If you still have no idea what I'm taking about, update your BLEACH :D here - THE SOURCE OF MY HAPPINESS bleachness.livejournal.com/646106.html
I want to say thanks for your devotion and effort in BLEACH fandom, thanks Mz D at BleachAsylum for the scan of this comic, thanks chuuni for the excellent translation and also thanks _debbiechan_ and her community, bleachness that hosted the party thread there. Also I had fun of spazzing in hilarious GIFs with my UlquiHime fellows in lovely_masoka who put up the party there.
Now, on board the chapter analysis. Warning, it will be long and wall of text and repeated points since it had been two years for me, for us to wait for Ulquiorra's return. My language might be incoherent in some parts because I'm high on for this chapter, but it's the happiness that I want to share :D Also I prefer to use the RAW since there's some part of the translation, I want to touch on.
The title of the comic is "not be, but be"
pcuppy in bleachness noticed that the title might be based on Shakespeare's "To be, or not to be" - the opening line of a soliloquy from Shakespeare's play Hamlet - a tragedy play. TBH, I didn't know about it until it pointed out to me for one I'm bad at reading literature, and two, there were other parts of the comic made me spazz and bypass the fact that the comic had the title that sounds awful similar to Shakespeare's.
The original term means "To live, or not to live". In the soliloquy, Hamlet struggles with his internal conflict of whether or not to kill himself because of the recent events that have happened which have depressed him so greatly. I can't help but thinking that Kubo-sensei tried to allude Ulquiorra's backstory with this soliloquy (well, they all started with monologue), also for Ulquiorra being an allusion of Hamlet as a tragic character.
However, the title in the comic is different from the original. The title isn't a question of wavering, but a statement to affirm "not live, but live" I prefer the context as "exist" rather than "live'" because Ulquiorra is a soul, technically, he's not among living anymore. So I understand this title as "not exist, but exist" because the whole story of this comic, he was talking about what existed and not exist in his eyes, also his existence that was "not be, but be". It's like Kubo tried to teach us how Nietzsche applied his nihilism philosophy in Ulquiorra's backstory with a twist.
Interesting enough, reading this title and thinking about Ulquiorra's current situation in manga (The Ash/heart chapter), I wonder whether it's an indirect way for Kubo to tell the readers that Ulquiorra who is currently not alive (aka dead), but he will live.
If in Hamlet's soliloquy, the question is "to be, or not to be", then in Ulquiorra's backstory, his question is "What is there, over there?". It isn't a question about whether he should live or not live like Hamlet, but it's a question about what he was looking. If you remember, one of UNMASKED ads did state that there would be an Ulquiorra's comic about what Ulquiorra fixates his eyes on before. To me, his question is a curious question about the world.
Along with the question in the black part, we had the page opened, like looking through the inverted cross lens where the perception was viewed upward because there's the inverted crescent moon above and something like tree branches underneath.
I checked a bit about the inverted cross, it's supposed to be called Cross of St. Peter. White it's traditionally used as a Christian symbol, but in recent times also used widely as an anti-Christ symbol. Since Ulquiorra was used to be said like an allusion of Lucifer with all symbolic images that Kubo put on him, I see the inverted cross isn't a surprise. Instead of viewing the world through the lens of Christian Cross indicating for salvation, it's an inverted of that cross. If anything, it only indicates that Ulquiorra was a fallen soul, one that lost his heart to believe in that he could be saved.
To answer the question on the previous page, "What is there, over there?", we had a closed-up of Ulquiorra's eye slowly open and then a zoom-out to full view his pre-Arrancar Arc hollow body buried in the tree branches and the answer, "There's nothing."
Interesting note, that Kubo showed us Ulquiorra's left eye to view the scenery. The eye that he always performed his "solita vista" (solitary view) technique to show the movie of "what he saw" in manga.
When I looked at his pre-Arrancar Arc hollow body buried in the tree branches, the right side of his helmet is totally broken. The design does look similar to the helmet in his 1st release. I can't make out what happened to the right side of his page - whether it covered in blood or something else or maybe it's just the way Kubo-sensei shaded.
Interesting note, I said that Ulquiorra's body is buried in the tree branches, but none of them pierce through his body like skewers. Rather, they tangle or intertwine his body... well like they embrace him. Something symbolic for that scene that I haven't found out yet...
Ulquiorra is undoubtedly naked. That fact alone is interesting enough to note :D
The scenario shifts. We're moving to Ulquiorra's monologue about his birth. It can be assumed that Ulquiorra was kind of reminiscing of his birth while he was laying down, buried in the the three branches on previous page.
I was born at the bottom of a pit where no light shone.
