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27 December 2011 @ 12:52 pm
Bleach Manga 2011 Looking Back  
The majority of the Fullbringer Arc happened in 2011. At a little over a year long, such a short arc is unprecedented by Kubo standards yet people still complained that it dragged. It's winding up now, and I hear complaints about how unsatisfying it was.

Well, it was an unpopular arc to be sure--if WSJ reader polls and forum posts in both the East and West are anything to go by.

I'm in a distinct minority of being one of those who thoroughly enjoyed the arc--I believe Kubo-sensei's story-telling skills improved, but he wasn't telling the story people wanted him to tell and he was neglecting the characters people wanted to see. Fans never took to the Fullbringers, and even though Sensei's pacing and clues and story-elements were all carefully placed as far as I can tell (on three re-readings), the strengths of the arc could never overcome its weaknesses: in a chapter like "Spotlight Brocken" where Kubo makes doorknobs and phases of the moon and shadows of figures in alleyways allude to passages of time and a creepy distortion of perspective that occurs during the brocken spectre, the elaborate poetry got befuddled with the dissonance readers felt when Ichigo's character suddenly distrusted his longtime mentor Urahara and his own dad--when that was exactly the point of the chapter. Some people were frustrated with an Ichigo this dumb.

As were others with the nakama showing hints of their powers or character development only to be nerfed later in the arc.

Characterization--Kubo's famous strength--was clearly in evidence in the lyrical parables of the Fullbringer backstories--each of which, even Ginriko's, could have stood alone as a short story. But not many fans seemed to care that much. There were huge pay-offs in the arc for Ichigo's character eventually, and Kubo had picked up a stitch here and there from months past (Rukia's voice from the shinigami badge) and from many years past (Ishida's noticing something off with the shinigami badge just after the SS arc) but he had strewn too many other clues and dropped too many other stitches in the meantime.

warning: lots of images (not neatly organized bc I value my time) under cut

Kubo's propensity for teasing was taken to great lengths with the whole MYSTERYGAMI tease. Fandom blew a gasket. Rukia-starved, they obsessed over this clue rather than caring about any of Ginjou's doublespeak or Ichigo's matches. To this day, some people still insist the mysterygami wasn't Rukia, lol--even when the anime revealed her face this week.

I don't get Kubo's teasing sometimes--it's too hardcore. Some people like being tickled, but enough is enough. At some point it becomes more about the tease then furthering the plot. I'll spare you many examples of Sensei's ship teasing, but Kubo doesn't only ship-tease--he teases regarding character weapons. Ever since Kenpachi referred to his zan as "him" in his fight with Nnoitra only to pull out the kendo instead of the reveal that Ken-chan had finally learned to communicate with his sword, I've come to understand Sensei's sense of humor a little more. He teases re character development --Orihime swears she'll heal it all; she gives a lovely speech about how how she and Chad trained to fight by Ichigo's side then BAM, the two friends are knocked out for the remainder of the arc.

But I'm getting ahead of my story. Let's just go over the whole arc again. I thumbed through the pages looking for favorite moments because I wanted to remember the good times. I'm a Bleach fan after all. A HUGE BLEACH FAN.

"The Six Fullbringers" began the year with the introduction of Chad--long anticipated since the beginning of the arc. He was sexy, he had a beard and mezzo_marinaio was offline but she would've been really happy had she seen him that January. 

Thank you, Sensei. You gave us more Chad this arc.

At this month's Jump Festa stage, Sensei thanked readers for sticking with the Lost Agent arc (aka "the Lost Readers" arc according to 2ch) even though it was "dark." I thought it was odd that Sensei called the arc dark. It was characterized by over-the-top snot and donut and hot dog humor from beginning to end. I liked some of it--some of it was too much for me and I'm usually a 13 yr old shounen fanboi deep inside. I laughed when ShiShi wondered if Tsukishima was taking a dump, but most of Ichigo having to fight a plushie in chapter 434 was a little ... well... yeah. I guess it's just part of life--sometimes you fight an Aizen; sometimes you fight a bear-pig plushie.

This sign made me smile. I'll always love Kubo's humor.

I loved the cardigan Ichigo wore that showed the shape of a violin symbol. It was sexy, tied into the music punnery that Kubo had started in earlier chapters, and plainly told us that Ginjou was playing Ichigo like a fiddle. XD

And yes, I loved Riruka from the start. She had Fullbringer star quality and was lavished with Kubo attention and color pages. She fangirled the hero and was a cliche, yes, in her tsundere ways, but Kubo has THIS WAY in which he tweaks a stereotype. She was adorable to me.

February brought a huge treat for IchiRuki shippers. On the release date of Valentine's in Japan, Ichigo--with Riruka's "heart" emblazoned on his jacked--has a memory of Rukia and his fullbring power is summoned from his shinigami badge. It's just overt enough but not explicit enough, so of course, fandom freaks out. XD  I love the page. It still makes me happy to look at it. Rukia is drawn so beautifully--Ichigo, on the other hand, looks fairly miserable--or in the throes of masturbation.

We got lots of Orihime soon after and as a Orihime fan, I was happy as could be. Orihime caught shit because Kubo devoted pages and panels to her beauty attack knocking out ShiShi but I, for one, thought it was funny, and ShiShi was right away a favorite character.

