_debbiechan_ (_debbiechan_) wrote in bleachness,

A Reason to Live, A Reason to Read Bleach (fandom overview after 351)

It's odd--Ulquiorra was the one Espada who didn't seem to enjoy fighting. He didn't seem to enjoy winning either. So losing a fight doesn't seem like what made him lose the will to live. Cirucci despised Ishida's mercy and said that there was no such thing as defeat for an Arrancar. Ulquiorra admitted defeat before he asked to be killed. Had that despair been in Ulquiorra's nature all along?

Likewise, I know many Bleach fans who've been following this manga faithfully for years. Every now and then they swear they're giving it up. They're devasted by certain chapters; they lose faith in the manga-ka's intent, in their vision of justice matching a god's (the creator of the manga's) revelations of truth. They bitch, they moan, they call Kubo names. They say they've lost interest, but they're overwhelmed with interest--they haunt the forums and their neurons rage, oversensitive to every comment. Despair is in their nature too--but unlike Ulquiorra, you know what, guys?

Ulquiorra's despair is a quiet part of his character. Our despair is Kubo-contingent. We're being had but we keep coming back for more. Kubo is a self-admitted sadist. Admit it--Bleach fans are masochists. Why else put up with this toturously slow, horrifically beautiful or numbingly static, by turns dark and incomprehensible then enlightening Hueco Mundo arc?

I've been through some fandom assplosions in my day. When I was reading Bleach during the SS arc, the biggest and most divisive one happened when Isshin revealed himself to be a Shinigami and you never heard such cheers, jeers, cries of WTF why didn't he save his daughters in chapter one?, Is Kubo pulling this plot out of his ass?, and Omg, this is brilliant now explain how Dr. Kurosaki knew Dr Ryuuken, the Director of Karakura Hospital from all those chapters back? Maybe the bigger fandom assplosions came during the Hueco Mundo arc in regards to people feeling not only shocked but betrayed. I remember the roller coaster ride that was the Aaroniero Arrurierie (Yes, Syn, I finally learned to spell his name!) fight and how I had to reassure some of the most sensible adults in fandom who were all "well, I'm quitting Bleach if Rukia is really dead" that Kubo was just yanking their chain.

Don't even get me started about the near rioting in the streets last Christmas. It wasn't the crucified Szayel on a chapter cover that blew up Western fandom; it was the rape of Nemu that set feminist against feminist, and I remember feeling glad because the abstract arguments I'd had in the 80's over real people like Andrea Dworkinhadn't had half the passion as those over this Kubo-invented, Mayuri-designed artificial soul and body woman and all she stood for.

Then again, I've got some passionate friends. And Bleach has some intense fans.

Fan forum intercourse can be dumb or engaging, depending on where you go, and like with some neighborhood bars, depending on the hour. This past week, as the spoilers for chapter 352, "The Lust 5" came out, as the first images and the first scanlation in English emerged, I don't think I've ever seen the Bleach fandom so flipping nuts.

Or as interesting. Admist the usual cries that Kubo is a hack, the very same people who have been engaging in forum debate with TVtropes as their bible of literary reference, stand back at a loss when an author writes a chapter so tidly within genre expectations and still throws expectations of what's going to happen next for total loop.

I've heard that Ulquiorra got what he deserved, that Ulquiorra was a tragic hero, that Ichigo was a monster, that Ichigo was fighting the good fight and at the end when even Ishida's exclamation marks are trembling, Ichigo is only doing what he is supposed to do to protect his friends. As with discussions about shipping that ultimately end up not being about the characters themselves but about our own perceptions of love and how it should be, forum arguments got eerily political yesterday. I heard Ichigo compared to the Allied Troops in WW2, doing whatever necessary to bring down a tyrant, and Ulquiorra compared to Saddam Hussein, implacable at his execution. I jumped into the fray a few times, for the fun of it, and resisted calling people on logical fallacies because that would be like shooting fish in a barrel and resisted quoting Torah, Confusius, and the Upanishads about Might not equalling Right and going on and on about moral junk, but I did quote DBZ and make the point about how a real shounen hero like Goku spares even Freeza the most dastardly lizard in the universe.

Maybe I mentioned Ozooru too, how the beast within can come out to play but in the end you want him locked away. You want the Saiyajin tail cut off. You want the pure masculine urge to kill castrated.... Um... Anyway.... Shounen fighting manga tell coming of age stories and instruct young Japanese boys how to live with honor, and it was a little scary to me how many Bleach fans, not just twelve year old boys brimming with testosterone but some nice older ladies were going YEE-HAH, KILL THAT EMO ULQUIORRA and DEATH TO HIS FANS WHO ARE STUPID FOR LIKING HIM JUST BECAUSE HE'S GOOD LOOKING BECAUSE HE'S STILL EVIL.

