Today I did a search for Bleach art, and I was astounded by how much of it was on DA. I felt like a fandom old fogie--I remember when you could type "Ishida" on the search line and only my arts, dragonboy_mt's fantastic two or three arts, and a few sketches on notebook paper would come up. Now there's pages and pages.
Fandom's been a long time of waiting and waiting and waiting. I know mysteries and cliffhangers sell Jumps and the suspense keeps the fandom alive, but geez, it was last year that I was predicting Tatsuki's power-up, and where is she now? It felt like a few eons of waiting for the revelation we all knew was coming--that Isshin and Ryuuken knew one another--and those few panels of the truth come true held me for a while. At the beginning of the HM arc, I was excited about ishida's eventually seeing Orihime again. I predicted a reunion by the end of the summer and it's already July. And now, Kubo has done the terribly cruel thing of hinting at Shinji's arrival in HM by drawing him about to jump into the pond o'troubles that Ichigo et al are wading. Oh and not to mention, Rukia drops "dead" and we haven't seen her for chapters and chapters.
I was starting to feel more than impatient. Earlier this afternoon I found myself cutting out manga pix on PSP and loading them on photobucket to accompany a whole slew of predictions, but then I just got tired. One day I'll say I told you so (well, I did a couple chapters ago when the Ichigo/Grimmy fight continued--I was one of few who said it was going to go on and on after Ichigo regained his confidence....) All day I'd been squirming in my seat in anticipation of the mere nineteen or so pages of story that would be leaked today. Then for my impatience I was rewarded the beauty of chapter 285.
He wasn't supposed to be a likable villain; he wasn't supposed to be a good guy. He was bad and impulsive and crazy and he roughed up Orihime and kicked an Arrancar girl to death. I didn't like him--never had--despite all his chesty good looks. One of the few Bleach characters I didn't see what the fuss was about. Then he turned into a puddy-cat and I was rolling my eyes.
But Kubo, why did I doubt you. Two words in the script burned and branded me with GJ love forever. EAT US, they said, and Grimmjow didn't. And that raid---that long drawn out stupid raid I thought was fanservice showcasing some fighting Shinigami--that raid I thought went on forever and was completely unnecessary for introducing the one necessary character of GJ--the raid I thought was a waste of character design... I will read it differently now. The Arrancar who died were Grimmjow's friends. The puddy-cat had friends. And here's Ichigo being all glorious and annoucing how he's going to save Rukia, Chad, Ishida, Renji and bring back Inoue, and there's Grimmjow who was unable to protect his nakama (would he have called them that? They were all that kept him from being alone with his Hollow rage). Grimmjow--alone, fighting Ichigo to the death. *eyes get moist*
Still don't think he's going to die, though. Kubo may milk his defeat for all its worth, but I know that Hime's going to heal him and he'll pop right back up, grateful for his restoration Or else Ichigo will refuse to deliver the killing blow at the last moment....
Ichigo doesn't need to lose his chocolate to win will be the message. *sigh* And here I'd been thinking that he'd go all dark and creepy and stab GJ over and over much to Hime's dismay --the girl is getting the shock treatment, the one-two punch of hard lessons in a single fight. She knows more about Ichigo from this one fight than she has all the rest of the manga. I can only hope that she's learned a little about herself too....
Ishida, come tell her that she doesn't have to get stronger for Kurosaki-kun but that she has to get stronger for herself. Ichigo, find Rukia and get the bursting realization that you can't live without her and let Hime see (shock therapy works in manga-time; Orihime doesn't have the luxury of getting over herself in normal, natural time). Ulqui, bust out of your bubble. Shinji, drop in to save the day.
A year from now I'll be recounting the excitement of this time in the manga just like today I look back at the end of SS and remember how the inevitable seemed to take forever to happen, but she had to be saved, Rukia had to be saved, and then she was. Now all I know is that Orihime will be changed, not necessarily saved. And I can't wait because I've had it UP TO HERE with the extremes of Hime hatred as well as Hime love. One extreme indicts the girl for breathing; the other thinks that because she weakly shouted "don't get hurt" to Ichigo and he went "oh relief, she isn't scared of me" and cast his yellow eyeballs her way that it's true love.. I want Hime changed, dern it. I've been expecting it for weeks....
That, and for Renji's hair to fall down.
Oh, I'm still impatient. I want to see Tatsuki's power, Shinji's bad-assery in HM, Szayel's release, a romantic IchiRuki reunion, and most of all, a Hime who comes of age and gets a grip. But what else can I do but wait?