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Thursday, February 28, 2013

Bleach 528 A Mindful Review

I put some mindful consideration into how to approach Bleach 528 and it gave me much more of a challenge than the latest Naruto release... This seemed to be a setup chapter more than anything else, getting into where Ichigo was (i.e. Back Home) and what he was going to have to do. I don't think there's much to analyse about the content of the chapter itself, none the less I may try to make some commentary on it. Mostly though I think I'll take this apparent "breather chapter" as an opportunity to assess where Bleach has come over 528 Chapters and what's going on in the writing of Bleach.

 Ichigo is a Quincy or a Shinigami or a Vaizard or some mixture of the three(I'd rather not touch the Fullbring right now...). His father seems to imply that Ichigo's Shinigami status is illegitimate and the Asauchi seem to back this up, but clearly we've seen nothing but Shinigami with a touch of hollow out of Ichigo until this point and the whole thing is getting a little hard to follow...why does he get all of these powers and abilities?! Who is he?! And what's this story really about?!

 Pictured Above: Half of Ichigo's Powers...

Now, Bleach fans like myself are hooked on Bleach because it does give us a "Psychological High" so to speak. Our hearts race with excitement and joy as we see a young man rise above the cruelty of fate and punch the faces, or more often slice the shoulders(Why always the shoulders...?) of arrogant snobs trying to get their way. We love that and we dream of doing it in our real lives, so we come back for more Bleach every week. But even so, we all know that there are sometimes questionable and fishy things that happen in the storytelling. It seems to me that far too much of Ichigo's character is based on raw brute force. This does not great storytelling make. Oh sure, it does have it's strong points I mean a certain degree of raw strength and stamina is crucial in life and manga/anime alike. Who wouldn't benefit from a little more weightlifting and a little less stuffing swiss rolls in our faces?  But Ichigo has done almost nothing else other than simply "level up" and I hope and pray he's not on track to do it again...

 For me at least the most interesting parts of Bleach are the intelligence trumps all events. When Aizen tricked everyone into thinking he was a great and wonderful Captain only to turn around and stab everyone in the back...brilliant!!!

The way Mayuri outsmarted Szael Aporro made that battle one of my favorite fights and demonstrates why I like Mayuri a lot!

 When Aizen cut through the Captains like butter with no thought to strategy whatsoever on the other hand, I was a bit disappointed... then he sealed the Captain Commander's zanpakutou admitting it's superior power! Badass!

Then the Hogyoku with unexplainable superpowers turned him into a semi-god...MAJOR HAX! Then Urahara revealed that he planted a seal in Aizen knowing Ichigo would activate it by kicking Aizen around. SUPER OPS!

I think you get my point. There's no readily detectable consistency about what rules the Bleach universe follows. I'm eager to hear Urahara's explanation for how the Captains bankai's were stolen, because I'm desperate to know that there's a legitimate force at work rather that some silly answer like: Because Quincy's have an almighty absorption power because, pick a reason :P.

 Our emotional brain centers love the intensity and stimulation of power ups and the rumbling of Spiritual pressure, but our minds are more complex than that. We are, at our best at least intellectual and creative creatures. We like novelty and creative problem solving, and for good reason. Those are the things that give us the experience of a genuine and happy human life. I will say that Bleach has done an adequate job at times of stimulating my intellectual and imaginative cravings with some of the examples I mentioned above...but it weighs on me a little bit that Kubo seems inconsistent with how as "god" of the Bleach universe he wants to run the show and what rules he want to write. The law of broken Bankai never being able to return to their original state for example, that seems to be something he came up with just for this arc(Note: Kubo had to make an excuse for Komamura's Bankai recovering after Aizen.)...not that you can't get away with making up new rules but I think great care and effort must be taken to build a world, even in fiction that exists within boundaries and limitations that, while presenting challenges to the characters do not by any stretch make success impossible. But merely serve to force the heroes on an interesting and stimulating journey to victory.

  What I hope to see as Ichigo continues his confusing adventure is that when his heritage is revealed and he understands who he is, which will be interesting to see that he will have to learn actual techniques and strategies aside from getting angry and desperate while firing one Getsuga Tenshou after another. I still have hope for Ichigo and Bleach because I think he still has growing up to do, but there will need to be some fascinating tasks for Ichigo to perform in order for me to judge him a compelling and relatable character which I once deemed him to be during the very first Bleach arc way back when.


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