Like a lot of people, I’ve been awaiting the scans of the spines every week. It’s not that I only want to see who’s next, though. I am also interested because after the first eight spines, I had a feeling I knew where Kubo was going with this artwork.
First off, it’s a challenge to compose this work. It’s of constant height but the width is seemingly endless. It’s like a mural on a very long wall. For something so long to have some overall unity, the artist got to have some tricks up his sleeve.
Thankfully, Kubo is ever the classic draftsman. Remember, this is a man obsessed with design. I’m not an artist myself but my love for the visual arts has led me to observe some things. Right now I’m thinking about the triangle (and reverse triangle) composition scheme! It’s fairly simple. Here are some samples:
If you go though a couple of centuries of European art, the upright triangle is fairly common in portraits. The Bellelli Family by Degas (third painting) is an interesting example -- the mother and daughters form their own little triangular niche while the father is chopped liver. It's suppose to depict the emotional distance of the father from the rest of the family.
Since the Mona Lisa is an example, yes this composition style is as old as the hills. Here are some of Bleach examples:
Why yes, Ichigo's crotch is the point of interest here. It is a depiction of a love triangle after all. :D Kubo, I see what you did there.
It's good to point out that some experts say that the upright triangle invokes stability and solidity -- so it's absolutely perfect for Ichigo in this color spread.
And so we come to the spine artwork. Wider space means more space to play, but also more space to make composition mistakes. Kubo sidesteps the problems neatly with a simple pattern:
Scrapbook version (click click click to enlarge to 100 percent):
Original scan compilation by Zangetsu01 from BA. Matsumoto boob scan by Spacecat. Awkward photoshopping at the tail end is just me.
The only break in the composition so far are the figures of Renji and Ikkaku, yet they both form diagonal lines, almost like scales that break up the monotony of triangle theme. They are probably there to demarcate the start of the SS arc.
Each section has focal points that the eye is naturally drawn to -- Rukia’s profile leads to Isshin's tiny figure which leads to Orihime’s boobs (LOL). Orihime's breasts lead to the peak of Urahara’s striped hat, and so on. Hitsugaya’s shota cheeks are balanced by Gin and Kenpachi on either side of him. Byakuya’s bishie hair (fangirl squealing here) and his downward gaze leads directly to Matsumoto’s cleavage (more LOL).
Another scheme (broken blue lines) may be a secondary pattern, although after the first few spines I have difficulty tracing its path. I may be totally mistaken about this one. :( Still, there’s always a possibility it was abandoned or modified by Kubo to fit in more characters or naturalize poses, like Hitsugaya’s raised elbow. If some body parts shifted between doing the pencils and coloring, it would make sense.
I think it would be safe to predict that the rest of the artwork follows the general format of the red lines, with perhaps two or three more breaks of diagonals. I suspect other diagonally-oriented figures would be prominent characters from the Hueco Mundo arc, possibly Hiyori and Shinji or Grimmjow and Ulquiorra.
I also assume that two more Ichigos should make an appearance, one in hollow form and another in shinigami form.
To make a bolder prediction for Kubo’s intention for this drawing, though, I feel that either of these two future Ichigos will form diagonal lines with the Ichigo from the very first spine, so that the final artwork can be viewed as a continuous whole. Bleach, after all, is about death and re-birth, and it would simply be great if the whole artwork forms a giant circle.
Now wouldn’t that make a lovely pattern for an extra large Bleach umbrella?! Official merchandising, here we come! *is shot*
I hope no one thinks this post is out to prove there is some sort of hidden meaning in character placement, or worse, that there’s validity in shipping by geometry. :D Hardly so!
I just wanted to share some observations regarding Kubo’s possible intentions for this particular work. Kubo’s current manga chapters gets flak for a lack of scenery, phallic imagery (GIANT AIZEN CONDOMS! EXPLOSIONS!), and a bunch of other complaints.
Reluctantly, I feel that this current work is proof that Kubo still knows what he’s doing with his art 100 percent of the time, even if he’s not as sure with his subplots.
Uhm, feel free to agree or disagree with me regarding my current crazy theory. This is absolutely unbeta-ed and I hope it doesn't totally fail. *bites fingertips off in fear*
Oh yeah, and special thanks to hinodeh who posted Zangetsu01's pic when I asked last week! I know you had no idea I was going to do write this...
Additional thanks to karenai for uploading the large pic to her photobucket. :D *hugs*