The Underscore’s Bleach review 476


476: THE LOST

Today marks the day of my 1000th bout with my cat. I remember thinking getting a cat would be more fun… I had a hat and sandals ready and everything . I could make a spacious room in my basement and play with a black female cat which I would name Yoruichi… instead, I got a male cat who won’t help me dig a bigger basement, ruins my hat, and doesn’t even give out soul candy if you hold a slab to him… Not only that, as we’re both men we have to duke it out on a regular basis. With the score being 999 to 1 (hey, if the kitten falls asleep with a satisfied look while I’m still punching him, I think it counts as my (one) victory!) I actually have something to rant about in this review’s opening! (On the bright side, he’s somewhat of a pervert, looking up women’s skirts and winking at them… too bad I couldn’t name him KON due to him not being that lionesque )

Phew, now I’ve got something more to say in the intro rather than just thanking Mangastream for the scanlation of this week’s Bleach (and other manga titles, of course). Now I can go on to the review!

Bleach chapter 475, Shades of the Bond, rated by 15 voters, gets an average score of:

8.6

Great

With last week’s chapter having plenty going on, I was curious what you were curious about. Here’s the results!

For some strange and unapparent reason, no one wants to know whether Rukia is really okay! This should be the only question on your minds, besides wondering where KON is at! :@

One person didn’t really feel curious after reading the chapter. (S)he already knows all that was needed to be known concerning the chapter.

Two voters had something that wasn’t listed on their minds. From Bankai curiosity to the meaning of life! Well, maybe not the meaning of life, but still it’s interesting enough .
Four voters couldn’t help but wonder… Does Yukio still have feeling in his toes?

Five voters were most curious about Renji’s medical school. I’d like to know as well… maybe I could become a physician if I were to go to that school as well? But five other voters were more curious about the four Shinigami’s thoughts… Somehow I get the feeling at least two of them were thinking of wanting to get into a fight .

Six voters just have to know… Why did Kuugo’s hair have to turn white? It’s not like his design was generic enough, now his hair turns white as well? Or maybe it’s lime colored… Who knows (->reviewer in denial).

But with nine votes, the question who won over all the others, was this: Will there be more than Getsuga Tenshou in Ichigo’s Bankai? Let’s see if we get the answer in this week’s review!

Opposed opposites

The opposite of opposite, yet so opposite that I’m opposed to saying they’re not opposites

With Kuugo unleashing his Bankai, Ichigo is reminded of the fact that Kuugo really is a Substitute Shinigami like Ichigo. Which is odd considering Ichigo heard about Kuugo being the original Substitute Shinigami only an hour ago (probably even less)… Guess what Ichigo’s trying to say is that he actually believes Kuugo is a Substitute Shinigami now.

Kuugo, however, emphasizes how much alike he and Ichigo are by pointing out that he has Hollow inside of him, same as Ichigo. He had these Hollow powers inside of him because (one of) his parents actually had been attacked by a Hollow before Kuugo’s birth. Meaning this too is a truth to which the web of lies made by Xcution has been tied. Kuugo’s words, however, are a tad bit confusing as well. He seems to be implying two things: One of Ichigo’s parents had been attacked by a Hollow before Ichigo’s birth -not too surprising, I agree- being (part of) the source of Ichigo’s Hollow powers (and in turn his Fullbring). Secondly, most importantly, he implies that Ichigo has Hollow inside of him right now as well.

Now, what was odd about this arc from around 6 chapters in, was that Ichigo had the ability to use Fullbring. With Fullbring being born from Hollow based powers, it should have meant that Ichigo had Hollow inside of him at the time. But with Ichigo having fired ALL of his Reiatsu with the Mugetsu, he shouldn’t have had Hollow (nor Shinigami) Reiatsu in him. Of course, later in this arc, it was explained that Ichigo’s powers had already been restoring themselves over the past 17 months, being the spark to ignite his Fullbring. The fact that Ichigo had that much power in his Fullbring turned out to be due to the badge’s secret function of taking excess Reiatsu whenever Ichigo was in human form (for analytical purposes, or so is claimed ). Speaking of analytical purposes… I’m suddenly reminded of something from the previous arc… more on that in this week’s headspinner .

Anyways, back to the point I was trying to make here. With Ichigo obtaining his Fullbring using that spark of power he had at the time, it meant all of it was stored inside of Kuugo after he stabbed Ichigo with his ‘Cross of Scaffold’. Ichigo managed to regain his Shinigami powers afterwards through the Reiatsu of the Gotei 13. So how could he have Hollow inside of him at this time? If anything, Ichigo shouldn’t have Hollow powers now until he regains his Fullbring. Still, we might get signs of Ichigo’s Hollow powers still being here, sooner or later.

