This chapter starts right off with Aizen continuing his speech about the Hougyoku. He drops a huge bomb: the bulk of his power apparently doesn’t lie in his shinigami skills, nor his reality-bending zanpakuto, but rather comes from the Hougyoku in his chest. I see no other alternative here than to quote Omni: “Let’s just call it an I win button.” Yes, the crux of the stone’s power lies not in its Shinigami-to-Hollow powers or healing abilities, but in the fact that it grants the wishes of those around it. Perhaps because the Hougyoku hasn’t been mentioned in a while, I was actually rather surprised at this development (my face while reading the chapter was similar to Ichigo’s expression in the image). As this chapter continues to show however, Aizen is arrogant, as he doesn’t seem to deviate from his “bwahaha just as planned” personality. With his seemingly endless bag of tricks, I suppose his attitude is justified. A really smart villain though would reveal his powers through his attacks, not his speeches.

Although the dialogue was a bit dragged out, I found this chapter to be fairly exciting. The one major flaw however is how this whole revelation seems to be an overpowered plot device Kubo pulled out to fill the holes in the story. Unfortunately, while it may tie up some loose ends, it creates several more. Namely,

  • When Rukia gave her powers to Ichigo, instead of willing it to happen, she supposedly transferred them through her sword. (I’m inferring that this is the normal way a transfer is done.)
  • If the Hougyoku grants wishes, then there were a lot of happy people in Karakura Town when Rukia was living there. However, it seems a lot things that Rukia and Ichigo wanted were not granted. For example, I assume Rukia didn’t want to get arrested.
  • I always remembered Inoue and Chad unlocking their powers because of Ichigo’s strong spiritual presence around them. If it turns out that it was the Hougyoku that gave them power because they wished for it, then why didn’t Inoue get Ichigo? I’m sure that was within the “power” necessary to materialize.
  • As we have just been introduced to the powers of the Hougyoku and don’t know that much about it, I’m willing to stretch my imagination here and think of possible interpretations, ranging from the possibility the Hougyoku has a will of its own, to the possibility of certain rules that define what happens when there are conflicting wishes. There is also the chance the Hougyoku works like a fate stone, using normal means (as opposed to instant gratification) to bring wishes to pass. Putting that aside, I’m hoping for some more Aizen-pounding next time, with the fashionably late arrival of Urahara Kisuke.

    65 Comments

    1. Don’t you think its a bit strange that in his ‘just as planned’ rants Aizen totally ignores Urahara? Remember, when he went on about how Ichigo’s progress was all staged by himself, he didn’t mention Urahara’s training at all, while Ichigo went through all major milestones under his supervision or using his method.
      It could mean that Urahara more or less managed to keep himself and his plans hidden from Aizen.

      Eihi
    2. Inoue didn’t “get” Ichigo because Ichigo doesn’t want her. In that case I’m sure it would require both hearts to be the same since that’s how it grants. Rukia didn’t know she was going to get arrested, and I supposed Aizen wanted it to happen, after all he caused it and knew about the Hougyoku then. I don’t think the sword transfer was Aizen’s plan, just getting them to meet would probably have caused the chain of events for Ichigo to get his powers, with or without hers. Also, next week is golden week, so no Bleach.
      OK I’m done pseudo-trolling now.

    3. Honestly, the Hougyoku is FAR more plot convenient than most people make it out to be. All cases of where someone didn’t get their wish can simply be attributed to the other person(s) involved having a stronger will than them (and thus, the Hougyoku would act according to their wishes instead). So any plot holes resulting from this revelation are re-patched automatically through this. Is it typical? Yes. Is it plot convenient? Very much so. Is it better than most of the other stuff that we’ve been fed lately? Definitely. Don’t get me wrong, the Hougyoku’s ability is by no means a great concept nor a unique one, but at least it’s explanation ties together the random events that happened in the first arc (such as Ichigo’s friends gaining their powers). So, all things considered, it’s a better explanation than some of the other stuff Aizen has said.

      It should also be noted that had this explanation come from Urahara rather than Aizen, people would probably have been much more accepting of it (rather than on guard, as we’ve become after Aizen’s little ego-boosting speeches).

