Bleach 477

Finally caught up again on the Bleach manga, and really enjoyed how it turned out, of all things.

I am very very happy to that Rukia was appointed lieutenant, especially since I'd implied that in a good number of my fics. *laughs* I was going to write Jyuushiro's birthday fic hinging on him giving that promotion to her, and that was when I thought I really SHOULD catch up first, and now I'm very very glad I did.

Goodness... I was really amused by how the bad guy tried to paint Ukitake as the Mild-Mannered EVIL Mastermind Behind All That Oppressed Him!! *falls over giggling* And how Ichigo countered it in his own, straightforward, bullheaded way.

I am not as happy with the arc as I was with the last one, but I guess it ends up with Ichigo with his powers again. And the Gotei 13 comes off as being able to pay debts owed, perhaps? Not sure, but... well... those are the immediate thoughts.
I have the impression that KT was toying with reader expectations. We're all thinking "hey, another lot like the Vizards..." and then they turn out to be a (mostly) cut-rate set of powers, and generally opportunists out for themselves and just plain preying on weakened targets, who've mostly never faced anything on the order of a Gotei 13 captain (or even lieutenant) before. Ichigo is lucky this group of jackals didn't find out about him earlier.

I was also pleased that people were generally sensible. Yes, the Gotei 13 will help Ichigo and the others. No, Ichigo will not suddenly believe that Ukitake (as you say, Ukitake of all people) is actually the Evil Mastermind Behind All That Oppressed Him. And yes, Rukia is vice-captain! Whee!

(I also think that Yamamoto may have been being a sneaky legalist. "Why yes, Chamber of 46, I did in fact order everyone to donate power to Ichigo, which means that technically I am the one who might be guilty of any possible charges and everyone else was just following orders. Naturally if you want to bring charges against me, I will be in my office as usual...")
It would be nice to find out Yamamoto can be sensible at times. I was beginning to think he was either completely obtuse or an evil mastermind/secret nihilist himself. And while it might have been a fun reveal at least we're seeing some positive change in SS (more to come?) with them no throwing Ichigo to the wolves. I did also see the "Oh, its Vizards again", but I kind of assumed they would be different because otherwise what's the point? Actually, where the heck are the Vizards? I'm surprised THEY didn't have a tussle with Fullbringers at some point (or maybe they did?).

But yes, I would have to agree that for me this arc's crowning moment of awesome (besides Rukia's predictable return) was Ichigo being smart enough to call bullshit on Evil Mastermind Ukitake. I was really afraid we were going to get another Aizen scene where Ichigo is inexplicably trusting his enemies rather than his friends, but for once he defied my expectations in a good way.
I suspect that Aizen's been doing his best to poison Yamamoto's interactions for the last hundred years. I can see him playing on Yamamoto's guilt at his own "misjudgement" about sending the group of Captains and vice-captains out to deal with what was apparently a normal threat, and what happened after that, and even more so once he was a full Captain.

In fact, if you compare Yamamoto's behaviour before the Pendulum arc (cheerfully slapping Urahara on the back, being generally in a good mood, as far as we see him, taking suggestions from Shunsui about who should be in the group that goes out to investigate, etc) and after it, well. Not to mention that the serious emptying of the Captain ranks meant that more than half of them by the time of the SS arc were comparative newbies and hardly tested in serious battle. Plus Yamamoto's own self-doubt at apparently being betrayed by people like Urahara and Yoruichi, who he had thought he knew. (And probably Unohana, Kyouraku, and Ukitake were nursing thoughts along those lines themselves. "Had I been with the group that went out...")

I think a lot of the dysfunction during the SS arc can be put down to Aizen, Gin, and Tousen deliberately worsening relationships and misteaching their vice-captains. Bad boys.

Ooo... I like that contrast... I hadn't put *that* together, about how Yamamoto's attitudes had changed between the arcs...
Yes!! Hee. I do love that Ichigo didn't get caught that way. *happy sigh* And it was good having Yamamoto actually be expansive about helping Ichigo out, rather than being obstructionist. *grins*

And, yeah, I *do* miss the Vizards and it's a good question!
YES! I really loved that on the most part all the Captains and the Gotei 13 were sensible about the whole thing.

I really like that last, yes, I could see Yamamoto doing *exactly* that for that reason. Naturally.... *grins* I've always seen him as a buck-stops-here kind of General.

I also have to admit that I utterly loved seeing Byakuya... get his hands dirty to to speak, and in such a spectacular fashion. Him actually getting his intensity on is just beautiful.
I imagine Ukitake & Kyouraku are somewhere back in Soul Society sharing a good laugh over the 'Ukitake is an evil mastermind' scenario, LOL!
I have to admit, I have had a hard time following everything that has gone on in this story arc - but I guess it's just me. I have really enjoyed seeing it animated, because it's filled in a lot of the gaps for me, and helped it all make a lot more sense. Some parts of Bleach, I can follow just as well if not better from the manga, but this has not been one of them.

I will say, I NEVER bought Ukitake as the villainous mastermind for one second -- that was a real "WTF?" moment. Of all people! I mean, I suppose stranger things have happened in the history of the Soul Society, but that one strained the imagination. I'm still trying to sort out how all the various figures, both in Karakura and the Soul Society, fit into the whole scenario with the Fullbringers, but I guess it will become clearer to me when I see the anime version. (I probably need to go back and read this whole story arc again, start to finish, now that it's wrapped up, and see if I get more out of it.)

All of this makes me wonder where in the world KT will go next. Any speculations? Rumors? There were so many loose ends from the Aizen arc I would love to see him revisit, particularly the Vizards, and Nel. Those are characters I would love to see more of and know more about - I hate to see them just disappear.
I do love it when they bring characters *back* that really should be brought back.

I am not at all sure what to expect next. *laughs* KT keeps throwing odd curves, perhaps just to keep HIM interested. It can't be easy going years and years with a series...

I do love that Ichigo figured it out. Animation really does help with the action sequences!!
*smiles* It is one of my favorites, too. It's also a rather lovely moment in the manga, too, while he's watching Rukia make friends with Orihime when Rukia really hasn't had many friends before this... and he's just sipping his tea and contemplating where Rukia's gotten.