See that? That’s what I meant about subtitles. That’s actually cool, unlike Today in Reality Avoidance 2, Today in Reality Avoidance 3, Today in Reality Avoidance 28…
-Some nitpicks priorities to get out of the way here: Chad, Orihime, and anyone else who might have developed Fullbring by this point should definitely get upgrades, there’s absolutely no reason for them not to. Ichigo’s Fullbring should look more like his Inner Hollow/Arrancar form, and the Inner Hollow should awaken and conflict with him, since his residual Hollow spirit energy was supposed to be what gave him Fullbring. And I’m still unclear about the whole “shinigami can take Fullbring powers”…it was shown later that Fullbringers can share their powers, and that’s cool, and the thing about shinigami taking them could just be a lie Xcution told, but I’d like it clarified. Though this could still be a way for Ichigo to get his shinigami powers back—Zangetsu and his Inner Hollow have repeatedly been shown as being linked, so learning a new way to tap his Hollow powers would lead to tapping his shinigami powers as well.
-As for relation to other arcs: there was some foreshadowing that there was a previous Substitute Shinigami and that it might not’ve gone too well, but I love foreshadowing so I’d like to insert a few more hints. Probably involving Urahara and the Vizard, maybe during the Turn Back the Pendulum mini-arc. I think it’d also be a good idea to put in some kind of connection to the Soul King or Squad Zero, since that’s supposed to be a major myth arc in the series and the Fullbring arc doesn’t have even a single mention to it. As for the specifics…eh, who knows.
-So, should the setup of this arc be changed to get us out of Karakura Town? For the sake of argument, let’s say yes. Xcution might typically operate in some relatively distant location and only recently made its entrance into Karakura, probably making contact with Chad first before getting in touch with Ichigo. I think I’d like the team pretending to be good to be smaller, probably just Ginjo, Yukio (the kid with the PSP), and Riruka (the tsundere). As Ichigo develops his Fullbring, Tsukishima would show up and mess with someone’s memories before vanishing, and then Ichigo would demand they go after him. The other Fullbringers would be on Tsukishima’s side, giving us more opportunity for battles as we pursue him—this could lengthen the arc a little, but hopefully not to the point it becomes exhausting.
-We really need more on Ginjo. What were the circumstances that led to him becoming a Substitute Shinigami? What are the details on his time as one? If he has some Hollow in him, what’s the story on that? What was his zanpakuto, and where is it now? (Well, in this version I’d probably make it so he still has it/gets it back.) I believe he wanted revenge on Soul Society, but why, exactly? And that point has a lot of potential: since Ichigo fought against them as well and might have continued to have some problems with them, they could get into a discussion about what they agree on where their views differ exactly, and the shinigami arriving to restore Ichigo’s powers is a great way of showing that the Soul Society has begun to change for the better and that Ichigo’s way of working with them is more effective than Ginjo’s bid for revenge. There are some things I really do like about this fight, and I would love to see them driven home a little more.
-As for Ichigo and Zangetsu’s appearance being a little different as a result of the traces of Fullbring, I honestly like that. It gave a nice upgrade to Ichigo’s classic look in preparation of the new story that still lay ahead. That, I want to keep the same.
-Come to think of it, this arc had a scene where one of Ichigo’s sisters was at Urahara’s shop stocking up on Hollow-fighting necessities. That never went anywhere. It could be neat if one or both of them got more involved, potentially even developing a Fullbring or something and earning a place in the final arc.
Thousand Year…er, the final arc:
-It may sound harsh, but I want to completely redo this. Okay, where to start…
-Quincies as the final opponent can work. It can. But I strongly feel that it needs to be done differently. (I’m sure I’ve ranted about why I don’t feel the canon version worked so I’ll skip that part.) Here’s what I propose: the most powerful Quincy (who has a pronounceable name and looks nothing like Zangetsu) fought Yamamoto ages ago and was killed. How does he get back in this arc? Well, since ###### was only mentioned once (barring the fourth movie), let’s say that King Quincy manages to escape from ###### to add a little variety and a sense of completion to our exploration of the structure of Bleach’s world. To take his revenge on Soul Society for killing him and wiping out his people, he has refined the ability to restore Quincy powers (like what happened to Uryu post-Soul Society) into an ability to potentially grant Quincy powers to ordinary humans, with a chance that it might just kill them (in the same vein as how Rukia initially stated creating a Substitute Shinigami works). He gathers and trains a Quincy army in secret, waiting for the opportunity to strike.
