Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Bleach Analysis: The Curious Case of Inoue Orihime

Hello, it's time for another article!

I'm going to talk about another character. One that I really liked in early Bleach and is one that is now hated by the fandom in general:

Inoue Orihime (again, if you missed the title)

 



Whoa whoa, don't close your browsers, people. Let's be sensible.

Orihime started off as one of Ichigo's Hollow-hunting crew, complete with interesting powers. But like Uryu and Chad, she would soon become a victim of Kubo's writing, mainly to showcase Ichigo and how "cool" he is.

Any Bleach reader knows what's up. She's got orange hair, bright eyes, and yes.....big boobs. At the mere age of 15. Unusual, but they don't call him Titty Kubo for nothing!

*I apologize to anyone that was offended by that bad joke*

I can think of two classic scenes that starred Orihime:

One of which was Orihime and Tatsuki walking in the hallway of Karakura Town, and while Orihime cheerfully rattles off her "lunch" to her friend, she is knocked over by Ichigo. Tatsuki yells at the Strawberry, and Orihime is left a little frightened by his perpetual scowl and "scary face".

The other was when Ichigo and Rukia spotted her in a street. A car had hit her, but she waved it off as a "bump in the head", again so cheerfully. Rukia even plays up her innocent polite girl guise to bow to her (as Ichigo as to remind her who she is)

And there's other fun stuff, too!

-As an assignment, she draws a picture of herself as a robot


-A daydream about Ichigo turns into gentle frolicking, but suddenly, they rush towards each other with fire in their eyes.....and then it turns into Orihime winning a boxing match! Wtf?

Yeah, that's who she was. Quirky. And while she is a ditz, it's interesting to note Orihime is pretty high up on the class rank: one chapter had her third when the final exam scores were posted.

She also seemed to be the social butterfly; she had a circle of friends (Tatsuki, Chizuru, Ryo, Michiru, and Mahana). If you don't know four of those five names, go re-read the first 40 chapters or so.

Again, I used the past tense? How come?

To understand how Orihime rose and fell in the narrative, let's go back to a serious moment, and one of Ichigo's first Hollow hunting jobs:



The Hollow Acidwire attacks her, and we soon learn that it is the deceased soul of her brother, Sora Inoue. He manages to knock out her sister's soul (Rukia stated that Hollows go after their family members, if they have any) until Ichigo and Rukia stop him.

In fact, we learn that he was the one that gave Orihime her hairpins, and was the only family she had.

Also note that BEFORE Acidwire attacked, she was with Tatsuki, and they were talking about Ichigo. Tatsuki suggests to her to "lead him to a dark alley and pin him down", much to the former's shock.

See, Orihime had a little crush on Ichigo, nothing too serious....but NO, I'll get to THAT later.

The attack overall gives us some nice development, and you see her in other scenes (for example, Orihime points out to Ichigo who Uryu is), but here's the kicker:


Remember this, in the chapters where Uryu and Ichigo have their competition, and Uryu uses Hollow bait? Then a Menos Grande attacks, along with a long fury of Hollows to the sleepy Karakura Town?

Say "yes", please.

Numb Chandelier attacks Karakura High, and Orihime notices it when she is about to leave with Tatsuki and Chizuru. Quickly panicking, she tells Chizuru to run and discovers that Numb planted seeds in students to turn them into controlled zombies.

The crowd of students jump in and surround Orihime, until Tatsuki jumps in to defend her. She can't see the Hollow, but she kicks and punches the crowd AND bites one Numb's tentacles. That owns.

.....wait, we're not talking about Tatsuki? Darn.

.....Anyway, Tatsuki gets seeded (that sounds wrong), and wounded.

Orihime remembers that in middle school, everyone teased her about hair and a bunch of bullies even cut her hair! The fiery boxer we all know and love stepped up to defend her, and from there....the duo became friends.

In a flash of dust, Orihime awakens with resolve! She vows not to forgive those who hurt her friend, and the Shun Shun Rikka form on her shoulders.

The what?

I bet you 90% of hardcore Bleach fans don't even know what I'm talking about

The fairies! Tsubaki, Baigon, Ayame, Shun'o, Lily, and Hinagiku appear and they explain Orihime's new powers.

One fairy (Tsubaki) forms the attack mode, a projectile dubbed Koten Zanshun

Two fairies (Ayame and Shun'o) form the "healing" mode, a semi-circle that can "reject" damage and reverse all aliments and wounds within the circle, dubbed Soten Kisshun

Three fairies (Baigon, Lily, Hinagiku) form the defense mode, a shield dubbed Santen Kisshun.

Before you can say I'm becoming a living wiki at this point, I'm just reminding you guys. Keep in mind these facts about Orihime's powers, because they will appear again.

Anyway, Orihime wins, Chad and Orihime learn the secrets of Ichigo's Shinigami life, and they train with Ichigo and Ishida to get ready to rescue Rukia.

Let's skip ahead, to when Kukaku's cannon seperates the rescue group. Orihime and Uryu land together, where Orihime daydreams and pictures the Quincy as her crush (feelings are growing, I guess)

They breeze through, fight some fodder, and even this guy:



But......really, this was more of Uryu cleaning up house than Orihime. I mean, holy shit, he basicially disables his enemy's powers. How come we never see this again?

----

Speeding through, Orihime manages to slip into Shinigami robes to blend in. Unfortunately, she and Uryu run into the 12th Division, and witness one Kurotsuchi Mayuri blowing up his minions to attack them.

Orihime blocks the explosion, and tearfully notes that she couldn't save them. She is then ushered away from the action when Uryu commands Aramaki to take her.

.....Could this be foreshadowing for what things await us? I know Orihime is a pacifist and doesn't like to hurt people, but something tells me she could've helped in that fight!

You know, in a way that didn't require Uryu to give up his Quincy powers? Maybe she could've taken on Nemu. ...Look, I'm rambling now. Let's just stay on point.

So after that, she goes with Kenpachi, Yachiru, Ikkaku, and Yumichika to break Uryu, Chad, and Ganju from prison. And from there, Ichigo beats Byakuya, Aizen makes his move, but in the end of the day, Rukia is safe.

Let's note what we have in store for Orihime's character:

-her crush on Ichigo
-her friendship with Tatsuki
-her hairpin powers
-her role in things to come....what will it be?

Unfortunately, I hope you're ready for a long run of disappointment.

So Orihime returns to school, and of course, Chizuru gropes her. But things are happy now, and while Tatsuki notes to herself that Orihime disappeared over the summer (she couldn't sense her), at least friends are back together.

Ichigo has a new problem, however, and it's his Hollow form creeping up. While Shinji appears and lures Ichigo to the Vizard warehouse, Orihime and Chad decide to investigate. Hiyori blocks them.

The next day, however....

.....Our first Arrancar, Ulquiorra and Yammy appear. Yammy sucks up a bunch of souls and almost gets to Tatsuki, but our healer jumps in to assist!



Things are for naught, though. Yammy overwhelms Chad, and a terrified Orihime realizes the giant fought alone to protect her and Tatsuki. She then proceeds to heal Chad, and blocks Yammy from attacking.

Orihime resolves not to be a burden to Ichigo anymore, and wants to do things herself, without constant help. Nice Kubo, you're doing good so far. Angst can be unbearable, but it can be done well if the situation calls for it.

This time in Bleach, the enemies were starting to get really difficult and a real challenge to the heroes. So it's appropriate for Orihime to want to improve.

However, she tries attacking Yammy, but the big oaf smashes her pin representing Tsubaki, and thus, her attacking force. From there, Ichigo jumps in to save his friends.

Sigh

I REALLY hope you guys are gonna get used to this.

But whatever! Yoruichi and Urahara also jump in, Ulquiorra and Yammy retreat, and Orihime and Chad are healed.

While recovering and eventually returning to school, Orihime is troubled by Ichigo's suffering aura (due to not being able to control his Hollow powers), and furthermore, Rukia's little gang of Shinigami show up, undercover!

Rangiku and Hitsugaya decide to lodge with our healer. From there...

(watch up to 3:20 or so)

So while Orihime is glad to see her friend Rukia again, she painfully notes that Rukia was able to reinvigorate Ichigo and bring back his confidence so easily, but she herself wasn't able to.

And instead of being happy that Ichigo's back his old self (for now), she finds herself more jealous of Rukia.

Look, it's more angst, but you get the running theme here. Our healer continues to feel weak and sorry for herself, this time in a more....emotional way.

Kubo's on point so far, but it won't last.

Skipping around, Grimmjow's little crew attacks, and of course, Orihime gets resorted to being a healer again! Though I suppose it's fair, everyone sans Rukia had trouble with their opponents....

Then comes the shocker. With Tsubaki out of comission, Urahara basicially bans Orihime from fighting in the upcoming Winter War, not wanting her to get in harm's way or have Aizen see her powers. Naturally, she is upset, but understands.

