It's so nostalgic to look back at Ichigo 10 years ago to Ichigo today. We start with...
1. High schooler Ichigo with an ability to see ghost.
2. Shinigami Ichigo wielding the awful big zanpakutou. It's the Ichigo who gained shinigami power through Rukia.
3. Shikai Ichigo who unlocked his own shinigami power and obtained his own zanpakutou, Zangetsu, in permanent shikai state.
4. Bankai Ichigo who gained Tensa Zangetsu to defeat Byakuya for Rukia's sake.
5. Vizard Ichigo who fought against his Hollow inner self and gained its power in Hollow mask.
6. Ichithing, the form that Ichigo transformed in Lust Arc in order to defeat Ulquiorra, the form that he had not yet to control and caused the DISASTER and the DOOM on the DOME, the form that dragged him down to the sea of DESPAIR in his inner world.
I notice that Shikai Ichigo and Vizard Ichigo were seperated as in rising out among all Ichigo's forms. I guess those two forms are the start up and most basic forms for those two respectively arcs in Bleach, Soul Society Arc and Arrancar Arc.
I also feel very sad when I see his smile during that student day was gone and Ichigo grew more scowlingly in his expression. He gained much and he also lost much ;__;
Finally, we catch a glimpse of a new form of Ichigo who took steps farther than the rest of other Ichigo's forms. We only see his foot, part of his bankai hakusho, and Tensa Zangetsu's chain seems got longer. I guess this would be the form after Ichigo trained 3 months in the Dangai to obtain the final form of Getsuga Tenshou in order to defeat the evolved ButterflA!zen.
Now, we go on to the chapter itself.
Rangiku woke up hastily and realized that she was under the effect of Hakufuku. So instead of killing her as you said you did, you put her to sleep and masked out her reiatsu? Oh, Gin ;__; You really cared for her, didn't you?
Back to the cruel page where Aizen slashed out Gin's shoulder.
This time, we witness that scene in the front where we can see Gin's expression. Yeah, it's definitely parallel with Lust Arc where Ichithing also slashed Ulquiorra in the same style. Gin's eyes opened and looked at Aizen all the time. Too bad, I can't tell whether Aizen had his eyeballs to see or not. They looked hollow to me.
The Hougyoku in Gin's hand flight back to the hole in Aizen's chest. That look in Gin's eye is so sad because he lost the chance. So the Hougyoku became one with Aizen, looking the way Aizen's flesh wrapping around it.
Flashback occurred with Aizen during the earlier day with his shinigami captain rope, it might take place after the TBPT and before SS arc. I think it’s okay to assume that this flashback about Aizen is from Gin's memory.
Captain Aizen told us that he knew about "Hougyoku" way before Urahara Kisuke. *roll eyes* However, he failed to create one. It solved the puzzle and the theory I made about the orb Aizen had in the previous chapter. Aizen did try to create his own "Hougyoku", but failed. Though, while I said in my previous review that Urahara managed to create the prefect one, that theory was proved wrong in this chapter when Aizen said that Urahara's "Hougyoku" was also incomplete.
So we did have TWO different orbs of "Hougyoku": Aizen-made and Urahara-made. So that's the reason for the early invasion on the human world. There's no need to wait for Urahara's "Hougyoku" to fully awake, because Aizen had his own unsealed one?
The background with computer-like where Aizen talked about the "Hougyoku" at first made me think of the 12th Squad's Resource Room where he could find Urahara's experimental data about "Hougyoku". However, later, I think of this place might be The Great Spirit Library where Aizen looked up research data related to the "Hougyoku" mentioned in chapter 223.
Aizen's method of creating his own "Hougyoku" was made of SOULs of "hundreds upon hundreds of shinigami and hundreds upon hundreds of Rukongai citizens who bore shinigami talents".
Why does it seem so familiar to another object? Yeah, you know what I mean, the OUKEN. In order to create the OUKEN, you need at least 100,000 human souls.
So we have:
Aizen's "Hougyoku" = n of 100x100 shinigami souls
Ouken = 100,000 human souls
No wonder Aizen was intrigued. I smell the PLOT finally returned to the STORY.
