Thursday, 29 May 2014

AfB: Use Your Brain Bleach

BLEACH hasn't been faring very well in the JUMP Table of Contents for a while now, and its volume sales, while still respectable, are slipping as well. And yet it seems like, as a series, it's simply rolled into so much moss that the editors have let it continue rolling down the hill on the condition that this is the “last arc.” Oh, they've attempted some life support. There was a stretch where BLEACH got color pages every other week, but by now they've probably realized that first aid spells, far from helping, only succeeding in doing bonus damage to the undead. Here are all the color pages since the beginning of the Quincy blitzkireg, complete with my snarky ass captions.

"The final war us readers have been toothing after since the beginning--can Ichigo finally defeat Zangetsu!?"
 BLEACH was a manga all about holy wars up until now, but you didn't figure that out because it was a fourteenth level secret (it was scrawled in microwriting on Rangiku's nipples in every panel, including ones without her in them. It read "WHY ME cruSADe").

Did we just stumble on some back-alley drug deal here
Remember ol' Twerpy here? I guess he was going to be a thing? Was he meant to serve as a normal shinigami companion to ground the horrors to come? Or was he a one-off character meant to humanize shinigami before throwing them to the slaughter for effect? The only thing we can be certain of is that he's totally Aizen. He is Aizen, and also he is totally this guy:

Ichigo got his bed invaded by more than just the yellow ammonia of his night terrors (it's tough living with a monster inside you that's also smarter than you) as the Nazi Quincy menace came to pluck the bankai he was apparently better off without anyway. This spurred him to nonplussed action:

"...I said, it's NOT A TRIVIAL MATTER, ICHIGO. Ichigo? Ya there buddy?"
The Hueco Mundo plot was so crucial that, in one memorable panel, Chad managed to finally let out the fajita fart that had been building in his right anus of the devil since Chapter 181 (again, you need to read between the lines to see it, but trust me). The Gotei 13 were also caught completely off guard by the Quincy invasion, because their highest priority was grinding Rukongai souls into a computing machine they hoped (in vain) would finally crunch the numbers and solve how it is Yamamoto fights with the world's most flammable facial hair.

Rose and Kensei are new! Their favorite hobbies include not mattering and who cares!
 Sasakibe got a funeral for having three lines in the series. Kira, on the other hand, rounded off his plotline of chronic depression by being completely vindicated in his low self-esteem.

"Okay, I see one of two things happening right now. Either 1) You guys all work together and go the extra mile to make sure I get the very best medical treatment or 2) You send me off with tears and fanfares in equal measure."
 This was all the work of an evil, malevolent big game hunter-looking Teuton titan by the name of Yhwach. He just had to end his 999 year slumber at the exact period Ichigo could have lead a happy life for the rest of his days.

"My first command to my children was that they shave my countenance so that it may fit my godliness. So many tries to get it right. So many lives, wasted. I detest violence."
Yhwach Bach debuted in a scene killing his own subordinates over petty whims. You'd think he'd relax his standards after so many centuries of suboptimal housing, but on second thought, everyone gets to be a bit of a princess on their big day. He'd been quivering in his jackboots to duel his nemesis in facial hair, you see.

"Hey. Hey kid. Is your grandpa this RIPPED? I don't fucking think so."
"Step away from the strange man,  honey"
Yamamoto, however, is slightly more geriatric than any given Italian politician, and so it was his time to snuff it and join the choir invisible.
Good night, sweet officious tyrant who literally twisted the ashes of his victims into an unholy legion
You know, when Gaddafi/Sadam/Osama got defeated/captured, they didn't get soft focus farewell spreads in the papers. #justsayin

After Yamamoto death-died, he was able to take God's place in the after-afterlife through sheer beard-intimidation, and immediately set about establishing a military dictatorship with mandatory poverty quotas (it's the only life he knows). The Vandenreich was forced to retreat due to the mysterious time limit known as "plot convenience." Some of the wounded trod on Kira's corpse to get beamed up to the King's Realm for some healing from Squad 0.

"I name all things in the series, including the chapters! Welcome to Chapter 715, Blades Is S*L*I*C*E [[the 4]]. Are you ready for your new arsenal of god-slaying kitchen knives, Ichigo??"
Ichigo and Renji used their downtime to gain "powerups" that were more akin to lateral power swaps. They also had time to pose for L.L. Bean:

"I impressed the Gotei 13 so much with my magnificent battle performance that they created a whole new 14th division just for me. They say 'shoveling snow' is a job only I can do."
Ichigo, you've officially lost your punk card. Hand it over.