Thankfully Rukia is angered by Urahara's choice and offers to train her in Soul Society, regardless (I swear, these two could be best friends)

Hiyori takes her to the Vizard Warehouse, where....hooray! Hachigen manages to repair Tsubaki, albeit noting that her powers are more based on time distortion and similar to his own.

Remember this, kids. It'll show up later.

Things are looking up! Ichigo's developing his Vizard powers, the Gotei is mobilizing, and Orihime reclaims the chance to develop her fighting strength.

However.....

Ulquiorra's report when he and Yammy attacked earlier shows Aizen exactly what Orihime can do. And he is interested. He issues the command.....

...and when Orihime finishes her training and crosses over to get home, Ulquiorra intercepts. He tells her that she will either go with him or kill all of her friends.

......This is where things take a SERIOUS nosedive.

Mr. Stoic gives Orihime a bracelet to hide her presence and allows her to say goodbye to one person before departure. Guess who she picks?



Yeah, it's Strawberry. Oh em gee what a shocker!

Look, it's not the romance part of this scene I dislike. Orihime's speech about living five lives and falling in love the same way is poetic and kinda tugs at the inner romantic in me.

She even tries to kiss Ichigo!

(note: keep in mind, I'm not some rabid Ichigo X Orihime shipper, but when it's supposed to be part of a character's development, you want to see where it could lead)

Romance in shonen is one of its weaknesses, since the demographic is geared towards young boys, who would rather see ass kicking and comedy than people in wuv.

But I thought it was fine here. No, what bothers me about this scene is that:

She says to goodbye to Ichigo, who is not her closest friend.

Remember what I said earlier about what Orihime has in store for us? Romance with Ichigo and....that's right, her friendship with Tatsuki! HER BEST FRIEND.

I'm pissed that she didn't chose her. That's a little selfish, wouldn't you say? Orihime was the one who made this determination at the beginning to protect Tatsuki, and pretty much forgets she exists.

Tatsuki was the one that saw Yammy's soul slaughter and was about to be next! Did Orihime forget all about that?

And really, I know we're talking about Orihime here, but this was pretty much the scene to me that said "yeah don't expect Tatsuki to be relevant anymore". Kubo focused a little too much on the romance aspect and in turn, shafted her closest friend.

*sighs* Whatever. Again, Orihime is the focus of this post.

So she's taken to Las Noches after biding farewell, and obviously, Aizen cuts the BS and asks for her power right away:


To repair Grimmjow's lost arm. Yes, so apparently she can repair limbs out of nothingness. Aizen remarks that her power is godlike, too.

HUECO MUNDO HEAL COUNT: 1

Keep an eye on that counter, folks.

.....Soon, word gets out that Orihime is captured. Ichigo is alarmed and immediately gathers Uryu and Chad to do something!

Unforunately, it doesn't look like Soul Society will assist. Because Yamamoto is convinced that Orihime went willingly to Hueco Mundo and thus, is now a traitor.

.......I remarked on this last post, but understand why this is extremely stupid:

-It's a gross assumption to say Orihime went off willingly. Where's the proof? And SS knows Orihime is a simple, kindhearted girl, not a lol Aizen mastermind.
-ORIHIME HAS NO OBLIGATION TO SOUL SOCIETY. She is not a shinigami. She is not a deceased soul. She is an alive 15 year old girl, who, if it wasn't for Ichigo, wouldn't know the spirtual world even exists!
-Yamamoto is a jerk, plain and simple.

Naturally Ukitake and Ichigo object to this ruling, and Strawberry breaks the rules to go off and rescue Orihime.

....Wait. We're rescuing someone......Ichigo is rescuing a female friend with his buddies, breaking customs and risking his life to do so. They're going to a special dimension.

Does this sound familar to anyone?!

This is a retread of the Soul Society arc, only this time, we're going to Hueco Mundo and Orihime's the one in captivity!

......Wow, this is awful.

1) Doesn't it seem cheap and unfair to Orihime's character to be reduced to someone that means to be saved? When the past few chapters/episodes she's been trying to become independent and strong?
2) It was fine with Rukia because it was a totally unique situation then. We're getting a rescue arc literally right after a rescue arc this time!

Damsel in distress arcs are a staple of shonen, and they're usually executed well. But the problem is that Kubo is copying the groundwork for the same situation twice in a row!

It'd be fine if there were like 3-4 arcs in between......and the situations varied.....however, this is not the case. Kubo only knows how to write rescuing and training.

Maybe I'm complaining too early. Let's just see how it turns out.


Ichigo and his friends traverse through the desert, and eventually word gets out. Ulquiorra informs Orihime of this development, and forces her to swear loyalty to Aizen.

And....she does.

Ulquiorra talks to Nnoitra later, saying including the choice to say goodbye to a friend and time to do so were the methods to give Orihime the sense of free will, and in turn, lower her resistance.

.....However, Orihime resolves to reject the Hogyoku in secret, which would stop Aizen's plans! Whoa! Kubo, you tease. But hey, that's something to look forward to....it'd be great, right?

Things are going to get seriously messy now. Just warning you.


We see Orihime again after Nnoitra easily defeats Chad. Ulquiorra comes in and taunts Orihime, not only saying that all of her friends are going to die, but this whole situation is a futile effort, that her friends were idiots to charge Hueco Mundo head-on.

.....Well, it's not like the protectors of the souls were offering to help!

Orihime, offended and angry, slaps Ulquiorra.....err, okay, it's something right? No....no, I don't understand. Orihime has her powers, and with her emotions, could easily reject Ulquiorra to teach him a lesson, then cue resolve speech. Something more a slap would have a greater impact.

....I guess she didn't want to push her luck, because the whole fortress is filled with psychotic monsters.

By the way, here's a YouTube comment from that video:

"I hate u Orehime! U have the nerve to slap someone as badass as him! Shame on you! Ur rediculous! Pathetic! If i were Ulquiorra i would tie you down and break your face! Its a shame... He has such a sexy voice too..."
 

I did not make this comment up; whoever this user is, they shouldn't be allowed to reproduce.

From there, Orihime begins to cry and worry that everyone is needlessly risking their lives. It's a kinda a lapse in character for the independent strong pay-off we're waiting for, but whatever! Kubo will make her do something important, right?!

Eventually, Ichigo confronts Ulquiorra and battles him for the first time...however, Loly and Menoly, two female Arrancar, appear and start to bully her:


Which turns to physical violence.

....Man, Kubo, this is REALLY unfair for Orihime. In the span of a day she gets captured, imprisoned, emotionally knocked around, and now....bullied by Arrancar bitches.

I really feel bad for her in this scene, though. .....But we all know things are gonna look up, and Orihime will develop into an iron willed maiden!

.....wait a sec-


Yes, Grimmjow appears! He decimates Loly and Menoly, ending their torture, why? Because he wanted to clear the debt he owed to Orihime when she healed his arm.

See, that's why he's leagues better than Nnoitra.....he has a sense of honor.

.....

Before taking her away, Orihime decides to heal Loly and Menoly....including the latter right back from death!

HUECO MUNDO HEAL COUNT: 3

.....What?! Who the hell decides to revive their torturers?! Is Orihime a masochist or just really nice? Look, either way, I'm not happy with this. She's reduced to a healing item again, and it's to heal two sadistic bullies! By choice! Not cool, Kubo.

Grimmjow takes Orihime away to find Ichigo, whom at this moment had just had his chest stabbed by Ulquiorra and left for dead.

Wanting him at full power, Grimmjow orders Orihime to heal him......yet Orihime tries to refuse, saying she'll only allow him to get hurt again.

....so you'd rather have your crush die on your watch? C'mon now.

HUECO MUNDO HEAL COUNT: 4

Ichigo and Grimmjow fight, blah blah, and when Ichigo busts out the Vizard Mask, Orihime is afraid of his power and what's he become. Nel scolds her and her fear is vanished.

....Look, I understand Kubo's trying to make Orihime strong and independent this arc, but how come everytime she's doubted herself or been afraid, someone else had to snap her out of it?

It seems contradictory. You'd think she'd learn by now.

Ichigo wins, yadda yadda, and while he tries to take Orihime and Nel away, Nnoitra (of course) shows up and ruins another person's day. God I hate him.

Nnoitra toys around with Ichigo while Tesla holds Orihime captive. Goddamn it, Kubo! Again Orihime is trapped and no more than a crying damsel in distress! And before she can even use her pins to help, Tesla threatens to destroy them.

......sigh.....

Ichigo loses, Nel transforms and fights, then she gets turned back, Kenpachi appears, and beats Nnoitra, you know the story. Finally, no more bullshit in our wa-

 
 
Goddamn it. Stark shows up and takes Orihime back to Aizen, where the mastermind announces his plan to destroy her town as he leaves.
 
