Friday, 20 May 2011

Your plot point has expired #2

Still thinking about a good logo.

For this first proper post, I’ll be taking a look at something that qualifies as both a blatant contradiction, and shoddy writing: The relationship of Byakuya and Rukia.

Now,as any Bleach fan would know, Byakya was presented as the main antagonist of the SS arc. Sure, Yamamoto was stronger by far, and Aizen stole the show completely in the end, but for the majority of the arc Mister Headress was the guy we all knew would be Ichigos final obstacle because of how hell bent he was on Rukias execution. And then, Byakuya became a protagonist, with a good relationship with his sister, whom he even rescues from certain death. But the problem is that Kubo basically has written two different Byakuyas.

The first Byakuya is the arrogant, haughty main antagonist of the Soul society arc, and was a major bastard through and through. He was hell bent on executing his own sister, personally, with no pity whatsoever, based on the flimsiest most ridiculously unjust of grounds- and if anyone tried to argue this point, he’d make a counterargument with a million pieces of flying shrapnel, former lieutenant or not. Rukia herself says that she’s confident that he of all people won’t hesitate to kill her, and that he’s never even properly looked at her since her inclusion into the family. He could hardly speak a sentence without making a snide remark about humans, and was overall an unsympathetic douche. This comes very well across in this particular scene, a flashback of Rukias:

Rukia has just finished her first day of duty, is understandably psyched, and Byakuya doesn’t even turn to face her, as he asks the sole question: “what seat did you get?”

Rukia tries to point out that making officer on your first day of service is a little optimistic and that she didn’t make it, which fits pretty well with Rukias less than impressive performance against Fishbone D in chapter 1.

This gets her a prompt “I see. You may fuck off now” from Byakuya.

What a total prick.

Of course, we all now what happened: Aizen was the true antagonist, freeing up Byakuya for a villain-come-hero instant turnaround. He was now absolutely 100% guiltless in the whole Almost Killing Rukia ordeal, and it instantly mended their relationship.

Look, he even saves her and everything!

“If anyone gets to execute this girl, it’s me! “

And then after Aizen splits and we enter the SS cooldown phase, we finally get some insight into Byakuyas character and reasoning. The Byakuya Redemtion Train is chugging along merrily. We learn that Byakya did what he did because, as a noble, he felt he absolutely have to obey orders to set an example. Ordnung Muss Sein. But he didn’t WANT to kill Rukia and that’s what counts, right? I mean, if the central chambers declared war on cats as an april fools joke, I’m sure we could all forgive Byakuya going on a feline massacre as long as he feels bad about it.


Byakuyas reason for wanting to execute Rukia so badly boils down to being not because he hates her, not because she’s charged with an extremely gruesome crime with ironclad evidence, not because he’s brainwashed or manipulated, but because “I was told to”. Now, I’m not saying that soldiers shouldn’t obey orders, but theres’ a difference between following sensible (Fall back! Thats’ an order!) and moronic (swap your grenades for rotten fish! That’s an order!) orders. And blindly following “Execute your own sister because of this absolutely insignificant felony she has committed, and please ignore the extremely unorthodox and suspicious progression of this trial, that’s an order!” falls firmly into the latter category.

But the redemption train keeps going, and eventually arrives at Supporting Character Central. Here we find the new and improved “mellowed out” Byakuya, the kind of guy who looks the other way as people invade Hueco Mondo unauthorized, who thinks the traditional captain garb is meaningless, gets pissed and serious if people lay a hand on his dear little sister, and likes to chill at the local starbucks. In the name of character development and “seeing the light” in the time post soul society this is acceptable, even if Rukias –and everyone elses- immediate acceptance of Byakuyas sororicidal behaviour is a bit jarring. However, things get iffy when New Byakuya starts invading the past and overwriting Asshole Byakuyas existence entirely.

The reason I’m saying this is because of this scene:

When Grimmjow and his posse attack karakura, we see Rukia One-shotting an arrancarized adjuchas. Should the reader remember that Rukia is not even a seated officer, that her jaw dropped upon seeing just a gillian, and that she couldn’t even sever the arm of a regular hollow, this should cause some raised eyebrows on the readers.But not to worry, Rukias soul mod explains It all: Rukia COULD easily have been a seated officer, but her big brother secretly prevented her from getting promoted, because of the danger a position like that would entail. Apart from this not addressing the two latter oddities in the slightest, just think about that explanation for a second.

Byakuya, the guy couldn’t even question orders when tasked with executing his own sister, screwed with the rules. In order to prevent a promotion. Because he wanted to protect that very same sister from harm. Whaaaaaat.

Apart from this clashing rather horribly with Byakyas entire SS characterization, allow me to remind you of the Asshole Byakuya example so cleverly placed earlier in this post. Indeed, it seems Byakuya chided Rukia for not making officer, when he in fact at the same time was keeping her from making officer.

You might say that he was just putting up a front to hide his secret, but this hardly flies.

Because why did he even bring up the damn topic then?

And how big a secret can it be if freaking MOD SOULS knows what a big softie Byakuya really is?

Byakuya and Rukias rank advancement, I hereby deem you a certified PLOTHOLE.

But why did this have to happen?

The reason for this glaring contradiction is simple: Kubo could get two birds with one stone with this little retcon. Firstly, after having her be unimpressive/powerless/damsel in distress for the first 200 chapters, Kubo realized that Rukia needed a major credibility boost to be relevant against the new standard of enemy powerlevels. Solution: he makes her an unofficial officer courtesy of her brother, who gains several redemption points in the process.

I guess we should consider ourselves lucky that Kubo hasn’t done a flashback chronicling Mayuris admirable Test Subject treatment policy…yet.

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