Oh wow, twist and turns and even trolling, Bleach finally getting into the groove of things these chapters. This arc may be about Ichigo getting his Shinigami powers back, but the developments that are overshadowing this is the Kuugo and Tsukishima relationship. Ichigo’s training seems to be so far just caught up in the middle of whatever is happening between Kuugo and Tsukishima, though the developments with Kisuke and Isshin seem more important, but we hardly have anything substantial to go with (we have vague ideas but that’s it).
Chapter 456 may have just repeated what we already knew – Tsukishima’s Fullbring ability, but I found that extremely relevant and useful because it actually gave me a direction to cast my thoughts in. I was frustrated by the over-abundance of possibilities and only being able to circle around the same spot for most of this arc – until this chapter we had no idea what Tsukishima wants (other people assuming Tsukishima’s intention really doesn’t carry much weight i.e. Kuugo). While Tsukishima’s exact intentions are still a mysterious, at the very least it did confirm that he did insert his presence in Ichigo’s friend’s and families memories (I had thought prior to this that Ichigo may have been the one under some form of memory manipulation) and it did establish that Tsukishima intends to cut Ichigo.
Also Ichigo’s facial expressions in some of the panels were quite scary and amusing – filled with rage and murderous intent.
Chapter 457 – Shishigawara, he has quite an intriguing Fullbring – “Jackpot Knuckle” – being able to manipulate probability – I wonder if anyone guessed Shishigawara’s Fullbring would be this before it was revealed O.o. Though its sucks that he can’t manually control the probability, but even if randomly manipulated through the rolls, it’s quite fascinating, especially when a number of different outcomes could “just happen” to the target hit. Also I have to note, the way Kubo set-up the chapter number was amazing, I love how the “457” appeared as numbers on Shishigawara’s “Jackpot Knuckle” – very creative and cool. Chapter 431 also had a great chapter title set-up.
Though this chapter does highlight a major problem I have with Bleach – why do the characters have to reveal to the opponents they fight exactly what their ability is and how it works? Almost every character in fights ends up revealing the secrets behind their ability and this in turn ends up being a big factor in why they lose. There are only two characters that I remember from the top of my head that did try to conceal their abilities – Gin lying to Aizen what his Bankai was which allowed him to catch Aizen off guard but in the end Gin still reveals how his Bankai works. The other character is the Fullbring Jackie, when Ichigo asked her what her Fullbring power was, she expressly refused to tell him and forced him to fight her to find out what her Fullbring ability was. While Jackie did eventually reveal to Ichigo how her Fullbring functions, she made Ichigo first think about her attacks and then elaborated on how her “Dirty Boots” actually work – she was acting as a teacher (kind of) to Ichigo rather than an actual opponent. From how she entered the fight with Ichigo, I doubt Jackie would reveal how her Fullbring works to her opponent in a real fight – because if she did, than her opponent could do something about reducing the “dirt” on her boots. Anyway this is one of the main reasons why Jackie is one of my favourite new characters this arc.
Ichigo using Getsuga Tenshou in his Fullbring was interesting – so Ichigo has already started to release his Shinigami powers through his Fullbring, cool, you could tell Ichigo was running off instinct when he fired that Gesuga Tenshou. Ichigo really is something special, being able to integrate different forms together and evolve beyond what seems feasible, I wonder when we’ll get the story behind why Ichigo is so special and just what Aizen was talking about concerning Ichigo back during the “Decide” series of chapters. Anyway back to Ichigo’s Fullbring, has he even given it a name yet?
While I am quite surprised that Tsukishima was able to insert himself so deeply in Orihime and Sado’s memories, that they actually view him as equally important as Ichigo, it is still really good that both of them appear so conflicted when attacking/defending against Ichigo. If Ichigo spent some time trying to explain the situation to them – about Tsukishima’s Fullbring ability, they may end up backing down when getting some idea of what is happening and why they feel the way they do. But I suppose if this did happen, Tsukishima would probably have been decapitated by now – in the state Ichigo is now in, he would have done it.
Kuugo did end up protecting Ichigo, but I never trusted Kuugo this arc and this action by him didn’t convince me otherwise. And I had good reason not to trust Kuugo, especially after reading chapter 458 =D.
Chapter 458 – I had previously thought that Tsukishima’s Fullbring didn’t work on Kuugo or that Kuugo was already under Tsukishima’s Fullbring affect – Kuugo was already cut by Tsukishima’s Book of the End back in chapter 446 (assuming that cut was enough for Book of the End to activate), and I guess I was right, Kuugo really was affected by Tsukishima’s Fullbring…but what surprises and confuses me so much is how was Kuugo able to forget about his intent to steal Ichigo’s Fullbring, just by having Tsukishima “slip” his existence into Kuugo’s past? And speaking about slipping in existences, if Tsukishima already exist his target’s past, how does he go about using his Fullbring ability? It’s not like Tsukishima can freely manipulate his targets memory – he stated himself that he splits his targets past and slips in his existence. Is this the reason why Tsukishima didn’t want to be captured on camera by the TV crew when he attack Xcution’s base (chapter 447), so to not create an “existence” of himself in people. Well Tsukishima could always be lying about how his Fullbring actually functions, or they could be more to it that hasn’t been revealed yet. I suppose Tsukishima could dive deeper in his target’s memory and just split their memories at a point they haven’t met or known about Tsukishima – is this what he did to the Xcution members? O.o.
