Sunday, 16 October 2016

AfB: Where Are They Now

Where Are They Now

Bleach ended some time ago, and I’m only now writing an article about it. You see, I scoured every atom of the last chapter for the googolplexianth-level secrets Kubo embedded in the last chapter. And I have divined the fates of every character. Behold!

KENPACHI: Through no effort or training, has unleashed a level of kai beyond bankai that only he can achieve called Kenpakai; incidentally, if any other shinigami could ever achieve Kenpakai, his would still be the strongest. Also, the lines on his face have become so chiseled that his head is now a fleshy axe, because his axe-head is stronger than anyone’s.

Yachiru: Now forms the hilt of the axe that constitutes the level of kai above Kenpakai, Gigakenpakai, wherein Kenpachi sprouts no fewer than three particularly nasty-looking axes out of his neck-stump and ALSO wields an axe as big as the universe in one hand and a normal-sized axe with Yachiru as the hilt in the other hand. You can rest assured that his Gigakenpakai is stronger than anyone’s hypothetical Gigakenpakai, and even stronger than any other shinigami’s hypothetical Supergigakenpakai, that’s how strong it is.

Ikkaku: Winner of the All-Soul-Society Raepface Showdown for three years in a row, his next trick is to hone it to perfection so that he can finally scare off the human girl who wants him so bad, unaware that it will only endear him to her even more.

Yumichika: Is using his sword’s power to drain Kenpachi’s strength nonstop so he can enjoy his fights again, but it’ll never really make a dent because Kenpachi is always teh strongste always and everyday.

Kyouraku: As Supreme Commander Chief Captain Man of the Gotei 13, he has made it his policy to suspend the pretense of engaging Hollows in battle, and has instead mobilized the superspiritual army corps to the task of producing a tea that he can pour directly into his brain through his gaping eye-wound for a more visceral kind of refreshment. However, he has yet to summon the energy to rise up from his forty-week-and-counting stupor dozing in the middle of the street to sign the order.

Nanao: On a mission to retrieve the god-sword entrusted to her family now that it’s lost inside one of Gerard’s macroscopic cells (specifically a skin cell on his right gonad, otherwise known as the Right Gonad of the Soul King) as he orbits soul-Alpha Centauri. This is a mission fraught with tension, as any accidental slaying of Gerard with the god-sword could easily make him so huge that Kubo would be forced to give him a personality.

Shinji: Spends every waking moment crossing his fingers for the next big catastrophic threat to the existence of all of reality so that he can show off his bankai.

Hinamori: Has arranged a delicate truce deal whereby Aizen gets to walk free in Soul Society so long as she’s allowed to stab him the exact same way he stabbed her every Thursday.

Soi Fong: After intense training, she has learned to coat her missiles with poison, so now when an enemy is hit by a missile on the same spot twice, they’re as good as done for.

Omaeda: Has become the first man in history to trigger an aneurysm by picking his nose too hard.

Rose: Sells out concerts all over the Rukongai, and has pioneered a Live Aid for the really bad districts where everybody soul-murders everybody. Unfortunately, the Seireitei edition of We Are the World flopped hard when Aizen took too much inspiration from it and hatched a plan to literally become the world before anybody else could.

Kira: Having been introduced to genki pills by Hanatarou, he makes due playing his chest-bars like a xylophone during his squad’s concerts. He’s also taken to holstering his crook-sword on those bars because he thinks it looks very intimidating and cool. The crisis that’s got him depressed at the moment is a home infestation of little malevolent owl-storks.

Byakuya: Shedding a very internal tear after Rukia’s proved she’s all grown up and ascended to the title of captain, he has dedicated most of his time to combing his hair so that he can be the new Hisana whenever he looks in the mirror. He now looks up to Rukia since he’s only died once, while her bankai can make her continuously “dead,” the most envious state to be in.

Renji: Keeps coming up with new names for his bankai. The grand baboon snake’s head is now a Chappy, to please Rukia. Is also still training to be able to take Aizen in a fight, otherwise known as Soul Society’s most hysterical unintentional comedy act. Nothing makes Rukia want to scratch Renji behind the ears quite like watching him try his best at something.

Iba: His struggle for relevance very much mirrors the Gotei 13’s; he has taken to wearing his former captain’s head-bucket, only with shades on the outside, in a bid to be the “mysterious” one. Good luck trying to get him to reveal what his sword does, because not even Kubo knows.

Lisa: Is quietly agitating to destigmatize reading ero-manga during work hours. Hitsugaya isn’t going to fictionally yank Ichigo’s doodle without her help, after all.

Kensei: Is currently paying Aizen regular visits to see if he can’t poke eyeholes into his mask so he can actually see.

Couldn’t be handier for when you want to be fed six wafers at a time, though.

Hisagi: Gets feverish and anxious whenever he sees a bug-head, what with the flashbacks of Tousen.

Mashiro: Still looks like this:

She and Kensei are still trying to train Hisagi to bankai using some tough love, but somehow fracturing and severing his limbs hasn’t really helped.

Hitsugaya: Used his bankai until its time limit ran out once again and now he looks like Strom Thurmond at the end of his life, only with a captain’s robe (fitted with buttons so it can be left unbuttoned), skinny jeans, and a limited-edition ice dragon belt. As for what got him to run out the clock on his bankai again, let’s just say Aizen can thermometers sweat a little when he’s out fucking the sun.

Rangiku: Is giving Halibel tips on how to deal with the back pain she knows all too well while she remains in chains indefinitely.

Mayuri: His bankai has convinced many hardline conservatives all across Soul Society that sometimes, abortion can be okay.

Nemu: Is now a revolting, monstrous caterpillar with the head of a cute little girl. All of her nerves are on the outside, otherwise she might feel a moment’s not-pain, which is unacceptable. Sees nothing wrong with being Mayuri’s human footstool/mode of transportation. It’s very heartwarming.

Rukia: Has upgraded her bankai so that it can now freeze the speed of light (among other abstract concepts in physics), allowing her to relativistically travel back in time during any fight. Thus she is Soul Society’s secret weapon against Tsukishima, who, as of last Monday, is the doting father and birth-mother of everyone in all of history.

Isane: Is now making sure that the medic squad never does any administers any of their healing arts on the battlefield, as their job, modeling their new policy to “come home safe” after the modern American police force.

Tsukishima: Not to be outdone by Aizen, he’s inserted himself into the history of the moon so that all of those craters were caused by a crotch-pounding that would wake the neighbors for sure.

Ginjou: Has opened a ramen shop where, for no reason whatsoever, the menu is a many-layered labyrinth of lies. He also tells customers that he has information about their perhaps-secretly-seedy fathers, which is actually always true since now their fathers are all Tsukishima. Tsukishima played the ultimate prank by making it true, unbeknownst to Ginjou, who’s only vaguely aware that he himself has a father since until recently he assumed that he’d spontaneously generated from a bowl of ramen.

Giriko: Having done nothing during the big war when his HATED FULLBRING would have been massively helpful, he has taken to training so he can protect his new home, the afterlife, for real this time. Going back down to Earth would mean having to live with his wife, you see.

Riruka: Died in a tragic donut accident when a baker accidentally shoved her head in the oven and baked a donut to form around her neck to strangle her. Then the gates of Hell appeared to swallow her into the secret, worst ring reserved for the truly execrable, a torturous realm of pure white and black, the sensation of which is not unlike being tickled by Kubo’s ink brush from above. Hope she likes being forced to eternally find new ways to compliment Hitler’s sole testicle as he blushes in embarrassment.

Asshole Beret: His Silicon Valley startup promising to marry programming with supernatural spirit particles so that users could experience, like, spirituality and stuff, never got off the ground despite setting a Kickstarter goal of $10.50. Is currently trying to claim he invented the internet, when everyone knows Tsukishima did.

Jackie: A vocal activist for allowing boots in mud wrestling contests for reasons she consistently fails to elucidate, she has nonetheless won a seat in the Diet on her single-issue platform, with a very real shot, some say, at securing the coveted position of National Boot Fashionista. All hail!

Shishigawara: Is using Jackpot Knuckle to win massive amounts of cash, raising the question as to why he didn’t before. However, he is even more loyal to Tsukishima now that he is his father. And also his older brother. And also 10 of his cousins. It’s all just evidence that Tsukishima has a soft spot for the lad.

Hachi:  Is taking lessons from Giriko on how best to pose as a servile butler figure. Has also moved to a gigai that’s 100% muscle but somehow also lean.

Love: Unknown. Last anyone saw of him, Sternritter #, The Pound, embedded largish hammers made of snakes made of diamond into his cranium and into each one of his internal organs, but it’s any guess whether he survived.

Hiyori: Is still grumbling about the occasional pains and pangs her sliced-in-half-by-Gin waist scar gives her. She needs to visit Urahara’s shop every month for a cream if she doesn’t want the lower half of her body to randomly pop off at the most embarrassing junctures.

Talk about a botched yearbook photo
To this day, she remains unaware that Gin had simply been worried she thought her ass looked too big.


Grimmjow: Is now the “king” of an unrecognized micronation on an island in the Arctic circle (the flag is a black Hollow hole on a tasteful chartreuse background). His life consists mostly of unleashing his Resurrecion to look badass while swiping Hollow-salmon from the beautiful spring waters, and waiting for new arrancar nakama to come form a new merry band. Yes, it’s all coming together.

Urahara: Why didn’t Aizen abduct Urahara instead of Orihime? Doesn’t make sense. The dude has a bankai that can repair anything AND actually made the damn Hougyoku to begin with. Anyway, he’s currently hiding his dozen remaining Hougyokus inside of Kenpachi, but he is very, very forte and tsuyoi and mightyful so it’s not even making his Ultragigakenpakai a micron smaller.

Yoruichi: Has feline AIDS, but it’s okay because she’s careful.

Tessai: Also has feline AIDS.

Ururu and Jinta: Rotting in a barge out to sea.

Kon: Has joined Nanao on her intergalactic voyage, with the eventually aim of taking over Gerard’s body, and then playing billiards with the solar system.

Don Kan’onji: Now produces a good 60% of the seemingly 5 bajillion “ghost hunter” shows on cable. Oh my god, this room is COLDER THAN THAT OTHER ROOM!! RUUUUNNNN!!!!! For the time being, the thought of using actual ghosts for any of these shows continues to elude him.

Ikumi: Is now Ichigo’s trauma counselor. Her counseling makes use of elbow jabs and haymakers to “release Ichigo’s chakras for spiritual healing.”

Ichigo’s sisters: Ichigo opted for a normal life. Karin and Yuzu are now fighting evil by night as Vasto Lorde-zanpakuto spirit-catfox-Bach’s other half-Bounts. They are vastly overpowered for the low level Hollows that haunt Karakura and end up vaporizing whole neighborhoods, but Soul Society’s economy is now geared towards making replacement Karakuras anyway, and Yuzu and Karin can see the dead so it doesn’t matter.

Isshin: No longer the father of Casa Kurosaki, but still comes to kick Ichigo out of bed in the morning. However, he has to compete with that one Arrancar that Ichigo wanted off his bed for the coveted right to kick Ichigo out of it.

All of Ichigo’s tertiary-character schoolmates: Spend their every waking moment thinking of how best to serve the whims of everyone’s friend, Tsukishima, with whom they are totally equal as there is no power imbalance whatsoever, now mind as he likes to extract his daily monetary tribute from their asscheeks as they prostrate themselves with their rumps in the air. Are taking servility lessons from Hachi.