      This is also a case of a villain explaining something completely irrelevant for the sake of tidying up/explaining past events.

      kazukifafner
    4. im thinking its more on the lines of people who have a big desire or maybe it grants the kind of power to people who want to do good things
      example:
      ichigo got power from rukia cause he wanted power to save his family
      orihime and sado want power to protect their friends and help ichigo
      urahara wanted the hougyouko(?) to have the power to break the boundaries of hollow and shinigami

      I doubt about urahara not knowing it, maybe he just pretended cause he created it and not found somewhere on the ground.

      amado
    5. I think you missed the point clearly. Aizen was talking about the Hougyoku in terms of power and shinigami/hollow related powers not in terms of “oh I wish for a ferrari, or a hot babe” kind of wish. He said that if the potential exists inside the person, it basically helps or accelerates the process. Hence why Ichigo keeps powering up after every fight because he is the person who seeks the power the most, and he has the potential deep within him.

      Tenkei~
      1. While it’s not a wish in the sense of a ferrari and the like, it’s still a wish in essence. The desire to be stronger, the desire to save one’s friends, the desire to destroy Karakura town; all of these things are wishes. All the Hougyoku does is enable the person that it chooses to achieve said goal, wish, desire, etc. I really think the Hougyoku’s decision making is based primarily on a battle of wills between those around it.

        kazukifafner
      2. Aizen said “it’s true power is to make real what is in the hearts of those around it.” That is pretty broad. I am open to the interpretation that wish-granting is limited to powers. However, that would mean either Urahara gave the wrong explanation about how Chad and Inoue got their powers (was the Hougyoku even anywhere near them when they got their powers? does a sealed stone still work?) or that he lied to hide the true abilities of the stone.
        “The Hougyoku realizes what is in people’s hearts, as long as the possibility is there”.
        Ichigo getting stronger maybe is the product of Aizen’s wishes (which would explain his strange power fluctuations), though during many of the fights, Aizen was nowhere near the stone (possibility a long lasting wish of some sort then?). Bottom line though, there are some major holes that would need be explained soon. I’m guessing Urahara knows more than he has revealed in the past.

        Prooof
        1. Well, he should die for many reasons, and that should be just NUMBER 2, right after “I am the king of the world, and I have been controlling everyone since the beginning of time” attitude.

          Tenkei~
    6. Wasn’t the Hougyoku SEALED when it was in Rukia? It was certainly in some cube box. Aizen had to even forcibly unseal it when creating Arrancars. So, was the seal completely useless if it could still grants wishes from within Rukia?

      xcswmboy
    7. I’m still holding out hope that this is Aizen’s cosmic-rake-to-the-face as Urahara explains what the Hougyoku’s power really is and that power, far from granting wishes, is actually toxic to Aizen.

      kwerboom
    8. well the only way that KUBO can actually get away with all the millions of holes he created in the story is to actually make Aizen an idiot…… i mean like making Urahara say to Aizen
      “u are an idiot when Ichigo ,Inoue and Chado got their power the Hougyoku was sealed”
      or on the other hand Aizen saying to Urahara after Urahara said that .”u are the idiot the Hougyoku in Rukia was fake and i had the real one , and the only thing that made me do the whole “the SS arc” is to enhance Ichigo’s power” (which actually he didn’t make it clear why in the beginning he wanted to create a challenge for himself or something out of Ichigo.

      nplm
    9. The Hougyoku being a source of wishes instantly makes Bleach 50% more similar to Kubo’s previous work, Zombie Powder! I see him recycling ideas from an earlier, FAILED work!

      starss
    10. There are still a few more plot holes in addition to the ones Prooof pointed out. Urahara had the Hougyoku in the beginning of the series, yet Aizen says he was testing it when he sent Rukia to Ichigo. Also, Rukia never recovered her powers during that time because of the special gigai she was given, right? Or was that just an assumption I made in the beginning? Aizen also claims the Vizards were a product of his experiment to test the Hougyoku, but how did he know about it when Urahara had (seemingly) just recently invented it at the time? Most importantly, Aizen went to such great lengths to obtain the Hougyoku in Soul Society through a terribly convoluted plot; he could have deceived everyone with his uber-sword and taken it from Rukia at any time. Also, when he does grab the stone from her body after Ichigo’s rescue, he comments on how small it is, as if he’d never before seen it… which contradicts everything in this chapter.

