The Underscore’s Double Bleach review 501 & 502


Double Bleach Review

Here I was, hoping I’d be writing a triple review by now. Sadly, Kubo seems to have fallen ill, meaning he couldn’t wrap up the chapter in time. Hopefully Kubo’ll be better soon. I can imagine him lying sick in bed now… hugging his KON-stuffed do- ehhr.. action figure, trying to figure out what he’s going to do next. Let’s face it, Kubo has been on somewhat of a roll these past couple of months, so he’ll need to keep up at least this level of quality for this arc. Seeming as how he intended to go on for at least another 9 years from this point onwards…

Anyways, let’s see if my vacation did me any good. I’m afraid not really, as I have far too little time to review today… But I’ll do it anyways .

Chapter 501: Hear. Fear. Here

The Getsuga just hit the ventilator jail

In spite of the fact that some mysterious figure showed up and killed Opie, the jail holding Ichigo is still up and running. I imagined that a good Getsuga to the bars would be enough to free Ichigo, a thought that crossed Ichigo’s mind as well. But Opie didn’t get his jail id-card for nothing. Basically, Ichigo has lost to Opie here, no matter how you look at it. Ichigo underestimated his opponent, thinking he could just leave when Urahara told him to. But the fact of the matter is, Opie managed to prevent Ichigo from getting to Soul Society. Not to say that Ichigo can’t still make it, but looking at this current situation makes it obvious that it won’t be more than… well.. a hollow victory . If only the Vandenreich were Hollows .

But why call this a loss for Ichigo then? Well, for someone who lives to protect people from harm, arriving even minutes later in a situation like the one Soul Society’s in would mean for countless of deaths. Or superdeaths as it’s dead people who are dying here… Not only that, Opie managed to inadvertedly torture Ichigo as well. I mean, Ichigo had to listen to all the screaming and begging before the communications from the 12th division were cut off. But now, all Ichigo could hear was something happening on Urahara’s side. Not knowing what’s happening outside of his jail, only knowing that he’s needed out there… poor Ichigo. He could use some guidance right about now… if only we’d know of someone who could give Ichigo some advice at this point, perhaps even the power needed to escape from this jail… No… I’m not talking about KON (for once ). You guys really should stop thinking about KON all the time, it’s not healthy.

Trust much?

It’s funny because it’s true?

While Ichigo’s doing some jail time, Byakuya is getting a good beating. Renji can’t stand to watch what’s happening and wants to get into the game. But Byakuya won’t allow for this. Hanging on to the notion that Bankai is needed to defeat Äs, Byakuya feels that Renji still needs as much help as he can get in order for this to work. Much like Byakuya pointed out the first time Renji used his Bankai, it takes years for someone to master a Bankai. Sure, Ichigo has such a straightforward Bankai that works with his ridiculous Reiatsu reserves that it worked easily. But we’ve seen Tensa Zangetsu undergo a couple of changes already, perhaps being a sign of it still being completed and/or mastered.

Anyways, the way Byakuya tries to help out Renji is simple: information. Knowing all about the enemy and his abilities should help Renji to defeat his opponent. Hearing about this plan, Renji offers to take Byakuya’s place. But with Byakuya’s pride in the way, he tells Renji doesn’t have his level of skills, which are required to make Äs reveal the extents of his abilities. Byakuya then vows to reveal the opponent’s ability.

He then starts to think about what’s happening to him right now. A certain numbness and discomfort in his arms and legs. An odd freezing sensation, perhaps coming from his sweat… The thorns surrounding Äs have hit him a couple of times prior to this sensation, so it wouldn’t be strange for them to be poisoned. But that would be such an obvious thing to do, or so it seems according to Äs. It’s not poison that’s doing its rounds, but something far more basic: Fear… Those hit by Äs’ arrows will experience a terror so great that they can’t do anything but scream their lungs out, quite literally at that. But Byakuya’s will and experience help him to resist this fear.

Now, I do have one little problem with Äs’ explanation of this… How aren’t his arrows poisoned even if they instill fear? Sure, it’s not a conventional game poison in itself, where the target’s life slowly depletes, but come on. Arrow strikes target, target suddenly experiences something that isn’t supposed to occur at that time. Wouldn’t that mean that the arrows are poisoned by some form of hallucinogenic? I’m just saying…

Whatever the case, Byakuya thinks to himself how he always fought with fear in mind. A fear that he learned to suppress and keep in check using discipline. But just as he’s thinking this, an awful image comes to mind.

