A Fine-tooth Plot Comb vs Fan Dumb! An in-depth Bleach liveblog

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Reason vs. Instinct

Chapter 219: Black & White 3

They both use bankai, while out in the real world, Ichigo’s turning more hollow-like. The sudden twin bankai causes destruction in the inner world. Ichigo asks a stupid question, and gets the obvious answer. They fight. I’m not going to bother linking through the fight scene, the point is that Hichigo’s moves are more creative and risky, and he’s a hammier character. It’s been ten minutes in the real world, so another Visored changes places with Lisa. His name’s Kensei. Shinji reflects that it’s not going well, and indeed Ichigo seems to be losing. Hichigo grabs his opponent’s sword, and it dissolves under his touch.

Chapter 220: King and his Horse

Lisa’s worried; apparently hollowed out Ichigo is pretty tough. Kensei notices that he has regeneration, so he gets a little serious and blows Ichigo’s arm off, so- wait what? Don’t remember ‘that’ happening in the anime… well, anyway, Ichigo grows a big thing from the arm stump, which Kensei explodes, leaving just a hollow-like arm behind. Lisa, still worried, decides to kill Ichigo if it rounds over to her turn again. Ichigo’s pretty unsure as well, which, oddly enough, seems to annoy Hichigo. He makes a metaphor about a king and his horse. I would go over it in the analysis section, but I think most people can understand his point just by reading it, so here. The jist of it is that he sees himself, who fights through instinct, as stronger than Ichigo, who fights because he has to. He then runs Ichigo through, just for the added emphasis. He prepares to finish Ichigo so he can take over. But then, well, this happens.

Now, on to titles: ‘King & his horse’ is an obvious enough reference to Hichigo’s metaphor, nothing special there. ‘Black and White’, though. The previous two ‘Black and White’ chapters were both preceded by a ‘Dark side of the Universe’ chapter. ‘1’ was Hichigo’s first direct appearance, Zangetsu’s ‘test’ during the battle against Kenpachi. ‘2’ was the incident where Hichigo briefly took control during the battle against Byakuya. ‘Dark side of the Universe’ always referred to the suddenly appearance of Ichigo’s ‘dark’ side, ironically symbolized by the colour white, whereas ‘Black and White’ has always featured a conflict between the two. These three sets of two really define Hichigo’s character and motivations, and are similar occurrences, really. The key difference this time is that unlike Kenpachi and Byakuya, the Visored knew the affect pushing Ichigo to his limit would have.

Also at work here is the ‘reason vs. instinct’ duality that’s present in many places during the series, most obvious but also most irrelevant is Kenpachi vs. Tousen. Here we have Ichigo reason against Hichigo’s instinct, ‘1’ had Kenpachi’s instincts against Zangetsu’s (and by extension, Ichigo’s) reason, and ‘2’ had Byakuya reason against Hichigo’s (and by extension, Ichigo’s) instinct. Now, I want to claim that this duality is the same as the ‘shinigami vs hollow’ one, but I can’t, since there are two simple problems with that view: Kenpachi, always a force of instinct, is a shinigami, and Ulquiorra, always a force of reason, is a hollow. It’s a shame; since it works everywhere both dualities are applicable, but it just doesn’t work with those two. Even claiming that they’re meant to intentionally be the opposite what their side usually stands for doesn’t really make sense, there’s just no evidence for that anywhere beyond the fact that Ulquiorra’s initial introduction showed acting differently from most hollows, and the two characters have basically nothing else in common, as far as their roles in the story go.

Also, belated Fridge Brilliance tells me that this White and Black stuff was why the chapter where Hichigo prevents Ichigo from beating Yammy was called 'Ebony and Ivory'.