Squad Zero: Currently set to the task of supplying the Soul King with arms and legs, and lungs with which to speak, and a brain with which to think and perceive. I believe it was Niccolo Machiavelli who wrote in his opus, The Prince, that an effective ruler must make a point of possessing a brain. Ichibei tried to dye the Soul King in black to make him a “black ant” so that he would sprout 8 arms, but in doing so he robbed him of his name, which… wait, never mind. He never had one to begin with!

Pernidas: Has rejoined the Soul King; disappointingly, it was as his head.

Yuki Ryuunosuke: Is now an important character, we swear, only it’s so offscreen it’s off-series. Look forward to his starring spinoff, MOLD REMOVER.

Chad: Now a world-famous pro boxer. This has made the many montages/scenes where he trains his powers even more pointless, unless we assume Chad punches gaping holes into the sides of his opponents’ heads. No rule against it!

The next time they would meet would be in the ring.

Ishida: Now a doctor, he is constantly astonished how his patients’ blood does NOT gush out into big beautiful blood tornadoes upon the slightest papercut. Is not a particularly good doctor but he can just stuff patients into gigais without their knowledge or consent and call it a job well done.

Ryuuken: Despite no longer being Ishida’s father, he still goes out of his way to belittle him but always with a reassuring line thrown in at the end to let the reader know that, deep down, he actually loves him (Like for example, “God, you’re still such a degenerate spawn that’s lower than the sperm that’s still in my nads because the tediousness of your existence froze my balls the moment you were born, and that sperm, which should never have become you because it was a devolution, forever spells out I HATE YOU, URYUU, but I’ll deign to stick around and teach you how to forge some silver soul sperm from your mother’s blood clot so you can be worth something as we’ll be able to destroy the last remnants of Yhwach’s energy with it together”). Is currently attempting to devise a surgery to pluck cash money out of people’s innards.

Orihime and Ichigo: The picture of marital bliss, as Orihime can shield herself and their friends whenever Ichigo randomly explodes with “darkness energy or whatever” during get-togethers. When asked what he does for a living, Ichigo always responds “Living!” with a wink and a nod and a nudge nudge and a “get it?”

Kazui: Is currently having the next twenty years of his life orchestrated to a tee by the actual last Quincies, Bach’s 9,999 great-grandfathers. As all of their conflicting evil designs for the young boy cancel each other out, Kazui would instead lead a life without hardship or strife slicing up tormented souls at age 4 and being raised as the human pet of his father, Tsukishima. No speaking, only purring! There, there. That’s a good little kitty.

Ichika: Has vowed to cut Kazui down at the point of his life he is the happiest.

Next chapter, they bankai!

Thanks for reading, folks. I had a great time entertaining you, and I’m sure Kubo did, too.

Thursday, 18 August 2016

Bleach Analysis - Reviewing the Final Chapter

Okay, no more messing around. No more breaks, no more fake spoilers, no more nothing. After 15 years of publication....Tite Kubo's wild ride has come to an end.

Let's read.

Oh, who's this little boy? This is the last color page of the series, and it's something that 50% of it is this kid's head. (I'm sure you can guess that it's Ichigo's kid)

Hi Hiyori! R-Remember when you had that panel of combat against Gerard?

The last colorspread, ladies and gentlemen. It's simple, but I actually do like this one. You can't go wrong with a spread of the main Tatsuki, Keigo, and Mizuiro.

Uryu isn't even facing the camera lol

The announcement is a live action movie for Bleach!, I guess. I would've liked the anime to return, but beggers can't be choosers. Like the Death Note one, I assume it'll use a lot of CGI for Hollows.

Byakuya and Soi, among others, make their way to the source of the reading Akon found last chapter. Also, "it's been quite some time since Rukia's had down time"? Wait, isn't this the same day, where she became a captain? When did she get to play hooky on Earth?

They arrive on the scene, but something is happening to the shadowy material. 
And give me a break Mayuri, you would keep this under wraps? Not that I'm surprised, but hey, even you can be taken off guard. I've seen movie 3.

Renji and Rukia head to the clinic, and here's Ichigo! Who took notes from Naruto on the decision to make his adulthood haircut look pretty lame.

I like this page - Ichigo and Rukia banter, Tatsuki punches's all entertaining. But oh my god, look at how smug Renji looks.

"That's right Ichigo, I get to hit this every night, u mad bro? I mean, I always end up crying after, but it's sooo awesome."

Keigo, you're an adult, stop with the goofy cartoon faces

I see Karin inherited her cousin Kukaku's two great gifts. The blessing of the female Shibas.

So yeah, Chad's a famous boxer, which many people pointed out kinda contradicts his motto to never use his fists for his own gain? Maybe he does it just to make a living, and gives a lot to charity. I mean, it's probably the easiest job ever, because he would never have to try to win.

I guess this means we don't get the hilarious-but-still-possible-because-this-is-Kubo ending of him spending 10 years fighting off the sand statues (remember that?!)

Aaaand Uryu doesn't get to hang out with his friends. Lovely.

Didn't he not want to be a doctor after seeing his father carve up his mother's corpse? I guess he was turned around when Ryuken revealed. the silver arrow plotpoint. Ah well.

Yuzu and her silly brocon

Speaking of careers (or lack thereof)..

Orihime got her happy ending and married Ichigo! Yeah, they're the parents of that boy in the beginning.....okay, quick word on the Bleach Pairing Apocalypse 2016:

-Ichiruki and Ichihime were both pairings I followed, I'll admit that. 

-With Rukia, there was always more chemistry and genuine moments between the two due to her giving him the chance to protect his family and the whole driving force of the SS arc. However, one could also interpret their relationship just fine as true friends or brother/sister.

-With Orihime....her whole character arc centered on developing more intense feelings for Ichigo, where it went beyond a simple crush to actual love. But the problem never went anywhere. I'd be more happy for her if Kubo bothered to follow up on the climax, where Ichigo goes Super Hollow 3 against Ulquiorra when Orihime cries for him.

He could've went either way: either have Ichigo acknowledge the feelings and return them in story, or have Ichigo turn her down, so at least she could move on. But instead she just kinda floated around, in a state of always wanting to support Ichigo, despite other events in his life taking priority. Orihime was a good friend of his but I never got the impression he ever wanted to or felt like something more. Did the two even talk about the Ulquiorra battle or Tatsuki being left out or anything like that? No.

As such, I guess Ichigo/Orihime is the pairing that makes more sense from a romantic context but not necessarily a logical one. It's not as bad as Naruto/Hinata, where despite her confession, the former ignores the latter up until the final battle where Neji suddenly dies.....but I really can't throw all my weight into it. Still, congrats to the shippers, and at least Orihime's life doesn't suck anymore.

-Speaking of, dear god is Tumblr having a meltdown. 

Rukia was going to bring her fanfiction baby too, but she's apparently gone. More banter from Ichigo and Rukia.

But wait a minute, you're telling me that this is the first time Ichigo and Rukia have seen each other's kids? It's been 10 years! This annoyed me during the Fullbring arc too, what was stopping the two from having casual meet-ups every now and then? Rukia could easily pop in a gigai, or Ichigo could take the Senkaimon over. And don't give me the excuse of Gotei protocol, they've mellowed out, especially since Kyoraku's in charge.

Kubo, they're supposed to be friends. You realize all of this despair with Ginjou crap would've happened if Rukia at least called him!

Also, smug Renji continues.
"That's right guys, my seed's in Rukia. I even job at using a condom."

Bach's remains the Living World too? Uhhh...okay.

I guess I'm not surprised that Ichigo's spawn is this powerful (given his heritage), but was there even a need to include this as a cliffhanger to begin with? Everything seemed too happy for Kubo to end on a downer ending.

(also, does SS know Ichigo has reproduced? Look into that guys)

Aizen-sama! Gee the guy must be bored out of his mind, now. He's still locked up. Wait how did everyone recapture him after the battle? Ichigo and Renji were in no shape to keep fighting....I guess either Aizen gave up or Mayuri and Urahara did some kind of uber seal.

We cut back to the battle as Bach is dying, and this just makes me pissed off.

The beginning of this arc seemed like he was one a revenge crusade, operating in his own world for the Quincies to get even for their treatment.

Then it shifted to a hatred of the Soul Aizen, I guess, if you read hard into it, it was a hatred of the vague as they talk about it.

But then he gets so powerful and malicious he aims to just end everything, just for shits and giggles. After all, he had the Almighty! He killed the remaining Stern Ritters! It was just him, and screw everyone else!

And NOW Kubo thinks he can give him a new goal?! A world with no fear? Fuck you Bach, you don't get the right to say that.
-he dismembed his Arrancar minions
-mindfucked Ichigo
-killed Yamamoto
-purged the "impure" Quincies
-very cavalierly sacrificed some Stern Ritter just to power up himself/his elite guard
-then declared he would ruin everyone's happy ending and make everyone suffer

What kind of halfbaked "redemption" is this? A person who does this does NOT want to "make a world with no fear", he is the fear!

 I can't believe I have to see his face one more time, screw you Kubo.

I feel like this was trying to refer to the current cycle in Bleach, after a time when everybody pretty much stopped caring about it in-universe. And I get it, but again, you were the one trying to install fear in everyone. Is that supposed to be better? A world where people fear this sadistic, sociopathic, amoral God king instead of a natural way to pass on?

And what about the Soul King? Bach absorbed/killed him, so how does the universe not collapse when he dies? Who fixes it, and how? Kubo? Answers, please.

As much as Bleach has a tendency to get uber pretentious when it starts to wax philosophical, I think I'd have to agree with Aizen here. Fighting on despite our fears is what makes us stronger, and it's what makes the victory all the more rewarding. If we couldn't be afraid, we wouldn't have flaws. How could we better ourselves?

Btw I don't think I'm ever supposed to agree with Sosuke Aizen, so....yay?

Okay that was a little cheesy, even for Bleach. Someone appears behind Kazui.

Say hello to the fruit of Renji's loins, Ichika. And while the thought of Rukia thinking about Ichigo and Kaien while Renji thrusts his zanpakutou into her is depressingly hiliarous, the name doesn't come from them - it means "one flower" IIRC.

But why on earth is she a Shinigami so soon? She's only 10 at the very most, and while souls age slower than regular still takes time to be a Shinigami! The academy takes what, a few years? Throw in the time for a child to learn how to walk, talk, think, etc.....and this doesn't seem very plausible, even for Bleach.

But we gotta have the shonen cliche of "main characters kids are the same age" a la Harry Potter, so whatevs.

Kind of? Kid, you have no idea

Now this makes even less sense? How is the 10 year old kid able to be a Shinigami so soon, and so efficiently at that? Sure you can point to Ichigo's mutt genes, but learning how to be a Shinigami is not a genetic trait! I guess Ichigo would support the idea of his family learning how to protect themselves, but that's why he had powers to begin with! So his family wouldn't have to get involved!

Did the kid just jump out of his material body? Is it like a light switch for him? Can we thank the stars we don't have a Boruto-style spin-off here? Then again the kid is pretty cute.

But the title references a new generation of "Death" (Ichika) and "Strawberry" (Kazui), so the adventures between a ginger kid and a midget can continue across time.

.......wait, that's it?!

Let's count the characters we don't have an idea of what happened to them:
-the other Vizards
-the rest of Ichigo's classmates
-etc, etc. etc, etc, etc

I'm not asking for Kubo to dedicate pages to every member of his cast, but putting the important stuff and using mere panels works just fine. The top five on this little list alone would've been fine for me, but noooope. The curse of Kubo always making characters when he gets stuck.

