Tragic backstory incoming.

Lille Barro’s Final Form:

I’ve seen many colourful responses to Lille’s bizarre final form. I’ve heard that it looks like a Pokemon Mega Evolution, or something from Spirited Away, a Stuart Little impersonation, or just a straight-up chicken. However, the first thing that came to my mind was Wan Shi Tong from Avatar: The Last Airbender. If you’re unfamiliar with the series, Wan Shi Tong was the ancient owl in the spirit library, and he was pretty awesome. It’s easy to make fun of how ridiculous Lille looks right now, because let’s be real… Kubo has gone full balls to the wall. At this point, the X-Axis is no longer a character, but a monster. If you can accept that then you might enjoy where he’s taking this fight. If not, you’re likely to have plenty of complaints.

One complaint that I’ve seen brought up throughout the years is Kubo’s treatment of black (usually male) characters. Tousen, Zommari, Nananananana, Pepe, and now Lille. Some of them started off quite cool (Tousen, Zommari, Lille) and others not so much (Nananananananana and Pepe), but each of them descend into some ugly state, whether physically or mentally, or both. I had hopes that Lille Barro would be the exception to this rule, but if anything he’s had the most ridiculous transformations and shift in character. He’s completely unrecognisable to the stoic sniper from a few chapters ago, instead turning into a seraph, and now a owl-chimera creature, screaming that he’s a messenger of God and an immortal being that shall abolish all sinners. It’s ridiculous, and another unfortunate habit of Kubo’s come back to life.

I can’t say whether or not he’s intentionally making his black characters this way, but I would be lying if I said I wasn’t a little disappointed. Still, after mulling over the new form and re-reading the chapter a few times over, I’ve come to really enjoy the design from an aesthetic standpoint. As I said, he’s a monster more than anything – a creature, a spectacle, a horror. When you ignore Lille’s descent into madness, it’s actually kind of cool.

Hoot hoot.

The Truth Behind Nanao’s Zanpakutou:

Finally! Nanao’s zanpakutou! I thought it would never be revealed, yet in a genuinely shocking twist, it turns out we’ve seen it all along. Shunsui was always considered unique (along with Ukitake) for having a duel bladed zanpakutou, but with this revelation that Kyoukotsu is in fact Nanao’s zanpakutou means that we’ve been deceived all along. If you didn’t know already, this little ninja was also in the Zanpakutou Rebellion arc (which is still filler – it’s just the designs that are carrying into the source material), so people were wondering if she’d show up after Ohana’s reveal. I thought it was likely, but not in this way. Suddenly, I’m very, very interested in Shunsui and Nanao’s backstory, and how this situation came to be.

I’ve read and watched many reviews where people were confused over this revelation and were making assumptions that I think are obviously false. Admittedly, there are a few ways you can incorporate this situation, as Nanao brings up her mother just as Shunsui was about to slip away into what I assume was double suicide with his zanpakutou. Some people are taking that to mean that Shunsui’s zanpakutou is Nanao’s mother, but I doubt it. Some thing that Kyoukotsu is Nanao’s mother, which I doubt even more. My take is that her mother is the owner of that pink haori that he always wears. Ohana poked fun of it last week, but we already know there’s a history to it, and this feels like the perfect time to reveal the truth.

My guess: Nanao’s mother was Shunsui’s lover, which means she may even be his biological daughter. Nanao’s mother probably died, and gave her daughter’s spirit to Shunsui, thinking Nanao never knew. This would explain how Shunsui knew Nanao from all those years past, and how he treated her like a daughter back then. However, I could be proven entirely wrong; I’m just keen to see what’s actually going on here.

Nanao’s zanpakutou is finally revealed!

Overview – What’s Next?:

This fight is getting a lot more interesting as it goes, yet it feels like we’ve only got one or two chapters left. It seems obvious that next week should be a flashback answering the questions that were brought up in this chapter, before Shunsui/Nanao uses her zanpakutou to deal the final blow on Lille. I’m sure that his dry eyes will play a vital role in his defeat, else there would be little point in focusing on it as much as we did.

28 Comments

  1. Am I the only who thinks, Lille resembles Aizen from his Deicide days with each passing chapter? Immortality, teleportation, high-speed regeneration, seraph/butterfly wings and then both have been transformed into a dragon. I think the whole “closest thing to god” wasn’t just talk, but actually the truth. I think the final villain will resemble Lille in the faar future somehow.