And even if Orihime didn't get to outright fight later, I don't care. This next page was character development for me. This next page was cool, right here. I loved Orihime here. We got a goofy ass Hime first and ShiShi wondering if she was even human because she was acting so fruity then all of a sudden she gets serious--ha, I LOVE ShiShi's reaction face:

There was a whole lot of teasing for that fight. We thought Orihime would get to show her stuff. Call me naive but I think she did show a hint---and in Kubo time, she will eventually fight for her nakama like she promised. Kubo's teased for years--YEARS. But the pay-off will be tremendous.

Tsukishima? Oh man, don't get me started. I fell in love with him when he first showed up, even though I thought he hurt my Ishida. Then he said this--

And then he chided ShiShi and showed us how looong his sword was. XD

Like I've said over and over everywhere, "Spotlight Brocken" is one of my favorite Bleach chapters everywhere. Yes, I know Kubo can be annoying with his close-ups of mouths and teacups and I agree he's been overusing the BIG PANEL lately but his eye for graphic design and the artsy stuff was so on track here. I remember audiences being excited when the chapter debuted simply because of the appearance of Isshin and Urahara and there being a lot of excited talk about the ending--it seemed to me that even if you weren't looking for the poetic allusions, the creepy effect worked. It was a disquieting, beautiful chapter.

Ichigo all alone ... or is he?

These crazy guys. I love them. But even some parts of fandom wanted to make them the final villains during this arc!

ICHIGO? WHO ARE YOU? WHY ARE YOU DOING? WHAT ARE YOU THINKING!!!! ARRGH, you look exactly like the cover of an obscure German heavy metal album referring to Mount Brocken and evil goings on there on some witches' festival!

Maybe I'm too trusting. Maybe my eternal faith in Kubo-sensei (which has yet to be disappointed, by the way--I've been let down a little here and there but by and large I've always been entertained by BLEACH for over 7 years now) and in characters like Urahara and Isshin and UKITAKE is Polly-anna-ish, but the fandom doubt cast over longtime good guys boggled me. But if they weren't supposed to confuzzle fandom, then why did Kubo cast aspersions on these characters in the first place? XD He's a terrible tease.

I never doubted that the mysterygami wasn't Rukia, but I guess it was supposed to be fun to guess?  I thnk it was more annoying to people than fun. Sensei, your teases are too much, really.

I think the wackiest speculation I heard was that the little waist above belonged to Gin.

I get sad when people complain about Orihime in this arc. Yeah, the nakama didn't get to do all that much in the end, but Orihime did have one other great moment. She got to reveal a new power and she had THIS moment of pure badassery.

She protected herself, something she'd always vowed to do. This was significant and picked up from the last arc. She turned to Ichigo and said, in a way that fulfilled her vow:

Sure, it was only in training and maybe it felt like a dress rehearsal for the Real Thing but I'll take it. It showed growth for me for Orihime. It showed GROWTH. It showed her willingness to fight. The reasons she didn't fight later in the arc were far beyond her control. We'll see her (and Ishida's new bow and Chad's powers) in the next arc I'm sure.

I'm not getting into the whole donuts scandal. I didn't like those pages. I didn't like Orihime with a hot dog in her mouth while she was wearing Mario pajamas. Donuts, donuts, donuts. Enough talking about donuts. I'll let Riruka have the final word:

And the less said about this outfit, the better:

We now know, from a blurb in Jump, that Kubo meant for this outfit to give readers an uneasy feeling just so Ichigo's return to wearing his shinigami robes would be all that more triumphant. The teasing again. I have to say--a fine troll. A horrible tease. That panel made an impact. I'll never forget it. I ... okay, I said the less said the better.

I think everyone I know started to get interested in Bleach again when it started to read like a horror manga and Tsukishima's Book of the End effects started to take over Karakura. The scary ppl were SCARY. Kubo does horror-humor SO WELL. The pacing was nifty and cinematic in these chapters. Ichigo's breakdown was chilling to watch; whereas before the psychological drama had been lowkey and up for IN-TER-PRE-TA-TION--now it was as plain as all those @@ eyes the boy kept making as his friends came at him like zombies.

First his family and dear ones he wanted to protect:

Then his fighting comrades who had recently sworn to fight by his side:

That last panel was killer. Even though we knew it was coming--Kubo had teased us about it for weeks. We knew that Orihime and Chad had succumbed to the bookmarking. Still, he delivers these emotional pay-offs. Like, oooouch. I felt so bad for everyone. These poor fictional people. In real life they'd need so much therapy.

Ginjou's betrayal may have come as a surprise to Ichigo but we all saw it coming, right? RIGHT?  I was surprised that some parts of fandom were surprised but hey ... Still, it was a cool betrayal scene.

I'm glossing over Ishida getting stabbed because honestly, even though he's my favorite character, he really didn't do shit in this arc. He showed up as the last nakama standing but he had zero character development and only a cute scene with Orihime here and there. But you know what? I really didn't mind. I can't believe I'm saying that, but honest--I was distracted enough by the rest of the story, and I can wait for Ishida goodness to come.

The highest point in the arc was Ichigo's lowest point. Seriously, when have we ever, even in that dark dark arc that was the Arrancar arc where Ichigo was drawn drowning in a cover page and in which he stabbed a nakama, sent another bouncing on her face, killed a surrendered opponent and screamed THIS ISN'T HOW I WANTED TO WIN!!! have we EVER seen such an angsty angsty boy?