Overall it's not a bad chapter on its own, but the fact that THIS is what concludes the Bleach mind boggling. There's so many things we will never get a proper resolution or answer to.'s really over.

.........what a run. I've been hard on this series, but only because it used to be one of my favorites. And because I've spent so much time on it, for good and for bad....I'll actually miss it.

It could've had a happier ending then this.

Thursday, 4 August 2016

Bleach Analysis - Reviewing the Penultimate Chapter

Welp, we all thought it was going to end this week, but we actually one last chapter to go, and because this week's Jump was a double issue....Kubo's wild ride still has two weeks left!

Aw the heck with it, I'll treat you guys anyway!

We begin with a colorspread of Ichigo, who isn't even in this chapter. I was kinda hoping for a shot of the whole cast like the food colorspread just before the Quincy arc, but beggers can't be choosers.

It works well enough to show how far our Strawberry has come.

Four pages of Deviantart and me picking tumors off my back later, we get this announcement! What could it be? Readers of Applied Logic, shall we take bets?

-Anime returning (slim chance but not impossible, rip Yama's seiyuu though)
-Sequel/spin-off (I kinda hope not but it depends on the idea....again, silm but not impossible)
-Databook announcement
-other Kubo-tier option

Shunsui, still CC, reflects on what has happened. He's standing over a grave (easy to guess who), and I must say, I like the backgrounds. (imagine me saying that for Bleach)

Confirmation that it's been ten years, which is like a month to the average Shinigami. Nobody is going to look aged at all.

I also like this shot too, but did they really fix the Sokyoku alter? Does this mean they still have those type of punishments....and the Sokyoku which Ichigo broke?

Shunsui is called away (rip backgrounds), and we learn that the grave is Ukitake. Aww, his best friend.

I'm actually mad about Ukitake as a whole though. He's always had a slightly-higher story presence due to being connected to Rukia, and he honestly is a good guy.....but he's been overshadowed by Shunsui.

-The two took on Stark together, but then Uki gets knocked out by Wonderweiss, leaving Shunsui to clean up.
-Shunsui takes the CC position after Yama's death, while not only does Uki not have a fight with a Stern Ritter, his Bankai is not shown, and he only sacrifices himself to stop the worlds from crumbling.

Which, by the way, never really felt significant or dire because Kubo ignored all of the tension.

And now he's....dead. :(

Two things of note here.

1) Mayuri's design, which never fails to entertain me. I've always felt he was Kubo's best designed character.
2) that title

the perfect end

I honestly can't tell if Kubo really believes this, despite the fact that the series has been lowering in popularity and Jump just pulled the plug, or that he has finally understood irony. Either way, it is up there in chapter titles like "Why Me Sad". A+

Nemuri the eigth is goddamn adorable, this is fact of science!

And I suppose it reflects the development given at the end of the Pernida battle....but I've never been a fan of the "Mayuri was just tsundere for Nemu" angle. That SS/HM abuse was real, and you can't just pretend it didn't happen, Kubo. As a result I fear for this adorable little girl.

Oh yeah, I'm sure Uryu is going to pull his hair out of his skull when he finds out his grandfather's torturer still hasn't been locked up!

Next up is the 11th squad, and it seems everything is just fine. Ikkaku has risen in rank, and I'll assume Yumichika is now 3rd seat, since he hates the number 4.

What of Yachiru you ask? Well she's Kenny's zanpakutou spirit....even though she has a...Shikai herself?
Wait, if she's been like that all this, was there a significant reason why she can't just materalize anymore? It's clear their bond was no regular zan bond.

But wait....what the hell was "Nozarashi" then? Yachiru's actual name? Even though Kenpachi had a sword before he met her and the two actually DO have a positive relationship, so the plotpoint of him arguing with his zan is....arrrrrgh my head.

Classic 11th division lost shenanigans. .....but seriously, no Yachiru?

Also another point for the "lost plotpoint gumbo"....Ikkaku and Yumichika, both of them have kept the nature of their true potential a secret from their captain/division, and neither of them got to show off. No Bankai for Ikkaku, no true Shikai for Yumichika.

Had Kubo followed through, we would've gotten nice development between the three, but apparently he thought demon hulk Kenpachi sounded cooler. Fuck me.

Shinji and Momo appear on the next page to offer a compass. Momo still cute, Shinji still jobs.

Which is hella depressing when you really consider the fact that a)Vizard leader and b)has mind fuckery powers like Aizen. What a waste of a character.

The bottom panel is near pretentious drivel so let's keep going:

Wait.....Iba became Captain of the 7th?

Not that Iba isn't cool but he's always been a background character at best. He fought Ikkaku (off-screen) and jobbed to Ayon....we don't even know the name of his sword!

So this also means Komamura is forever a bipedal wolf. Damn, he was the ultimate bro, and yet the hits kept coming. Also-
why didn't Love become captain? The guy with the Vizard mask, fought Stark, revealed to the audience what his sword is called?

Much to the disappointment of fangirls across the globe, Hitsugaya is back to normal. Rangiku teases Hisagi as a future Captain. Why?

I guess I've never understood all the hype around Hisagi. Sure his fight with Crabman was one of the best, and I suppose he went through the hurdle of coming to grips with the power he feared and confronting his treacherous captain in the same arc....but he's just so plain. AnimeHisagi is better because he's a total goofball in omakes.

Also this makes Iba being captain make even less sense!

-name of sword known
-shown training for Bankai

is not a captain but

-no shikai
-no name sword
-did far less


And good luck getting stronger than flipping Kensei boy-o.

See?! Hitsugaya, Kensei, and Rangiku all lampshade the absurdity of the thought. Also screw you Kubo for forgetting Mashiro yet again, she's what makes the 9th fun to watch.

Either way, we have a new captain in the works. Hi Soi. I'm glad that out of the healthy preexisting captains, you had the least contribution to victory.

(not even a goofy panel of her reacting to catwoman Yoruichi!)

Okay hit the damn brakes. What the hell happened to Isane's hair?! She looked perfect before and now she looks like the hairdresser thought she was a Japanese schoolboy.

Kiyone's hair hasn't changed much, but it looks more child like and invoking shades of early Karin/Yachiru. Also she's the VC of the 4th....under her sister? So that means Sentaro is the VC of the 13th?

Like Iba, Isane has barely fought anyone and we don't even know what her Shikai does. I guess Shunsui was whipping everyone into shape. At least she has her captain's healing mojo.
.....that's right. Remember when Kubo killed Unohana just to hype up Kenpachi?

perfect end my nuts.

Someone on 4chan aptly named this lineup the Jobber 13

Well it's a great shot of the captains all lined up.

Apparently Lisa became captain of the 8th (love her skirt), which makes Love not being a captain make even less sense, how that is that possible?

Are Hiyori, Hachi, and Love drinking their depressions of neglect away in Karakura Town? I bet.

Holy cow Rukia is the captain. This is both predictable and wtf all at the same time.

It's icing on the cake that Renji isn't the captain. He can be Seireitei's jobbing mascot then! (fucking Iba got a spot before Hisagi and Renji, let that sink in)

Anyways it's awesome to see Rukia stand this far, considering all of her training, but her growth in power has been so....erratic, where Kubo always had to use cheat codes to make her equal-ish to Ichigo in between the action.

But hey, Rukia rules so I guess it's okay. At least Renji is still a failure at life :)

Oh my god, I just more bullshit cliffhanger for the series.

Well I doubt Kubo is going to pull a Bach-kills-everyone bad ending when everything is so light and cheerful here, so....some kind of shadow teaser?

I'm 99.99999999% positive the final final chapter will show what Ichigo and the residents of Karakura are up to. But if he's not here, part of the guard....I guess he became a substitute again? What was the point of the soul tickets then?

Keep in mind Ichigo/Chad/Uryu/Orihime will be in their 20s! Some are predicting Kubo shoves in an Ichihime ending, but I'm not holding my breath one way or the other.

I thought overall it was a good chapter to showcase everyone real quick, albeit some of the captain decisions make no real sense, Mayuri is still Mayuri, and Ukitake/Unohana died before they really had a chance to shine.

Well my readers, predictions on the (hopefully) last chapter of Bleach? Aizen keikakuing one last time?

Thursday, 28 July 2016

Bleach Analysis - Those Silly Scandalous Stern Ritters

Let's begin, shall we?

Time to brush up on your German, everyone!

Today's article will be focusing on the 26(+) Stern Ritters, the Quincy analogue to the Arrancar Espada and the Shinigami Captain. Basically, they're the "bosses" of the final arc, but the first red flag comes on the number. 

26? That's more than 2.5x the amount of Espada AND equal to 13 captain-vice captain combos! Off the bat, this means some (coughmanycough) get virtually no development and some get uncermoniously defeated in their first appearance!

Before we get to the discussion, we need to address them as a whole: are they entertaining or endearing bad guys? Do they fill the Espada void? Well that's more of your own conclusion to make, but taking a look at the ones that were the most important......god no, because the higher ups drained the enjoyment of this arc fast.

Backstory: Each Stern Ritter has a shrift carved from their leader, Juha Bach, and each one is designated with a letter. Some have conventional powers, some have batshit insane powers, and some have powers that show me Kubo has no idea what the word "pattern" means,

The Vollstandig is pretty much the equivalent to Shikai/Bankai/resurrection.

But powers aren't the only thing. I'll toss out points on design, personality, whatever know the drill. This certainly isn't going to be free of bias, and we'll be able to generate conclusions as we go. 

What's the order of review? Random!

Stern Ritter Q (The Question) - Berenice Gabrelli
503Berenice profile

Let's start off easy - a Stern Ritter killed in a damn flashback.

Yeah, you see the problem with have 26 new villains. This...girl? along, with two others, were offed by Kenpachi off-panel. Kinda pathetic if you ask me, considering her powers.

Berenice has the power to apparently....make opponents question their abilities. Self-doubt. I say apparently, because again, she was off-paneled. Kenpachi ripped her throat out, which is hilarious, as if he said "yeah fuck your abstract mind games power".

As such, Q is virtually a non-entity. No personality quirks, no backstory, nothing. Just a look that says "look at me, I shop at Spencer's!"

Stern Ritter O (The Overkill) - Driscoll Berci
503Driscoll profile
Because every group needs a Yammy

I believe Nappa here is the first Stern Ritter we technically see in the story - he's the guy that killed Sasakibe and took his Bankai. The Ukitake/Shunsui-level Sasakibe had a Bankai yet was facesmacked by Ichigo.

His power allows him to grow stronger with each kill, which I actually think is a cool power. Fitting the bloodthirsty dumb brute he is. I say he's dumb because this happened to him:

Yamamoto kills driscoll

Smack-taking Sasakibe gets him freaking incinerated by Yama, which is how the real chumps go out. It's the equivalent of mooning Sakazuki from One Piece, you're going to get a magma fist up your ass no matter what you do.

Again, no backstory....and ye old dumb blood brute. Yammy 2.0 at best. Next!

Stern Ritter T (The Thunderbolt) - Candice Catnipp

Damn son....I mean, this is Candice, ladies and gents. Her last name is as lolworthy as it sounds, and she fits the mold for many a female Bleach minor villain - hair trigger temper and yells a lot. (get it? She yelled at Ichigo for messing up her hair? G-get it?)

