Public Service Announcement:
For those who follow the Bleach manga coverage, you may or may not be aware that the wonderful Prooof has decided to go on an indefinite hiatus, which means that he can no longer write about Bleach like he has done on RandomC for many years. Thankfully, I, Samu, am a massive fan and with the spot vacant I couldn’t refuse the chance to talk about the series for as long as we have left – which will probably be sometime this year by my own predictions.
My History with Bleach:
I should preface by repeating what I said in my introduction post back in September: Bleach is my favourite manga.
Does that mean I consider it the best? Heck no. Does it mean it’s my top weekly read? Most of the time, but I’ve been following this series for 8 years now; it was my first proper anime/manga experience, so it has a special place in my heart. That being said, I am also very critical of the series and if I feel negatively about certain developments then I won’t hold back. Just don’t expect a hate-fest. I’ve managed to find something enjoyable in nearly every Bleach chapter all these years (I can think of maybe two chapters that I straight up hated). I’m enjoying this final arc and I’m looking forward to covering it on RandomC for the remainder of its lifespan.
Ichibei vs Yhwach:
In the chapters before the winter break and Kubo’s time in hospital we got to see the conclusion of the epic Ichibei vs Yhwach fight. Out of the Bleach fights in the past year this one seemed to be the most praised by fans. The fights throughout 2014 were a mixed bag for many – there was never a consensus on what was great and what was terrible (but that’s very common when it comes to Bleach, so I shouldn’t be surprised by that). This fight, however, seemed to be the most accepted as a top-notch display of ability from both sides. Ichibei and Yhwach are both among the very strongest that we’ve seen in the Bleach universe, so watching two powerhouses wreck carnage was really fun.
But things were going too well for Ichibei and it was obvious that he was never going to win. By the end Yhwach revealed that he is stronger than ever, with powers that border on god-like with nearly no way of defeat. Also, he’s the Soul King’s son. I called that a while back, but it was a nice confirmation and I’m looking forward to see where Kubo takes this.
Gathering the Divisions:
As for chapter 612, it was mainly a recap and regathering of all those still able to fight. We get caught up on what happened with the off screen fights, which is one thing that’s really irritating about Bleach. I was looking forward to the Shinji/Momo/Omaeda vs Bazz-B fight before it got thrown out the window. Still, the gaps have been filled and we’re left with only a handful Soul Society’s Captains and Vice Captains who are now part of Urahara’s plan to break the barrier and head to the Soul Palace before all the worlds literally fall apart.
At this point Urahara is the biggest plot device in Bleach and he always has some plan to fix whatever’s going wrong, which means we’ve got characters ready to head up there and join the fight, leaving the injured and unaccounted for behind The panel with Komamura and Iba in particular brought back memories to his sacrifice, which made his fight with Bambietta one of the best of this second invasion. Mayuri (my favourite character) is set to arrive soon with Kensei and Rose, but Toshiro and Rangiku are missing from the names mentioned. Are they really dead? That would be a twist, for two popular characters to be truly deceased. Here’s to hope.
Overview – What’s Next?:
As it’s been 4 weeks since the last chapter, one like this can be forgiven. Sure, nothing drastic happened – it was mainly tying loose ends before heading forward with the final act of the arc. I’m hoping we’ll get a flashback to Yhwach’s life in the Soul Palace alongside the Royal Guard. It was obvious that they knew each other well (particularly with Ichibei and Shutara), so if I’ve got one wish it would be for another TBTP-style flashback to shed light on the history of the Soul Palace and the first generation of the Gotei 13 before we dive into what could be the final fight of Bleach.