As if pressed together by the darkness
Uncertain of what to become
Born under those dark, dark sediments
I'm looking at the BLACK area where Ulquiorra was born. It's totally contrast and different from what we had seen in Hueco Mundo which was painted in WHITE. Not even in Grimmjow's and Nnoitra's flashbacks existed such place like that. Seriously, so there's really a place like that in Hueco Mundo...!? I was under impression that it might be another world different from Hueco Mundo. Though it somewhat explains why Ulquiorra had his unnaturally pale white skin color. No light and darkness. It's like a pit of despair without a ray of hope. Ulquiorra was born from darkness and from despair, in the lowest level of the underground. Hence, his hunched figure at the bottom of the dark, dark abyss strikes an impression for "uncertain of what to become".
I had a white form
My comrades were all in pure black
The scene shifts to Ulquiorra's POV where he looks at his white hand in darkness and sees that he had a white form. Ulquiorra looks around his surrounding and sees his comrade all in pure black. At least, it's confirmed that despite being a newborn hollow, Ulquiorra had his knowledge in color recognition between black and white.
Now, here's my question, how can Ulquiorra SEE HIMSELF that he had WHITE form in DARKNESS where no light shone? Because, by logic, you cannot see yourself in darkness. UNLESS HE GLOWED HIMSELF SO THAT HE COULD SEE HIMSELF IN D
Anyway, I can debate that Ulquiorra's eyes are specifically adjusted in the darkness that he could see through them. Well, you know like some animal such as bat can detect ultraviolet light and vibration to see object in darkness.
Interesting note, the hand Ulquiorra saw for the first time is his right hand. Yes, it was the same hand he reached for Orihime in The Ash chapter and it was in that hand he found the heart.
When Ulquiorra noted himself that he had a white form which is contrast and different from everything around him, his dark place of birth and his comrades' pure black form. White is a composed of seven colors of the rainbow merged together. You can say that every color that made up him merged together to become pure white. You can say that Ulquiorra is neither any color or every color that made up him. White is the color of purity, of taintless like lotus born in the middle of mud. It reminds me of the concept of Pandora box. You can think of in the midst of despair, Ulquiorra is the only ray of light - the only hope (the weird idea of Ulquiorra glowing is still fresh in my mind). Of course, metaphor-wise, Orihime would be Pandora who opened the box of despair, only to find a glimpse of hope (Ulquiorra's feeling for her) left behind.
In the next panel of his hand, in Ulquiorra's POV, there are some hollows that look like raising up from the dark sediments. It's assumed that those hollows are also the same kind as Ulquiorra born from darkness under the bottom of pit. I noticed those hollow had something like wings, but the first panel of Ulquiorra's hunched figure didn't show any wings at all.
Ulquiorra then describes them as "comrades" or "nakama" (in RAW) right of the bat.
Interesting note about the contrast of color in both the background and foreground between the panel of Ulquiorra and his comrade. Ulquiorra had white form in black background while his comrade had black form in white background instead.
Yet, despite the contrast, Ulquiorra still calls them "comrades" and sees them as such term. The fact implies that somewhere in Ulquiorra, he was glad that there are others besides him, being in similar circumstance as him, in the bottom of this despair pit. This also implies his desire to have companion.
It was ironic if you remember the other Arrancar's past where they all started their hollow path as ALONE from the beginning until they found their comrades or subordinates at the end. Yet, Ulquiorra, the only Arrancar embed the path of solitude and nihilist started his past as in surrounding by his comrades same kind as his.
In those black forms, with their eyes shining and teeth baring, they were certainly eating something.
Ulquiorra's way of description his comrades' actions is interesting to note. It implies that Ulquiorra is watching his comrade who are adsorbed in doing the activity as EATING something as if he is watching a pack of animal eating with "eye shining and teeth baring". And then... his sentence trailed off and ended abruptly as if he was speechless at the scene he saw. Certainly, the view of his comrade eating "something" might be unpleasant for Ulquiorra enough to stop his track of thought no matter whatever "something" is.
There was nothing to me, except my eyes.
I can understand the sentence that Ulquiorra means that besides seeing with his eyes, he couldn't have any means to do anything else, like what his comrades are doing, "eating" with "teeth baring", hence nothing to him, except his eyes to SEE.
TBH, Masked!Ulquiorra looks funny to me and this abridge version of that page didn't help me to change my opinion any bit.
However, the fact that his hollow form had no mouth strikes me something. Hollows are creatures that are supposed to consume each other to survive and evolve higher. If Ulquiorra had no mouth, then does that mean his evolution as hollow is currently at highest and in complete form that he doesn't need his mouth to eat anymore. There's no doubt that Ulquiorra would be classified as Vasto Lorde. Kia-chan from BA made a connection between the shadow of Vasto Lorde in Hitsugaya's description and Masked!Ulquiorra.
So, my question is whether his comrades are also the same VL class as him? I doubt that they are the same kind as him because according to Ulquiorra's POV, they are still eating something meaning they haven't reached the peak of their evolution yet so they needed to eat to evolve. Or it's just a party to celebrate Ulquiorra's birthday and then they realized that Ulquiorra doesn't have mouth to eat like them.
