Sunday, 24 July 2016

AfB: I Am Also Good at Crossing Checklists

Hello, everyone. It's been some time since the last article, so I have lots of ground to cover (...or do I?). In any case, I have quite the checklist of meaningless occurrences to cover in a humorous fashion, spanning from that time Riruka reappeared to basically no consequence. And, in much the same way that BLEACH has essentially devolved to crossing off bankais and reveals in an uninspired, perfunctory manner, so I shall strive to get through all of it as quickly as possible. 
To that end, I've invited Lille Barro, the sniper of the Vandenreich. Greetings, Mr. Barro.

Pictured: What refugees look like to Republicans
I am God’s prophet! Do you hear me!?

Yes, yes. You’ve been screaming as much since back in the other-dimensional green room. Now tell me, what was it like being the sniper of the Vanden--

I’m NOT just “the sniper of the Vandenreich!” Take back that blasphemy at once! I am an envoy of God!!

I apologize. But wait, didn't Yhwach hate guys who thought they were prophets?

"Can you predict the future of my mustache?"
Kids, I’m here to tell you that you can be anything.

...Well, that’s lovely, except that there won’t be kids anymore after you destroy the unive--

Shhh. You’re confusing them. Kids: You can be anything. Your personality can be anything, at any given time.

Uhhhh… a lovely sentiment. I guess?

Nothing about you is set in stone. You could be screaming your head off one minute and then be the picture of stoicism the next. You could be a sniper dude and then have nothing to do with sniping. Isn’t that wonderful? God commands you to be free! You are free to be you, and also about fifteen other character designs cycled through randomly!

Aren’t we here to discuss the chapters?

Just like God himself, you are so many different people in one body! DON’T YOU DARE QUESTION GOD’S JUDGEMENT YOU FILTHY INFIDEL!!
You cad! You've killed your last tauntaun making that gun!
Why are you winking.

Because once I open my eye a third time, I activate my true form.


You can be anything, kids!

There are no kids.

This is the first time I’ve ever opened this eye a third time!!


"Though the power will only work for a short period of time when Lille's life is in danger during battle, if he opens his eyes a total of three times in a row during a battle, Lille is permitted to keep them open for the entire battle."

That makes no sense. Whatsoever.

There you go again, operating by human limits!! We're making a whole new world here!! Or something!!

When Lord YHWACH is seated at his sainted BIERGARTEN, I am there, opening his overflowing racks of giant Heinekens with my bottle-opening WINGZEN!!

Not to coarsen the language in this interview, but what. The fuck. Are you???

Do I not strike the terrifying mien of a legendary Pokemon!?

With legs like those, I can see why you needed eight wings. But I suppose on the sliding scale of angelicness you're on the very angelic end of the spectrum.

Right? In fact, you may no longer call me God's prophet. From here on out, you are to refer to me as Holey Godman Flash.

Hmmm. If only you had that ninth wing... You could fully boast of an odd number of wings and then I would be forced to acknowledge your might and worth.

WHAT!!? Well then, try this one, mister!!

Wait, how many forms do you even--

Now that I have mega evolved, my ability is no longer Pressure, but instead something useful!!
I take back what I said. You've grown some very fine gams. And your bellboy shirt buttons go really snazzy with the gown. Though I'd maybe invest in some pills for that halo, that is dreadfully droopy. What is your ability, anyway?

Ha! Behold!

The X-Axis (Enhanced): With his power active, Lille is constantly in a state of spatial intangibility, rendering him virtually untouchable by physical attacks and even Kidō.

Jesus Christ. That's almost as stupidly unbeatable as your boss's "power."

I am the first Quincy whose head he stroked with his darkness-stache! Of course I am closest to his godliness!!

I thought you said anybody could change anyway they liked, but in fact you just got divine handouts.


Oh god, please, please don't wink again.

This can be you, kids! You’ve just got to look at things a little differently if you know what I mean!

You infidel sinner, I am gravely offended! You never mentioned my new haircut!
No, kids. You cannot spontaneously transmogrify into an owl creature. Why were you a sniper? Why bother? Doesn’t being a sniper require years of training? But then you can just become a super powerful owl thing anyway? I don’t understand.


Now that's my kind of endtimes!
And I thought this would be an efficient, to-the-point article.

Hey kids.

Stop corrupting the children!

You want to be a group of freakish stork-owls!?

No, where did that come from--

Conservation status: Least Concern
You CAN be. You can be anything, anything you want to be.

No, you can’t, children. You cannot survive a massive killer blast as a hivemind group of disturbing yet oddly adorable divine stork-owls. In fact, neither can you, Mr. Barro!

WHAT ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT!? Here I’s stand, pecking as vigorously as the day is long!!

Stop winking at the children with forty heads at once.

I's are still God's envoys, and I's can winks as I's pleases.

What is the logical reason you are able to become a gaggle of freakish stork-owls.

You can be any--

I am going to slap you’s.

Don’t. My’s necks are sensitives.

Look here, sir! This farce has gone on long enough! Just to get this straight: You are a sniper with a gun that can poke a hole through anything but if you're forced to open your closed eye three times in rapid succession, you transform into an entirely unrelated seraph-like thing, after which you just randomly turn into an owl being, after which you just randomly disperse into a group of owl beings! Explain this madness!

