Yup, usual routine again. Much as I'd like to stay up and read the chapter, I think tomorrow would be a good day to be coherent and not be ready to nod off at any moment, so I'll post the full review and start the usual cleanup when I get home tomorrow.
However, until then, I leave you with this: http://i1372.photobucket.com/albums/ag335/Xilinoc/YhwachsStarRocketHeadbutt_zps46a6de08.png
Song to listen to while reading this chapter: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bg92QpjRcJk&list=PLFB4B8FACC881FB7E&index=18
Well, hot diggity DAMN.
First off, that panel of Äs leaning over like that is simultaneously amusing and creepy. Also, I really like his little speech on what fear is. It's kinda like what Aizen spieled about to Shinji during the FKT arc, except more legit, at least in my eyes. Äs having a personal philosophy defined by fear was established during the first (second?) invasion, but this really cements it.
And then, the meat of the chapter: the true power of Rukia's Zanpakutō. When she first said "now you'll see the real Sode no Shirayuki", I was half-afraid that meant a Bankai, but thankfully Kubo's done it again: Sode no Shirayuki actually controls temperature instead of just generating ice in one of three or four ways. This, in my opinion, was a great way to go with making Rukia stronger without giving her a Bankai, and fits in well with the theme of discovering the true extent of one's power that permeates this arc. Also, what Rukia does with this power - namely making herself temporarily dead and lowering the temperature to ABSOLUTE GODDAMN ZERO - is something I have NEVER heard of or seen done in another series, at least not in this way. Props to Kubo for keeping this interesting AND unique.
Also, I'm guessing next chapter will have Äs either go Vollständig or die, namely because that ending bit with him suggests one of two things happening: Äs telling himself his fear is ABSOLUTE and powering up in anger, or just dying while soliloquizing in a manner similar to what Szayelaporro did during his centuries-long death. I hope it's the former of the two, to be honest: Äs is kind of interesting to me, and his Vollständig would probably be personalized like Mask's, e.g. having wings shaped like that of a fly or bat.
Two things to note:
- In the Zanpakutō arc of the anime, this true power of Sode no Shirayuki may have been hinted at a little: Sode no Shirayuki literally froze the grass around her solid as soon as she touched it when entering the Human World, much like what Rukia described her new ability as.
- Rukia being able to reduce the temperature to absolute zero doesn't really mean her Zanpakutō is stronger than Hitsugaya's, aka the proclaimed strongest ice-type in all of Soul Society. While it is a pretty strong ability, Rukia can only use it for 4 seconds; meanwhile, Hitsugaya can control THE WEATHER indefinitely. That's pretty strong.
Anyway, good chapter, good show. We got to see Äs's personality being reaffirmed and expanded a little bit, and we got one HELL of an awesome power-up with Rukia.
(also, Yhwach's Star Rocket Headbutt is a thing now)