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Bleach 653 – Trumpet of God »« Bleach 651 – The Ise Curse

Bleach 652 – A Haori, Hairpins, and Heavy Burdens


The Ise family history isn’t over just yet.

Flashback Continued – Nanao’s Perspective:

This is exactly the chapter we needed, but I did not think we would get. After last week’s sudden flashback with the seemingly out-of-nowhere revelations, I don’t blame anyone for their divisive reactions towards it. But in the end, I liked what we got with Nanao, even if the reveal of her god-slaying sword felt massively convenient.

However, as was pointed out to me after last week’s chapter, this does seem like something that Kubo planned out from the beginning, as the Ise family is a real thing in Japan, where they allegedly hold secrets within their family, watching over their shinto shrine that possesses the Yata no Kagami – which is one of the three sacred treasures of Japan, and is rooted in Japanese mythology. When you consider the similarities between the Ise Shinto Shrine in real life, and what was revealed in Bleach, it’s clear that this is what Kubo had in mind with Nanao’s character from the moment he named her. The only difference is that the Yata no Kagami (the sacred mirror) is instead replaced by Shinken Hakkyoken (the sacred mirrored sword), which still lends to this theory.

With this chapter, we go deeper into the past, covering several periods of time (and not necessarily in chronological order). I thought we were going to go straight back to the fight and finish off Lille Barro, but this route is much better than what I had in mind. With this, we get plenty of juicy bits of info that all add up together to flesh out Nanao’s backstory, while making sure it all makes sense. Like most people, I had many questions about how this all fit into the canon of the series, but we covered nearly all potential plot holes here, and mended them before they managed to become problems.

To name a few key points, the age difference between Shunsui and Nanao seems to make more sense now, as it appears Shunsui is not as old as many of us believed. I’ve seen people assume that he’s at least a thousand years old (which I am guilty of), when in hindsight that doesn’t seem to be the case, going back to the flashback we got as Yamamoto died, when Shunsui (as a young boy – younger than he is in this flashback) admires the painting of Yamamoto’s destructive bankai, which implies that he was born after the events of the Thousand Year Blood War. That also means that he and Ukitake could not have been captains during that time, which I think many assumed. If anything, Shunsui is likely only a few hundred years older than Nanao. In the end, Yamamoto and Unohana are the only captains who have existed from the very beginning, with Sasakibe as Yamamoto vice captain for the longest time.

Other than the timelines matching up, this chapter made a happy Bleach fan. Not only do I love the flashback we get, but I really like seeing the academy days of our characters. This time, we see Nanao graduating at a very young age (as we knew from TBTP), while explaining that she was never able to turn her asauchi into a full-realised zanpakutou. That is another point worth noting, as it’s been pointed out that her zanpakutou has been shown in a colour page before, and it was hinted that she hid it beneath her sleeve. However, with this reveal, we now know that she never possessed a named sword in the first place, thanks to her inherited Ise blade. What she held up until this point was merely a spirit-less sword without any abilities, which wraps up that potential spanner in the works. Why she wanted to use that against Yamamoto back in the Soul Society arc has never been explained – but I imagine it was simply her preparing to fight with her sword, even when it’s not her forte.

Finally, we see how Nanao found out that Shunsui was hiding this all along, as the kimono and the hairpins he wears (and stopped wearing for a period of time) were her mother’s own. I pointed that out last week, but it’s good to have that confirmed, wrapping up one of the big mysteries we had going into this arc. All things considered, I don’t think any of this could have been wrapped up any better that it was.


[Insert intentionally hilarious commentary]

Flashback Continued – Shunsui’s Perspective:

Not only did we get plenty of Nanao’s backstory fleshed out, but we finally got Shunsui’s perspective on all of this! I suspected this would be entirely Nanao-centric, but I’m glad we finally delved into Shunsui’s past and what he thought of what was happening. First off, like Nanao, these various flashbacks are not in order, but if you can piece together the big picture, it feels much more natural, as if this is all suddenly coming back to Shunsui’s mind. I’ve already spoke about Shunsui’s true age, but we see him throughout various stages of his life in this chapter:

  1. As a teenager, sitting with his dying older brother, who hands him Nanao’s mother’s hairpins.
  2. Followed by him taking the Ise family sword, which Nanao overheard.
  3. Finishing with him and Ukitake in their shinigami robes (which means they had already graduated at this point, but were not seated members of their divisions), when Shunsui learns about the execution of Nanao’s mother.

Truly, Central 46 are among the most cruelest people in all of Soul Society; I’m almost glad that Aizen murdered all of them way back in the Soul Society arc.