I put a good fifty bucks in the Vandenreich donation plate during mass! Have you demonstrated any such DEVOTION to a cause in your life!? #blessed #feelthestern

Did you want to be an owl??

Snipers need good, keen eyesight for when they level cities with their super gigantic mega plasma blasts. Otherwise they might even destroy the world.

You were exhausting enough to talk to when there weren’t ninety of you.

Oh, there are now far more than ninety of me’s.

Well, yes, I gathered from how there’s now a miniature owl-stork… and do I detect a hint of kiwi now?... on each of my chest hairs.

Obey the Lord, brother, or I's pecks.

Something tells me this was the real reason you joined the Quincy cause. You just wanted to be able to play out this very odd dream of yours. This very odd… fetish?

And it’s the end of the world (or something) so I can do whatever I want with impunity! Hahahahaha! BWOOOOOH!! BWOOOOOH!!

They must be god's trumpets indeed if you're able to blow them without opposable thumbs. Or arms.


Well, you know what, Mr. Barro? It just struck me that you’ve led quite the storied, eclectic life to get up to this point.

Oh, no, do go on. Quincies, brother--we’re existential vacuums! Both in the way we suck up your spirit particles AND in the way we’re empty inside! So we just need to take a little bit of everything!

Was it all worth it?

To be a series of shamelessly random, confabulated plot burps as opposed to one coherent character? Well, I’ll tell you one thing--Reading my diary is a wild ride indeed.

Hold on one darn second, buster!!

Oh no.

I resent the insinuation that I or anyone of us could EVER be more than just one thing!

Oh no. Not you.

Why, I defy you to find anything about me, anything at all, besides


Was the Shroud of Turin always this... rapey-looking?
FFFFEEAAAAARRR!! Ahem, yes. It was fear.

Hello, As Nodt.

GYAHH! Erm, I mean, hello, FEARRR! Which is the ONE thing that I will acknowledge even exists! After all, The Hunger Games is my favorite scary movie!

Why are you even alive?

Could you imagine? Playing a game while being hungry? Scary!! So scary!!

I repeat. Why are you even alive?

Isn’t it obvious!? There are too many creepypastas left to read to leave this world! A downright scary amount, even, although the only thing that scares me is his lord and majesty the exalted You A Baba!!



Oh, I'm sorry. I just get so shouty sometimes.




Gentlemen. Let us discuss current affairs.

Bazz-B's Bazz-Backstory

Ichigo's English language schooling finally proved useful when he found himself in this situation with a foreigner.
So, Bazz-B seemed pretty generic through most of the war, what with his smug "I'm gonna kill all you shinigami" lines virtually indistinguishable from any of the other baddies' lines. He fought Hitsugaya once? And jobbed to Yamamoto, once? With hindsight, all the little skirmishes that dotted the war saga, especially the early parts, seem particularly inconsequential. But at least his burner fingers were mildly entertaining.

He was the one with the audacity to question His Kingship's no doubt flawless decision in entrusting Uryuu Ishida with the sacred title of B, lobbying instead for Haschwaldt. While it's true that Haschwaldt, our King's "other half," would have been a fine candidate, I, for one, celebrate Bazz's end.


It just feels unnatural for there to be a Bazz-B and not make him the B, however little he deserved it. So he must die for somebody else to be named the B, b.

C'mon, don't say that. The man clearly passed before his time--weren't you ever the least bit curious how many people he sent to the hospital playing pull my finger, or how well he got on with Roy Mustang?

I once burned my fingers typing up creepypastas so super fast that the friction melted the monitor. I betrayed my muse, that day.

I remember that day, wasn't that when His Majesty gave you the job?

He said he really likes burning fingers. Said he had since the, quote, "Tijuana Incident," a name I can only assume belonged to some Quincy in the far-flung past from the country of Europe.

Well, he certainly liked burning fingers when he personally burned down Bazz's village... for some reason.

And I'm certain that forest was very mean to Quincies!!

Can we discuss why Bach was out conquering countries on Earth to begin with?

It's not often Kubo gets to draw a horse. I wouldn't mind more horses shoehorned into the series, despite this being its ostensible last stretch. Maybe Gerard can still turn into a bajillion mini-horses!

I mean, did it have any purpose? Why bother? Why couldn't he directly recruit the Quincies whom he has more or less total power over anyway? Was he initially actually aiming for world conquest, but then the sheer lack of feng shui or an artist's touch in the Soul King's digs inspired him to make redecorating Soul Society his number one priority?

Man, that was a long time ago. It all seems so small with hindsight.

Right. So why with all the petty war? Why spend time "conquering the north" when he's planning to conquer the fucking afterlife?

Perhaps it really was just a Quincy recruitment campaign.

The Quincies he can create seemingly freely? But then according to this backstory, Haschwaldt was born as Yhwh's "other half." As though it weren't convoluted enough already. So there are the "impure" Quincies that are his descendants, and then there are the Quincies he creates by imparting them each with a piece of his soul? And the Quincies who are his descendants have a standard set of Quincy powers, but those he gives his soul pieces to get arbitrarily unique powers? Does he only have 26 soul bits to apportion so that's why he's going with the whole alphabet motif? And the war was to attract the other Quincies? But then his "other half" was randomly one of his descendants!? I want more explained, dammit!

