The epic backstory of Ichigo’s origin continues with the release of Bleach 534: Everything But The Rain Op. 7.
The chapter starts with Masaki returning home to the household of the Quincies after a day at school. She is welcomed home by Ryuken, who seems happy to have Masaki remain oblivious to the fact that he saw her encounter with the Hollow from last chapter. Despite what would seem a peaceful return, Masaki is suddenly confronted by her auntie (Ryuken’s mother), who is well-aware of the going-ons between Isshin, The Hollow and Masaki herself, claiming also to have proof.
Absolutely furious, Ryuken rushes off to confront Katagiri, the only other witness of the confrontation, besides himself. All the while, Masaki is scolded by her aunt for her ‘shameful’ actions.
Upon finding Katagiri, Ryuken pins her against the wall and screams at her, confused as to why Katagiri felt the need to tell anyone.
Naturally, Katagiri is taken aback with this and exclaims that she had no choice, as there was ‘an issue’. Masaki was injured by the Hollow and requires Quincy healing to ensure the bloodline remains pure; something Ryuken was extremely adamant about previously.
If the feelings Katagiri has towards Ryuken – as well as the feelings Ryuken evidently has for Masaki – weren’t apparent to some readers already, they were certainly made clear in this part of the chapter. The importance of conserving the Quincy bloodline is evidently not the number one concern of Ryuken.
Ryuken then rushes back to Masaki and tries to defend her, but before there’s time for any kind of reaction, Masaki collapses.
Upon closer inspection of Masaki, a hole in her chest becomes apparent – reminiscent of a Hollow hole.
Ryuken asks his mother where his father is. Ryuken’s mother says she’s been trying to get in contact with him but can’t. Before anything else can be done, Ryuken rushes out the door with Masaki in his arms.
Ryuken scolds himself for not having intervened and coming to Masaki’s rescue previously, but all that is cut short when he is suddenly ambushed by a large Hollow.
Luckily, Isshin was around and slashed the Hollow in two, saving Ryuken and Masaki.
After some typically jesting words from Isshin, he suddenly notices who it is that Ryuken is carrying and rushes over to see. Ryuken quickly yells to Isshin not to touch her, explaining that it is Isshin’s fault that Masaki is now in such bad shape, as she sustained her injuries in saving him.
Ryuken is soon interrupted by the familiar (to us, at least) face of Urahara, who encourages them to stop arguing and to go with him if they want to save Masaki.
“I’ll tell you the two possible ways… to save that girl” (translation varies from manga to manga)
Like I said in my last recap, we’re constantly reminded of Urahara’s place in the series. Urahara went from being a humble shop owner in Karakura town, to what he is now: a man with such huge influence on the story.
Considering the arc the manga is now up to, and it’s emphasis on the Quincies, I think this chapter has done well in showing the backstories of both Isshin and Ryuken. A lot is still yet to be discovered, and what’s especially intriguing is the love-triangle that is seemingly apparent between Isshin, Ryuken and Masaki. Why is it that she eventually chose Isshin, I wonder?
If I’m correct in this assumption; we should soon find out why it is Isshin no longer resides in Soul Society. We know roughly already as to the reasoning behind this, but it will be fantastic to finally get the finer details established.
And what does this all mean for Ichigo? Ichigo has – some would say far too many – powers and transformations in the series, and with the emergence of the news of his mother’s origins, we may see him reach an even higher plane of existence yet.
With the death of Captain Commander Yamamoto, the strange yet brief influence of Aizen still lingering, and the large army of thieving Quincies, it seems to be up to Ichigo (once again) to win against all odds.