I could make this post longer but I'm going to copy-paste some of the more interesting excerpts from the fan assplosion yesterday. I got someone to look up Mesopotamian art references! Lots of people made lots of interesting observations. My favorite current one belongs to Shadoblak of BA who is speculating that Ichigo is going to pull us out of this horror by turning the cero on himself. Some have said that the black inside the cero is Ichigo's getsuga (his Shinigami side) fighting his cero (his Hollow side) and that maybe we'll see Ichigo truly sparing Ulquiorra next week.

I can't believe that Kubo-sensei is going to bloody Ichigo's hands by killing Ulquiorra this way. If so, bring on the angst, but I'm waiting to be April Fooled.

Anyway some forum goodies (my forum comments are in dark red):

Originally Posted by paint_it_black

I think we have seen that there was truth in Ichigo's earlier statement "Either I'm becoming more hollow, or you've become more human. I think this chapter and in extension this fight is more about that than simply beating the opponent and moving on. If this was supposed to be the message, I think I will be able to almost tolerate the ridiculous DBZ power up.

Ichigo using a cero, purely a hollow move, to end Ulquiorra instead of the zanpaktou and the use of sonido instead of flashstep is again emphasising his complete switch to hollow think. Even if he isn't a complete hollow, he certainly is not behaving as a shinigami would. The whole point of shinigami's are to purify hollows so they can go to SS. By using a cero I don't think this would be purifying Ulquiorra's soul. The manner in which Ichigo finishes Ulquiorra already speaks volumes about who/what is controlling him but even without this, using a cero and not purifying the soul is going completely against what Ichigo is meant to represent.

As for whether it is Ichigo or Shirosaki at the wheel, I think for obvious reasons I would conclude it isn't Ichigo. People are saying that the hollow is showing intelligent strategic motions, which is actually quite unlike Ichigo Not saying Ichigo is a dumbass, but this is not the way he fights (he would certainly not throw someone's arm back at them (even though that was awful some part of me thinks it was pretty hilarious )) but usually he just slashes wherever and hopes for the best. This creature appears to be intelligent and strategic, but it's actually acting on pure, animalistic instinct. I think Shirosaki mentions something about this in earlier chapters but can't remember where Anywho, it is not necessarily an instinct to protect; it's an instinct to destroy.

Art-wise, the way Ichigo is drawn in the final scene looking a hell of a lot bigger than Ulquiorra (who we know is a small guy, but come on, here he looks the same size as Ichigo's leg ) I think is meant to make Ichigo look like a merciless bully, and highlight the whole 'beating the opponent when he's down' thing. No matter how much the powerful the smaller guy was, it just don't look good when the bigger guy steps on the smaller guy. If you take out that last panel and show it to someone who's never seen the manga and ask them to describe the scene, they'll probably say, "Oh, it's a big bad monster mindlessly killing a boy"

I want to add that while some people have been noting the awkwardness of Kubo's drawing a humongous IchiThing in that last panel, it's not the first time Kubo has deliberately misused proportion to make an aesthetic point. In the scene when Ichigo rescues Rukia at the execution site, he's drawn enormously out of proportion--he's HERO SIZE. Art buds and I went back and commented on it and noticed how faithfully Kubo kept the ratios between his characters in other panels. He really does it well for having so many characters and even remarks about his sketch that's included in the 2009 manga calendar that he has to fix it because Yoruichi is a little too tall (she looked okay to me).

When Kubo does misproportions to this extreme it's to make a point. That point was, just as you said--take the panel out of context and show it to anyone and it looks like a monster bullying a boy. Ichigo's monstrosity is supposed to be emphasized here.

originally posted by HoneyHammer:

Ack, Debbie, you inadvertently sent me on a wild goose chase through my art history lecture notes. I hope you're proud of yourself, because I just made a royal mess. I went through Baroque, Roccocco, Neoclassicism, Mesopotamia, Byzantine and Romanesque before FINALLY reaching the Egypt notes. Because this sent off my art history alert like whoa. I'll give Kubo extra credit (and I mean, like whoa credit) if he really intended to use the proportions so drastically, because if so he's really implementing the whole "hierarchy of scale" aspect that was commonly found in Egyptian and Mesopotamian art with the pharaohs and kings, in which case is a propaganda move used to make the leaders look almighty and powerful. They're shown disproportionately huge, trampling enemies below them, but most of all in a posture that showcases them at their largest - head to the side, body more or less facing the viewer. Which is Ichithings exact stance. (And don't mind me, the direction of my education has more or less conditioned me to scrutinize things like anatomy and proportions no matter what genre :P)

