Thunder Thighs Take 2 – Bleach 663

Bleach 663 “God of Thunder 4,” is out.  Go get it.

SPOILERS

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Or just go re-read several of the previous fights in this arc, since they all follow the exact same pattern. Let me see if I can recap for you:

Things look dire, we’re all but crippled, hobbling on our last legs.  But, wait!  The Shinigami manage a hail Mary pass… it looks successful. Oh, joy! ….What’s this???!!! AND…. (drum roll, please!)  the Quincy show up in their final form, power-up: Surprise, bitches!

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Except no one is surprised any more, Kubo-sensei. NO ONE.

The irony being that I was just defending Kubo-sensei yesterday, in fact. I was saying that we ought to cut the guy some slack. According to Wikipedia, “Bleach has been serialized in the Japanese manga anthology Weekly Shōnen Jump since August 2001.”

August 2001.

How old even were you when Kubo-sensei started writing this?

He’s been producing this manga–writing and illustrating–for fifteen* years, WEEKLY.  Yeah, he had several fairly long hiatuses in there, but think about that schedule: WEEKLY. Can you write anything half decent in that short of time for as LONG as he has?  I’ve been trying to put out an installment of fan fic once a week, and… no.  It’s not easy.  Half the time, I don’t make it, and I don’t have an editor demanding it be on their desk… AND I don’t have to draw any part of it.

In fact, Kubo started publishing the same year I did. He’s still going and my career has basically flatlined.

So you know?  Respect to you, sensei!  Mad props.

That being said, this chapter sucked.

Rocks.

Okay… I do have to admit that there was some really nice art.

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This is gorgeous and totally the sort of thing that I will later try to draw myself because it’s just SO cool.

And, Urahara had some fun science-y banter, and a couple of points where he was his usual adorkable self:

 

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Look at this nerd.

But what else can I say about this chapter?  There were some cool shounen power-up shouts: “Shunkou Raijuu Senkei!” (Thundercats Thunder beast battle form) and “Shunryuu Kokubyou Senki!” (Flash god Black cat Warrior Princess!).  And, yeah, it looked like Yoruichi had really done it there for a moment.  But, it’s never a good sign when I’m already starting to groan when Urahara says, “I’m just going to go look to see if the corpse is extra-crispy….”

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Dude, you’re supposed to be smart. Haven’t you read the previous chapters????!! THIS NEVER WORKS.

The other big disappointment for me is that it looks like Yoruichi is down and out for the count.  Which means that we never did see whether or not Yoruichi is still in possession of a zanpakutou or not. I mean, I kind of think that, if she has this second form, she probably did “swallow” her sword, as I have postulated yokai can do in my fan fic, and, in essence, absorbed the zanpakutou into herself, which is why we never see it.

The big prediction, of course, is that all this repetition will be worth it because Urahara will now be forced to show his hand and use bankai.  I hope he does. I like the theory going out there in the Tumblr-verse that Urahara’s bankai is pure chaos. I like that because it fits him, goes with what we just learned about Ywach’s inability to predict him, and it’s pseudo-science-y with the whole chaos theory connection.

Personally, I’d love to know more about Benihime, in general. She has the coolest name: Crimson Princess, and, I find it fascinating that like Captain Kyouraku’s Katen Kyokotsu, Benihime is one of the few zanpakuto who present as an opposite gender as their wielder.  A lot is made in fandom about potentially gender queer and/or non-binary characters, and I have always ADORED Kubo-sensei for giving us 100% canon evidence to consider these questions about at LEAST two major characters (a case can be made for a lot more, but these two are canonically assigned differently gendered souls than what they present.) Kyouraku gets washed over because he plays at being a lover to all the women, including his zanpakuto.  But… whatever you imagine about him as a person, the fact is: his soul is female. TWICE.  Same with Urahara.  All the fan service in the world isn’t going to make his soul less of a PRINCESS. For real. (Both Urahara and Kyouraku wear women’s clothing.  Geta can be worn by men, but you mostly see them on geisha. Kyouraku, of course, is decked out in a woman’s kimono and hairpins.)

I would love that to be part of Urahara’s bankai, but I’m not holding my breath.

In fact, I’m going to put money on the table right now and say that Kubo will troll us.

We’ll never see Urahara’s mysterious (“not good for training”) bankai.  I predict that either Yoruichi will rally… or her younger brother will… or, Grimmjow will be too much kitty to resist the giant poison ball and will come pouncing out of the shadows, screaming “My Prey!” and the next chapter will be called “Double Kitty Trouble!”

Okay, probably not that last one. (But on the other hand, it would be a double-troll if Grimmjow did reappear because it’d only be chapter #664, and all the Grimmfans have been assuming he’ll come back for #666 since he’s the Sexta Espada.)

Also, is it just me, or does Askin’s final form remind you a bit of Szayel Aporro Granz’s weird, blobby final form?

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“Apostle.” F*ck.  Please stop with the religious stuff. I just don’t like the final battle/ragnarok-ness of it all. Feels as cliched and overdone as this battle pattern.

 


*Huh, Kubo’s been at it for 15 years, you say?  Fifteen? As in, Ichi-go?  Is THAT WHY HE WANTS TO END IT THIS YEAR??????

 

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