I finally saw Ulquiorra's wings which are strangely located at his lower back instead of his shoulder. My friends said dragon wings usually located in such place, but I stick with his bat wings. Since he looks like a little devil like that :D The size of the wings are also different. Well, they are smaller in his Masked form, not enormous like his Release form. Despite of his white form, Ulquiorra's wings looks like black in color. And again, he's naked :D
I noticed that there are 6 black hollows adding with one white Ulquiorra made the group 7. 7 hollows for 7 Deadly Sins!? Since those 7 sins are associated with Ulquiorra and that pit can be allude to Hell afterall.
We had those black hollows staring at Ulquiorra and Ulquiorra staring back at them. To me, they are curious panels. Those hollow notices Ulquiorra who has white form different from them and is looking at them totally unguarded. Even though Ulquiorra might find his comrades' activity as in eating unpleasant, but he didn't turn away or reject them. He still, as I see, sits there on his knees and watches what they're doing.
Then one black hollow points (I assumed toward Ulquiorra) as if discussing about him with other 2 black hollows. Then four of those black hollows surround the little white Ulquiorra. What the!? Are we in grade school!? Why are you surrounding the poor kid like you're gonna bully him? Whatever, it looks like Ulquiorra is treated as an outcast here.
Then we have a huge panel closed up of his (left) eyes expressing EMOTION. To me, it's a downcast sight, a melancholy eye. He's sad for whatever reason related between him and his comrades. It can be assumed while Ulquiorra saw those hollows as his comrades despite all of their differences, however, to those hollows, they didn't see and treat Ulquiorra's as their "comrade" ;A;
I noticed that his eyes in this page are different from his eyes in page 3 when his mask is broken. You can say that those eyes when he's Masked harboring more expression than most of those eyes he expressed during Arrancar Arc. How ironic.
The fact that Ulquiorra had blood on his mask and his hand implies the conflict between him and his comrades leading Ulquiorra attacked them. For now, I lean toward the theory that those hollows tried to eat Ulquiorra like vanilla icecream and Ulquiorra had no choice but attack them. I don't know whether he KILLED them or just INJURED them while leaving the pit. I lean toward the former because pay back is a bitch and Ulquiorra sure doesn't want to deal with any hassle in case any of them searched him for revenge.
We see Ulquiorra walking on the sand under the inverted moon, indicating that he left the pit. It can be assumed that he either climbed out or fight out from that place. But the fact of Ulquiorra walking instead of flying with those wings on his back strikes me odd, so I lean toward the theory that he climbed out the pit instead. The wings will be treated as useless then.
Again, the figure of Ulquiorra walking alone is so LONELY. It's like he's walking with his drooping shoulder. LONELY foot is LONELY.
I felt nothing
It was possible that what I felt was "void", yet
Here, Ulquiorra talked about his FEELING!!! Yeah, he talked about what he felt despite he should have no heart to feel anything. But in this thought, Ulquiorra tried to find something that he could feel. And he found that what he felt was "void" or "nothingness" ;A;
Despite of the *sad* eye he expressed in the previous page, in this page, he denied that he "felt nothing" after being rejected by his comrades and attacking them. I guess, it's the contradiction that made up Ulquiorra's character trait.
I could hear nothing,
I could bite nothing
I could smell nothing
I could feel nothing as I touch
I could not rest
I had no companion
Just walking, alone
I also remind of Ichigo's monologue poem in The Sand chapter:
I can see spirits
I can touch them
I can exchange words with them
But that is all
If Ichigo's monologue is a list of what he can do, Ulquiorra's monologue is a list of what he COULD NOT do.
And then at the end of the list, his statement that he "had no companion" and "just walking, ALONE" implies that he did want companion so that he wouldn't be alone, just like how he called those hollows born in the same place as him "comrades".
The line "There's nothing" in the black panel repeats like the answer for his question of his existence.
The things reflected in my eyes have no meaning
The things that could not be reflected in my eyes, do not exist.
Since Ulquiorra had nothing except his eyes, it's reasonable that he would rely on them to view the world. However, what he saw previously in regard of his comrades turned out meaningless when they rejected him instead. Hence, he came to the nihilist conclusion as we already knew in the manga about his point of view toward the world.
It's noted again that Kubo-sensei chose to use his left eye - his solita vista - to express the things reflected in his eyes.
The panel where Ulquiorra stated, "The things that could not be reflected in my eyes, do not exist." is totally blank white as in nothing in there for him to see.
Ulquiorra repeats the word "walking" 8 times as if he had nothing to do but walk.
It's noted that since the time he climbed out of the pit and the duration of his long walking, he hadn't met anything or anyone.
For what reason did Ulquiorra choose to walk instead of flying? As we discussed that his wings might be useless, or walking could create more chances for Ulquiorra to encounter something or someone than flying.
For what reason did Ulquiorra choose to continue his eternal walk instead of rest? It's plausible to think that he might want to meet something or someone, hence he had no choice but continue his walking in order to end his journey of being alone.