    Also I think the reason, why Shunsui has her Zanpakto, is because people were afraid. If the children’s games and the lunatic ninja actually belong to Nanao, then it could mean, that she has something crazy inside her, waiting to be unleashed.

    dean
  2. I love Bleach and I still liked this chapter to a degree. But what I didn’t like was the sudden revelation of a mother. I would have simply been content if it were just Nanao’s or something, but to suddenly mention her mother just felt out of nowhere.

    Jake
  3. My theory is that Ohana’s physical form is the appearance of Shunsui’s lover. The reason Ohana talks about Shunsui’s haori like it belongs to some other woman is because as his zanpaktou she is a completely different entity. So even though he sees her as with his lover’s appearance she is a different “person” altogether.

    Camora
  4. I’ms tarting to notice a trend here. Nemu ended up saving Mayuri’s ass and died in the process but she ultimately was the reason they survived. Is this going to be a repeat? Are the vice captains going to keep bailing out their superiors? I’m kind of ok with that but it seems really sad that he just became Captain Commander and his bankai can’t even defeat one enemy…

    Toe
    1. I’m actually fine with Shunsui unable to defeat the enemy with his bankai. It shows how strong the Sternritter are, forcing the Shinigami to give their everything. I mean, Nemu had to sacrifice herself to give that final blow.

      That’s what I’m loving about this arc. The Sternritter have pushed the Shinigami completely to the edge of despair.

      Karma
  5. So glad we’re finally getting backstory on Nanao! I’ve always been intrigued by her character and thought there was a good story there.
    I could be wrong, but I don’t think Kyoraku is her father. Particularly if they’ve known all along, Kyoraku flirting with his daughter would be a little messed up. And Kubo wrote omake about Kyoraku dreaming of Nanao confessing her love and a subtle hint of Nanao’s feelings in the Valentine’s Day omake.

    Kay
    1. Not sure if that omake is canon or not, but I can totally see a father-daughter relationship happening in real life. Familial interaction can be both mature and candid in nature, and teasing each other in a family can be seen as another form of familial closeness and affection. I mean, if I had a daughter of an appropriate age, I’d be pushing her metaphorical buttons as often as I could, for entertainment’s sake (not at the expense of her esteem or whatsoever of course).

      Junglepenguin
    1. On a more serious note, the thing I’m really annoyed by is how Kubo seems to take the readers for simpletons who’ll satisfy as long as he delivers one thing of significant interest. While true to some extent, it doesn’t make the story at this point worth investing much thought into, at least for me. Case in point: Blatant Deus Ex Machina for Lille, and for many of the characters in this arc thus far for the sake of exposition. Essentially every power-up so far has been this, and although exceptions can be made about how certain character arcs have played out wonderfully as a result, when you take a step back and look at how the whole “storm Yhwach’s castle” thing has turned out, it just looks like lazy writing all over the place.

      What can we do about this? Nothing. But that’s not gonna stop me from making this remark. Like seriously, I thought Lille was flat out dead. Exposition on Kyouraku’s and Nanao’s backstory could have taken place, let’s say, when the unknown ramifications of Kyouraku’s bankai cause him to lose his grip on the current reality (which was kinda sorta what was happening), which leads to something. But nooooo. Lille is still alive and in fact becomes a blessed turkey paladin. Kubo, if you don’t deliver a good backstory, I’m gonna cook my Bleach-front-page-edition copy of Weekly Shounen Jump (from who knows when) in soup and water my plants with it.

      Junglepenguin
  6. That problem, with her being her Daughter, is that in Seritei there is no Mothers giving birth to babies. Let us recall the origin of Seritei, a collection of Souls from different timelines, from far in the past, to current day and future?. that create an community of purpose

    So, the one really Seritei birth soul, is Nemu

    WorldwideDepp
    1. also, if Kubo invented the Huenco Mundo, a land of the Dead.. Ironical Seritei is no different here. Perhaps Huenco Mundo is more the Darkness, then why not invent Beings from the “white” world of the Quincies?

      I do not have any problem with that, because here these Sternritters are displayed as Chaotic Good one. same merciless ones against Sinners as the Darkness ones. Both are the extreme opposition, where Humans are not that far away from Gray?

      So, continue to use your inspirations from other mediums. As long the fit into the Bleach universe, thats your Job, Kubo. You are your own Bleach Manga God. perhaps your manager is the Archangels

      WorldwideDepp
    1. Well, I’ve had the misfortune of looking over that article already, and while it does make some valid points, it makes me wonder if the people who started Bleach in the first place realise that nothing much as changed since the beginning. Sure, the SS arc had the best core story, but the general style and approach that Kubo has used from the very beginning is the same (bar his evolving art style once SS began). People cite examples of Kubo’s old tendencies or habits as if they are something new, when they’ve always been present in the material, and that baffles me.

