Alright. I've see the RAW and this is going to be one of Kubo's most controversial chapters ever--reactions have been everywhere from hysterical giggles to outright nausea (mine were both--then again, Kubo hits all my weak spots--it's why I love him so). The pacing was brilliant and Mayuri even peered over the Fourth Wall to comment on the much anticipated Ken-Nnoi fight which, in true Kubo style, is going to be delayed and so, dear audience, you must wait for your bloodbath. At least until the new year (there is no Jump next week).
I considered writing a short essay on how Kubo is pushing the boundaries of shounen but I'm already tired from yacking it up with fans elsewhere. For a little bit of some peoples' viewpoints about the inappropriateness/dissonance of this chapter, I'll refer you to a serious discussion in the journal of brightredglow . She had the solemn take on the chapter while the rest of us were chortling over how damn nasty-gross-magnificent Szayel is.
Another bright spot--a GORGEOUS Bleach six month calendar spread by Kubo (the other six months are Reborn--how awesome is that?) that shows our lovely young leads looking all fresh and normal. The juxtaposition of these happy kids in a spread while gruesome battles roar in the chapter is typical Kubo. The last time he did this was was the infamous Telephones R Us (infamous only because shipper interpretation went over the top over it---I heard Rukia and Ichigo being put together by virtue of their striped clothes and tickets in his pocket, Ishida and Orihime put together by virtue of their matching name/worktags, Ichigo and Orihime aligned in the great Love Cosmos by the words "me" and "you" and by the oh so romantic superimposition of Ichigo's elbow over Orihime's crotch. I heard translations of Japanese and Chinese text to show that those being connected could not be Ichigo and Ishida because of the gender of pronouns being used and that there were love connotations in the language.... )
Here's a treat. Put this on your wallpaper. A HQ of the calendar I got from Spacecat and uploaded onto my LJ photo account.
My IshiHime shipper self noted that Ishida and Orihime were the only ones wearing raincoats (he of the Uryuu Rain Dragon name and she of the Tanabata goddess whose tears are rain mythology) and I was promptly chided by an opposing shipper that he was wearing a TRENCHCOAT, which, when I observed was an article of clothing used in rainy weather, was turned into an overcoat with accompanying Wikipaedia illustrations. Hell, Ichigo and Orihime are wearing pink--Renji looks like he's about to slap the shit out of Rukia who's eating a mandarin--and Chad is carrying a vintage bowling ball bag! This spread is all kinds of awesome no matter HOW you read it.
One friend, AmycorE read it this way:
one more word about the chapter!
In all the WTF SZAYEL aftermath, I finally had time to check out Byakuya!
His standing there and speaking forebodingly of more battles to come and fully expecting Rukia to fight... how AWESOME.
*fails around, fangirls*