As if the panel of his walking continues from the panel where he stated about "The things that could not be reflected in my eyes, do not exist." because of the same blank white background. He hadn't found anything that could reflect in his eyes during his walking yet.
I have found something extraordinary
This line is put in a black background panel, contrast with the blank white background of walking before.
Ulquiorra used the world [奇妙] (kimyou) to describe of what he found. It can be understood as "strange" and "curious". When Ulquiorra saw Orihime's power for the first time, he also commented her as [妙] (myou) "strange" for a human.
By "something extraordinary", it's in a form of a huge white brush. Somebody pointed out that it might be the symbolism for what had happened to Moses during his fleeing across the Red Sea to Midian where he has his encounter with the God of Israel in the form of the "burning bush".
It was, somewhat, the place of birth for those strange, translucent objects that dotted this world.
TBH, from his birthplace - the bottom of the pit "where no light shone"- to this brush to be "the place of birth for those strange, translucent objects that dotted this world" are all meant to be symbolic as if those place doesn't belong to Hueco Mundo. The appearance of the brush is symbolic as a turning point for Ulquiorra's meaningles existence during the time he wandered alone in the desert.
I guess, by "translucent objects that dotted this world", he means those crystal tree around Hueco Mundo!? OMG, Kubo-sensei finally made a connection that those quartz in manga related to Ulquiorra's backstory.
It was the first time my eyes have been captured.
You can see the brush reflected clearly in his eyes. When he said "it's the first time" that his eyes "have been captured", it implies that he would be captured again in future for the second time. While it doesn't show clearly in manga that Orihime would reflect in his eyes like it did TWICE in anime, judging by the amount of eyesmex panels Kubo devoted for UlquiHime, it's a certain thing to say that Orihime DID reflect in Ulquiorra's eyes.
Strangely enough, despite of being born from darkness, Ulquiorra is attracted to the light, to something bright like this translucent brush that is somewhat similar to his white form self. I wonder whether he also found such similarity or rather parallel between himself and Orihime.
With no colour,
With no sound,
With no scent,
Does not interact with anything,
It only exists there.
It was the closest existence to "void" that I had ever laid eyes on.
However, I see that Ulquiorra's description of the bursh is everything opposite of Orihime. Since the brush is the symbolic of the "void" that Ulquiorra embraced as his point of view. The brush is just like Ulquiorra who could not feel, hear, bit, smell and interact with anything. The theory that Ulquiorra wanted to find something similar to him to his kind of existence keeps provoking. It ain't about Ulquiorra found "nothingness", but about Ulquiorra wanted a companion that is likely the "nothingness" he saw because "nothingness" is the only thing that he can feel. He wanted something that could share his outlook of life.
I sank my body into that great "void"
While other see this scene to be Ulquiorra's act of suicide, I, however, do not see that way. Maybe, it's because of the structure of the sentence in Japanese, it made me feel like Ulquiorra wants to give his body to the brush by the act of sinking himself into it after he was captured by its extraordinary. That doesn't mean that he wanted to end his life by doing it. I wonder whether it's supposed to be his act of affection toward the things that captured his eyes.
The thought that Ulquiorra was tired of life and wanted to end his existence by dissolving into nothing didn't come to my mind when I read back 7 previous pages. Because while he was *indeed* depressed of what happened between him and his comrades, he chose to get out of the bottom of the pit and go to the world above instead of staying there rotting his life in despair and depression of his meaningless existence. Because he chose to continue walking instead of resting, so that he could somehow encounter something on his track - to meet a companion. That's why when he found the brush, his eyes had been captured immediately as if its existence fascinated him. It was his feeling of joy when he found something closer to his kind instead of "aa, I should end my life here."
When he sank his body in the brush, his mask was broken in the process. I wonder whether the brush broke it OR it was Ulquiorra's feeling of *happiness* when he embraced the brush.
I lean for the later theory because as we saw in page 3, the brush entangled his body, but didn't look like piercing through his body. Also if the brush is made of something like those quartz in Hueco Mundo, as Uryuu noted, it's super fragile and easy to break by his hand. By logic, I can't think how the brush could break Ulquiorra's hard mask if it couldn't pierce through his hard skin unless by coming contact with it, the mask became fragile and easy to break by default. If the brush was the reason that broke Ulquiorra's mask and made him a natural Arrancar, I'd concur that it'd be important to the plot in manga sooner. Because mystery keeps popping up without answer.
Talking about the later theory that it was Ulquiorra's feeling of *happiness* made him evolve into an Arrancar. Because by Ginjou's definition of the heart of the hollow, the lost heart became their masks, their unique appearances, individual traits and powers. I can say the way that Ulquiorra had a white form, and he had nothing but his eyes, and his mask had no mouth are all come from his lost heart. The fact that his mask had no mouth and made him felt nothing related to other senses like hearing, biting, talking, smelling spoke the degree that in his heart he no longer had the desire to consume or fall into the primal instinct of hollow. So the fact the mask is broken can be due to the feeling of *happiness* fulfill his lost heart and broke the mask in process, made him an Arrancar, in other words regain his senses as human as in hearing, biting, talking and smelling. Despite that, it isn't a complete process, hence the lost heart was still there as the fragment of his mask.
