Bleach (Chapters 660-663) – Review Discussion
Reviewed by: Tom
Synopsis: Ichigo Kurosaki was born with the ability to see Ghosts. When his family is suddenly attacked by a evil lost soul, known as a Hollow, Ichigo becomes entangled in the world of the Soul Reapers, after life beings that hunt and exterminate the Hollows. Ichigo dedicates his life to saving the innocent and helping the tortured spirits find peace.
(Warning: Spoilers to Follow):
But now, the Soul Society is in great jeopardy as the Quincy King Yhwach has returned. He’s begun his final assault against the Soul Reapers, killing Genryusai and taking control of the Seireitei. Now he makes his way to destroy the Soul King Reio himself as near everyone is powerless to stop him. Ichigo, with renewed strength, makes his return just too late as Yhwach destroys Reio and absorbs the Soul King’s powers. Now all of creation has begun to crumble into nothing. With the world hanging in the balance, it’s up to Ichigo, Chad, and the rest of the team to stop Yhwach before everything and everyone they care about is nothing but dust.
Bleach is an odd title for me. On the one hand I use to be extremely into it, spending my college money on volume after volume. But as the series has continued I’ve begun to notice cracks in Bleach’s formula. My biggest issues, which really started to creep up in the final chapters of the Aizen arc, center around the way fights play out.
It often seems like battles have a set formula within Bleach. One of the two combatants kicks the others ass for a solid chapter. The battle is totally one-sided and it looks like Combatant A is for sure going to win. But then, a sudden 180 reversal, a new move introduced, a new form, or they were just playing around and now Combatant B is the one winning. Battles often go on like this for several chapters until a victor is declared.
Now, most Shonen, and even My Hero Academia at times, are guilty of this. But Bleach takes it to some ridiculous extremes that make it extra noticeable and distracting. At this point I’ll be honest, I’m mostly reading Bleach to get to the end. I’ve followed it all the way from Volume 1, I’m invested, and I feel like I’m trapped in a story constantly plummeting in quality.
But that’s enough of that. Let’s actually discuss this sessions chapters! Starting with Chapter 660 Ichigo and Uryu finally square off against each other with Ichigo asking what the heck Uryu is trying to do as Yhwach’s minion. I think it’s been clear to nearly every reader that, despite Tite Kubo wanting us to really believe Uryu switched sides, we’ve all known he’s been playing some kind of double agent game. So really, to me, I’ve just been waiting impatiently for this confrontation scene because we all knew it was coming.
The two square off against each other and their brief exchange of blows thankfully avoids the 180 instant tide turning of most Bleach fights (probably because this isn’t really much of a battle, no one even really calls out a single attack.) Away from the prying eyes of Yhwach’s right hand man, Hashwalth, Uryu basically comes clean. He’s only on Yhwach’s side in order to basically blow everything up along with Yhwach at the last minute. It’s not a great plan, although I guess I kinda buy the reasoning that Uryu believes Yhwach is unbeatable (although he says some contradictory things in the next chapter, but we’ll get there.) Anyway, I also don’t know why Uryu thought it was a good idea to dump everything out in the open at this point while Hashwalth is nearby. Literally as soon as Uryu finishes his little speech Hashwalth appears from the shadows revealing that he knows everything. I mean, how could you not expect this development Uryu?
Anyway, ignoring Uryu’s questionable decision making skills for the moment, with Chapter 661 Uryu realizes that Hashwalth has exchanged powers with Yhwach for the moment, making our ultimate enemy vulnerable (Yeah I’m sure that’ll last until Ichigo can challenge him.) Uryu, his previous plan in tatters, tells Ichigo, Chad, and Inoue to go and defeat Yhwach while he challenges Hashwalth. Ichigo and the others head off, leaving Uryu to his battle. Hashwalth questions the validity of the plan, but Uryu points out Hashwalth couldn’t see his change of heart and sudden bolster of courage, making him not in fact all seeing and all powerful…. Wait… Then… Why were you so sure Yhwach couldn’t be defeated? I mean, now that he’s absorbing the Soul King’s powers that gives Yhwach a major edge if he gets Hashwalth’s powers back, but why did you wait until now, after Yhwach’s plan is moments away from completion, to try and enact your big suicide bomber plan after the villain gained ultimate power? I feel like Uryu’s plan only makes sense on a surface level and is a flimsy justification for his betrayal of Ichigo and Co. early on. Which, it’s been awhile since we dealt with that, but I felt it flew in the face of his character development up to that point. Well, whatever, we’ll discuss that again another time as the chapter flies off with Ichigo and Co., allowing Uryu to have his battle off page.
Ichigo, Chad and Inoue get attacked by some giant stone golems, forcing Chad and Ganju, who catches up at the last minute, to stop and buy Ichigo and Inoue time to challenge Yhwach. But with Chapter 662 this isn’t the battle we’ll be continuing with. Instead we finally flip back to Yoruichi, her younger brother Yushiro, and their battle against Nakk, one of Yhwach’s top men.
When we last left these three, Yoruichi and Yushiro had been poisoned by Nakk, who is able to turn any substance into a lethal dosage poison. It’s looking really grim for Yoruichi when Kisuke makes a surprise appearance slapping Yoruichi’s ass and injecting her with an immune boosting drug that’ll buy her five minutes. We then get a thin veiled dialogue between the two about Yoruichi’s secret form that she finds repulsive. And here we go with our all too common 180 switch.
So Yoruichi tries to best Nakk again, fails, and then Kisuke forcibly changes her into her super form: Thunderous Black Cat Battle Princess. (Which We now see why she doesn’t like it. She goes full nude (not that her ninja outfit ever left much to the imagination) and mentally devolves into an animal, so, yeah. That happens.)
With chapter 663 Nakk is shocked at Yoruichi’s sudden burst of power and Kisuke explains that she’s moody like a cat, and maybe has some kind of split personality going on. More importantly Nakk’s abilities no longer work on her and Nakk is seemingly crushed in a massive display of power. Yoruichi’s immune boost wears off, leaving Kisuke to check on Nakk’s body.
However, in classic 180 fashion, Nakk gets back up, in his new ‘God’s Taster’ form (that’s a name.) as if nothing even happened. I mean, who didn’t see this coming? This is how every fight in Bleach goes and it’s why I have a hard time getting excited for anything. We know every fight plays like this until the good guys win. Maybe the victor changes, maybe it’s Ichigo one time and Kisuke another, or Chad, but the flow of the fights never seem to deviate from this all too common formula.
Moving forward I honestly just expect more of this. I expect that Kisuke will get his butt handed to him for half a chapter or more before suddenly unleashing some previously unseen super duper move or form that shreds Nakk and finishes him off. I expect the same for the Uryu vs. Hashwalth fight and any other battle coming up. That said, I will deliver praise on Tite Kubo if he finally breaks the mold he’s developed for himself. I’d really like to be excited about Bleach again every week.
Anyway that’s it for this review, please do comment below with your thoughts!