Ichigo isn’t bothered by anything Kuugo said and tells Kuugo to bring it. Kuugo then shows his age by saying Ichigo’s being a brat before charging at him. Obviously, Kuugo is older than Ichigo, but I’d say he’s acting rather bratty as well. The ones who can genuinely say that Kuugo and Ichigo are young whippersnappers, however, are standing a bit further away. Though one of them is probably younger than Kuugo and perhaps even than Ichigo .

Mission: Complete

Cue Craig David’s ‘I’m walking away’!

As the fight between the Substitute Shinigami ensues, the “real” Shinigami decide they’re done. As they turn around and walk away, acting all cool and sorts , Rukia asks her brother what the hell it is they think they’re doing. Be it in a more respectful way than she would ask someone like Renji or Ichigo .

Byakuya reveals that they’re returning to Soul Society because they’ve completed their actual objective. It turns out that Rukia has forgotten that they were tasked to see Ichigo through his decision (save for Kenpachi who was just bored ). Hitsugaya then reveals how genuinely evil Ukitake really was…

By giving Ichigo his Shinigami Representative badge, he didn’t just give a relatively useful tool, but a DEATH SENTENCE! After what happened with Kuugo (whatever that was), the Gotei 13 decided for themselves what they would do, should another Substitute Shinigami appear. Using that Substitute Shinigami, they would lure out Kuugo. Once they’d have lured out Kuugo, they would “erase” the two of them.

Soul Society once more proved to be quite the collection of jerks… before Ichigo came in and changed things that is. The second Substitute Shinigami they encountered did the unthinkable. He actually managed to get Genryuusai to tell the upper echelon to stuff it with their old ways, allowing for things to change for the better in Soul Society. Though in all fairness, Aizen deserves some credit for getting rid of the Central Chambers in the first place . Of course, Ichigo deserves the credit for making sure there was a Soul Society around to be changed.

Trust

Rukia, the only one in Soul Society who hasn’t been a jerk…

Ichigo made it for Soul Society to change so much that the captains in the Gotei 13 actually agreed to share their powers with Ichigo, rather than kill him . Rukia, who had most likely been left in the dark about this before she was made vice-captain, never agreed to this. We learn that the message Ichigo received through his Representative Badge after he first activated it was Rukia objecting to the initial plan. They would allow Ichigo to follow Kuugo until the point that he learned the truth from Kuugo’s mouth. Based on the choice Ichigo would make, he would live or die.

The way to find out what Ichigo’s choice would be, was for Ichigo to be observed for as long as was needed. Rukia was given this task, though she already disagreed from the start. She already knew Ichigo would never agree to follow Kuugo, immediately telling the captains about this fact.

Hitsugaya then reveals that he already agreed with Rukia from the start. Though he does so by saying it was what all the captains expected from Ichigo in the first place. Which explains why they bothered returning Ichigo’s powers in the first place. Hitsugaya then tells Renji and Rukia that they can leave because they know Ichigo can handle things from here. He then lets it slip that he is glad that he wasn’t forced to kill a Substitute Shinigami because it was Ichigo who got confronted by him.

Rukia then thinks back to everything that could change thanks to Ichigo. She then concludes that all will turn out all right.

Substitute Showdown

Look at the flying squid!

While Rukia and Hitsugaya were talking, the fight between Ichigo and Kuugo continued. With swords clashing all round and high speed movement being around as well, the fight looks entertaining enough.

With a clearer picture of Kuugo’s “Bankai” given in this chapter, I can finally take a gander at what we really have here. Where Ichigo’s Bankai predominantly lies in his Shinigami powers, Kuugo’s Bankai seems to be more centered around his Fullbring, and as such in his Hollow powers. In this current form, Kuugo has the skeleton like pattern all over him same as before. The only difference is in the fur he has now, the part on his back where the four tentacle(ish things) stick out, and the change in hair and eye color.

My guess is that the fur he has now has something to do with the coat Kuugo usually wears. With Fullbring being activated through objects one likes, it isn’t too strange to see one’s favorite jacket to be affected as well.

As for the four tentacles sticking out of Kuugo, I’d almost say it has to do with the four Xcution members he shared Ichigo’s powers with. But with the tentacles doing nothing practical in this chapter, I can’t really say if they are bound to other Fullbring abilities.

The white hair and black eyes are most likely due to Kuugo’s inner Hollow. But the black cross on his face is a bit odd as I can’t think of a reason for it to be there. It almost looks like some scar of sorts. Of course, it could be that this is the black pattern that would be on Kuugo’s Hollow mask, were he to wear a Hollow mask. Same as the black patterns on Ichigo’s mask, if you know what I mean.

All in all, Kuugo’s current design works well enough for me. When he was first introduced I felt he looked too much like a filler character. This current form doesn’t really change my opinion that much, though for a filler like appearance it looks good. It completely pales in comparison to Ichigo’s Bankai look, which looks awesome when Ichigo is moving in the panels.

