Happy Easter to those who celebrate. I'm still in the middle of Passover, unable to taste the tasteless matzah because of a terrible headcold, and I'm eating gallons of hot soup. The constant sniffling allows me to disguise my grief for a manga character as a flu symptom. If only my love for Ulquiorra could be tempered with Day-Quil.
This community continues to rock, hop, and bounce, and I'm glad. I only wish RL restraints weren't keeping me from bringing you more of the fic I believe I write better than my fangirling, but you say you like these entries so I'm glad. Glad to be a fangirl with a busy cyber parlor. Reminds me of my college days when there were always people in the kitchen talking art and politics and the sign on the door said "Property is Theft but Please Knock." I pretended to be Gertrude Stein but I think I did as much squeeing over boys then as I do now over hawt Shinigami and Espada in Bleach. I'll never understand people who think I take Bleach "too seriously." (She says in her fourth day of near-incapacitated grief over a character with bat wings and a pointy tail).
I bring links!
Rebecca’s 353 story chapter, told from Ulquiorra’s POV, does honor and justice to the character without sentimentality ( I was reading vesperh 's way of processing manga chapters by giving inner thoughts to the characters and thinking about the active role of manga audiences in the communication between author and reader when I came across this article about characters in biblical literature. Funny, I see manga characters as biblical figures whose actions demand analysis more than figures in modern fiction with their consciousnesses all laid out for us and maybe that's what I like about them).
Chris’s LJ entry on 353
Ballad’s LJ entry on 353
Jenni’s LJ entry on 353
Two capslock_bleach entries have been helping me make it through the weekend.
Grief Counselors are Standing By
A beautiful UlquiHime fanart by darkcountessb
And this looooooong post on Bleach Asylum i really liked:
I as per usual have lots to say on this chapter. Maybe more than Ive had to say than any other chapter. I am totally split because of this chapter. Part of it made me go "huh" and then part of it made me go "wow".
As such Ive probably split this into 2 main parts with little asides as I go along.
But elts get started shall we. And I will start with Ichigo.
If Sleepyfans translation is correct then I am more than satisfied with things.
I love KT's artwork I really do. We all know that Ichigo returns to normal when his mask is removed/shattered but I like the focus on his left eye.
Im at a bit of a loss to explain this part myself. His mask is removed so suddenly his hollow hole dissappears. I would have thought more than just instant regeneration would be required for this...some really deep soul searching on Ichigos part to get back his full humanity but I guess I was wrong.
Sorry I just lol'd a little at Orhimes facial reaction.
But this is where it gets intresting.
Ichigo gets to see EXACTLY what hes done to Ishida. The top right and middle right panels give us a close up on Ichigos eyes. He is in total shock at what hes seeing. He really cant believe that this has happened and he is responsible for what has happened.
I love this page I really do. This is not a retorical set of questions hes asking. ichigo obviously cant remember what happened when he was in his hollow form, and from the shock of seeing his sword in Ishida's stomach to seeing Ulqy in his state...its good to see Ichigo is unable to hide his shock...but hes now OUR Ichigo. The Ichigo I feel I have been reading for well over 300+ chapters.
"Did I attack Ishida?"
"Am i the one who cut off your arm and leg?" - LOOK at his face when hes saying it. What is it saying to you? To me he looks angry - angry at himself for doing things he would never willingly do. Disgust - at hurting his friend and going way over the top on Ulqy.
"Then cut off my arm and leg to."
God the Ichigo haters are going to have a field day with this...but I love it. I really do. For chapters I have read all about how Ichigo needs to become a killer, he needs to learn to become a demon. I was angry at this...because I really felt as if I was reading an entirely different version of Bleach. I will happily admit that Ichigo loves fighting, and gaining his hollow has just increased this more than ever. Is there moments where he has been brutal? Of course, thats unavoidable...but such moments have only happened against the hollow beasts we see, or when he has lost control of his hollow powers.
