Friday, December 24, 2010

Top 10 Twists in BLEACH

One of the hot mangas/anime I am into is “Bleach”.  Bleach easily became popular for having badass fight scenes, a vast collection of interesting characters, and entertaining storylines.  One of the reasons why the storylines of Bleach are highly interesting is its incredible twists that were used as “what the -!” moments, plot augmentation, or/and just for the sake of good old fun.  Among these, here is my top 10 take.  

10.) Tōsen’s Defeat

Kaname Tōsen is the blind Gotei 13 captain, who aside from Gin Ichimaru, joined Sosuke Aizen and betrayed the Gotei 13.  In the battle in the Fake Karakura Town, Tōsen fought using his newly acquired Hollow powers from Aizen for the first time.  After equipping his Hollow mask, Tōsen would take on his former lieutenant, Shūhei Hisagi, and his former bestfriend, the Shinigami captain, Sajin Komamura.  In his Hollowified form, Tōsen was able to hold his own against Hisagi and Komamura, and then being able to get rid of Hisagi (temporarily, as we’ll see later on) and getting the upper hand against Komamura.    

Tōsen then released his Resurrección, transforming himself into a giant cricket-like creature.   He started opening his eyes, and was rapturous when he was able to see (we can conclude that that was the first time he ever used his Resurrección) for the first time in his life.    As he was about to deliver the finishing blow to Komamura, this happened…

It was a big surprise for me.  Just like that, Tōsen, who is clearly stronger than an Espada, in his Resurrección form, got blind-sided (no pun) by Hisagi, who is still not powerful enough to have a Bankai, to impale him with a mere Shikai.  No one saw that coming. 

9.) Yoruichi is a Woman

We first saw Yoruichi Shihōin like this…

A black cat with a male voice.  

“He” was the one who trained Ichigo’s friends and the one who guided Ichigo and his friends on their trip to Soul Society to rescue Rukia.  And everybody – audience and characters alike – at that point believed that Yoruichi is a man.  And “he” never gave any reaction to make us think otherwise.  “He” never corrected the assumption that “he” was actually a she.

Then after rescuing a wounded Ichigo (which he got from his battle with Kenpachi Zaraki), Yoruichi finally revealed “his” true form to him. 

And I was as shocked as Ichigo to discover that Yoruichi was really a woman.  In her own words, she loves transforming to her true form to surprise people, who always assume – because of the male voice in her cat form – that she was a male. 

Being in cat form, not only did we assume she was a male, but because of appearing in such “cute, harmless” form, we really did not take the character seriously.  Oh, we assumed the character might be strong, but not that awesome as revealed later on.   After the surprise we got from discovering she was a female, more revelations came that made us learn that she is one of the most badass characters in Bleach.  Princess of the Tenshiheisōban… former captain of the 2nd Division of the Gotei 13 and former commander of the Onmitsukidō… former Corps Commander of the Corrections Corps and of the Executive Militia… considered the greatest “flash step” (high speed movement) master that she earned the nickname “Goddess of Flash”… what a resume.  Makes me feel silly for initially supposing that she was a one-dimensional, boring character.

8.) Hollow Ichigo

In his training to regain his Shinigami powers (after Byakuya destroyed its source), so he can rescue Rukia, Ichigo had undergone training under Kisuke Uruhara.   One of the processes (to regain his powers) is to cut his “Chain of Fate”, the chain that attaches the soul to its body.  When cut, the chain would corrode towards the chest, and when it reaches it, a hole would open that would transform the person into a Hollow.  Eventually, just as the chain’s corrosion completely made a hole on Ichigo’s chest and started turning him into a Hallow, he was finally able to tap into his Shinigami powers.

I (and Ichigo) never thought that Ichigo’s experience of nearly becoming a Hallow would have a consequence in the future.  Later on (during the mission to rescue Rukia), we got clues about this impending development when Hallow masks kept on appearing on places in his body where there would be normally fatal wounds.   Finally, in a fight with Kenpachi Zaraki, Ichigo encountered his Hallow alter-ego in his inner world.

I find this Hollow alter-ego of Ichigo an exciting surprise, especially when he took over Ichigo’s body when Ichigo was losing his battle against Byakuya.  The Hollow Ichigo would then proceed to get the upper hand, until Ichigo took back the control of his body from his Hollow self. 

