In lieu of my normal Wednesday blog, which would review the day's chapter, I thought I'd go over some of the things which have been introduced in this arc which you should keep in mind, and what we have to look forward to once the hiatus ends. Speaking of which, let's go to my first topic:
Kubo's wording of his hiatus announcement left some people confused, so I thought I'd clear something up. Kubo saying he will be planning out the final battle does not mean said battle will begin immediately after the hiatus ends. Remember, this arc is supposed to be twice as long as the Arrancar arc, and the final battle, while looking to last at least a year's worth of chapters, will not equate to double the Arrancar arc when combined with the chapters we already have. I liken it to planning out your winter vacation in the middle of summer: it won't be for quite a long time, but it's good to prepare in advance. In this case, Kubo planning out the final battle this far in advance means he won't have to think up crap on the spot, at least not nearly as much, and he can determine what will happen where, when, and how without having to cave in to the publishers. So really, this hiatus is a good thing.
Characters, Concepts, and Other Such Things
Now, in the outpouring of information about Unohana's true nature and Ichigo's new Shikai and Uryū being Yhwach's successor, it's easy and understandable to overlook some of the other things Kubo has revealed in this arc. This is a list of things you should keep in mind and expect to hear more about during the second half of the arc.
- Komamura has a great-grandfather who lives in Soul Society, though what part is not known, and they are part of a clan of animals which was in Soul Society long before the Shinigami showed up. They possess a secret technique unique to their clan, one which Komamura wishes to learn in order to compensate for not possessing his Bankai.
- Despite being all about light and the word holy, the Wandenreich has something going on with shadows. These shadows can:
1. Return a member to the HQ of their own volition, as evidenced with Ebern.
2. Be used to transport troops from the HQ to a member's location, as seen when Commander Gordon brought forth Soldat troops to attack the Shinigami.
3. Force a member to return to the HQ should they stay outside of it for too long, as proven when Yhwach was stopped mid-attack by a shadow in his shape.
Why these shadows appear, how they function, and why they are there is as of yet unknown.
- The Quincy: Vollständig of a Quincy has a name unique to each Quincy. Quilge's is named Biskiel (神の正義 (ビスキエル), Bisukieru; Japanese for "Justice of God") and Commander Gordon's is named Grimaniel (神の歩み (グリマニエル), gurimanieru; Japanese for "Walk of God"). Each one is unique in appearance and likely power, and it's likely each high-ranking Vandenreich member has one.
- Despite Uryū having gone to the enemy, we haven't heard anything from or about Ryūken.
- Ganju is training with the Fullbringers for the upcoming final battle, meaning we might get an explanation from Kūgo.
- Poor Izuru is still MIA.
- Mayuri is being a devious scientist as usual, and is working on something in his lab with Nemu's help.
- While Urahara is analyzing Quilge's medallion, Orihime and Sado are also training for the final battle.
- We still don't know how the other captains are reacting to Shunsui's promotion, and there hasn't been a proper funeral for Yamamoto.
- We still have no idea where the Vandenreich HQ is - it could be in another dimension, in another part of Hueco Mundo, or on the dark side of the moon for all we know.
- Kenpachi knows the name of his Zanpakutō. Does this mean he will attain Bankai? No; he doesn't have anywhere near the years of communication required. Does this mean he will be a far more powerful and valuable combatant? Yes.
- Hisagi's training to achieve Bankai, Suì-Fēng is doing one-handed push-ups on a mountain peak, and Hitsugaya's relearning Zanjutsu from the bottom up - all in order to win against the Vandenreich.
- Despite Ichigo now wielding his actual Zanpakutō, he considers his Quincy powers to be part of it. Whether this holds any significance beyond him accepting his Quincy heritage is unknown.
- The Quincy can use spells similar to the Shinigami's Kidō, the notable and sole example of this being Kirchenlied: Sankt Zwinger. This means there is a whole other combat form aside from Spirit Weapons and Heilig Pfeil which the Quincy can fight with.
- Much like the Zanpakutō of the Arrancar, the epithets of the Stern Ritter have meanings in both German and Japanese, due to Kubo using both kanji and katakana for them.
- We still don't know who the mystery person with Urahara and co. is (although we totally do), but they're still with them, since Sado had two people standing behind him in chapter 544.
- Harribel is still imprisoned in the Vandenreich HQ.