I noticed that Kubo-sensei avoid to draw his eye during the moment the mask broke. Because surely his eyes when he's masked and his eyes after his masked broke are different. You can say because of this development, Ulquiorra was on the way becoming more human.
Interesting note, based on how Ulquiorra sank his body into the brush in this page, he should have laid his face down. However, in page 3, he laid his face upward instead. Can I think that Ulquiorra tried to roll himself in the brush!? Again, another far-stretched idea for Ulquiorra's character. Or the brush did something to him that I don't know!? Mystery remains as mystery.
There was nothing there,
Even I had lost my line of vision, and dissolved into the void,
And felt as if everything had disappeared.
This time, he commented again for "there's nothing there." However, this time, it was in blank white background as if it once again confirmed for the fact that "The things that could not be reflected in my eyes, do not exist."
If in page 6, Ulquiorra stated that he felt nothing, when he found the brush and decided to become one with it, he felt "as if everything had disappeared" and "happiness". It's totally contrast from "nothing".
To Masked!Ulquiorra, his line of vision is his lifeline, since he "had nothing but his eyes" while his other senses such as hearing, taste, smell and touch had been sealed of as "nothing". His eyes are the only mean for him to view the world, regardless of the meaningless things reflected in his eyes.
Yet, he stated that it's fine EVEN he lost his line of vision meaning that he's okay to lost his view toward the world - his nihilist viewpoint - and his existence became "NOTHING" if he dissolved into the void as long as he could FEEL *happiness*.
His words don't sound like for the person who wants to die nor a person who is happy when his wish to die is granted. Meanwhile, Ulquiorra had never expressed or implied any wish to die like that. He felt "nothing" doesn't mean that he wanted to become "nothing". From the beginning of his birth to the time he found the brush, the only thing he thought he had, but not is "COMRADE" or "COMPANION" - things that could share the same nihilist existence as him. That's why this context sounds like for person who felt so happy that he doesn't mind dying in such feeling.
Usually, I thought the *happiness* he means is "shiawase" [幸せ] in kanji which is the word most commonly used for "happiness"; however, Ulquiorra used [幸福] (koufuku) for happiness.
While "shiawase" refers more to having good fortune depend on "fate" or "the turn of event" than to actual emotion, the word "koufuku" indeed describes the emotion inside. "Koufuku" is the compound consisting of 2 Sino-Japanese morphemes "kou" for "lucky" and "fuku" for "fortune, good luck" which according to the dictionary means "without complaint or discontent", in other words, the happiness of contentedness. The word "koufuku" is the abundance of bliss and joy.
Well, I guess, Ulquiorra just used the formal word to describe the "happiness".
When it's understood in common, "happiness" usually relates to that which people enjoy and like. In this case, it can relate to how Ulquiorra *likes* the brush and *enjoys* to become one with it because he thought it's just like him, like the "nothingness" or the "void" that Ulquiorra had been feeling since his birth.
However, this time, Kubo-sensei opened a can of worms by implying that Ulquiorra was on the quest for HAPPINESS. Since depend on your definition of "happiness", there are various ways to interpret it and there's no end. TBH, it even more complex and vague than "the quest of heart" we thought Ulquiorra was on board in the manga.
While not looking the next page after reading page8, it's assumed that his flashback from the moment of his birth to where he found *happiness* in the brush, should have ended up back to page page 3 where he opened his eyes (or gained back his vision after losing it) again and he still found *NOTHING* How ironic ;A; Your *happiness* only last for a short time.
I guess, this is where the heart came to. Ulquiorra might be under impression that if he could feel, could regain his other senses to feel the world around him, he could find *happiness* (since he thought things reflected in his eyes had no meaning). However, after his mask was broken and Ulquiorra regained back ALL of his sense, he still found *NOTHING* about this world. The brush didn't turn him into "NOTHING" as he thought it could for it being an embodiment of the "void".
The title "not be, but be" in page 1 right now can be interpreted as "not be nothing, but be nothing" also since it's what happened to Ulquiorra through 8 pages of searching for "something" - in order to bury his "nothingness" (according to the description of his aspect of death in UNMASKED)
And then surprisingly....
Wah! You scared me!
I was going to wake you up, but you're awake. I got surprised.
But I was relieved, to know that Ulquiorra-kun could actually sleep
*BREATH IN, BREATH OUT*
*CALM DOWN, FANGIRL-SELF*
*CALM YOUR DAMN SELF DOWN*
*AND STOP YOUR CREEPY GIGGLY*
What the heck happened to 8 pages of flashback before!? Why is this scene instead of returning to what happened in page 3!?