Irrational fear

This is what all girls look like to 7 year old boys

An image of the one Byakuya wants to protect no matter the cost suddenly comes to mind. A smiling Rukia, suddenly appearing decayed in front of Byakuya. The shock catches Byakuya off guard, giving Äs the opportunity to deal a critical blow to Byakuya. So what happened here? Irrational fear that is. Being scared of Hollows wanting to devour you isn’t irrational (in the Bleachverse that is ), it’s a fear that all Shinigami have to overcome in order to fulfill their duties. It’s a gentle fear that can be overcome using reason. But irrational fear isn’t as forgiving. A fear of heights, a fear of bugs, a fear of… trees? (yes, I was looking out the window while thinking listing some possible fears) Can you imagine being covered in bugs, with one suddenly climbing into your mouth and… UUOOHHHHHH!!!!

That’s what Byakuya seemed to think while his panicking mind thought of being covered by bugs. Somehow, Byakuya still manages to focus on fighting Äs. With Byakuya not succumbing to fear, Äs has to resort to his latest sleight of hand. Pulling out the medal he used to medalize Kageyoshi Senbonzakura, Äs seems to be keen on ending things now.

The scene quickly changes to Rukia for a moment, as a single cherry blossom petal flies past her. Her gut immediately tells her it’s got something to do with her brother. It seems that the time has finally come. After years of complaining, the skeptical fans finally got what they wanted: A death amongst the captains… but not yet!

Chapter 502: A Cherry Blossom Has Fallen

Yes, this is the last panel of chapter 501, but it looks better than the first page from 502

Kageyoshi Senbonzakura struck down his own master. Äs watches as Byakuya falls to his hands and knees. He then mocks Byakuya, telling him how it’s impossible to defeat his own Bankai using his Shikai. With Äs looking down on Byakuya, he suddenly notices a shadow growing ever larger. In an unstoppable rage, Renji lunges towards Äs, telling him he isn’t allowed to use Senbonzakura. With this, it’s proven that the Sternritter can use the stolen Bankai for themselves. I’m still having my doubts whether this will be a good thing or not. Sure, it makes for a great opportunity to relive certain fights anew (e.g. Ichigo vs. Senbonzakura, Kenpachi vs. Tengen Myou), though I’m not too eager to relive those fights anew considering how we might as well see something new.

Speaking of seeing something new. Rukia senses something is wrong with her brother. She turns away from her opponent so she can run to his side. But her opponent isn’t too eager about this course of action. Quite frankly, neither am I. Sure, Rukia is one to rush to the aid of her brother. But she shouldn’t be so foolish as to turn her back on her opponent. Especially considering the current situation. Whoever her opponent is, (s)he isn’t too happy to be ignored like that.

Desperate struggle

Luckily Renji paid attention to what Byakuya wanted to show him…

Renji continues his assault on Äs in order to protect his captain. But Äs his Blüt can’t be broken with Renji’s Shikai. The one time where it almost looked like Renji would be able to land an attack, Äs uses Kageyoshi Senbonzakura. Though seemingly pointless, there might be more to this than meets the eye. Why would Äs bother to use Senbonzakura to defend himself if he’s already using his defensive Blüt? Could it be that there’s a limit to this skill? Or is it possible that the head can’t be protected by the Blüt without a dire risk? Or is this just an instinctive reaction to an attack?

Whatever the case, Renji’s attacks gave Byakuya some time to get back up again. But Äs is already done with Byakuya. He immediately summons the majority of Senbonzakura’s petals to attack Byakuya. A storm of blades attack Byakuya. Just as Byakuya is about to fall to the ground once more, Äs mercilessly sends another storm of petals to blow Byakuya away. This just goes to show that Äs lives up to his name, because he’s obviously a major A~~nyway. Renji demands that Äs stops his attacks on Byakuya. But Äs isn’t too interested in what Renji has to say, so much as what Renji could do. With Renji falling into despair, he can see only one way to help his captain: Bankai.

Seeing stars

That’s right kids, intelligence and steroids apparently don’t mix

Just as Renji wants to summon his Bankai, a large hand grabs his blade and plants his size 60 boots in Renji’s body. This attack has so much force that it blows Renji through a couple of buildings across at least a couple of blocks of houses. Äs then makes it known that he intended to steal Renji’s Bankai, raising a simple question: Can multiple Bankai be contained in a single medal, or do Sternritter besides Opie carry multiple Bankai on them? Speaking of simplicity, the wrestler ritter reveals himself to be a stereotypical as you’d expect him to be.

Rastler (temporary name for the wrestler until his real name is revealed ) throws away the piece of Zabimaru he was holding on to before he kicked Renji back to the Sixth division barracks (no idea if this is true, but Renji certainly flew quite a bit). Hearing Äs saying he wanted to take away Renji’s Bankai made him doubt his knowledge of whether only captains have Bankai or not. But apparently Buck made sure to get all the information needed for this attack on Soul Society, including the who’s who of Bankai. Could this be information taken from the Arrancar in Las Noches, or is there someone else who provided the Vandenreich with information?

