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5:00 PM on 10.10.2014

Annotated Manga: Bleach chapters 598-600

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.

Josh Tolentino


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Annotated Manga: Bleach chapter 596-597 photo
Annotated Manga: Bleach chapter 596-597
by Josh Tolentino

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!"

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Annotated Manga: Bleach chapters 594-595 photo
Annotated Manga: Bleach chapters 594-595
by Josh Tolentino

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.

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Annotated Manga: Bleach chapter 593 photo
Annotated Manga: Bleach chapter 593
by Josh Tolentino

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.

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Annotated Manga: Bleach chapter 592 photo
Annotated Manga: Bleach chapter 592
by Josh Tolentino

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?

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Annotated Manga: Bleach chapter 591 photo
Annotated Manga: Bleach chapter 591
by Josh Tolentino

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.

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Annotated Manga: Bleach chapter 590 photo
Annotated Manga: Bleach chapter 590
by Josh Tolentino

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.

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Annotated Manga: Bleach chapter 589 photo
Annotated Manga: Bleach chapter 589
by Josh Tolentino

Y'know, when Urahara said that getting transport ready to take Ichigo and crew to the Royal Palace would take "a minute or sixty", he wasn't kidding. Or maybe he was kidding, since I took him about two weeks worth of chapters to start us on this journey.

Either way, this week we get the principals ready for the next big fight while unfortunate humor and other nonsense tides us over back at the front lines.

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Annotated Manga: Bleach chapter 588 photo
Annotated Manga: Bleach chapter 588
by Josh Tolentino

I was reading through a bunch of my old recaps for Bleach - reading your old writing is a great way to make sure you don't get too full of yourself - and realized that I spend a lot of time talking about Bleach in generalities, rather than tackling the specifics of a given chapter or episode.

Let's do that again for a bit, shall we?

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Annotated Manga: Bleach chapter 587 photo
Annotated Manga: Bleach chapter 587
by Josh Tolentino

I've said it before, and I'll say it again: Not a whole lot happens in any single chapter of Bleach. Oftentimes a given 16-20 page installment is little more than the next few steps in a fight, which can, at times, prove a challenge to recap in words, especially for a series that gets by on striking visuals and badass poses. 

Similarly, there's little here that happens in terms of plot movement, but Bleach does do something quite memorable, which is to remind us that it has a sense of humor.

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Annotated Manga: Bleach chapter 586 photo
Annotated Manga: Bleach chapter 586
by Josh Tolentino

This latest chapter of Bleach should really be a celebration of Tite Kubo's mastery of "badass" moments, and in some ways it is.

The Soul Reapers have rallied, and in unintentional homage to the tokusatsu tropes that shows like Akibaranger readily skewer, enemies that trounced the best of them mere moments before are suddenly forced to pull out their trump cards against people whose power levels really haven't changed that much since last they had a panel.

But hey, that's where we are in the story, and the time for that kind of posturing is nigh.

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Annotated Manga: Bleach chapters 584-585 photo
Annotated Manga: Bleach chapters 584-585
by Josh Tolentino

I've got to hand it to the Sternritter: Though we've barely known any of them for more than a panel or two, they do make quite the powerful impression.

That said, it's high time we spent these last portions of Bleach in the company of badasses we're more familiar with, yes?

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