RAW's out. I'll put the scan link up when it appears on One Manga
ETA: and here it is, scanlation by Sleepyfans: 343 The Gluttony
MAH BABY’S BACK!
And like Neo said at BA, lookin bishounen there, Ishida. I love it how whenever Ishida does something spectacular, his eyelashes grow and Kubo draws his hair being whipped around by the sudden unseen breezes.
I was off by only one chapter (over at the IshiHime FC at BA, I’d predicted he’d return in chapter 344) but some fans like brightredglow had been calling Ishida’s saving Orihime in this arc ever since the boy showed up looked handsome and determined at Urahara’s in 2006. Well, he hasn’t saved her yet . A glorious entrance affirming that he won’t let the fair maiden be smashed by Yammi isn’t exactly equivalent to getting her out of Hueco Mundo, and I’m still holding out for Orihime somehow saving herself.
In fact, I’m starting up the chant for Tsubaki again. Tsubaki, Tsubaki, Tsubaki….
I miss that little Vegeta fairy and I miss the proactive Orihime we hadn’t really seen since … oh… the SS arc when she was hanging with Ishida and when she was karate-chopping Shinigami and wanting to take on a division captain and … remember that girl? Somewhere between the SS arc and Rukia’s return to the Living World, she had a massive plunge of self-esteem and although the Hueco Mundo arc has kept her at center stage, her fans have had to witness her being mind-fucked by Ulquiorra, beaten up by Lollis, face-fondled by Aizen, finger-gagged by Nnoitra, dressed up in bondage by Grimmjow, body-slammed by Tesla, and oh the tears, tears, tears. So many tears from Orihime’s eyes. Over two years of this. I can’t take any more….
But no, ‘tis not the time to mourn. ISHIDA’S BACK IN TOWN. Next to the fact that I’ve only been waiting for my absolute favorite pairing’s reunion for close to three years now and that this reunion wasn’t a blah intermediate panel among some perfunctory nakama reunion but a freaking EPIC Quincy rescue with a literal BANG, the thing that got my attention most in this chapter is OMFG, ISHIDA USED MAYURI'S HELP! Sure, Ishida called him a "disgusting scientist" but the lines between good and evil, hollow and human, enemy and foe are being further and further blurred here in this arc.
I didn’t think Kubo would carry out the Seven Sins trope out for seven chapters because of the intricacy involved in plotting the nuances, but who was I kidding—the man loves this sort of thing. brightredglow wrote a nice breakdown of what the sins and their corresponding virtues might mean for the theme of Hollow versus Human, and namely the character of Ulquiorra here.
And great sigh of relief for no visible signs of “alteration” done on our Quincy lad from Captain Freakshow! In fact, those Quincy duds have never looked more spic and span!
I’m still grinning. I’m still having my cake and eating it too.
The flowers that a friend sent on the day the spoilers came in are now starting to open in their vase.
So allow me to share some of this week’s most wtf fandom experiences.
Oh fandom. As I’d been telling you folks for a while, shipper waters were going to churn upon the return to the Ichigo and Ulquiorra fight. Unlike a lot of fandom who were forecasting Ishida’s appearance at the Five Towers (hey, I was anticipating it long before chapter 317 and Ishida’s notable absence among the six hearts; I just wanted Ulquiorra and Ishida in the same room because that would rock my panties), the IchiOri fandom didn’t see any reason for Ishida to interfere in Ichigo’s fight for Orihime and sure enough, many of them were plenty disappointed when he showed up. Last week, Ulquiorra was taken to task by many IchiOri fans who insisted he was NOT the man who changed Orihime, challenged her and brought out the spunky in her, oh no, not in the slightest, or vice versa, no way could Orihime have any influence on Ulquiorra, on his “humanization” and their “relationship” could hardly be called that, and this week, it’s Ishida’s turn to be discounted.
Although maybe discounted is putting it mildly.
Now, I’m fans of two of the most maligned characters in the Bleach fandom, whiney!Hime and fag!Ishida and I’ve always laughed at character-bashing, but wow, this week IchiOri shippers are calling Ishida “a douche” for showing up to save Orihime’s life and daring to interfere in her “character development.” They’ve chided Ishida for not showing up sooner, for being a “glory hog” who times his entrances just for the maximum drama, and on forums everywhere, a link to a Manga One page keeps appearing where Ishida, that cad, that no good bastard, dares to think the word BURDEN when thinking of Orihime (never mind that he’s the one nakama who devotes the most thought bubbles to her in the first place in the whole manga).
Never mind that the word “burden” wasn’t one that Ishida used. Translator melodymix says that after looking at her original Japanese tankoubon , Ishida said: A person like that should never fight. Fighting like that only hurts herself and her nakama.