      If anything, it’s the fans who have grown distant from Bleach. Nothing ‘happened’ to Bleach. Bleach has been the same throughout, just different arcs, different characters. The art style, the panelling, the lack of backgrounds, the comedy, the lengthy one vs one fights… they’ve stayed consistent from the beginning.

      I’m sure he won’t but I’d hope he doesn’t read that article, and continues to make the manga he wants to make, for better or worse. Some people might say he doesn’t care about what he’s doing anymore, but I don’t see how that can possibly be true. Just read the Mayuri vs Pernida fight over again and if you get passed your own negativity towards the series, then you can see how much fun Kubo must have had drawing those scenes or coming up with Mayuri’s asspulls. He’s said before that he’s his favourite character to draw, and that shines through.

      Samu
      1. Your right, Kubo should do his own stuff. But it could not hurt to hear here and there some feedback. And also Orihime surly has much more potential then we know. even her first “Karate” friend on Human world could see them, but until now she is ignored, only played a little part when Huenco mundo invaded the Human world on behalf of Aizen.. And how long is it gone?

        There is still so much Potential of his close friends lying around unused. but perhaps it is now for the best to focus on this Arc

        i am not criticizing him, thats far from my point. Just that i am a bit concerned

        WorldwideDepp
      2. Me thinks Orihime has some kind of Bloodline connections with Ichigo’s true Quincy mother, perhaps she is some kind of Aunt to him.. i know i am dreaming the impossible

        She has feelings for Ichigo, but could not bring herself over it to give even an knockout Ichigo an farewell Kiss, and she walked easy through the Barrier of this Guy when Ichigo was training with these Half Shinigami and Hallow. So she has more Power then this Barrier Captain of half Shinigami and Hallow Captain…

        and that is only my thoughts about Orihime, let alone Ichigo’s Human Sisters could fill many pages

        WorldwideDepp
      3. Don’t worry, Bleach isn’t perfect. And even if I disagreed with most of that article, it did make a few points that are worth bringing up. The lack of attention and focus on Orihime and her powers is definitely up there, along with Kubo’s tendency to forget about characters and not deliver on earlier developments. Those are all legitimate criticisms that I think any fan can agree with, but some of the complaints thrown at Bleach are just ridiculous because it’s those things that makes Bleach… well, Bleach.

        If that’s the case, then those people shouldn’t keep reading the series because their expectations will never be met. A similar thing happened with me and Fairy Tail, which I dropped last year and haven’t regretted it since.

        Samu
      4. When I first started watching/reading Bleach, I was very excited especially during the SS arc but now am following just to see how the series ends. I do agree with your observation that parts of Bleach has stayed the same – the structure of fights, general aspects of Kubo’s drawing style, his weird sense of comedy. In fact, I remember feeling just as frustrated and a bit bored as I am now by the slow, meandering pace of the very opening arc with Ichigo being introduced to his shinigami powers, etc. At the same time, there are parts of the current arc that have been surprisingly enjoyable – The former head commander’s bankai, Mayuri’s fight, and parts of this current fight that make just as excited as the SS arc.

        But I do agree with the ANN article that Bleach has outlived its storyline. I think its main argument is that, Bleach squandered its orignally compelling characters and material. While I agree that the essence of Bleach has pretty much stayed the same, I disagree that this is enough to make it as interesting as it was in the beginning. A series as long as this one should be growing and changing, but instead I feel that it’s just stagnating.

        I admit that I haven’t read all your weekly reviews. I’m glad, though, that someone who truly enjoys the series is reviewing it on my favorite anime/manga blog. However, I can’t accept “That’s just the way Bleach is” as a decent reason to continue reading any series. I’m curious, what do you enjoy most about Bleach? What makes you continue to read it when many of its original fans have stopped? Do you think Kubo hasn’t wasted what made his series interesting? Is the series still as viscerally exciting to you as it was in the beginning? For instance, even though my enthusiasm for Fairy Tail has waned as of late (tiresome fights, repetitive “let’s fight for our fairy tail friends/comrades” battle cries, awkward time-skip transitions), I think it’s still a compelling series because there’re still mysteries and backstories (eg Lucy’s mother) that they continue to address – and I really enjoy a good Erza fight.

        valdor
  7. Part 2 of my Fan Fiction Background:

    This time is Orihime

    Show Spoiler ▼

    WorldwideDepp

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