UlquiHime lost chapter during Arrancar Arc!? Ulquiorra's backstory chapter to prove his permanent death, my ass. The event that occurred the flashback didn't even happen during the moment Ulquiorra suffered on the dome or the moment he turned to ash, but during his time being together with Orihime. It's totally a spin-off chapter, an official dounjnshi written by the mangaka, Kubo Tite, himself.
Let's rewind the scenario chronologically once more, step by step:
1. Ulquiorra was in Orihime's cell with Orihime. (obvious fact)
2. Ulquiorra slept in Orihime's couch which is also her bed. (obvious fact)
3. Orihime watched Ulquiorra sleeping. (implication in Orihime's statement)
4. Ulquiorra dreamt of his past starting at Pre-Arrancar!Ulquiorra lying while being intertwined by the brush. (dreaming)
5. Pre-Arrancar!Ulquiorra recalled about the time from his birth to when he ended up in the brush. (dreaming)
6. Orihime was going to wake Ulquiorra up. (Orihime's statement)
7. Ulquiorra suddenly woke up. (obvious fact)
8. Orihime was surprise that he suddenly woke up. (obvious fact)
So it's supposed to be a dream within dream (flashback within flashback)!? INCEPTION!? How classic, Kubo! Because of you, the idea that Ulquiorra sleeping in Orihime's room and on her couch while Orihime watching him sleeping stayed in my head now.
In fact, page 9 should have been the parallel of page 3 when we both have Ulquiorra opened his eyes to SEE "what is there, over there?" The difference is, while on page 3, Ulquiorra mumbled in his thought, "there's nothing" and on page 9, Orihime is THERE.
And yet after the word *HAPPINESS* in the Panel Transition on page 8 from the VOID to BAM a "WAH!" on the next page with SURPRISE!ORIHIME face.
Following this chart when we talk about Panel Transition, if it isn't an implication that Orihime is *hapiness*, I don't know what is!?
Somebody noticed that the eye Ulquiorra had in page 9 opened wider than his usual expression, more than his eye in page 3 as if to indicate his surprise/shock when he woke up and found out what he saw with his eye. Plot-wise, if you were Ulquiorra in this situation to find out that you had fallen asleep in your prisoner's room and see his prisoner's face hovering near your face after you're dreaming about *happiness*, you would be surprise too.
Judging on the perspective & camera angle in Ulquiorra's eye panel and Orihime's surprised face, Ulquiorra-kun seemed to sleep laying down on the couch instead of sitting & nodding off. That also explained why the next panel was drawn in a strange angle between the side-view of Ulquiorra's back & Orihime's back as if he just rose up from the couch instead of seeing his full back if he was indeed sleep-sitting on the couch.
That seriously begs the question, "Why does Ulquiorra sleep in Orihime's room and on her couch anyway?" I mean, this is supposed to happen during Arrancar Arc, right!? I figure that this event should happen after he gave her the uniform, that means after he commented "surprisingly, it suit you" on her uniform and then informed her about the news that he friends broke in Hueco Mundo to save her and made her say the vow "your body and your mind exist for---" I means after those tension, what we got after, Ulquiorra sleeping in Orihime's room!!!?
Judging on the tray on Orihime's hand, it's might be during meal time. So Ulquiorra fell asleep while Orihime was having meal!? I can't comprehend from watching her eat turned into sleeping on her couch. How comfortable are you with her to not mind the TPO and fell asleep on her couch enough to have a dream like that!? Yeah, you can't have a vividly recalled dream if you didn't fall into REM state which is a deep sleep.
Orihime also acted in her dorky self like she did before when Ulquiorra got in her room without noticing. Strangely enough, the chapter that Ulquiorra antagonized Orihime with the talk "your body and soul belong to us" after commenting on Orihime's Arrancar uniform and later praised her strong in his though is titled "Come Back Alive to this Place"
It's ironic and contrast in page 6 where Masked!Ulquiorra stated that he "could not rest" and he "had no companion". Now what!? Arrancar!Ulquiorra fell asleep in Orihime's room & on her couch while Orihime worried about him and called him as if he's her companion.
TBH, I haven't decided AT WHICH POINT after the event Ulquiorra commented on Orihime's uniform, this sleeping incident happened. I concur that this event might happen before the slap which is also another meal time
While the wording in English is a little bit different, but I noticed that Orihime repeated that "you're surprised me" TWICE.
bikkuri shichi yatta
I concur that Orihime repeated it twice was a way to calm herself down instead of a way to explain to Ulquiorra that she's going to wake him up and she's surprise to see him wake up.
Seriously, what were you doing while Ulquiorra was sleeping, Orihime!?
Anyway, I'm happy to see Orihime's face. (I realized how much I missed that face) Hey, I thought you're a prisoner, why are you so friendly with your captor/jailer and even add suffix -kun to his name, Orihime!? How mysterious!
