Interesting which set of rumors came true…. so go, the new Bleach chapter, 681, is out! There supposedly aren’t many left, so we might as well enjoy what we’ve got.
I will say that probably my reaction to this entire chapter can be summed up by how much I sort of love how Renji continues to prove himself a better shounen hero than Ichigo.
There’s been a lot of meta on Tumblr about how Bleach really isn’t structured very much like a traditional shounen story, but it follows more of a YA novel format. Plus, even Kubo-sensei seems aware that Ichigo is not the perfect Shinigami, not the perfect hero. There was that whole thing in chapter 523 where that forge guy from Zero Squad, Ōetsu Nimalya, tests both Ichigo and Renji against the asauchi. Pretty much everyone reading, including me, expected Renji to fail and Ichigo to be victorious. But, no. Renji won. Ōetsu even says that, of the two of them, Renji is a true Shinigami.
And… here he is again:
But, of course, Renji’s attack fails against the All-Powerful Yhwach. Poor Zabimaru (Renji’s zanpakutō) ends up frayed and shredded… yet again. But, that doesn’t even slow Renji down. He’s all, look, there ain’t going to be a better time. Why not just go try to waste the f*cker now?
And I kind of love him for that, because he’s not wrong. Rukia, meanwhile, being the smartest one of this bunch tells everyone to hold up and try thinking things through. Only everyone is kind of in utter despair and Orihime is convinced her powers and herself are useless.
Cue entrance of the FullBring.
Out of nowhere, kind of almost literally, comes the bookmark guy, Shūkurō Tsukishima. He stabs Ichigo in the shoulder with his history-changing sword and resets them to a point where Ichigo’s sword was never broken and Orihime’s powers work.
It’s…um, a clever use for Tsukishima’s powers, but WTF Orihime literally has the same exact ability IF SHE’D BEEN ALLOWED TO USE IT.
Though I’m kind of loving the implication here that the REASON Orihime has been so stymied in these recent chapters is because Yhwach wrote her out of a future where she’d be useful. It’s kind of a backwards stab at the Orihime haters and a fascinating take on that whole weird dream sequence a few chapters back where everyone was noticing that Ichigo was in his original substitute shinigami uniform and Orihime was no where to be seen.
Similarly, I’m still hoping that Orihime is having a Chad in Hueco Mundo moment, only in reverse.
Do you remember how Chad found being in Hueco Mundo double-plus good increased his powers (it turned out to be a clue as to Chad’s power’s origin story–that he’s a Hollow-touched child, a FullBring.) So, that’s my long way of saying that I’m really hoping that Kubo is still planning to reveal (even if he only has four more chapters to do it in) that being in the Soul Realm hampered Orihime’s powers, because, basically, that’s their point of origin.
The other stuff that happened in the chapter is that we have 100% canon confirmation that Hashbrown (aka Jugram Haschwalth) is an a$$hat.
Oh, sorry, what I meant to say is that it turns out there’s not a single traitorous bone in Haschwalth body and he’s happy to have been screwed over by Yhwach–nay, HONORED to give his life to the cause that we still kind of know jack sh*t about. But, you know, he’ll help out by rebounding all the damage to Ishida, because, f*ck being in character, he’s dying anyway, so what do a few more injuries mean?
I don’t know. Maybe Haschwalth’s last sacrifice is meant to be a further representation of his Balance sensibility. I mean, kind of with his last breath, he evened out the power balance a tiny bit.
It’s hard to say because I’m so filled with incoherent rage over this last parting shot….
…in which we see that engraved into Hashbrown’s hilt is
his lover’s Bazz-B’s crest.
This scene enraged me because he literally says, that he’s happy to have walked his life following his own convictions and that “There’s something to be said for not having… even one regret.”
You cold-hearted BASTARD.
Since there may not be time to see this in canon, I’m going to have to write the fix-it fic in which Bazz-B struggles to his feet, finds Hashbrown’s lifeless body, sees his crest in the sword and KICKS HASHBROWN’S IN THE RIBS SIX TIMES AND SAYS “You piece of rotten sh*t, I loved you!”
Because I mean, why the hell did we even get that touching childhood friend backstory if Kubo-sensei was going to end it with, “Yeah, I killed you and I have no regrets. Peace out!”
What the actual f*ck?!
And, I don’t know, with bookmark guy on the scene, I do have to wonder if there’s any need to release Aizen. Between bookmark guy, Ishida’s new Anthesis powers, and Orihime, do they really need Aizen’s perception altering?
All bets are off. I no longer feel qualified to try to guess where this story is going next, especially if the rumors about four more chapters remaining are true. If they aren’t true, I might speculate, but I just don’t know if it’s worth the effort. I will say that the penultimate panel:
…of Ichigo pulling himself to his feet, and the last panel of is eyes filled with determination (no hesitation! as the sidebar proclaims) have restored a modicum of faith in me that at least we won’t end with Yhwach victorious, the worlds destroyed, and Kubo-sensei just ending the whole thing with a giant “f*ck you, you rushed me to finish Bleach, so I destroyed everything THE END.”
Which was a rumor going around, so you know.