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Bleach 421

[scanlation by Binktopia]

Good to know that Ichigo’s new fabric-outfit wasn’t black, but rather blue. His skin looks sickeningly pallid, though.

Background of the week

Ichigo’s Shinigami abilities disappear after only one attack. I suppose that’s entirely fitting, given that Ichigo is only really predisposed to using one attack, but that still seems like something that will need to be addressed before the next major battle.

I cannot and will not accept that Urahara conveniently set a trap on Aizen when he “had [his] guard down the most.” The Hougyoku is, to some undetermined extent, a sentient being, with which Aizen has completely fused. (At least, they were completely “one” back when Kisuke hid this Kidou.) There is no excuse for Aizen having his guard down when he was able to supplement his own awareness with that of the Hougyoku.

Even worse than this leap of logic is the fact that this is such a cheap twist. Why does nearly every major fight in Bleach have to involve a sudden appearance? Why can’t characters — very specifically, our main character — do anything themselves? Ichigo just received a massive (and, for once, sensible) power-up, and he can’t even finish his own fight with it? One week after reestablishing our protagonist as someone useful, Kubo turns around and neuters him once more.

Twist of the week

The Hougyoku has finally deemed Aizen unworthy of its power. This has been a long time coming, so I can’t even muster the faintest hint of surprise.

We’re finally beginning to learn about our next primary antagonist (or at least a driving force behind upcoming plot), the Spirit King. Kisuke’s distant attitude on the matter is mildly interesting, but it also worryingly feels like a setup for a “fight the established order” storyline. That feeling is compounded by Kubo’s last-ditch attempt to redeem Aizen’s character as one who perhaps was not inherently evil, but rather one who sought to overthrow an unjust system. This kind of character alteration is perfectly acceptable when the character being amended has had sufficient development all along the way; for all the problems with the pacing and unnecessary drama in Naruto (particularly surrounding Sasuke), the final revelations about Itachi’s motives were not only interesting, but fit well with all of his actions leading up to that moment. With regard to Bleach, Aizen has committed far too many blatantly evil acts to be redeemed, and furthermore, he’s barely had any actual character development. His progress has been littered with power-ups and strength upgrades, not personality establishment and evolution. In short, then, I don’t appreciate Kubo trying to pull this off with Aizen, as it feels like an afterthought. Let an evil character be evil and move on.

Final Flash: A tremendous step back from the previous chapter.

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