Acceptance

Ichigo’s thoughts at this time: I’ve got the whole Bleach community, in my hand, I’ve got the whole…

During this chapter, we learn what is really going through Kuugo’s mind. After revealing his master plan to Ichigo, he expected Ichigo to tell him he was wrong. He wanted someone to tell him to stop this foolishness, that he was wrong. Or rather, he wanted another Substitute Shinigami to tell him so. He probably wanted to test his resolve by confronting another Substitute Shinigami and see that person’s reaction.

My guess is that if Ichigo were to have joined him, he would have felt more reassured about facing the whole of Soul Society with his current powers. He would have someone standing beside him, who had been fooled in the same way he was. Though the Fullbringers were outcasts like him, they would never truly know what it is like to be treated the way he has been through the Representative Badge. Ichigo had the same thing happen to him. Like Kuugo, Ichigo was part Shinigami and part human, all the while having Hollow powers inside him as well. Like Kuugo, Ichigo was given the Representative Badge with the vaguest instructions ever. Through events yet unknown to us, Kuugo came to decide that it was all wrong. But Ichigo never agreed… nor denied for that matter.

If Ichigo were to tell Kuugo that he was wrong for what he is doing, he could tell himself that Ichigo is just being a fool. He, the man who managed to manipulate Ichigo to this extent, would know better. A child like Ichigo would surely tell him he was wrong because he has ‘friends’ in Soul Society. But Ichigo doesn’t do this either.

Without the means to reflect on his actions, Kuugo can’t measure his resolve. Rather than react to Kuugo’s reactions, like he wants Ichigo to do, Ichigo is focusing on Kuugo as a person. Ichigo seems to want to understand HOW Kuugo got to the point of wanting to take down the Shinigami who tricked him. He wants to help Kuugo to get over this feeling of mistrust by showing him that Soul Society isn’t like that (anymore). But with all these years of seeking vengeance, it became Kuugo’s essence. He has nothing left but the desire for revenge. Even if someone wants to pull him off of this self destructive path, guide him to a more peaceful path, Kuugo can’t face to lose his resolve.

Frustrated by all of this, Kuugo does what any tortured soul does: Fire a Cero . Of course, rather than firing it from his mouth, he does so through his sword.

Cut it out

You’re being an idiot, so let Ichigo M.D. (from the same school Renji went to) help you get rid of it

Ichigo catches the Cero with his, technically not, bare hand. Could it be that Ichigo was able to absorb this energy because there’s part of his own inside of it? Or is it that Ichigo neutralized it using his own powers. Or is this the purpose of the gloves and the patterns on Ichigo’s Bankai? Whatever the case, Ichigo stops the Cero and then decides Kuugo has to stop. What better way to stop someone than to cut him down?

A straightforward chapter if you look at it at first glance. We got some answers, though most questions remain unsolved. Basically four things happened: Kuugo explained why his Bankai took the form it has, Soul Society decides to leave things to Ichigo because they’re grateful for what Ichigo has done for them, Soul Society’s original plan was to kill all Substitute Shinigami because of what happened with Kuugo, and Kuugo wanted acknowledgement from Ichigo only to be cut down.
But there was more to these things, as I worked out in this review. But the part Kubo wants us to focus on most, based on the chapter’s title, is Kuugo’s feeling of being lost. He needed Ichigo’s response to confirm where he is right now, and where he should be going. But instead, Ichigo is waiting beside him, waiting for Kuugo to make his own decision.

With the art as good as usual, everyone getting their time to shine, I rather enjoyed this chapter. Perhaps there was less covered in this single chapter than most of the other chapters have done lately, but I still enjoyed it. So a good, if not great chapter in my opinion.

Bringing up the part of (supposed) Reiatsu analysis during this review made me think of why I said “supposed” in the first place. I got to thinking of what Mayuri could do with Ichigo’s Reiatsu samples and all. Which made me think of Mayuri’s research. Which reminded me that he obtained quite a lot of data from Szayelapporo’s storage room. Which reminded me of this one question:

What was inside that room that was so shocking at the time, and why wasn’t it revealed at the end of the last arc?

All we know of the data Mayuri obtained from Szayelapporo, was the means to improve the Garganta for Shinigami purposes. But what of all the corpses we saw hanging there? There just has to be more to it! Perhaps for the next arc?

Kuugo will think back to what happened for him to become wanted by Soul Society. He will then decide to put everything on the line in his fight with Ichigo. Ichigo will then end the fight by first using a Getsuga Tenshou, and then taking Kuugo’s powers from him for himself.

That’s it for this week’s review. I hope you guys enjoyed it. 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. Don’t forget to rate this week’s chapter! I’ll see you guys again next week!

Rate this week’s chapter by clicking on the picture above!

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~ by The Underscore on December 11, 2011.

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