Interestingly enough, she has a little clique with Stern Ritters E, G, T, P, and Z, and I would be a bold faced liar if I said the named "Femritters" weren't my favorites of the bunch. No, it's not because they're female, but because like Harribel's fraccion, they're catty with each other and have this little sect to begin with, so there's some group dynamic beyond "I barely tolerate all of you"

582Candice attacks

Her power is to use electricity. It sounds average/generic/lame, but to be honest, I preferred the regular powers to some of the insane things Kubo will come up down this list. Plus Enel and Pikachu, two of my favorite characters ever, use it too.

Unfortunately, aside from Candice's rather nice (hot) design, there's not much to her. The Femritters "friendship" isn't expanded upon, and it bums me out. Everyone knows teen girls in an evil organization in a shonen manga are the best (unless you're Riruka)

But seriously, once we get to E and Z, things get fucked up. 

584Candice loses
Kubo and his arm ripping off fetish strikes again

Candice actually has a short appearance compared to the other gals - she joins the attack on Ichigo when he comes back from training, but Byakuya later off-screens her. Is she dead? It's 99.9% possible Kubo just forgot. He does that.

Stern Ritter L (The Love) - Pepe Waccabrada
575Pepe profile alt

This won't be the most ridiculous name here, I promise you.

Pepe's got some dank shades and I have to give credit to that beard. He shows up in the second invasion, around Hisagi and others.

C593 Pepe Equipment
Getting aroused, my little reader-kun?

He believes love is the source of all conflict and has a fixation on it, and when people don't accept his love....wait....I'm getting Zommari vibes.

His power is easy to guess - anyone under his vibes makes the victim fall in love, be it fascination/awe love (Hisagi) or give me the dic-staff love (Meninas). 

You might be asking uhhh what the fuck kind of power is that for a Quincy arrow shooting organization, and I agree. Like Q, this is an example of an abstract power, and it's just as devil fruit-y. But it's not the craziest.

He turns Hisagi against Byakuya, who catches it and fends him off. Then we learn that Pepe goes the route of Zommari has to look as unbelievably ridiculous/stupid when he transforms.

595PePe's Vollstandig


Losing 80% of his clothes? A diaper??? What the fuck? Kensei rightfully protects the reader from gouging his eyeballs with a spoon and pummels the shit out of him.

   596PePe is punched

Then Stern Ritter G eats him. Not kidding. Which proves that these guys are not exactly fact, more than half really don't give a shit about each other.

Yeah, definitely the right attitude when your race has been mostly purged. Thanks Kubo

Stern Ritter I (The Iron) - Cang Du
Gee, it's pretty boy #3452. I'm so glad we have another of these.

Cang is essentially discount Zuko, only about 1% as compelling. He's ye olde stoic loyal guy, and he clashes with Hitsugaya during the first and second invasions, which in reality, would only make him more unimpressive, no?

559Cang uses

His power is again, easy to guess, hardening a la Tekkai. But because he uses Hitsugaya's stolen Bankai for most of his appearance, the extent of this ability is barely seen. I suppose hardening your skin is useless in a series where people can shoot sword beams.

For losing his stolen Bankai and failing, he and Stern Ritter K are killed by Haschwald under Bach's orders. (who basically says fuck your power)

559BG9 and Cang sit

Death for failure? Where you guys are numbered to begin with? It reeks of the leader being a tyrant....more on that later...

Stern Ritter V (The Visionary) - Gremmy Thoumeaux
Imagining Quincy
Gremmy has the (dis)honor of being my most hated Stern Ritter in this line-up, and it's very easy to understand why.

A) Gremmy's personality is acting smug
B) His power is disgustingly broken

Yes! Imagination! Why not, right?! We already had love!

Kubo really shot himself in the foot with this one. Why does Gremmy have this power that can eclipse his leader? I believe he was part of his elite guard before Stern Ritter D took the spot, but even then, why would he engage solo with a war potential (remember that being a thing?)

To elaborate, anything Gremmy imagines becomes reality. In his debut, he imagines an old guy to mess around with Isane and Yachiru, and you can tell Gremmy is not the fun wacky Jojo-tier villain because he launches the usual diatribe for a Bleach smug asshole "What if X? What if Y? You see, my power works like.....". The cookie/bones conversation had to be the one of the most Kubo-esque bouts of dialogue in recent memory.

He fights Kenpachi, which is a red flag right there. How is Kenpachi going to beat someone that yields imagination? He can only slash things!

578Gremmy's body tears578Gremmy's body tears578Gremmy's body tears
By awful writing!

How does this happen to him, you ask? Well Gremmy imagines a meteor to crush the Seireitei (instead of you know, using his brain and just imagining every Shinigami dead), and Kenpachi cuts it in half. Shocked, Gremmy imagines himself as strong as Kenpachi to combat the monster. And that kills him....somehow???


This battle nearly killed all of my IQ points. How does this happen? How does a character with such a power lose this badly?! I know Kenpachi elevated himself to fanfavorite/plot armor status, but how does Gremmy lose?!

I'll tell you how - Kubo needed a way out, and what better way to have the enemy fall to his own power? I know, I know, there would be no plot if Gremmy just killed everyone so easily, but that's why you nerf characters like this!

You give them some kind of mental block or handicap. Two easy ways to nerf Gremmy but still keep the power:
A) Make him a happy child that has an active imagination, but is too innocent to outright kill someone - would make a good opponent for the equally childish Yachiru.
B) Make him a withdraw introvert that has no real concept of imagination because of a sad past of being confined or something, a good contrasting opponent for Yachiru.

Yeah, see my pattern? This should NOT have been a Kenpachi fight. There's a huge difference between him being smart and figuring out to naturally counter Tousen's power, and being an unkillable death machine even when an actually lethal power comes his way. Thanks, stupid side novel!

Also Gremmy is a brain IRL.

Because Kubo popped some LSD when he wrote that chapter. This IS NOT EXPLAINED WHY KUBO

Stern Ritter N (The ???) - Robert Accrutone
C497p10 Elder Sternritter

Huh? No nickname?

Yes, because either Kubo forgot to give everyone an epithet, or he stopped caring after the 24th rough sketch. Again, this is the price to pay when 26 villains are stuffed into an arc, and it's reflective of how little creative control was on  this damn group. 

Robert has a grade A++++ design though. You look like Commissioner Gordon and Colonel Saunders' love child in any medium, and you have my support.

Outside of that, Robert's accomplishments and moments are laughable - sure he shoots Shunsui's eye out but he does nothing after that, Bach does the Auswahlen to drain him from existance back into his soul, and Robbie here is used as the scapegoat to show how OMGstrong Bach is. To me, I just saw Bach being an unlikable dickhole. More on that later.

Personality wise, he's just your average stoic henchman.

We don't even see a power from him! in peace, sweet prince, where you can get all of the fried chicken and Batman merch your heart desires.

Stern Ritter P (The Power) - Meninas McAllon
Meninas profile

Hubba hubba.....uhhh this is Meninas, a member of the Femritters. Considering her spacey look and large chest, I would say she was designed with Orihime in mind. Actually fitting, because she has Orihime same face. 

Speaking of, it'd be awesome if she got to fight her. Not only would our healer get to do something, the idea of a cute evil Orihime makes my heart melt.

Personality wise, she's far nicer than Candice, but she's more of a princess-y type, considering she was openly disgusted by Pepe. I feel ya girl, he's nasty.

585Meninas attacks

Plus she got to beat up Ichigo, which makes her waifu tier. Get to work artists, I want some doujins.

Her power is...well, power. Super strength! After having an aneurysm at Gremmy's power, it's nice to see some normality again. She gets knocked out by Stern Ritter G after Pepe brainwashes her, and that's the last we see her.

So yeah, Meninas and Candice, in relation to the Femritters, have a) the most normal/basic powers and b) don't do too much overall. Next one is....

Stern Ritter G (The Glutton) - Liltotto Lamperd
Liltotto profile

Aww look how happy she looks! I like Liltotto. So what, her power is being a shonen protagonist and stuffing her face until her belly is comically swollen?

580The Glutton
Add in cannibalism and lolicon to the Kubo Fetish Appeal List
Her power is to eat anything, and that eerily includes people. She appeared alongside Meninas, Candice, and Stern Ritter Z on an attack against the 11th Division, and her power definitely frightened me. She bit people's heads off! I can't help but enjoy when Kubo gets fucked up in the body horrors. This is almost Nemu pregnancy tier.


Liltotto loves food (duh), but is the more reserved/calm of the Femritters. 

She isn't defeated by anyone in the Gotei, but rather, she turns on the Vandenreich and Bach after Robert's death. Understandably so, because she and two others realize "hey our leader is an asshole and treats us like pawns", and decide to help the Shinigami. You got a plan, Lily?

Better track record than Renji at least
...yeah. She is killed? trying to take on Bach in revenge.

Stern Ritter K (The ???) - BG9
BG9 Profile

Son of a bitch Kubo, you've done this twice. I understand the minor details escape you, and even I, the borderline fuccboi that I am, forget stuff, but couldn't you give him an nickname? Even if you weren't going to use him that much, just for organization!

SS (lel nazis lel) tier design though.
550BG9 reveals

Seriously, this is awesome. A robotic Quincy? I have no idea how that works from a spiritual angle, but Rule of Cool was practically written by Titty-sama.

But like Cang Du, he's pretty meh personality wise, I mean, he's a robot....ish. Yeah, no backstory to explain this guy. We're not doing too well on that front, and to me, this is starting to drag them down from the Espada.

Like Cang, he fights mainly with a stolen Bankai (Soi's), although we get some cool panels here and there.
Hey! That's Yoruichi's Thursday night activity!
He loses the same way Cang does - Hollowifed Bankai nonsense, then meets the executioner. Gee, I wish we would get three dimensional Stern Ritters soon!

Stern Ritter Y - The Yourself (Loyd and Royd Lloyd)


Loyd and Royd only appeared in the first invasion, and their little shtick was a sign that Kubo had plenty of bullshit cooked up for the arc. Look at the details.

A) the names....they're identical twins, why did their parents give them so similar names? Imagine if the anime was back, the seiyuus would be hella confused because L and R have the same sound.
B) we knew Quincy powers could be taught, a la Uryu and his family. But no, they're born as such (with blackface doctors, wtf). I guess we have to think of it as Harry Potter - there wizards can pass on their "magic" inclinations through the generations, but you can have a normie like Hermione learn.

Still, between this and the Vandenreich's hastily thrown together intro, you begin to see a lore overhaul, and that's not a bad thing, but really.....this Quincy empire should've been built up between arcs. They all literally come out of nowhere one day post-Fullbring.

Anyways....I will give points for *gasp* a backstory?! The twins imitated each other more and more as they grew up, and somehow....learned how to imitate other people at age 12. Uhh okay, I can do a mean Christopher Walken impression myself.


C) Their powers are broken.
Okay stay with me here. Let's use the brother killed first, knowing that both can copy appearances.

503The Yourself

Loyd can copy powers and techniques. However, notice the panel....he was flashback'd. By who?

Kenpachi slaughtering
Poor Gliblord must be frothing at the mouth from the Kenpachi wanking
Stop doing this Kubo. 

How did Kenpachi beat himself, off panel at that? According to him, he got stronger. Then himself. Mind you, this wasn't like Loyd copied Hueco Mundo-Kenpachi and faced him later, he copied present Kenpachi!

It has something to do with his mary sue novel power, that he always adjusts his powah to be barely above his opponent so he can enjoy fights better, a concept that falls apart when you realize he technically lost to Ichigo and he didn't beat Tousen by raw strength alone (so again, fuck you novel).

What exactly is stopping Loyd from copying Bach and rebelling/taking over? Why does a minion have such a power....again?! I get that the two are super loyal, but....