Whatever. The words carry the same meaning-- that Orihime risks becoming a burden on the battlefield, although to hear it from some fans, it’s as if Ishida, the only one of the nakama to ever compliment Orihime on the battlefield, has called this lovely girl a nasty name for which he should be forever shunned by the gang at all gatherings at the soda shoppe. I can’t go to any Bleach forum without coming across a mention of “Ishida called Orihime a BURDEN” (someone even brought it to bleachness ) and some fans speculate that the only reason Ishida showed up at the Five Towers at all was so Orihime could make him eat his words (which he’d never spoken).
Last week, over at the Orihime FC at BA, the owner made some remarks about how Ulquiorra didn’t bring out the best in Orihime and some wank ensued and posts were removed; this week she tried to slide in something about Ishida’s calling Orihime a burden and I took the bait and a bunch of posts got deleted again. All that remains of my posting binge on the subject of Ishida’s analyzing Orihime’s battle capacity way back when is this post, which I’ll copy here just because I can and because even if I don’t take character-bashing too seriously, I have to step up to defend my Ishida and show my faith in my Hime:
This is relevant to Orihime's character in that I believe that this prediction (Orihime hurting herself and her nakama) has come true in this arc. I know some people may find that a horrifyingly terrible thing to think about Orihime, but I'm with Urahara and Ishida--as long as she can't fire offensively, she and her battle comrades are at a risk from her on the battlefield. I do not think that either Ishida or Urahara are at all unaware of Orihime's other great skills. In fact, Ishida told her to her face in one chapter that it was thanks to her ability to call out her shield with out the name that they were saved from Mayuri's bombs.
Still, although Orihime has shown in this arc that she has a protective capacity, I believe that it is part of her GREAT pain and lack of self-esteem that she is not able live up to her own vow to fight alongside Kurosaki-kun. The chapter in which she yelled "please don't get hurt anymore" was where, as I see it, she saw herself as being the cause of other people's pain. But she seemed to have an acceptance of why her nakama came for her in chapter 317 when she told Ulquiorra about the concept of hearts beating as one.
Firing Tsubaki will be the denouncement of this inner drama. It will be Orihime accepting all parts of herself--not only the parts that can heal and shield but the part that can attack aggressively for the sake of protection. It is an old trope of martial arts movies and anime and manga that the young coming-of-age leads figure out the reason why they are fighting. Ishida's grandfather told him what one day he would figure it out and that was four years and a bunch of chapters ago--one has to be patient for the revelation, just as one has to wait for Shirosaki or Tsubaki to make their inevitable appearances. A manga is a years-long work of art. When Orihime discovers a real reason to fire Tsubaki (my guess is that it will be in protection of someone she loves like when she first fired him to protect Tatsuki--maybe it will be to protect Tatsuki again), she will do it.
I hope Orihime saves Ishida next week. That would be awesome. We’re getting color pages for the Valentine’s Day issue for Bleach, and my favorite couple is going to be together but my fondest wish is to see Tsubaki.
In any event, Kubo-sensei has already made me a very happy fangirl this year. Maybe I’ll dig into my savings to get him a big chocolate bunny for Valentine’s.
ETA: one of the mods at BA was kind enough to retrieve one of my deleted posts from the Orihime FC. I’ll leave out the part in which I unnecessarily argue with the FC owner, but this is basically what I wanted to say about Ishida’s importance in showing up at the Five Towers:
Ishida's perception of Orihime, at this point, matters less than her own perception of herself. You often say that it would set back feminism 100 years for Orihime to get stronger for a man, but I do believe that she gets encouragement (and strength) from people and in a non-gender-specific way, there's nothing demeaning about that. Relying on people to do your work for you is not the same as their inspiring you. Orihime seemed to be inspired by her nakama in chapter 317, the so-called "six hearts beat as one" chapter in which only Ishida was notably missing.
It could be that in the next chapter, which is for Shounen Jump's Valentine's Day issue and in which we're supposed to have color pages, that a "six hearts beating as one" theme would work really well for something to inspire Orihime to act, think, fire Tsubaki, make a grand speech, or otherwise have some development as a character.
Some people are disappointed that Ishida showed up to save Orihime, and some people are glad about it, but his presence there means that Orihime's immediate story isn't Ichigo-Ulqui-Orihime... it's broader. And there are other people who are going to play a part in Orihime's growth besides Ichigo, the man she loves, and Ulquiorra, the captor who challenges her.
It takes the faith and patience of a basset hound but Kubo-sensei always delivers. And he owes us Orihime's triumph. If not soon, eventually. I've been waiting for Tsubaki for nearly three years. I can wait a little longer.
Short review: VIOLENT CHAPTER BUT LONG EYELASHES. ISHIDA IS NOT A DOUCHE!