Thursday, 26 January 2012

Attack From Behind: Byakuya Vs. Blacula--A Character Study

Wouldn't you know it, it's

This week on Attack From Behind, we're going to continue in the vampiric theme and do an article I've been wanting to write for a long time: Why Blacula is better than Byakuya. Not only a better character--a better person.

Who is Blacula? BLAHcula! What a foolish, mortal question.

Also known as: "Blácula, o Vampiro Negro," and "Le vampire noir"

Blacula, formerly "Mamuwalde," was a suave and sophisticated African prince who got vampirized by Dracula at a party in Transylvania he attended with his wife Luva, after his diplomatic mission to end the slave trade was rather ruined by Dracula's insistence that slavery is awesome and also by his demanding to bone Luva. Two hundred years later, two unwitting LA interior decorators inadvertently revive the black terror of the night when they purchase his coffin from the Count's castle, and after centuries of undead slumber, Blacula kills a bunch of people and chases after a woman who looks just like Luva, believing her to be Luva's reincarnation!

William Marshall, the guy who plays Blacula, definitely makes the movie with the poise and gravitas he grants a role that would, in lesser hands, have been total camp. He is awesome and I love this movie a lot, like a lot a lot. And, just to be clear: I love this movie UNIRONICALLY. It is, no joke, a great movie. Well, okay, it's more Blacula the character than the movie itself that's awesome. But still.

AND BEFORE THE JUMP I BET YOU DIDN'T THINK IT HAD A SEQUEL! a relentless search for Pam Grier...

Atypically for a cash-in sequel (the first movie made great bank), "Scream, Blacula, Scream" is even better. I encourage everyone to watch (though it's NOT necessary to read this article).

So now you understand my fathomless love for all things Blacula, but what's my beef with Byakuya? Blacula is a vampire who preys on innocent people, how is Byakuya worse!?

My wonderful fellow Bleach analyst colleague has already elucidated the many things that make Byakuya a shitty character, both in terms of morality and of basic likeability (Read it here! [lol nice URL there, Daz]), so here's the short version:

  • Byakuya deliberately made Rukia feel worthless and practically made a point of showing her no affection whatsoever (nice job fulfilling your beloved wife's dying wish).
  • He did everything in his power to ensure she was executed, despite her "crime" being bogus and the obviously suspicious nature of her trial (guess he hated the humans he's supposed to be protecting that much).
  • He's not so much "stoic" as he is emotionally braindead.
Yeah, that's a face that's high on violence all right
  • The suddenness of his character shift to "good," and his hazy characterization in general (I like how in the Bount arc Byakuya was virtually hounding Ichigo to leave Soul Society as though he were an eyesore to blue blood--but then the Fullbringer arc has Byakuya killing his mentor, the inimitable Tsukishima, without any feeling apart from bloodlust because of his supposedly strongly felt debt to Ichigo.)
  • The shift to good hackjob retcon made Byakuya's past actions nonsensical (okay, so he remained distant so Rukia wouldn't make officer so she wouldn't be in danger, but afterwards he.. fights to the death to make assurance double sure his adoptive little sister dies.)
  • He's a honky white boy, and also not Dracula.
Basically there are only two good points to Byakuya, his cool sword and his childhood rivalry with Yoruichi.

See Byaky, she's the head of her house too, and she ain't losing any sleep over upsetting the Man

The following is a list of points, and each bullet point will be followed by an objective and unbiased observation.
  • Byakuya does not go "The name is BYAKUYAAAA!" when he appears on the scene. This is indeed a heavy strike against him.
  • Byakuya does not go "The name is BLACULAAAA!" either. This means he has poor taste.
  • Byakuya's ornamental hairpiece casts doubt on hopes he may grow an afro following any of the six or seven timeskips to come.
  • Blacula knows when to compliment as well as when to disparage. The only weapons in Byakuya's rhetorical arsenal are sneering and scoffing.
  • Byakuya can reduce his enemies into a fine mist with his sword's ability, but Blacula can probably manage the same effect with a pointed stare and a thrust of his otherworldly pelvis.
  • If you think about it, having a few vampires running around town would be great for the population. Vampirification means normal humans would stand a chance against Hollows and the like when shinigami up in Seireitei are too busy conducting tea ceremonies to do their jobs.
  • When you say "Soul Society" around Byakuya, it means "writing paperwork and facing away from filthy plebes" (unless they're hot like Hisana). When you say "Soul Society" around Blacula, it means partying with Count Dracula and awesome voodoo curses.
  • Blacula just might be the first penitent vampire in fiction. The only precedent Byakuya set is how much of a shithead you can be and still retain legions of fangirls. Actually, not even that.
  • When Prince Mamuwalde died, he became Blacula. When Byakuya died, he became Byakuya.
  • Blacula kills because it is in his nature--that's the curse that was placed on him. He's not at fault at all. Even then, he doesn't kill per se, he just turns people into vampires. Byakuya would have seen to it that Rukia's soul was completely fucking eradicated into nonexistence.
  • Nothing will ever be entitled "Scream, Byakuya, Scream."
  • Blacula can't go out in sunlight, but Byakuya is so pale he probably never catches much sun anyway.
  • As far as I can recall, so far Byakuya has never beaten up any pimps. Not a single one.

