter. It wasn’t stellar but it was a solid outing that visually outlined Kūgo’s dominant personality traits: smug vanity and madness. Kūgo would almost pass for a stereotypical villain filled with hubris, but the degree of madness he’s displaying adds an interesting dimension to his character. Where Aizen was the perpetually cool, collected mastermind, Kūgo looks like a man possessed. He’s someone swallowed by the darkness, figuratively and literally on the cover, and who came back broken and demented. I think this cover implies we’ll be learning the true motivation behind Kūgo’s ruse soon enough.
One of the core strengths of Bleach is Kubo’s strong sense of style, although that sometimes comes at the cost of substance. This means that it’s readily noticeable when a chapter doesn’t fully deliver the artistic goods. In the art department, this Bad Blood Exhaust is a mixed bag. Let’s start with what didn’t work. The characters involved were all isolated in one on one battles set against vast, but largely uninteresting, backdrops. Too often, a character would be shown small and unfocused against a wide background of speedlines or against a backdrop with nothing going on, giving many panels/pages the appearance of filler holding space until the real action begins. That’s not to say there weren’t interesting ways the backgrounds could be used. The trees are used well enough (when present) in the first half of the chapter and the rain in the second half of the chapter leads to a couple of cool effects, but mostly we get speedlines, solid backdrops, and generic looking debris. Yet the biggest problem artistically was Jackie’s dirty armor. On the one hand, I think the design suited her character (more on that later), but the choice of keeping the armor a solid black color led to many panels of her fighting Renji (also clad mostly in black) looking like … well two black blobs fighting with little to distinguish them apart. Just examine that top panel on the last page where Jackie gets hit with the hilt of Renji’s sword. It looks downright awful, which is unfortunate given how stylish Bleach usually is.
That said, there is plenty of style to be found in the chapter. The character designs are all top notch and while Jackie’s upgraded Fullbring isn’t aesthetically pleasing, it seems appropriate for the character. Likewise, the updated Soul Society character designs accent characters most recognizable characteristics. Ikkaku get’s to show off an uber-masculinity with his musculature and Renji’s new design emphasizes the roughness to his character. I also thought that everyone’s faces were particularly expressive this chapter in communicating what each character thought. As for pure style, Renji was in raw form with his excessively unconcerned reactions to his opponent.
Renji’s nose on page 10 is especially worth mentioning /King of Letters
I think it’s fair to say Abarai Renji has often been a whipping boy in Bleach. His was introduced as an arrogant jerk whom Ichigo humiliates in front of his beloved mentor and man-crush, Kuchiki Byakuya. Then he has positioned himself as something of a self-styled rival for Ichigo, only to get upstaged every step of the way; which is a good way to make anybody look bad.
Looking past Renji’s status as a thoroughly unworthy rival of Ichigo’s, his character has actually changed a great deal as the series progressed. He has always been extremely loyal both to his friends and his duty as a Shinigami. This has made life difficult when his duty demands he act against the interests of those close to him. In the Soul Society arc this internal conflict came to a head when he had to choose between someone who was like a sister to him and his duty. Only through facing, and being defeated by, Ichigo did he come to decide which came first to him. He decided to protect what’s important to him no matter what, just like he witnessed Ichigo do, and that’s a decision he’s stuck to with unwavering certainty ever since. So when the orders came down to abandon Orihime to Hueco Mundo he went against orders without the slightest hesitation.
Another change in Renji is that he has slowly replaced his original smug attitude with an almost Ichigo-like attitude toward combat. He’s become very direct and to the point; adopting an “If we’re going to fight, shut up so we can get on with it.” attitude.
Despite that impressive personal evolution, his battles have not exactly gone well to say the least. He’s won only one significant battle against the lowly Yylfordt Granz (Aporro’s idiot brother). Yet, in spite of that less than stellar success record, he never became frustrated like Chad did. He just kept moving forward and did what he could while resolving to become stronger and that’s a big part of who he is. He’s a guy who has been constantly striving to better himself, and as long as he feels he’s progressing he doesn’t get distracted by how he compares to demi-gods like Ichigo.