All I know is that he visited me in bed once and asked if I wanted to share the experience of "burning fingers" with him, but then I said I was afraid.

Then I went from this mask...
To this mask!! And if anybody wants an upgrade like mine, I know a guy!
Look, maybe he just really liked wars. I mean, this is his 1,000 year blood war.


That reminds me, this guy was asleep for 999 years, right? Which means this war took place over a 1,000 years ago. Which means Haschwaldt and Bazz-B are over 1,000 years old!? And doesn't that mean you are as well, Holey Godman Flash?

They're 1,000 years old!? No wonder Bazz has Burner Fingers--his arthritis must be excuciating!!

And also, I dunno, the setting doesn't really look like 11th century Germany to me.

And why not, pray tell?

The helmet-mohawk technology is anachronistically far too advanced:

Omg look at that "oh fuck" face on that horse. In that second, he knows he's gonna be a mafioso's morning surprise
Are you saying His Majesty's slumber was not as long as 999 years? Absurd. How else would you explain how I had to carefully snipe off the civilization of spiders from His Majesty's Holy Crotch and Around-the-Crotch Area?

Were you keeping watch over him the entire 999 years?

Uh, no. The Lord's hymn clearly stated how long he would be asleep so there was no need to keep watch over him!

So you played an active part in history, then?

Ummm... Sure. Yes. I was sniping Hollows from afar, and that counts.

By the way, if Yhwach was active as a historical figure, and his merry band of Quincies was openly engaging in war, then why doesn't anybody know about them? Why isn't it a thing they teach in Ichigo's history class?

They never knew we were magic. The infidels, always blind to our ancient German juju.

So when normal people saw you stand in formation and fire off invisible arrows from invisible bows, which then caused the forest to catch fire, they thought nothing of it?

Why don't the Muggles ever notice the Hollows we're always slaying? Why do you think we're remaking the universe (or something)? People are too dumb to exist.

Does that mean me, too!?

You're fine up until the moment His Majesty realizes he never got to slurp up your soul to give me your life energy.


All right, so, speaking of underlings he failed to slurp up, let's talk about the Bazz Man.

Gotta admit, the gladiatorial helmet to mohawk thing was a nice touch.
So he, the cocksure prodigy of a Quincy, befriends Haschwaldt, an incapable weakling of a Quincy. Yhwach's army burns down their village (again, why?), and Bazz ropes Haschwaldt into his revenge scheme against Yhwach, training for several years to take his head. Bazz worries that Haschwaldt is the rumored Quincy that's born once every ten years that's really weak (Yhwach would perhaps have been better suited allocating the war funds to research on his stupidly weird soul-DNA, because damn). Eventually the Sternritters roll into town to recruit in order to slay heaven (because they already hate shinigami by this point?), and Yhwh himself picks Haschwaldt since he's his "other half." It's then revealed that Bazz was only strong because he was around Haschwaldt, who can augment other people's powers.

I will translate this panel for you. Bazz is going "ah."
Bazz eventually joins the Vandenreich anyway, always howling at the moon. And now that he's turned traitor, he attacks Haschwaldt, to his very predictable demise.

Covering something in blank white is a famed martial arts move called "pulling a Kubo."
This whole conflict would have been a whole lot more emotionally affecting if Haschwaldt himself had shown any hint of a personality. As it stands, it's a decent effort and a much appreciated change of pace--not to mention some very needed background into the Quincies and their history. But it's also too little, too late.

It's never too little, too late! When he has His Majesty's THE ALMIGHTY activated, he knows EVERYTHING, so he will tell us everything eventually and it will be super satisfyingly thorough!

When you lean in for that kiss and you notice
You know, if the last chapter of the series is them successfully killing the good guys and just launching into a 400 page sermon explaining everything, that would be as satisfying as any other ending to me. 

That's funny, I wrote a 400 page sermon on why Honey, I Shrunk the Kids is my favorite scary movie just the other day!

 That many pages?

Well, I also included my pitch for a prequel called Honey, I Sprouted 61 Heads, Each More Hideous Than the Last, and They All Hunger, Oh God They Hunger...

Please, Barro, blow that trumpet some more. 

BWWOOOOHHH!! Bwoh bwoh!!


Nemu's Backstory

All right, so what was next on Kubo's checklist? What's next on ours?

Why do the shinigami have a fox person again!?

I am curious how deep that particular infidel's sin must have been.

I'm scared of his fleas!!

Why are you questioning why the shinigami have a fox person when you have a hand person?

No, not that hand person.
Oh, Pernida? He's new, I think. He's one of the Soul King's Holy Parts, which cannot, mind you, hold a candle to His Majesty the Lord YHWACH BAJA's Holy Parts, but we affirmative actioned him into our gang.

When is His Majesty going to grant us the ability to pronounce "Pernida Parnkgjas"?

You need two tongues to pronounce his name.

You know this saga has gone on way too long already when a guy like this can appear and be forgotten very easily

What, Pernida doesn't scare you?

Of COURSE not! Giant hands exist to pet giant dogs, like Clifford, which, incidentally, is my favorite scary movie.