.....You know, the repetition is starting to annoy the shit out of me. This is like the fourh time some Arrancar has shown up and taken Orihime away. She's not a frisbee you can throw and pass around.
 
And this would be the fifth time she's healed in HM if she got to Kenpachi! Five! She can not only heal, Kubo. Remember?! She can attack! Hachi fixed the pin! So why haven't I seen it?
 
And that reminds me:
 
Where the living hell are the Shun Shun Rikka fairies?
 
They have not made an appearance this whole time. They represent Orihime's powers, and they're quirky, interesting, and......there! Wouldn't you think they'd be able to talk to Orihime, give her confidence to USE her powers more effectively, and keep her in a good mood?!
 
Oh Ichigo can talk to his bloody thirsty Hollow every yaoi fangirl loves to ship him with, but it doesn't work for our hairpin healer?
 
*sighs* Let's just move on.
 
Ichigo rushes back to get Orihime, and of course, runs into Ulquiorra. Their second battle begins while Loly and Menoly try to get at Orihime again.
 
At this point, they've come to fear what her power can do, and harm her while Ichigo tries to get past Ulquiorra to help.
 
....You see?! Orihime healing those two did nothing productive in the long run! She wasted her fucking time, and it wasn't for Yammy attacking Loly and Menoly (thus disabling them), they would have bullied her AGAIN.
 
However! Orihime does manage to block one of Ulquiorra's attacks, so.......it's do or die, Kubo!
 
Blah blah, more fighting, and when things get to the dome of Las Noches, Ulquiorra completely dominates Ichigo by releasing twice. Just when Orihime and Uryu show up to assist, Ulquiorra had already blasted a hole through his chest, killing him.
 
Now things get really horrible. Are you paying attention?
 
This is pretty much Orihime's last chance this whole arc to amount to something. She's been a captive all this time, constantly worrying for her friends' safety, crying, being abused.....but Ulquiorra's the final foe! If she teams up with Ichigo, things will go well and-
 
 




No. NO. NOOOOOOOOOO-!!!!!!!!!!
 
 
Do I have to spell it out? Augh......Orihime does nothing more than cry over Ichigo's death. She just fucking stands there and goes "Kurosaki-kun" NONSTOP!!!!
 
Emotion and angst are vital, but this couldn't be a worse time. Orihime's last chance to do ANYTHING respectful consists of her crying her eyes out and begging someone to help her. And seriously:

Say ICHIGO-KUN, WILL YOU?!
 
I'm extremely pissed off now. Kubo has destroyed the entire theme of Orihime getting stronger and becoming independent in a single moment, to make way for SSJ3 Ichigo!
 
Anything to be cool, am I right?!
 
Orihime's "development" resulted in jackshit in the end. Remember her wanting to destroy the Hogyoku?! Where the hell did that go?!
 
Remember the other aspects of her powers? Well, you don't see them very much this arc!
 
Remember Aizen being interested in her powers? Well, that was a cover-up, as he kidnapped Orihime just to lure Ichigo to him, and by proxy, half of the Gotei!
 
NONE OF THESE SUB-PLOTS GO ANYWHERE.
 
That's the worst of it. All this time, we were all expecting some kind of grand pay-off for Orihime, just to make up for the character set-backs. But in the end, no, it's all about goddamn Ichigo.
 
For crying out loud, Rukia was a way better damsel in distress! By simple virtue that she literally couldn't do anything to rebel (given she had no powers), and we got to see her past.
 
By contrast, Orihime was a character whom we were more familar with. And she actually had powers to do something! Reject an Espada! Reject the Hogyoku! Reject the fucking wall and tunnel a way out of the fortress! No.....all she did was fucking heal.
 
Orihime haters have a right to be repulsed by her. That crying scene alone represents a character with misused potential and poor development. I missed the quirky, strong Orihime.
 
Oh yeah.....SSJ3 Ichigo stabs a hole through Uryu's chest. Let's fix that.
 
HUECO MUNDO HEAL COUNT: 5
 
Now does Orihime heal Ichigo a final time? Or does Unohana do it? Fuck it, what does it matter? After this, Ichigo escapes to finish the war.....blah blah.
 
Rukia, Chad, Uryu, and Renji are all other examples of poorly developed characters victim to Kubo's writing, by at least they got to do something. Beat up an Arrancar, kill a Hollow, whatever. Orihime didn't get to do ANYTHING.
 
So......I have little faith in Kubo to repair his mess when the arc finishes. Yes, we're about to start the Fullbringer arc in Orihime's stead.....the thought brings bile up my throat.
 
Wait, what's this? Kubo released a databook?
 
Databook: Tia Harribel and her fraccion survived their injuries and the war. Apache went to Inoue Orihime in Fake Karakura and begged her to heal them. Orihime did, and these Hollows got to go home. Hooray!
 
 
Excuse me, I have to scream into my pillow for 45 minutes.
 
....
 
Let's just see what the fuck is wrong with this whole situation. You're telling me, Kubo....Orihime willingly healed four Hollows she hasn't interacted with at ALL, and by pure virtue of being the saint she is?
 
...Oh gee, I guess Orihime caters to everyone now! Heal Grimmjow, heal Loly, heal Menoly, heal Harribel?! Who's next?! Ted Bundy? Kim Jong Il? Adolf Hitler? Osama Bin Laden?
 
I mean, she can revive the dead without any outside help! Yet she seems more willing to heal a bunch of Hollows (thus preventing purification, which in turn prevents a better afterlife) than people would SHOULD come back to life: Masaki, Soken, Hisana, her own brother Sora?!
 
Look, I enjoyed Harribel and her fraccion. Guilty. And I don't want Orihime to actually heal those aforementioned people, because she is not just a healer! She attacks and defends, Kubo!
 
But that doesn't excuse the oddness of this whole outcome. Wouldn't she be more willing to heal.....oh say Grimmjow? A jerk, but someone that's interacted with Orihime personally and actually helped her in escaping?
 
Or maybe-
 
 
 ...no, anyone but him.
 
That's something I have to bring up. What person started the Orihime X Ulquiorra fandom? That person needs a lobotomy.
 
Ulquiorra did nothing but torture Orihime......kidnapping her, saying her friends were dead, murdering her friend Ichigo right before her eyes.....and some people think all of that's forgiven when Ulquiorra says "I know what a heart is now" and reaches for her hand?
 
I mean......I'm all for shipping, especially crack shipping, but this is too much for me.
 
Why was Ulquiorra so damn popular in the first place? I guess because he's a bishie and his second released form is kinda cool, but apparently him dying invoked this global response of agony.
 
....Jesus, people. Now....where was I?
 
So how did Orihime's character turn out this arc?
 
In case you've voided my anger, not so good. It's just a mess. Think back to what I said we had in store.
 
-her friendship with Tatsuki (Tatsuki hasn't been important or relevant for a LONG time, Orihime seems to care more about Ichigo than her so-called best friend)
-her hairpin powers (Hooray, we get to see the healing aspect abused a million times. A few defense shields, but nearly no attacking whatsoever. And again, the fucking fairies are gone!)
-her crush on Ichigo (The most predominant aspect and yet, it's still written badly. She doesn't even confess to him at the end of the saga, and apparently some fans are convinced turning into a ruthless monster for someone equals true love)
-her role in things to come (huh.....well, I got my hopes up and look what happened. Kubo can't fix this, can he? What will Orihime do next arc?)
 
Things are going to get really really horrible now. Are you ready?!

Ah....the timeskip. Where Uryu copied Nanao's look, Chad gets facial hair, and Ichigo finds a way to become even more dense than he was.

But screw them! What's Orihime up to? Her first scene post-timsekip has her dangling out of a window saying hello to Kurosaki-kun.

.....You know, I don't know why this bothers me so much. It's not exactly uncommon for friends to address each other by their family names in Japan. Ichigo calls Orihime "Inoue", so what exactly is the problem?

Gee, I don't know. It's not like Orihime had a crush on Ichigo....

....oh, wait. That was the whole damn focus on the last arc for her character. And I like I said, she didn't even confess in the end. In fact, it seems to have been swept aside, doesn't it? There is no such scene to indicate their friendship has evolved.

Ichigo, I'm impressed. You friend-zoned her without even trying!

No seriously, I feel like Kubo hit "reset" for Orihime's relationship so far.....you'd think they would interact and talk about I dunno, Orihime crying and Ichigo turning into a monster against Ulquiorra?

.....I'm spending too much time on this.

There's one scene where Orihime gets nervous in Ichigo's house and gets dizzy later....I have no idea what I'm saying here.

.....Anyway, you know the garbage sequence of events. Ichigo meets Ginjou, Ginjou shows up to taunt Ichigo and lure him into going to Xcution, someone attacks Uryu, and so on.

Orihime meets Uryu in the hospital, where Ryuken reveals his attacker is a human and that she should be careful. .....How come Orihime didn't heal Uryu from the get-go?