Reading Aizen's method of creating his own "Hougyoku" made me creep and shivers. Because... think about it, "hundreds upon hundreds" shinigami souls and "hundreds upon hundreds" Rukongai citizens souls!? Aizen must have done this feeding activity for a LONG LONG time. However, not ONCE, not EVEN A SINGLE SOUL who noticed or knew about his evil deed, but a teeny!Gin who stumbled on him accidently!? Oh man!! I also seriously wonder what the hell Shinji had been doing during those time when Aizen was STILL in his squad. Well, Shinji was too fallen under his illusion and too prideful to have conversation with Aizen to know more about him, so he couldn’t even tell who was the fake one.
I wonder if the method of extracting souls was the reason that caused the mystery death of some characters in the manga like Rukia and Renji's old friends in Rukongai, or worse, it might be the reason of why there's no "talented" shinigami that could surpass the older generation... because Aizen had scrapped out all of those "talented" souls for his own ambition. If Aizen took that MUCH souls, wouldn't it destroy the balance of the world? Oh crap, would it be possible for me to link Aizen's deed with what happened to the Quincy Destruction 200 years ago? There's nothing impossible in Bleach. Prove me wrong, Kubo-sensei!
The way Aizen described his own "Hougyoku" was not satisfied for those "hundreds upon hundreds" souls sounded hollow-like to me. Because hollows were never satisfied no matter how many souls they ate. I guess, Aizen's "Hougyoku" lacked a "heart" like his master after all.
Now it's my turn to wonder what kind of method for Urahara to create his "Hougyoku". Because if Urahara's "Hougyoku" was indeed the orb that could grant heart desire as Aizen revealed to Isshin, Urahara wouldn't create the orb in the same method as Aizen did, would he? Can I hope for that?
I had been thinking if Aizen's "Hougyoku" was made of shinigami souls, Urahara's "Hougyoku" could be made from mod-souls which basically plus souls all together or hollow souls who yearn for the heart. Because Urahara’s "Hougyoku" could be able to turn Rukia into human, gave Chad hollow-like power and Orihime shinigami-like power. Whatever method Urahara's "Hougyoku" was created, I think it might link with why it was sealed in Rukia.
If that's so, it could make sense in the way how the Vizards were created, Aizen performed Hollowfication experiment on them (giving them hollow power) and Urahara used his "Hougyoku" and to break the barrier between shinigami and hollow and make them "Vizard" as in shinigami wearing mask having both shinigami and hollow power.
The same process might go for the Arrancar. Judging the way that Aizen probably created his Arrancar army way before SS arc happened (way before he had Urahara's "Hougyoku"). He would probably use his own "Hougyoku" to give Hollows shinigami's power. His orb was made from shinigami souls after all. Then later, he might use Urahara's "Hougyoku" to upgrade more their power. For example, that could explain to what happened to Szayel, Nnoitra and Grimmjow upgrading to Espada rank. That could make sense.
Of course, Tousen’s transformation would probably be made by that same method. Aizen performed Hollowfication experiment on Tousen and used Urahara's "Hougyoku" to give him the hollow mask and the resurrection. If Urahara's "Hougyoku" were made to grant heart's desire, it did grant Tousen's wish to "see" the world.
The Hougyoku talk in this chapter is like foreboding for something that I couldn't describe. Very unsettling.
In chapter 229 when Ulquiorra asked Aizen about the state of the "Hougyoku"'s awakening in which Aizen answered "50% percent". He used that "Hougyoku" to create WW in order to seal Ryuujin Jakka. At first, I think that orb was Urahara's "Hougyoku" that Aizen used for his own desire on WW. But the look Ulquiorra gave out at that time was very strange for me to remember.
Remember the convo when Aizen presented Orihime the "Hougyoku". Based on Orihime's disturbing expression when she felt the orb, I think that orb was Aizen's "Hougyoku", not Urahara's. Of course, based on what Aizen said that he couldn't create the Arrancar and the Ouken without the "Hougyoku", I think that he referred to his own "Hougyoku", not Urahara's. Aizen's "Hougyoku" fed on SOULs, especially SOULs with power, so Orihime's power was a good reason enough for him to bait her to use her power on it.