Dayuuummn son

  • Prince Mamuwalde was "the crystallization of his people's pride." The only crystallization Byakuya has undergone is whatever made him end up with crystals up his sphincter.
  • American International Pictures held special promotional showings at two New York theaters when Blacula was in theaters in 1972; anyone wearing a flowing cape would receive free admission. This is not true of BLEACH volumes that feature Byakuya.
  • Blacula can teleport too, and when he does it, it's accompanied by an orchestral chord. Beat that, Byakuya.
  • Blacula's dead love was hotter than Hisana. Just saying.
  • Blacula makes me wish there were an African-themed Soul Society. Byakuya makes me wish his own Soul Society didn't exist.
Next I offer a crackfic wherein Byakuya and Blacula meet and then fight, entitled "Byakuya and Blacula Meet, and Then They Fight."

Byakuya and Blacula Meet, and Then They Fight


Scream, Byakuya, Scream





A serene forest after a light soul-drizzle. There were many ponds reflecting the moon.

Blacula stepped into Byakuya's view.

"Something that's different from me, and which I don't readily understand," Byakuya scoffed. "Be gone from my sight, and be gone from Soul Society, or I shall slay you so that I may quickly resume my solemn introspection."

"You believe yourself to be ruler of the night? You cretin!" Blacula raised his cape and scowled. "The name is... BLACULA!"

Byakuya looked off into the distance. "You believe you can reach the moon... but all you're able to touch is the reflection of the moon."

Blacula bared his fangs. "I don't need any reflections, you vainglorious simpleton. I AM the night!"

"Then my brilliance will vanquish the night. Scatter, Senbonzakura."

Byakuya's blade flaked in the wind and a hundred thousand shining shards whirled like a tornado of cherry blossom petals, illuminating everything. Meanwhile, this theme began to play:

However, Blacula had only to raise his magnificent eyebrows and Byakuya's theme gave way to his sheer charisma, replaced by Blacula's own theme music.

Byakuya lost control of Senbonzakura's deadly blade-petals as, instead of tearing through the enemy, they danced in the air to the funky stylings of early 70s blaxploitation composer Gene Page. What's more, Byakuya reeled as Blacula's superior sense of cool pervaded his very being, transforming him into a jive ass playa within a fraction of a second.

"AUU!" Byakuya performed a Michael Jackson crotch grab and hoo hooo'd, but Blacula found this distasteful as well.

"Soon the reflection of the moon will be blotted out entirely... by your spilled blood."

Blacula drained Byakuya of all his blood, and he... returned to exactly the way he had been before.

Then Blacula turned into a bat and flew to the moon. Did Soul Society even have its own moon? IT DID NOW.



That's all, folks


  1. Imagine if there were soul societies for different regions of the world and the African region had shinigamis turn the souls into vampires or shinigamis to defend against the hollows. If they had that in Bleach the subordinates of Blacula would probably tell Byakuya to "Get his pale, white ass out of the country.

  2. Why are the Japanese shinigami fighting the Spanish Hollows, anyways XD ?

  3. Kubo would probably say that the Spanish are evil and always will be.

  4. That would explain why Chad has become useless when the Bleach chapter counter was still in its double digits ^^

  5. I have a theory on why Byakuya isn't as much as an asshole anymore. The theory is that Byakuya was killed and replaced by an arrancar. The arrancar was a shapeshifter and was easily able to kill Byakuya and take his place. The reason he doesn't use his Ressurcion is because he swapped it for Byakuya's sword. The arrancar also read the memories of Byakuya and wanted to rebel against Aizen. Since he saw that Byakuya was an asshole, he told everybody that the reason he held back Rukia was because he thought she was going to get hurt.

  6. My theory is easier and more likely: Kubo just forgot Byakuya's original personality and backstory (both of which only served to make it perfectly clear that this arc's villain is an asshole) in order to instantly turn him into a "hero".