So, uh, here, have some more observations based on an actual manga chapter which was, as usual, way more compelling than the rumors and spoilers. Here's the link as always:Chapter 347 The Lust
Here's a little run-down of fandom responses as I've gone through forums today. Besides being relieved that Ulquiorra is not a furry, I'm THRILLED about this chapter for various reasons.
Ulquiorra looks awesome. He calls this transformation "despair itself" and here we go onwards with the allusions to Satan and all the tortured souls of Mythos. Someone said he looks like Marilyn Manson. This cracked me up because Spacecat and I were having a conversation the other day about how Marilyn Manson and Kubo Tite were both poets of a similar ilk--in my view, they were both the awesomesauce (I'd been known to print out MM lyrics for my poetry writing classes before) but Space thought that they over-used flashy effects, made a mockery of suffering and didn't live up to their promises--something like that. (Space is still blue, like a lot of my friends over Bleach not living up to expectations of being the greatest manga that ever was--but I'm an unrepentant fangirl. See, in my manic-state opinion, Bleach TOTALLY IS the greatest manga ever written).
As always, let me just fangirl Kubo's art. There's been talk lately on Chinese forums, on English-speaking ones, among my parents and your cousins about how odd Kubo's art is and why the holy moly does he have to use up so many pages to tell a story and give us four pages of black rain spattering while the plot progresses by mere centimeters compared to others running in Jump?
IT LOOKS AWESOME. And it's all poetic mood.
The speed scan Ju Ni parody I posted of 346 last week was a wonderful joke, but Bleach's story isn't a plot so much as it is a poem in my view. It's not told in long streaming sentences of narrative but in small, elliptic phrases of mood. 347 was about Ichigo's determination in the face of adversity, a standard shounen theme, but it was also about Ulquiorra beautiful frustration. Ulquiorra's attempts to humiliate Ichigo in this chapter were gloriously futile. Someone at BA, Tyriel, stopped to just marvel at the art:
The panel on page 10 is beautiful in a strange way. Kurosaki kneeling like a supplicant in a church, light streaming down upon him, with Ulquiorra seeming rather beatific, descending from the light, an angel come to answer the supplicant's plea or perhaps to punish the apostate and return him to the fold.
Or as my friend Kol put it: You may suck as a storyteller Kubo, but darn you know how to draw.
Ah well, I'll disagree. He tells a slower sort of story but it is a story nonetheless. One you have to sit quietly for with all your senses focused and all impatience banished.
And HELL'S BELLS, ISHIDA IS An OMNISCIENT NARRATOR THIS WEEK! Where have we seen that before? The only other time Kubo has used a narrarator looking from the future into his story was in chapter 30, when he used Orihime to cast some doom over current events. That was YEARS AGO and I'm still mystified over her words. Hopefully, we'll get to see what Ishida "regrets" about bringing Orihime to the top of the dome about soon.
The last time I was this frightened for Orihime, she was captured by the Arrancar. I don't believe she is going to die, though. Ishida's thoughts seem like SUCH a deliberate scare tactic (score one for Space if so!)
BUT JEEBUS, we're all on the edges of our seats now. What is Orihime going to do and what could possibly make Ishida have regrets? A funny comment from Neha: Ishida tells us he immediately regretted his decision. I swear, if he takes her up there just so she can yell "Kurosaki-kun!" again, we are all going to regret it.
Comparisions of the UlquiIchi fight to the ByaIchi one are all over. I particularly like this juxtaposition of panels here.
I wrote at BA:
I wonder how Kubo is going to make this fight different from the IchiBya fight since he seems to be alluding to it so much (right down to the Ishida and Orihime scene where Ishida wishes for Kurosaki's victory for Orihime's sake). At this point it's looking like Ulquiorra is going to do a full 180 from villain to ally like Bya did and save Orihime the way Bya saved Rukia.... Just sayin....
Kubo knows what we want--Shirosaki--and what we expect--an Ulquiorra backstory--and what we dread--Orihime death--(well, most of us anyway) and if I know my man the self-proclaimed sadist, the next few weeks aren't going to go easy on his readers. But I can't wait. I'm a masochist for Kubo's slow, slow prettily drawn tale.