Weekly Shonen Roundup

Uguuu. This post is late as hell. I know I haven’t posted anything Shonen related for a while, and I am really sorry about that. As of the beginning of this post, I haven’t even caught up with Bleach, Naruto or One Piece. Anyway, I am going to post some quick thoughts summing up my feelings on all the chapters because it would take me too long to write them out one by one.

All my hngggs! Just take them all!



Bleach

Chapters 486-490

I read chapters 486-489 a few weeks ago and tweeted something to the effect of “what the fuck! Bleach is not bad or anything, but these past few chapters were seriously weird”.

In a previous post, I sort of admitted that I wasn’t too sad over the death of Mr.Chōjirō Sasakibe. The funeral and Byakuya’s discussion about him in chapter 486 did not really change that, but it did make me feel a bit sadder. Chojiro was such a loyal person and I am a sucker for loyalty. On that note, the most fascinating thing I got out of his death was the reactions of Genryūsai Shigekuni Yamamoto.

Man, this guy looks pissed! You know shit is about to hit the fan when Yamamoto gets that angry. If there is one thing Kubo did well these past few weeks, it was drawing Yamamoto. Given that the focus had been on other bad guys, we probably forgot that Soul Society was originally meant to represent justice in its strictest form. In other words, “do whatever is necessary in order to win.”

I like what Kubo is doing with this moral ambiguity thing. Soul Society has always been about keeping peace, and if it means killing several souls, then so be it. We were so used to a “good vs evil” paradigm thanks to the Aizen arc that morally ambiguous things like the actions of Soul Society really caught us of our guard. It got even better when we found out that it was Yamamoto’s fault and had he actually taken action 1000 years ago, none of this would have happened. Wow. I was not expecting Bleach to go there. That was quite the twist. Oh, and the moral ambiguity doesn’t end there.

Even Ishida did something that wasn’t really good. He decided to not go to Hueco Mendo even though the lives of someone who had supposedly helped his friends was in danger. Why? Ishida thought it was wrong to help hollows and for that reason alone, he was willing to forsake a potential friend (or you know, Kubo needed an excuse to leave him in the human world).

So, yeah, Bleach felt weird because of the “moral ambiguity”, but at the same time, there were many other less credible reasons for the strange feelings it gave me.

In chapter 488, Kubo tried the “talk about how great someone is and then have them lose in order to prove someone’s strength” method. Now, I can understand why he would try that, what with having introduced a new villain and all, but it didn’t work that well. We already knew the arrancar Nel was talking about, and even though we did not necessarily know how strong they were, they were subordinates of Espada #3, so of course they are strong.

Unfortunately, there is more weirdness, but rather than weirdness, now, I think it’s more like actual problems.
The pacing was not so great. The story felt jittery. Stuff happened quite fast, but at the same time it felt dragged out. By that I sort of mean that they skipped some scenes and dragged out some of the stuff they did include. Or well, it felt that way anyway. I can’t really think of a why for that though.

Things are moving fast, eh.

New characters, mainly the villains were not developed well whatsoever. Sure, they are Quincy, and sure they don’t like the Shinigami, but that’s all I have. I mean sure the plot hasn’t been totally unveiled yet, and that secrets are understandable, but it feels like there are holes and instead of filling them in with cement, Kubo is placing a plank on top of them. It’s almost like Kishi is saying: “you guys have been reading my shit for a while now, so here, I am going to draw some stuff, and since you know Bleach so well, you should have no problem in inferring other trivial details”.

I honestly don’t really care about these villains. I also thought it was silly how the Quincy’s got that final form thing (even though Ishida had already sort of used it once before).

Fabulous Captain-Tan

I liked how Ichigo didn’t turn into a weakling and was able to hold up quite well against fabulous, sadistic captain-tan.

Oh and Urahara continues to amaze me with his great sense of perception and general awesomeness.

He sensed that some thing was wrong in Soul Society. I sort of liked the almost sad atmosphere built up from here onwards.

Naruto

Chapters 580-584

Okay, these 5 chapters were very good.

Oh Itachi, you are as awesome as always.