Death of a swordsman

NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO~~~~~~!!!!11!!1!1!

While Äs and Rastler argue about the latter one’s stupidity, the focus changes to Byakuya. His final thoughts go out to his trusty Vice-captain and his beloved sister. While his Zanpakutou shatters, as a sign of his own soul breaking, he apologizes to Renji and Rukia. Be it for being too prideful in this fight, be it for not telling them what they needed to know. Who knows what regrets Byakuya had in these final moments. If anything, he regrets dying the way he did here. Giving the opponent his greatest weapon, Senbonzakura, only to be killed by that very weapon all the while not helping to stop any of the opponents. As Byakuya’s corpse is embedded into one of the stone pillars, oddly reminiscent of when Aizen faked his death, his death is made known to Buck.

With Buck’s right hand man telling Buck that Kuchiki Byakuya has died, Buck doesn’t look too pleased. Sure, he’s standing on a battlefield where he managed to wipe out the majority of the opponents without experiencing any resistance worth mentioning. But his Sternritter are taking far too long for such a simple invasion.

You’d think that jerk would somehow pay more attention to Byakuya’s death. To think he’d just ignore something this monumental like this. Loyal Bleach readers won’t be this forgiving. Nothing can bring us joy while we mourn Byakuya’s death… well, maybe not nothing…

NEXT!

Don’t you just love how Kenpachi is unscathed while carrying two corpses on his back?

I was quite bummed when I saw Byakuya died. A couple of pages later, I can’t help but smile at this sight. Who needs to analyze? Who needs to discover an opponent’s abilities? Just put your sword through the opponent’s body. If it doesn’t work? Just try, try again . The sight of Kenpachi like this was just plain awesome. In a way this is also a cruel joke played by Kubo. I mean, a large hairy beastlike guy and a smaller guy stuck to Kenpachi’s sword? Kenpachi vs. Komamura and Tousen anyone?

Then there’s the classic Kenpachi: ‘You the boss of these little shits?’, followed by the smile on Buck’s face. Swirling madness indeed. Of all the times for Kubo to get sick !

These chapters were great, though 502 certainly proved to be superior in my opinion. Sure, I’m not that fond of Byakuya’s death in itself. But the fact that Byakuya has been killed off only proves that Kubo won’t be pulling his punches.

From having Ichigo torturing himself in his jail cell, to Äs instilling fear into Byakuya, ending with the use of Kageyoshi Senbonzakura, chapter 501 did good. Sure, the explanation on fear was somewhat lengthy, but at least it turns out for the best for Byakuya’s end. Even though Byakuya was supposed to be paralyzed by fear, he still managed to push on all this time.

Chapter 502, however, ended Byakuya’s live in quite a merciless way. Renji will have to live with the fact that he let his captain down like that. I can see Renji and Äs facing off eventually. Not only allowing Renji to get revenge for his captain, but also finally being able to surpass Byakuya like he wanted. But that’s for much, much later. The part that made this chapter for me were the last two pages. I want the Vandenreich to suffer for what they did to Byakuya. Who better to do so than Kenpachi? I mean, Byakuya and Kenpachi have always been the bestest of friends, right?

Kenpachi will learn Buck’s name, but will be forced to fight his right hand man. Was it Gus?… I can’t recall what I named that guy . Anyway, Kenpachi will fight the right hand man, while Genryuusai will finally arrive. Kenpachi will tell Genryuusai that he wants to fight Buck, but Genryuusai shuts Kenpachi up with a single glare… Things then heat up, as Genryuusai uses his Bankai, while Buck isn’t capable of sealing a Bankai of that level. This leaves him with no other option than to fight Genryuusai head on.

That’s it for this week’s review. I hope you guys enjoyed it, even if it lacked a couple of sections. This is my last day of vacation, so I have some other things to attend to and no time to do so . Be sure to let me know what your thoughts are on this week’s chapter and/or review and give any theories that you may have. I’ll see you guys again next time!

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~ by The Underscore on August 5, 2012.

One Response to “The Underscore’s Double Bleach review 501 & 502”

  1. It seems killing off the serie’s most favourite characters is not easy job for the author himself, he even become sick!

    Byakuya looks like a memorial stone there, he died standing like a good warrior; which is cool (I guess?) Though Byakuya’s ‘No Child’ policy left Kuchiki family without an heir, how convenient for Rukia, kuhuhu~

    Kenpachi also carries three people there, third one is under Stern-gorilla; he got an usual hairdo that Kubo use for thugs. Gotta say Chef Ken made a nice shish kebab work there.

    And we don’t always think about KON, for example sometimes I think about hierarchy between lions and future of the peluche toy industry; those are serious business >_>

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