Thursday, 6 November 2014

Bleach Chapter 604 Review

We Will Not Die Here
We begin with Bazz-B screaming in pain as he is struck by the Auswahlen, and Renji asks the Stern Ritter what is going on. As Bazz-B wonders the same thing, he asks His Majesty if that is his way of doing things - taking the powers of his subordinates when he deems them unneeded as both Renji and Rukia look on.

The current events are showing Yhwach to be a very different villain from what Aizen was in the past. While Aizen told Shinji that he only told the Arrancar "to follow him" and "to not trust anyone including him", Liltotto and Bazz-B's reactions to Yhwach's act in this chapter and the last two that Yhwach did not foster that kind of relationship with his subordinates. The shock of betrayal those two are showing indicates that they trusted in Yhwach as their Emperor, even if some of them did show doubts in the past.

At the same time in another area of the Seireitei, as Giselle...Um...Clings to Bambi like a security blanket uttering that he/she refuses to die, both Liltotto and Bazz-B affirm in the same that they both refuse to die in such a way.

Now, I definitely want to see both Bazz-B and Liltotto survive this. As it stands, not only have they been two of the main Stern Ritter in terms of focus in the past twenty-four chapters, but their adamant refusal to die of the Auswahlen shows that they will have unfinished business to take care of with Yhwach. It shows that these two are survivors, and it could provide some hints as to what the lives of these two were like before Yhwach inducted them into the Stern Ritter.

The Danger is Elsewhere

While Rukia and Renji were first-hand witnesses to what is going on, other Shinigami such as Kyoraku and Byakuya are noticing the light emanating from the Seireitei up towards the sky. As the scene shifts to Nanao and "Okikiba", Kyoraku announces that he may have to leave the Squad 1 barracks for a while, stating that it is the Royal Realm that is actually in danger, not the Seireitei.
To diverge from the review for a bit, I'll explain why Okikiba's name is in quotations.

Simply put, I don't think that is Yamamoto's former third seat, but Aizen using Kyoka Suigetsu's "complete hypnosis" to disguise himself as Okikiba. Back in chapter 510, we saw Yamamoto calling out Okikiba's names as the 1st Division Barracks was blown apart by Yhwach. We know that Yamamoto told Okikiba to watch over the barracks while he was gone, and we know that Yhwach is also too ruthless a man to leave any Shinigami who crosses his path alive.

If the Gotei 13 believes that Okikiba somehow survived the detonation of the 1st Division barracks, then the only conclusion I have is that "Okikiba" is actually Aizen. He's disguised his minions as himself in the past, so why not disguise himself as someone else?
Back to the review, Kyoraku's statement about leaving the 1st Division Barracks strongly indicates that Kyoraku intends to go up to the Royal Realm, meaning that he has an means of transportation up to the Royal Realm outside of the copy of the Kukaku Cannon that Mayuri made. I've heard it suggested that Kyoraku may actually ride the Shakonmaku barrier up to the Royal Realm (what it usually guards), and it is possible that they could simply use the actual Kukaku Cannon to get up there, but there could be other means that only someone like the Captain-Commander would know about.

With this being the case, I doubt that Kyoraku will go on his own. This is probably the perfect opportunity for Rukia and Renji to follow Ichigo back to the Royal Realm, and I suspect all the remaining Shinigami who are capable of fighting will also go up to the Royal Realm to fight. This means that we'll finally see Ukitake, and I do believe that Ginjo might come along as well, and we'll finally see what the Fullbringers have been up to.

So many individuals might seem like over-kill, but what happens next in the chapter makes me think otherwise...

NOTE: Also, it looks like Kubo forgot to draw Kyoraku with the eye-patch again.

The Redistribution of Power

As we cut back to the Royal Realm, Nimaiya is still standing there in shock and already has holes shot clean through his shoulder, and his knees buckle from the blood loss.