I loved the development between Itachi and Sasuke. Even though Sasuke had gotten over his hate for Itachi, it was nice to see validation of that and more importantly, it was nice to see them regain some of their old bond. Itachi’s valiant actions with Susasno for the sake of protecting Sasuke in chapter 582 were quite valiant and cool. Well, I am a sucker for a good older brother.😛 I seriously hope he gets to tell Sasuke whatever it is that he wants to tell him.

At first I thought the whole Izanami thing was slightly contrived and just another overpowered power up for the Sharingan, but I was wrong. Izanami is related to Izunagi and the two are both linked to Japanese mythology. Actually, it would seem that even Amaterasu (the oldest Mangekyou power shown) is related to Izunagi. This likely means that Kishi had all of this planned out a long, long time ago. I find this very impressive. Or even if it wasn’t planned, the fact that it all fits is a feat on its own.

I am growing more favourable of Sasuke. It would appear that as I have suggested before, the old Sasuke is still inside somewhere. I would even go so far as to say that Sasuke is doing this whole “destroy Konoha” thing out of some twisted sense of obligation. As much as he wants to distance himself from the standard ninja practice of doing shit because that’s what is expected from you, Sasuke ends up doing that anyway. Maybe it’s all just another way of saying that Naruto is needed to break this sense of obligation.

I did however cringe at Sasuke’s reactions to the Konoha folk badmouthing Itachi. I mean, yeah, his reaction is sort of understandable, but so was the discussion the Konoha folk were having. I mean, in their eyes, Itachi killed his entire clan, which well he did and that normally doesn’t look like a good thing to most people. So, Sasuke’s reaction was immature, actually, Sasuke is quite immature. While everyone else talks about replacing the older generation with new blood(i.e. growing up), Sasuke refuses to do so. Another contrast with Naruto, I guess.

Anyway, the far more interesting part of this mini Naruto marathon was seeing some of Kabuto’s back story. Kabuto has always been an enigmatic figure. He entered the story during the Chunin exams (he helped Naruto and crew!) and since then, he has been shrouded in mystery. We never really knew much about him other than the fact that he was the son of some famous doctor and that to, turned out to be a lie.

Who indeed….

Kabuto’s past struggle with his own identity and forced espionage is exactly what I like about the Naruto series. Themes like “sacrificing oneself for the greater good of the nation” (or fascism in a way), missing identity (like Haku right back at the beginning) and child soldiers are exactly what I expect from the Shinobi world of Naruto. It’s a shame that overall the manga has turned into a “good vs evil” kind of thing, but when these moments like the past few chapters occur, I gain so much love for Kishi.

As for the emotional part of Kabuto’s past, I found it to be quite emotional. I feel sorry for him. Not only did he end up leaving the only friends he had, he killed his “mother” and what’s worse is that his mother didn’t even recognize the man he had become.

Man, this hit me pretty hard…and the pages that followed this one finished me.

Frankly, I doubt Orochimaru’s story about Root wanted to kill both spies. That seems contradictory to how Root works. I’d have figured that they would want to keep the spies for as long as possible, even more so because the “mother” was said to be extremely loyal to Konoha. But, I can totally see why Kabuto would join Orochimaru. Orochimaru gave him a name, a place to live and a life goal. The respect and loyalty he held for Orochimaru makes perfect sense when you see it that way.

This flashback on Kabuto is most excellent. I hope we get to see a bit more, but I think it’s pretty much over now. We will at least, get to see Izunami in action soon! I look forward to it and I really, really look forward to hearing Itachi’s last words. I hope, they are as emotional as the ones he said when he actually died. A few chapters from now might be the very last time we see Itachi. That makes me very sad, because I love Itachi. I love Itachi very much. I also like Kabuto and it will be sad to see him go to, though I will admit that I prefer is older, sane human form.

This image is so incredible and poignant. This is definitely one of the best scenes in Naruto and in general, a most brilliant manga page.

Sorry, but that’s all I am going to say. It is unfortunate, but I did not get the chance to read One Piece and since I refuse to read One Piece on non-holidays, it is going to have to wait until next weekend. Sorry. I will try and throw in something else like Katekyou Hitman Reborn to make up for it, but yeah, sorry about that.

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