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Song to listen to while reading this chapter: "Don't Fear The Reaper" by Blue Oyster Cult
Being honest, I thought this was gonna be an average chapter at best...right until I read the last page. Oh goodness me.
So we start off with more Schoolgirl vs. Yhwach, who expands on his "I'm ur dad lol" schtick from last week with a declaration that Ichigo's power belongs to him, so he should just expend it all and die, but not before they enjoy this fight. One thing that's worth noting from this exchange, though, is the panels of rain in the first few pages; at first, I wasn't sure why they were there, but after re-reading I'm 100% positive they're meant to represent Ichigo flashing back to his mother's death, likely because of hos callously Yhwach dismissed it as being necessary and Masaki herself as being useless otherwise. Really good visual storytelling on Kubo's part, especially with the rain motif he's given Ichigo. Anyhoo, cut to the Gerard battle, where Byakuya has to save Rukia and Renji in a hilariously deadpan way as Gerard nearly pimpsmacks them out of existence. Following this, Byakuya tells them to go join Ichigo's fight not because Ichigo needs them (apparently he's on Yhwach's level as it stands) but because he doesn't need them (callback to his fight with Yammy) as he proceeds to block Gerard's second strike with his Bankai.
Rukia and Renji do just that, but not before thanking Byakuya for his candor (c'mon MS, "honesty" would've been fine there). As Byakuya joins him, Hotsugaya notes that Rukia and Renji didn't believe that at all and instead realized that Byakuya was concerned for their safety, only for Byakuya to claim that their seeing through his words was all part of his keikaku. Interestingly, Hotsugaya goes on to explain how the Shin'o Academy teaches his students to fight not for their families and superiors, but for their friends and for humans - making Rukia and Renji better candidates for the job of assisting Ichigo because they're his close friends. Cut to Haschwalth, who's monologuing about people being created by their experiences being placed on a scale or something to that effect. Totally not The Balance, oh no sirree. To this end, he claims Uryū hasn't shown his true self yet, but Uryū just says that he won't know for sure either until they're all dead as he forms yet another new bow with four prongs. And finally, proving that Gerard really does work miracles, we end with the revelation that Isshin and Ryūken, two of the most long-awaited combatants in this war, have finally made their way to Wahrwelt via one of the portals. Apparently, Sōken used it decades ago to escape after his exile (was this brought up before? I don't think so), but who even cares it's BEST DAD COMBO TIME
Overall, gewd chapter this week. For a bit there I was wondering if anything significant other than Rukia and Renji going to help Ichigo was gonna happen, but by god that last page was well worth it. I'm guessing Isshin's gonna join the Gerard brigade while Ryūken helps his son, but I'd be down for the reverse happening because it could work both ways. Hype is real.
Oh, and if anyone cares, Yhwach's rant from last week makes more sense in the Viz version, where he's not claiming to be Ichigo's real father and to have given birth to him - instead, he's saying Isshin stood in for him and that Masaki gave birth to him and died because that was all she was good for. Still scumbag things to say, but far less confusing. Way to go Stream, liberal translations are soooooooooo good right?