      OH SNAP
    11. Azien finally reveal at the attack on the town is an decoy, it’s true purpose is to power-up ichigo as he’s the king key. Ichigo turns into hollow all of a sudden and he opens the way tp soul society king. Ichigo,Gin and Azien then disappear into the portal. The story arc will be Ichigo’s rescure arce

      dusthoof
    12. In light of how Inuyasha turned out with the jewel having its own entity it made me think… If the device has a will of its own is it possible that it will come alive and turn into something else like eat Aizen or absorb him and become the next arc’s villian?

      Karmafan
      1. I’ve been thinking that. It’d be very much like the way the Elric of Melniboné novels handled the Stormbringer in the end.

        Either that, or the collective will of all those assembled, and all those Ichigo helped along the way, all unites to make the Hougyoku render Aizen defeatable.

        Or possibly as its maker, Urahara already knows how to destroy it, but for whatever reason did not do so previously, in spite of having plenty of chances. Maybe destroying it will actually end up being a bad thing nearly on a par with letting Aizen win.

        Lot of potential in the story, though I’d hope it goes somewhere soon rather than carrying on this endless battle.

        Sol Fury
    13. I’m pretty sure that in the whole Orihime and Chad getting powers thing, they initially thought it was Ichigo, but honestly, just because Ichigo’s power pours out everywhere doesn’t mean others could absorb it. If they could, hollows wouldn’t keep trying to eat Ichigo, but sit by and absorb the power, like plants with sunlight. Subconscious desires are tricky and Kubo is playing with the psychological quagmire that is desire, whether it be subconscious or not.

      Orihime didn’t get Ichigo because she probably doesn’t truly love him. She’s infatuated with what he stands for, not who he is. You can see that by all of her times where she’s crying and begging not to fight. Woman has no idea that if he doesn’t fight everyone will die.

      Regarding Rukia, she’s probably not wanted to be a shinigami since Kaien’s death but since she just can’t give away her powers easily, the right moment had to occur for her to give her powers over to Ichigo. The odd part — and where the Hogyoku comes in — is when all of her power goes into Ichigo instead of a portion. She herself thought that was weird. Coupled with her gigai holding the Hogyoku, she’d not be able to gain any power back.

      Rukia getting arrested is explained in an easy equation: Aizen’s plans (100 years in the making) >(is greater than) Rukia’s desires. Therefore, the Hogyoku responds to the strongest wish at the time.

      1. You may recall that Aizen was no where near Karakura town at that time.
        Like I mentioned before, it’s possible that “long term” wishes stay in effect even without the Hougyoku in the vicinity.

        Prooof
    14. You’re not getting it the Hogyoku might grant wishes and desire but i don’t think it grants every single wish like the rukia not wanting to be captured but even if it did, i recalled rukia wanting to stay imprisoned.

      As for the ichihime situation, i think its happening right now becuz b4 all the epic shimigami-n-vizards v.s Aizen war, Ichigo was focused on saving Orihime. I mean didn’t you see that moment in the ichigo v.s Grimmjow fight that ichigo actually listened to Orihime’s words “Don’t Die!” If she’s not getting love she’s still getting a hell of attention.

      Plot Twist
    15. The hougyoku is not a wishgranter but a soul-bender.

      >When Rukia gave her powers to Ichigo, instead of willing it to happen, she supposedly transferred them through her sword. (I’m inferring that this is the normal way a transfer is done.)

      Rukia’s desire was to give Ichigo her power so that he wouldn’t die because she couldn’t get over Kaien dying.

      >If the Hougyoku grants wishes, then there were a lot of happy people in Karakura Town when Rukia was living there. However, it seems a lot things that Rukia and Ichigo wanted were not granted. For example, I assume Rukia didn’t want to get arrested.

      The hougyoku doesn’t change reality, it changes the souls of people. If you asked the hougyoku to make yourself money, the hougyoku would tell you to fuck off.

      >I always remembered Inoue and Chad unlocking their powers because of Ichigo’s strong spiritual presence around them. If it turns out that it was the Hougyoku that gave them power because they wished for it, then why didn’t Inoue get Ichigo? I’m sure that was within the “power” necessary to materialize.

      It would’ve happened eventually due to Ichigo’s leaking spiritual presence, the hougyoku just speeded up the process by a lot. Again, how would the Hougyoku grant those love wishes? It works by changing the soul, it’s not just a wish granting machine.