I mean, Ichigo dropped to his knees and wept.

I'll forgive Kubo using Ishida as "reaction face.jpg" here too because just look at the horror and emotion there. Even Ishida couldn't watch.

Tsukishima's reaction was golden. He was all--I feel so bad--NOT.

I find it amusing that Rukia's return here is scorned as a deus ex machina in some parts of fandom. Of course it is. It's magical. Just like the whole amazing "girl from other world appears and gives human boy the power to protect that he's always wanted and changes the course of his life forever" of chapter one. Magical ex machina shit plops into the center of the world and adventures ensue. The fact that Rukia's return occurred on the 10th anniversary of Bleach and re-enacted her stabbity of Ichigo, her restoring of his powers in this case, was a nod to Bleach's beginning and to that whole magical mystery flibbity yay that charges ur-quests and shounen fighting manga and your own dreams.

And after all Ichigo's bonds were broken, Rukia was the one reflected in Ichigo's eye. Isshin told Ichigo to look. He looked.

The emotional pay-off was huge. Especially for Rukia fans who had been slamming their bloodied foreheads against walls for months. I remember being happy but still a little wary--like, where is Kubo going from here? I was a little afraid he was going to pull the rug out from audiences again. I remember thinking Rukia's smile was like the Mona Lisa's--beautiful and knowing and too mysterious.

The IchiRuki reunion played out--some people delighting over the detail of Ichigo putting down his sword to put his hand over his heart to talk to Rukia and others complaining that it was the same old "kick face and give pep talk" dynamic the pair had always shared and no progress. I loved it-- but it was soon time for FIGHTAN and...


The Shinigami vs Fullbringer fights were, thankfully, brief and to the point.

G-d bless Ken-chan. His fight was the biggest crowd-pleaser.

Ikkaku was SO manry as well.

I'll remember the visual of Ikkaku popping his arm like that more than I'll remember his moral lecture to ShiShi, that's for sure.

Renji's fight was hugely controversial in fandom for reasons I don't even want to bring up again but I'll remember it because OMG, he finally got the attention of a female! And Jackie looked so damn beautiful when she looked at him too. Shit. There was mad chemistry there. MAD CHEMISTRY.

(I was hoping like crazy Jackie wasn't dead in this arc and was glad she wasn't and now when people say she won't return ever again, I don't wonder if Kubo wasn't teasing us about her and Renji from the start. I wouldn't put that past him. When Renji was asked if Jackie was dead and he said yes, paused, and added "... probably," that felt like such a Kubo tease. All my shipper alarms went off. XD But hey, my business, my new little ship--*throws it on the pile*)

Rukia's fight wasn't anything at all to speak of, but the current WSJ rankings are showing it pulling Bleach out of the bottom five. I thought Deviko was cute and funny, particularly because she referenced Rukia's devil costume in that Halloween spread.

Nii-sama's fight was actually GLORIOUS. It was fun in terms of strategy and character-GROWTH and all that good stuff. Who would've ever guess Byakuya would learn from Kenpachi?

I know that Sensei was in love with Ginjou and gave him the most detailed color pages and panel time, and yes, I was intrigued with the character while trying to figure out his motives and prove to other fans that yes indeed Ginjou WAS playing Ichigo and was NOT a good guy, but at some point Ginjou became a generic villain to me. Join me on the Dark Side, Ichigo. His backstory with SS and betrayal by them is yet to be told--I suppose that's another Kubo tease and we'll get it in Isshin's backstory maybe?

I had been dreading another endless deicide series of power-ups and transformations so when the Ginjou/Ichigo showdown proved to be short, I was pretty relieved. No, I don't feel slighted.

I got this:

ISHIDA GOT A NEW BOW! ISHIDA GOT A NEW BOW! ISHIDA GOT A NEW BOW! Okay, it wasn't much but it was on the week of Ishida's birthday and it made me happy, and okay Ishida didn't fight but he got some snarky panel time in with Ichigo and Ichigo kicked him in the butt and all was right with the world for a little while. It was fun. <3 I'll wait to see what that bow does.... it'll be when I'm a grandma that I find out maybe but I've learned to be patient with Kubo-sensei.

And I got hero-Ichigo back after SO SO SO MANY YEARS. I've called it his shinigami bar mitzvah speech elsewhere but yeah, it really moved me. This:

Ginjou didn't get it. He really expected Ichigo to follow him. Ichigo wasn't going to change Ginjou--this was a heart he wasn't going to move. Ichigo was going to kill Ginjou. Right now there is some debate as to whether this was an Ichigo-like thing to do or whether there will be reprecussions. There have discussions about Isshin's part in Ichigo's culpability, about SS's moral weight, about what Ichigo's friends can be held accountable for. In the end, I don't think that all these bonds don't matter--this arc, after all, proved the very significance of those bonds--human and shinigami--to Ichigo, but it was Ichigo who made his own decision.

Earlier today I wrote a response to someone in the Ichigo FC on BA:

Quote Originally Posted by BadExample View Post
Ichigo made his choice: he chose to say goodbye to his normal life of safety and his childish oblivion. He chose the blade and the uniform, along with the possibility of having to kill a human life, because he wants to protect. He'll have to take full responsibility of his own choice, and IMO, not shielding him from taking it is true respect, not the other way around.


