“Sorry I am Strong”
Bleach’s final arc rolls on as Volume 66 begins with the rather random battle between the Shinigami (a.k.a. Soul Reapers, for those who didn’t watch the series in Japanese first) and the Quincy Wandenreich.
At the end of the last volume it was revealed that Captain Hitsugaya was now a zombie under the control of Quincy Sternritter Z: “The Zombie” Giselle Gewelle (I wish the Quincy would have more normal names…) and he soon gets to work on some lower ranked officers before turning his blank expression towards Squad 12 Captain Mayuri Kurotsuchi. Anyone who’s been following the series will know that Mayuri is your classic mad scientist, and pretty much all his “fights” end up in his favour due to some really crazy, near-fourth-wall-breaking invention of his, and this is no different. I won’t spoil it, though. Weird Mayuri panels are some of the more fun things to see in Bleach.
The story then shifts over to Squad 6 Captain Byakuya Kuchiki, who has off-panel defeated several Sternritters, one of my biggest criticisms of Tite Kubo’s writing. Among the already defeated is long featured and teased … ahem, Sternritter U: “The Underbelly” NaNaNa Najahkoop (yes… that’s his name) and Sternritter N: “What the N stands for is never actually revealed” Robert Accutrone, the man who took Kyoraku’s eye in the previous battle. The fact that these previously thought to be important characters were off-panelled is very unsatisfying. All the more so when Byakuya’s opponent for the next few chapters is Sternritter L: “The Love” PePe Waccabrada, a gag character who’s power is almost exactly the same as Zommari, the opponent Byakuya faced in the Arrancar arc. PePe’s “love” can gain him control over anything that has a soul.
The fight is soon over, and we switch to the Royal Realm for the last third of the book. Wandenreich leader and Sternritter A: “The Almighty” Yhwach is attacked by several of the Royal Guards, a.k.a. Squad Zero, and soon counters them by revealing his own royal guard. This leads to some powers revealed for the whole-series-long-hyped Squad Zero. Oh, and there is also a chapter that calls back to the Soul Society arc as Ichigo and his friends blast off towards the Royal Realm. Like always the book ends on a cliffhanger, though this time it’s not as big as Volume 65’s shocker.
So how can I sum up this book? Well, you’ll be glad to know that the art, as usual, is great. Everyone is in-frame, correctly proportioned and the fight scenes are well drawn, with clear strikes, dodges and never lets you get confused between panels. The character designs for some of the new Sternritter are good and unique, for the most part. The problem with Volume 66 is the clear sign that Kubo feels rushed, the characters he’s spent the previous few volumes making seem important are mostly defeated by a single person without you knowing what happened. A lot of anticipation snuffed out. Not to mention as a side effect of having to have the lead villains of the arc seem powerful, Squad Zero, after a long, long, LONG tease, aren’t very successful in their one opportunity to fight.
All is not lost, but this volume does have some issues that can make it feel unsatisfactory.