If that thing was the Soul King's left hand, I'm all the more convinced he needed to die. Yeesh.
Down the catwalk he struts.
Wait, isn't he (it?) ALSO a Sternritter? From, like, before?
Thank god he ended up being a hand.
...Do you remember him, Nodt?

Wasn't he with you?

...Well, he never spoke. How was he supposed to stand out, I ask you?

 Maybe he was afraid to stand out, all this time. Maybe he thought he'd get bullied for being a grotesque abomination with no higher level intelligence!!

All he had to do was see your example and know he'd never be bullied for being such a thing. If there's anything the Vandenreich provides, it's an equal opportunity workplace. (Well, up until you're VERY rudely liquidated and absorbed into upper management.)

And think, all he really had to do was abide by the Quincy Battlefield Quip Manual! Then he would have fit right in!!

 What, like "I'm going to kill you shinigami in such and such way"?

And "There's no way a prophet of God could be defeated by infidels like you!!" And then you punctuate it with a wink.

And a blow of the trumpet?

Only for the really good zingers.

You know, talking with you lot isn't so unpleasant after all. Sure, there are times when you kill each other to establish your villain chops, which I can totally understand--I mean, would we really have that much of a reason to root against you guys otherwise? But even so, at least you present a more united front than many of the more obnoxious shinigami designated "heroes," whose unrelentingly smug sniping is really more like the characters talking over each other. It's not amusing banter, it's not clever repartee, it's just them undercutting each other as spitefully as possible, each one unable to scrabble out of the miasma that is his own ego.

Kenpachi and Mayuri are the biggest offenders, and the beginning of the Pernida fight renders two characters with otherwise genuinely enjoyable moments quite insufferable.

We get it. They're opposites. How about doing something interesting with that?
Then Kenpachi, being the overexposed, tiresome one-dimensional idiot he is, gets his arm twisted off by Pernida's ability to control and distort anything its nerve-tendrils penetrate.

You know, I appreciate that Kenpachi can be hurt. Not that injuries ever really seem to matter--though that's hardly only a fault in BLEACH.

The fight itself was honestly pretty good overall. For one, the art was great. The level of mad science inventiveness we've come to expect from a Mayuri fight didn't fail us, either. I love how reminiscent his fights are of those old Spy Vs. Spy strips of rapidfire back-and-forth one upmanship. Only with a LOT more words.

Even their color scheme would mesh really well with BLEACH's!
Not to mention all the crazy imagery:

Hey, he's no odder than Sonic the Hedgehog, who also has one eyeball with two pupils.
Mayuri remarks on how odd it is that the left hand of the Soul King calls itself a Quincy, causing Pernida to get indignant in a huff of Quincy pride. He then states that the left hand of the Soul King is responsible for "advancing" and the right hand is responsible for "stopping." What in the fuck does any of this mean? Who the fuck was the Soul King and what did he do? Was he a patient with a split corpus callosum and one of his brain halves had an unkingly tendency to "advance" south, which the other hand had to stop? At this late stage of the game, it's hard to see how it could truly mean anything.

Mayuri counters Pernida's ability with a modded version of his bankai, which has too many layers of nerves on the surface of its skin to be able to hack through quickly (and which causes it to scream in pain). Mayuri is essentially torturing his sword spirit, and he couldn't even have known he would need that modification for this fight.

Good luck at your medical insurance application meeting with all those pre-existings, Konjiki Ashisogi Jizou!
However, Pernida proves too hax to kill, constantly "advancing" and cloning, so Nemu steps in despite Mayuri's objections. It's revealed that Nemu was Mayuri's seventh attempt at an artificial soul that progressively evolves, and thus he values her as his masterpiece and wants to ensure she continues to grow. She responds that protecting him is proof she's grown, and sacrifices herself to defeat Pernida. Mayuri scoops up her brain and sees a vision of Szayel chiding him for showing any non-rational emotion toward her.

Look for Szayel's peer-reviewed work on perfecting the NETFLIX AND CHILL face in the latest issue of Nature.
Every and all scientifically calibrated smug-ometers then evaporated from sheer smug.

Finally, just as with the Szayel fight, Mayuri wins the day because the enemy inadvertently took in what Mayuri loaded her body with. In that fight, it was a very exotic poison, and in this one, it's simply the special pituitary hormones that caused her to grow so fast and strong (without the necessary limiters, causing Pernida to explode a la Gremmy). And to think, Mayuri had wanted her to stay on the sidelines without helping in the fight at all. Why doesn't he just karate chop Nemu in the back of the neck, open up her jaw like a Pez dispenser, and spray the cocktail of magic science instawin liquids right into the enemy's eyes? Granted, I guess the rapid-growth hormone only worked because Pernida kept gaining the powers of the things it came into contact with. Still, at this rate he needs to store his whole collection of ridiculously unethical concoctions within her, just in case. And then reconstruct Nemu to look like a giant turkey leg so the villains can't help but chow down.

How all men dream of their daughters, surely.
As I've mentioned in this column before, up until now, Mayuri was the only character in all of fiction I could think of who was almost 100% heinous and amoral, with no heroic gloss to speak of, and yet still fought unconditionally on the side of the nominal good guys--and moreover, that we were clearly never meant to root against.