Anyway, I would contribute to the current topic, but I feel as if everything that needs to be said has been said already and then some. Regardless, here's just some myth stuff for fun since I was going over some mythology lecture notes and found some interesting stuff possibly relating to Ulquiorra, depending on your perspective of him. Most specifically, "the trickster" icon which appears in nearly all cultural myths. Like I said, not all of it can be related to Ulq since these are essentially archetypes, but certain aspects are interesting. Tricksters are not always negative figures as many think, and are many times positive or neutral characters, even culture heroes. Some cross into the spectrum of becoming evil (like Loki in later Norse myths) but tricksters are nonetheless iconic.

Many would see Ulquiorra as a cunning and manipulative being, essentially tricking Orihime into coming to HM (once again, this can be a matter of perspective.) Others are more convinced him possibly having a more tricky nature in possibly keeping secrets from Aizen
Traditionally, "the trickster" icons are:
- Operating outside framework of right and wrong, tricksters do not recognize the rules of society
-Can be greedy, lustful, and even nasty, but an also be helpful, clever, and wise
- the always come back, whether it is by regenerative abilities or miraculous healing, many tricksters may come to a sorry end in one tale only to reappear in another
- Acts out human urges and desires that people living in communities learn to control to maintain social order. Myths in which a trickster’s deed or beliefs backfire against him in some way are to teach moral lessons about these penalties.
- There are many tales in which the trickster is a small, but clever creature that emerges victorious teach a different lesson show how a seemingly powerless creature can triumph over a mighty one. Equally, there are just as many in which the trickster is taught the same lesson by a seemingly smaller, weaker being.

Funnily enough, one of the iconic tricksters (an actual culture hero) we learned about has a startling Hades/Persephone similarity. The Northeastern native Americans, the Algonquian-speaking people have the myth of Gluskap. Gluskap, who lived in cold north, tricked Summer, the beautiful female chieftain, on a trip down to the warm south to return north with him. While she was there, she melted away the cold of Winter, and once winter has gone, he let her return home. She returns every year to his home to melt away winter, and so goes the story of the seasons. Another iconic trickster is actually Hermes ("tricksters" are also used as messengers between worlds, similar to Ulquiorra's initial tasks) whom Ulquiorra was likened to when he appeared in the robe and winged boots. In any case, most "tricksters" are usually neutral icons used to teach a lesson or provide an explanation to why things are the way they are. Just some brainfart for boredom, haha.

blah blah

orginally posted by imamess:

Eh, I don't get all the about Ichigo. It's a super-powered dark side taking over. Not exactly uncommon, and for the plot, it just works as a super power up with a huge flaw that should deter the hero from using it regularly. Plus, it's no fun to know that Ichigo has a hollow side that thrives on instinct and brutality if it doesn't come out and play. The only way I see this not getting reversed is if we somehow got an insight that Ichigo liked this new power, and by all means, I don't think he would

Originally Posted by BleachOD View Post

Why is okay for Ulq who kidnapped the girl, took off Ishida's arm and blew hole in Ichigo's chest to do these things? Ichigo finally gets enough guts to fully use his powers and he's wrong? Amazing!

Who is saying that Ulqui was okay to do these things? I haven't heard people arguing for Ulquiorra as the hero of Bleach?

Ichigo, shounen hero aka Goku who whips the tar out of Freeza and then lets Freeza go, has let every one of his opponents go after defeating them prior to this.

You want Ichigo to kill Ulquiorra? Fine. This is how you kill Ulquiorra as a shounen hero: you give a speech. You kill him with your zanpakutou and purify his soul. You look regretful.

This is how you kill Ulquiorra as a MONSTER and someone who ISN'T protecting his friends: you fire a CERO. You endanger the lives of everyone (seriously, that blast endangers Ishida and Orihime who he is supposedly trying to protect, according to you) except yourself.



Originally Posted by debbiechan View Post

The cero was a gruesome display of power.

this is a gruesome display of power


we don't know what happens after the smoke clears so i think it's jumping the gun abit to say its gruesome. this isn't carebears, its bleach. although i could see ulqui using the carebear stare as a last resort somehow i don't think its gonna happen. this fight is all about gore, violence, and strength. just because ichigo is stronger doesn't make him the bad guy.


