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Posts Tagged ‘Kubo Tite’

Bleach 413

July 23, 2010 2 comments
[scanlation by Binktopia]

Yes, Isshin, Bleach is still publishing

Back to focusing on Ichigo’s friends, and we’re still in the Deicide numbering scheme. The former is fine, the latter is incomprehensible.

Background of the week

Ichigo’s friends looting for supplies is actually fairly amusing. I don’t mind focusing on these kids. They’re decidedly less terrible than the main cast.

Years later, Kubo is finally getting back to Chizuru being the only one in this group who can’t sense spiritual aura. This storyline was interesting back when it was still fairly new, and while it’s lost almost all its momentum in the time it hasn’t been mentioned, it’s still more worthwhile than the current major plot.

This chase scene (or, more appropriately, this slow-walk scene) could work if anyone but Aizen was doing the chasing. Despite his broken abilities, his lack of proper character establishment means he’s not menacing whatsoever.

Similarly, all this pseudo-comedy could work, if only Aizen wasn’t involved.

Twist of the week

Final Flash: Actually, the “twist of the week” could be that I didn’t hate this chapter. The fact that Ichigo wasn’t involved in a non-horrible chapter is no coincidence.

Bleach 412

[chapter link]

Go ahead, Kubo. Reveal that Matsumoto is evil. Have her confess her love for Gin. Something. Give us a reason she’s been important enough to show chasing after Aizen and Gin in every chapter.

More comedy in a showdown with Aizen. Unacceptable.

Gin picks up Matsumoto and whisks her away from Aizen. If Kubo was capable of planning long-term plot twists, I’d give him some credit for maintaining the possibility that Gin is secretly at odds with Aizen.

Background of the week

More Don Kanonji, and more comedy. There’s absolutely no consistency to anything. Kubo has no plan.

Twist of the week

All those weeks of Matsumoto hints, just for her to be left lying on the ground, without the audience even getting to see what happened. Pathetic.

Final Flash: Bleach has the uncanny ability to make me run out of negative adjectives.

Bleach 411

[chapter link]

Background of the week

What a miserable cover page. Your mascara is running, Ichigo.

Incredibly dull and predictable conversation. “I have to beat you?” / “No, you must become me.” is grade school-level fanfiction tripe.

Still in the Deicide naming scheme, inexplicably.

Last week’s twist is revealed to be… Don Kanonji? … why? That’s not funny, or shocking, or relevant, or meaningful to the story, or…

He didn’t lose to Aizen. Don Kanonji wasn’t instantly killed by Aizen. This is beyond laughable. Pathetic is too soft a term. Give him a Bankai, while you’re at it. In fact, can he get his own Hougyoku?

Twist of the week

Matsumoto, again. This is outright infuriating. Kill her off already. Be done with it.

Final Flash: Ink on paper.

Bleach 410

[chapter link]

Background of the week

Zangetsu has clearly crossed the line from bishounen to out-and-out looking like a girl.

What a lovely lady

Without context from any other panels or pages around it, the top panel on page 7 is firmly in the pantheon of the worst manga panels ever. Absolutely illegible. Can someone please remind Kubo that the point of manga is to use art to tell a story?

What the hell is going on?

Zangetsu actually pulled out a real, physical “dark” version of Ichigo. Pathetic storytelling, this.

There’s “omitting backgrounds for dramatic effect,” and then there’s the following:

Why couldn't this have a background, exactly?

Aizen is cultivating change in Ichigo after all. I can’t very well say I’m “disappointed,” at this point. We’re well beyond that.

Twist of the week

Final Flash: Appallingly bad.

Bleach 409

[chapter link]

P1: Even color pages are mostly white.

Interesting choice of characters to feature on the color cover, considering we haven’t seen them in so long.

P3: In this week's chapter...

Ichigo’s drowning! This is the best chapter in years!

Oh, wait, nevermind. He’s being rescued by another pretty-boy.

I appeal to a demographic

Was Zangetsu not attractive enough for the audience? I understand the idea that Ichigo entered into his realm while in bankai, so something might look different, but I disapprove of this specific redesign.

* Panel might not actually be canon

P13: Isshin isn’t really serving any kind of purpose by explaining this. His words are intended to create suspense, but instead, he only comes off as a know-it-all, boasting that he has already experienced this and understands what’s happening.

The prospect of learning about the motivation and history behind zanpakutou is less than exciting.

“How much longer until Ichigo learns his new technique…?” indeed. Also, how much longer until Aizen does anything? Legitimately menacing antagonists act; they don’t casually stroll from place to place.

Final Flash: It’s flawed, but this training arc is still markedly better than the last arc.

Bleach 408

[chapter link]

Comedy right now is a little more acceptable than during a major face-off against an overwhelming enemy, but it still feels out of place.

Bear with him, Isshin. Your son is useless.

You can tell it’s a flashback because all the backgrounds are pure black instead of pure white.