I feel Nemu's backstory tried to pinch away a small crumb of that hideous heap of evil in addition to explaining what exactly Nemu is/was--but what for? This is still a guy who thought nothing of detonating his own subordinates, and, lest you forget, indiscriminately obliterated thousands of souls in the Rukongai. What would introducing a slight affection for Nemu accomplish when it came time to judge his whole character at the end of the series? If you're going to have the man be an irredeemable Karma Houdini, don't vacillate with that characterization.

Remember, in the Soul Society arc, while Nemu did fight to save Mayuri, she was also depicted as being melancholy and withdrawn--implied to be the result of abuse. It's not as though Mayuri is now being depicted as loving, per se, but he was a designated villain in the SS arc and that manifested in the implications that revolved around Nemu. Now it's revealed she was seen as an object of pride by Mayuri, and no hint of abuse surfaced in her backstory. It just feels a tad inconsistent.

And what about how Mayuri abused us Quincies, huh!? That never came up at all!!

You know, that is an excellent point. You'd think Mayuri's killing every (unpure?) Quincy besides Ishida would have been brought up by, I don't know, the Quincies who are killing all the shinigamis out of spite and hatred? I mean, knowing a little bit more about Nemu is nice and all, but in her specific case, was it strictly necessary? We already gathered she was a successful and powerful artificial being. Wouldn't the aspect of Mayuri that's far more salient to the battle at hand have been the better plot thread to wrap up? At the very least, a throwaway line or two. Some indication Kubo didn't just forget about it.

But the true problem here is that he's got too many good guys to worry about and he knows the fans are dying to know the bankais they haven't seen yet.

Pfft. Bankais this, bankais that. A true Quincy would never be done in by a mere bankai!

Ouch! Too soon, man! Too soon!  

Another Bankai, Another Backstory

 And down the checklist we go. As Kyouraku's oddly bankai-like shikai dealt with realizing the rules of children's games, his bankai seemed to be about realizing the separate verses of a particularly gruesome poem, wrapping his opponent in various afflictions and finally drowning him. However, that was not enough.

I dunno, dude, you died pretty easily once before, didn't you? 

But I guess you right; all Kyouraku's bankai did was momentarily inconvenience you.

Indeed! It was that infernal vice-captain who lacked even a sword! Pah! Humbug!!

Are you okay, dude? Or do you need a moment?

Fucking goddamn shitting ASS!!

It's strange watching 4,000 tiny stork-owls have mini-tantrums on my arm hairs.

What did you-- GYAAAHHHH!!!

And I was so sure I had the upper hand in that battle, you know, what with the being invincible and all, but a god-sword? C'mon! Now I've heard everything!!

Seen here mere moments after burying his head in some sand.
Yes, a god-slaying sword that reflects the attack right back at you, essentially. And it was entrusted to Nanao's clan, whose head was connected to Kyouraku--as evidenced by his telltale (rather feminine)
ensemble. Nemu basically won the day for Mayuri by getting eaten again, which wasn't really her own growth, except maybe in the fact that she actively chose to sacrifice herself this time around. And you could maybe argue that Nanao won the day for Kyouraku by merely bringing the god-sword into the equation--which doesn't seem to have a restriction on who wields it? But it probably did require some bravery to wield it when she wasn't used to using swords, and Kyouraku did help her with that, so it was more of a team effort.
Shoulda gotten that checked, bro.
Pictured, above, Nanao entering the fray by using Kyouraku's shadow-porting ability. See, I like that teamwork.

The two faults I find with this fight was a) as aforementioned, Barro's inexplicable transformations and b) the mild ass pull of the god-sword. Would've been nice if it had been hinted at before.

I have a feeling Nanao's going to be needing to hand that sword off to Ichigo very soon!

That's okay, now Kubo can introduce several different new designs for Zangetsu in each coming chapter!
Hey, speaking of broken hings...


 Do mine eyes deceive me!? Has a familiar mass of ink snuck its way back onto my page?
I forget, did Kira always have half of his body missing? I mean, that's his normal expression, and it must take a lot of experience to learn how to stand upright without the middle section of the spine.
Omg, that's right: the dude who killed him was none other than Bazz-B!! Hahahaha! And then Bazz turns good. Damn, Kira, you couldn't even have your cheap shock value death be at the hands of one of the really evil ones.

Anyway, I used to make fun of Kira's cheap shock value death and how forgettable he was afterwards, but with every other SHOCKING EVENT (like Hitsugaya turning into a zombie or those two Vizard captains dying), I should have expected that to be--say it with me now--inconsequential!

Look who's back! I could pinch his cheeks, ohhhh!

"Okay, now this HAS to launch me to Instagram stardom!" #inkwell
So, um, Mayuri? You're the one who cured him, yeah? Let me get this straight--you can just regenerate your arm in seconds with a simple injection and reverse zombification and death with generic sci fi rejuvenation pods, but poor Kira had to do with cartoon prison window bars??

Hey, at least Kira is totally running with it. I can admire that. And I can admire a story where a man poses so the moon shines through the hole on the side of his chest while he stone-facedly takes on droves of otherworldly owl storks with his sword that makes its victims heavier so that they crumple as though in apology. More points to you, Kubo.