From then on, several times, we would see times when Ichigo was on the ropes in a fight, a pissed Hollow Ichigo takes over Ichigo’s body to fight. 

As his Hallow split-personality’s control grows stronger, Ichigo sought the help of the Visoreds to allow him control of his Hallow self (and powers).      

After finally becoming a Visored, Ichigo finally was able to manifest the strengths (though probably not all) of his Hollow alter-ego without losing control.  Though, in his fight with Ulquiorra, a more powerful, more badass, and more violent Hollow Ichigo would appear.  

Ichigo, as of the present, has lost his Shinigami powers – and presumptively, his Hollow powers as well – after learning the Final Getsuga Tensho from the Zangetsu-Hollow Ichigo amalgam.  I am excited for further developments, especially on how Hollow Ichigo would manifest himself again when Ichigo regains his powers.   

7.) Wonderweiss

Wonderweiss’ first appearance was during his transformation to an Arrancar by Aizen.  Several Espada were present during this.  By then, I never ever thought there was something special about him.  I thought his “birth” was shown for mere demonstration on how Hollows become Arrancars.  At most, I thought he was a Fracción – a subordinate of an Espada, especially when he accompanied Yammy in the Arrancars’ third visit to Karakura Town. 

Later on, Wonderweiss was with Aizen, Tōsen, Ichimaru, and high-ranking Espada (with their Fracción) during their battle against Gotei 13 in the Fake Karakura Town.  He arrived with Fūrā – the biggest Hollow that appeared in Bleach so far (it is so big that it has masks of Gillian-class Menos for fingernails) in the middle of the battle.  At this point, I thought of Wonderweiss as nothing more of a “keeper” for this giant Hollow.   Then he did this:

By taking out Jūshirō Ukitake – one of the two strongest Gotei 13 captains who are not Commander Yamamoto – I finally realized that Wonderweiss is just no ordinary Arrancar… that he could even be somebody higher in rank than the elite Espada, and that his number 77 ranking was just a ruse.       

It is revealed that Wonderweiss is a “modified” Arrancar, and has the same spiritual energy of an Espada.  All forms of rationality, memory, retention, speech, and intelligence were removed to give more concentration on power instead.  He was designed by Aizen to nullify the abilities of Yamamoto’s Zanpakutō.  Though he would still lose in the end against Yamamoto, going head to head with Gotei 13’s legendary commander was badass enough. 

It’s a pretty good twist when a character we presumed to be weak was actually badass.              

6.) Bankai

The most constant developmental twist in the Bleach concept is the Bankai – the Zanpakutō’s second form.  What make this weapon so interesting are the various forms of Bankai shown.  

Some of these forms are: 
an exhibition that pink is badass…
a portable nuke launcher…
an abominable fetus from hell…
and, my personal favorite, a gundam swordsman…

There are still several characters that haven’t revealed their Bankais yet.   There’s no captain-level Visored that revealed his Bankai yet.  Ichigo’s father, Isshin Kurosaki, hasn’t revealed his.  Neither Aizen nor Uruhara revealed theirs.  And the Bankais of several captains – including Commander Yamamoto – haven’t been revealed yet.

Bankais are full of surprises.  A Bleach fan will always get excited whenever the words “Bankai” is spoken, especially if the shinigami would reveal his or hers for the first time. 

5.) Aizen is the Main Villain

If I had made this list years ago, this would be number one.  It was a real shocker back then when Sōsuke Aizen was revealed to be the main villain of the story – a first rate “what the hell was that!” moment. 

Initially, Aizen was shown as the nicest and most mild-mannered of the Gotei 13 captains, with those harmless kind eyes.  I mean look at him…

Then sometime when Ichigo and the other Ryokas was in Seireitei (to rescue Rukia), Aizen appeared to had been murdered. 

Suddenly, there was a mystery among Gotei 13.  Who could have killed Aizen?  Only a captain-level Shinigami could have done it.  Thus, there was a traitor among them.  And the prime suspect was Gin Ichimaru. 