      Plotholes resolved. Want me to resolve anymore? A lot of you seem to think Hougyoku is just some wishgranting machine while it isn’t.

      IncrediblyUnpleasant
      1. Your text explain why Ichigo father recovered your own power.

        After all, he was a shinigami for a while, after he was a powerless human not able to save your wife and now he discovered your son is a shinigami with many enemies.

        All reasons for Hogyoku recover your powers, when Rukia sleeps in your house and Ichigo leaking spiritual power.

        Sorry for my bad english.

        Leo
      2. Your interpretation falls in the boundaries of the explanation, but while it works, there are other possible interpretations. We will have to wait for clearer explanations by Kubo.
        Urahara might know more

        Prooof
    16. Doesn’t this mean that whoever is fighting up-close with Aizen , and really wants to beat him, will get his wish granted?
      Seeing as Ichigo has a very powerful will, this will so turn the Hougyoku into an “I lose” button…

      boo
    17. First, I’m glad Bleach is back at Rc, thanks for covering it Prooof.

      The chapter summary started out great but I’m disappointed with the latter half.

      Namely the Interpretation of what the Hogyoku is and what it does. Seems Prooof has been away from Bleach too long to grasp the concept of what was said about the Hogyoku in this chapter and the subtle innuendos. How long Rukia had the Hogyoku inside her, etc.

      Seems like one or two commenter’s put more input than what was posted in the blog about the said chapter.

      Now more people will come to forums and spam about why Shenron did not appear even though Aizen collected all 8 balls…

      Making something somewhat simple to understand more complicated…
      Sigh.

      I’m hoping for more of a thorough thought out post next week.

      1. As we have just been introduced to the powers of the Hougyoku and don’t know that much about it, I’m willing to stretch my imagination here and think of possible interpretations, ranging from the possibility the Hougyoku has a will of its own, to the possibility of certain rules that define what happens when there are conflicting wishes. There is also the chance the Hougyoku works like a fate stone, using normal means (as opposed to instant gratification) to bring wishes to pass.
        I stand with my point that interpretations are still open at this moment, as the descriptions Aizen gave are fairly vague.

        Prooof
    18. Finally Urahara!!!!

      But sadly no one can really beat Aizen…
      the only chance of me seing them winning is if
      Urahara and Ichigo’s dad uses bankai and ichigo uses
      his “Ressurection” and they all attack AIzen.
      But if he really turns into a God
      then Bleach will end with the bad guy winning

      rasone0104
    19. Yeah!!! Urahara’s back!!!!! I think that Rukia somehow thought she deserved to be punished for what she’d done… But we’ll never know for certain until Kubo writes it!!

      Kamiya Yato-kun
    20. I only say where Ichigo turn into a Hollow “Big Bad Ass” back in Huenco Mundo.. Ichigo wanted to Protect Inoue, even in the brink of Death. We still don’t saw Ichigos Hollow side in this Battlefield… and i bet Azien will say “see i foresaw this, too”, just to look cool

      Germanguy
    21. hmmm your first bleach post, not bad but unnecessary questioning
      Its a shounen it doesn’t have to make sense 😀 just go with the flow or your going to get frustrated very fast.

      asdf
    22. Those of you that are saying Inoue doesn’t love Ichigo must not be watching the same anime as the rest of us. The episode where she visited him in his room was a pretty good indication of how she feels about him. Ichigo has not responded to Inoue’s obvious feelings for him but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t love her, it just means Kubo hasn’t shown one way or the other if he does (and in typical japanese action manga fashion he might never show who he has feelings for).

      Karmafan
    23. well, for starters-welcome Proof! Its nice to have you. Well everybodys got interesting theories; I really don’t have anything new to add really execpt I just wish Kubo had a more crisper plotline. It feels like he’s just pulling this all out of his ass instead of really thinking it through. But thats just me. 🙂

      Val
    24. I think the main reason why certain things aren’t granted by the Hougyoku. All the examples given are instances where a person wanted something that was personal and only truly affecting themselves. Urahara was looking for answers, the Hougyoku gave it to him. Rukia wanted a sort of penance in the form of mortality, it gave it to her. And Chad and Orohime wanted the power to fight at Ichigo’s side and protect him. All those wishes are personal and only truly affect themselves. The Hougyoku does not provide wishes that extend beyond that person. It won’t make someone love you or anything of the sort. I think those examples we’re given to highlight that. In fact I think that that will ultimately be the downside to the stone that Aizen will find out. You can’t affect the world with it, only yourself. Hougyoku=personal power up stone.