Do you think when Kira gets his next power-up, his hair will take the same shape as his sword!?

Alas, i don't think there'll be a next power-up for poor old Kira. I think this is the end of his relevance. Killing maybe a two or three dozen stork-owls.

It tickles!  

What's next? 

Vs. Askin Nakk Le Var

Askin Nakk Le Var, the Sternritter whose primary ability is called "A Personality," whose secondary ability enables him to talk about things other than his tertiary ability, and whose tertiary ability involves manipulating lethal dose.

While fighting Urahara, he avers that he just wants to see what sort of new world Bach makes, and isn't Urahara curious, too?

But it's obvious what sort of new world Bach will make!!

It is? Ahem, I mean, it is.

All of space and time, filled to the brim with creepypastas!!

What!? Did he speak with you of this!?

Instead of breathing air, we would be breathing spooky gas, and if you don't know what spooky gas is, it's gas in the shape of letters forming a really spooky description of a YouTube screamer video!

When did he tell you all of this!?

When he visited me on my deathbed, though that was through a haze of spooky gas so I might have gotten some details slightly wrong.

Did he tell you there would NOT be a Holy Biergarten?

No. And I can't imagine he would have omitted something as frightening as the prospect of no Biergarten.

The holes in my wings need a purpose, dammit!! 

I know a guy whose bankai can plug up those holes. It can split and then sew things back together, restructuring them in an optimal fashion to heal or enhance.

Not the most exciting of abilities, but respectably versatile.
Much flashier is Yoruichi's super move, which allows her to reverse the polarity (or whatever) of her spirit particles too many times per second for Askin's ability to get a peg on her-- in exchange for becoming as fickle as a cat.

Darkstalkers is the other way, Felicia.

Wow it's convenient that that otherwise useless ability is perfect for this situation.

So Kubo remembered that Yoruichi had something to do with cats, but not that she used to be a cat (which, I'm sorry, still requires an explanation). I suspect some of this cat's fickleness business rings true for him.

So, in a development that surprised no one, Askin simply activates his Vollstandig to recover.

He looks like the mascot of a children's science museum.

Urahara defeats him by leading Grimmjow into the inescapable but not impenetrable poison-sphere using his bankai's stitches to etch a trail.

It was at that point that Askin thought to himself, was the time he spent that morning making his hair antenna jagged at the end time well spent?
 But then they're all still going to die or something.

What, did he make them allergic to Hollows or something?

Allergic to Hollows? As if!!!!

*cough Hollow antibodies cough*

I'm sure that was just another helping of false tension and they'll all be there at the big picnic of good guys at the end. If by some miracle they do actually die, at least Grimmjow can perish knowing he did the one thing he was born for-- killing some random Quincy he interacted with all of once. You go, Grimmjow!


A Hemsworth cousin.
Meet Gerard. He is the so-called "Heart of the Soul King," a sentence I'm tempted to delete due to its excruciatingly brazen meaninglessness, but I have to keep it in on the off chance it figures into anything. Perhaps we'll get a 17-part aside on the workings of the Soul King's circulatory system before rushing off to the exciting finale, where Ichigo exchanges blows with every one of the Soul King's lymph nodes.

He is also the last Sternritter besides Haschwaldt that needs taking down.

I think you're forgetting a little someones! Or rather, 10,000 little someones!

Dammit, Kira, you're only slicing them tinier.

You're's so cutes, Lilles!

Silence! My ancient German juju is the best juju of them all!! If I get smaller when I'm thrashed about, and Gerard gets bigger when he's thrashed about, and mine is the first, best power, then that must make Gerard's the last, worst power!!

Actually, it only took two people to incapacitate you, whereas it took three very strong captains to maybe get close to phasing Gerard.

Even the architecture was cribbed from AoT.
That's even bigger than Clifford!! Hold me!! We're doomed!!

Don't worry, Zaraki bankais and helpfully foreshadows the coming of some Fullbringers by making the big lug reenact Giriko's formation of a two man band.

They can join the support group for people who underwent extremely botched corpus callosum surgery, alongside the Soul King.
Not that a bankai could possibly be of any concern to me, but what is the bankai of the man who didn't need one to defeat Gremmy... and incidentally, ahaha, does Kira have one?

Don't worry, Zaraki's bankai is as lame and boring as his shikai was.

Byakuya's shikai: Blades
Byakuya's bankai: More blades

Hitsugaya's shikai: Ice
Hitsugaya's bankai: More ice

Zaraki's shikai: Slicing
Zaraki's bankai: More slicing

Although to be fair, his bankai also sprouts him some rad mini-elbows above his nose
I admire his dental hygiene.

Maybe that's also part of his bankai!

I can't deny the possibility. Actually, Hitsugaya's bankai, too, packs a little something extra. You see, when the last petal falls, he ages up! Like so:
Hitsugaya Toushirou
Is the scar on that old man's head from when he got his head sliced up by Mr. Scaryteeth?

A worthy hypothesis, but no. It's probably just a birthmark or something. Anyway, the following picture is of Hitsugaya's uncle, Steve. He can also freeze things, but not because he's a shinigami. It's because he hurtled headlong into a radioactive ice cream truck when he was a wee lad of 20, of his own volition. It's rough living in the Rukongai.

