Impressions, Links to the impressions of others, some fan colorings, WAKA WAKA
I spent twelve hours on MSN yesterday talking about Bleach. Yes, there really was that much to talk about. For one, the return of the main character after a six month absence with new mask and his old partner there to tell the audience what she read in the eyes of Ichigo's soul (Rukia saw TROUBLE --that was the essence of the whole chapter).
The BIG event for lots of us was the IchiRuki reunion so that's why I was on the comp so long--a good many of my fandom friends are of the IchiRuki persuasion and a few (most notably, the lovely Rosencrantz and Guildenstern who some of you may remember from their obscenity-strewn meta here on bleachness, came back to yack my ear off about what a brilliant bastard is Kubo Tite.
After I got tired defining exactly what constitutes a Damsel in Distress and why Rukia wasn't one in this chapter and after my typing fingers went numb (if I'd actually been squeeing on the phone, I would've lost my voice), I said bye to my fandom pals and ate a little crazy Bleachtard's dinner of rice and otaku beans right at my computer while browsing the forums.
Maybe I managed some laundry then I jumped right back into the fray. There was the usual panning for clues and flurry of speculation--did Ichigo drop Rukia off on the roof of Szayel's lab? (we checked--he didn't),was that pendant around Ichigo's neck in the chapter cover Nejibana? (the jury is out--it looks like a trident but not quite Kaien's release). People were wondering why was Orihime taking so long to heal Ishida (resistant reiatsu? Oh noes!) and where oh where were the Captains and from whence had Ichigo's hakama suddenly grown in length over a leg that had previously been naked and could Ichigo really repel a cero oscura from the 0 Espada before even putting on his Hollow mask? Questions like these, large and small, dotty, dumb and unimportant are what make fandom fun.
What makes fandom not so fun is when the monitor starts to glow eerily in the wee hours, your blood sugar drops, and your malnourished braincells start to perceive every opinion differing from yours as scourges against the sanctity of manga, motherhood, and all that is moral and true. Yes, yes, Bleach is a shounen chock full of moral lessons for Japanese boys and other people who read its story and Kubo-sensei has been playing a poet's game with the shadings between Black and White since the beginning. The very name of the story, Bleach, is about the process of going from one color to another, but at four a.m. it's hard to tell what's me defending didactic storytelling and Kubo's brilliant parallels and what's me just being pissed off with wankers in the Bleach forums whining about their entitlement to entertainment and telling Kubo what kind of plot he should write and how. So I didn't post anything. I didn't want to offend anyone, least of all twelve-year old kids who just want MOAR BLOOD. But geez Louise, fandom had me boggled last night. It wasn't only bloodthirsty fanbois who wanted to cheer a hero with no "annoying" personal baggage (yes, I actually read a post where someone complained that Ichigo's constant worrying about his friends only got in the way of goooood carnage and killings) or IchiOri shippers who wanted to swoon over a hero who had sacrificed his humanity on a silver platter for his beloved--it wasn't just these folks who seemed to be misreading Ichigo, but a WHOLE LOT OF BLEACH FANS who seemed to think that Ichigo in this chapter called "Eyes of the Victor" was finally getting control of his Hollow problem and getting down to business.
Even after Rukia's words of concern, the chapter cover showing a drowning man, the recent volume 41 doodles showing Ichigo's Shinigami badge burning and breaking in half, there are still people who think that Ichigo's A-OKAAAAAAY?
Kubo-sensei, don't worry--it's not that you're not trying hard enough... it's just that some people aren't reading your manga.
Anyway, here's a good analysis of the chapter from Bleach Asylum's loquacious and wonderful neverwinter.. What struck me was that this sort of attitude was rare on the forums. There was a whole lot more "GO ICHIGO, SHOW YOUR STUFF, TAKE CARE OF YAMMY IN ONE SHOT!"
Jenni has an offering about the chapter up.
This chapter provided lots of signature and avatar material and here are just some of the really wonderful colorings I've seen of the panels (PLEASE CREDIT IF USING FOR GRAPHICS):
from CrimsonQuincy :
from Star-chan :
from mezzo_marinaio :
I really have not too much else to add to the discussion of the chapter except a couple original, albeit sure to be controversial observations I've made here and there: One, that Ichigo told a guilty lie. When Rukia tells Ichigo "I thought you were supposed to be saving Inoue," there's a long pause, Ichigo gives Rukia that WEIRD EYEBALL that is echoed later in the chapter as being the source of her suspicions and concerns, and we hear Ichigo answer that he did save Orihime. But did he? I think Ichigo feels guilty because he went to the dome to fight an Espada, not to save Inoue. Second, there's been some wondering among IchiRuki fans especially as to why Ichigo wasn't shown touching or holding or carrying Rukia in true hero style in this chapter--he did swoop in to save her a couple of times. My interpretation here is that Kubo doesn't want Ichigo to look heroic right now. Ichigo and Rukia are NOT connecting... this isn't at ALL a "reunion." Ichigo's not there--he's too troubled and Rukia sees all.
It's a huge set up for her involvement later. Ho ho.
Ichigo, meanwhile, is probably going to settle his emotional issues in the way of all shounen-on the battlefield. And so the audiences who were expecting him to sit down and have nice chat about his feeeeeelings with Orihime and Ishida are disappointed.
Ichigo just wants to fight. He always just wants to fight. I don't think he's ready at all to fight, but as someone pointed out elsewhere in this community, at least he's not sitting down and crying. Yes, trufax. Kurosaki Ichigo acts. This is good. Let's see if in the coming chapters he crashes and burns or if he really one-shots Yammy like so many "a man's got to be a demon on the battlefield" and "who needs chocolate? LEAVE YOUR CHOCOLATE BEHIND" crowd are preaching.
Finally, a question for my many Japanese fluent friends that I didn't get to bother them with yesterday except for lennan. Check the raws for the chapter cover, page 9. OneManga has the sidetext reading "Salvation Lies Beyond that Downcast Gaze" which is a line I thought fit in strangely with the baptismal imagery of submersion here. Bleachexile's scan (p. 10) reads "What Lies Beyond this Downcast Gaze?"
So what's the salvation word? lennan answered me this way:
What I got was, "The one who looks forward downcast, even if he saves...."
The kanji are "to save" and "to bend (one's head)", but the verb form "save" (sukuu) takes is unusual and is written as "sukuedo", which I hadn't seen before. I looked on google and came up with it being a 19th century form of "sukueba" or the hypothetical form from here: http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20090601202449AAMjQPm where the best answer gave a link to google: http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&q=concessive+japanese+miredo&btnG=Search&aq=f&oq=&aqi= which stated it as being the concessive form. But I can't really check them out right now since they're all pdfs and I'm at home on dial up.
Just another ten cent fandom question that means nothing and everything.