Okay, I'm already aware that there are umpteen different blogs in which people review chapters and episodes and such, and I don't think I really need to add another such blog to that. This isn't going to be a week-by-week thing, me talking about chapters like this. I don't plan on doing this all the time. But I think this chapter warrants further discussion, for a few different reasons. Primarily because I thought it was horrible. I've been reading new chapters as they come out since The Blazing Glaciers, and this is the first chapter I've read in that time that I walked away from feeling disappointed. Really and truly disappointed. It's important for me to pinpoint why I feel that way, though. So let's talk about this. Lemme try to figure this mess of a chapter out. And in talking about this chapter, I think I'm probably going to be examining the arc on the whole, and how it now appears to be very close to its end, if it's not already essentially over.
I think the main reason I found this chapter so disappointing is that it feels extremely rushed. I wasn't (and still am not) sure what the current release schedule for Bleach is; I had thought new chapters come out around Wednesday, but I was told there would be no new chapter last week. I was surprised when I saw this chapter out on Sunday. And the impression I got from this chapter was that it was written in an extremely shortened period of time. I mean, I'm sure it wasn't, but it felt so rushed. It felt like the content of two or three chapters squeezed into just one. If the content of this chapter actually had been stretched out over the course of two or three, I think it would've been much better. I often complain that Bleach's pacing is too slow, but this is a ridiculous opposite extreme. Furthermore, the developments that this chapter made were supposed to be towards wrapping this arc up, but none of the "conclusions" in this chapter were satisfying in the slightest.
Kugo being dead seems like the biggest misstep to me. I'm not saying he necessarily should have lived, but at the very least, his fight with Ichigo should've been something more. To say it was anticlimactic is an understatement; it was a downright flop. The fight had no tension, no sense of climax, and it was over in a flash. There was an opportunity to, at the very least, explore Kugo and Tsukishima's past, but that opportunity was abandoned in favor of wrapping things up with the two characters as soon as possible. This chapter really and truly comes off, to me, as someone having said to Kubo "okay, we need this arc to be over as soon as you possibly can." All the things Kubo hinted that he was going to explore went completely untouched. Kugo and Tsukishima's past wasn't touched on at all. Even the Fullbringers' pasts were all condensed into a single, exposition-filled chapter. Don't get me wrong, I liked Pray for Predators 2; I liked the look we got into the Fullbringers' lives. But there was so much potential to have this arc become something epic. Even if it couldn't become something epic, it could've at least been something better.
I feel as though this arc could've had a great, satisfying ending. Moe could've actually come to question his relationship with Tsukishima; he instead just ignored all of Ikkaku's words. The Gotei 13's fights with the Fullbringers could've been much longer and more interesting; they all ended ridiculously quickly, particularly Kenpachi's and Renji's, and none of them were very entertaining to watch. The pasts of the Fullbringers could've been explored in-depth; they were instead crammed into a single chapter, as if to get them out of the way. Kugo and Tsukishima's history could've been explored at all; it was hinted at but then never examined. What I'm saying is that all of Bleach's plot developments in the past however-long-it's-been seem to have all been made for the sake of ending this arc ASAP, and this shows particularly in the latest chapter. What makes this so tragic is that this arc could have been just as good as the arcs before it, if not better. I really believe that. But it wasn't, and I really think it's because Kubo just started to wrap things up too soon and he didn't give the arc the attention it really needed. I don't know why Kubo chose to start wrapping things up preemptively, but he did, and to me, that ruined the Lost Substitute Shinigami arc. It's possible that we'll get explanations to some things in whatever arc comes next, but to me, this arc was a failure. It was a failure not because of its content, but because of its sloppy execution. Pun not intended, but relevent nonetheless.
So tell me your thoughts on this mad ramble. Do you agree that the arc felt rushed? Or did you enjoy the pacing of the whole thing? Do you, like me, wish the arc had been explored a little more in-depth? Or are you glad that it's out of the way to make room for something new? Tell me your opinions; I always love hearing different opinions.