Now we know why Nanao’s mother died: she was killed because she ‘lost’ one of the sacred treasures (again – calling back to the real-life sacred treasures in Japan). With that, almost every detail has been covered, except for learning the name of Nanao’s parents… which would make this a whole lot easier to write out. However, that’s neither here not there, as this all builds up to Shunsui revealing his many burdens over the years.

He’s always come across as the most easy-going character in all of Soul Society, yet now we know that beneath all that, he’s being held down by all these promises and reminders of the past, from the kimono he wears, to his very own vice captain. Also, it’s heavily implied that Shunsui purposefully put Nanao into his division, even though she focused on her kido and never had her own zanpakutou – which makes sense, as he would have wanted to keep his promise and protect her as best as he could, by keeping her around him at all times, which leads up to where they are right now, as Captain Commander and the Vice Captain of the First Division.


The terrible Central 46 strike yet again.

Battling a God:

Back in the present, not much actually happens, funnily enough. But that doesn’t matter, because we learned so much via flashbacks that the set-up for the final blow is all we needed. However, we did get some useful tidbits, like how Lille was unable to actually see the blade, as its mirrors were reflecting his own powers back at him, causing his dry eyes to close over. This also makes me wonder how Nanao’s zanpakutou actually defeats the gods it faces. I envisioned it would be a one-hit kill, but that clearly isn’t the case. Instead, it seems to defeat the gods with their own power. However, when she did manage to cut him (if you could call it that) his hand seemed to explode. If she lands a good hit, perhaps his entire body will erupt and he’ll be unable to revive himself once again.


Victory is imminent.

Overview – What’s Next?:

I couldn’t have asked for a better chapter, in all honesty. I was mixed about the revelations we got last week, but the clarifications that this chapter gave make up for all of that. In hindsight, I do believe that Kubo planned out this sort of reveal with Shunsui, Nanao, and the Ise’s inherited sword from the beginning. It all fits in so perfectly that it can’t be an ‘asspull’ as many will like to say. I would have agreed with them if this chapter just showed Lille getting one-shotted and never explained the finer details, but instead we got an answer to every question we had, while fleshing out Nanao and Shunsui’s character, making them even more likeable than they already were.

As I finish writing this, it’s becoming clear that this is my longest and most in-depth Bleach chapter review to date. There was so much information, character revelations, and much-appreciated clarifications that I can’t help but praise Kubo for what he’s managed. This is definitely in the top 5 chapters of this entire arc, and possibly the best Bleach chapter of 2015.

November 19, 2015 at 4:59 pm
19 comments »
  • November 19, 2015 at 5:09 pmtakeshi_kovacs

    Even though I don’t follow the manga itself, I check your posts every week to catch up on what’s going on. This was extremely well written, and to steal your phrase, one of the top 5 posts I’ve read from you. Thanks!

    • November 19, 2015 at 5:13 pmSamu

      Thank you! I couldn’t ask for a better compliment. I’m glad you read my posts every week even if you’re not reading the manga, but I highly recommend that you do so anyways. The more the merrier!

  • November 19, 2015 at 5:50 pmSmokex365

    I think Kubo is actually a far more talented writer then he sometimes comes off as when we get chapters like this. He just seems to come up short sometimes, perhaps because of the time frames with which serialized manga are created. I look forward to an eventual anime continuation to clear up some stuff as well as to just see it all in action.

    • November 20, 2015 at 1:51 pmSamu

      I agree. He’s not perfect by any means, but he does prove he’s a capable writer from time to time, despite what many people would like to believe.

  • November 19, 2015 at 7:46 pmYogo

    That Aizen comment though… I bet that was Hinamori’s long-lsot sister who disappear due to unknown (hint hint) reasons :P.

    Anyway, I think we all know the real reason why Shunsui drinks so much sake now. Pretty tragic. o.O

  • November 19, 2015 at 9:21 pmWorldwideDepp

    Yes, this Weapon Nanao is holding in her hands, and with help of his Captain (Perhaps infusing or help her to create Reiatsu. First Startup after so many Years, made the Sword sleeping) flow into this Sword, to build up the force to repel this Powerful attack to his owner. So in the end, it is an Gigantic Mirror, that with a bit Reiatsu help of the wielder, can trow back the Attack (perhaps power up with the wielder reiatsu) to his owner. So in the end, this “wannabe” God got owned from his own force, just doubled in power

    But, it would not work with someone that resist his own reiatsu powers. Perhaps she shift a bit the wavelength of the power back to the sender, so that it can make it happen

  • November 20, 2015 at 2:25 amKarma

    Excellent chapter, I really enjoyed it. I liked that it covered the past as well as set up the final page for Shunsui to join Nanao for the final blow- it felt very natural, smooth and powerful. And an equally excellent review by you, Samu!