Grimmjow was the pinnacle for Ichigo. He has his honour and code of conduct. Hes 16 years old remember, killing another human just wouldnt be on his racar. And as much as Ulqy and Grimmjow are technically hollows that argument doesnt count. KT has delibrately set his stall for the Espada - they are human like, look like humans, have emotions etc. Were not supposed to consider them as hollows. They are MORE than that. So when he fought Grimmjow he went as far as he would have liked. Incapacitated him, removed him from the fight, but no killing blow. Ichigo is human never forget this fact. And as I said when all this is done, he has to go back to being a human, at school and have a life. Becoming a killer and being that human just doesnt add up at all.
Him asking to have his arm and leg removed to even the field is EXACTLY what an in control Ichigo would do. Hes angry and disgusted with himself - that much is clear, so he wants to even things up. So from the brutal monster he was last chapter, back to his honourable best. This is the Ichigo I want to read, and I dont care if hes being stupid or not. This Ichigo makes sense to me.
"That wasn't me fighting you. That was my hollow form. I had no control over it."
Thank you KT, thank you. Can people please now stop saying that Ichigo was always in the driving seat and acting as he should in a war. Ichigo doesnt remember a damm thing on what has happened and he admits himself that his hollow was in control. The actions were to brutal for Ichigo to be there. I never understood people thinking that this was the same Ichigo. Every thing he did screamed that it wasnt him...well at least it screamed that to me.
Now look at his facial reaction on the middle right panel and bottom middle panel. Despite Ishida screaming at him, look at his face. The determination in his eyes, he really is determined that he will let Ulqy take his hand and leg. I honestly believe if not for Ulqy breaking up at this point then Ichigo would let him do it. Its stupid, idiotic but god its so honourable.
Again Ill say it. Look at his face. Everything Ive just said is to me confirmed in that one panel. "I didnt want to win this way" he screams. He never wanted to loose control and beat Ulqy by becoming a hollow, and he refuses to strike Ulqy down in cold blood.
Welcome back Ichigo, Ive missed you even though others will call you stupid.
But before I get into Ulqy (will take me ages to put this down in words) I wanted to talk about Ishida.
At first I dont know how to take this. Ichigo is obviously in shock at what hes seen...but I was hoping for more. Hes just realised he stabbed his nakama...but all we have to this point is a shocked and disgusted look on his face. Perhaps thats all it needs...but then I feel that after everything Ishida has done for Orihime and for Ichigo that he deserves...more than this. Even some reaction from Ulqy for Ishida saving his ass last chapter...or even better for Orihime to bloody realise what hes done for her since this fight started would be welcome.
Maybe we will get all of that next chapter. Who knows. But even still, how amazing is Ishida in this chapter?
"Finally...youre back." With a smile on his face thats all he says. God Ishida is awesome. KT shoudl rename this to Bleach - Uryuu is kick ass. There might be so much more drama to come between Ichigo and Ishida...but that look, that simple phrase. Ishida realises Ichigo was never himself...and that he forgives him regardless.
When KT talks about friendship, bonds and trust, this is what he means. That look conveys it all to me. And it doesnt end there. Ulqy pulls the sword out violently, but still Ishida finds the strength to try and stop Ichigo making a big mistake.
Ishida I salute you. If ever anyone has represented what KT is trying to tell us about friendship from this manga, you have conveyed this perfectly since the fight started.
But now for the big one. Ulqy. Am I sad that hes going? Without a doubt, he was a great character. I dont think its out of the realms of impossibility that hes dead for good, but if this is his end...then this was the way to go.
First of all, I am glad that I and many others kept faith in our belief that Ulqy was more than just an emotionless rock whos only existince was to follow the orders of Aizen to the letter. From the get go I didnt quite buy into this. After seeing just how full of life and feelings Grimmjow was, I found it difficult to grasp that he was incapable of feeling anything. Ulqy was a character made of so many dynamics.
He was intelligent and made excellent observational skills, yet he was also incapable of looking past the physical side of things and grasp thoughts, feelings and emotions. This would change with the coming of Orihime and Ichigo, both of whom played massive parts in changings Ulqy.
It wasnt always obvious, but look close enough then it was becoming clear that Ulqy was changing. KT set Ulqy up delibrately to come across as cold and indifferent. So that as changed started to happen then we would gain the biggest impact from this. What really changed was that he started to question. He was unable to see past the physical, and yet Orihime was all about emotion and feelings. So unable to grasp this, he started to question it...and eventually wanted to understand it. And then in the battle with Ichigo, he was yet again confronted with someone acting on feelings and emotions. And again he wanted to understand it...
