Question: Are Hollows inherently flawed? And by that, I mean that by their very definition and from their very creation, is there something that has doomed them?
I'm curious partly by my own conclusions from Bleach and partly by a very heartfelt comment from utahimelorelei on the volume 43 entry that said this, referring to the deaths(?) of Starrk and Lilinette:
Goodnight, you poor lonely souls. My heart breaks for you.
These pictures once again make me question the true "righteous" and "good" status of Seiretei and its captains. I already subscribe to the thought that they're more prejudiced and indoctrinated than right, but more and more, Kubo is proving this to me as well.
Hollows are initially presented in the series as what were once Plus souls. Their chains, which originally tied their souls to their bodies, have degraded, such that they now have a hole in their chests where their hearts used to be; they develop masks to protect these exposed instincts from the world, which their hearts used to do. Shinigami, in their words, destroy Hollows by purifying them with their zanpakuto; these cleansed souls either go to Soul Society, where they would have gone in the first place had they not turned into Hollows, or Hell, which we pretty much know nothing about.
When we got to Hueco Mundo, it becomes readily apparent that Hollows are not all mindless monsters. Harribel is genuinely affectionate to her subordinates; Ulquiorra is genuinely curious over the heart that he has long lost; Starrk and Lilinette wanted, more than anything, to not be alone anymore, so much that they created each other. Barragan wanted to be King of that barren land; Aaroniero fed on his own kind in order to be more and more in an ultimately impossible to satiate hunger; Szayel wanted to .. Okay I'm not really sure what he wanted, honestly.
Zommari brings up this fascinating discussion when he appears that Byakuya ironically completely ignores, which is about whether or not it's fair for shinigami to be killing Hollows. He began by saying that shinigami are arrogant for assuming the right to kill Hollows; that they are an equal existence, that they should be allowed to live.
Where he really loses track of the monologue is when he says that no one made shinigami the protectors of humans; what is wrong with eating humans? Well, Hollows eat souls for sustenenance, which IMO boils down to a kind of cannibalism. Isn't it then okay to purify Hollows if it means preventing them from eating their own kind? (Because they are in fact what could have been for all souls.)
I've been venturing towards a few ideas. One is that Hollows are the fault of the shinigami and that's why shinigami are constantly rectifying the error. Hollows only exist because some shinigami wasn't able to purify them or soul-burial them to Soul Society; that's a tragedy. Left alone, Hollows typically devour the people they loved best in their own life; that's unacceptable, because those souls don't reincarnate and then are truly dead. So shouldn't Shinigami purify Hollows?
When I looked at the tragedy of Starrk and Lilinette, I really wanted to know: why did they even have to live like this in the first place? These souls who were so strong that they couldn't even be around weaker ones without destroying them; that to me was a greater tragedy than when Shunsui killed(?) them, because finally they weren't suffering like this naymore. It's the same reason why I dislike Ulquiorra coming back as a Hollow; if he gained a heart, shouldn't he be rewarded by no longer being an existence that feeds on his own kind?
I chatted with lennan briefly about whether or not Hollow powers were even useful for the Vizards, and I liked what she said, so I'm quoting it here: http://community.livejournal.com/bleachness/433245.html?replyto=10093917
But really important to notice is that all of them generally defeated the Espada with Shinigami powers. Hacchi used his hollow powers defensively, but the final blow was Shinigami Kidou.
Somewhere, somehow, something’s limiting them [the vizards], but what is it really? What I wonder is if its the Vizard suppression technique which is holding them back partially, since the point of it was to keep them from losing their mind. If you’re trying to keep control of a runaway horse while trying to rider, you’re going to lose some energy and I wonder if that’s what’s happening here. So that fact alone would make power loss kind of inevitable. Plus, there’s the implied fact that using the hollow powers also uses up a lot of energy. Mashiro was the most blatant proof of this and then there’s Ichigo’s mask-wearing dysfunction when facing off with Yammy after his stint as IchiThing. He said later on when with Unohana that his reiatsu is at half its level as evidenced by his clothes. Therefore, I think that some of the Vizards’ lackluster power levels are attributed to an inalienable limit that each individual can reach, regardless of what they are. Unfortunately, the other problem is that we simply don’t know for certain what the Vizards’ power would be without their hollow side. Although, if we look at how the Captains are falling, Vizard or not, I think it gives an indicator of who’s more likely to fall or not and how much quicker. It seems that the power levels might be hovering at around where they would be if they were just a shinigami. Stronger, but not by much. It also seems that the ones with the more experience and time as a Captain tend to last longer/must have higher Reiatsu, with Hi-chan being the exception because of his genius status.
I'm also of the mind that the Arrancar's humanity is a limit on their power in much the same way that the hollow side of the Vizards limits them. Even if Aizen thinks that the Arrancar are the superior ones. I don’t buy it since they still fell to shinigami fairly easily, with the exception of Ulquiorra who fell to IchiThing.
Couple this with Aizen's speech about how people shouldn't rely on him and Tousen's horrible, horrible end, and I wonder whether Hollow powers should even be attained.
Here are some questions I'm just curious about what fandom consensus is.
- Do you really think Aizen has Hollow powers? Gin?
- is Hollowification genuinely the way to break the upper limits of shinigami godhood?
- related: if that's the case, should shinigami power up?
- Should Hollows and by extension Espada continue to exist as they are, or should they just learn to be vegetarian?
- Is Zommari right? Is it not okay for Shinigami to "purify" Hollows?
- is there any "right" or "wrong" existence? Is the assumption that Plus souls have it better inherently flawed?
- Is there even any solution other than purifying them all?
and of course...
- How much of this is Soul Society's fault, anyway?