Do we really need more than one panel to explain the Bleach ripoff of the hyperbolic time chamber? Certainly, we don’t need three pages and a diagram.

Six pages to explain a flashback that didn’t actually have to be a flashback because it just happened.

Why is this still within the “Deicide” chapter labels? That arc is over.

P13: Hey, wait a minute, I know that guy! He’s one of those guys from back when the series was tolerable!

This is far from an excellent time for a traditional shonen “our hero will save the day because that’s who he is” speech. Right now, our hero inspires absolutely no confidence and has shown absolutely no skill. Proper shonen storytelling involves convincing the audience of a character’s skill and/or strength through actual events, not through rhetoric.

Final Flash: My relief at being finished with the previous arc has already faded.

Bleach 407

[chapter link]

Without any detail on those rocks, it looks like Aizen and Gin are walking between giant teeth.

Aizen attacking things for the sake of attacking them is an improvement. It may not be great, but at least he’s acting in some fashion, rather than just slowly allowing things to happen around him.

Ichigo has been rendered useless. It’s one thing to keep your protagonist realistically challenged by new opponents so s/he can evolve over the course of the series. It’s another thing entirely to completely limit the hero until obvious training arcs, then issue him/her a standard level-up. If the strength progression of the main character in good shonen manga were to be graphed, it would curve upward, or at least be linear; the same graph for Bleach would look like stairs.

Speaking of training arcs…

Also, on that point: Really? The final Getsuga Tenshou? How about a different move?

Final Flash: Not much to judge here. Nothing happened.

Bleach 406

[chapter link]

A bunch of white space in the first panel? Hello, Bleach!

Unsurprisingly, Aizen is unscathed. Can he just take over the world or whatever it is he’s trying to do already? I think I’m far from alone in being ready for the next arc.

Gin is the ombudsman of Bleach. All legitimate complaints about Ichigo are being channeled into the series through Gin.

Of course, we don’t actually get to see Aizen take out those three. I understand the effect Kubo is going for — Aizen has some sort of massive, overwhelming, incomprehensible strength that Ichigo needs to visually discover firsthand later — but this storytelling effect is weaker than if we were able to see Aizen demolish Isshin, Yoruichi, and Kisuke. Given the state of Bleach, and given Aizen’s complete lack of credibility as a villain, I’d prefer ‘Aizen legitimized through sheer power’ to ‘mysterious strength’ any day.

Aizen’s questioning of Gin lends further credibility to the idea that Gin has his own motives. If Ichigo is somehow an important part of Aizen’s plans, Gin trying both to scare him off and to kill him would put him directly at odds with Aizen.

Oh, neat. Aizen has a face again.

Isshin isn’t down for the count? Kubo can’t even have Aizen play the ‘mysterious strength’ angle correctly.

Final Flash: Unbelievably pleased to be done with this arc. The future does not look bright yet, but at least we’re changing settings.

Bleach 405

[chapter link]

“Are you really this weak?” Yes, Gin, he is. Don’t pick on him.

Still more bickering between Yoruichi and Kisuke. Kubo’s even sunk so low as to use polka-dot screentone for a comedy background… in the middle of a climactic fight against the strongest enemy they’ve ever encountered. This isn’t even writing anymore.

Attacking him now? Good idea. Maybe you could have been doing that all this time.

Here’s hoping Aizen’s cracked face is also part of his plan. At this point, I’m hoping for the sublimely ridiculous. Anything to get me through this, at least until the next arc. Go Aizen!

All these attacks from Kisuke are actually pretty cool. It’s so refreshing to see a character with multiple attacks. I just wish this had happened sooner. Far sooner. Also, against an opponent who won’t just shrug them off. As an author, what’s the point of writing a bunch of creative attacks if they’re just being used as fodder?

There’s Isshin. Finally. I’m not asking for tactical genius or anything, but maybe the three of you, facing a nearly insurmountable challenge, could, you know, attack at the same time from the beginning.

Final Flash: Again, Matsumoto didn’t do anything. It’s not really a teaser if there’s no substance to tease.

Bleach 404

[chapter link]

Sadly, our wish of “Bleach 404” being a missing chapter error message did not come true.

Well, five pages in, and it feels like the chapter’s missing. Nothing happening. Just staring.

Unnecessary and ill-timed comic relief between Yoruichi and Kisuke.

Tired of seeing extreme close-ups of these three. If you’re going to kill someone off, hurry the hell up and do it. It’s not like there’s going to be any impact anyway; might as well get it over with.

Oh, right, Ichigo’s here.

Again, Gin is spot on in his remarks about Ichigo. Gin is easily the only tolerable character left in this series.

P16, middle panel: I’m sorry, is that supposed to be an attack? Is that art supposed to convey anything?

Ichigo, already useless, resorts to Hollow mode. Great.

There’s Matsumoto again. Do something this time.

Final Flash: Typical putrid Bleach.

Bleach 403

The next time someone asks me to explain Bleach, I think I’ll just show them the first panel of the first page of this chapter. It pretty succinctly sums up the full depth of the Bleach experience.