3 years ago, I did state that if Orihime called Grimmjow as "Grimmjow", then there's no way Orihime would call Ulquiorra in either his last name or any suffix. 3 years later, I got Orihime calling Ulquiorra "Ulquiorra-kun" on the first try while Ulquiorra tried to correct her by calling him "Ulquiorra" instead. Yeah, Orihime is on first name basic with Ulquiorra :D
When Ichigo first called Ulquiorra "Ulquiorra", his reaction is nothing but disregard such fact that "Tsk, I never told him my name, yet the shinigami remember it anyway." Since it didn't state anywhere in manga that Ulquiorra properly told Orihime his name either, only moments where Orihime could hear others calling his name. Regardless, Orihime did remember Ulquiorra's name. It's plausible that she might not know his last name, so it made sense for her to call him "Ulquiorra" despite that Orihime must be aware how calling people's first name means in her country culture.
The fact that Orihime added suffix -kun in his name told us that she treated him as one such as human as if to Orihime, Ulquiorra is nothing more than a human boy who is the same age as her.
On the other hands, when Ulquiorra heard Orihime calling him "Ulquiorra-kun", there went his famous panel of silence shock as if he didn't believe what he just heard. Ulquiorra must be aware of suffix -kun mean because he usually called Aizen in suffix as "Aizen-sama".
Interesting note, as usual, Ulquiorra didn't bring his sword when he came to Orihime's room. The fact implied that he didn't need to guard himself when he's alone with Orihime, speaking the comfortable degree when he's with her.
Ulquiorra's words made Orihime stop her track and turn her head back, only to see an unusual posture of his back that never showed in the manga before, a vulnerable posture... very unlike-Ulquiorra.
Because in manga, Ulquiorra always showed us his stiff and guarded posture even when he showing his back to us, but in this chapter...
As Ulquiorra has his back toward Orihime, he... slouched (look at his coattail crawling downward). His body leans downward. His head lowers. He leans his elbow on his knee while another hand props on the couch to support himself. It's such an isolated and lonely sight of Ulquiorra for me to watch. It made more impact when Ulquiorra said such line.
When you call me, call me "Ulquiorra"
Call me only that.
I wonder the thought of him thinking himself as not human made him desolated enough to show such posture.
Despite his talk that he doesn't want her to call him as one would, a human, he didn't tell her to address him something like "Ulquiorra-sama" <-- Lower rank Arrancar called him that. Technically, while Orihime is on the same rank as Espada as being "one of their comrades", she's still the hostage, a prisoner. It's not far-stretched for Orihime to call Ulquiorra that way. Yet, he insisted that Orihime call him "Ulquiorra" only. Not even his last name either. By telling Orihime call him "Ulquiorra", beside the "not treating me as human", Ulquiorra subtly implied Orihime treating him equally as his comrade, the same kind of him instead.
Remember the time Ichigo said it out loud the theory that Ulquiorra becoming more human, how did he react at that time then? Splitting the floor into half and expressing an angry expression of "you're dead". Interesting note, the panel of Orihime including during the IchiUlqui "human" talk suddenly made sense, as for Orihime also saw Ulquiorra as "human" before *in this canon
Orihime's expression is such melancholy when she heard Ulquiorra saying those lines and showing her his vulnerable back. You can say that she was depressed because Ulquiorra rejected the way she called him in suffix -kun. However, the background in her panel strikes me odd. It was cut off diagonally between the dark heavy line of tension and the blank white of "nothingness".
For an emotionally heightened scene, background is usually one of the illustrations in the context to evoke a particular feeling in the readers.
Kubo: "I think when I am drawing, I wasn't just clarifying the lines, but illustrating the 'air'. Therefore, no matter in drawing or writing, neither words nor lines, but singularly illustrating the 'air'. I always have this feeling of bringing the 'air' into the paper when drawing. How to phrase it, every panel should have a background. Backgrounds are drawn to remind the reader where is the characters situated. However, I feel that it was not that important. In this manner, at the very panel when a character is exceptionally distinctive, I don't feel like filling the background at all."
Looking at the background in the panel of Orihime's depressed expression, it's as if the world between her and Ulquiorra had been divided into 2 and Orihime's words together with her feeling of seeing Ulquiorra as human didn't reach Ulquiorra at all. It's classic tension that Kubo usually portray when it came to UlquiHime theme "Everything divides us" and "Unblendable".
IMO, Orihime's depressed expression isn't only about the fact that Ulquiorra rejected the idea of her treating him as human, but more profound than that, something deeper and more complex in Ulquiorra that Orihime had seen in him... something that made her show such heart-wrenching expression. While Orihime always wanted to connect with people, I dare say that Orihime saw that Ulquiorra purposely tried to cut himself off from any connection for some reasons.
If such a thing called happiness exists in this world, it should be something which resembles the limitless nothingness.
Nihility is having nothing, and having nothing to lose.
If that isn't "happiness", then what is?
One of the best analyses of the UlquiHime relationship from the chapter I've read was by hinodeh and is here. She describes the tension within a character who appears to want to have nothing to lose and also wants to be accepted. It was such a painful and irony realization.