Aizen said that he decided to steal Urahara's "Hougyoku" (already happened in SS arc) and present it to his own "Hougyoku". Does he mean "feeding" Urahara's orb to his own orb? Like combine TWO incomplete orbs into a complete ONE? Will it be possible?
I think Aizen's orb took the power of Urahara's orb as its own. If it could be possible, the orb that left behind in Las Noches for Orihime to reject might be the useless one that lost the power... if it were indeed intent for Orihime to use her power to reject on the "Hougyoku". It might be a bad sign.
If the "Hougyoku"s did have will of their own, it could make sense for why Aizen took hella long time to use it to evolve himself. The "Hougyoku" that was said to grant heart desire belonged to Urahara, the rightful creator. So far, it only seemed to grant good people's "heart". Aizen was not one of them. The fact that he "fed" Urahara's orb to his own orb might tell that he want to take the control of the orb completely. He might think that his own orb would listen to him rather than Urahara’s orb. LOL.
Back to the chapter, while being slashed hard, Gin still reached out his crunched arm to reach for the "Hougyoku" that already resided in Aizen's chest, no matter what. It seems to me that his intention was taking the "Hougyoku" out of Aizen as much as possible. What did Gin need the "Hougyoku" for?
Unfortunately, Aizen cut off Gin's entire arm. Lust Arc parallel for what happened when Ichithing ripped out Ulquiorra's arm. Gin had his shoulder slashed, his arm cut off and his heart stabbed. So gore and cruel ;__; But it wasn't gore much to what happened with Ulquiorra in Lust Arc when he had his hand ripped off, his left side slashed and his lower body blown up by cero.
It's ironic to me when I read the part where Aizen thanked Gin for making him fear because "fear is necessary for evolution". Let's rewind back to Lust Arc where Ulquiorra tried to strike "fear" and "despair" in Ichigo. He succeeded and Ichigo evolved into Ichithing. But I doubt that if Ulquiorra came back, Ichigo would thank him for making him stronger. Because when Ichigo wake up from the Ichithing nightmare and looked at what happened to Ulquiorra, there's nothing in his face but guilt. Ichigo evolved and became stronger, but he lost his heart and he fell in despair. Aizen did the same thing, except he felt grateful. You can see how parallel and contrast between Aizen's and Ichigo's attitude, between the villain who sacrificed others' hearts even his own and the hero who struggled to take back his heart.
There's another thing to note that Orihime who was unbelievable to feel "no fear" toward Ulquiorra. If we go by Aizen's words, "fear is necessary for evolution", will it ever happen for Orihime to evolve herself? This time I hope she would be able to "reject" that statement from Aizen, that because she felt no fear so she could evolve and become a "fearless warrior".
So the existence that surpasses both shigami and hollow is a butterfly "fairy"!? What a punch, Kubo-sensei!
Aizen threw Gin on rubbles like rag and came closer to finish him off. Lust Arc parallel continues between Ichithing and Ulquiorra. Unfortunately, Keigo wasn't heroic enough to stop Aizen, like Ishida stopping Ichithing. However, HE of all people was the only one LEFT that could be able to stand under Aizen's enormous reiatsu. Wait a sec. WHERE IS MIZUIRO? I though he ran together with the gang. So he mysterious disappeared, Mizuiro?
Gin's down. His flashback appeared again. It's the WINTER day when Gin left. We see teeny!Ran running to teeny!Gin asking him about the shinigami clothes. Gin had blood on his cheek telling me that the shinigami wasn't willing to give it to him, but Gin had to make that shinigami shed blood to take the clothes.
I think this flashback happened right after he spied Aizen and his lackeys in the brush. If I were Gin, before beating the boss, firstly, I would have revenged on those lackeys who directly took a part of Rangiku’s soul. I bet those clothes were from one of them (probably the one who was focused on the previous chapter because he’s the one that Gin saw him leading in “bully” Ran.) It's quite a feat for Gin who was still a kid, yet could be able to kill a trained shinigami. Well, no doubt, he was a prodigy afterall.
