Blow the Clouds Away
No, my friends, this is not a breakdown. Kisu hasn’t returned as the Bleach guy either, and I doubt I could adequately fill pain’s shoes even if I did. What this is-all it is- is a retrospective of all that has happened since Yhwach and Haschwalth left the Seireitei. As I’m on a phone at present moment, it won’t be possible for me to link the manga pages I have in mind, so I apologize in earnest for that. Now let’s get started.
The most important details we’ve been given since the end of the first Vandenreich invasion, heck, perhaps the most important detail given to us since the very start of the series, came during the “Everything But the Rain” mini arc that chronicled the events that led up to and surrounded Icigo’s birth. It’s interesting to note that the self destruction White, Aizen’s Hollow, went through was the same soul suicide that Tosen went through upon his death where he exploded.
But I’m getting ahead of myself. The arc introduces us to Isshin Shiba, who is Captain of the 10th Division. This is significant on two fronts. firstly, it addresses how many people noted Ichigo must be “his” son in the Soul Society Arc, but immediately dismissed such thoughts because of the name. Had he been called Ichigo Shiba it would’ve assured them that he was indeed Isshin’s son. As far as identifaction goes, this also explains ehy Ichigo and Kaien look so alike: they’re first cousins. the second important aspect is Bankai. Do recall that during the final fight between Ichigo and Byakuya, Byakuya remarked on how hard bankai is to achieve, and notes it is easier for those of the four noble houses to attain it, but even in said households it is still exceptionally rare. Well, Ichigo being from the bloodline of a former noble household explains his incredible growth rate.
Next we’re introduced to Masaki, Ichigo’s mother and the star of the Kurosaki family’s solar system. She is a young, Orihime-esque girl, trapped in a world of nobility that won’t truly accept who she is. Masaki’s character, to me, is a blend of Ichigo’s rashness in dealing with anything that threatens those around him and Orihime’s gentle, kindess. Masaki puts her life on the line for a stranger, a shinigami no less in Isshin, something it took Ichigo until the Lost Agent Arc to be able to do. For Ichigo, protecting his friends was all that mattered to him, the rest of the world be damned, but during the Lost Agent Arc where characters he had barely even interacted with poured their powers into the sword to give him back his power, he learned that he must bear everyone’s burdens and stops Ginjou, then tries to fight Yhwach for the good of Soul Society, not Renji, Rukia, Ikkaku, Byakuya etc. I find it interesting that this characteristic was in Masaki from the start.
This arc shows Aizen’s claim of “your life has been in the palm of my hand” is not utter bs, and that in a certain sense, Ichigo is Aizen’s creation. If it were not for his Hollowfication experiments, Isshin would not have come to the human world an he and Masaki would not have met, but that’s neither here nor there. Some say all these strange circumstances cheapen Ichigo’s growth, butto that I say “nah.”
Aize, despite planning Ichigo’s entire life was ultimately crushed by Ichigo exceeding his expectations and not even giving him the fight he wanted, instead utterly shredding him in combat. Then there’s Ginjou, who thought he could manipulate Ichigo to his side with the truth about Soul Society, but Ichigo told him to p-ss off and then beat him. I find Ginjou’s thought off “Those eyes look at me as if they’re trying to understand me, to stand in my shoes… Do you intend to understand me, yet still reject everything that I am?” That, in a nutshell, is Ichigo. He understands why his opponents fight, and what they believe in, but ultimately rejects their goals or methods and defeats them. He understood Auzen was suffering from a deep lonliness and that on some level that drove him to who he is today, but he still beat him because it had to be done. When Yhwach was leaving Seireitei, he called Ichigo “my son born in the dark.” He intends to manipulate Ichigo into becoming one of his pawns, but Ichigo will do as he always has: cut the manipulator in two. The point I’m making is Ichigo mayhave been created by these higher forces, but he will not submit to them, ad that is his struggle.
This Arc leads us back to Oetsu forging a new zanpakuto for Ichigo, or rather, his true zanpakuto. Ichigo spent 17 years not knowing himself, and his inner world being in a state of ceaseless downpour because of it. However, after he is told of his heritage he is able to gain an asauchi, which turned out to be the part of himself he consciously has been rejecting since the onset of the Arrancar Arc. This has some nasty repercussions, as it’s revealed that the asauchi took that form because that is the true inner spirit of his Shinigami power, meaning Old Man Zangetsu mist e a fake.
This was a truly amazing twist, incorporating details we’ve had since Bleach’s earliest days. The red ribbon Ichigo found? Zangetsu allowed him to find it since he was in full control of Ichigo’s shinigami powers. All those times in the Soul Society Arc where a mask appeared on Ichigo to absorb a blow ? The true Zangetsu was protecting him. In the clash against Zaraki where Zangetsu stopped Ichigo’s bleeding? Quincy blood control, as seen with Blut. How Ichigo’s unconscious body left the battlefield? The Quincy’s Shadow ability. All those times Hollow Ichigo saved Ichigo’s bacon? A Hollow was protecting him and not Zangetsu. All those times Hollow Ichigo told Ichigo point blank that he’s Zangetsu? It was the truth.
But anyway, Old Man Zangetsu told Ichigo the truth about how he is the manifestation of Ichigo’s inborn Quincy powers. This also explains Masaki’s and Katagiri’s deaths. if every Quincy possesses an ‘old man zangetsu’ that is the embodiment of the ancestor of all Quincy, Yhwach, it explains why he was able to take their powers away: they are all his children and bound to him. Zangetsu warns Ichigo that he was to kill him if he became a shinigami, but that is something the old man cannot bring himself to do. This is the same Zangetsu that vowed so long as Ichigo trusted him he would never let a drop of rain fall in Ichigo’s world, the same Zangetsu that said the thing he wanted to protect most was Ichigo and cried before teaching him the Final Getsuga Tensho. Zangetsu remarks how proud of Ichigo he is and that he could not hold back his power anymore since the more Ichigo persevered the more he wanted to help and protect him . He fades away and releases Ichigo’s power with a tear of perhaps regret.
This is important for another reason, separate from getting new swords. If Zangetsu was holding back a large amount of Ichigo’s power, it explains why the final getsuga didn’t burn away his power, and why a portion of it still remained in the Fillbring arc. Old Man Zangetsu got what he wanted: a powerless Ichigo wouldn’t get into fights where his life was on the line anymore, and he fulfilled his goal of Ichigo no longer being a Shinigami. Ginjou was lying about Fullbring restoring Ichigo’s power since when he wasn’t under the effects of Tsukishima’s Dullbring he was surprised, to say the least, that Ichigo still had Shinigami powers.
Ichigo accepted Old Man Zangetsu and Hollow Ichigo as two sides of his soul instead of embracing one and disowning the other like he had done all series. Him rejecting Old Man Zangetsu would’ve been the same thing he had been doing to Hollow Ichigo. Now Ichigo has found himself-his true self, has embraced all he is, put everyone’s burdens on his shoulder and gets ready for the toughest fight of his life.
This Arc is little over a year old, but he has addressed so many things he’s left hanging all theoughout the series in such amazing ways. Kubo has more than proven his competence as a writer has not left him, but has gotten much more potent. it is with a cautious optimism spurred by being disappointed in only one chapter since the timeskip (and it was for fanboyish reasons) that I look forward to the rest of this final, Thousand-Year Blood War Arc.
Uryu is not Sasookay.