While reading her analysis, I'm thinking about the theory that Ulquiorra rejected connection because he didn't want to experience the pain when he lost that connection again (just like what had happened to his comrades and the brush). However, "reject" is also Orihime's character. So in other words, Orihime would the one who understands most the core reason when one rejected something. Yeah, I think Orihime understood or somewhat figured out the reason why Ulquiorra rejected the idea of her treating him as human and that reason really made her sad. After reading this side chapter, the slap chapter had more layer, more meaning in Orihime's action and expression toward Ulquiorra.
The fact that Ulquiorra mentioned about "happiness" one more in his monologue means that he did remember his dream about *happiness*. Ulquiorra linked "happiness" resemble with "nothingness". To Ulquiorra, "nothingness" is "happiness". Yet, when he made a rhetorical question about, "if nothingness isn't happiness, then what is?", you can see his doubt when his thought implied there might be other things beside "nothingness" to be happiness.
The things that could not be reflected in my eyes, do not exist.
Ulquiorra repeated his monology about his point of view policy like he did on page 6. However, the background for those lines this time had changed. I did think his perception of the world had been altered a little bit. The construction from the white background panel to the black background panel is just like page 7.
Before, when Masked!Ulquiorra used his only eyes to reflect the world and found no meaning in it. Later, Arrancar!Ulquiorra who gained back his sight from the "nothingness" reflect the world and found nothing in them.
Before, when Masked!Ulquiorra spoke about "the things could not reflected in his eyes", the background is blank white to indicate "nothing" as in "do not exist". Later, Arrancar!Ulquiorra spoke the same thing, but in black background instead. This time, the context implied that he might find "the things could not reflected in his eyes, things do not exist" fascinating in the same manner when he found "something extraordinary" like the brush. It's like stepping on the unknown territory that Ulquiorra had no comprehension on.
Such a wonderful yet subtle way of development from Masked!Ulquiorra to Arrancar!Ulquiorra. Why? Because while Masked!Ulquiorra talked about "nothingness", he never had any thought to search for "things that could not be reflected in his eyes" as he deemed it "do not exist" literally, but he wanted to find "thing reflected in his eyes" that had meaning or had the closet meaning of "nothingness" that he had ever laid his eyes on. That's why he felt *happiness* when he found the brush.
Yet, Arrancar!Ulquiorra after coming contact with Orihime, treated the "nothingness" reflected in his eyes had no meaning instead. We also knew that he later became curious in "the things could not reflected in his eyes, things" and debated with Orihime for them "do not exist" sceptically.
I guess, it's a sneaky way for Kubo-sensei to play on words.
The last page of the comic ended with Ulquiorra's eyes with his pretty long eyelash looking straight at us.
There is nothing
and in me.
The Japanese RAW (including kana for kanji) & kanji:
nata mo nai no da
omae no naka ta mo
ore no naka ta mo
Back to Lust poem in volume 40 in both RAW & romaji:
omae no subete o hossuru
Yeah, there's only the SINGULAR "omae" in Ulquiorra's monologue poem and there's only one person that he always referred as "omae". Do the connection.
When Ulquiorra addressed about the happiness as in "there is nothing" he related "omae" first and then linking himself later. Why do you prioritize someone else instead of yourself about the "nothingness" inside?
I guess, the key point to solve his cryptic monologue poem is to figure out what he's looking anyway.
Masked!Ulquiorra saw THE WORLD reflected in his eyes, and he found THE WORLD had no meaning.
Arrancar!Ulquiorra saw NOTHINGNESS reflected in his eyes, and he found NOTHINGNESS had no meaning.
Masked!Ulquiorra saw NOTHINGNESS could not reflected in his eyes do not exist, yet he found the brush whose existence is the closet of "NOTHINGNESS" reflected in his eyes and from it, he found HAPPINESS.
Arrancar!Ulquiorra saw HAPPINESS=NOTHINGNESS could not reflected in his eyes do not exist, yet he thought/saw/found "there's NOTHING in you and in me"
What a riddle!
If we went with such solution, Ulquiorra's monologue implied that he did think/see/find there's HAPPINESS in Orihime and in him.
Except that he haven't realize yet because of his nihilist nature.
Using such transition, the title of this side chapter suddenly granted another implication, "not be happiness, but be happiness" :D when to Ulquiorra's life and existence, it's either to be nothing or to be happiness.
The rest of the page painted in black, only left a small white dot in the middle as if it's a ray of light in the darkness. The lines "in you" and "in me" position with the white dot in the middle as if connecting them, showing that there's "something" "in you and in me" out there in the midst of darkness.
If it's supposed for parallel, then there are those pages that I can think it would be paralleled to (oh yeah, follow the dot)
It's like once again, Ulquiorra's vision (his eyes) unmasked in "not be, but be" covered in heart cover spread. The black page is inverted and bleached in white. The white dot in the black ground between "in you" and "in me" turns out the the the kanji "HEART". There's even a line under the black dot to tell Ulquiorra to SEE. Here it is the heart?
[The analysis & rant continues here]