Oh my god, you see this? Because Kubo always uses her for JUST healing, he's basically trapped Orihime in a purpose circle.

-Have Orihime heal someone, you annoy the reader because they see she's only healing again. Not doing anything offensively or different. In turn, they're seeing her potential being wasted further.

-Don't have Orihime heal someone, you annoy the reader because they know she can heal anything (destroyed limbs, gaping holes, death), so to not do so would just waste time and mess up some event later on.  In turn, they go "what's the point"?

If Orihime fought more and attacked, she wouldn't have this damn problem. But let's keep going.

Later on, she comes home (apparently she has a part-time job at a bakery or something), and encounters Shishigawara, who tries to kill her.....but can't do it because of how pretty she is.

You know, there's plenty of Bleach characters I can't stand, but Shishi....Punk Kid is one of the worst. Annoying as all hell, he reminds me of that one kid in high school that acts all tough and never shuts the hell up.

....Where was I?

Tsukishima, another horrible character, shows up and reveals himself to be Uryu's attacker! And while Orihime tries to get answers, he just....attacks from behind:

Spanish, anyone?
 
That's such an overused attack style, it's not even funny.
 
Orihime suffers no damage because of the cut, but she starts to vaguely consider Tsukishima as a friend.
 
Oh boy. I can just point you to Gilblord's article on the Fullbringer arc if you don't know what this amounts to. But let's just move on before I lose my shit.
 
Ichigo trains with Riruka, Ginjou, and Jackie, blah blah, Tsukishima attacks the Fullbringers, super blah blah......eventually Orihime heals Uryu.
 
....What was the point of waiting, again?
 
They discuss what's happened but can't decide if all the incidents so far were because of ol' Shu-kun. Soon she finds Chad, and the giant leads her to the Xcution base. Eventually, she talks to Riruka.
 
Hiyori#2 tries to scare her, saying Ichigo's training will cause him great pain, so much so that Orihime might not be able to fix it.
 
In a moment of being strong, Orihime responds that she will never allow him to be irreparably hurt, and we get a panel of the Ulquiorra fight. Touching, but there's a few problems with the speech:
 
-It would have a greater impact if she was more than friends with Ichigo, something that she's been striving for, correct? As a result, I feel like I heard this before. It seems....basic.
 
-She resolves to HEAL Ichigo no matter what. Not "protect", not "save", not "fight alongside", heal. God, Orihime, Tsubaki must be itching to get a use in. Will you stop being a passive doormat and up your game a little?
 
I could also get into Riruka and Orihime's scenes together, but since I like Riruka in the same vein I like getting mouth sores, I think I'll skip it. Oh fine, I'll describe one:
 
Orihime explains her upbringing to Riruka (whoa Kubo, you actually remember that?), that she and her brother escaped abusive parents, and that she's been alone this time, her aunt pays her to live alone and get good grades. It's a nice moment, but it's ruined by Riruka's tsuntsun bitchiness.
 
Soon Orihime jumps in the game area where Ichigo and Ginjou are "training", and the Aizen clone remarks that the "healing item" has arrived.
 
Congrats. That sums up Orihime's character in a nutshell.
 
She's a helpless girl that is caught in the shadow of her friend/crush Ichigo, she heals everyone and everything (you're a Hollow! Sure, come on down!), and she doesn't have the tendency to attack more. That line seriously bothered me because it's like Kubo's trying to taunt me for liking Orihime, to show "ha ha this is what Orihime is sucka, get used to it", and that he's pretty much satisfied with writing her this way. But no, that's not the worst of it.
 
Some people actually thought this line was funny. I swear to God, I remember looking at a quote from Bleach Asylum or somewhere where someone really thought it was funny.
 
Just.....no. It's not funny. At all. Loser.
 
Ginjou's hacking away at Ichigo, seriously slashing the shit out of his "pupil", where Orihime jumps in and blocks the attack. We all remember her speech to Riruka, don't we?
 

 
What, become important all of a sudden? It's not all about you, Ichigo.
 
So while Orihime was still passive here, I did like her stopping Ginjou. Resolve-filled, strong Orihime is something we need to see, and even if the scene felt like a retread, it's something, you know? At least she ain't crying!
 
Then she vows not to be a burden again......sigh, this is a retread taken too far. This was the whole theme for her last arc, and look how well that turned out. It's like a broken promise.
 
Ichigo soon gains his powers back.....you know, I really can't follow these Fullbring events that well. The arc itself was just so awful and jumbled.
 
Orihime and Chad go to investigate Tsukishima, only they can't fight him because he activates his Fullbring, Book of the End!
 
This is the point of no return.
 
Tsukishima's fullbring inserts himself into their memories, where in Orihime's mind, Tsukishima apparently knew her since she was a little girl, and was so nice to here!
 
Inoue Sora has to be turning around in his sleep in Soul Society.
 
And while you think it couldn't get any worse, that just means you guys don't know Kubo. Let's skip to Ichigo in his Power Ranger armor attacking Shuu-kun's mansion with Ginjou.
 
Unfortunately, Ichigo's quest to attack Tsukishima is stopped by familar faces.....Orihime and Chad!
 
Tsukishima is now Orihime's friend, remember? So when psychotic!Ichigo goes to attack him, Orihime heals him and questions why (Ichigo) is attacking her friend (Tsukishima)
 
even though Ichigo is her friend too (and assumes Ichigo is automatically wrong)
 
even though Tsukishima openly admits to altering her memory IN FRONT OF HER
 
....Hahahaaha no, this is a gag scene. There's no way Kubo can sink any low-
 
 
 
                                                                    .........why do I tempt fate?!
 
Well. That's just fucking grand. Orihime and Chad get so confused when the Shinigami show up and start to fight the Fullbringers, they suffer a mental breakdown. And Urahara and Isshin have to knock them out!
 
GO FUCK YOURSELF, KUBO.
 
It's one thing to make Orihime a damsel in distress and have her cry when a climatic scene occurs, but this is honestly worse. This is worse than the Ulquiorra scene!
 
It's like Kubo really had no idea what to do with her, and since he couldn't insert a rescue arc again to have her cry out in weakness, he just makes her mentally unstable to write her out of the scene. Because all we all know, the story's titled "Ichigo"!
 
.......Except that it isn't. It fucking isn't. Strawberry gets to go insane and turn into a power ranger, and Orihime is trolled up the wazoo. She somehow does even fucking less this arc than she did in Hueco Mundo. And that's REALLY saying something.
 
It's just so pathetic than Kubo had to humilate her and reduce one of his own main characters to being completely useless all together. I don't get it. Does the man hate young girls that much? I mean, it would explain why he loves to troll Momo.
 
But again, it's just awful. And for shits and giggles, what's Orihime up to this current arc?!
 
Basically, she gets to have some coolness when she, Chad, Uryu, and Ichigo take down Hollows, old-school style, but she eats bread with everyone while Ichigo chases Ivan.
 
I'm not making that up.
 
Then she goes with Chad and Ichigo to rescue Dondachakka with Nel and Pesche, but she doesn't do anything. She sits on the sidelines while Ichigo fights Kirge Opie, than survives being turned into swiss cheese by his reishi absorption move.
 
And she says hi to Ichigo and shoos Grimmjow away from seeing him later on.
 
Yaaay...
 
I seriously think Kubo has some fear about making Orihime too revelant. Every arc she's shown some kind of promise and development, and gets at least one good scene, if not only one.
 
But then she's always thrown to the sidelines, whether it be to heal endlessly, cry for Ichigo, get trolled, what-the-fuck-ever! It's the same thing over and over!
 
Because it's obvious the likes of Ichigo, Aizen, and Hitsugaya are so much more important.
 
How can a character be developed this way if Kubo can't even try? And how can I even give a shit about Orihime doing something meaningful if I know what the outcome will be?! Do I have to remind you what her character had in store for us?
 
-her romance with Ichigo (oh gee, that went somewhere. Call me when she says "I love you", kisses him, or at the very least, stops saying "Kurosaki-kun")
-her friendship with Tatsuki (just.....screw you, Kubo. Tatsuki will never be significant to this manga at all, and Orihime will never interact with her ever again.)
-her hairpin powers (the fairies don't even fucking EXIST ANYMORE. And it's obvious she can physically only heal at this point. Forget attacking! That shit's for Ichigo, a character Kubo actually cares about!)
-her role in things to come......(I'll tell you.)
 
Her role is always be the goddamn medic of the group, to gasp in shock whenever a friend gets hurt, to rush to their aid, to only think about healing a friend, not attacking alongside them.
 
Her role is always to be the doormat of the series, to heal anyone with a papercut to a removed head, to get fodderized or trolled to give Ichigo resolve or a power-up, to not be independent.
 
Her role is always to keep the fans in by showing some promise in the beginning, but being constantly shafted in the end. For shippers to rage on or people to make hentai of.
 