I've wanted to join in the convo for a while, but this basically sums up what I want to say. This arc was a coming-of-age for Ichigo. He grew up and accepted his mantle and responsibility as a shinigami. There are moral grays in the story; there are sympathetic villains and changes of heart among the villains as always; Ichigo emerges as a hero, with a clear purpose and no more identity crisis--at least not of the kind that was wearing and tearing on audiences' nerves for the entirety of the Arrancar arc.

So, if I had to pick one favorite scene in all the Fullbringer arc, it would be Ichigo giving that speech. It would be Ichigo reclaiming his shounen hero status. I've never really been an Ichigo fangirl, but I've missed that boy for years now--the one who knew what and who he was fighting for.  I know now why I was uneasy when Rukia restored Ichigo's powers in the anniversary chapter--the high of the reunion and then the thrill of seeing Renji with his new pretteh long hair wasn't enough. I'd seen Ichigo with super powers before--both as the mad creature on the dome and in his deicide form and both were short of hero!Ichigo. The former being a killer on autopilot and the latter being a one-performance-and-die phenomenon. The Ichigo I see now? He's a career man; he's a commitment. He's a shinigami and he's himself.

Okay, wow. That's enough. I have to eat lunch. That took me an hour to write. So, what are your favorite parts of Bleach 2011 and what will you remember most?
Current Mood: awakeawake
andrew_jpandrew_jp on December 27th, 2011 07:30 pm (UTC)
Byakuya vs. Tsukishima was definitely the highlight of the arc, with lots of interesting tactical and psychological developments. Ikkaku vs. Shishigawara was fun too, even if it was just a slugfest. Renji vs. Jackie and Hitsugaya vs. Yukio were too one-sided to be interesting. Rukia vs. Riruka never went anywhere. Ichigo vs. Ginjou had too much posing and not enough action.
_debbiechan_: Rukia new hair_debbiechan_ on December 29th, 2011 03:33 pm (UTC)

Fight-wise, BLEACH has never led the shounen gang. People read it for the art and the mysteries and the characters. Naruto's fights were always superior, so yeah Bleach isn't super duper when it comes to FIGHTAN.

In this manga, the fights were good when the moral lessons in the fights and the little parables in them tended to be top notch--esp during SS when characters had personal investments at stake and backstories were seamlessly woven into the narrative.

Rukia's fight in this arc wasn't much but it was a moral victory. I knew that it would be the fight to CHANGE Riruka. We were all predicting that as soon as Riruka showed up with a broken heart on her chest bc Rukia OWNS the HEART motif in BLEACH. Some of us were hoping for a dramatic Inner World scenario when Riruka got inside Rukia but Kubo spared us a long fight and had Rukia's words about Ichigo inspire Riruka change of heart . This change, this inspiring a selfish girl to a selfless move was really important in the story so Rukia's fight was important--even if she didn't get to kick a lot of ass.

I liked it. Not as much as Nii-sama's but I did like it.
45¢ and an Almond Joyconjure_lass on December 27th, 2011 07:49 pm (UTC)
The best chapter, to me, of the whole year were the horror chapters. All his poor family and friends basically being zombies. Those chapters made it feel like Bleach, while a lot of the other chapters fell very flat to me.
tsubaki99: Bossun smiletsubaki99 on December 28th, 2011 04:40 am (UTC)

I'm so glad Kubo used those characters (plus Ikumi) in this arc.I really missed them.
(no subject) - aquat1cf1sh on December 28th, 2011 05:16 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - _debbiechan_ on December 29th, 2011 03:35 pm (UTC) (Expand)
kanjo_girl: renji: calm down pleasekanjo_girl on December 27th, 2011 07:55 pm (UTC)
When Renji was asked if Jackie was dead and he said yes, paused, and added "... probably.," that felt like such a Kubo tease. All my shipper alarms went off. XD But hey, my business, my new little ship--*throws it on the pile*)

Yeah, this is what I basically did too. From the start, I adored Jackie, which is why I'm searching hard for an icon of her. These two...idk, they both know what it's like to grow up poor and in a darker world (Renji--street rat, Jackie--poor(?) and father a thief). They both value friendship and family, it's just something I love about these characters. And seeing them interact turned on my shipper personality.

Besides that, yay, Rukia's back, maybe she'll stay a while again.

But, WTF, I was waiting for Yoruichi this whole fucking arc. Kubo, I thought she was one of your favorites! LIAR.

BTW, Orihime was fucking boss. I think it should be noted I adore her and anyone who compares her to Hinata one more time, I'll choke them. Orihime has shown magnificent growth. Before, in her OWN arc, I was disappointed at the character ditch she was thrown into. And now she's amazing and has made it back up on my list of favorites.

Oh! Honorable mention: Ishida was beautiful in each and every panel. Even when he was near death again.

Edited at 2011-12-27 07:59 pm (UTC)
oh gallant piglet,: Jackieaizome on December 28th, 2011 04:28 am (UTC)
Jackie's my favorite as well, and I'm currently working on some icons of her. Let me know if you want me to PM you or something when they're done. :) You're also welcome to take this one if you want to.
(no subject) - kanjo_girl on December 28th, 2011 04:48 am (UTC) (Expand)
hinodeh: Tsukishimahinodeh on December 27th, 2011 08:54 pm (UTC)
Nice recap! I enjoyed reading it.