Meanwhile, Unohana had to die for Zaraki to learn the name of the sword he could have simply gone to the Squad 0 guy for.

Omg, it's As Nodt! Put your mask back on, man, no one wants to see you naked!

No one cared about Unohana dying, though; no farewells, no condolences spared. She probably smelled really bed but nobody had the guts to tell her. The Gotei 13 having demonstrated its cavalier attitude towards the deaths of all its members besides Sasakibe, it was time for the story to shift to something a tad more life-affirming--the super special story of Ichigo's birth! It's the kind of love only a child conceived by the machinations of multiple evil masterminds can receive.

If you tilt your head, that expression suddenly becomes less "happy-go-lucky" and more stalker.

It was such a moving backstory that I barely remember it. Of course, those memories may have been casualties of the general haze of rage caused by the bullshit revelation that Zangetsu was a vain impostor this entire time.

The tailor is getting sick of you, Ichigo! Next time check the aisle of clothing labeled NON-EVAPORATING
Note the diversity of the villain squadron, with backstories as varied as "a heartless mass-murdering dick for no reason" and "a heartless mass-murdering dick for no reason." They plumb every nook and cranny of the human experience, much like Ichigo and Renji spend quality time plumbing mortuaries trying to remember who were those fellow shinigami in arms who died again? Maybe these caskets will jog our memories!

I see, so we're calling these living arrangements "eccentric" these days *knowing wink*
 Don't slup til you slup, guys (<-----four trillionth level secret)

I totally get to use the vampires tag for this article now. I hope you can all come to terms with this vagary of mine that I have so selfishly cast upon my reading audience.

Meanwhile, Rukia threw on her Sunday best for the apocalypse:

Hey, it's tough to emote when your atoms can't move.
She unleashed her long-awaited bankai, which, much like Hitsugaya, essentially amounted to MOAR ICE. Though she did get to show her emotionally defunct brother her best impression of him while wearing a fancy kimono. I do hope she got to strut a little in it.

"This is what you will look like after I put this on you, Honored Brother."
Kenpachi, for his part, sliced the battlefield in two with his duckface.

Kenpachi's duckface is stronger than anyone's
However, Sternritter Gremmy would not be smooched. Wielding the invincible ability to project his imagination into reality, Soul Society could only be saved if Gremmy's brain was the type that gets rattled and thrown a lot!

"Neon puke" was bold choice for the palette here
Gremmy gave it his all once the unexpected toughness of his opponent finally replaced his constant smirk with a constant smirk--which would have been quite impactful if the guy had received any build-up whatsoever before randomly appearing. His all included: multiplying himself for added ~!imagination~! power, imagining a meteor that made even his comrades sweat, and imagining Kenpachi getting shrouded in the vacuum of space, the only attack that did any damage. He then imagined himself as a "monster" on Kenpachi's level, inadvertently killing himself in the process. What Gremmy's fleshy human vessel ejected can be described as some sort of wriggly clump of grey  that most characters in the series lack and covet.

Oh! Oh! I know this one! Teacher! Teacher! It's a BRAAAIN

So... did Gremmy's mom give birth to a disembodied brain? Did Yhwach give the kid a scalp massage that applied a little too much pressure? Did he eat one too many balanced and complete breakfasts? What!? I've said it before, but I miss the era when Quincies were human beings and not bloodthirsty monsters in human skin.

Case in point, a quartet of lovely lady genocidal maniacs arrive to finish the job, but they do dally a bit to showcase their powers and slaughter a bunch of helpless 11th division grunts.

Not a one of these is within the catalog of expressions made by human beings.
Of particular note was the Sternritter whose sole ability was generic super strength.

Cause of death: "A mystery"
Jeez, how demoralizing is that? Your whole platoon, iced by a goddamn building pitched your way. Why, any moment now I'm sure they'll issue the order to draw back all the useless fodder shinigami splat

Ichigo finally arrives to rescue Kenpachi's paralyzed form, earning yet more hundreds of frequent flyer miles for every realm of existence he's needed to dash to this arc.

You got fat Ichigo
What an epic callback to when Kenpachi saved Ichigo in Hueco Mundo! But wait, hasn't Ichigo saved Soul Society and by extension Kenpachi, a dozen times over already? What a bunch of ungrateful swine you've chosen to defend, man.

I think we can all butt brains and prognosticate with unfailing precision that Ichigo's gallant reentry is going to do bugger all for the ratings, so let's engage in an exercise of the ~!imagination~!