Perfect Aizen looks completely stupid. What an awful character design.

Wow, Yoruichi. You don’t say. It’s not like the entire Beamcast crew predicted this mere days ago or anything… not that that makes us special. Anyone with a pulse could have seen this coming.

Oh, good, speed lines.

What the hell does she have on her arms and legs?

Completely unsurprisingly, she did absolutely nothing of value. Even “shocking” character reappearances are devalued in the face of Perfect Aizen.

Final Flash: Well, fanservice-hungry readers probably enjoyed this, at least.

Bleach 401

[chapter link]

Oh good, the Hougyoku is even more broken than anticipated. It’s not just a linear power-up anymore, but a wish-fulfilling Wonder Ball. That’s all Aizen, and consequently this series, needed.

Talking.

More talking.

Hey, there’s that long sword again.

Some more talking.

There we go. It wouldn’t be a Bleach chapter without a “shocking” appearance/revelation/power-up on the last page. (You might notice quotation marks around the word “shocking” in that last sentence.) Now taking bets on who shows up/dies/unleashes a heretofore-concealed power next.

Final Flash: This series is entirely without hope of being salvaged. Absolute rubbish that continues to decompose by the page.

Bleach 400

[chapter link]

First panel, a roof and no background. Really setting the stage, aren’t you?

I am finding very little to say. I’m not saying shonen must always have recognizable moves with names, but fights must at least be able to be followed. There’s no flow to this fight whatsoever.

Gin’s Bankai isn’t the longest zanpakutou? That’s depressing knowledge. For the record, Kubo, we don’t need or want to see the longest.

Speed lines, white backgrounds, and sword slash cutaways. This chapter is yet another primer on how not to draw manga.

Oh, good. All we needed was for Aizen to power up. How about you write some character development, Kubo?

I suppose it’s appropriate that a milestone chapter was such rubbish.

Final Flash: Horrid. Also, what was the point of showing Matsumoto if she wasn’t going to do anything?

Bleach 399

April 8, 2010 2 comments

These covers make me think Kubo has become disinterested with his own series. While Bleach has obviously gone in a poor direction, I would be fair enough to give his next manga a chance. The interaction between the classmates early in Bleach wasn’t bad, and Kubo seems to have an eye for fashion, so perhaps he could pull off a schoolkids/comedy series.

I just want to point out that the text at the top of the first proper page says “Finally, the Last Battle!!” I’m holding him to that. Not necessarily the final battle of the series (though I’d love that), but at least the final battle of this arc.

In the first few pages of the fight, Isshin is clearly outmatched. Hasn’t landed a hit yet.

Ichigo’s explanation is way too long. You’re in the middle of a fight. Fight.

Yeah, I’m going to have to agree with Gin on this one. Ichigo is creepy.

Broken. Gin’s Bankai is completely broken. Silly, overpowered, yet completely useless in a direct fight if he actually had credible opposition. Broken.

(Incidentally, I can’t wait for doujins to start parodying this. Do you know how long my… “bankai”… is?)

The frustrating thing about Gin’s power, in exactly the same way Aizen’s reappearance was frustrating (when he killed his own men for being weak), is that it completely nullifies everything we’ve read until this point. If Aizen and Gin are this strong, there’s absolutely no reason they couldn’t have achieved their goals long ago. I don’t feel as though as I’m reading a sensibly paced conflict; I feel I’m reading conflict written for the express purpose of racking up chapter and volume numbers.

Ichigo, performing his one move. The entire fighting style and structure is completely counterproductive to shonen storytelling. The Shikai/Bankai concept is fine, and it’s guaranteed to provide at least one memorable (though not necessarily quality) moment each time someone first reveals their Bankai, but Kubo didn’t establish any underlying powers or fighting styles innately associated with Bankai, so each time someone powers up, that’s it. They have a couple attacks at most. Yes, the Soul Society folks have Kidou, and Hollows have Cero, but their power has been explicitly limited.

Final Flash: Not great, and Gin’s Bankai was completely disappointing, but there was more action and progress in this chapter than in many recent chapters, at least.

Bleach 398

[chapter link]

Human and frog! No, that’s the other series. Shouldn’t be another living thing, anyway, that’s done to death. Human and … the internet! Wait, that’s Freakazoid. … man, how much would I rather be watching Freakazoid right now? That was a fun series.

I should really do the same panel background study I did for the last chapter of Lock On!, but telling you that the backgrounds of Bleach are horrid wouldn’t exactly be breaking news, would it?

Oh. It’s Gin. I remember that guy. … yep.

Come to think of it, there’s another study: I wonder how many chapters of Bleach in the last year have had a “shocking” character appearance. Two years, even. Wouldn’t be at all surprised if there was a streak going.

I bet Ichigo’s dad is going to win, guys! Did you see that attack?! That’s gotta be it!

Final Flash: It’s no Freakazoid.