Bleach 488 – Prepare for Battle
Kurotsuchi himself confirms suspicions that the new rebel group, the Vandenreich, are indeed Quincies. With the various hints that have been dropped leading up to this chapter, the timing of this revelation is not particularly surprising. Several other speculations are also corroborated, including their ability to inhibit bankai, but other than those, we readers know little else that Soul Society isn’t already aware of. Primary questions for me include how the Quinces have so quickly rebuilt their power, or how they have hidden their existence all this time. Snapshots from their perspective shown so far imply that they are residing in some domain separate from Soul Society and the real world — probably another dimension like Hueco Mundo or the Precipice World.
Despite their limited knowledge of their enemy, Soul Society has been drastically disturbed by the sudden show of force by the intruders, and they prepare to do battle. While most of the captains are strong and experienced, the apparent gap in preparedness between the two sides will make it difficult for the shinigami to do too much more than sitting around and being ready to fight. Outweighing these uncertainties however, is the fact that most readers, myself included, are probably also anticipating seeing the new captains (returning captains, to be precise) in action, as the Vizards have mainly only shown their hollow powers in the story.
Ichigo’s side of things are escalating more quickly. Before his group can reach the group of arrancars and quincies, Harribel’s three fraccion boldly challenge the guards. The three are among the stronger fraccion, but they are just as irritating as the last time they made an appearance in the story. Nel’s very animated assessment of their strength may have been a slight exaggeration however, as they fare no better against the Vandenreich captain than they did against Yamamoto. Regardless, this also goes to show the level of power the Vandereich hold, and the captain’s confidence in his abilities is not unwarranted.
Strong enemies invigorates the story and dials up the adrenaline level of fights, but the main problem here is that constantly one-upping power levels begins to stretch the limits of believability. In addition, given current understanding of the Quincies, it seems doubly implausible for them to be suddenly sitting in the role of the new super-enemy, but this issue can be set aside for now in hopes that Kubo will write a clear explanation. From what has been given in Bleach backstory, it seems most likely that the Vandenreich are motivated by revenge for the extermination of the Quincies by Soul Society, after which the survivors had been forced into hiding, slowly building up their strength again.