The only translation worth reading is MangaStream, IMHO. So go get it.
The chapter begins with a flashback. Baby Kyouraku is sleeping and awakened by a ‘girl he admires.’
His eyes open and he calls this woman, “Sis.” She looks astoundingly like Nanao, including the glasses. Other people have noted that she seems to be wearing the hairpins that Kyouraku later sports.
There’s a tiny little hint of them there in the right hand corner.
The action then shifts to the current battlefield where X-Axis is searching for everyone. He says they seemed to have disappeared into the shadows and decides that the best way to flush them out is to make everything so bright that there are no shadows. Of course this doesn’t work, because there’s a tiny shadow under X-Axis’ nose, out of which jumps Nanao.
We go back in time to the conversation between Nanao and Kyouraku, in which Kyouraku lays out part of the story of Nanao’s missing zanpakuto. Turns out, it’s not as simple as the one of Kyouraku’s swords belonging to Nanao. It’s more that hers was hidden inside one of his two swords (we even get a scene of the second sword pulling out from behind her ear, basically.)
It has its own name, Shinken Hakkyoken, and its own superpowers: it’s a blade-less sword that can kill no one–no human, thus it is a GOD slayer. (Super-cool, IMHO.)
The other part of the story revolves around Nanao’s mom, who is part of the Ise clan. Lots of people who are not me, knew that Nanao was named after a famous Shinto shrine: Ise Grand Shrine. In Kubo’s universe, this clan are Shinto priests, but they’re also 100% female. Women who give birth to only women (a real thing, btw.) They’re the keepers of this zanpakutō (?)/magic sword, which is passed down through the generations.
They’re also cursed.
It’s a classic curse where whoever they fall in love with dies. They’re kind of like praying mantises, but with a magical head biting. Kyouraku’s older brother fell for Mama Ise and, when he died, she went back to her clan. Kyouraku doesn’t hear from her again, until…
It is important to not what he does not say, and the presumed timeline involved.
Kyouraku does NOT say, she was desperate to save ‘my brother’s child,’ or in any way imply that this baby is related to him.
Moreover, you have to think of the timeline. Do you think this kid:
is old enough to have shikai? He doesn’t look like he’s even in Academy yet. Likewise, everyone remembers Nanao is a toddler during the Turn Back the Pendulum arc, so…
The baby she’s desperate to save can’t possibly be Kyouraku’s brother’s. The timing isn’t right. Unless pregnancies in the Soul Society last for centuries, I’d say there’s no way that Kyouraku had time to grow up, go to Academy, get the reputation as that scary-a$$ mofo who ‘plays hide and seek,’ while Mama Ise was carrying Brother Kyouraku’s baby.
This is underscored by the fact he’s talking about getting along with his brother enough to nap on his porch, which is the image we see at the start. SUPER YOUNG Kyouraku.
So, Mama Ise had another lover, folks. AFTER the brother.
When she got unintentionally pregnant, she returned to the brother of the man she loved. One that admired her, and whom had grown into a strong enough shinigami that he could hide that sword for her inside his second zanpakutō.
Do you get it? The way I read it: they’re not related by blood.
Also, Kyouraku/Ise is not canon. Please note, the translator’s note:
Again, Tumblr’s fizzingwizard had this to say :
Here is the line in Japanese: 「私がお慕いする人はきっと呪いなんてバカバカしいと そう言って笑う人のような気がします」
- I could be wrong, forgive me if I am, but I think the translator mistook お慕いする for 慕おうとする or some such – it seems to me rather than saying “I’ve chosen to love,” she is just using a higher, more reverential sonkeigo conjunction of “I love.” (ETA: looks like mangastream’s translator thinks the same as me.)
- That being said, “love” in this sense can mean anything from love to adoration/admiration, idolization, longing. So Nanao is not technically confessing to be in love here. It’s love, but not in love. But she might be 🙂
- Personally, I think she’s talking about Kyouraku. I think she’s gone ahead and described how he seems to her, to help him out of his gloomy mood, like “Normally you’d laugh and say ‘curse? what curse!’ and that’s the you who I adore.” She might have some off-panel lover whom we’ve never met… but idk, that little grin of Kyouraku’s after her speech here makes me think it’s him she’s lifting up.
Lastly: The kanji for Hakyouken, if anyone cares, is 八鏡剣 – so the “kyou” is a different than in Kyoukotsu, meaning “mirror” instead of “madness.” The name of Nanao’s holy sword is “Eight mirror sword” and it seems to be based on a real thing: the Yata no Kagami which is a sacred mirror and part of imperial regalia in the Ise shrine. According to wikipedia, the public aren’t often allowed to see it, so whether it’s really there is sort of a mystery. It’s a shrine dedicated to Amaterasu, the shinto goddess of the sun.
Mirrors, by the way, represent “truth.” Make of that what you will~
So, there you go, folks.
The only pall still hanging over the Ise/Kyouraku ship is that it’s going to have to stay unconsummated, because otherwise he’s doomed to die. Bummer. (I guess he’s going to have to keep sleeping with Ukitake!)
Generally, I have to say, ships colliding aside, I f*cking LOVED this chapter. I thought Kubo-sensei was in fine form. I love the implied tragedy of the Ise women, also, as a friend of mine pointed out, it’s possible that Kyouraku had to kill his brother’s wife in order to take possession of the sacred sword. I suspect she begged him to do it. And, that’s amazingly tragic, awful and kind awesome.
A story well worthy of Shunsui Kyourku, IMHO.