Haschwalth then proceeds to explain to Nimaiya what just happened, and what the Auswahlen is. As we learn, not only can the Auswahlen collect the life force and powers of Quincy deemed "unnecessary", but can also distribute it to other Quincy whom he deems "essential", and calls it the "redistribution of power". Those who have their powers taken from them will perish, cutting to Robert's skeleton (dammit, Kubo! ), and those who receive the power become ever stronger and are reborn, showing us Gerard and Pernida with their new angel wings, and Haschwalth finishes by stating: "This is just one of his Majesty's powers", and that because it was a "transfer of power", not a "transfer of reishi", it was able to completely bypass the Cage of Life.

While I am slightly upset that Robert actually bit the dust without us learning anything about his Schrift ability, the state he is in compared to Bazz-B does seem to indicate something. While Bazz-B is holding on for life within the Auswahlen, Robert gave up when he realized what was about to befall him. It is possible that Robert, because he let himself be "taken", was reduced to a skeleton in an instant, whereas Bazz-B is still struggling to stay alive as he refuses to die in such a way. In other words, although Haschwalth said that those selected will perish, there could be a chance for those selected to survive if they have the will to live, even if they still "die" as Quincy.

With that said...


I apologize for diverging from my review again, but I have to say this: I believe what Yhwach has done in this chapter all but confirms that Yhwach is a "Transcendent Being". I'm almost ashamed that it did not occur to me last week.

In "Everything But the Rain", we learnt of Yhwach's hand in the deaths of both Uryu and Ichigo's mothers in the form of his "Auswahlen", a power that he used to strip away the life force and powers of all those Quincy he considered "unclean" - the only Gemischt Quincy who survived the Auswahlen was Uryu - and used them in order to "regain his power", as per the Kaiser Gesang. At this point, it was revealed that he could do this because he was the "Father of the Quincy", and that "his blood flows in the veins of all Quincy".

We would not learn "how" he could do it, but we did get an early hint in chapter 540 with the revelation of the identity of the one we thought to be "Zangetsu". This would only be completely introduced in chapter 565 when we were told the story of Yhwach's origins. In that story, we learnt that Yhwach possessed the power "to impart a piece of his soul" onto anyone he comes into physical contact with, and their wounds - be they physical, mental or spiritual - which could not mend with one soul would finally begin to heal. As we learnt from Haschwalth, he can more deeply and more powerfully impart soul fragments by engraving a letter onto a person's soul that represented their ability. This is how Yhwach created the Stern Ritter as a whole, and we know this method can also bring out a person's latent power, as seen with Uryu.

At the same time, that person's knowledge, skills, and talents are engraved inside Yhwach's soul fragment, and when they die the augmented fragment returns to Yhwach. Haschwalth also explained that the power of those who possess a soul fragment of Yhwach is also given to him when they die - we now know how true that statement is.

The fact that the Auswahlen takes both the powers and life-force of those Quincy "selected" makes me realize why those people who originally came into contact with Yhwach had their lives drastically shortened. Back then, Yhwach's physical body was completely crippled - he was deaf, mute, immobile, and blind - and the soul fragments that return to him from those who died after coming into contact with him eventually healed his body - his limbs became mobile, he could see, and he could speak and hear. The reason those people died so soon after coming into contact with Yhwach is because the soul fragments were draining away their life-force over time to give to Yhwach - to heal his body.

But the recent chapter showed us a completely new side to Yhwach's power in respect to the Quincy - even if he takes the power and life-force of Quincy, he can choose to distribute that power to other Quincy. He distributed the power and life-force he took from the Stern Ritter to his Elite Guard, reviving them from other-wise fatal wounds and empowering them even further than before.

A power like that is far beyond anything we have seen in the series up to this point. The only two things I can think of that even come close are the Hogyoku and the Soul King. One is the power "to manifest the desires of those around it" - the events which Aizen described as "miracles" - and the other is the ruler of Soul Society, who turned the bones of the Royal Guard members into Ouken, something that Aizen could only do by using the Jureichi and 100,000 Human souls to create a "living Ouken".

The power Yhwach is displaying is staggering, so the only thing I can think of him as being is a Transcendent, because no Shinigami, Quincy, Hollow or Human has displayed any kind of power remotely close to what he just did with Auswahlen.

