My favorite rant from one of the fanclubs:
<rant>It's not a woman's dress! Just because it isn't a pair of trousers, doesn't make it women's clothing. Stop getting your western stereotypes all over my manga!
I'm sure those same people wouldn't say that men wearing yukatas were wearing dresses or that men with kilts are wearing skirts.
Kubo has a reason for putting Ulquiorra in the outfit he has. And it's not to make him a crossdresser! It's some sort of robe-maybe a cassock like some people have suggested. Said robe is sleeveless because it's probably shaped similarly in the back-to be practical for his wings.
The outfit makes sense in a lot of ways.
And, hell, for all we know he could be wearing trousers/hakama under the robe.</rant>
As for the criticism that all Kubo did was what any 13-year-old would do to his beloved Gary Stu and paste some wings on him for a transformation, I say why YES, that's one of the many reasons Ulquiorra's release is so perfect.
A couple forum responses to Ulquiorra's new outfit. First, balladbird 's. He always has a good overview on Ulquiorra.
Next mine, which is pure love for Kubo so gloss over that if my crush makes you nauseated.
The design was "plain" I suppose, but since I had no expectations, and was getting over fears, first of feathery spiders and then of man-bats, the finished release wound up initially winning with me simply because it wasn't so horrible that it instantly turned me away from Bleach. ^^
Now that I've had time to more closely study his appearance and ability, I've noticed that Ulquiorra is drenched in several subtexts simultaneously, and that's a fact that makes me very elated.
His release is actually very complex, not so much in design, but in interpretation. Here are several reasons why I like it.
1.) The black rain that culminated at the begining of his release, coupled with the enery that swallowed his form, and his family name of Schiffer, harken to the story of Kubo's hometown, perhaps they're being used as indicators of how tremendous Ulquiorra's power is, or simply as foreshadowing to some event to come.
2.) finally, 100% confirmation that Ulquiorra's release is demonic. Not simply demonic, but it's possible he's meant to represent Helel, himself. The fallen angel motiff suits him well, not just aesthetically, but also as a character. The demons were a race that turned their back on the source of their majesty, God. Whereas Ulquiorra shuns the source of power for the human soul. (emotions and bonds of friendship)
3.) The sword he created out of nothing, that formed in an explosion of light in his hand. It reinforces my referance to Helel. Also, Ichigo's describing his reaction to Ulquiorra's release as a "fear that feels like despair" has me curious.
4.) I can't help but notice that Kubo has made Ulquiorra's release in such a way as that it's actually simpler to draw than his unreleased state. ^_^ I'll let my fanboy self get carried away and hope this means we'll see more of Ulqui later.
I hear repeatedly that Kubo drags his plot, spends too much time showing off his art skills, wallows in mood (that people find cliche) but I've always loved him for his poetic sensibility that distinguishes from other mangaka. Oda tells more fantastic stories faster and I love One Piece--it just doesn't make me think the way Bleach does.
And while other manga can make me care about characters (I swear I bawl through Naruto more than Bleach--not just because of the character deaths but because Kishimoto gives me poignancy in bucketfuls), the relationships and characterizations in Bleach have nuances that I return to over and over--they invite analysis, like lines in a poem. Bleach is a shounen fighting manga but the tone with which it's told isn't altogether a simple, extroverted TAH-DAH, THESE ARE THE FACTS MA'AM! I find that Kubo, a better artist than a LOT of other manga-ka, uses visual imagery, visual punning and parallisms, and emotional facial expressions to tell his story. This is too bad for people who demand pure textual word-facts to tell the story and go around saying, "until so and so SAYS blah blah, I won't believe it." Kubo SHOWS as much as he tells.
When a professional artist like LB7-sensei is captivated by a comic and hails a chapter as "brilliant" artwork, I feel so vindicated in my crazy fangirling lurve for Kubo.
And the fanart responses have been enormously fun. Here are just three of my favorites.
Ulquiorra is Batman by Colliemon (DA LINK)
Ulquiorra Resurrection by xxshelaghxx (DA LINK)
Resurrestion uLquiorra SPOIL by Lookingback7
And an interesting question I got from secila80 on an old entry that I didn't know how to answer so I thought I'd bring it here. The idea that Aizen cut a deal with the Vastrolordes really interests me:
Subject: Is Aizen paying the boatman?
Okay, this is fantastic stuff -- I am delighted to have come across a forum where people are having discussions like this. Thank you so much.
I'm a new Bleach fan and a little late in this conversation, but after reading the above entry I must ask a question . . .
Taking off from the Charon-Ulquiorra comparison, does it follow that Aizen has or has agreed to compensate Ulquiorra for his services? It would explain Ulquiorra's unusual devotion to Aizen's whims and Aizen's seemingly complete trust in him. Maybe Aizen particularly wanted Ulquiorra's abilities? Maybe Aizen had a hard time convincing vasto lordes to join and needed a primer? No idea.
But the possibility of Aizen 'paying' Ulquiorra brings up some fun questions (well, I think they're fun): What did Aizen offer? What did Ulquiorra ask for?!!!
Any thoughts on this?