- It seems Arrancar-turned/made-Quincy must use a chant similar to that of a Kidō spell in order to use a Vandenreich medallion. The reason behind this is unknown.
- We still know next to nothing about how/why Yhwach became a Quincy, and why Yamamoto fought him in the first place.
- Yhwach is able to bestow powers upon Vandenreich members. How he does this is unknown.
If you recall, Kubo revealed many plot points he intends to incorporate in this arc in a series of interviews which were conducted prior to the arc's beginning. Since then, many of the things he has mentioned have been resolved/shown, and still others have yet to be mentioned. Here's what you've seen and what you can expect.
Resolved Plot Points
- Unohana will fight in the upcoming arc - indeed she did, in her battle with Kenpachi.
- The true form of her Zanpakutō will be seen - we've seen her Bankai, though in a very controversially rushed manner.
- When she fights, she unravels her braid - that she does, and also gets a serial killer face.
- He has not learned the name of his Zanpakutō yet - but now he has, as a result of his fight with Unohana.
- His past with Ryūken will be revealed - indeed it has.
- Isshin could not go to Soul Society with Urahara because it would reveal something to the Gotei 13 and thus did not go - he left without warning and as far as they know, he's dead.
- Aizen commented that since Ichigo's birth, he has been an extraordinary being, the meaning behind this will be revealed - Ichigo has Shinigami powers and Quincy powers, and is the son of a pure-blooded Quincy. Very extraordinary.
- The reason why Ichigo looks so similar to Kaien will come out - Isshin, Ichigo's father, is a Shiba like Kaien.
- Ichigo and Isshin believe that Masaki died to Grand Fisher, however this may not be true. The truth will be revealed - while technically she still died to Grand Fisher, she died because Yhwach stole her powers, and would have died anyway because every Quincy who had their powers stolen by Auswählen died.
- Mayuri's research will be the key to this arc. Specifically, his study on bodies will be the main part of this arc - well, I dunno about "main" at this point in time, but hot damn has that discovery of Szayel's lab come to fruition.
- His Bankai has changed - indeed it has, as Renji learned its true name: Sōō Zabimaru.
- The fate of Hiyori will be revealed - she's alive and well.
- What became of the other Visored will be revealed - Mashiro is now Kensei's "super lieutenant", and the other Visored who aren't in the Gotei 13 are still in the Human World.
- The Royal Guard will appear - and they have.
- Kubo says the Soul Society Arc was about Rukia, Arrancar arc was about Orihime and Lost Substitute Arc was about Sado. Based on this, the new arc will likely be about Uryū - Uryū's definitely playing a role thus far.
- Grimmjow is alive and might become a friend - like I said, we all know who's with Urahara and co.
- Nel will likely return - and has done so while tackling poor Ichigo once more.
- The Soul King will be revealed - and he looks very odd.
- The threat in this arc will be so great that it will force the Royal Guard out and be something they have never faced before - namely Quincy.
- The new villains have the ability to complete erase a Hollow from existence - because they are Quincy.
- The new villains have been killing Hollows in mass - the Shutara scale's off the charts, apparently.
- Mayuri knows what is going on - he always does, and has proven this in the various captains' meetings.
Unresolved Plot Points
- Kubo says he feels his Bankai would be a little nauseating.
- Kubo would like to draw how Shinji and Momo have developed a trusting relationship.
- The "history" of his pink haori will be revealed.
- He will use Bankai in this arc.
- His Bankai has been completed.
- Rangiku's past will be a key to the story.
- Kubo said if he gives a lieutenant a Bankai, he thinks Yumichika would be a good choice.
- He has several different "faces" which he could put on at any time.
- Ukitake is still ill.
- He will recover.
- Kubo plans on drawing flashbacks of when she was made a Lieutenant and how she felt.
- Her secret past with Urahara will be revealed.
- Grand Fisher called Ichigo a true blood, the meaning of this will be revealed.
- Aizen will return.
- Everyone's bloodlines will be revealed.
- The villains in this arc are few in number but their numbers will increase.
- Everyone's past will become important.
Well there you have it. Bleach still has a hell of a lot of stuff left to cover, and Kubo isn't going to feasibly or properly cover it in 30 chapters. We've got quite a lot to look forward to. If I missed anything or there's something else you think is worth remembering, feel free to let me know and I'll see if it can be added to the list.