Back to the Review - The Perforator of All Creation

To return to the chapter, Nimaiya responds to Haschwalth's words by concluding that is how he is in his current predicament - now that Lille Barro is now much stronger from the power distributed to him by Auswahlen, Nimaiya concludes that his new level of power is how he was able to blast holes in Nimaiya's body when they could not get through before. I assume that Nimaiya is not only referring to the power of the bullets, but their speed as well, since Nimaiya could cut apart the reishi bullets with ease before.

But Lille Barro states there are two misconceptions in Nimaiya's statement. Lille states that he wasn't that his powers were simply made "ever stronger", but that what he used were the innate powers he possessed all along but was unable to bring to the surface earlier. In other words, Lille Barro was implying that he was not actually using his ability beforehand. It is likely that Lille was simply not quick enough to activate it before he was cut down.

Lille then states that the second misconception was that he was firing "bullets". He fires his gun again, but it is "blocked" by both Kirinji's paddle and Hikifune's giant wooden spoon. Given that Kirinji hid his Zanpakuto in the paddle, it is likely Hikifune's Zanpakuto is also hidden in the spoon. Lille Barro then clarifies that his "target cannot be shielded" no matter how many layers of walls there are, causing the two Royal Guard members to see that Lille "shot" two holes through the paddle and spoon and punched a hole clean through Nimaiya's chest.

As we can see, the Kanji of Lille Barro's ability does indeed represent what his power is: "To pierce through all things". That is "The X-Axis's" true power - there are no bullets in "The X-Axis", which simply pierces through anything between the gun's barrel and the intended target. When Hikifune and Kirinji realize what this means, Lille then asks them to line themselves up in a straight line so he can kill them all in one shot.

Death of the Cage of Life

As this is going on, Pernida then uses "The Compulsory" to cause a number of the trunks of the Cage of Life to bend, collapse and break apart, opening the Cage.

Now that we are at this point, I would like to discuss the wings of the Elite Guard. While the presences of the wings would indicate the Vollstandig - we know that Candice's wings appeared on their own without the halo when nearby Stern Ritter released their Vollstandig - I am having some doubts that these wings are actually "Vollstandig". The wings of the Vollstandig we saw the Stern Ritter below use all had a specific shape to them, one that symbolically represented the nature of their power in one form or another. Even among them, there were a specific few Vollstandig that also led to a change in their physical appearance or their wings were uniformly different from the standard Vollstandig wings (As Nodt, Quilge Opie, Pepe Waccabrada), and those ones were also notable because they were the only observed Vollstandig to have names (barring Robert's Grimaniel).

But the Elite Guard, after they had power and life-force distributed to them from the Auswahlen, are decked out in full-blown angel wings. If they are Vollstandig, then I suspect they could be another stage to the power. I have speculated before that the appearance of the Vollstandig could indicate "stages of mastery" over the power - the basic wings and halo set would be the "initial stage", while the Vollstandig that causes a distinct change in physical appearance were a "second stage" - so I could add in these feathery Vollstandig wings as a possible "third stage" only the Elite Guard possess.

But the distinct lack of halos or a change in physical appearance makes me wonder, although Kubo has forgotten to draw halos with the Vollstandig from time to time.

The Monk Who Calls the Real Name

As the Cage is shattered, Yhwach immediately appears in front of Ichibei, who he addresses directly and asks to let him pass. Ichibei's only response is to smile, and to warn Yhwach that calling him by his name in such a familiar tone "may just result in your voice going hoarse".

I think I mentioned before that I believed Nimaiya and Ichibei would be the Vice-Captain and Captain of the Royal Guard respectively based on their age and their contributions. In this chapter, Ichibei's smile to Yhwach, his words and posture just scream that he is the Captain of the Royal Guard. I'll be shocked if he isn't - if there actually is someone above Ichibei that is the Royal Guard's true Commander.

His comrades are encountering trouble with the Elite Guard, yet he's completely chill in the face of Yhwach. I'll say it before, and I'll say it again - if there was anyone before 1000 years ago who was more powerful than Yamamoto, it has to be Ichibei.

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