We come to that singular question: how to save Bleach? Clearly, color pages don't work! Random strings of battles aren't working, either, no matter how much hype sauce is slathered clumsily all over them! Not even Kubo's trump card works, as no number of wardrobe changes for Ichigo will sate the masses!

How about finally revealing Kenpachi's sword release? Perhaps this will vindicate the series! Or, at the very least, bake some bread to go with those circuses! Behold, that which received actual build-up! Behold... NOZARASHI!!

...No. No, Zarashi, no.
It can... cut... anything?

I bet the bankai will be that it can cut more anything!
Talk about underwhelming. All this time, and all we got was yet more "Kenpachi is hax agro yo." No creative special abilities? No special battle strategy to maximize its unique properties? It doesn't even look impressive. It's a giant fucking axe. That's it.
In fact, the entire fight was underwhelming. Not to beat a dead horse, but who gives a shit if it's made Gremmy "want to win" for the first time (I guess that brain was five weeks old) if we've never seen or heard of the bastard before? You can't just haphazardly slap some meaning onto a fight after the fact! It was the same shit with the random ass bedridden-As Nodt flashback after he died. How about establishing them beforehand so we have some context to chew on during the entire clash?

And, again, not to belabor a point, but how the hell does this whole Quincy army business work? So they had a guy who could imagine anything into reality, but they needed an army? It wasn't the plan for him to send a meteor down on everyone, so that means he's got no soft spot for his own comrades? Why was he working for them to begin with, then? He's powerful to absurd levels, but Team Babe was only counting on him to weaken Kenpachi?

Also, the existence of someone like Gremmy makes Ishida look even more laughable in comparison to the rest of the Vandenreich. He's an absolute joke of a Quincy now.

"You will be a giant punchline! Rejoice"
Quincy Kindergarten!

Bambietta: I can make things explode by huffing in their general direction!

Teacher: That's fantastic, dear!

Masque de Mask: I can't die as long as I'm being cheered for!

Teacher: Wow! How long have you been practicing for? Aw, Gremmy, don't tug!

Gremmy: Bitch, I am literally a fucking god.

Teacher: Your parents will be so excited when they hear! I hear disembodied brains get excellent disability scholarships, too!

Ishida: Miss, watch what I can do!!

Teacher: Oh, I can't wait to see!

Ishida: Pew pew pew!

Teacher: ...Finish your lolly, Uryuu.

So, like, lol at Kubo banking on the fight between Ishida and Ichigo that's obviously coming to get anyone reading to care. Ichigo can evidently tank ultracharged lightning bolts like nothing now; Ishida probably still needs guile and Quincy artifacts to win against an Espada (not that that wasn't more entertaining than this dreck). Although I suppose he could go toe to toe with Ichigo and sacrifice his powers a second time for a plot-convenience power boost as well.

But no number of wings (not even an odd number of wings) or dead moms can make Ishida a terribly thrilling ace in the hole for Kubo. No, my friends, the only way to save the series is now is this:


That's right, merchandising! Where the real money from the manga is made! I cooked up some pitches for the execs over at Shuueisha, tell me what you think!

*Gremmy the action figure

Not included!
 “Get your grubby hands off my Gremmy!”
“No, you get your Gremmy hands off my grubby!”

Have you ever seen your kids mashing their hands into each other's faces over a single Batman figurine? Wonder if there's another way? You're in luck! Introducing the Gremmy action figure!
What's this, you say? The packaging is empty? That's no mistake! This is a toy that's all about using one's IMAGINATION! You'll be getting your $9.99's worth with an inspirational note that asks your young pups to take a load of ink and splash it all over the lawn! See that rock, ickle Jeremy? That's no rock! It's a METEEEOR! Order now and if you slam the meteor into your little sister's head, you'll free her from her fleshy prison and enable her brain to break free and taste pure imagination, just like Sternritter Gremmy. Note: If not flying off the shelves, steal action figures from Attack on Titan to place into the empty Gremmy packaging.

*Ichigo's Hood of Confused Identity!

Perfect for those formative years!

"Someone remind me, am I still 1/8th Hollow on my mother's side?"
Are you a teen who's troubled between choosing an identity? Are you drowning in superficial sadness, or are you a majestic otherkin dragon-teen? Ichigo feels your pain! Buy Ichigo's Hood of Confused Identity to make sure everyone ignores you until you've finally decided whether you're a Hollow, a Fullbringer, a Shinigami, a Human or a Space Lizard at heart! Note: remove the bit about Ichigo becoming a space lizard if Kubo hasn't reach that point by the time this product releases.

*Baby's First God-Baby!