This small time-skip was his chance to establish himself a strong and capable person going forward, and from what we saw this week he is jumping on that opportunity. He’s not just beating Jackie Tristan and her ridiculous “Dirty Boots”, he’s bending her over his knee spanking her like a naughty child (Renji, you perv /King of Letters). This “new Renji” is someone who doesn’t seem out of place among the Shinigami Captains. He seems to have gained confidence as both a fighter and a leader and maybe, just maybe, he’ll even be able to rekindle the rivalry he and Ichigo once had.
Did I like this chapter? Well, it was okay. To be honest, all four characters are not really my favorite ones. And the chapter was in fact only a chapter to show us how badass the Soul Society guys are. Renji just played with Jacky and Ikaku… used his muscles to relocate his shoulder. Do I have to say more?
In fact I have to, because it is prediction time. The next chapter will probably show us one of the two main fights and wrap up one of the two fights we saw today. I do not expect the fights to take very long at all, around five to eight chapters and everyone should be finished. Of course, Ichigo/Ishida vs. Kugo will take a bit longer, but right now it seems that this whole arc will end with Soul Society totally trashing the Xcution members.
My predictions from last time were totally off… because I didn’t made any. But that’s not the point. Together with the help of Kubo’s underlings I shall make up the perfect prediction and rule the MH world /gets arrested by admins and put under arrest for like… 10,000 years >.<
Back to a more serious note. I’ve never done Bleach predictions before, and it so happened that I had to do one when it’s nearly impossible to do any, if you’re not a hardcore bleach tard… curse you Kubo Let’s analyze. Out of 7 fights between SS vs FB two have already ended. Both of the finished fights didn’t even took a whole chapter to finish. Great, but from now on I think things will change. Drastically. Like it or not, but Kuugo/Tsukushima are the main antagonists for this arc and making IshidaxIchigo/Byakuya onepanel them would be straight out retarted. If we assume that those two fights are the main eye candy for this arc this means that they will be postponed for the end.
Now there are 3 fights left. Bunny lovers fights, fight of the guys who with special haircuts and the fight of the small brats. Speaking in terms of importance/interest Ikkaku’s and Shishigawara’s fight should come first. Length of fight: 1 chapter. Ikkaku wins againt Shishagawara… can’t say how, but he will. Rukia vs Riruka. Lengts of fight: 2 and a half chapters. This is one of the actual battles that will go on longer than one chapter. The main reasons being that Riruka is one of Fullbringer’s who got the most screen time along Kugo, and it’s time to show how much Rukia has improved since the time skip. I can see funny interaction between them regarding who’s more in love with Ichigo. We all know what Rukia thinks of Ichigo as a man . And then the last fight before the major 2 attractions. Fight of the small brats.
Man, I’m so gonna enjoy this fight. Tōshirō and Giriko are actually like 2 little brothers who fight over the smallest things. T: I saw that girl first. G: No I saw that girl first T: No, I. G: No, I T: Bankai: Daiguren Hyōrinmaru G: *dies* I have heavy suspects that the actual battle will look like this as well
King of Letters:
La Pierna Derecha del Penguin:
Kubo seems to be tired of a couple of Xcution members, the most obvious ones being Giriko and Jackie. Can’t say I blame him as they have little to no value to the overall story. With Kubo cleanly wrapping things up with Xcution now, I’m curious as to how he intends to move along with the story. Optimistically speaking, this arc should end before the end of 2011. Then again, you never know what Kubo wants to do near the end of an arc/series of chapters (cough, cough, Deicide chapters, cough, I think I got what Billy Mitchel has). Anyways, this week’s chapter gave us what we should expect from types like Ikkaku and Renji: Senseless violence you can enjoy.