Bleach 523 – Endless Hell
After a three week break, Bleach is back with some big developments. Ichigo and Renji are still stuck in the dark abyss of Nimaya’s palace, and face an attack against a huge group of unnamed zanpakutou (the Asauchi). After relaxing in the hot springs and mountains of food of the previous two palaces, it’s high time that they face some tougher trials. Revelations about the background and characteristics of the zanpakutou are definitely welcome, but I do find a problem with how out-of-the-blue the information seems. Nimaya completely debunks everything we’ve known about the magic spirit swords of Bleach from the past 10 years. He proclaims that he was the one created all the zanpakutou, and that the shinigami are given a generic one at the start of their training, instead of the spirit being inherently part of their soul. Apparently they don’t have anywhere near the symbiotic relationship that was implied, and that the shinigami are completely wrong about the purpose of their zanpakutou. There were no hints at these facts at all beforehand, and I find it hard to avoid a nagging suspicion that this was all an ass-pull from Kubo simply for the sake of a plot twist. It simply doesn’t make sense that the constant meditation and training with the supposedly furious zanpakutou spirits for hundreds of years hasn’t revealed even a sliver of their error. Zangetsu doesn’t seem to hate Ichigo either, though he’s always been the odd one out. Is Nimaya really so disconnected from the Gotei 13 that he didn’t make an attempt to educate them on their mistake in treating his creations? I hope that at least some of these issues will be addressed in the upcoming chapters.
Unohana and Zaraki’s progression on the other hand, had me thrilled. For a long time it’s been implied that Captain Unohana was much more frightening than her gentle façade revealed (especially given how easily terrified the shinigami were of her). Juha Bach’s tidbits about the founding of the Gotei 13 were also expanded on as Unohana was revealed to have been one of the original members. As it turns out, she was actually a demonic thug — the most blood-thirsty of them all and also a master of sword combat. I’m curious as to what convinced her to switch over to the healing squad, and also whether or not her shikai has other abilities. As the maestro of murder though, its possible Unohana doesn’t rely on her zanpakutou abilities heavily for combat. Zaraki brought up an interesting point about how they are only the good guys because they were strong, and because they were the winners. This leads me to suspect that the Central 46 (and possibly other leader figures) do not trust Unohana completely because of her nature and abilities, as they don’t trust Zaraki, which would explain why she’s usually kept out of combat. Now of course, Kyouraku has over-rided any misgivings because of the urgency of the situation, so they have been sent into an infinite abyss to train. They’ve wounded each other before in previous engagements, and there’s no doubt there will be blood this time as well.