Playing with Shadows – Bleach 645

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Bleach 645 is out.  I only read the MangaStream translation this time, but, as always you have your choices.  And, it’s worth it.  So go now, don’t wait.

Once again, I’m happy to be a Bleach fan. (I’m clearly very fickle in my affections and some other chapter will have me pulling hair out again…..)

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SPOILERS

The fight between X-Axis and Kyouraku continues with an explanation of the game Kyouraku initiated, Daruma-san ‘falls down.’  When X-Axis mocks Kyouraku for explaining the rules, Kyouraku basically says, “Hey, you can’t play along if you don’t know the game, right?”

Which is, I have to say, a very clever ‘gotcha.’  I mean, I love it because it works to help explain the game to any readers unfamiliar with it, while ACTUALLY SERVING STORY PURPOSE.

Because, now that he knows the rules, X-Axis is playing, even if he didn’t want to.

Tricked you.  You're playing MY game now, pal!

Tricked you. You’re playing MY game now, pal!

They also discuss the ‘illusion’ of the body that X-Axis was pretty sure he’d nailed with a bullet to the heart.  It’s not an illusion per se, more of an after image, and is also based on a children’s game called, “Kageo Kuri.”  I’m sure you did this as a kid.  Our newspaper’s Sunday Comics used to run this “game” where you stare at a thing so long and then quick look away you can see the afterimage hanging in the air?

Another clever solution, honestly.

Also, damn, I love watching Kyouraku fight.  He’s so scary/slippery/awesome with his creepy-ass children’s games.

There were a couple of other notable moments in this chapter.  One, Nanao (Kyouraku’s lieutenant) played along and tagged along to the battlefield.  Kyouraku scolds her in his usual way and they have a funny back-and-forth in which he tells her to retreat, she tells him ‘no,’ she’s planning to go on, and he says, “Oh, okay, so long as we’re on the same page.”

Which, for Bleach humor, is both subtile and actually works for me.

That scene also feels like a signal that Kyouraku might actually go bankai.

One of the things that all of Bleach fandom remembers is that Ukitake told Kyouraku in their fight against Coyote Stark that Kyouraku couldn’t use bankai, because it wasn’t something you wanted people to see.  Kyouraku not only agreed there, but also, earlier, during the rescue arc he took Nanao from a battlefield, too. (The one where he and Ukitake faced off against Yamamoto).  Kyouraku said some faux-chivarilic thing about ladies’ delicate constitutions, but it’s very in keeping with this idea that he’s maybe something truly horrifying when he’s in bankai form.

I’m so stoked for that possibility.

Then there’s this:

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Anyone else notice this?

It’s in both the MangaStream and MangaPanda translations. It could still be a Kubo-sensei brain fart, but what if it isn’t?

If you’ve been a regular reader here, you know that one of my personal burning questions is: WHAT THE HELL IS QUINCY ANYWAY?

For a long time now Quincies have not seemed particularly human.  (One of them is a giant hand, another is a brain in a jar, and one of them is a diaper-wearing cupid).  I’ve had a personal theory that they’re dead.  Dead as Doornails, which is how they can live in the SS without soul butterflies, etc.  In the Haschwaldt/Bazz-B flashback, we learned that the Quincy are older than they look and that Ywach’s last command was to take the fight to the Soul Society.  How do you do that without a magician like Urahara at your disposal? YOU DIE. I think they all got their battle armor on, mounted horses, dew their swords and drank the Ywach Kool-Aid express to the Soul Society.

Only maybe they ended up somewhere else…

Because now , now here’s Kyouraku bandying about this term “Arancar.” Obviously, he doesn’t mean these guys were made by Aizen (at least I don’t think so,) but I have long wondered how it was, if Hollows are so poisonous to Quincy, THEY STARTED IN HUECO MUNDO. (Do you guys even remember that this whole arc started because Nel showed up to tell Ichigo that someone had invaded Hueco Mundo?  Remember that super-NAZI who absorbed the monster that Hallibell’ fraccione’s made?  How could a Quincy do that???  Except maybe they’re NOT entirely Quinces…..)

But you’re asking me: Junko, how can they be Hollows they have no holes!??!!

Well, remember Ichigo’s origin story?  What’s the cure for Hollow Holes?  QUINCY BLOOD/SOULS.

So what if they’re NOT HUMAN any more?  What if Kyouraku knew this all along.  Because if we know anything about Kyouraku is that he’ll talk a mile a minute about everything EXCEPT HIS SECRETS.

Of course, as I say, this could all end up as one of those typos that has launched a thousand conspiracy theories, but, well, it was fun to consider.  The truth is, typo or not, Kubo has some ‘splaining to do since there are these inconsistencies about how the Quincies operate.  If Hollows are poison to them, why were they in Hueco Mundo so successfully?

All and all, though, I think I will tolerate this battle if it goes on through Kubo’s usual ‘oh, we have a power-up; no, we do!’ merry-go-round, because, at least, Kyouraku is a talker.  He’s bound to accidentally say something interesting (see above) or, if nothing else, give us some more fascinating Japanese children’s games to ponder.

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