Ichimaru proved to be a red herring, a mere minion, since the true mastermind was Aizen himself and the “Aizen” corpse was a mere illusion.  After obtaining the Hōgyoku from Rukia (which was hidden by Uruhara within Rukia’s soul), Aizen would leave for Hueco Mundo with his subordinates, Ichimaru and Tōsen.  In that epic scene, as Negación carried them away, Aizen, while removing his glasses and combing his hair by hand to change the hairstyle that changed his appearance from mild-mannered and kind changed to a cold and menacing, announced his intention of becoming a “god”.  Very dramatic.  He would proceed to rule in Hueco Mundo and build an Arrancar army.  
Eventually, during his forces’ encounter with Ichigo and his allies, he and his Espada would be defeated.  But since he’s immortal, he can’t be killed, thus he was sentenced to be imprisoned for 20,000 years.

I don’t think we’ll see the last of Aizen.  Heck, as I mentioned before, he has yet to reveal his Bankai.  I think he will still be a major player in a future story arc in Bleach.

4.) Ichigo’s Dad Turned Out to be a Shinigami

In the early parts of Bleach, Isshin, Ichigo’s goofy doctor dad, was more of a comic relief.  Nobody was expecting that he was far more badass than that.  However, he was actually a captain-level Shinigami.  The revelation of Isshin being a former Shinigami answered the question why Ichigo has hidden Shinigami powers.  But it raises some more questions as well.  What was his division and why did he leave the Gotei 13?  How and why did he lose his powers?

It is first revealed that he was a Shinigami, when he took on Grand Fisher – an imperfect Arrancar.  Later on, it is also shown that he was acquainted – even friends – with Ryūken Ishida, Uryu’s father (who is also a Quincy), and Kisuke Urahara.   .

Ichigo would only become aware that his father was a badass Shinigami when the latter pitched in in the fight against Aizen in the Fake Karakura Town.  Aizen would also show that he knew Isshin.   Later on, Isshin was instrumental on teaching Ichigo the “final” Getsuga Tenshō that helped in the defeat of Aizen.

There are still a lot of questions unanswered regarding Isshin, and fans are excited for further developments.

3.) The Eleventh Division is More Badass Than It Appears to Be

The 11th division are composed of Shinigamis who only concentrate on melee combat and do not concern themselves with other Shinigami skills.  Their philosophy is to live for fighting – that if they are going to die anyway, they will go down fighting gloriously.   
We know how badass this division is because it’s a reflection of its captain, Kenpachi Zaraki.  Zaraki is one of the toughest and most powerful captains in the Gotei 13 even though he does not have a Bankai nor know the name of his Zanpakutō (thus, not being able to tap its full potential).  The lieutenant, Yachiru Kusajishi, is a mere child but she possesses immense spiritual pressure.  And two other lieutenants in other divisions, Renji Abarai and Tetsuzaemon Iba, were formerly from the 11th

But what makes this division more badass than it appears to be is because of Yumichika Ayasegawa and Ikkaku Madarame. 

In the first time we saw Yumichika fought, he was beaten by Ganju.  Ganju is not one of the elite characters in Bleach, so Ayasegawa (5th seat in the division) must be weak, right?  No.  Ayasegawa was not really at top form when he fought Ganju.  Not even close.  At one time, he beat Hisagi by finally showing his Shikai’s true power.  Yumichika’s Zanpakutō is as vain as its owner.  “Fuji Kujaku”, the nickname Yumichika uses on it, greatly annoys the Zanpakutō that whenever Yumichika uses that nickname, it would not appear in its true form, but instead transform to a (weaker) melee-type released form:
But when it is called by its true name, “Ruri’iro Kujaku”, it goes full power:
Yumichika is actually as strong as the strongest lieutenants of Gotei 13.  But he wouldn’t fight with his Shikai’s true form if anybody in the 11th would know (especially Ikkaku) about it, since the true form of his Shikai is kidō-type.  That would be disgraceful in their division because the division’s unofficial rule is that members should only have melee-type Zanpakutō.  He would only use its full potential when his fights are hidden from spectators.  If not, he won’t use it and would even risk getting defeated by an opponent just to protect this secret. 