-Since this training has to involve killing Hollows, this creates an imbalance that Soul Society takes notice of. Not knowing about this new threat, the prime suspect is obviously Uryu, bringing the tension that I mentioned before to a head and probably leading to Uryu vanishing for a while. We were all expecting Uryu joining his brethren to happen, and I will admit to being legitimately happy when he revealed it was all a ruse, but I think this could be a lot more meaningful if Uryu was genuinely torn. Sure he cares about his friends, but they’re continuing to work with an organization that wiped out his people and clearly will always have the idea of doing the same to him in the back of their mind. I want this to lead to him killing Kurotsuchi (I want that abomination dead and gone) and having an intense duel with Ichigo, which was promised in the mini-arc that introduced Uryu but never went anywhere. It doesn’t necessarily need a victor, but obviously I want it to end with Uryu turning against the Quincies.
-The bit about Yamamoto ordering several souls to be “killed” to maintain balance is interesting, but I want Ichigo to learn about it and be outraged. His battle against the rigidity and flaws of Soul Society could get a more final resolution, and this is the perfect lead-in to it.
-By the way, Icihgo’s mother was not a Quincy. She certainly should have had great spiritual potential, maybe seeing ghosts like Ichigo did at first, or possibly being a Fullbringer—heck, I think it’d be interesting if she had also been a Substitute Shinigami for a time. Maybe she and Isshin met under similar circumstances to Ichigo and Rukia, but Masaki naturally lost her power since that’s the way the process is supposed to work. But her being a Quincy, Aizen attacking her with a super Hollow, Ichigo being a mix of literally everything…I don’t think any of that is necessary. As an extension of this, no Quincy powers for Ichigo, Zangetsu is Zangetsu and doesn’t get reforged (I like dual-wielding but c’mon, its appearance just changed, it’s too soon), and Ichigo’s Inner Hollow is what we initially thought it was: a byproduct of how Urahara restored his shinigami powers in preparation for Soul Society.
-Another big problem I had with this arc was that the Quincies functioned identically to Arrancar. I’d prefer they actually stuck with bows, or at least mostly projectile weaponry—I remember one of them had a sniper rifle, that was a good idea. Giving them all extra powers is fine, though perhaps more of them should center around their arrows, and the super mode…I don’t know. I do love power-up transformations, but this was the main thing that made them seem like Arrancar clones, so maybe if there was a different way to modify the ultimate release of Quincy power it would feel a little fresher.
-The bankai medallions are an interesting idea. As a potential tweak, while bankai must be active for the medallions to be used (since it brings the zanpakuto spirit into the real world), they could absorb the spirit entirely, leaving the shinigami with an empty, powerless sword while the Quincy integrates the zanpakuto’s powers into their own. Maybe this could be their main powerup? Urahara’s solution of lacing the spirits with Hollow reiatsu would still work (and be the reason why Ichigo and the Vizards’ zanpakuto spirits can’t be stolen), but might be saved for a little later. The shinigami would need to learn some different abilities in order to keep fighting, which would help to keep things more interesting.
-Speaking of zanpakuto, between the Fake Karakura Town arc and this one, I’d really want to show off everyone’s zanpakuto and the bankai of everyone who has one. I’m still annoyed that certain characters who had bankai died before showing them, and that some people who must have zanpakuto were never seen with them. Yoruichi could draw her zanpakuto in her fight in this arc instead of getting that weird transformation, saying that she doesn’t use it because “against most opponents it makes fights too easy” or something cliché like that. Ukitake could show his bankai in a battle…and then get killed in that fight, rather than dying by suddenly revealing he has a god inside of him. That was just pointless.
-I do still like the idea of the Quincies attacking Soul Society. A bit more death here could be useful (I want Byakuya dead too, he annoys me and it could further motivate Rukia), and Squad One’s lieutenant could get a full fight where we see him die instead of being done in off-screen. The Yamamoto fight is good, and I don’t particularly mind the idea of the King Quincy he fights being a fake; really, my only point on that front is that since the real King Quincy steals Yamamoto’s zanpakuto spirit, he should actually use it. Still though, this set of battles shouldn’t take too long—a smaller set of Quincy generals would help with that—and even if Tensa Zangetsu does get broken, that silly bit about a broken bankai never regenerating doesn’t need to be a thing.
-Squad Zero would still show up and take some of the major characters to the Soul Palace, but the parts involving zanpakuto I’d like to change. We don’t really need to reforge any zanpakuto, so maybe the sword-maker has come up with a new way to enhance their abilities. My first idea would be a third released state, but that could seem a bit contrived, so maybe we should go for simpler enhancements, or additional zanpakuto-like weapons. (Maybe this is involved in the shinigami learning new abilities after losing their zanpakuto spirits.) Also, the shinigami who knows the name of everything just revealing the names of bankai is a bad idea—Renji having a different “true” bankai is pulled right out of thin air and I don’t approve, and…it’s not clear, but there’s a chance this was how Rukia got her bankai. If we still want to keep something like this, maybe the shinigami could offer to tell Rukia the name of her bankai to have her refuse and resolve to unlock it the correct way (or at least Urahara’s way), which she of course will still do in an upcoming battle. Beyond that, maybe we could provide everyone with a place where they can do some last-minute training.
