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branchandroot: Hiruma saying ... (Hiruma ...)
KT's latest twist in Bleach leaves me with mixed feelings.

On the one hand, I have long held that KT isn't completely making the story up as he goes, that he has always had an organizing principle, that principle being, essentially, Ichigo's path through 'reincarnation' in six worlds (okay, probably only five) and on to eventual enlightenment. We've had the "introduce all these people arc", we've had the asura arc in Soul Society, we've had the hungry ghost arc in Hueca Mundo, we've had the human arc with the Fullbringers, and so far all of those things have been relatively well integrated. Some parts were more clearly off-the-cuff and unbalanced; in particular, I think KT couldn't quite decide for a while whether he wanted Sado or Orihime to be more associated with the hungry ghosts, and when he went with Orihime that left Sado with a bit of re-orientation needed. He didn't really put in as much narrative work as that re-orientation required, though, leaving Sado peripheral to what should have been the arc centered on him as much as on Ichigo. That was annoying.

I don't fear that will happen to Ishida; his centrality to the I'm-guessing-hell/Quincy arc has been signalled from the start. The part I think is really falling apart is the convincing integration of Ichigo's powers.

Spoilers for recent manga chapters )
branchandroot: butterfly on a desk with a world in a bottle (butterfly glass desk)
I've been poking at the structure of Bleach, now that the second cycle is finished and a new one is starting, because I honestly kind of expected the fall of Aizen to be the end. Looking back on it, that may have been foolish, because the end of the Hollow cycle matches the end of the shinigami cycle very closely: there is a huge confrontation in which martial ability is useful, is necessary to survive, but does not actually accomplish the desired end. In fact, no one gets a perfectly happy ending and things are still a hot mess afterward.

Now we have a new cycle, which looks like it may be focused on human powers, and that brought my thoughts back to my earlier speculation on KT's apparent cosmological model. In the first cycle, we had a trip to Soul Society, home of the shinigami (Asura). In the second cycle, we had a trip to Hueca Mundo, home of the Hollows (hungry ghosts). Perhaps this cycle will represent the human world.

To be sure, the story in general returns to humans as a touchstone, again and again, but that makes a certain amount of sense if the world-structure really is inspired by the six worlds of the realm of desire. The human realm, the human existence, is, after all, the one to which the greatest potential for enlightenment is attributed. This also makes a certain cosmological sense of why it's the humans who progress so astonishingly quickly, in Bleach.

Thinking about all that, though, brought me back to the basic point that KT really seems to love parallelism and symbolism, and that the personal aspects of the Hollow cycle didn't seem nearly as parallel to the shinigami cycle as I was expecting. Maybe they were, though--parallel in light of the worlds in question, anyway.

Rukia's journey and Orihime's journey )
branchandroot: stack of books by arm chair (book love)
There's a theory I've had for a while and been collecting examples of: that, in anime and manga that feature both possibilities, power externalized as a tool is generally beneficial, or at least controllable, while power internalized as a transformation will generally get out of hand. Bleach has been my flagship example for a long time now.

I'm waiting to see whether the latest turn will bear out or run against this theory.

Necessary spoilers )

Which means that, even as Naruto and KHR devolve into the uninteresting and the forced, I have at least one series I'm hanging on, week by week.
branchandroot: a lotus (lotus)
Because this has been bouncing around my head for a while, gaining bits, and it's about time to write it down.

I'm not entirely sure that character age is one of the things KT thought all the way out, but I think he had at least a basic idea of how this was supposed to work; what little info we have on aging in Soul Society does suggest a certain shape of rationale, and he's consistent about it.

Spoilers, obviously )

So there's my theory, based on what we've seen so far. Of course, this suggests that Ichigo's appearance in spiritual form may settle at late teens or early twenties while his material body keeps aging, which could be fodder for all kinds of interesting future-fic.
branchandroot: oak against sky (Default)
TRC: ...for pity's sake, just write a damn /ending/ already.

Naruto: This is getting pathetically boring. The current fight has no draw to it, no magnetism, both parties have gotten downright annoying.