However in Ichigo he wanted to try and prove to himself, and to Ichigo that heart was a weakness that leads to despair. And lets not forget that for a moment, no matter how fleeting Ulqy actually transcended being the villain, and actually became the hero when Ichigo lost all control. A lot of us were cheering on Ulqy, wanting him to end Ichigos madness and that says a lot about his character and popularity.
And yet even at the end I think he starts to realise that whilst it can be a weakness, the strength it gives can also be the strongest thing in the world. And that is more or less the lesson Ulqy had to learn.
Did he learn it the way I wanted him to? No, I never thought Ulqy would die so I expected Orihime to teach him in words. However this way works, and its very powerful.
This chapter is a perfect example of the different sides of Ulqy. It shows us...everything.
First we have the look on his face. Shock is written all over it. Its screaming "WTF" to me. In tiems gone by perhaps he would just stand back and observe, but perhaps hes changed to the point that this would be normal for him. Maybe he doesnt even realise himself how much hes changed. But his mask has slipped, his feelings are on his face clear as day.
This page is great in so many ways. He actually takes the time to look at Orihime when shes down crying. Again the action of just looking speaks more about his changes than any words. KT is brilliant and conveying changes in a person in their faces and actions. Plus he explaisn exactly why he is dying. He might be able to regenerate his body, but when he said he couldnt regenerate organs then he was telling us the full truth. Hes dying because most of his innards are now gone.
Again shock. Ulqy really seems to be unable to hide stuff from his face anymore. An open admitance of being shocked twice in 10 pages is some feat for Ulqy.
On both pages you see example of the older Ulqy. The violent drawing of the sword from Ishida, and being prepared to removed Ichigos arm and leg because Ichigo asks him to. This is what I would have expected from an older Ulqy back in the day.
And now we come to the kicker parts.
Two little words that go along with the panel they are in....its just very strong. Actually I think this page gets to me more than the last page does. I think its the 2nd most powerful page to me. He just looks...really sad here. He knows its over and he want to die a warriors death. He should know Ichigo wont do this...infact judging by:
I think Ulqy accepts that Ichigo wouldnt have done this. But he asks anyways incase Ichigo will give him the killing blow.
As an aside, I wonder if this is a bad call by Ichigo. Had he finished Ulqy with his zanpakuto, maybe Ulqy would be redeemed and sent to Soul Society. If now he goes into limbo...I would really be saddened by that. Ulqy might have been a villain, but I think he would deserve to be purified and sent on.
"Im finally starting to find you guys a little intresting."
He says this whilst looking directly at Orihime. Hes talking more to her than anyone else. Afterall Orihime was the catalyst for the change in his character so it makes sense that this would be directed at her.
But then we get the OMG moments of the chapter. The next few panels are perhaps the most powerful you will see in this manga for different reasons, and Im probably going to right far to much on them...but hell if I care
By even admitting that he finds them intresting...thats a monumental admitance. Coming from anyone else but Ulqy it wouldnt mean a thing, but this is powerful. Ulqys admitting this is something you would never have expected way back in the earlier days and is concrete proof that he has grown as a character. But then he follows it up with a single, powerful gesture. He raises his arm.
I will come on to this in a second, but he follows this gesture with "are you scared of me girl."
For the first time in a long time, the close up we get isnt of Orihimes eyes...its her lips. Take from that what you will.
This page is the most powerful to me. 3 panels that say more than 2 chapters worth of text ever could. Its true what they say, that sometimes an image is worth a million words. If you ever needed proof this is it. There is nothing KT could have said to make this more significant.
Orihimes face says it all. Shes sad and shes hurting.
Why would she be sad people might ask. I mean Ulqy captured her, took her from her life and her friends. Forced her to saying goodbye to the one she loves and has been witness to a lot of violence. So if anything you would think that as a former prisoner she would be happy.