I can image the scenario went like this:
Teeny!Gin with his angry eyes met up with one shinigami lackey.
"Give back what you took from Ran!"
"The hell are you talking about?"
Blood shed from the shinigami.
"He's dead. I killed him. If his boss and his other comrades found out, I'll be killed. I can't return to Ran anymore."
Gin told Ran that he will become shinigami and change things.
"So that they'll end without Rangiku having to cry."
Gin ;___; you baka baka baka baka baka TT__TT Despite of you childish ideal and good intention, you did it in the wrong way, went in a wrong path and made your girl cry FOR YOU. She didn't cry because you did bad things, she cried because you were DYING and leaving her here TT__TT
There's one thing amusing to me that when Ulquiorra threw Ichigo's dead body, yet he ended up lying on his stomach while having his lifeless face shown clearly on the side to indicate that he was clearly death. However, when Ichithing threw Ulquiorra's body, he lied on his back with his face hidden, and then later, he's still alive. This time, Gin was in the same body position as Ulquiorra was, lying on his back with his face hidden. (Let's me believe that it wasn't his time to die yet, at least not in this chapter)
Ran cried out his name from the sky. She looked like the angel that descended from the sky here to save a dying mortal here. What a religious view of angle for that panel, Kubo-sensei!
There's no dialogue, only monologue from Gin. It reminds me of Ulquiorra's monologue of the heart before his death over and over again.
"In the end, I couldn't get back what was taken from you."
In the end, we never know what exactly was taken from Rangiku. What exactly from Rangiku was taken that motivated Gin down to the DOOM avenger path? Something important to her that Gin needed to take it back at all cost even his own life? Not sure if it's metaphor or literal meaning from Gin about Ran.
That only begs more questions, if Aizen's "Hougyoku" did feed on souls, then why was Rangiku still alive? Also she still had enough reiatsu to rise up to vice captain level? Something is fishy as if her soul or her reiatsu wasn't the only thing that was taken. It's something else that I ain't sure. I think it was her "heart" that was lost and I was talking at least part of her heart was lost. Thinking about what's even more precious than the "soul", I can only think about the "heart". Rangiku might be lost the ability to love, judging in the way that she was afraid to love because she's afraid to be hurt. Although she looked carefree and easy going on the outside, it might be the only way for her to protect herself on the inside. It might be related to her unable to communicate with Haineko because her heart was disturbed. But it might be also her "happiness" that was lost in her poem.
"Ah, I knew it. I'm glad I'm said sorry."
Gin was talking about his goodbye to Ran in SS arc where he apologized to her. He had already known from the start that he would be failed his mission and make her cry. Baka Gin!!! Is this the case for "once you fell in the ocean, you can only drown deeper as long as you breathe and only surface after you die"?
Speaking about Ran, the way Kubo-sensei drew her crying for Gin was parallel with Orihime in the way she was crying out for Ichigo, with the focus on the mouth. (Note: Ran didn't cry for help) However, in this case, there's nothing in Ran's thought about Gin like chanting his name or whatever like Orihime did to Ichigo in his death. Kubo left Ran crying with pictures like a silence movie. We see her cried out Gin's name once, see her realize Gin's death, and see her shed tears on Gin's body. (Orihime's tear never got on Ichigo's body) So heart-wreching ;__; Ran didn't even care that freaky butterflyA!zen was here behind her. Because Aizen had no pupils and no eyebrows, I couldn't tell what the hell he was thinking while looking at the scene where Ran crying for Gin. Void is all I read. If Ichigo didn't take his attention, I thought that he would kill her and dump her body on Gin.
This is heavily parallel to Lust Arc in my opinion.
In Lust Arc, Ichigo acted as Orihime's hope to defeat Ulquiorra and take her back. Ichigo failed and killed by Ulquiorra. Orihime cried for his death. Ishida acted heroic. Instead of going to Orihime, Ulquiorra only attacked Ishida.
In Deicide Arc, Gin betrayed Aizen because of Rangiku so he could get back what was taken from Ran. Gin failed and killed by Aizen. Ran cried for his death. Keigo kneeled down on the side doing nothing. Aizen hovering behind Ran who was still crying, I assumed that he was going to kill Ran off.
