While it's been at least six weeks since the last time we checked in with Bleach, various publishing breaks and delays have given us just four-odd chapters to work with, and given the pace Bleach tends to move at, it fee...
Longtime readers of Bleach will note that this "final" arc of the series - scare quotes here because you can never trust a Jump manga to end on time - has featured a number of breaks from author Tite Kubo's established pattern.
Every series that runs as long as Bleach and its compatriots develops its own library of favored tropes, storytelling devices, pet themes, and visual language. That's natural and expected, but since the beginning of the Vandenreich's assault on Soul Society, the series has made a habit of, if not upending, at least angling the narrative tea table to let the crockery slide around a bit.
That in mind, it's almost surprising how well the last three chapters have sketched out the "typical" anatomy of a Bleach boss-fight.
It's the moment you've been waiting for, Bleach fans. It's all come to this...a big fight between two senior citizens, an epic battle of who has the most magnificent facial hair and the saltiest opinions about kids today. Which grandpa will win?
This week seems to be one for short recaps, but where one recap this week was short because very little needed to be said that wasn't conveyed in a single panel, this week's installment of Bleach left me desperately wishing that the chapter title, "What The Hell" were a more apt descriptor of what actually went on in the pages.
Since Ywach and his party of Quincy butt-kickers have entered the Soul King's palace itself, we shift focus. Now Bleach is all about the battle between the aforementioned and the Royal Guard, who are (allegedly) above all others when it comes to all things Soul Reaper.
The continuing freak-off that is the Vandenreich army persists in the latest installments of Bleach, as if we weren't yet sure who the good guys were in this fight.
Of course, being not-a-freak has never been an especially telling sign of moral superiority in this series, what with freak-in-chief Kurotsuchi being one of Soul Society's top people. And yet one can't shake the feeling that every new Sternritter revealed is another underline in the mission statement: "These Quincy guys are EVIL! Can't trust 'em!"
Now that we've reached this latest stage in Bleach's Quincy v. Soul Reaper freak-off, I'm pretty glad to see that Tite Kubo still has a good handle on how to escalate a fight. Because there's nothing quite like raising the stakes.
Bleach is lookin' good, if you don't mind my saying.
I don't mean that by the state of its plot or the quality of its writing, but I do think that this last chapter has put out surprisingly striking visuals, a strong contrast to the relatively lackluster panels of the last few weeks.
When last we left the latest melee on Bleach's order of battle, Captain Kurotsuchi's revived Arrancar seemed to have GiGi Gewelle and her zombie troops in the bag.
That is, until she brought out her trump card, a "zombie" Captain Hitsugaya, who was last seen half-dead following a tussle with Bazz-B and Cang Du. Will the frozen prince live up to his reputation as a (now-posthumous) prodigy?
This week's chapter of Bleach is all about endings. Not about the ending, of course, but about the endings of the fights that much up this big, dumb manga, and how they can, on occasion, not be the end.
What is it with Quincy and creepers? I mean, every army has one or two creepy types, but it seems to me that when Ywach summoned all the "true" Quincy to his side the only place that had them was the madhouse.
Well, whatever the reason for the Sternritter's unusually high nutball quotient, it seems that Kubo is grooming young Giselle "Gigi" Gewelle for a top spot.