Oh Steve! Always getting the cold shoulder!
You see, normally, when the time limit of a power runs out, that person grows weaker, not stronger. Hence this man must not be Hitsugaya but Steve, Hitsugaya's uncle. Hitsugaya bumped into him one day when they both applied to the same casting call (for the upcoming reboot of Suburban Commando), and he invited him to Soul Society to receive some advice on how developed one's abs should be to straddle a comfortable middle ground between shota and Gackt.

I see! Incidentally, Suburban Commando is a masterpiece of horror cinema and does not need a reboot!!

It was a good thing Steve showed up, too, otherwise Hitsugaya, Zaraki and Byakuya would have ended up hogging FAR too much total screen time. But then again, who else is there who could use some of the modicum of attention minor characters like Nanao or Nemu received...?
We don't even know what their powers are.
Okay, so maybe, if Byakuya, Hitsugaya and Zaraki's teaming up had been enough to defeat Gerard, you could defend it as a moment of awesome or something. But no, even after shattering Gerard to smithereens, he still regenerates.

"I CANNOT die before the final chapter of One Piece!!"
 Only to die to Bach's soul-vacuum anyway!

When Haschwaldt died to the same beam, he got to keep his flesh and bones, because he's conventionally attractive.
Making their "awesome" three-way collaboration and bankai-fest entirely ineffectual and pointless. I don't know if making the final-stretch villains virtually invincible was Kubo's way of justifying pumping them with the souls of all the lesser Sternritters, but all that did was result in yet more arbitrary friendly fire deaths. It's unbelievably dumb. What scant satisfaction could have been wrung from the battle was invalidated as a passing whim. Sigggghhhh

...Would it cheer you up if I shared with you one of my creepypastas?


Once upon a time, there was a big mean Hollow made of OTHER HOLLOWS!!! GYAAAAHHHH!!!!!!!!

And he's scared himself unconscious.

He was never very good at Hollow hunting. 


So Ishida has this big confrontation with Ichigo over his "betrayal," only for him to reveal he was, shock of all shocks, undermining Bach from the inside, not long after. Haschwaldt, not being an idiot, suspected him all along, but Bach wanted him around because he clearly possessed a hidden strength from how he didn't get hoovered alongside all the other unpure Quincies. But the jig is up when Haschwaldt discovers he planted bombs all over the place. Ishida tries to buy Ichigo and the non-Ichigoes time to go up and attack a sleeping Bach. That was all the drama Ishida's "betrayal" ever amounted to.

This whole undercooked plot thread just serves to remind the reader how much better it could have been had Ishida actually received any of the plot focus this demanded to be effective. Orihime and Chad, hell, even Ichigo himself have all seemed like plot tumors despite being the ostensible main characters. Instead, 95% of the action and the plot focus have been greedily gobbled up by the Gotei 13, as usual. If you don't give the great big emotional clash between friends any attention, how are we meant to care? It suffered from minimal build-up, and not just over the past two years of serialization, not just over the entire saga, but over the entire series. Sure, he had a good showing against that one Arrancar, but what about his interactions with Ichigo? They hardly ever seemed that close, let alone blood brothers. If they'd actually gone through some trial and tribulations together, instead of the reader just being informed they're bosom buddies, then his "betrayal" would have been less eyeroll-worthy to begin with. Kubo could have gone a different direction and, understanding that readers would never actually believe there could be any chance Ishida turned coat, stated outright that Ishida was playing double agent, wringing drama from his inner turmoil instead.

Assured that Ishida remains their theoretical friend without needing to call Shuu-chan in, Ichigo and the non-Ichigoes continue their frenzied bounce around town, leaving Ishida and Haschwaldt to fight while Bach sleeps. This means Haschwaldt has the Almighty eyes, ostensibly able to predict the future but apparently not really, as Ishida is able to surprise him.
The Quincy style of combat emphasizes maximization of cloak billowing.
Ishida surmises he can't be so all-seeing, as the future he foresees can be changed.

When Bach wakes as they're still fighting, Haschwaldt loses the Almighty, so he uses his own B power, the scales of Balance, which redistribute misfortune away from him, (and then adds more misfortune on top, which is about as "balanced" as a drunk Fox News on a swinging tightrope).  But then Ishida reveals his own power, A for "Antithesis," which reverses what happened in turn. However, Haschwaldt's own stupidly broken power has the advantage as it essentially continually pushes away any misfortune that would befall him. He chides Ishida for choosing his puny human friends over the Lord who gave him so much more power, and has him dead to rights before the ever-convenient soul-sucking beam shoots down and swallows up his power. Despite voicing his pride in the fact that it was his power Bach chose to suck up as opposed to Ishida's, he then takes Ishida's wounds into himself as he lies dying and tells him to go save his friends, even though his power might make him the "only one who can defeat Bach." People should live following their convictions or somesuch. Shouldn't your conviction of devotion to Bach prevented you from helping Ishida in his conviction, though?

Well, in any case, you were a brave little almost-character, Haschwaldt. I'm sure your power of redirecting fortune will massively help the guy who can literally change the future to his liking.