Bleach: *squeaks* Oo! Oo! Maybe they're back?! Also, Starkk rocks.

KHR: *dotes on Gokudera's glee over his explosives* On the other hand, I find it deeply annoying that Amano has reverted to spaz!Tsuna. Total characterization fail, Amano. The prospect of seeing Dino and Hibari fighting is lovely, but clearly only a tease at the moment. *grumps a bit over that*
branchandroot: empty veranda at dawn (veranda)
Naruto: Still unenthused. Nice to have more back history, but the zing just isn't there.

TRC: Just hurry up already, will you?

Holic )

Bleach: *laughing a lot* Soi Fong holds a grudge, doesn't she?

KHR )
branchandroot: fractal in blue and gray spheres (fractal round)

My response to TRC/Holic is pretty steady these days, and consists of something along the lines of: WTF Clamp?! I mean, the mother named the same thing as the soulmate was bad enough, but now we’re way into the weird spiritual incest and/or masturbation realm. And still no ending in sight. *sighs*

Naruto, on the other hand, is looking interesting, despite the continuing obliteration of the moral and psychological dynamics from the first two-thirds (ie teamwork). It looks like we may be shaping up for a round of “You use that word a lot…”. I am still wondering where the hell Sasuke et al are and how exactly he and/or Madara are going to play into this. I mean, the most emotionally satisfying thing would be for the current trio to break the pattern of the past trios and actually redeem the poor guy, but I’m becoming increasingly unconvinced of Kishimoto’s dedication to satisfying endings.

Bleach… well, now, I have mixed feelings this week. The Ulquiorra-Inoue dynamic got some halfway decent continuation, but little closure. He remains rather a mystery. I don’t actually object to that, but the way that dynamic crossed with the Ulquiorra-Ichigo was… distracting. There’s a lot of development happening, but it all seems to be subterranean. I’m hoping that soon we will get some greater in-action explication.

branchandroot: oak against sky (Default)

Back from the holidays, and all I can say about most of these is “well finally!”.

Naruto )

Bleach )

TRC )
branchandroot: oak against sky (Default)

So, what I’ve been wondering, as we move through the Hueca Mundo arc in Bleach, is: did Aizen create the current culture we see among the arrancar, or did he just take it over?

(Spoilers ahead, of course.)

The fact that Hollows right up to Menos Grande are instinct and hunger driven has meant that the lower levels don’t have much in the way of organized culture or society.  Even the adjuchas seem to organize or group only in small bands, according to what we’ve seen of Grimmjow’s past.  But the arrancar are shown to have organization.  They are still driven by hunger, but they have regained enough mind and individuality to create as well as consume, at least by the witness of Las Noches.

So, is that something they have generated and constructed themselves, over however many thousands of years?  Or is that construction and organization something Aizen imposed?  The question doesn’t seem to me to have been answered one way or another, yet.  If Aizen has been in contact with them for the whole hundred or so years, then the progression we see among the Espada, the ex-Espada and elaborate ranking and numbering, could have been his instigation.  But perhaps not. It’s Aizen who adopts their manner of dress, and those things generally mean something in KT’s writing.

I’m really hoping we get some kind of indication one way or another, somewhere along the storyline.

PSA

Jun. 27th, 2008 11:47 pm
branchandroot: Fay with mask (Fay mask)
For those who love Bleach, I would like to note, IJ has a general Bleach comm, [insanejournal.com profile] bleach_fandom. It has two quite nice mods and a wonderful lack of pairing wars so far.

And, incidentally, a spiffy new layout I have just made.

So come help keep it sane here, yeah?
branchandroot: oak against sky (Default)

Bleach: *fans self* Oh my. Aizen has met his match for top contender in the “badness is hot like fire” sweepstakes. Who knew Urahara could be sexy as hell?

Naruto: *slaps desk* There, now that is a fine issue! Why can’t you write like that more often, Kishimoto? Just the right balance of heart-rending and hopeful, with good, stark shading to complement it. Ditch all these fights with characters who take ten freaking issues to die after being gut-stabbed and write like this more.