It’s nice to see Uryuu, I was waiting for him to arrive. I was hoping that he would help convince Sado and Orihime that they are being manipulated – the power of logic! But that wasn’t the case and instead Uryuu served the purpose of exposing Kuugo. And hahah that was great expose, I knew Kuugo was incredibly dodgy from the moment he appeared in this manga (and so did a lot of others). The way he looked and acted just made it hard to actually trust him, he was to dam suspicious to not doubt and I’m glad I was right to keep doubting him even after all the “good guy” actions he had been performing the last few chapters with helping Ichigo.
I still don’t get how Kuugo lost part of his memory (a reaction between Tsukishima and his Fullbring? or was it because Tsuksihima split his memory to become one where he didn’t want Ichigo’s power?), but whatever the reason, Kuugo seeks to steal Ichigo’s Fullbring. And Kuugo is also able to integrate/merge the Shinigami Representative badge into his Fullbring “Cross of Scaffold” – just what exactly is Kuugo, is he the Shinigami representative or is he just someone with a crazy Fullbring ability (and a crazy mind)? Anyway it seems like Kuugo was the one who killed the Shinigami Representative, stole his badge and Fullbring power, and killed the ex-Fullbring uses who gave up their powers, in order to seal the mouths of any witnesses?
This chapter does hint at Kuugo and Tsukishima working together, but is that really the case? I for one don’t think so, to me it seems like Kuugo used the situation to his advantage and plan things out alone, using Tsukishima and his Book of the End to get Ichigo to unleash his Fullbring power just so he could steal it away – how cunning if that is how things went down. The first time Kuugo got cut by Tsukishima’s Fullbring was when Tsukishima attacked Xcution in chapter 446. After this point, Kuugo actively helps Ichigo attain his Fullbring. Before this though, Kuugo was speaking with Sado and Sado mentioned to him that Tsukishima may have the ability to “implant suggestions or cause memory problems”. This alone may not be useful, but Kuugo could have had an idea of what Tsuksihima’s power was but may not have been entirely certain (they knew each other before), than this may have given him all the proof he needed. Along with keeping Tsukishima away from Ichigo, Kuugo also seemed determined to fight Tsukishima. He may have formed a new plan after Sado told him what Tsukishima’s power seemed to be, and decided on having himself affected by Book of the End in order to remove the memory of him wanting to steal Ichigo’s Fullbring – also could be why he chose to be grazed by the sword rather than pierced. Kuugo abandoned the fight after this – well the explosions did attract attention, but it’s still suspicious that the fight ended just after Kuugo got cut. Once those memories were gone, it makes sense now why Ichigo wasn’t able to read any of Kuugo’s intentions when he was training with Kuugo. Tsukishima may have had Kuugo train Ichigo, so Tsukishima could take Ichigo’s power later on or just to get Ichigo to unleash his Fullbring? Kuugo may have attacked Uryuu in order to blame it on Tsukishima and remove suspicions people have of Tsukishima having the ability to manipulate memory (he hinted to Sado that the attacker of Orihime, the one who had her memories altered, may not have been Tsukishima).
The second time Kuugo got cut by Tsukishima, Tsukishima didn’t intend for Kuugo to get cut, he was in fact looking to cut Ichigo. Subconsciously Kuugo may have caused himself to remove the effects of Book of the End and return him to normal by jumping in the way of Tsukishima’s attack. This could also be why he stated “I had Tsukishima cut me twice…and I returned to normal!” This could indicate that Tsukishima could have cooperated with Kuugo, but it doesn’t remove the possibility of Kuugo and Tsukishima still be enemies. Kuugo seems like the guy who does things solo – he is smart and powerful. The other Xcution members may have been under Tsukishima’s manipulation to act as comrades to Kuugo in Xcution, but not Tsukishima could have removed the Book of the End effect and returned them to normal – their change in attitude to Kuugo.
Anyway Ichigo losing his Fullbring? Is he going to lose his power AGAIN? I’m tired of seeing Ichigo act so weak and foolish, and unfortunately it appears that that trend is going to continue. Ichigo was used by Kuugo and now he is getting abused – poor Ichigo, how could you trust Kuugo, those eyes and smile were clear signs he was suspicious, not to mention the information he had on Ichigo and his family. Well now’s a good time for Hollow Ichigo to appear and cause some serious carnage – Ichigo was stabbed in the chest when in his real body, so either Ichigo’s dead or he ends up reviving himself somehow. There’s Also Isshin and Kisuke – wonder where there are…