Bleach 675 is out now on Mangastream and other places. Go check it out. In fact, I’m going to wait until you get to that last panel before I say anything…
So, okay… backing up a bit. We actually start the chapter with the Ishida/Haschwaldt fight in progress. Ishida is looking pretty worn out, but the sidebar tells us not to lose hope: “No matter the odds against him, his arrows will never run out!” (which is… pretty awesome. Look, if I didn’t love this flavor of cheese, I wouldn’t read Shounen, okay?)
Ishida asks Hashwaldt if he can ask him a question. Ishida wants to know why Hashwadlt wanted to know what kind of person Ishida is… since it’s obvious that everyone has figured out that Ishida whole point in existing was to buy Ichigo time to get to Yhwach. So, why not just hurry up and kill him?
Which is, you know, not the question I would ask, but okay…
Hashwaldt then reminds Ishida that he and Yhwach share power, and when Hashwaldt had the All-Mighty powers, he foresaw the conclusion to this battle, and, frankly, it’s all going to end badly, all your friends are going to die, anyway, so who cares how long it takes to finish this fight.
Wow, okay, cheery.
But, you know, good battlefield trash talk. That would have effectively demoralized me. (Though I kind of feel like there’s a loophole here in what Hashwaldt doesn’t say. He doesn’t say, for instance, that he’s not going to die and that Ishida isn’t going to be victorious. He just says that it doesn’t matter how long the fight is going to take because all of Ishida’s allies are going to perish. Personally, I’d have taken that as a, “So… you’re saying I could still win, eh?”
But, despite the glasses, Ishida isn’t all that smart, or rather, he’s still _REALLY_ stuck on the idea that he WAS able to surprise Hashwaldt once… and so he taunts him with that again. To which Hashwaldt does a little vague booking:
Ishida is all, “The f*ck, dude? What does that mean?” And Hashwaldt (again, kind of confirming that Ishida is going to win or at least that they’d both be alive after the sh*t goes down) says: “I’ll tell you the rest once we’re finished here.”
Then he goes all scales and balances on Ishida, which… I’m not sure how that’s going to work, but hopefully the two dads will show up and intercede before Ishida’s balance runs out (see what I did there!?)
Next, we cut to Ichigo getting his a$$ soundly kicked by the black reiatsu of Yhwach. This is one of those fights that, I imagine, I would NOT want to see animated, because it’s hard for me to watch Ichigo get mercilessly pounded. I mean, he’s the hero, right? I like seeing him get back up again, but it’s tough when it’s just bang! wham! bang! you know? I mean, there’s blood flying and he… looks really rough.
In fact, it’s freaking Orihime out and she really wants him to stop for a second so she can heal him.
Orihime even reaches out and snags his sleeve to hold him back, but then he gives her The Look ™
…and she lets him go.
Now I will admit I did NOT see what was coming. I thought The Look ™ meant, “Let me go, Orihime, you and I both know I need to die for this to work.”
It still might, but we find out that Ichigo was actually intentionally taking a pounding in order to push out the Quincy reiatsu in Zangetsu (?) His exact words (as translated by the MangaStream folks) are: “I needed some time to unleash this Quincy reiatsu because there’s someone I need to jolt awake.” Orihime then notices that his katana is turning WHITE (a very significant color) and then…. we get that final panel, where it seems that Ichigo has physically merged with “Hichigo,” and more importantly, IMHO, not just Hichigo but Vasto Lorde Hollow Ichigo.
What can I say about this?
I mean, it’s cool. I’m excited to see what bankai looks like in this form or Getsuga Tensho or any of Ichigo’s usual fighting styles. I’m still concerned that the ONLY way the Hollow part of Ichigo is going to do any real damage to Yhwach is if Ichigo “dies” or is otherwise taken back in by Yhwach, but we’ll see.
Maybe Kubo-sensei has another plan up his sleeve.
I’ll be honest, I don’t WANT to see Ichigo die (and, even though I’ve been talking about this a LOT, I don’t really expect Ichigo not to come back from “death,” because… this is Bleach, so, hardly anyone has stayed dead, and there’s just so many options when a person is maybe already dead?) But, at the same time, I really feel like Ichigo’s “death” has been telegraphed really pretty much from the moment we found out Hollows were poison to Quincy and that Quincy that die are absorbed into Yhwach.
But I’d be happy to be wrong.
So, I guess I’m saying I’ll be curious to see where Kubo takes this.
Also…and this is the single most important thing we need to discuss: Ichigo without bangs is weird, don’t you think? I mean, why did the inner Hollow think: “You know what I don’t need, is hair in my face! When I transform, I’m totally chopping off these ridiculous high schooler bangs! Oh, and I’m SUPER INTO the whole SIDEBURN thing. Move over, Abarai, I’m The King of the sideburns now! (And I’m going to shave the side of my head so they really stand out!)”