But shes not, shes emotionally upset. She tells him hes not scared, and she has tears forming in her eyes. But thats STILL not what makes it powerful for me. Its the part we can see of Ulqys hand. Hes reaching FOR her, and his hand is looking like its placed OVER her heart. Orihime has always been his link to human heart and understanding...that top panel is just showing us this link and showing the emotion that both of them are feeling.
And then we have the bottom panel. Two simple words - "I see." And then we have what looks like him biting his lip. Again its a nothing gesture that me and you will do several times a day. But coming from Ulqy its more than that. Hes nervous, hes scared, hes fighting back emotions that are alien to him. Hes happy that Orihime admits shes not scared of him. I dont care what you think of it, but the simple act of biting his lip just conveys more than words are capable of.
They reach for each other, but just as they are about to touch Ulqy fades away. As I said earlier, the gesture of reaching out could mean so many thing. Ulqy wants the contact...maybe even needs it. It shows that part of him finally grasps the meaning of heart and emotions and wants to experience it before he dies. It shows he wants forgiveness and salvation. It shows that he cares despite being a stone cold wall. It means so much. Its a single action that shows just how much Ulqy has changed over the course of the manga.
As such as he fades away, the actions of lip biting and reaching out conveys so much feeling in such simple gestures. It wouldnt work with anyone else...but it does for him. Only him. KT really shows how much Ulqy has grown as a character by doing this.
In many ways, its probably the best way for Ulqy to go out. I dont think anything else would have worked quite as well.
So my last part. Is he dead for good? Well its hard to say yes for definite. I mean the last panel shows he still has 2 legs and part of his wing. Its more than Orihime needs to heal him. She can do it with less to work with (Loly/Menoly) the question is will she?
Well I dont see why she wouldnt. Shes a healer at heart, hates violence, healed Loly and Menoly even though they assaulted her. Ulqy has never physically hurt her...so whats stopping her? The only thing I can think of that shes scared of any feelings she might have for Ulqy...that could lead her to feeling anxious and end up not reacting in time.
Plus people will argue that everything that KT did in this chapter for Ulqy would be a total waste. Why spoil such a great ending by having Orihime heal him and bring him back. It makes the gestures useless.
Well at first I would agree with that..but I dont now after seeing the pictures. Ulqys death is powerful and pulls at the heart like its supposed to. The only way to follow such an incredible ending, is to give us something even more powerful than his death. And if Orihime healed him next chapter, this would work because her reaction, her acting to save his life is just as, if not more powerful than his death. It works because Orihime isnt asking Ichigo for permission, she would be doing it because she wouldnt want Ulqy to die. It works because its Orihime doing the healing.
Other than that, I liked this chapter. I hope next week gives us a lot of talk. I want to see the reactions to Ichigo being a hollow. I want to see Ishida and Orihime react to this. I want to see Orihime actually heal Ishida and thank him for everything hes done. I dont want 10 chapters of Rukia and co vs Yammy. I DO want to see Chad fight Yammy though and kick his ass. 2-4 chapters would be enough for me. After Chad wins, one last chapter of nakama coming together and deciding upon a course (houygoku/back to Karakura?). I would like to see Nel getting healed and Grimmjow getting healed (or dug up from his sand bath would be nice...perhaps the image of Yachiru building a sand castle on him before he wakes up :P) and then we can get back to Karakura and see some fights (and deaths of some captains please).
It was a good chapter. My big complaint is that I dont like how Ichigo doesnt remember things, or seems to not remember. If KT has had him not able to remember what he did this is just a cop out as far as I am concerned. Ichigo SHOULD be a little angsty after what he did...if he doesnt remember then chances are Ishida/Hime wont tell him and KT gets away with not having to draw some difficutlt scenes. I want to see this god dammit! Ishida deserves it!
I know people will think I write to much, and see things that are not there/want to see. I write what I see. I draw conclusions from facial reactions etc because I believe KT puts a lot of emphasis on reactions and uses them to convey feelings better than words.
People might not agree with it, but I just call it as I see it.
This must now be the longest post ever on BA....And my longest ever on any forum. If you got this far....lol take a break and thx for reading.
Finally, a fun video featuring a goofy song by Ulquiorra's seiyuu. Vid by Cezaria: The Delicious Tomato Song