I've seen the spoiler pics and Pocketmofo's latest best translation. *SCREAMS* First, that panel that made everyone freak (even me and I didn't believe it)and then all the stupid rumors (or calls for) Rukia's death. It's all been enough to make me almost cry --and the RAW isn't out yet. Rukia was so beautiful and strong and then utterly psychologically broken by realizing that she hadn't saved Kaien after all, all those years ago....(I don't buy the idea that she can't save him now--damn it if I believe she STILL CAN).
Forget being dead, SHE'S NOT DEAD. Normally people impaled by a trident die but not in shounen and not a main character.
Unlike a lot of people, I remain optimistic about Rukia not being down for the count, though.
And for these reasons:
1) Sidetext on cover reads: Dream or reality, a lie or the truth…
I know that this refers more directly to Arroniro's true identity more than to what happens later but I think it's a theme. We're in the land of illusions, folks. Arroniro can pull off some swift ones. This is Aizen Territory as well
2) From a literary standpoint, there's no drama in having ANYONE else fight Arroniro at this pt. This chapter may be setting him up as an opponent for Rukia in the Winter War, as Syn said, but I can't imagine Rukia carrying around that guilt for the volumes of manga it would take to get to the Winter War. The SS arc was about restoring Rukia's mental wellness (to a degree) so she felt worthy of being saved after what she did to Kaien. What's she's realized about Kaien now is even MORE psychologically devastating and I can't see the arc turning into another one about her (although she's important, gddammit, woe and hellfire unto those who were proclaiming her the Misty of Pokemon who would have another female lead replace her! If anything, this chpt proves that Kubo's making her a leading player--LEADING, so far--her dilemma is beyond anything Ichigo is currently facing). I think things have to be resolved soon--within this arc so that Rukia can stay sane
3) The translation does say her sword is broken but in the last panel she's got it--I swear she has it. It's standard for no battle to finish w/o a Shinigami showing what he/she can do with his/her zanpakutou and its powers revealed thus far--even if said Shinigami loses fight. Sode no Sirayuki has to make an appearance--who knows? Maybe we'll see her form like we saw Zangetsu's and she'll help Rukia.
4) Rukia implies in this chapter that she WILL beat Arroniro but she was holding back until she made sure Kaien wasn't in there. The girl don't lie. She's got ban kai up her sleeve (I never would've believed it until this chapter) but what other trick could save her?
5) Rukia's ice powers were DESTINED to freeze Mr. Neptune of the Sea. It's too obvious.
6) KAIEN IS IN THERE. Rukia lost it when Arroniro said that Kaien was inside him (now the new translation says his "spirit body" so I'm assuming his Shinigami form and not his human body). We've been back and forth so many times about Kaien that I think we've landed on the truth--mainly because Arroniro talks so much and explains and shows in this chpt-
I think we've got our dramatic forces playing at last. True Espada #9 and a new drama (ahhh! I couldn't save Kaien) for Rukia. This stuff doesn't get resolved on the psychiatrist's couch in fighting manga. Bleach is about the battles, and as interesting as the psychological game was over Kaien's identity, the kidou business was short and unsatisfying--I mean, Rukia, USE YOUR SWORD. Anyway, my point six is that KAIEN can still save Rukia. How, I don't know. He can overcome with mental will this Gillian (re: stupid) arrancar who's shown us all he's got (in shounen--when a villain shows all he's got, he either wins or gets very surprised by his opponent). IF the battle continues, Arroniro is, by all literary expectations, set up for a fall.
7) Yes, yes, I know he's super strong blah blah but for the heroes to progress in POW AH there has to be a victory over an Espada. Why not a low ranked dummy like this one? Ichigo coming to save Rukia at this pt would be same old same old--ESPECIALLY since there was that tension about him not wanting her to go and his being worried he couldn't save her. Unless we've got some super soap opera with Ichigo trying to decide who to run to--Rukia or Orihime--he's not interesting for this scene. He's got Nell but there are healers running around all over the place. Rukia seriously has to prove herself and yikes, it looks like she's failed but
8) KUBO IS A BIG FUCKIN TEASE. Every chapter a cliff-hanger like in manga but Kubo has this way of making you believe he's really offed someone (when he "killed" Ishida and the soul birds flew up from the trees like the standard Japanese death scene, I was gasping for air).
Not only is Rukia not dead yet, the next surprise (and I tell you, these surprises have been coming fast and furious) is next chapter. THE APPARENTLY SLAIN OPPONENT RISES BACK UP. Ishida was fricken paralyzed in his fight with Mayuri--he got up to fight for honor. Rukia can do it--FOR KAIEN DONO.
9) The manga is getting dark. Kubo doesn't stay that dark for more than one entire chapter. This one was it.
And in conclusion. nyah nyah to the person on NF who said that because of this last panel, Kubo ships IchiOri. Even if that was a joke, all these trembling Rukia fans were not in the mood to hear it, and I'm just OVER all the nasty shipping jabs fans take at one another. People need to take anti-meaness pills or get laid or something....
I still believe. Kaien's in there. (proven) Rukia will not die (anyone who believes she will is nuts) and this fight will go on (I know I'm out on a limb but I keep looking and looking at possible future happenings and something does not compute when it comes to Rukia being THIS messed up. Sure, it'll get Ichigo pissed, but he already had Chad to do that....
If I'm wrong, we'll at least get to see Shirosaki sooner than later? Hmm?