Although Kubo didn’t pull a Kishimoto, it still felt like he played with hearts. Byakuya and others still survived the onslaught.
With Kira wiped out and Captain Commander dead, it almost felt as if Kubo had turned over a new leaf and would go the surprising route of having his characters killed off. I was actually pretty surprised that he did kill the characters and then to top it off in chapter 513, have Byakuya also “pass away.” I remember feeling shocked by it as he, like Hitsugaya, is a popular character among fans. Killing off favorite characters is a gamble as it may tear the fanbase, and there goes decreased screentime for one of their favorites.
It actually seemed hard to justify and even accept his death, considering that he was the largest obstacle Ichigo faced at the very start of Bleach. Furthermore, he was also seemingly the most competent member among the younger generation of characters on the roster for the Gotei 13. In the Arrancar Saga, he even defeated an Espada on his own. Then during the Full Bring Arc, he managed to take on and outsmart Tsukishima, winning that fight easily. Now in this arc, he was easily bested by his foe and then forced to depressingly plea to Ichigo. I didn’t want to accept that fate and just thought it was out of character for him. How could such a strong character be brought down so low? Although the event played out in that manner, to have him survive at least comforted me somewhat.
Other characters saved included Kenpachi who had an off panel fight, as well as Renji and Rukia. Rukia was odd as whatever fighting involved her was also left off panel. I still have to question what was the point of even adding this (well beyond catering to people who like Ichigo and Rukia relationship moments), when its significance is greatly diminished when a fight is not seen. Do people care to see characters recovering when we don’t know how they ended up in these situations?
On Ichigo’s end, we were unfortunately left with more questions than answers. Though Juha Bach let him live another day, he promised him that he would have and imprison him. However, that was the least of his concern, just who was Ichigo and what enabled him to have a Quincy like ability. Is his mom of Quincy blood? Is Isshin really his father? Who is a part of his bloodline? All this, and more, seemed to be on his mind as he went through the chapter. Who could he confide in and who would be willing to provide answers?
The chapter marked the conclusion of this second portion of the Final War Arc. Overal,l it was a wild ride with its highs and lows. The character designs were all lacking as compared to those from the previous arcs. Personally, I would have liked to see character designed in the style of Hitsugaya, Yukio, Tsukishim, Byakuya, Aizen, Grimmjow, Ulquiorra. The character designs of the newly unveiled Zero Division, making a triumphant entrance after being hyped for years, were lacking.
If I may be frank, they looked like they were inspired from some designs of Fairy Tail; the refined looking female character looks like a character that Mashima could have created. This is rather unfortunate in a day and age which creative character designs are at an all time high. Looking beyond the art, the plot was all over the place at times. Sure, characters were dying and action was kept intense, but Ichigo was largely left out of place, limiting characters from using their Bankai was too much of a disadvantage, and Ichigo was left out of the light too much. For high points, Captain Commander provided a great showing, and both he and Juha Bach, had really well done panels (highly suggest checking out the vizmanga releases of Bleach for the highest quality images of the manga — it’s worth it).
Bleach is well aligned for a thrilling conclusion. If Uryu, Ichigo, and the characters who were injured, recover, then we may be in for a nice treat as they partner up, hopefully, with the Zero Division.
GO Rating: 4/5