Royd, on the other hand, can copy memories and personality. Wait, what does this mean for the Zaraki copier? Was it a silent husk, babbling in German, what?


This makes Royd beating Kenpachi (as Bach) make even less sense. If he can't copy powers, how the hell does he do this? Unharmed at that?

Yes, it's Royd!Bach that fights Yamamoto, who unleashes his Bankai in a fiery spew of spooky spooky skeletons. I guess he's strong enough to be high captain-tier....despite the fact that his twin brother gets off-paneled as Kenpachi! Aren't they supposed to be equals?

We don't learn about this swap until after we think Yama wins, which on its own, was a pretty crazy twist - but also awful because above^ and because the leader of the Shinigami force gets unceremoniously chopped in half after literally being trolled one last time.

(what made it worse was the sad cover page trying to pass Yama off as a noble Whitebeard-esque hero, give me a break)


Here's a point to note, though. Two points, actually.

-As Bach, Royd gets teared up at the fact that Yama is using the skeletons of slaughtered Quincies to fight him, which offers sympathy points. In the beginning of this arc, the conflict was more intense and seemed like it was a revenge ploy for the Gotei's actions. Grey morality, y'know?

-Because we learn that this was not Bach, he himself does not shed tears above fallen comrades. The stuff with BG9 and Cang reinforce this, and other stuff. Trust me, we'll get to Gol D. Roger at the very end.

Indeed, Royd was only stalling Yamamoto (wasting time for us readers, yaaaay!) for Bach to swoop in and steal Yama's Bankai. Royd tears up at a mission well done.

So yeah, the brothers fuck around with Kenpachi and Yamamoto and arguably get a lot done for the Vandenreich. A shame they were insanely boring and had Kubo-tier writing attached.

Stern Ritter R (The Roar) - Jerome Guizbatt
503Jerome profile

D-Does Kubo fear Black people? Jerome practically has ape DNA spliced into his body!

He died like Berenice did - off paneled by Godpachi, so N/A/10 for personality and backstory. His power was sonic screaming, which could've been a cool ability to face on a more tactical Shinigami.

Again, thanks Kubo.

Stern Ritter J (The Jail) - Quilge Opie
487Quilge profile
Hitler did nothing wrong, guys
Now here's a source of entertainment - the first Stern Ritter Ichigo and his merry band run into, and he actually puts up a threat.

He and his men enslaved Hueco Mundo and forced Arrancar to join or be killed. Aww man, it's just like when Moses time-traveled to capture Angela Merkel in 2005!

...sorry for the tangent, but I've always felt this section of the arc was extremely jarring. It'd be egregious to classify Shinigami vs. Quincies (before this arc) as identical to what the Nazis did to the Jews, but the idea is that we were supposed to feel sorry for them as readers, like the Ishvals in FMA. Having these "Jews" dress up as Nazi analogues and capture people, Arrancar as they are, is just a little uncomfortable for my tastes. I know Nazi parallels are popular in anime/manga/video games bad guys (One Piece and Impel Down), and from a purely stylish viewpoint, I think it can be cool, but just baffling.

Anyways, Opie is cleaning up house in Hueco Mundo, with a sadistic "ohohoho" kind of personality, so he caught my attention at least.

Kubo's wife must hide the knives from the drawer out of fear
He takes down Loly and Menoly with 0 effort, and proves to be a tough opponent for Harribel's fraccion. Especially when Ichigo gets involved.

491Quilge appears
I'm not insane enough to count every attack from behind shot in this series
Yes, Opie is the first to unleash Vollstandig, turning him...into whatever that is. Usually, the boost gives a Stern Ritter wings and angel-like features, to connect to them to the holy themes of Bach.

He puts up a decent fight against Ichigo, and I'm both amazed and annoyed that Opie uses Vandenreich techniques no one else really bothers to use - Blut Vent, gathering reishi around him, etc. Once Ayon gets involved, it turns into...

Kirge Opie Beefed up

I vill catch you, ja? - accurate representation of a cartoon Nazi

Uhhh....okay? I believe this kinda foreshadows that Quincies and Hollows aren't kosher with each other (haha I'm so unoriginal), but at the same time, Opie should've been about to explode, since canonically, you can't use Vollstandig if you've been Hollowified.

So yeah, points for almost cartoon-y Hitler-y design and personality, and a introduction to the real powers of a Stern Ritter. Oh yeah, his ability.

It's to make jails. Only used to trap Ichigo from getting to the Seireitei in time.

Ees good, ja?

Stern Ritter E (The Explode) - Bambietta Basterbine
554Bambietta profile
Bambi-chan is here, y'all.

She's the first female Stern Ritter we see, while we're introduced to the other Femritters from her, you always feel a disconnect between the four and her, for more reasons than one. She feels like the alpha bitch of the group, like Regina from Mean Girls.

Hell, she tricks a guy into going to her room, only to kill him to blow off steam.


She steals Komamura's Bankai, but we do see her power - using reishi, she can make anything explode by turning it into a bomb. In the second go around, after tussling with Shinji, she encounters Komamura again, who is forced to use that human new transformation shtick to beat her.

557Kokujo Tengen Myo'o slashes

Her bombs blow back at her, and she falls to the ground, charred and defeated. However....this is not the end for Bambietta Basterbine. Hohoho no, and this is where I felt sorry for her, despite her being her previously.

Standing over her, the other 4 Femritters look down at her, nonplussed at her state (again, because friendship is for suckers) Stern Ritter Z takes the initiative to kill her.

588Giselle summons

And zombify her.

Oh darn it, I gave away the surprise? We'll come back to this Stern Ritter in question, but basically Zombietta is used to fight Mayuri, Ikkaku, and Yumichika later on, and we see that Stern Ritter powers are still active like this (she uses bombs). But Bambi herself becomes an empty shell, obediant to her master, and she gets abused....pretty hard.

Like when Regina suddenly got hit by the bus.

She suffers abuse after abuse, and I think she gets killed or something, I don't remember. Rest in pepperonis and play with Hopper, Bambi.

Stern Ritter H (The Heat) - Bazz-B
550Bazz-B profile

Oh hey Renji, when did you get a mohawk?

Kidding, but that was my first impression of this guy. Cocky, hotshot, and smack-talking, he seemed like your usual male Bleach villain.

But he morphed into one of my favorite Stern Ritters, for actually have a backstory and being *gasp* likable. All tied to his childhood.

631Child Bazz-B

Gliblord already covered this in the last article, so there's no need for me to go into too much detail. Essentially, he and Stern Ritter B were friends as kids, B was the weaker/scrubish of the two, despite Bazz having more skill.....and yet, Bach picks the former to succeed him.

The same Bach that was conquering the world for no real fucking reason and torched houses. Bazz wagers a vendetta against him, and sadly it does not end well for him. He joins Liltotto and Stern Ritter Z to turn against Bach for you know, being an asshole and nearly killing them, but he later clashes with B.

630Bazz-B and Haschwalth clash

It goes as well as you expect.

634Bazz-B loses
More arm maiming
Gotta feel sorry for Bazz....he's one of the few Stern Ritters to openly oppose their tyrant leader and his own friend is the one to best him. A very stubborn and foolish friend.

Why weren't there more nakamaships in this organization? Side question, why does nobody lament the death of Quincy family members or something?

Kubo: "Grey morality? Da fuck, this ain't Death Note."

Gliby asked the same question - Bazz is over 1000 years old how? I'm 100% sure he didn't have a scrift for all of that time, so it's not even a question of Bach's soul keeping him eternally young. Aren't Quincies supposed to be humans? Aging in Bleach makes no logical sense. And it's implied that some Vandenreich members are new!

Oh yeah, his power is to generate fire.

548Bazz-B prepares

Basic and elemental like Candice's, but it works. It really fits his hotheaded attitude and cool design, and besides, he gets to beat up Hitsugaya. Top tier character.

What a bro.

Stern Ritter W (The Wind) - Nianzol Weizol
598Nianzol alt

Moar wacky German names!

Hanataro on mushrooms over here only appears when Bach and his guard advance to the Royal Realm. He makes no other appearance, and is killed in the same span. Pretty much a throwaway design, in my opinion.

He's cocky, but that's because he can cosy up with his ability, an effective force field.

598The Wind

Well I like force fields, although Shutara punks him out by killing him via needles through his coat.

598Nianzol is impaled

No backstory, nothing substantial. He lasts what, 2 chapters tops? Still better than Jerome and Berenice, although what the fuck is up with the two tongues.

Stern Ritter U (The Underbelly) - NaNaNa Najahkoop

Okay a few things.

A) Based on the design, I guess it's accurate to say Kubo is fascinated by Black people. I'm disappointed his dialogue doesn't include more "massah Bach".
B) The editor probably gave Kubo the most "wtf" expression when the manuscript was placed on his desk and he saw this guy
C) What the hell is with that name?!

This tall glass of water clashes with Rose in the first invasion, but we don't get a feel for his power until later.

He's wacky and kinda cocky (gee what an original trait for a shonen villain), believing he could beat Rose in five minutes. Had a scene of precaution/funny when he stumbles upon an asleep Renji in the second go around....Renji needs his babysitter!

Although he's kinda dumb, considering in the first invasion:

Stern Ritter Ambush

Attacking Yama is never a brilliant idea, you idiots. I remember him getting burned up. It's funny because that's how he dies!

623NaNaNa is shot
Checkerboard teeth for that extra dose of wackiness!
Bazz offs him when he goes turncoat.

Anyways Nanana's power is one of those abstract ones - he can basically poke holes in people's reiatsu to deplete it by focusing on the "weak points".

623The Underbelly

Gee, aren't you smart, using it on Aizen of all people. The dude with the seals and godtier reiatsu.

Points for the utterly batshit crazy design though. I think it's unironically one of Kubo's best. Although why must the dark-skinned males in this series be living jokes?

No backstory because.....look, a bird!

Stern Ritter F (The Fear) - As Nodt
Chapter 502 As Nodt

Or a death metal fan,

As, in my opinion, is one of the most frightening Stern Ritters, partially due to his appearance, and partially due to his other appearance.

He can make people see the thing they fear the most....okay time out, these powers are getting one-sided. How are they even determined? Superpower lottery, that's how.

"What did you guys get?"
"Bombs. You?"

Pepe has love, Gremmy has imagination....why do Stern Ritters get to control facets of the human psyche? Couldn't the three of them mindfuck everyone and take over?

Well to be fair, he does have some backstory:

Bedridden As Nodt

Hospitalized and in terrible pain, As feared death and was worried about going to Hell (more pain). Bach came along and offered him power.

....why? Because he was a Quincy? What if he suddenly flatlined? "shit, wasted a letter!". How was he allowed in the room anyway? Did he pretend he was Uncle Bach from his mother's side?

As believes fear is a powerful thing, and that irrational fear is quite dangerous. Cool beans, even though that sounds like I'm repeating myself.

To complete the Bankai stealing quartet, he takes Byakuya's after Renji proves to be Renji and be no help whatsoever, and Byakuya suffers brain damage and doesn't just kido him.

C496p17 As Nodt medalion

He proceeds to use Rukia creepypasta to halt Byakuya in his tracks, then shreds him with his Bankai.

As wounds Byakuya

This is why the first invasion felt so intense - the villains were winning and it seemed people were dying left and right (Yama, Kira, Byakuya). The man is a bleeding desperate mess when Ichigo finds him, and he begs him to save Soul Society. I kinda wished he died there to maintain the tone and end on quite the turnaround for his character (went from dismissing/despising Ichigo to actively wanting him to help)

But Kubo being Kubo, spared him because he's a slave to the fans.