Like Yumichika, Ikkaku was defeated in the first battle we saw him fought (against Ichigo), thus since Ichigo was still weak at that time, we assumed that Ikkaku was insignificant.  Ikkaku (3rd seat) is the same as Yumichika, he would even risk defeat just to hide a secret… that he had already achieved Bankai (making him the only non-Captain, aside from Renji, that knows Bankai).  
He’s also has the same fighting philosophy as with his captain, Kenpachi.  He would handicap himself (not using Bankai) just to make a fight more “enjoyable”.  Another reason he hides his Bankai from others is for the fear of being promoted, since he is satisfied as 3rd seat serving under Kenpachi Zaraki. 
At first, I never really thought of them as someone special, I thought of them as mere “stepping-stones” for Ichigo in the Soul Society Arc.   I never thought they will be noteworthy after their initial fight.  I was wrong.   They turned out to be the proof that the 11th division is the most badass in Gotei 13…

2.) Espada Ranks

The Espada were the top ten most powerful Arrancars.  Their power greatly outdistanced every other Arrancars (the Numeros).   Normal Arrancars are ranked depending on the order of their becoming an Arrancar, but the Espada are ranked depending on their power, with the highest number the weakest and the lowest number the strongest. 

The rankings of the Espada have some twists in it, though. 

First, it was revealed that Nel, the sniveling brat Arrancar that Ichigo had befriended…
…turned out to be a former Espada, with the number 3 rank. 

Second, I (as well as others) guessed the rank of the most prominent Espada rival of Ichigo (aside from Grimmjow), Ulquiorra Cifer, as, at least, in the top 3 of the Espada.  However, his actual number was 4, implying that there are at least three more powerful Espada than him.   But there was a “double twist”.  It seemed that assuming initially that he was a top 3 Espada was right after all when he revealed that he was the only Arrancar that was able to obtain a second release form of Resurrección (Resurrección: Segunda Etapa).  Aizen hasn’t seen him in this form, and Ulquiorra might have been ranked higher – even maybe number 1 – if the former did.      

Third, and most mind-blowing of all, the ranking of Espada was not at all from 10 to 1, but from 9 to 0.  Yammy Llargo was originally number 10, and was thought to be the weakest of the Espada.  It turns out he is the strongest as the “1” was removed from 10, leaving “0”, when he finally released his true power.  Among the three, this was the most surprising.

1.) Gin Ichimaru betrayed Aizen

This was the latest among the twists here.  And so far, in my opinion, the best, most dramatic, most surprising development ever.

Throughout the show, I have a gut feeling that there is more to Gin ichimaru.  The character is just so awesome and charismatic.  No way is he just a mere lackey.  Maybe he has his own agenda and is only using Aizen.  Those were my thoughts then.

In a way, I was right.  It turned out Gin indeed has his secret reasons for joining Aizen.  Just a few moments after Aizen and Ichimaru left the Fake Karakura Town to enter Karakura Town… 

The reason?  Revenge.  To avenge what Aizen did to Rangiku.  He waited for many decades to learn the vulnerability of Aizen, and then struck when the time was ripe.

Of course, Gin failed to kill Aizen, but nonetheless, what he did was still awesomely unexpected.  Though I was a bit expecting that Ichimaru would somehow betray Aizen, it still blew my mind when and why (which I was not able to deduce) and how he did it.  Just for the sake of avenging the honor of Rangiku Matsumoto, the only person he really cared for, he was willing to do a “sleeper agent” routine.  Serving under his target and enemy; the burden of the thought that Rangiku, the person he was doing it all for, was feeling disappointed (because he betrayed the Gotei 13 and “joined” Aizen) and thinking of him as an enemy; the pressure of observing and planning; and the many years it had to take… all the emotional and mental baggage these brought did not hinder Gin.  Such amazing patience and resolve.

Gin Ichimaru’s current status is unknown.  I would be disappointed if he’s now dead, considering the awesomeness of the character and the potential of being an invaluable ally to the main character, Ichigo Kurosaki.   


Anonymous said...

what the fu**. Ichigo is fuc**** awesome.

Anonymous said...

pinoy ka kaba?.. kase halos lahat ng anime na mention mo dito na palabas sa pinas,, hahah astig tong article mo nakarelate ako lahat yan favorite ko eh.. lalo na yung slamdunk! bangis

bernel said...

yes, i'm pinoy ^_^