Thursday, January 16, 2014

Bleach 564 Review – “Red Bristled Kings”

Bleach 564 Review – “Red Bristled Kings”
Written by: ClayDragon

And we’re back!

In response to Renji unveiling his new Bankai, Mask decides to fire a huge energy beam at him, which has the side-effect of killing James as well. Despite having killed his fanboy, Mask is unfazed as he reasons that James can be reborn as long as he (Mask) is still alive. As the smoke begins to clear, Mask notices the skull of a snake appear, and wonders if Renji activated his Bankai just before he died.

Yeah, that's a very nice picture, but why Rukia? She wasn't even in this chapter!
Despite not having seen Renji’s original Bankai, Mask realises that its appearance has changed. Back when Renji and Rukia were training with Squad Zero, Ichibei reveals that the name of Renji’s Bankai, Hihiou Zabimaru, is a lie. Or, to be more accurate, it’s only half of the name. It turns out that Renji’s Zanpakuto doesn’t fully trust him, and so only taught him half of its name. Ichibei decides to tell Renji its real name, and it’s revealed that Ichibei chose the name ‘Zanpakuto’, as well as the terms ‘Shikai’ and ‘Bankai’.

*Insert cake-related joke here*

It even turns out that he chose the names of all things in the Soul Society, and implicitly knows the names of every Zanpakuto from the moment they’re created. Deciding that Renji has become powerful enough, he decides to reveal Hihiou Zabimaru’s full name. Back in the present, the smoke has cleared enough for us to see Renji’s new Bankai, which is called Souou Zabimaru. Since he’s been able to survive every attack thrown at him, Mask decides that Renji cannot be allowed to live, and flies down to confront him.

Yeah, very dramatic and all, but he's only telling Renji a name.

Before Mask can reach him, Renji throws his fur cape at him, and a skeletal arm appears from it to grab Mask in mid-air. However, he manages to evade it at the last minute, but his arm gets caught in between the fingers, causing it to bend at what looks like a rather painful angle. Using this opportunity, Renji manipulates the arm to throw Mask into a nearby building.

On a completely different note, I just realised that the image on his mask changes.

Slightly annoyed at the recent turn of events, Mask declares to Renji that he’ll kill him. Before he can do much more, Renji flies towards him and impales him on his blade. At this point, a massive snake jaw made of Reishi surrounds Mask and bites down on him. Within an instant, all that’s left of him is a Mask-shaped pile of ashes, which begins to break down as Renji watches.

I'm picking up on the slightest hint of annoyance.

At first, the logic behind Renji’s new Bankai was a bit annoying, as there had never been any hint before that Hihiou Zabimaru wasn’t Renji’s true Bankai. After thinking about it for a while though, it makes a bit more sense for two reasons. Firstly, a similar thing happened with Yumichika, in that he called his Zanpakuto by a different name in order to limit its power and its true nature. Secondly, Renji has never won a fight in which he used his Bankai, which would make sense considering he didn’t know its full name.

Too bad he killed James, he might have been able to heal from that one.

Strangely, Ichibei went ahead and told Renji Zabimaru’s true name without asking Zabimaru itself. Maybe he discussed it with Renji’s Zanpakuto offscreen, but it seems a little odd that he’d do something like that. Given that Zabimaru hadn’t told Renji its name by its own volition, surely it still doesn’t fully trust Renji. So does that mean that Renji is using his Bankai without the permission of his Zanpakuto? And if so, is Souou Zabimaru not as powerful as it would be if it and Renji were working in harmony?

Now that the fight with Mask is over, we’re probably going to move over to some other fight now. Personally, I hope that As Nodt appears soon, simply because his appearance will most likely mean that Byakuya will turn up again (preferably with a new power-up). In fact, since Byakuya has been up with Squad Zero for the entirety of the battle, As Nodt is now the only Quincy that still has access to a Bankai, so Byakuya will need either a new ability or one of the pills that Urahara made. Food for thought.

Good Things:         The fight with Mask is finally over.

                                Renji’s new Bankai is much cooler than his old one.

                                James is finally dead. Forever.

Bad Things:           One of the most amusing Quincies has been killed.

                               Ikkaku, Yumichika and Shuhei did pretty much nothing during the entire fight.


Manga Rating:   3/5

ClayDragon is currently studying Physics at university, and is constantly bewildered by it. The main method of contacting him is his Gmail account at The alternative is his Skype account at kyleroulston1993. When not playing games or reading, he can be found with his head in his hands whilst trying in vain to understand quantum physics. Did you miss me?

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