Also side note - how do these guys have control over a Bankai? Wouldn't the spirit actively resist, because they're formed from the Shinigami soul?

The next time we see As, it's Rukia that fights him.

568As's Vollstandig
The Vollstandig turns him into a Slipknot fanboy, and his fear gets enhanced so much so that he only has to look to damage a foe.

But Rukia decides to break the laws of physics and uses her the full potential of her power, saying that it makes her body temperature so low, she's effectively dead (so immune to being fearified).
Okay, Kubo? Stop mixing the spiritual world with hard sciences, those do not mix organically (no pun intended). It's why Mayuri's victories make no sense and Urahara pulls solutions out of his ass.

567As is frozen

He gets frozen after Rukia goes Bankai (and Byakuya regains his brain power enough to use Shikai).

Overall, a very effective and threatening guy. He oozes creepy, has some kind of backstory (has short as it is....). However, to me, he's not the most frightening Stern Ritter....

Stern Ritter S (The Superstar) - Mask de Masculine
543Mask profile

Bleach wikia describes him as "dull because he didn't know a vice-captain could perform Bankai" (paraphrased). Okay, glad to see you guys don't know the meaning of that word. The Ulquiorra article is over there.

Mask is one of the more excitable guys in this line-up, because he's flashy and acts like a superhero! Which is ironic, given the Vandenreich line-up....actually, I only wish someone lampshaded how (intentionally?) hypocritical the label is in-universe, but maybe he feels purging the Shinigami is y'know, the right thing to do. Given the past, can you blame him?

His power comes from this little dude:

James he just some Quincy, or an extension of Mask's power? Does he share the letter...? By cheering Mask on, he gets stronger and stronger, which sounds as ridiculously broken as it sounds!
But it's the fun broken.

Think about it, most Bleach characters go for the smug "my power is better than yours" route, so it's so refreshing to see a guy act like this!

Mask punks out Kensei and Rose, especially when the latter goes full retard and explains how his Bankai works.

C561p13 Mask Pierces Eardrums
You never go full retard
I do remember being a little annoyed he's able to beat two Vizard-level captains, because later...

562Renji slices

Aww come on, not only do Kensei and Rose lose to him, it's fucking Renji that beats him? The same Renji that has lost to almost everyone opponent his way?

Sadly there's no backstory to Mask's behavior, so whether or not he believes he's fighting for a true cause or just kept up in escapist fantasy is beyond me.

10/10 design and personality though, although the power is too gimmicky.

Stern Ritter Z (The Zombie) - Giselle Gewelle

what a qt3.14

Making up the last member of the Femritters I've outlined, Giselle is my favorite Stern Ritter, in design, personality, and powers. She is also the most threatening to me.

Always upbeat and cheerful, Giselle is the kind of gal you do not want to fuck with

She's the one that offed Bambieta for teh lulz, but her power turns you into a mindless zombie bound to her will, Simply by touching her blood.

It's what made the 11th Division assault so effective in my eyes - the deceptiveness of their powers. Meninas, the cute girl, lifts up a goddamn building.
 Liltotto, the food-loving girl, ate people alive. 
Giselle, the plucky cockroach qt, can zombify anyone she wants to.

She mainly clashes with Ikkaku and Yumichika before help comes their way.

590Giselle summons

She enslaves the whole division! Zombies are so overdone, but the fact that a girl like this - so casual and sadistic - can make your friends turn on you is scary as fuck. And it's not just Bambietta - she zombifies Hitsugaya, Matsumoto, Kensei, and Rose!

Fun fact:

She's a he.

Yumichika confirms as much by saying she reeks of semen, which I'm not sure how that proves anything. How would you know what semen smells like, Yumi-kun? Couldn't she just be a orator, if you catch my drift?

The Viz translation is funnier - he says she smells like a man, which makes even less sense.

But yes, Giselle is confirmed to be biologically male. Well jokes on you Kubo, you can't take away those faps across the internet! (have I mentioned traps are my weakness? Err moving on)

I'm not sure if this, but I read somewhere that her backstory is that she's a killer rapist that coozies up to woman? Citation needed, but it wouldn't be out of the question.

Giselle is pretty unhinged, and that's what makes her so fascinating to me (yes I know it's never stated that she's transgender, but pronouns are important!). She likes being in control and clings to a dependency relationship to Bambietta.

603Giselle beats

She forces her to beg for more blood (or trap D?) and straight up assaults her. It's clear Zombietta is her favorite victim, because she doesn't do anything with Matsumoto or the others.

Time for some zombie sex

Maybe because Mayuri Kurotsuchi becomes her opponent.

Which is really the only way she's able to lose. Mayuri hard counters her by using revived Arrancar, then trolls the sanity out of zombie Hitsugaya.

Thinking about it, who else could beat her? She's implied to have know, a lot of Shinigami, and Unohana was dead. If left unchecked, she could've enslaved everyone...all for that twisted excitement she gets.

Where's Admiral Ackbar when you need him?
Giselle joins Liltotto and Bazz later to rebel (of all the Stern Ritters to redeem, why Kubo picked the sadistic zombie batterer is beyond me)

She fends off Bach with Liltotto.


Hello darkness my old friend~


Woof! We're almost done, now it's time we look at the high tier Stern Ritters, because Gremmy is too stupid and the twins are too blindly loyal to join in that category.

Let's take a glance at things so far first. We've had Stern Ritters with some pretty cool powers in my opinion, albeit many with stupidly broken/abstract powers. Most of them do have a personality, but very few go beyond "I'm one-dimensionally evil lol". And very few have a backstory?

You see the patterns, dontcha?

Furthermore, evidence keeps piling up that Juha Bach is not some respected likable Jesus figure, he's an arrogant tyrant that kills subordinates for lulz and does evil things because he's evil. Go figure. I don't understand why Kubo couldn't build on the themes established in the first arc.

We learned about the Quincy fate, which lended itself into Uryu's hatred of Shinigami. Sure all of these guys definitely don't like Shinigami, but not one has confronted them about the massacre, or tearfully demanded why their parents are gone, or even try to be hopeful and establish a better relationship.

All of them, save for two or three....are evil just because. The war started off as a bittersweet event between the Gotei's tainted legacy and an army out for revenge, but morphed into "well these Quincies are utterly nonredeemable, let's kill them all!"

And I'm warning you, it's going to get worse. In powers and in this trend.


Stern Ritter C (The Compulsory) - Pernida Parnkgjas
637Pernida profile

And in design. How much cocaine did Kubo snort?

Pernida is actually the left hand of the Soul King, a plotpoint that goes pretty much nowhere. Why/how are Soul King limbs Vandenreich members? Fuck all if I know. The other hand turns out to be the Mimihagi god thing Ukitake mettles with to prevent the worlds from falling apart.

This....thing has the power to shoot his nerves into something to control (and crush) it, and can manipulate his form at will. Its probably the elite guard ability that makes the most sense.

Who can stop this guy when he can essentially kill you from a distance?

636The Compulsory


637Pernida attacks

There we go! You gotta fight unfairness with unfairness.

Although like Kenpachi, Mayuri gets waaaay too much screentime taking down Stern Ritters. I know his antics are the only thing Bleach had left to enjoy fight-wise, but this fights gets more asspull-y than Szayel's.

639Konjiki Ashisogi Jizo devours

For one, Mayuri's Bankai continues to give the reader nightmares.

His modified version has 70000 layers of nerves (whut), rendering it difficult for Pernida to seize control, although wouldn't the Bankai stealing medallion work faster?

640Pernida creates

Pernida blows off Mayuri's arm, but Nemu jumps in to help. She gets to be awesome and damage him, but sadly she gets....devoured.

643Clones devour

But thanks to brain science, Mayuri controls his clones through Nemu's remains and makes him go boom. I don't remember the hard details.

Overall the fight was utter nonsense and was the swan song for Nemu (the abused daughter), but it was Mayuri level nonsense.
And I hate to say it, but THIS turns out to be the most interesting of the elite guard fights. (check out D.Jones' article for more info on this battle if you're curious)

What is there to Pernida? Dude's a freaking arm that of course, is cocky and arrogant. No elaboration on the Soul King thing, and it's really the design carrying him, like with BG9. Oh well.

Stern Ritter X (The X-Axis) - Lille Barro
600Lille alt

Wait....dark-skinned man? Oh no, I have a bad feeling.

Lille is actually the first Stern Ritter in the story to have gotten a letter from Bach, so you know he's gonna be a big deal. Like Arm-kun above, his main appearances come towards the end of the battle, where the Shinigami are racing to the Royal Palace to fight off the remaining bad guys.

He clashes with Shunsui.
644Shunsui appears
These fucking attacks from behind
Unlike Stark however, Lille is nothing like Shunsui - cold, loyal to Bach and devoted to the of course, this fight is going to be a bit of a drag.

Lille's power allows him to shoot through anything (intangibility), which I think is a neat power. But his power won't be the problem.

Shunsui effectively goes Bankai and traps Lille in essentially a tragic play, which ends with

649Shime no Dan - Itokiribasami Chizome no Nodobue

...the laziest hack job I've ever seen.

Oh yeah, that's right! Lille is a dark-skinned man in Bleach, so the transformation has to be completely bonkers!


Shunsui's Bankai doesn't do the trick, but thankfully Nanao, deus ex machina'd to have a secret godslaying blade, jumps in to help out.

650Lille appears651Nanao emerges

At this point, not only does the terrible writing ruin things, it's Lille. He goes from cool calm collected to "I AM GOD FEAR ME". Exactly like Zommari, he loses his fucking mind.

652Nanao severs

Isn't it hilarious how vice-captains (Nemu and Nanao) end up being the key to success against Bach's strongest men. Fucking Lille looks like an owl.

The battle overall takes waaay too much time and drains my patience, and in the end, Lille doesn't even die die.

654Lille's clones

Yeah, fucking Kira has to clean up the scraps. The dead Kira. But how?

512Shaz profile

Shaz Domino, Stern Ritter Σ.

Yes, Kubo is such a hack, he had to result in using Greek letters. Ichigo one-shotted this guy in the first invasion, but it turns out he was a product of Gremmy's imagination.

And the worst part is, you don't see his fate on screen. Rather there's a sidebook (not written by Kubo) that explains he survived until the second invasion, killed some Central 46 guards (Seireitei still has that?!) before Kira, apparently fixed by Mayuri, fights and traps him.

reaaaaly not so difficult to show one or two panels showing this, Kubo.

Stern Ritter D (The Deathdealing) - Askin Nakk Le Vaar
648Askin profile

Behold, the least annoying of the elite guard.

Askin is a fan favorite, and it's not hard to see why - dude has exaggerated poses a la Jojo, he's quirky sarcastic, and kinda a goof, and got to fuck around with Ichigo.

His powers? Not so much. He can control the lethal amount of something by first ingesting it. Meaning he can higher the limit for himself (for immunity) and lower the limit for his opponents (to beat them). Unfortunately, this power is abstract again, so get ready for bullshit.

He appears with the others to take the royal palace.

602Nimaiya defeats

And in classic Bleach fashion, he fucking explains his power to Nimaiya, who no sells it by draining the made-lethal blood from his body (claiming he has hot spring water in his body to heal him, which is a cop-out.)

Askin is revived by Aushwalen (Bach can do that too), and the march continues on. Eventually, he runs into Yoruichi and her brother Yushiro.