My favorite moments were:

Anything with Tsukishima (I'm cheap. I also loved him from the start.)

Anything with Riruka, even if it's donuts.

Ichigo being a real hero.

Rukia coming back.

FB backstory. (I thought it was a good chapter. Really nice design and good way of handling backstory and not making it too long.)

Orihime showing some resolve.

I agree on Ginjou beocming a genereic villain once his evilness was revealed. Before that, I somewhat liked him, but after he turned "meh". He just lacked Tsukishima's charm and personality.

hinodeh: barragan laughs twicehinodeh on December 27th, 2011 09:01 pm (UTC)
Forgot some stuff: Ichigo remembering Rukia and the whole brainwashing chapter. Though I suppose "everything with Tsukishima" covers that one. XD

I suppose I liked this arc. It introduced some new characters for me to love, it had some good moments and I liked that it took place in Karakura. Won't pretend that it didn't have its tedious or boring parts, but I think it improved on some problems from previous arcs.
The newest chapter alone shows it: unlike with the arrancar, KT actually took care to wrap up what happened to all the FB, while some arrancar like GJ and Nel have been left hanging for years now, with neither rhyme nor reason.

I look forward to the arc that starts next year, and the resolution of the "will Riruka join or not" wank. XD
I suppose the question whether Tsukishima died on the last page or not will have to be resolved by some future databook.
(no subject) - _debbiechan_ on December 29th, 2011 03:37 pm (UTC) (Expand)
Running on Coffee and Schadenfreudearcadiasilver on December 27th, 2011 11:46 pm (UTC)
I think the biggest dissatisfaction with this arc is born from fans comparing it too much to the Hueco Mundo arc. That's always going to cause problems because the two arcs are completely different. Do we have manipulative villains and mystery and struggles with Ichigo's bonds and self identity? Yeah, but that's where the similarities end.

The Lost Agent arc is better served being compared to the Agent of Soul Society/Substitute Shinigami Arcs at the start of the manga, honestly. This arc, and its villains and characters, were localized and myopic. The Fullbringers are not Aizen and the struggles of the nakama are not a part of the same fate-of-many-worlds-and-many-souls narrative that was the backdrop of HM.

The fandom never took to the Fullbringers because everyone knew this was a filler arc and their presence was meant to be temporary and their over-all impact minimal with the exception of Ginjou and Riruka. But that doesn't make this a bad arc, though. For what it was - a bridge between Deicide and the start of Isshin Gaiden, a palette cleanser, and a way to roll into the next conflict with nifty new character designs and swords blazing - it was very, very good. Lots of entertaining goodies and despite the lament of fandom, most people did care about the ride while it lasted.

But mark my words, the next arc will be Isshin Gaiden (after all, if Yukio kicking a chunk of Hyorinmaru's ice down the road is an indication, not much time has passed). Isshin is still at the Shouten (which I loled and wondered if Riruka waking there was Kubo's own little joke at the anime fillers) and the last conversation between he and Urahara was too ominous to simply be about the controversy with the badge. And Kubo teased us too grandly with that half-page panel of little Tsukishima and Ginjou in a shihakusho and the mystery of Ginjou's anger at Soul Society with no explanation to not pick that up later. I think Isshin's past and Ginjou's past are intertwined and we will see more about that story soon.
_debbiechan_: Isshin warm and cozy_debbiechan_ on December 29th, 2011 03:38 pm (UTC)

If there's Isshin soon, there will be very happy Bleach fans. I've been waiting for too long. BRING. IT. ON.
(no subject) - arcadiasilver on December 29th, 2011 08:17 pm (UTC) (Expand)
melodymix: FMA ED approvedmelodymix on December 28th, 2011 12:33 am (UTC)
Looking back at the arc like this and seeing all the highlights, I guess this arc wasn't that bad.

Nicely summed up :)

As an IchiRuki shipper I really liked all the IchiRuki moments, and I made few favourite characters as well such as Yukio, Jackie, Tsukishima and Ginjou (yes, I like Ginjou and Yukio XD)

The biggest highlight for me was the IchiRuki reunion and Ichigo remembering about Rukia.

The downfall for me would be Chad and Orihime. According to Orihime she and Chad both became strong for Ichigo which really got my hopes up that they will actually do something. Yet all we got was Orihime's snot face and both of them fainting when Ichigo needed them the most.

Another downfall was Ichigo's FB power was such an ugly waste of time. However in the end it DID prove for Ichigo his Shinigami power is best suited for him and not kamen rider power.

Nerveless, despite what many people said I quite enjoyed this arc. I still do think it was quite filler-ish since the FB and Ichigo FB's power went no where. Can't wait for the next arc.
_debbiechan__debbiechan_ on December 29th, 2011 03:40 pm (UTC)

What Kubo did to Chad and Orihime was so cruel I believe he's got to make it up to them in some way.

I'll wait and see.

The nakama were really shorted in this arc. So many "muted friendship" and "end of bonds" titles. It was deliberate. I wonder what he's got planned.
agenttexasagenttexas on December 28th, 2011 12:39 am (UTC)
I usually don't get involved in stuff like this but I can't help myself...