Also great for slumber parties!
Has your baby girl ever complained that even though you bought her dolls that can pee and burp, even those get stale after a while? After all, all those babies ever seem to do is slurp dead-eyed from your spoon and defecate, with the occasional gastrointestinal chorus of questionable pleasantness! How about you give her a baby that can do ANYTHING!? Introducing the stupendous God-Baby!

So low maintenance! Every parent overflows with joy hearing those words!
Shake your God-Baby vigorously for maximum canonicity! He won't put up a fight, and God only knows how much Lord YHWACH's fragile, cherubic form must have rocked when all those shit-encrusted peasants caressed him with their vomitous wounds! Think of all the putrid gangrene that flaked from their leprous arms into the soft plate of his now partially open skull! It explains his battle strategies to a tee, as well as Gremmy's upbringing.

*Rukia's “Absolute Zero”-Brand Ass Peaches!

Is it just me or is one butt cheek bigger than the other
 They'll invade every school lunch in the nation!

Kyuushoku school lunch! CUE your SHOCK
Ever snap your incisors on a frozen peach? I'm an English teacher in Japan and I eat with the kids nearly every day! When you see that super special peach next to your soup and rice, trust me, your teeth's life flashes before their eyes! So why not amplify that thrill with Rukia's Rosy Cheeks of Absolute Zero? It'll teach your children to conquer their fears by assuming a zombie-like state of half-death! Not that some kids haven't already mastered that! Thanks Rukia!
Note: Actual peach eating experience exaggerated for comic effect

*The Rose Star-Hole Puncher!

For use with riot police!
"I've heard of fast-track weight loss schemes, but this is RIDICULOUS!!"
Have you been tasked with dispersing a crowd in style? The Rose Star-Hole Puncher is for you! Nothing discourages your average a throng that's been wronged quite like getting holes blasted into them with pressurized projectile cookie cutter rams! Bonus points for removing their hearts and putting Hollow masks on them!

"We're for the interview, Mr.... Ya-wack?"
Make a game of it! Go for the aesthetics and beat your friends! Did Masque de Mask shoot that star-beam into Rose's body at an angle? Did he shoot Rose lengthwise from the crotch up? NO! He launched one with flawless symmetry, without even relying on the centering tool of Photoshop!

*As Nodt-brand fear drugs!

Prank your friends by making them think they've sprouted ten billion eyes, each more horrid than the last!
"Where did it all go wrong? I should have just joined the paranormal club at school, man."
That's right, your friend will come off sprouting even more eyeballs than any given square inch of the Naruto world! THAT'S A WHOLE LOT OF EYEBALLS, FOLKS!

Did the eyeballs have to be rolling their pupils up like that at her, too? Jerk.
Note: FDA approval pending. Get greasing those wheels, Shuueisha!

*Architecturally marvelous sideways housing, to be demolished days after construction!

Remember how Ichigo lost the only thing cool about him? You can make aspiring homeowners feel the same deepness, too!

Spiderman's dream city
Japan's housing is notorious for getting demolished after single-generation occupancies. Think of the publicity that would be generated when those families finally settle in to their sideways apartments, only for them to be told it was a lie all along! In comes the wrecking ball. Now, if you share my vision, you're already picturing the BLEACH logo on the wrecking ball!

That'll be my pitch to the execs. Wish my luck! See you on the next installment of Attack From Behind in September 2019, when Kira fights Bazz-B and dies again!

Kubo: They said 'color' page. Note the singular.


  1. Bwa haha! This is one of your best articles, Glib! Up there with the Fullbringer round up. :D

  2. Maybe the editors and the folks at JUMP realized that Bleach is seemingly a lost cause for a turn around and is just letting Kubo do whatever he wants until either they have a reason to cancel it or it finally concludes.
    To be honest, I don't blame them since I have given up on a long time ago and just continuing to follow the story for the sake of seeing the end. However, because Kubo made it very clear early in this arc, as soon as Aizen makes a reappearance in the story, I WILL drop the book entirely and ease it from my mind.

  3. Man, this manga is getting weird. Glad I dropped it two arcs ago o_O

    Kenpachi's shikai... well... isn't it basically just a less fancy version of Ikkaku's Bankai? Yay...?

    Though I am glad the current villain team of random weirdoes with random-ass powers they don't know how to properly use is totally different from the last villain team of random weirdoes with random-ass powers they don't know how to properly use. It's almost like their power sources are just window dressing.

    And if anything screams "supernatural nazis out for bloody revenge", it's a wrestler, four teenage girls and Q's son.