Originally Posted by debbiechan View Post

There's no freaking way SS considers Ichigo a friend right now. He's an effing Hollow. I bet the captains are descending upon him right now to take him and out and Ichigo's only salvation lies in his nakama and the power of the heart.

when has SS been ichigo's friend? i must have missed that. first they try to kill his friends and then they don't give a shit that inoue was kidnapped. i don't know about you but i wouldn't want that sort of flimsy guilt inspired friendship anyway.

originally posted by WatankukiXXX:


Last i read, Bleach wasn't published as a Seinen. Hero killing off the villain in badass manner works for Guts, but not Ichigo

This is a crisis moment for the character that is Ichigo. I'm sorta glad. I thought Kubo had reduced him to stupidity throughout this arc. Turns out he too has major issues to resolve, separate from relationship matters.

And on Ichigo killing someone. The closest candidate for that should have been Grand Fisher. You know, the Hollow that killed his mom and made him all funky for years. That Kubo didn't give that kill to Ichigo (despite him deserving it) speaks volumes.

Ichigo protects. He doesn't kill. Generic Hollows don't count either.

If Kubo has set this up as Ichigo's first major kill, then the repercussions will resonate for the rest of the manga. Like Debbie has been saying - Ichigo killing Ulq in this manner validates everything Ulq has said and stood for. That the only way to beat Ulq is to become a true Hollow. That one must lose the heart because it makes one weak (and lo and behold, Ichigo has no heart). This isn't a victory for Ichigo, but for Ulq.

Ichigo is a hero, not a monster. I have no doubts Kubo intends this to hold true. So yeah. Somehow Ulq will live or something - Maybe Wonderwiess saves him


And to further Kubo's parallels, I'll say that Ichigo died twice: once in the SS arc, when he became a shinigami with his own powers to save Rukia, and once while trying to rescue Inoue in the HM arc. And it's Inoue's fault if he turned into a hollow, because she called him out as he was dying, making his desire *to protect* so strong that a hollow was born from this strong desire that always, always inhabited Ichigo. Rukia turned Ichigo into a hero during the SS arc, and Inoue turned him into a villain during the HM arc.

originally posted by access timeco:

So there is really a difference between Shunpo and Sonido, huh? It's not just the same technique receiving different names from differents people.
But since we still don't know what Pesquisa really is, we also don't know what is the difference between the 2 quick steps.

I am not certain about who is the guy fighting Ulquiorra. The scene with him throwing the arm back was SO Ichigo... maybe it really is Ichigo in control, but now he is able to aknowledge his own desires, his bloodlust and all.

I am pretty sure the reason why all the other Vizards control theirs Hollow better is because they are really honest to themselves. They accept their most primal sides as part of them. Ichigo, on the other hand, is always trying to deny the fact he likes to fight and sometimes he even values it more than the other things. That's probably why he has so little control over Shirosaki.
Mashiro was always true to herself. She never was ashamed of her selfshness and that she was spoiled and annoying. Not a coincidence she was the only Vizard who didn't have to train and always could control her hollow side.

Ever played Persona? Well, your Hollow is your Shadow. It personificates everything you can't accept yourself and you throw aside, thus forming a new entity. If you are able to aknowledge it as part of yourself, you will become a whole.
That's what maybe Ichigo acheived now... now he embraced his own ugly side and is not fighting against it, but letting it flow through him.
If not, at some point he will need to look at Shirosaki and accept that thing is himself and stop pretending it is some kind of ghost possessing him.


Inoue couldn't block Ulquiorra so there is no way she is stopping Ichigo's cero. The only person who can do that now is Ichigo himself. We clearly see black energy in the center of the cero so let's assume that it is Getsuga Tenshou. Ulquiorra seemed ready to die so I doubt he changed his mind at the last second.

This is the first time Ichigo used this power so he was probably overwhelmed. He couldn't control what he was feeling and lost all sense of himself. Only when he saw Ulquiorra up close like that and listened to his final words did he manage to break free. In order to block his cero he held Zangetsu with the blade pointing upward and fired a Getsuga Tenshou.

I expect next chapter as the dust settle's Ulquiorra will be somewhat unharmed from the blast and Ichigo will still look the same. I'm not sure how he will get out of that form, it will be nice to see if he can take off the mask so we can see him better with his long hair. Then Ulquiorra can spill his beans and take us through his past. I'm hoping for a tale about the first and only Shingami that defeated him, Isshin Kurosaki(or whatever his name is/was).


Anyway, those are just a few comments. I was going to pick more but then I realized I was partial to the ones where I pwned a point. But the chapter thread and the FCs are really interesting right now at BA. I haven't read many fandom entries that have absorbed the chapter in full yet but Rebecca (vesperh )did write her weekly story-form of the chapter and it's a beautiful one from Ishida's POV. I recommend it here.
Tags: fandom
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