I loved the Fullbringer Arc. I'm a big fan of studying characters and the psychology of people, and it was full of tons of character interactions. Between Ichigo and his nakama, Fullbringers and the theme of "trust adults"(the scene with Ichigo and his boss, etc...).

While I can see how it could have been grating I myself was lapping up our little hero going through his identity crisis. I knew it would payoff(and it did), Ichigo would finally know who he was and do a great deal of growing up. He's not the boy he was in the beginning of the series.

I really appreciated all the character development on everyone's part even if it was subtle. Orihime has been an on/off character to me. I've switched between liking her, not liking her and then in this arc I began to really love her character. I want her to make more progress, she has a ways to go but she'll get there! It will be a great day when it does.

I was disappointed at the lack of Ishida fighting and such in this arc. I did like all his interaction with Ichigo in this arc though(haha the butt kick XD) but I felt like Kubo could have done more with him. I only hope next arc will contain more Ishida.

I remember hearing about Kubo wanting us to feel uneasy about that uniform and I was like "Oh good". If he wanted us to like it I was going to get worried.

All the IchiRuki in those were great, as a shipper I could appreciate it.

I would like to see more Jackie/Renji interaction, those two had some serious chemistry. And having Renji get some attention from a girl? Kubo you teaser.

My favorite moment was the same one you said, it was a big moment for our hero!

I'm anxious to see what's in store next arc!
_debbiechan_: Ishida TIMESKIP CLOSE UP_debbiechan_ on December 29th, 2011 03:43 pm (UTC)

Oh my Ishida.

I'm used to him being missing for longer periods so the fact that he was doled out in small amounts over the past year kept me from wasting away and he was BEAUTIFUL and he was always a devoted friend.

I just came across a Lost Agent photo set on Tumblr of him with his quote "Rest assured; I am on your side" and got verklempt--yeah, Ishida was always on Ichigo's side this arc even if he didn't get to change Ichigo the way Rukia and the shinigami did. He stood proud and did well.

I can wait to see him fight next arc.
(no subject) - agenttexas on January 1st, 2012 08:10 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - _debbiechan_ on January 1st, 2012 11:45 am (UTC) (Expand)
the cosplayin' cat lady: otpmochavalentino on December 28th, 2011 01:09 am (UTC)
Not gonna lie....I was a HUGE Bleach fan, and I tried to read this new arc. I got about halfway through and finally gave up. Haven't been reading or watching for months. Haven't even cosplayed Nnoi in a while ;A;

So thanks for the recap. I'll be looking to see how the new arc goes, and hopefully I can get back into it.
oh gallant piglet,: Jackieaizome on December 28th, 2011 04:21 am (UTC)
I started out really liking this arc, especially when Chad showed up and finally got to actually TALK, instead of just running around blowing things up. Was also glad to see Orihime's new shield USING TSUBAKI again finally. I liked Riruka, Jackie, and Yukio from the beginning too, but the rest just didn't interest me at all. Shishigawara surprised me later by proving to be adorable, and I loved his short fight with Ikkaku.

After the whole so-called "mystery" shinigami bit, I really started losing patience. It was almost making me sick seeing Ichigo act so utterly brainless, falling so completely for Ginjou's every line. If Tsukishima hadn't unleashed the horror show, I would have wanted to punch him (Ichigo) in the face. It was hard, because nobody's supposed to see a shounen hero as such a pathetic, pitiful character. I was about at the end of my patience when Rukia finally stabbed him. Just in time.

In short, I liked the arc for the most part, but when Kubo called it "dark" IMO he pinpointed my impatience with it. I can only handle so much angst before I start wanting to pray for Don Kanonji to show up and get beaned in the face with a can. Please, Kubo, a little more humor next arc? Thank you for letting the FBers that I liked live though. Especially Jackie. And Shishi.

Edited at 2011-12-28 04:22 am (UTC)
_debbiechan__debbiechan_ on December 29th, 2011 09:07 pm (UTC)

I don't mind dark. The Arrancar arc was RELENTLESSLY dark and its humor was morbid (Szayel and Mayuri provided a lot of the comic relief so that tells ya something there--Nel and her brothers had a very tragic backstory). So this arc with its snot jokes and an angsty hero didn't strike me as dark at all by comparison. Five years of Ichigo with no internal monologue and the constant CONSTANT do-over of his fighting his internal hollow wore on me in the Arrancar arc--

and yeah, loose ends from that arc were never tied up.

But I loved that arc too for the characters and the many gorgeous moments. Would be nice to finally find out who those bodies in Mayuri's lab were, Sensei. You promised we'd find out....

It's KUBO TIME. It operates on another dimension than ours.
♀*La Muerte Chiquita*♀: badass presidentla_kalaka on December 28th, 2011 06:27 am (UTC)
Joining to the minority who liked this arc and was delighted to see the human team again. I enjoyed the plot, the atmosphere and the villain, not as spectacular and overpowered and too perfect with the "just as planned shit" as Aizen, so it was fresh air for me.