Why do I know this? Because Kubo is terrible at character development. If there was a way to make someone look cool and shortchange their personality/quirks/ideals/dreams/etc instead, he's done it.
 
Orihime may have not been the most original character, but she was damn enjoyable when Bleach first started. But now?
 
All she represents is broken promises, irrelevance, wasted potential, and ham-fisted writing.
 
And like the rest of you, I had to suffer through it all.
 
For that, I thank anyone who read this article.
 
What should I write about next, my readers? Another character? What-if situations?  Silly theories of mine? Do you guys have an idea?



Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Attack From Behind: A Sober Review of Ch. 518

These last chapters have been all about forgotten characters reappearing in unexpected places, and Chapter 518 is certainly no exception! With totally consequential cameos from Kon, Ganju, mystery voice, Mangapanda, and even tertiary characters like "Yasutora Sado" and "Inoue Orihime," who knows who else might pop up!!

The following is a sober and not at all sarcastic review of Ch. 518.

The first beloved character to return is, naturally, index finger

"You wanna be a man!?"
This only deepens the mystery behind the index finger, a broad theme of this masterwork manga. As we remember from the epic confrontations of the past (especially the one where they clash swords and smirk, and that other one where they clash swords and go UOOOOOOOO and smirk), Aizen's index finger deserves enormous panel space, and loves to stroke Ichigo's big black weapon, which is now unrepairable except by some technique in the King's Realm. Ergo, Aizen is the King's Realm.

Many mes theorize that Ichigo's sword will now be unlike the Zangetsu of the past (since he's clearly now going by the moniker of Yuha Bach) and, instead of compressing his power into an easy to draw small black sword, it will expand his power into an easy to draw gigantic black sword. This is corroborated by the following meaningfully huge panel.

Foreshadowing for the design of Ichigo's next Aizen finger rest, an obscure and esoteric Japanese cultural code word that that can only be expressed by the unique Japanese concept of "sword."
Note how the clever reader who's paying attention can juxtapose this imaginative imagery with the heart-pounding Aizen index finger moment


Sound, sound advice.

Could it be that Aizen will craft Ichigo's new bankai to contain more ridges on which to rest his pointer? The answer is undoubtedly yes.

The best sword design for scintillating finger stroking action.
omg meaningful
Let's just say there's a reason Aizen aimed to slice away Ichigo's lower half for himself.

And in any case, clearly Aizen will be foremost amongst the hax beasts who will most richly color our worlds and

This guy seems awfully familiar, could it be because he is history
Urahara's installed a screen projector into Kon, so as to justify Kon's being there. He tells Ichigo everybody's okay (including Chad and Orihime, who will soon after crawl back into their specially crafted irrelevance boxes), and he can just go do whatever now. But no one knows better than Ichigo he'll always choose to protect--

FOR PROTECT
Silly Ichigo, thinking he has any agency in a world that's just a hot potato tossed between Aizen, Urahara and Shuu-chan. Some might say Shuu-chan wouldn't have retained his Fullbring now that he's a mere soul, but look at what at the man could do to doors!

"Tonight. You."
Anything is in the realm of possibility for the mighty Shuu-chan, but his prowess at badly warping the perspective of doors was actually hard earned. After all, he invented the door alongside Aristotle.

And Ichigo went home with a renewed appreciation for Mr. Presley's unique life flipping through his copy of the king of swing's  tour de force autobiography, "Tsukishima Shuukurou Is All That I Am."

Shuu-chan's having been the progenitor of all doors is cleverly implied by his appearance as the skeletal guardians of the Gate of Hell in Chapter 12


Why didn't Tsukishima go to hell after being such an unnice anus? Shuu doesn't ever recall saying he didn't invent hell.
It's also utterly brilliant for Tsukishima to have been reintroduced with his back facing the reader, as Tsukishima likewise invented the human back.

"I don't recall saying I never crafted all of your individual atoms to look like my bust, Ichigo."
In fact, Tsukishima loved making the beast with two backs with Amelia Earhart, who is currently chilling with Don Kan'onji at Shuu's happening ice fortress on Venus.

Forgotten character reintroduction blitz notwithstanding, Don Kan'onji probably isn't going to be reappearing anytime soon, so he's on Venus with Amelia Earhart (otherwise known as Shuu-chan's number 14 historical love slave).

You can't see it, but the ice fortress is made of dead Byakuyas
However, these issues are merely sprinkles on top of a far more serious issue: The true timeline of Tsukishima (or should I say the Tsukishima of the true timeline?). There is ample debate amongst academians as to the exact date of Tsukishima's first entrance into history. Some say he made his debut by befriending an Amorite caveman named Og, whom he taught how to make fire via penis fencing; others say his first traces are found when he helped Caesar subdue those pesky feather-helmeted Gauls (Sextus Julius Africanus, History of the World, The Ides of Tsukishima), also via penis fencing. Still others proclaim he was an instrumental inspiration behind D.W. Grifith's Birth of a Nation (Thaddeus Stevens, Scourge of the South, p. 1-123), as, really, he's that sort of bastard, isn't he. Furthermore, his alleged affair with Wallis Simpson is claimed to have sparked the Succession Crisis in Britain, (Historia Brittonum V. CXXIII), though there is evidence of a good relationship with Buckingham Palace in the coming years (he was even considered a possible suitor for Princess Margaret, however the pair had a nasty falling out due to an issue involving excesively high carpenting bills, as well as Tsukishima's shameless parade of historical love slaves).

Of course, a complete in-depth analysis would take far too much space here. For those who are interested in our one and only master of the universe who is everybody's friend, the University of Toronto will have a course on this subject starting in 2019, along with the famous "Rebuttals of "Common Sense" arguments regarding the Tsukishima case and a lecture by the esteemed historian Niall Fergusson called "Why Dates Aren't All That Imporant."

Meanwhile, the physicists at CERN have discovered that each and every mathematical equation governing the behavior of the Higgs boson looks like ASCII art of a man in suspenders, proof that the theoretical Tsukishima Maxim is on the fast track to global consensus. Biologists have concluded through decades of focused research that all living things are intrinsically friends with Tsukishima. And finally, to make a fine point of all of this, it would seem as though Tsukishima has literally replaced the sun.

There's also the Tsukishima of Tsukishima and Shuu-chan shuu chan shuuuushishimagawara tsuki sukiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii

ma

Shut up, feet!
[This post was written in collaboration with contributor D. Jones, alias No Ma'am on Arlong Park Forums.]
[For more of my Tsukishima crack, read my magnum opus, "No One Doesn't Love Friend Time with Shuu-chan"]






































"But you'll always hate ME most, right, Ichigo!?"

Saturday, 1 December 2012

Bleach Analysis: A Soul's Guide to the Soul Society

Hello, everyone, it's me again. Before I start, there's something you guys need to keep in mind:

I was a big fan of Bleach back in the day. I loved the beginning arc where Ichigo learns to be a Shinigami, and thought the Soul Society arc was really good too. It slipped downhill for me from there, but the point where I specifically started to hate the series was when Aizen trolled everyone in Fake Karakura.

Yes, the whole Hueco Mundo invasion had some nasty bumps, but the aforementioned scene was the straw that broke the camel's back.

I may seem really critical about this series, but it's because my hopes and excitement were smashed by Kubo constantly doing things that were "cool", rather than develop characters properly or smooth out the rough edges in the plot. And today features loads of rough edges.
 

I'm here to discuss the Soul Society in Bleach. And to answer the question, "is it a good afterlife for humans?"

Here's the short answer: No. It's awful.

Rukia even has the gall to proclaim it as a paradise back in the early days of Bleach. Now, this requires an explanation on my part. After all, Soul Society has Shinigami, which defend the living from corrupt souls called Hollows. Surely it can't be that bad?


The answer is YES, it is. Let me explain, through four points.

1. First off, the diversity in Soul Society is....well, it's not there.


Yes, we have giants, dark-skinned people, and people with freakish hair symbolizing every color under the Skittles wrapper. But that's in physical appearance ONLY.


Notice that all Shinigami have JAPANESE names?


Kuchiki Byakuya? Hisagi Shuuhei? Hinamori Momo?

The lone exception is Soifon, who is, as well as her clan, obviously Chinese. But aside from that, everyone has a Japanese name. Even regular souls like Shiba Kukaku and her brother Ganju. This is supposed to be the afterlife for all of the human race, right? And Bleach takes place in the real world; Karakura Town is a made-up city within the real Japan, and Chad comes from Mexico, another country.

So what's the deal? Where are the Americans, the French, the Germans, the Indians, etc. in Soul Society? Yes, Quincies and the filler Bounts have a German motif, and the Hollows have a Spanish motif. But guess what?

Those are not deceased pure souls.

Seireitei means "Court of Pure Souls", right? Are only the Japanese pure? Is the rest of the world unable to die or something? I can't understand this. The fact that the 13 heads of the Soul Reapers all conveniently have Japanese names (sans Soifon) is a little suspicious.