656Yoruichi appears

This battle started off fun because of Yoruichi being Yoruichi and Askin being Askin, but quickly wares its patience. Askin gains resistance to....reiatsu? y'know, the intangible thing, when Yushiro punches him a few times.

658Yushiro is impaled
I've had enough traps for one day, thank you!
When her brother is knocked out, Yoruichi must fight solo.

663Yoruichi vs. Askin

No. What I meant to say was Urahara gets to asspull his way to victory using Yoruichi as a scapecat - she acts like one and can't understand human language in this form (Urahara is an asshole), and her reiatsu changes over 40 times a second or something, neutralizing Askin's ability (tied to her reiatsu from before....?)

Yeah go with it, considering a power like this can only be countered by equal bullshit.

His Vollstandig looks a little ridiculous, but that's small potatoes by the fact that it very specifically counters Yoruichi's changing reiatsu by adapting a changing immunity.
Even more stupid is that Askin continues to explain his power! He literally says "now, allow me to explain...." when he transforms! 

Why must Bleach characters do this? Opponents figuring it out or a narrator explaining is always better then the fighter losing IQ points to explain. Urahara would've probably figured it out anyway, considering he did what Mayuri with Uryu to counter Szayel - use a third party to observe, 

He takes out Urahara's eyes, but he Bankais up and stitches them back, and eventually Grimmjow gets sick of the manga's pacing and ends this battle..
665Askin is impaled
Throw in fisting to the fetish list
Um, if the immunity does fuck all for defensive (remember Yushiro had punched him earlier), why couldn't Yoruichi just do this? 
The trend of a physical fighter going "fuck you" to hax never gets old.

Dying, Askin declares Urahara and Grimmjow will die in his Gift Ball, but it's Urahara, who almost has as much plot armor as Ichigo does.

Overall Askin was a fun guy, only ruined by his power and him constantly explaining it. Easily top five for me next to Giselle and Bazz.

I can't say the same for the next guy.

Stern Ritter M (The Miracle) - Gerard Valkyrie
647Gerard profile

Oooh, Thor. I love the (initial) design.

I'm just disappointed that he doesn't speakin Thor-isms "Great Odin's beard!", because then he'd be a lot better than what we will get.

Like Askin, he loses to the Royal Guard, Bach steams through, revives him, you know the drill.

He clashes with a number of opponents - Byakuya, Renji, Rukia, Momo, Shinji, Hitsugaya, and Kenpachi.

655Gerard attacks

Guess which three end up fighting him for real.

Gerard's power sounds fine in concept - when he takes damage, the Miracle allows him to heal and get stronger and bigger, a passive/better version of Driscoll's ability. This bodes badly for the Gotei, considering it makes him harder and harder to kill.

658Gerard repels

Yeah, he bats around the Vizards too. No one can really do him in, and that's the fucking problem with this battle. The power itself is fine, but he takes waaaaaaaay too much punishment to constantly keep getting up.

659Gerard is engulfed669Kenpachi bifurcates670Gerard survives
671Gerard breaks free

Shinji and Momo end up doing fuck all, and Rukia/Renji split to help Ichigo, leaviing.....*sigh* Byakuya, Hitsugaya, and Kenpachi. The three captains that have, along with Mayuri, have gotten waaay too much screentime in this final arc.

Kensei loses/dies
Rose loses/dies
Komamura turns into an actual wolf and is out of comission
Soi just...disappears
Ukitake dies?
Shunsui barely wins against Lille
Unohana was killed
lol Shinji

But no, let's have the ratings 3 fight yet again. That's what makes Gerard's fight all the more hair pulling - characters that with different powers that NEED screentime could've fought him instead! People were predicting Hanataro would be the perfect counter, considering Gerard needs to be hurt to get stronger. That'd be awesome to see, but nope!

Gerard refuses to die for a whole goddamn volume, and we have to suffer through Hitsugaya turning adult to make his fangirls orgasm and Kenpachi pulling Bankai out of his ass (y'know, when he JUST achieved Shikai this arc) to fight him, and in the end, it all means nothing.

672Gerard regenerates

Gerard cannot fucking die. The heroes throw everything to beat him, and it doesn't work! And each time, he always boasts "I am invincible!!!" and essentially turns into a Yammy retread - big ass target that keeps getting murked by Kenpachi and Byakuya. Personality? Pffffft.

The middle finger comes when we learn that Kubo has to end Bleach in weeks.

680Gerard dies

He got Harribel'd

You can blame the editors or Jump for this fast-forward abrupt ending, but you have to blame Kubo too. He wasted his goddamn time on his battle, by not trying something besides fighting raw power with raw power. This fight did not need to go on for so long.

Bach essentially steals his power (killing him like Robert), but don't worry, we'll get to him.

Also, he was the heart of the Soul King....despite not looking like a heart. Why the fuck is the organ that keeps you alive this kook? Why aren't all the elite guard members pieces of the Soul King, or better yet, why are any of them pieces of the Soul King?!

It's one of those mysteries that we will never get a reasonable answer to.

Wasted everyone's time/10

Stern Ritter B (The Balance) - Jugram Haschwald
547Haschwalth profile

Number #2 in the Vandenreich chain.

Every bad guy needs a second-in-command, so much like Tsukishima was to Ginjou and Gin was to Aizen. He's serious, extremely devoted to Bach, uh loyal....uhhh....serious....I said that?

Yeah, Gliblord touched on this too - he's just so plain. Sure he's pretty but he's so blaaand, which I guess makes sense when your boss is Juha Bach. And yet, Gin was trolling fun.

He was buddies with Bazz 1000+ years ago, and he was the weaker, shyer of the two.

633Yhwach reveals

Despite this, Bach demanded he join the Vandenreich as his "other half". I felt bad coming out of the flashback, because a friendship was ruined just so he could be Bach's ass-kisser.

I don't get the impression he was truly grateful to serve him because he got power, just that "well I serve his majesty because.....because! b-baka!" Can you even say Bach ultimately gave a shit about him? (answer: no)

He makes his mark as #2 early on in the arc, even blocking Ichigo from attacking Buckbeard.


From there, he introduces Stern Ritter A to Bach, spouts usual second-in-command dialogue....his shrift is hinted at when he kills Cang. He advances with his boss, defeats his friend...all while matching SS Byakuya for the amounts of "I couldn't look less interested".

Haschwald is so goddamn boring.

Things finally get a little more intense when Bach gets a power jolt and shares his essence with Haschwald while sleeping, proving to be an obstacle for Team Ichigo.

660Haschwalth appears
All we need is Linkin Park and Hot Topic to get extra edgy
Uryu stalls him while the others move on. And let me tell you their battle drags as painfully as Gerard's does.

674Haschwalth incapacitates679Haschwalth prepares

Look at this. Two separate but equal instances of him standing over a defeated Uryu, in two different chapters. These two scenes convey the same idea! Uryu is uber fucked!

The battle overall is rather dull and one-sided until Uryu busts out his new power, but let's wait for that. We finally learn Haschy's power.

679Freund Schild

No, it's not Zelda. I wish it was.

Haschwald can redirect any misfortune in his...radius? back at the opponent. Say you wound him, well he'll just pass the wounds back to you. Say he does the wounding, well the shield will take that "misfortune".


Except no it's not!

A) Misfortune is such a vague term, and it implies it's not just for wounds. So what, if someone spilled water down his shirt, they would get wet instead?
B) How can you call it "balance" when a shield has to act as proxy for him receiving punishment. It makes the power one-sided in his favor!
C) Why is there such a connection between Haschwald, an organic living being and a shield, an inorganic object?

What a ridiculous power, but sadly, we're not done. It looks like Uryu is about to die when....

680Haschwalth is struck

WSJ comes to the rescue!

Yeah Haschy gets Auswalen'd like Gerard, and for some stupid inconsistent reason, he doesn't become a skeleton like Gerard did. Was it worth it, dude? Was it worth betraying your only friend, acting a dickhole to Uryu for rebelling (spoilers) and sticking your head so far up Bach's ass that he pulls the goddamn plug on you?

Blame the editors all you want, but this theme was kinda showing up in the battle to begin with. Uryu, a Quincy that chose friends over an emperor clashing with this guy, who picked the opposite? It writes itself.

Yet I feel nothing when he dies, mainly because the whole battle was "X! no Y!", it kept cutting back to the same cliffhanger of Uryu being downed, and because.....well, Haschwald kinda deserved it for being a stuck-up cuntface. He felt the only logical thing to do was be Bach's weapon.

681Haschwalth tells

In a final moment, he regrets his choice of betraying his friend and encourages Uryu to help his nakama, which is poetic and sad, but one scene of feeling regret does not undo the damage, B.

Stern Ritter A (The Antithesis) - Uryu Ishida
Episode 344 Uryu Option 3

The color page at the top kinda gives this way. But I feel as dirty as labeling Chad a "Fullbringer", because I hate labeling characters that are actually likable and three-dimensional into asshole organizations.

I mean, this was a Quincy arc....despite the fact that Uryu just hangs around for 80% of it.

Context: to everyone's shock, he ends up a member of the Vandenreich. In-universe people believe he's gone turncoat, but out-universe (and later he plays the double agent card) we know he has an agenda - presumably avenge his mother that was Aushalwen'd by Bach.

I say presumably because Haschwald and Bach are the two that bring this up - Uryu practically never mentions or thinks about this goal. Priorities, who needs them. Remember Soken Ishida and avenging him by killing Mayuri? Kubo doesn't!

Plus it makes no sense to actually think Uryu's turned evil - his character arc on hating Shinigami wrapped up when he joined forces with Ichigo to save Rukia, and later he teams up with Renji to fight Szayel. Why would he suddenly regress?

But I only wish Kubo spared us the obvious double agent factor and cut the middleman by making him denounce the very idea of working for Bach in the beginning - it would strength his ties to the others, maybe some Stern Ritters would defect out of his inspiration, and this arc could've had a lot less "we're good, they're evil" mentality.

Stated above, Uryu officially jumps back to the good guys during the final stretch, and in his battle with Haschwald, we learn the schift given to him:

679The Antithesis
The Asspull
The Antithesis can reverse the damage situation between two in the fight, where Uryu reverses his damage onto Haschwald.

who Balances it back.

Literally the battle between Stern Ritters A and B devolves into "i'm rubber, you're glue" mentality, back and forth, to the point where this battle becomes a metaphor for how predictable Bleach battles have become over the years. Where every fight ever has to have an attack from behind with someone looking shocked, or someone having a very specific counter to whatever hax power.

It's dumb and stupid and the power comes out of nowhere, and it boggles my mind that Haschwald explicitly says it's the only power to counter Bach. Why make Uryu the successor then?! Wasn't there a single piece of the emperor that expected him to avenge his mother? If he killed Uryu, it would only help him.

Making it 100x more hilarious when it's not even used to beat him.

Stern Ritter A (The Almighty) - Juha Bach
508Yhwach alt

Here we go. The mackdaddy of them all.

Also known as Ywach or what have you, this guy has been the final boss of Bleach for over 200 chapters and 4 years of publication, not getting as far as Aizen did, but long enough.

To put it bluntly: he's barely above Gremmy in my rankings.

We should start at the beginning, I suppose.

Yhwach Young

Ages ago, he was born without the ability to see, smell, hear, or move, but whenever people touched him, they gained something they did not have.

Even if it later kill them (all powers would flow back to him), people were fascinated with the Jesus baby and held him as pretty much a god. Soon, Bach gained control of his facilities.

From there he becomes the "father" of all Quincies as apparently, his blood flows through them all.....gee remember when the Quincy craft was teachable? I sure remember the part in Harry Potter where Voldemort's blood flowed through every wizard.