I loved Ginjou and his manipulative ways, Tsukishima grew on me, Shishigawara too and Jackie stole my heart suddenly <3

Well, gonna say goodbye, people is kicking me out of my comp
Super Nintendo Chalmers: Rukia ch. 459strawberries_85 on December 28th, 2011 08:48 am (UTC)
I think I'll always remember the Tsukishima mind fuckery and Ichigo running away looking so lost and shit scared. That was chilling.

I expected more from the nakama and it all kinda fell flat. I know I should be patient with Kubo, but yeah...it's kinda frustrating. Still, there were other good enough moments that I could concentrate on and not think about Chad being ignored and Orihime crying. I liked Tsukishima from the start, I was a little on-off with Riruka but overall I liked her, I loved the return of Rukia and the Ichiruki interactions.

I'm just glad that this arc was a short one, though I think we may see Ginjou's backstory in the next one...hopefully.
aalpha_d on December 28th, 2011 10:07 am (UTC)
The arc was fantastic
OMG, Debbiechan, i could not have say it better than that.

Ginjou and Tsuki are and will remain as part of the best cast of Bleach. They are both dead. We get to know what was important about Tsuki . His loneliness, Ginjou "saving" him, teaching him how to fight...this is his backstory. What we have yet to see is Ginjou's. And i think it will be revealed with Isshin's. That's why Kubo left it for now.

With the latest chapter and the anime, i have come to like Yukio more than before. He really is a cool guy, and at the end, he actually show that he cares about them in his own way. He is growing up.

Jackie is one of the best. She has a kind heart that's why i'm glad that she survived. She will probably seek for a job now until Yukio offer her a better job hopefully. She will remain in my heart until the end.

I want Riruka to stay with Ichigo and the others.She could be a great sidekick for Orihime and she could teach her and Sado how to use "Bringer Light". I think she deserves her spot. My only take would be her powers. I don't really see how she will be able to fight someone with that.

Shishigawara was great too.He truly is a bro to Tsuki.I really like him.Hopefully we will learn some new info about him soon.

The fullbring concept was really creative and original.Kubo did a great job on finding the names, the nature of the powers...I found those powers really fascinating to be honest. My favorite was Book Of The End.

In this arc, we learnt that Sub shinigami and fullbringers can share their powers so maybe Ichigo will shares his with Hime and Sado, just a little to boost their abilities. Just an idea.

Ichigo gained a new outfit.Which i find really awesome.Hopefully he will train and discover another ability than GT.Cero will do the trick.

The fights were straight to the point.The only fight i didn't like was Rukia-Riruka because it wasn't even a fight. Kubo only used it to "spill" Xcution's members backstory. But it was funny, you know the whole Deviko thing. Lol "Look at the tail, the tail".xD

The story was as Kubo said really dark.It was really different from what we have seen in the past. I honestly didn't know where Kubo was going with all of this. But it was only recently, that i've finally understand that this arc was for Ichigo to reaffirm his true self.As BadExample said, he choosed to be a shinigami.A substitute Shinigami.End of the story. We learnt through GInjou, the "true" purpose of the badge. The man behind it. But Ichigo's answer make a lot of sense and he is actually right. Now hopefully, GInjou didn't gave up his position JUST because of the badge.

We also get to see Isshin a little, Kubo is slowly but surely introducing his "dark" past with chapters such as beLIEve.

I understand that some people may think that the arc has a fillerish vibe but I'm sure this will be very useful for the future. We will be all like "Oh..ok so that's what he meant by this and that..." You know reading Bleach for many years now made me learn that Kubo is in no hurry.With him you have to be patient. He will write what he wants to right and then you will get the meaning of it next arc. That's how he rolls. But seems like some didn't get it.lol If you guys want to stick with Bleach for a while then make sure to be very patient or else you will go into a .xD

The only problem i had with this arc was Orihime, Sado and Ishida.They didn't do anything very very useful just some stuff.But i'm glad Sado is now more active.I didn't like him at the beginning of the series but now it's all good. Same for Orihime, for me she was just a cry baby but with this arc, i've also come to like her a lot.To the point that i only wish to see those 2 shine in the future. Ishida wasn't as great as i expected him to be but it's acceptable. He fulfilled his role. Overall, the nakame including Rukia, Renji, Ichigo, Orihime, Sado and Ishida grew up and became MEN and WOMEN.

This week chapter wasn't what i expected like many of us that's probably why many feel disappointed but at least we will never wonder what happened to this one or this one. We know everyone's faith.It's not like Kensei or Mashiro. Nel and Grimmjow.

Anyway, great review.Keep up the good work and your faith in Kubo always fascinated me. lol

See ya.

Edited at 2011-12-28 10:19 am (UTC)
_debbiechan_: debbiechan is my lover_debbiechan_ on December 29th, 2011 09:09 pm (UTC)
Re: The arc was fantastic

My faith in Sensei? Why shouldn't I believe in a man who's given me so much to believe in?

Adam Eppadam_epp on December 28th, 2011 08:54 pm (UTC)
Well, I thought the arc was considerably better than Hueco Mundo/ Fake Karakura, and that this was the best year for Bleach since the Arrancar arc (which feels like it happened an eternity ago). I think I actually followed Bleach week-by-week for most of the year, which I also haven't done for a long time. That's why I find my indifference to much of this arc rather strange and somewhat hard to explain.