I can think of three reasons.

One, maybe there's multiple Soul Societies....yeah! Maybe somewhere out there, there's an American Soul Society where the Soul Reapers use pistols and smoke cigarettes? Maybe a British Soul Society where everyone uses a rapier-type sword, rather than a katana or some variation.



One problem. Well, two.

What kind of manga endorses an afterlife where people are segregated based on where they're from?! We all share the same damn planet when we're alive, but when we kick it....everyone parts? That's crazy!


And here's the second problem: Soifon and her clan are Chinese, but are present in the homogenously Japanese Soul Society. If my first reason is correct, then she's out of place. She should be in the Chinese Soul Society. Maybe her family really messed up when they were alive, and now they have to spend their afterlives serving the same people that raped and slaughtered within their country back in WWII.


So here's my second reason. Maybe SS is just mostly Japanese.....because! I mean, the world has a feudal Japanese design!


Maybe all the other ethnicies and races of the world are tucked in some cornor in Rukongai, wondering why they can't be as talented as their Japanese counterparts. And the problem with that is that's just too far-fetched and dumb to accept. Japanese being better than all? Have you SEEN their weird fetishes?



I was able to form the third reason after reading the chapter where Yamamoto's Bankai summons an undead army of ten trillion people, all those he's killed. Now, I was told that was a pun, given Earth has only about 7 billion (and Bleach is centered in the real world), but maybe we can conclude Yamamoto killed all foreigners to make an homogenously Japanese society. Now, that reason is messed up beyond belief, because that would imply ETHNIC CLEANSING in the afterlife......

So there's no reason that makes sense. Kubo just didn't make Soul Society's residents diverse because, that wasn't on his agenda when writing the story.


It just sucks because Bleach is based on the real world, unlike other shonen like Full Metal Alchemist, One Piece, Naruto, Hunter X Hunter, Toriko, and so on. When you write a story based on our real Earth, you're limited to the zaniness you can make and get away with.



But let's move on, since this point is largely aesthetic and doesn't affect Soul Society and what it's presented as in the manga. Because you know, no one even questions the lack of non-Japanese and they don't even appear!

Here's the second point:

2. There is no social equality, but rather, elitism.

When you think of an afterlife, you think equality. Everyone has the same fate in death, be they rich, poor, young, old, black, white, whatever. But not in Bleach!

See, Soul Society is set up like this:

There's the Rukon districts (Rukongai) where most normal souls appear when they're sent off by Shinigami.


But in the middle of the Rukongai lies the Seireitei, that's why you go to become a Shinigami when you show enough reiatsu to qualify for the job. And I can assume the offspring of Shinigami are born here?


But here in lies the problem. The Rukongai residents are defenseless, reiatsu-less souls that are easy prey to hungry Hollows. For god's sake, they live in shantytowns! Their villages (Japanese designed) are run down and pretty much shitty. Granted, this isn't all of the villages, they infact improve in quality the closer to Seireitei.

However-


why are the only available people to protect them all the way in the fucking center of Soul Society! Shouldn't it be spread out? In the real world, cops and soldiers are placed throughout countries, not just one place! Imagine being an American citizen and police officers only exist in the middle of the country, in Kansas or something. You'd be fucked in the other 49 states if oh say you were robbed, raped, or killed!


But that's not the worst of it. Seireitei keeps the Rukongai peasants out on purpose. Yes, you heard me.


Remember Ichigo and crew's journey to save Rukia? They had to get past a giant wall/gate to get inside the Seireitei? Four giants guarded the four gates to keep out intruders?


How messed up is this, my readers?

You Shinigami claim to be protecting the innocent, but god forbid. you see a bunch of peasants on your way to do your job! This afterlife is elitist!


The only time you see the Shinigami going out to Rukongai is to fight Hollows, and then bam!
They rush back home and drink sake. Do you see them checking on the regular souls often?

Do you see them interact with the citizens? No.

Seireitei should've composed of various bases of the Shinigami spread across Soul Society, so each section of Rukon would have.....an active police force to protect them?




Now there's some characters that grew up in the Rukongai hell like Kenpachi, Rangiku, Hitsugaya, Gin, and so on. So maybe it's understandable they would relish the chance to escape this shitty life and be better off.

And I would accept that-somehow-if there wasn't a HUGE problem with this.


The Nobles.


Yes, there's NOBLILITY in an afterlife. How the hell is this possible? Did they die first or something? These "Nobles" were born in the Seireitei without experiencing the fresh hell that is Rukongai. And I can count the active nobles in duty: Byakuya, Soifon, Kyoraku, Omaeda, etc.


The latter are lesser nobles, but Byakuya, holy cow.


This guy is the head of the Kuchiki Clan, one of the 4 Major noble houses. And every time we've seen him, he's always given off a "I'm better than you" vibe of arrogance. Even after Kubo made him a "hero" after the Soul Society arc, he still acts stuck-up. Yeah, that's not elitist at all.


His clan is no better, because they were against Byakuya even MARRYING a peasant, the now deceased Hisana.



And these guys get the sweet life? The hell? Mind you, it's not like we see all the nobles in Soul Society around or responding to major events, so we can assume the following: the Nobles are mostly not Shinigami, and spent their days living it up, Ja Rule style, in their mansions and fancy clothes.

While regular Shinigami risk their lives to maintain the city and fight Hollows.


While regular souls suffer in Rukongai.


.....This is a fair afterlife how?


Also, this is a minor point, but SS is supposed to composed of deceased HUMANS. What the hell are Komamura and Hiyosu doing here, then? What's THEIR story?


And this is the afterlife, so why is there disease? Hisana died because of it, and Ukitake suffers from Tuberculosis. I can't say I understand the logic.

But let's jump to the next reason!

3. Corrupt people are in charge.

We all know about the Shinigami and what they do, that's the staple of the series.


We know they purify Hollows with their swords and protect (I scoff at this) the innocent.


You got generally nice people in the Gotei 13, like Hanataro, Yachiru, Rangiku, and many more.


The problems lie with the Captains, the head henchos of the Seireitei (if all the Nobles died off). They're the true power in this world, they're the best of the best.


Or are they?


You see, most of the dickery comes from the Shinigami Captains being jerks! Not at all of them of course....but take a look at the offenders:


-Byakuya. His first appearances composed of him trying to carrying out the execution of his adopted sister Rukia. Some brother he is, right? And like I said before, Byakuya carries such an "holier than thou" attitude with him. I can chalk that up to the nobility being there, but can you honestly look me in the eye and tell me, "oh Byakuya presented in the Soul Society arc was a likeable guy"?


-Kenpachi. He's a bloodthirsty maniac, plain and simple. He was one of my favorite characters in this manga, but this fact is not up for debate. He lusts for battle, and is obviously a psychopath. I mean, you don't see him hacking away, murdering the good guys, but he did stop Komamura and Tousen from carrying out their mission to intercept the intruder Ichigo by fighting them himself. He's a loose cannon.


-Mayuri. The creepy clown captain of the 12th Division? He's probably the worst, most ammoral character I've ever seen in Bleach. The man turned his minions into bombs just to attack Orihime and Uryu. He constantly hits and abuses his daughter Nemu (I know she's technically a robot, but some father YOU are, pal!), over the smallest of errors and just for sick, twisted pleasure. Remember his fight with Uryu? Well, you should, because he openly admits to torturing Quincies, including Uryu's grandfather. He made them burn their own children, among other horrors. Now see, I can give him credit for being twisted as fuck, but he's presented as a GOOD GUY as the manga flows. You expect me to entrust my soul with a maniac like this guy? Even worse, Kubo hasn't bothered to bring up the plotpoint of Mayuri doing all this bad shit to the attention of the actually moral characters! Uryu, it seems, even forgot Mayuri tortured his grandfather, because you never see him think about it or try to carry out revenge!


-Soifon. Now, she's not crazy or a sociopath or anything, and she IS a woman of duty. But I have to question that, even if I like her. In the Soul Society arc, she's shown to be super strict in carrying out orders, but when the ryoka attacked, she was focused on finding her old mentor Yoruichi (and crush) and demanding answers as to why she abandoned her 100+ years ago. Uh what? Shouldn't you be going after Ichigo, Orihime, Uryu, and Chad, the REAL culprits in this? Now, I can kinda
forgive it, because a flashback shows she really cherished Yoruichi as a mentor, and was devistated when she left. But take a look at this example:

Soi only agrees to ally with the Vizard Hachi against Barragan if he imprisons Urahara in a barrier for a month.

Why? Well, she obviously doesn't like Urahara (neither does Hiyori, or Ichigo at times), and it can only be assumed because he ran off with the person she cherished the most. But at the time, Aizen and his amy were an immediate threat! Shouldn't your dislike be discarded in the face of such a cosmic crisis? I can conclude:


Girl is super petty and lets trivial reasons eclipse her job. She needs a therapist.