    Considering how the pasts of Shunsui and Mayuri have been written, I feel like Kubo’s been waiting for these moments to come so badly. These chapters have been very well written, and I hope Kubo plans to continue that streak.

    • November 20, 2015 at 1:53 pmSamu

      You’re welcome! If these past two fights are anything to go by, I can’t wait to see what the next two hold. Hopefully we get some good backstories and developments along the way.

  • November 20, 2015 at 2:49 amdean

    The picture of Yama is from before the war. That picture showed him with that fire cloack ability of his Bankai, but he never used that ability 1000 years ago, because Royd, who had Yhwach’s memories didn’t knew that technique existed.

    I think it’s more likely, that Shunsui is really very old and just looked young. I mean in the present he looks older than Unohana. I also think his brother is not Nanao’s father. He died when Shunsui was a teenager, but when when Nanao was very little, he was already an adult and looked 10 years older. When Ukitake was a child, he made contact with the right arm. I find it unlikely, that that happened just some jundred years ago.

    Also I wouldn’t call C46 cruel for excuting Nanao’s mother. Outdated and extreme yes, but from their perspective and what kind of time period and value system that was, they were justified. Nanao’s mother stole a holy relic, that belonged to the family, not just her, and her only excuse would be a curse, that many don’t believe exists in the first place. Also that sword is probably one of the few things able to hurt the Soul King and thus Soul Society lost an extremely valuable weapon against him. What Nanao did is the equivalent of the queen stealing the crown jewels or a general loosing a nuke because of superstition or because they believe it goes against the bible.

  • November 20, 2015 at 10:29 amWorldwideDepp

    Well, what is proofed now, is that our Captain Commander had already the Vice-Captain title. He must at last had his Shikai ability, where he hide this Sword in the Shadows of his Soul

  • November 20, 2015 at 10:46 amAnonymous

    @Samu After reading the chapter, at first, I liked the extra dialogue and the backstory, but it was kind of presented in a confusing manner. After reading your post, I enjoyed how elegantly you wrote the chapter summaries. It was definitely well written highlighted the points of the chapter as a whole, making it easy to follow along, so thanks for this post.

    Also, after reading the comments, it also kind of helped explain that painting of Yamamoto in his flashback back when he died. I never really understood the significance of that painting and how it tied into the story. Was he just ashamed at his own power and used the portrait as a reminder of how he must never allow himself to use that power again?

    • November 20, 2015 at 1:57 pmSamu

      I’m glad this post helped you! I can definitely see how it could see confusing, since we got two different POV flashbacks from various points of time, so I felt the need to make sure it all made sense (which it did).

      As for Yamamoto’s painting, I think it definitely existed as a reminder for himself to never use it again, even if it wasn’t painted for that purpose. It all ties together very nicely.

  • November 20, 2015 at 12:32 pmvaldor

    If Lille sees a bright light reflecting from the sword because of the magnitude of his power, then what does it say about us, the readers, when we can see the sword itself…?

    • November 20, 2015 at 2:04 pmWorldwideDepp

      Well, where this Battle is taking place? Right, Seritei. And how many Humans could enter this realm? Only Ichigo and his friends, because the “Gates” are modified to allow them to enter. An normal Human would only allowed to enter this Realm, when he dies in the Human World. Yes, Seritei is some kind of afterlife world, dying there means being reborn in the Human world, an circle of Souls that connect the whole Bleach universe

      So, going back to your question.

      because humans are grey, and manga magic, in Space there is no noise, but we can hear Gun sounds.

      • November 20, 2015 at 2:05 pmWorldwideDepp

        also, what would you want to see? An blinding Sun or an Black Hole?

  • November 20, 2015 at 5:46 pmThatGuy

    So maybe everything in bleach seems so asspull is because Kubo writes villains that he conveniently has weapons for, and not the other way around.

  • November 20, 2015 at 11:39 pmLaughingMan

    A 4th level reader in the flesh. Well said Samu.

  • November 21, 2015 at 4:32 amJeff

    Thank you for your insightful review of the Chapter. After reading the manga chapter I immediately needed someone else’s perspective to help me digest what I had just read. I’m so glad I found your post because now I feel like I have a much deeper appreciation of the meaning and significance to this chapter!

    • November 21, 2015 at 4:59 amSamu

      You’re welcome! That’s what I’m here for. :)