Joking aside, it's an interesting backstory in my opinion, but when you consider this and the fact that he tried to conquer pieces of the Earth

631Yhwach conquers
My little Bleach: Asspulls are Magic
....the world-building falls on its face. Why aren't the history books flooding with information on this guy? How come Uryu never learned about him in his youth with Soken (maybe he did, I dunno).

Well because Kubo doesn't plan these things out. I have no problem with a Quincy emperor being the boss of a Quincy army arc, but given that Bach has THIS much of an influence in his world...he really should've been an antagonist built up behind the scenes, in the background. Because again, the Vandenreich come out of fucking nowhere.

What still annoys me is the fact that they conquered Hueco Mundo post-Aizen, which should've been impossible/hard if the Shinigami kept tabs on the fucking place.

Sigh....moving on, Bach's callousness is demonstrated early when he dismembers an Arrancar on his side for conflict:


But it's only Hollow scum, amirite?

The invasion kicks off dramatically as Seireitei is sieged, Bankais are stolen, and Yamamoto is trolled.


Oh boy, revenge time?

You see, 1000 or so years before the start of the manga, Bach had clashed with Yamamoto and the original Gotei (even though I'm fairly certain the original massacre we learned of was not that long ago)

Yama defeated him but didn't kill him.....because?

Bach actually lost his powers after that original battle, leading him to be sealed for 900 years, regaining pulse after that, 90 more years to regain intellect, and then 9 more years to regain his power by absorbing every impure Quincy. (again, the craft was once teachable) After that 999 year gap, he used Auswalen, marking the end for Masaki and Kanae Katagiri, Uryu's mom.

Oh right right, I'm getting a head of myself. Back to that later.


He kills Yama, but when Ichigo arrives, they clash. Bach regrets using Opie to fight him, because it "activated the memories of his reiatsu".

Okay, that's pretty stupid, reiatsu is an intangible non-sentient piece of a soul's power, how the fuck does it have memories

We do learn that Ichigo has Quincy blood because Masaki was one, which sets the first huge problem we're going to see. I understand that Kubo wanted to make the feud between the two more personal and involved to raise the stakes, but Ichigo was already a mutt, a mess of different power-ups, and now he gets to spend a walk on the Quincy side? Uryu Ishida is the Quincy, you hack. He had that role in Team Ichigo.

Wait a minute, you might be asking.....Bach was involved in Masaki's death? 

Yes, apparently his little purging weakened her just enough for Grand Fisher to kill her.

Undermining the threat of Grand Fisher, the Hollow that Ichigo swore a vendetta on.

Undercutting the emotional moments of the first arc of Bleach

All to hasily stuff in your villain in there. Fuck you Kubo, that is not good writing. Making him the reason why Uryu's mom is dead is fine because we learn about her THIS arc, but why would you trample all over what you established for Masaki?!

I's not a retcon, but Grand Fisher might as well have been nameless or any old Hollow. Ichigo's motivation gets suddenly shifted to a dude he had no idea even existed? Plus it raises more questions:
-how did he, Karin, and Yuzu survive the purging if they're impure too?
-if Yuzu has Shinigami and Quincy blood, how come she has virtually no spiritual sense (don't give me the argument that Isshin and Masaki lost a lot of their power, she was born the same day as Karin!)
-why didn't Isshin tell the truth WAAAAAY sooner?!

This is the one thing that frustrates me the most about this arc - the inserting of Bach into the past of Ichigo.

And it gets worse!

Zangetsu fades

Oh you son of a bitch.

Yes, when Ichigo is training under Nimaiya to fix his broken Bankai (Bankais not being able to fix themselves is one of the most cop-out plot points ever), the relation between old man Zangetsu and Bach becomes clear - they resemble each other, and not by accident.

OMZ explains that he represents the Quincy powers of Ichigo (who practically never uses any this entire arc, I'm not joking) and that he is and is not Bach.

In fact, he even says he was originally trying to suppress Ichigo's awakening as a Shinigami because he didn't want him to become one!


If you didn't want him to be a Shinigami because "lol Quincy", why give him a fucking name to awaken his soul-slayer? And if it's not your real name or whatever, why does the zanpakutou still work?!
AND, if Hollow Ichigo was the real Zangetsu (White)....why was he so goddamn hostile to Ichigo and was able to be tamed in the same way the Vizards tamed their Hollows?

BECAUSE he was doing fine as a Hollow and Zangetsu was doing fine as the zanpakutou before Kubo went "nah, I need to make Bach even more threatening to Ichigo's life!"

It's a slap in the face. Remember the training and words of wisedom in the SS arc? Those iconic scenes? They mean nothing now because the main villain has to sink his hooks into it. Kubo could've ignored this and kept it a design similarity, but nope! Sure you argue that he had planned this, but then I would point to all of the evidence above and say "and the sky is purple"

This made me despise Bach from the beginning, because he represents a betrayal of what made Bleach so great. But no, let's keep rewriting lore, keep contradicting ourselves, and keep turning this manga into a joke.

.....okay, moving on. First invasion blah blah, second invasion blah blah.....the elite guard are revived when Bach offs Robert and minor dudes (what a sympathic villain, sacrificing his guys)

He proceeds to steamroll Ichibei

608Ink covers

Their fight is just as brain-busting as Uryu vs. Haschwald, because it's such a back and forth. Ichibei comes close to actually hurting the guy, but Bach has to be OP as fuck and keep haxxing his way to victory.

Yes, we get the name of his power - The Almighty. He boasts he can see into the future and know all powers.

.....are you kidding me.

Is it me, or is Bach essentially....a Gary Stu? He has influence in everyone's lives, cannot lose, and can see all. Sure Aizen was pretty OP, but at least I got the sense that he was so powerful because he honed his skills to perfection. That's why he didn't need illusions to one-shot the captains, and there was a sense that he was so dangerous simply because he was so smart.

With Bach, his power doesn't feel learned or natural, it's because he was basicially baby Jesus and because the plot said so.

I also hate hate hate hate that personality wise, he's not different from Aizen or Tsukishima. Eternally smug and condescending, and unlikable as all hell. Remember when we were supposed to feel sorry for the Quincies?

Yeah, me neither.

What on earth is Bach's goal? Shooting this far means it goes beyond "revenge on the Shinigami" and because things become so organized with Bankai tech, plans, succession, that goal isn't it.

Does he want to kill the Soul King? Well yes he does, by manipulating Ichigo through his Quincy blood.....meaning the Quincy have a natural hatred of the guy? I guess that makes sense, considering the Shinigami serve in his stead....but we find out Bach is the "son" of the Soul King. So Daddy issues? Lol no, that's not elaborated for him. Proper villain motivation? That's for plebs.

He absorbs him and becomes even more powerful

620Yhwach absorbs

I also want to mention that Bach has been taunting Ichigo with claims that he has been planning stages of Ichigo's life (Aizen stuff too!), so that's another "fuck you" point.

A villain wanting power to rule all, that's fine, but it's such a simple motivation when you're involved with a villain of this magnitude! He's the guy that's the father of all Quincies, the reason why Ichigo has his (ugh) powers, and why Masaki is dead. Why isn't there more?

Giselle and Liltotto fall, everyone else fucks around with the elite guard, and Ichigo confronts the suped Bach.

684Yhwach revives himself

Why is this design so bad? A) Overuse of ink/black and B) incredibly simple eyes

I'm warnin you, this is the point of no return.

He mocks Isshin as a parent and declares himself to be Ichigo's surrogate parent (again, this all would feel more organic if Uryu was in this instead), and the battle begins.

673Yhwach stops

For the final battle, it is completely underwhelming. Ichigo, after training for 50% of the damn arc, cannot do anything besides "GETSUGA TENSHOU" and simple sword beams. No Quincy moves, despite achieving a harmony between his powers!

Bach continues to mock him and being smug/condescending/a pain in my ass and spouts Aizen-tier dialogue. You will never be Aizen, and you will never be a well-written villain. Stop trying.

Then there's trouble.

678Yhwach breaks

The Almighty gives the power to see ALL futures, and he has the power to completely rewrite any of them as he sees fit. So he breaks Ichigo's Bankai when he whips it out.


I think I mentioned this back in my Aizen article, that because Kubo introduced a brand new villain to end this, he has to go beyond how absurdly powerful he was, so that's why we get this crap.

See, a character that can see into/control the future is a very very hard ability to write well, especially when you're a villain. Because why should the hero even try if the villain can see all of their moves? How can they realistically win?

679Yhwach grabs

They can't. Bach beats the piss out of Ichigo because he's utterly invincible at this point. Who can beat him? Yama's dead. The Captains are distracted/dead/defeated. Orihime continues to be useless.

So Bach fucks off and declares he'll lay waste to SS, vowing to give Ichigo hell if he follows him EXCUSE ME?!

680Yhwach departs

Oh right, because he's a shonen villain that's gotten too arrogant.

He can see the future. There is 0% reason why he shouldn't just kill Ichigo, because couldn't he see him come back to face him?! Like with Aizen, all of his plans fall apart simply because he doesn't do the smart thing and off the hero!

682Ichigo and Renji attack
Renji, you're not relevant anymore, don't be a tryhard 
I love how Bach does the equally stupid thing and release Aizen from his bounds. I don't know if he was looking for a challenge, or wanted him to shit his pants or something, because he has just set up his defeat.

Why? Well, Aizen = illusions, and who cares if Bach can see all, if it's the wrong all, then it doesn't do crap to help him.

683Ichigo attacks

Dontcha love how Ichigo has to use Getsuga Tenshou yet again to beat him? A move that's become so overrdone and generic that it fits with how overrdone and generic Bach has become.

Going from a vengeful for his people leader to a hate the Soul King leader to a lol let's watch everythng burn because I am so evil leader.

And that's boring.

Kubo gave him one of THE most broken powers in the entire series. You want to know how he goes out? You really want to know?

684Ichigo bifurcates

With a whimper. 

Uryu comes in and lands the arrowhead to freeze his powers (why didn't he see him coming with that) allowing Ichigo to finally kill him....or however the final chapter will make it play out.

I do admit the series being canceled/axed is part of the reason why this final battle was so underwhelming and horrible, but Kubo is not blameless.

He made the villain with the power to see all.
He spent so much time on Gerard and Haschwald, including bogus cliffhangers where it looks like Bach has taken damage!
He had 200+ chapters with this guy as the villain,

And what a garbage villain he was. Utterly unlikable, muddled/confusing motives, broken power....yeah, it's Aizen without the self-parody fun and iconic nature.

It's even Aizen who gets the last laugh, because he set up the kill!

And it's me who gets the last laugh, knowing I can get off Kubo's wild ride and never see Juha Bach ever again.


Well overall I found the Stern Ritters to be.....not as interesting or fun to watch as some of the other organized groups. They're not as boring as the Fullbringers were, but from an objective standpoint, the Gotei and Espada offer waaaaay more in cohesion, unity, fleshed out characters, and reasonable powers.

Some of them I do I'll do my personal rankings.

Top 5
1) Giselle
2) Bazz
3) Candice (what? I'm a human being)
4) Meninas
5) Askin

Bottom 5
5) Lille
4) Royd/Loyd
3) Haschwald

2) Bach
1) Gremmy

How about you guys? Who did you like, who did you hate, and what would you like me to write next? Bleach is about to end soon, but I've covered so many points that a retrospective seems superfluous. Maybe something....light-hearted?

Thanks to everyone who read!