      Tikal
      1. Powers greatly affect others, but it’s possible stone can only directly affect yourself. Indirectly, anything could happen, I mean someone could destroy the world with powers they got from the Hougyoku.
        We are all speculating though; as I mentioned above, maybe Urahara will know something

        Prooof
    25. So the Hougyoku gave Chad and Inoue powers… but not Tatsuki? You know, the boy’s childhood friend, and Inoue’s best friend, who was also attacked by Hollows at the same time as Inoue, etcetera etcetera?

      Was their willpower somehow stronger than hers?

      Seems pretty arbitrary.

      Guile
      1. Well, in the anime at least, it does turn out that Tatsuki has gained spirit powers (see the Karakura Raiser two-parter), but that’s probably not canon in the manga since it was filler.

        Guardian
    26. Somebody on a forum I frequent is catching on to something.

      Bleach 397 Summary:
      Show Spoiler ▼

      Bleach 401 Summary:
      Show Spoiler ▼

      Funny, that. In four chapters, we’ll get Show Spoiler ▼

      I personally want to see more of Ichigo vs. Gin, ’cause it’s nice to see him using his brain. With all the recent fights, it’s hard to recall that Ichigo’s actually supposed to be pretty smart.

      Anonymooo
    27. i seem to remember rukia going to school while having the hougyoku inside her. Why didnt any of Ichigo’s friends get affected. It can’t be a duration thing because Chad and Orihime were around Rukia about as much as the others (I cant remember any of their names). I know Orihime’s tomboy friend had strong desires to protect Orihime so why isnt she sporting some soul power. It was better off having the hougyoku as a simple means to merge shinigami and hollow. The attempts to draw upon some deep spiritual connection to something higher fails in this aspect with me. And even if it does grant desires it obviously isnt perfect. Both Orihime and Chad pretty much get thrashed with the powers granted by the thing. So do all the espada created by aizen, unless he wanted them to be defeated. I guess basically Tite is trying to make the hougyoku the deus ex machina to explain everything about everyone. Ichigo’s uber beasting powers, Orihime’s retcon power, Chad’s imperfect hollow powers…hey what about Ishida. He got his abilities through hard work and training with his father. I know he must has had some desire to surpass the shinigami. Bahhh you know what who cares just go on and let Isshin and Ichigo trade opponents. Cause we all know Ichigo must kill the big bad as usual. Plus Gin is no longer worthy of fighting Ichigo. He has the lamest ability in all of bleach. Bankai “SUPER ERECTION BLADE” Now I wonder if Urahara is finally ready to show his bankai. I wonder what it will be.

      abe
    28. i seem to remember rukia going to school while having the hougyoku inside her. Why didnt any of Ichigo’s friends get affected. It can’t be a duration thing because Chad and Orihime were around Rukia about as much as the others (I cant remember any of their names). I know Orihime’s tomboy friend had strong desires to protect Orihime so why isnt she sporting some soul power. It was better off having the hougyoku as a simple means to merge shinigami and hollow. The attempts to draw upon some deep spiritual connection to something higher fails in this aspect with me. And even if it does grant desires it obviously isnt perfect. Both Orihime and Chad pretty much get thrashed with the powers granted by the thing. So do all the espada created by aizen, unless he wanted them to be defeated. I guess basically Tite is trying to make the hougyoku the deus ex machina to explain everything about everyone. Ichigo’s uber beasting powers, Orihime’s retcon power, Chad’s imperfect hollow powers…hey what about Ishida. He got his abilities through hard work and training with his father. I know he must has had some desire to surpass the shinigami. Bahhh you know what who cares just go on and let Isshin and Ichigo trade opponents. Cause we all know Ichigo must kill the big bad as usual. Plus Gin is no longer worthy of fighting Ichigo. He has the lamest ability in all of bleach. Bankai “SUPER ERECTION BLADE” Now I wonder if Urahara is finally ready to show his bankai. I wonder what it will be.

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