-I’m not sure if I want Aizen involved here. Honestly it might be best to just leave him totally sealed and barely even mention him in this arc, and if he does show up, I definitely don’t think he should be up and about and even more powerful than before, since that makes no sense to me.
-Kyoraku taking over Squad One is cool. Oh, that reminds me of his lieutenant, and how instead of a regular zanpakuto she had a special one that had been passed down through her family that conveniently had the power to slay godly beings, which was revealed while they were fighting a godly being. That was bad. Let’s not do that.
-I go back and forth on whether or not I like what happened with Unohana and Zaraki. Let’s say we’ll leave it the way it is, though I would like someone to give a proper explanation of how Unohana’s bankai works. (Not Unohana herself, though. Her unnerving silence in this fight was definitely a good call.) As for Zaraki…I do like the way his zanpakuto looks in its “true shikai”, but I want to keep the idea of the constant-release zanpakuto, so even after he learns its name it won’t change forms. It could get a new ability, maybe a literal take on his “I can cut anything” that lets him slice through things he couldn’t normally slice through, or maybe a new special attack, but probably nothing fancy. I also don’t particularly like the idea of his lieutenant actually being his zanpakuto spirit (especially since she has her own zanpakuto), and I think it might be better if Zaraki never attained his bankai.
-I like the idea of Squad Zero opening the path to the Soul Palace and the Qunicies exploiting that, though I think Ichigo should stay at the Soul Palace and it shouldn’t be reconstructed by King Quincy. While everyone’s up there training, he could send some of his forces back to finish of Soul Society while he and his best generals make their way to the Soul Palace for the final battles. This is where Rukia can obtain her bankai and that Uryu vs Ichigo fight can happen. The fight between King Quincy and the shinigami who knows the name of everything was pretty cool, but since I don’t want King Quincy to have those “Almighty” powers that completely break the story, the conclusion of that battle might need some alteration. Perhaps the shinigami claims that he could take away King Quincy’s name and render him nothing but not actually get to do it, or one of his generals could be “erased” instead.
-As for the dead Fullbringers reappearing…we could do without it, but if they are in I’d like them to do a little more. I’m not sure what exactly, but a tease followed by a 200 chapter wait for a sudden “Here’s how you win” statement doesn’t really work for me. Same goes for Isshin and Ryuken.
-So…the final fight. King Quincy vs Ichigo. Like I said, no “Almighty” powers, so King Quincy would need something new. It would make sense if he had all the special abilities he granted to his generals, and again, I really want him to actually use Yamamoto’s zanpakuto spirit since he has it. I certainly don’t want this to be an easy fight, preferably it should involve at least a few of the major characters and really push them to their limits, and maybe the Soul King would have a close call for drama. (No need to kill him off, though.) In the end, though, the heroes will narrowly slay the villain, and Soul Society will begin the process of rebuilding—and perhaps reforming as something greater than it was.
-And the hotly-contested ending. Now I don’t give a flying fish about all this shipping nonsense, but if you want my honest opinion: I like that Ichigo and Rukia don’t end up Together ™. The idea of them being very close and caring deeply about each other without it necessarily being romantic is something that I really enjoy. Now, we don’t necessarily need a skip ahead to the future, and honestly I don’t have a whole lot that I’d really like to see in one. Maybe some more clarifications on where everyone ended up. I’m not sure about Ichigo inheriting the clinic—maybe instead he’d join law enforcement so he could continue fighting to protect people? I also wonder a bit about Chad being a boxer, but I don’t have any other suggestions so hey, okay. But I definitely approve of Rukia becoming the new Captain of Squad 13! That is one thing about the ending I absolutely love and have no notes on, aside from a scribbled in “That’s freakin rad” and a smiley face.
Something I should say: it is by far easier to alter something with the advantage of hindsight than to come up with and execute new ideas in real time, especially over the course of several years. I seriously doubt I’d do well running an original manga (my gosh, I would implode) and I’m impressed that Tite Kubo was able to do as well as he did, and definitely still glad that we got Bleach.
See, the reason I keep thinking about Bleach is because at one point Bleach was my favorite anime. I loved it so much, and I’ve always wanted to love it again. Unfortunately, I think it’s time for me to let go of that hope, but I wanted to try to turn my complaints into something more constructive. This is that.
Who knows, maybe Kubo will put out a new series sooner or later and it turns out really interesting! I’d like that.