Holy shit, I've gotten this far and I didn't mention the big bad yet.


-Aizen. What a supreme prick. Yes, I KNOW he's the villain, but Aizen had this grandiose plan worked out for years under the guise of being seemingly nice and trusted by the Gotei. Plain and simple, his goal was to slaughter innocent souls in a town, to form a key, to go let him kill the God of Bleach - The Spirit King. And don't think this wasn't acted upon. He:

-killed the Central 46
-stabbed and traumatized Hinamori
-framed Urahara
-gave the Vizards horrible powers they didn't want
-manipulated Ichigo
-abducted Orihime
-set up Rukia's execution to get a glass orb

Now, some of you may be saying "he's a good villain", to which I not only disagree (that's another rant), I say, THAT ISN'T THE POINT.

I'm not here to argue if Aizen was a compelling villain or not, I'm here to say this monster came from Soul Society. He tricked everyone, so no one couldn't figure out he had this twisted plan in the works. And here's the leader of the "good guys":




-Yamamoto. Since the Soul Society arc, we've gotten a taste of what kind of leader he is, and let me tell you, he's NOT a good one. This man is like Byakuya and Soifon; duty-minded, but even MORE SO. Yamamoto throughout the whole SS arc kept trying to carry out Rukia's execution and stop Ichigo and his friends, the second after the order was given by the Aizen-controlled Central 46. Rukia merely gave her powers to Ichigo to defend his family; it's not like he went insane and started to kill humans just for fun.

Therefore, where in lies the crime and urgency to have her wiped from the face of existance? If only Yamamoto bothered to consider the facts, and most of the OTHER Captains didn't either! He's supposed to be a good guy?

And this is another example: when Orihime was taken by Ulquiorra to Hueco Mundo, Yamamoto IMMEDIATELY suspected Orihime of going with the enemy willingly and branded her a traitor.

Yes, an alive 15 year old girl is supposed to have loyalty to centuries old dead people that willingly protect said alive people. Makes sense to me!

/sarcasm

But wait, there's more! In the Fake Karakura Town battle, Yamamoto solos the beast Ayon.....then, um....disappears?

Well, in war, you're not supposed to have your general at the front lines, but what was he doing for all those chapters? When Aizen solos everyone and old Yama comes out to fight him, it is revealed he set up a trap with his zanpakutou to try to fry Aizen in a fiery blaze of hell, which would nuke the whole fake town.

You know, the fake town where the members of his army were fighting?! So you're telling me the old man planned to take down Aizen at all costs, even if his subordinates were to die needlessly for it?

How is that better than Aizen?!


What kind of monster would agree to blindly sacrifice his army to take down one threat out of pure hatred? I understand Aizen was dangerous, and defeating him was priority number one, but this is supposed to be a "good" army!



A "good" army's leader focuses on the welfare of his troops AND defeating the enemy, and is more willing to sacrifice himself or a small number of men to protect the welface of the majority. Now, the fighters in this battle WERE a small number, but here are the problems:

A. some of the victims would be Captains, you know, the strongest and hardest to obtain members of the army?


B. the would-be victims didn't even know Yama was planning to nuke the town just to take down Aizen. If they knew, and agreed, then I wouldn't mind, but there was no such scene to indicate that!


One chapter from the current arc has Yamamoto vowing to destroy all of Soul Society with his Bankai just to destroy the Vandereich leader Juha Bach. That's....worse than the Aizen nuke tactic; you'd be killing your soldiers AND messing up the soul balance of the world, you senile old man.


After that, Yama summons his deceased victims to attack Bach, some of which are BACH'S FALLEN COMRADES. He basically toys with Bach with this fact, and declares Bach's pain of seeing his allies like this.....is "nothing like the pain his forces have caused the Shinigami".



Uh what?

You senile hypocrite, your army was the one that killed the Quincies in the first fucking place! Don't you think Bach has enough pain, hence this war going on in Soul Society?


Not that Bach gets sympathy from me or anything, look at his extremist methods!

Think about it, wasn't the Gotei 13 considered the "enemy" of the Soul Society arc? Ichigo, Orihime, Chad, Uryu, and Yoruichi break into a heavily guarded citadel to rescue Rukia, braving odds and risking their lives to do so?

Coupled with this and Mayuri, Byakuya, Kenpachi and others being in the way of this goal, I can only assume Kubo originally wanted them to be villains. I mean, they're part of a larger corrupt system of defense, and the negative entirity of SS is outright ignored.

How interesting would Bleach be if Kubo took the high road and made Ichigo's group resolve to take down the corruption of the afterlife and Aizen's little plot in between?

And made Aizen's motivation to erase the corruption, albeit in an extreme way? Not the crap justification that he "wanted to be weak".

And used this situation to better develop the Vizards, a underused set of characters, Ichigo's other friends (Tatsuki, Keigo, Mizuiro), and his family?

And in turn, gave Chad, Uryu, Orihime, and Rukia tons of spotlight, success, and development?

....compared to the path we have now?

........where was I? Oh, right.
Remember the Central 46 I mentioned when I talked about Aizen? They're the political heads. They make the laws.



Now before I talk more about them, there's a few things I don't get about them. They're 46 lawmakers....do they have experience fighting Hollows? Why that number? It's even, so wouldn't they need an odd number like 47 or 49, just to break ties in debates?

Sigh......but let's get to the bread and butter about them.


They are the worst law making body in existance.


If the Nobles and structure made Seireitei seem elitist, then these guys show that Seireitei is also an avid opponent of enforcing democracy.

First off, they have pretty damn strict laws, like "attacking Captains is treason" and "giving powers to a human is a crime". The latter law always bugged me, because wouldn't the morality of giving powers to a human be based on a case-by-case basis? Take Ichigo and Rukia; the latter gave her powers to help Ichigo defend his family from a Hollow since she was weakened. You would call that a CRIME?




But it's not the laws that stand out to make these guys stand out like a sore thumb.

See, back in the Turn Back The Pendlum flashback arc, these guys were the ones to proclaim the Vizards and Urahara as criminals, since the former obtained Hollow powers and latter was framed in giving said powers.

I understand the accusations, but they were just decided to be automatic criminals without any evidence. The defendants didn't even have a chance to defend themselves or hire a lawyer (lol whut).


Is that fair?



So when you learn of this flashback, you want to hug Aizen for killing these elitist anti-democracy judges. But that reminds me....Aizen is pretty much the worst criminal Soul Society's ever had, since you know....he murdered and gave away Hollow powers and plotted genocide and deicide. So it's fair to assume the NEW Central 46 (which weirdly appears at the end of the Arrancar story) would be harsh on this guy, right?

lolno


The Central 46 rules Aizen is guilty and sentences him to rot in the lowest level in Hell for 20,000 years (Aizen can't die because the Hogyoku made him immortal, damn you Kubo). Now you have to see what's wrong with this situation.


-Urahara and the Vizards automatically get death on the weakest suspicion of foul play, and there's no evidence. Not to mention, after Aizen revealed who he really was and thus.....their charges, in theory, drop......they aren't allowed right back in. Three Vizards managed to reclaim captaincy, but I've yet to see Urahara there! And why didn't all of the Vizards get their positions back? Maybe it was their choice, or something. Whatever-


-Aizen, a heartless monster, guilty of the things that happened to the Vizards, and judged with actual evidence is.....given a sentence not equal to death. I know he can't be executed, but these "judges" are giving Aizen finite time on his sentence. Meaning, 20,000 years pass, and Aizen's a free man. Since he won't age and probably won't reform at all, given what a soulless dick he was, he'll stroll out centuries later probably hungry for revenge on a new generation of Shinigami.

Why not just keep him in prison until the end of time? Why are you giving this guy a chance to be free?

Apparently SS has been around for a million years (according to one Kuchiki Rukia), so 20,000 won't make the dimension crumble into dust.



So Urahara gets a sentence too harsh but Aizen gets a sentence not harsh enough. Fuck.



This just blows my mind as to how completely unfair this is!

The Shinigami risked their lives to defeat Aizen. Aizen pretty much gave emotional hell to Orihime and Hinamori. Why aren't these people demanding he be mercilessly tortured forever? I mean, it wouldn't be out of line with the corrupt Soul Society. The Central 46 are about doling out justice.....


WHERE IS IT?

 In fact, if I was them, I would not only imprison Aizen forever, I would issue public apologizes to Orihime, Ichigo, Hinamori, Urahara, and everyone else that got screwed over by this sociopath!



And here's another non-canon example, but still valid. In the second movie, the Central 46 decides that since Hitsugaya and Kusaka share the same zanpakutou (how is this possible?), they must fight to the death to declare the owner of it.

Yeah, that's real fair, guys. They definitely CHOSE to have the same soul sword, yeah that's right. What a stupid punishment.