Eyeshiled 21: … InaMura, you want to kill us, don’t you? What was that? Three reverses in one issue? My heart won’t take another three months of this!

All in all, a darn good week.

branchandroot: a dandelion (dandelion)
So, one of the prompts over at [insanejournal.com profile] porn_battle fed a bunny that's been hanging around forever and sparked a little Byakuya/Renji porn.

I think my muses really have decided that it's the Age of Smut again. A cyclical sort of thing, clearly.

ETA: Polished fic: At Your Feet
branchandroot: oak against sky (Default)

Well, the break seems to have made for some nice turning points.

Bleach 206 and 7 )

Eyeshield 21 265 and 6 )

Prince of Tennis 373 and 4 )

And as for Tsubasa... *makes disgusted hand-waving gestures* Yeah, whatever.
branchandroot: oak against sky (Default)

Well, I certainly picked a fine time to catch up on my Bleach manga: just as we’re starting a new round of battles, one of which involves one of my favorite characters.

Now I’m going to be hanging on the edge of my seat for weeks and weeks, wanting to see how it goes, and howling every time there’s an issue that isn’t about him. Not that Kubo hasn’t been quite nice about that so far… after a manner of speaking.

Incidentally, is it just me, or is most of fandom missing the point about why the Soul Society and Hueca Mundo arcs are so closely paralleled?

It's not like we haven't gotten enough hints. )

So we have this lovely meta-narrative structure building up, facet by facet, sketching out the shape of something big and strange looming at the end of the story, and almost everyone seems to miss it. And then they have the nerve grouse about how boring and unimaginative the story is. Philistines.

But it's okay, KT. Some of us appreciate you.
branchandroot: oak against sky (Default)

It distresses me greatly when people say Rukia is useless or wimpy or any of that. So let us talk about all the ways in which Rukia is amazing.

There may be spoilers in here for those who do not follow the manga. )
branchandroot: oak against sky (Default)
Already noted: Older/stronger family keeping secrets (Byakyua, Ryuuken, Isshin) and trying to keep younger out of it (Byakyua, Ryuuken). Brothers-love-twisted (Orihime's brother, Byakyua). Captain v childhood friend triangle (AHH and HRI). Hunger (shinigami, hollow). Uniforms w/ inverse colors.

New notes:

Resistance training: Ishida's glove and the supressing gigai (which may help explain Isshin).

Traveling to another world on rescue for captured babe: Rukia and Orihime. Anyone who thinks this is /not/ done specifically in order to establish the parallels and differences in the two characters and how they relate to everyone else, and Ichigo in particular, has not been paying any attention at all to KT's storytelling methods.
branchandroot: oak against sky (Default)
*marvels* Wow, the M7 translation for Bleach 223 sucked donkeys.

Through a straw.

I love how fast the issues come out, of course, but taking long enough to translate in comprehensible sentences would be a plus.

But! Now we see exactly why they call themselves Vizored, a visor being, among other things, the part of a helmet that can be raised and lowered as they do their masks.

I'm just fascinated by the dynamic between Shinji and Hiyori. Hiyori may well be the strongest of them, but it's clearly Shinji who's the responsible leader. Hiyori strikes me as very young--kind of the same way Ichigo does. I wouldn't be at all surprised to learn that Shinji was older than Byakuya. He watches and /thinks/ all the time.

And, damn it, I've got Shinji/Ichigo bunnies nibbling my toes, and I /know/ it wouldn't work. Any more than I can get the Byakuya/Renji bunnies to work. It just doesn't. But that doesn't stop it from feeling like it should! *sulks*

In any case, it looks like I was right about the point Vizored and Arrancar converge on, and the parts invovled. In the former, the heart (conscience) rides the instincts/passions; in the latter, instinct rides the intellect. In both cases, just barely.

By the way, does anyone know what the word is that's getting translated as 'instinct'?


And, incidentally, I still say that 'girian' is 'guerrean'.

*settles down to wait for the next wodge of issues to build up*

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