Much of it has to do with the new characters, as I was unimpressed with the majority of them; most of my favorite scenes involved the old characters, not the new. I could never shake the feeling that Fullbringers were filler, and all of their character arcs, although decently written and structured, felt predictable, as if we'd already seen these stories before. People correctly concluded that Ginjou was conspiring against Ichigo, and that Riruka's odd behaviour meant she, too, had reservations about the plan because she's a good person deep-down, etc. I find it hard to get attached to these characters when I sense that Kubo will just throw them aside in the near future. Why should I care about them, in that case?

The arc felt quite fast compared to Hueco Mundo, of course, although it still had its excesses. Ichigo's training scenes with the Fullbringers, in particular, were fairly uninspired and somewhat unnecessary beyond establishing new character relationships. Kubo wasted time with pages of Orihime eating food, and Ichigo's new powerups were quickly lost; the arc could have began with Ichigo at his lowest point and with the Shinigami showing up to give him a boost, and the series would have continued almost no differently than it would have without the Fullbringer training scenes.

But, regardless, the main characters were handled fairly well, which is more important to me. My main quibble is with how Chad and Orihime were thrown aside when the fighting began; it seemed peculiar to me, in retrospect, that Byakuya could retain loyalty to Ichigo after being attacked by Tsukishima, but that Orihime and Chad could not. For next year, Kubo should spend some time strengthening the bonds between Ichigo and his friends, because he's been making them look weaker every year since Soul Society ended.
_debbiechan__debbiechan_ on December 29th, 2011 03:47 pm (UTC)

Like I told someone above, the bonds between the nakama being all wobbly seemed intentional to me.

The nakama were really shorted in this arc. So many "muted friendship" and "end of bonds" titles. It was deliberate--not just Tsukishima's bookmarking but the lack of communication and the overprotecting of Ichigo. Even Urahara was being overprotective and asking Isshin over and over "are you sure" and rushing ahead to tell Ichigo what's what before Ginjou could and not trusting the boy to make his own choices (Ishida made the same mistake). No one seemed willing to let Ichigo grow up on his own--everyone kept stuff from him. Ichigo, however, did just fine and passed his bar mitzvah.

I wonder what Kubo's got planned for the next arc. The nakama have powers to show off--reconciliations happen on the battlefield in shounen not in group therapy talks. Bleach isn't know for fights where people help out, though.
redgreendressredgreendress on December 29th, 2011 05:35 am (UTC)
Ichigo, on the other hand, looks fairly miserable--or in the throes of masturbation.


No, seriously, I don't think I'll ever be able to look at two of my favorite panels without giggling madly. And to think they used to seem so romantic. It's almost like these things are done on purpose, has anyone noticed all the phallic imagery lately?

But other than that, great post <3<3 I'm feeling all nostalgic now.
jpblackjpblack on December 29th, 2011 03:37 pm (UTC)
This arc was all about the new characters, and if you didn't care about them, you weren't going to like it. Part of me feels they were never given a chance by a lot of the fandom. I recall a lot of people's first reactions were simply and firmly "The last thing this series needs is more characters, fuck these guys." Ginjo, Tsukishima, and Riruka are fully developed characters in my eyes, but they seem to get flak for simply not being introduced sooner.

But that doesn't mean this arc was perfect or anything. The training chapters(Dollhouse/Dirty Boots/Invaders must Die) slogged bad. Little threads like Karin visiting Urahara Shop, Yuzu developing incestuous feelings, or some weird type of Stockholm's Syndrome, for Ichigo(what the hell, I may need to check alternate translations for that) and the whole deal with Ikumi and her kid are never brought up again. I guess they can all be revisited, but it doesn't feel right to not resolve it in the same arc.

The best thing that came out of the arc was Ichigo as a character. He was pushed and brought to his lowest point before Rukia pulled him back up to greatness. It's happened twice now, and for the sake of character development, I hope it never happens again.

We still need to see the aftermath of all this and how it plays out into the next arc. Chad, Orihime, and Ishida were pivotal characters here. What did they learn, or even not learn from all this? The big thing was communication. Everyone held information from each other to spare feelings. Whether or not that's changed, I think it should at least be addressed, so the next time Chad decides to punch some guy out for saying what he should have said and breaking a wall, I'll be prepared for it.

I think we have a few more chapters of clean-up to go, but I'd give the arc a C+, maybe a generous B-. Worst arc yet, but not a complete wash as others found it, though.

Edited at 2011-12-29 03:37 pm (UTC)
_debbiechan__debbiechan_ on December 29th, 2011 03:57 pm (UTC)

Ikumi. Yeah, she turned out to be not related to anyone or anything in the arc but I loved her. Even ShiShi had a pivotal role in the end.

I remember when Ikumi showed up wearing a ponytail like I always do and fussing after Ichigo and talking coo-coo to her little boy, I was all HEY, LOOK, SENSEI'S WRITTEN MY DEMOGRAPHIC INTO HIS MANGA! :D She was fun but after shipping her with Isshin and speculating if she was Tsukishima's longlost wife or the mysterygami, she ... well, why was she there? LOL.

I didn't mind--she was a great character. I would've taken more of her over some of the slushy fighting scenes or donut pages or the Yakuza guy humor that wasn't funny. But nothing's perfect--this arc wasn't. I just loved it. I couldn't write anything like it--or draw anything like it. I'm hugely grateful for it.