See the parallel and differences between the arcs.
Lust Arc revolved around Ichigo and Ulquiorra with Orihime being the trigger, it progressed with Ichigo evolved into monster, Ulquiorra's role changed from villain to "villainous" hero and ended with his death being highlight as "tragic" and his feeling toward Orihime by meaningful monologue of the heart.
Deicide Arc revolved around Aizen and Gin with Rangiku being the trigger, it progressed with Gin switched sides from villain to "villainous" hero, Aizen evolved into monster, and ended with his death being highlight as "tragic" and his feeling toward Rangiku by meaningful monologue of "I'm sorry".
Unlike UlquiHime's tragedy, GinRan's tragedy strikes me in the point that Rangiku wasn't aware that everything Gin had done was FOR HER and I'm not sure that I want her to know because it would add more sorrow to know that the one you love became evil and died ALL for your sake.
Whereas, in UlquiHime case, Ulquiorra had already left a subtle statement "I finally have interested in all of YOU" and that blatant action of him reaching toward Orihime, so I wish she could realize about his feeling for her even if it hurt her, but Orihime NEEDED to be realized that she did influence and connect with somebody's heart that was Ulquiorra. Unlike her delusional love with Ichigo where she failed on her own, the feeling she had toward Ulquiorra was the only thing right now that could make Orihime stand up on her feet. I wonder if it was biased.
If what happened with GinRan parallel with UlquiHime in Lust Arc respectively by each individual character's situation, will Orihime would react toward Ulquiorra's death the same way as Ran did to Gin? However, Ulquiorra didn't leave his body for Orihime to cry on him. He turned to ash. So I might expect a different resolution on Orihime way of showing pain toward Ulquiorra’s death.
I hear lots of Gin fans cried out “why Orihime wasn't here to be useful for once?” I seriously wanted to smack at them. I think as long as Gin had his body intact, he still had chance to be alive even if it's small like a grain of sand. See how Hiyori still be alive after sliding in half. See how my favorite was turned to ash and here I still hope for him to return. I also think as long as Orihime could be able to revive that ash of Ulquiorra, Gin might have more chance to survive. Though for now, let's accept the fact that Gin was stabbed in the heart and seemed like "dead" while lots of characters in Bleach were stabbed in the heart and still refused to die. There's no closure for Gin's death because Ran didn't find out the truth in Gin's heart. No GinKira closure either. Though it might be in the next chapter where Kira magically appeared in Karakura and sensed Gin's reiatsu disappear and mourned for his loss in despair. (So that would be parallel with Yammy's reaction toward Ulquiorra's death)
I trail out my rant a little off, back to the real chapter.
Instead of Keigo, Ichigo was chosen to pop up with dramatic entrance, ready to saving the damsels. But Ichigo, what happened to your shoes? Why were you in bare feet? LOL.
Anyway, the Deathberry is back with a new smexy look. His hair is longer. Kaien's hair? I don't think so. His appearance reminds me of Hisagi instead of Kaien. LOL. I guess it's the sleeveless. Because of the scanning quality, I'm not sure but it seemed that Tensa Zangetsu was merged with Ichigo's hand (like Aizen). Ichigo's hand is totally black and his entire arm was wrapped by Tenza's chain.
Ichigo carried his father on his shoulder. Oh so ~ heroic and romantic. I remember that he also carried Orihime the same way. Of course, Ichigo treated Orihime the same way he treated with his father, jugding from the way he carried them like potatoes shack :D
His eye looks determined, but the bags under it told me that he was weary like an old man. Lack of sleep? Hungry? Whatever. Ichigo looked tired and looked like that he wanted to finish this sh*t so he could go home and take a long nap.
DEICIDE title for "THE END" but I wonder whether it really "the end" for Gin. (Still hold on the last hope for Gin not to die) I thought that Ulquiorra's death ended in ash with "The Ash" before but he still went on with "heart" and gave me the hope for his return. If it's parallel, can Gin have the same hope? Or because it's parallel, he will have a different sad ending without hope?
I'm really looking forward for the next chapter.