An unexpected chapter spoiler! Thanks to Drake at pantip and Danna at BA.
Here's the BA thread about Chapter 340 (SPOILER).
Weeee! Ulquiorra fangirl here going into systems overload. And my Orihime fangirl is getting all excited too, even though Hime isn't doing anything yet--not even so much as eeping out a single "Kurosaki-kun."
Someone at BA noticed: Why does Ulquiorra still think Orihime *wants* to stay in Hueco Mundo, that it's for *Aizen* to decide, I thought the only reason he kidnapped her was to divide and conquer the shinigami forces?
To which my man Balladbird answered:
Ulquiorra likes to say things and ask questions for the sole purpose of seeing how the person he speaks to reacts to them, so you can't necessarily assume that what Ulquiorra says here is what he believes.
Remember that just a chapter ago Ulquiorra told Orihime that her usefuless to Aizen was at its end, and she would be left to waste away. It's clear that this wasn't the case, he only wanted to see if she would show fear.
I imagine this is the exact same thing. He's either:
1.) Hinting at some hidden plot Aizen has that only he is privy to
2.) Trying to goade Ichigo into attacking him carelessly
3.) Curious to see how Ichigo reacts to his words
or likely some combination of the three.
To which I jumped at with: Oh definitely. This is why the chapter is called the Antagonizer! Ulquiorra is all about the mind games. He's playing with Ichigo here but he's also Kubo's mouthpiece for playing with the audience--because if number one is true, it will reinforce what many of us have believed all along, that Aizen was bullshitting when it came to Orihime being used solely as bait.
In Which debbiechan Reacts to Accusations of Overthinking and Not Accepting Simplicity
To change the subject (or maybe not, I'm still talking Bleach here) a friend and I were going on and on about a comment left in a forum that more or less said "WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU PEOPLE. STOP THINKING SO MUCH. IT'S JUST A MANGA FOR 13 YEAR OLD BOYS."
I remember not long ago Spacey saying he was glad that now he has a Kubo quote (hell if I can find it, though--it's one from one of the recent SDCC interviews) with which to retaliate when that attitude rears his joy-killing head. Somewhere Kubo said he doesn't write for a specific age audience. So, one, *throws that quote out there in dazzling font*. Two, you ain't the boss of me and trying to stop the over-analyzing in any fandom is like trying to stop a wave upon the shore or trying to hold a moonbeam in your hand or trying to solve a problem like Maria ....
Someone made a comment somewhere the other day about Japanese "simplicity." About how plots and characters are laid out very plainly and do not require massive interpretive effort. Ah, the illusion of simplicity. Anyone who's raked a rock and sand garden or tried his or her hand at ikebana knows that Japanese "simplicity" follows a form and has a poetic character. In other words, a flower is just not a flower--it can be a representation of a fall from heaven to earth or a man alone, depending on the flower arrangement. Poetic character means having multiple meanings--the very contradiction of simplicity yet when we look at Japanese art, we see clean lines, no clutter, simple forms, obvious emotional settings. Put that in your haiku and run with it to literature class, Hisagi. Anything that has form at all invites interpretation--even if that form is as simple as the full, round moon.
I've heard people refer to "shounen" as only the market to which a certain type of manga is aimed at, but many use the world to connote a "form." The form includes the standard tropes of fighting manga--the good-hearted hero, the perverted mentor, the importance of friendship, the moody rival, the difference "resolve" makes in one's fighting ability--do I have to go on? It drives me nuts to read people interpreting Bleach as anything but a shounen manga, but some people think it's going to resolve itself like a Western soap opera, a 1950s Cowboys and Indians flick, a Disney movie, or even some other Japanese form like a seinen or a shoujo. Nope, nope, just accept it now people--the good guys will win and Aizen, as much as we love him, is doomed. The last setting in the manga is not going to be a wedding or engagement party. And yes, there will be sorrow--sorrow of the sort that ran deep and wide in original fairy tales, permeated Hans Christian Anderson and was somehow homogenized out of Disney.
Just because there is a morality tale in shounen, just because there is a simple story that instructs us how to behave (or rather, the form is set up to teach 13 year old Japanese boys how to come to grips with both their individuality and their obligations to larger society), just because the plot is usually the same old "coming of age" story--a form as recognizable as a boulder in a rock garden--that doesn't mean that shounen is simple.
And Bleach isn't simple. And yes, it belongs to those of us with multiple degrees as much as it belongs to the 13 year old boys who are flipping through WSJ mainly for the beheadings and the boobs. The next time I read some comment about me and my homies in law school thinking we're ALL THAT because analyze Bleach using tools we've learned in school and trying to avoid logical fallacies, Imma gonna say out LOUD to my computer monitor: OH YEAH, THAT'S RIGHT. I mean, geez, let us have our fun. No one is trying to stop you from all your "who will be the flower girl when so and so marries so and so" scenarios ways of fangirling. Some of us debate power levels, some of us write shipping essays, some of us draw tentacle porn. Bleach belongs to ALL OF US.
And yet, there is finally one true Bleach.
My favorite quote from Kubo-sensei: “There are bits in the manga where I draw scenes that wouldn’t get the reader’s attention too much. I always put all my effort into my manga but how each audience read my manga are different. So it’s really important to make sure they would end up all having a similar idea of my story, but then again, it’s really up to them how they read the manga, but then there are scenes where I want the audience to be touched, so it’s really hard."
This quote just tells me he's trying hard to communicate his vision even though he understands the post-structuralist anything goes way of the world when it comes to readers consuming literature. When little boys mistook the great bird at the execution site for Yamma's ban kai, he told himself "try harder Kubo." So I know that there's ONE message, one authorial intent, if you will, being passed through the medium, and it's my duty as a reader to find it. I feel like interpretation is my obligation.
Now here's where I get to use the metaphor I thought of the other day. I was eating popcorn with chopsticks when I thought of it--the suggestion to eat popcorn this way was from an Asian friend who said it kept your fingers from getting buttery so you could still eat popcorn and type on the computer. Do I approach the text with Western tools or Eastern tools and what's the difference? Western forks shovel at Western cuisine because of the way the food is presented--it's all here and there and everywhere and meant to be appreciated in hefty doses. Look at the way Americans read a manga chapter. They complain it's over too soon. They don't go back and re-read; they don't read it slowly. If the chapter's done its job, it has satisfied you like a serving of mashed potatoes. You got your butter and carbs quick.
Chopsticks can also be used to shovel gobs of food (I don't see how anyone can eat pasta with a fork after mastering the stab and twirl method of going at noodles with chopsticks) but chopsticks are instruments of precision meant to distinguish one grain of rice from a like-sized piece of vegetable. Japanese meals are famous for their particular presentation. Lots of little bowls, each full of an offering for unique interpretation.
Sometimes I look at a manga page and realize I'm not at the movies. I'm not in the middle of the novel. I can't make the story move any faster even though I expect the story to move faster. I can't take out a gob of meaning with one fist like I can a bunch of popcorn from the Jumbo Deal theatre bucket. The manga-ka has spent several panels showing me the same thing over and over (I'm reminded of the Old Man Yama kills the chimera chapter--which at first reading was ugh boring but after a while---when I went at it with chopsticks, I started to see the art). The manga-ka WANTS me to look at facial expressions. The manga-ka WANTS me to distinguish one piece of rice from another.
There are bits in the manga where I draw scenes that wouldn’t get the reader’s attention too much.
So says Kubo-sensei like a taunt. Don't you want to be the reader who "gets" it? I do.
*looks at clock* I have to make dinner but I'll be back. I've been wanting to talk about reincarnation in manga and in Bleach again....