D. Jones (No Maam on Arlong Park Forums) pointed out this other damning horror in the TBTP arc, where Urahara and Hiyori visit the Maggot's Nest.









The Maggot's Nest hosts dangerous individuals that Urahara claims "will do bad one day". Meaning, the Central 46 and the Gotei 13 are convinced that these people have the skill-set and lack of morals to do bad things.

However, they have no means of proving this. No trial, no defense council, just lock-up on the tiniest hint of suspicion! Excuse me, but when did SS turn into an authoritarian state?

The second picture also says something about serving in the Gotei in general. Apparently, you can't leave of your own choice. If your leave of absence (for whatever reason) extends to a certain point, the higher-ups call it "withdrawl", and:

Put you in prison.

In "paradise", you can't "retire" from serving in the military! That's wonderful, right?!

Before I can wrap up, I have one more point.

4. Shinigami are terrible at their jobs.
 
Now hold on, you might be saying that I'm just finding ANYTHING to rant about, right? You might be saying that the Shinigami ARE good at their jobs, right?

Maybe so, but you're not looking in between the scenes.

There's virtually millions of Hollows and only thousands of Shinigami, so it's not like the Shinigami can slaughter them at the drop of a hat....they're outnumbered! But we need to consider a Shinigami's role in the Bleach world, which is:

-Purify Hollows
-Defend Plus souls and humans


Easy, right? Well, this little example of how they fail at the first point was brought to my attention:

Mr. Ixolite (The Daz on Arlong Park Forums) calculated a glaring math oversight. You see, it's the Hollows we see in the series. Specifically, the Arrancar, most of which came from Adjuachas. And Adjuachas come from Gillians all fused together.

Kubo, the asshat he is, declares almost all of the ESPADA to be Vasto Lordes, which come from fused Adjuachas. Aaroniero was said out-right to be Gillian, and he was exempt, but I smell retcon, because Grimmjow was confirmed to be Adjuachas in his flashback.

...Moving on, that means Aizen's army alone was made of "at least 7 and at most 12" Vasto Lordes.
Coupled with the other members, we end up with an ABSURDLY high number of lost souls
that became Hollows.

I don't want to go into details, because I don't want to take the credit. Read up, and enjoy:

http://apforums.net/showthread.php?t=29130&p=2167130&viewfull=1#post2167130

You tell me if that counts as doing your job.


Also consider this little gem: in Fake Karakura, Yamamoto fries Apache, Mila Rose, and Sun-Sun, three Arrancar that served Tia Harribel. But while it seems he kills them, Kubo declares in a databook that....they survived! And Orihime was allowed (and she did it for some reason) to HEAL them AND Harribel!

Now....I'll be honest. I enjoyed the antics of Harribel's fraccion. They were catty, but since other Arrancar were just arrogant violent psychopaths...it was a nice change of pace. But still, they were technically Hollows, and thus, monsters who had eaten innocent souls.


Why didn't Yamamoto kill them? Because he was impressed by the fact that they attacked him with one arm each? Oh, you'll order genocide and declare humans as traitors, but when it comes to do YOUR JOB, you're like...."nah".

How inept.


But wait, there's more?! Mr. Ixolite's last post here on Applied Logic discussed this in detail:


Urahara Kisuke, as shown by the TBTP arc and the early Bleach volumes, was on Soul Society's blacklist. Granted, it was for different reasons.....but the point is, he was a fugitive/exile. Here's the problem.

The guy manages to open a store with his NAME on it at a spiritually dense town, Karakura Town. Rukia acknowledges him when buying the mod-soul pill, but doesn't even bat an eye.

How didn't SS notice this guy was out there, free as a bird?!And don't give me "he was in an untraceable gigai"....the guy made no attempt to be incognito.

It's not like he hid to some back-water town, shaved his hair, and changed his clothes. He hid in a spirtually aware town in a store called "Urahara Shoten".


You Shinigami never saw that?

Also, for a afterlife world with a simple existance, you guys have a LOT of problems. Traitors, exiles, and the like.


Why is that Ichigo has to bail you guys out? Even in filler arcs and movies, some big disaster awaits the Shinigami, and it's always him that saves the day! I know he's the main character, but it'd be in the same vain as Luffy saving every village from pirates or Naruto fighting every evil ninja. As good as they are, they're not supposed to have all this responsibility. Ichigo was an average Japanese teenager who's biggest concern was getting homework done on time, and now he was to risk life and limb to fight evil undead villains?


Taking care of Aizen's forces is the biggest example!


-Ichigo takes the incentive to go to rescue Orihime right away from Hueco Mundo, not the Shinigami whose JOB is to protect innocent humans.
-Ichigo is the one that gets the snot beaten out of him fighting Grimmjow, Ulquiorra, Nnoitra, and Yammy, 4 espada! Yes, the Captains came in to help, and they did save Ichigo's ragtag group, but it should've been their first priority.
-And when Aizen solos the Captains, including Yamamoto, it's Ichigo that has to risk his life again to stop Aizen at the EXPENSE OF HIS OWN POWERS.

All the kid wanted was to protect his family and friends, NOT bail out a bunch of inept ungrateful soliders that can't do their job correctly!


And lord, is there more. In the Fullbringer arc (worse arc in all of manga, but that's a different rant), it was revealed that Ginjou Kugo was the first substitute Shinigami, and we learn the guy abused his job. Why is that Soul Society couldn't track him down until Ichigo had to get involved? He was a human, wasn't he? You know, a human that set a very unique precedent?


Ginjou says Ichigo's combat pass was a monitoring device courtesy of "evil genius" Ukitake. So....Soul Society tracks Ichigo, but not Kugo.

Ichigo was monitored to draw out Kugo. However, in the process, the latter tricks Strawberry, brainwashes his friends and family, and makes him break down in tears.

....Why is that SS only decides to help THEN? Yes, I'm aware the super sword needed time to charge up and give Ichigo his powers back, and they couldn't send someone to assist?

A Captain? A Vice-Captain? Anybody just to monitor the situation and keep an eye on things? To stop all the bullshit that ensues?!


To make matters worse, look at the recent chapter. Three Fullbringers, Tsukishima, Ginjou, and King Brad-I mean Giriko, are definitely present in Soul Society. Now, aside from having the exact same clothing as they did when they died, this situation makes sense. But.....think about it!

I wouldn't peg the three of them to be as evil as oh say, Hitler, Assad, or Stalin, but you have to remember the facts. Bradley killed his wife in trying to test out his powers. Ginjou and Tsukishima essentially brainwashed a good chunk of Karakura and hatched this elaborate scheme against Ichigo.

I dunno......where's the security to make sure they don't anything bad in SS? Remember, a zanpakutou cleanses a Hollow's sin, but not that of the person. And at the very least, Ginjou was apparently a wanted criminal by Soul Society standards!

But nah, they're allowed to do what they please, and that....involves training with Kukaku for some reason. Kubo, this better have an explaination-

Finally, here's one more example. Many years before the storyline in Bleach, the Shinigami ordered the execution of all Quincies....because of the latter's powers. See, the universe is maintained by a balance of souls, where an even number of souls must exist in the Living World and Soul Society.

Shinigami only purify souls, but Quincy completely destroy them, tipping the scales and ruining the balance. Now.....calling for genocide is kinda messed up (there was NO other way?!), but at least there's SOME justification to it, as amoral as the task is.

However, this recent arc shows us surprise, surprise! There's Quincies running around! The Vandereich and the sub-group Stern Ritters. Now....it was fine when Ishida and his dad were the only Quincies before, think of them as lone survivors.

Like how in Dragon Ball Freeza had destroyed the Saiyan race, and Goku, Vegeta, Raditz, and Nappa were the only survivors. It's just a small number.


Problem is:


-we had this GIANT army of Quincies attacking Soul Society. There's Stern Ritters for each letter of the bloomin' alphabet! Not to mention, this army managed to sneak under Soul Society's nose, and conquer Hueco Mundo!.

What the hell?!

How did this fly over the head of the Shinigami? They took over the dimension where the spiritual threats of the world are born.....and the Shinigami didn't even notice.


Not to mention, all the time NOT being hunted down by the Shinigami, these Quincies must've destroyed more souls, considering they're alive right now and they had to destroy souls to win against Hollows. Thus.....this cause is now pointless.

You guys can't even get something as straight-forward as genocide right.


Conclusion: inept!


Well, I've had enough. Rukia, your words have been eaten. Here is your fork. The afterlife is plaqued by poverty, disease, elitism, has only one group of people (the Japanese), and is guarded by ammoral, inept soldiers of fortune.


Kubo had the right idea when he presented the Shinigami and Soul Society as a hostile force that Ichigo had to overcome. But.....it just seems so messed up now that they're "good", and Soul Society is where good people GO.


Think Hell would be better. At least there you know what to expect.


Stay tuned for my next article, where I analyze another controversial Bleach character.....a certain healer......Meta out!