Well the chapter was better than expected, unfortunately everything before this makes this chapter passable instead of being great.Incoming giant wall of text, you have been warned.
! I’ll start with the positives, because I always feel that’s the best thing to do. The Chad, Orohime, and Ichigo interaction was good. It brings me back to the early days of Bleach. Best part was Chad throwing Ichigo at the building. It’s the first time in a long time this Manga made me crack a smile because of a good moment, not because of something stupid. Taking everything alone with this chapter, it was a nice change of pace, giving the readers a chance to take a breath from everything going on, and set up for the next part of this arc. Also the stuff with Renji, while weird,I also enjoyed since it was nice to have some humor finally from him again.
! Now on to all the stuff that was bad with this chapter, as well as what caused this chapter to not live up to it’s potential. There was no need to show more reactions of Ichigo’s group of Ishida’s betrayal, you showed enough of that last chapter, and while not bad, it was pointless. Worst part of this chapter is Ichigo coming back from the RG was pointless. Sure, he’ll probably fight someone before going back up, but if just a few chapters after coming down he’splanning on going back up, the whole going down to help everybody is pointless.There were plenty of others ways to make things more acceptable for Ichigo to have to go back up, but this isn’t one of those.
! So let’s discuss Chad and Orohime first. While it was nice to see them interact with Ichigo, their appearance is pointless. Don’t get me wrong, for a long time I wanted Chad and Orohime to be a big part of the story, as well as Tatsuki (Big waste of potential right there). The problem is Kubo wrote himself into a corner with these characters. Chad and Orohime have only beat 3 important enemies together total (the two hollows during the mass hollow attack and Chad beating the ex espada). Orohime, while having a hax ability, can only use it for healing purposes. From what’s been presented to us in the manga, they should not be useful at all. As shown in this chapter,Orohime was pushed back from the force alone of the Quincies, not even from an attack. So Kubo is in a lose-lose situation, If they beat two named characters,they got really powerful all of a sudden for no reason, or if they lose/do nothing, readers will be pissed that they weren’t used. Overall I would prefer that they would be used, even if at this point it would be impossible for them.
! As far as Ishida leaving and the reaction everyone had,this should be a powerful scene, where readers don’t like the idea of him joining the other side (despite how we know for sure he will return to the other side). The problem is there is no character chemistry between any of them at this point. Any interactions built up from the SS arc aren’t relevant at this point, because since that arc these characters have done nothing in fights or much less interacting as a group. In all the arcs since then, everybody does their own thing, meeting up only when something big goes down. Worse yet, theFullbring arc showed various characters refusing to tell each other stuff that would have stopped all the events from happening. Think about the fight between Ussop and Luffy. The entire crew had gone on any adeventures together, we knew how each of them interacted with each other, and even with some rivalry going on (Zoro and Sanji), all of them would go through hell and back to help each other (even Robin, to a certain degree, at that point as we find out later). That made that scene effective. Here, these characters have done little together. Sure they went to save Rukia and Orohime, but Ichigo did almost everything. Renji and Rukia have even less reason to be concerned (if that’s even possible). There are some people on OneManga who believe just because of how thing were drawn, and just taking thechapter itself, say that it was effective. Unfortunately, with everything else put together this scene does not only fail to capture what it wanted, it made me laugh with how forced it was.
! Now let’s talk about the upcoming fights as a whole.There is nothing to make the reader excited at all for these upcoming fights. I’m going to break down what I think what will make a fight prospect exciting. The more each of these is used, the more excited one should be for a fight. Not all of them should be used every time, but they should be used to show how a writer gets readers pumped for certain fights, whether it’s a small fight to the big bad. Some spoilers for Toriko, One Piece, and JoJo’s Bizarre Adeventure (Part 1,3and 4) In the next four paragraphs.
! Character building: Now both the antagonist and protagonist don’t have to be fully three dimensional, but you should be at least interested in one of the characters being in the fight. In One Piece, all the Straw Hats personalities have been built. You know them and their accomplishments,as well as the hardships they’ve gone through. While reader’s feelings on each character is different, everyone knows them well enough that they are at least interested in how their fight goes (Despite a lot of people disliking Ussop,they were interested in how he would fight Sugar and Trebol). This is just for people to be interested in the fight, not how they like the fight overall. Antagonists don’t need a lot, but a little bit of personality can help. In JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure,every person they fight is given a little bit of a personality. The amount shown varies but it can build up how much you want that antagonist to get beaten.