"You can take my clothes, too. And my watch. It's Swiss."
Which brings us to the question: what does Bach do with all the powers he's sucking up? I was under the impression that he was just loading up on raw spirit power, but this leads me to believe that no, he's taking their specific powers... so when will he actually use them? I want to see a Bach the size of Soul Society, remaking the world manually!!


Ichigo attacks the awoken Bach, having a more personal reason to hate him than he had with Aizen. After all, it was the wanton soul-vacuum that indirectly killed Ichigo's mom. Bach is all like, "you're the son I created!" and can't understand why Ichigo wouldn't consider it an honor. Ichigo fights alongside Orihime, who protects him with her shield, but it's only when he achieves true synthesis between his shinigami, Quincy and Hollow selves that he levels up to his ultimate form.

Mom would be proud!
I'm sorry, Ichigo, but your side horn is hilarious, no matter how heatedly you insist it has value in combat in case anybody tries throwing a tomato at your left eye from that side. I mean, seriously, think of how annoying the blind spot caused by that horn would be. I don't care that you can now stack a generic Hollow energy beam onto your generic sword slash beam, that's a downgrade if anything. Bach did you a massive favor snapping it off, my friend.

Ichigo bankais, but to drive home how hopeless it is to oppose him, Bach shatters it instantly, and then robs Ichigo of his Hollow and Quincy powers to boot. There is no hope.

Now imagine if, and you may want to sit down for this, but imagine if Kubo remembered that, oh yeah, this could be a decent place for Orihime to grow as a character and use either her offensive fairy in a bid of bravery or her time-reversal fairies in a bid of cunning.

He really needed all that extra power, he was too weak back when he could already blink up a favorable future and reconstruct a dimension with his mind, and when he already killed his big target ages ago.
But alas, he had to make the big bad's power as daftly overpowered as Aizen's was, when he wrote himself into a corner back then.

You see, Ichigo may have overcome every obstacle through sheer grit before now, he may have been able to change his own fate, but the Almighty doesn't merely foresee the future, it can alter it at will. It's the future counterpart of Tsukishima's ability to change any past. Speaking of which...

Omg! It's EVERYONE'S TRUEST TRUE PAL, and Creepyramen!
To repay their debt to Ichigo, they heal his sword, and then presumably fuck off. Much like Kubo thinks his commitment to Orihime's character was cinched by her very brief engagement in battle alongside Ichigo, with this yet another point on the checklist is, doubtless, crossed, in his mind. Hey, amico mio, why don't you stab Ichigo's Hollow and Quincy powers back into him? Why don't you add a little fox-person, a pinch of modsoul, some giant-statue-being to taste? Give him so many extra chromosomes he crosses back over to normal!

Ichigo could always use a little bit more giant-statue-being in him, you know.
Renji also helps Ichigo out of his spell of despair, mostly by reminding him, hey, it could be worse. He could be Renji! But also by sharing that because Ichigo was the only reason he and Rukia could become close again, he vowed to always be there to push Ichigo forward. I honestly liked that moment. It'd be so great if Renji stopped ever embarrassing himself trying to be cool and just became an inspirational life coach or something.

Bach promises that if he crosses through the portal he left open for them, he will kill them horribly during their moment of greatest happiness, just to deepen their despair. If it were me, I'd just never masturbate again and then I'd be safe.

Upon arriving back in Soul Society, Bach frees Aizen from his chair for some reason, and, despite being able to not only see but change it to any potential future as he pleases, is taken aback when Aizen opposes him (this is land is his land).

Pictured, Aizen doing the stretching exercise where you move your outstretched arms in a circle.

 Don't ask him to emote in a way befitting the tension of all of reality hanging in the balance of his actions, though. He cannot lose his many-years-running smirking contest with Szayel and Tsukishima.

Then, for some reason, Aizen sacrifices himself by making Bach believe he was attacking Ichigo instead of himself. If he was using illusion power, why even bother being there to begin with? Why not have him attacking the air? I don't get it.

When you're stuck in a chair for two plus years, your bar for "fascinating" swings low.
"Wait... you aren't Chair."

Hey, remember how you needed to have witnessed a special ceremony for Kyouka Suigetsu to work on you? Because Kubo sure didn't! Of course, I only remember because that was the stated reason that only Ichigo could beat him, way back when. Maybe THAT was an illusion, too.

I want to sell Bach's upper body taxidermied on eBay.
I can only assume Bach really well used Gerard's power to regenerate and sit on his next throne, planet Earth, next chapter. What an ecological nightmare! I don't want to die by a swamp-ass darkened sky! But hey, maybe then having such a gigantic roster of good guys might come in handy! Of course, we all know Bach himself will get soul-vacuumed at the last second by himself, because he secretly wanted to lose all along! I'll see you after BLEACH ends at last, for a final send-off article! Anything to say in the meantime, fellas?

Be sure to listen to my SCARY YouTube reviews of all of my favorite scary movies! I’m especially proud of my in-depth analysis of all the scares in Godzilla 2000! The video has at least 45 screamers, and it’s only 45 seconds long--perfect for your morning commute!!

Any parting words from you, Mr. Barro?



1 comment:

  1. Good stuff man. Some of these refreshers/points will help with my new article lol