! Character match-up: Depending on which characters you pair against each other can really make a difference. JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure (Part 4 from what I’ve read up to far), really shines with this. You get stand users fighting where one seems to have an advantage, but using the stand just right,the other person can win. Another way is just having characters of certain personalities and/or looks going against each other. I personally want to seeFranky v Senor Pink because of this aspect (If you don’t Oda, This will be my first major disappointment).
! Personal Stakes: Is there a particular reason for these characters going against each other. A lot of times this will be reserved more for the big bad, but it can be used on smaller characters. In JoJo part 3, the Empress user wanted her revenge for her Grandson, or Polnareff wanted to avenge his sister. Also with JoJo Dio’s reason to fight the Joestar’s has deep roots. For Water 7 everyone fought their best because they wanted to save Robin, not because they had a particular grudge against the individuals. Toriko built this up with Toriko v Starjun, where they fought before where one was severely handicapped, and a rivalry was set up from there from mutual interest in eachother’s strength. There are a variety of things that can make it personal, andit can be a huge point or a small point.
! Hype: This one is used for the strongest antagonist’s and especially the big bad. A lot of the time it’s after the weaker opponents have been beaten. Those opponents were not pushover’s themselves, but they fear the other ones. This gives a sense of difference in power of the characters. The antagonist’s may be ranked as well to give hype (SS, Espada, etc.). The bigger hype is when the character has been built up over time.Blackbeard is being built up to be one of the final Antagonists of One Piece,by being able to wield two devil fruits, both really strong, as well as causinga number of major events to happen. Dio Brando (Part one for this discussion),spent his life causing turmoil for Jonathan, and was both smart and a physicalpower house. Over time these villains do different things that cause readers to wait for the day for their downfall.
! These are the major reasons that people get excited for fights. There are other reasons, but then this would go on much longer. If you think about those four points, they are almost non-existent for this arc. Powers aren’t interesting enough for any match-ups to be excited for, and even if there was the Kenpachi, As Nodt, and Mask fight show how any potential there could be is wasted. These characters, both protagonists and antagonists, have no personalities showing, except good ol Ikkaku, which the rest just have these bored expressions. This is also true for the fight that will ensue up in the Royal Realm. No interesting personalities, no reason’s (except for Ishida, but it’s not been played well), and their abilities are either uninteresting or non-existent. There is nothing to excite readers for anything to happen now or later. None of the Quincy seem to actually have a personal grudge against SS, seeing as none of them were around when the Quincy were wiped out. Worse yet, the numbers are not in the antagonists favor, and they don’t seem to have the power to take on SS. There’s 8 Quincies against 6 Shinigami, which all of them will be beaten. Even if they get back up from Chad and Orohime, the odds are still against them.There will be the three up in the Royal Realm, and maybe three left below? SS still has Mayuri, Ukitake, Shunsui, Three Fullbringers, Ganju, Uruhara,Yoroichi, Other Vizards, Grimjow (supposedly), Isshin, as well as the RG. There is no tension at this point, and if Juhabach takes them all out we are at another Aizen villain of absurdness, which at this point I would welcome because at least it will be so bad it’s good again, instead of dull badness that some people (One Manga posters) will type paragraphs of why everything is symbolic and how the panels depict everything so well, and a bunch of other crap.
! So what does all this text come down to? It shows that Kubo has not done the necessary work to make this arc effective. I’ve heard this is the arc that all he’s wrote has been working towards, but both previous arcs, and this one, have made anything he wants to be taken seriously not work.Lack of characterization makes readers not care for Ishida leaving, or for thereactions everyone is having. There is no reason for people to look forward to the fights now, or later, because there is no reason for any of these characters to be fighting in the grand scheme of things. Worst of all, for it being the final arc and a war that’s supposed to have deep roots and meaning for both sides, there is no tension and we have not even a bit of information of why this is happening. The readers don’t need to know everything, but with lack of characterization, we need something to make us remotely interested. Very few readers actually try to take things and make up their own theories. Over two years into the arc and we have nothing. Time has passed for you Kubo, there is no way that you can make this arc remotely good. You can do the whole Deicide stuff again (with your titles, looks like it’s going that way). Chapters on their own can be good, but everything together will not make this arc bad. If you make it good in the end somehow I will gladly eat my words.