Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Bleach: Aizen Says "Let's Begin"

Lord Aizen Sosuke


Aizen (center), Gin (left), Tousen (right) [Yes Tousen is Black]
So we find in Bleach Episode #284 that we have Lord Aizen Sosuke walk up to Arancar #3 Tia Harribel (ティア・ハリベル, Tia Hariberu), the only female Espada, and slash her across the stomach with his sword, ending her life.  But, of course this is anime, and we must do a complete background story on Harribel, which covers the entire episode.  So let's talk about the episode a bit and Harribel, more specifically.


Harribel, Tia

[ I find it amazing that white people in America, and the animators, all draw Harribel as a white woman.  While that might not seem amazing to you at first glance, let me show you her real description. ]



Harribel has dark skin, green eyes, blonde eyelashes, and messy short blond hair which has three braided locks. She wears a variation of the Arrancar jacket that covers the lower part of her face downward, while baring a good portion of the lower half of her large breasts. The jacket, unlike that of other Arrancar, has a zipper running along its entire length that is opened from the bottom upwards (in the Anime, this outfit is extended to fully cover her breasts, a black stripe showing where the original cut of the jacket was). The jacket's sleeves completely envelop her arms, terminating in black glove-like extensions at her extremities, which slightly give her fingers the appearance of a cat’s paw. Harribel carries her Zanpakutō horizontally across her back (similar to Soifon). The sword itself is notably broad and short compared to others, completely hollow in the middle, and has a western-style guard.

The remnants of her Hollow mask consist of the sides of her face and her mouth, as well as an extensive area below and around her neck extending down to, and also covering, her nipples; she usually hides these Hollow remnants from view with her jacket (in the anime, the remnants are extended to cover the underside of her breasts due to censorship). Harribel's mask fragment gives her a similar appearance to Grimmjow Jaegerjaquez, at least in regards to the teeth. To date she has the most intact mask of any Arrancar not including the incomplete Grand Fisher (though the mask is removed upon her Zanpakutō's release). Her Espada tattoo is oddly placed on the left side of her right breast. The location of her Hollow hole is currently unknown, despite the fact that her release form reveals most of her body.

Tia Harribel (is Black)
[ Yes ladies and gentlemen, Harribel is in fact Black.  I know, I know, she has blond hair and green eyes, but this is a cartoon, she can have purple eyes, if they so chose, but she is actually a Black woman.  It cracks me up to see so many Scandinavian, pasty white, nerd girls, cosplay Harribel.  They fail at the knowledge that they are actually portraying a Black woman. ]

Harribel, Tia [ as is custom in Japan to say the last name first, and the first name last, so that everyone in your family would present their last names all first ] immediately goes through, not her own background story, but we are presented with the chance meeting of a hollow, who looks like a unicorn, who is about to be eaten by an Adjuchas.  Harribel shows up, obviously not an Arrancar at the time, and easily defeats the Adjuchas, since she is a Vasto Lorde at the time.  We later learn that the hollow is in fact female.

What is noteworthy about this entire background story arc, is that it is pointing out the female role in this series as measured next to men.  Harribel, for her part gathered 3 female hollow, and the 4 of them would defend themselves in unison.  However, the power that most hollow exhibit is about to change with the entrance of Aizen, Sosuke into Gueco Mundo.  With his entrance, the power level of those he changes, is astronomical, compared to what they were all before.  Harribel and friends, encounter an Arrancar level hollow, which makes a Vasto Lorde seem like an ant.  All 4 try to defeat the Arrancar, and are annihilated save for Harribel.  She is about to be completely obliterated by the Arrancar, when Aizen shows up on the scene and easily kills him.  He offers her a choice to become more powerful to avenge her fellow female companion hollows, who lie dead behind her.

We are left to put two and two together, and the 3 female hollow that we saw in the background arc later become Harribel's Fracción.  We are not let in on, how they came back to life; how they got from animal form to human form; how they were able to come up with a unique power to rip off each of their right arms to form an immensely powerful elemental beast, more powerful than the 3 combined.  We are not let in on anything about her Fracción.  And, more importantly, the fight between her Fracción and others is one of the longest sequences of fighting of most of the Arrancar.  And, her Fracción was only defeated by Captain Commander Yamamoto himself, when he effortlessly incinerates them by simply releasing his shikai from his Zampaktu.  Furthermore, we don't even know if in fact the Fracción was defeated because, although Harribel comments that she will avenge their deaths, Captain Commander Yamamoto comments that that did not completely burn them, out of respect for their fighting spirit (attacking him with only one arm each, after having summoned the elemental beast named Ayon).


Female Representation in Anime


Harribel
I have often personally hated females in Anime.  There seems to be two types of representation of females in Anime: completely pathetic, weak females who are mostly in the way of the lead male character, or any male character; or completely overbearing females who beat on male characters in a sadistic way.  Although Harribel herself was a completely modern, conscious representation of what an ideal female [ in my eyes ] would be, her Fracción are the quintessential aforementioned, useless females.  Yes, they fought three lieutenants, two who happened to be female, and beat them to a pulp, however the entire time they bickered and acted like high school girls out at the mall.  I neither like catty, immature portrayals of females in Anime, I equally detest sadistic portrayals of them beating fellow male character to a pulp, just for comedy relief.  It sends a completely twisted message to young girls AND boys watching the Anime: 1) females are useless 2) men are to be both shunned and harassed at all times 3) boys and girls are never to be together.  This particular Anime genre is geared towards mid-aged teens - 9 - 16 year old boys.  So, although the bottom age is quite low, the top age is well within dating range.  I cannot imagine growing up in Japan, and watching this every day [ yes Anime is show in prime time in Japan, every day ] and coming out with a healthy view of women.

Harribel, like I said, for her part is portrayed as a capable woman, who is on par in strength with a man.  She fights and nearly defeats a captain level Death God.


Enter Aizen, Sosuke


Harribel
Lord Aizen, Sosuke, as mentioned before, shows up behind Harribel and slashes her right across the stomach.  She has no chance to defend herself and the wound is fatal.  He says to her that he is done with her as it appears that she is not strong enough to fight for him.  Aizen goes on to say that he never thought after all the trouble he went through to gather the Espada, that he alone would be more powerful than all of them. Harribel looks at Aizen with rage and retaliates by stabbing him through the chest with her sword. Aizen's expression does not change as he says "dealing with is so troublesome", surprising Harribel. She then realizes that she attacked an illusion and that she has been stabbed from the back of her left shoulder by the real Aizen. He then says "don't make me go through the effort, to swing my sword twice on the likes of you" and withdraws his sword, which sends Harribel plummeting into the city below.

After Harribel is gone down dead, he says "now, shall we begin, you 13 squads of the court and you failed mock Arrancar," referring to the Vizard who have shown up to fight alongside the Death Gods.  Greatest line in any entertainment.

I love this guy.  Bleach is more mature than, say a Naruto or One Piece.  The main antagonist is so evil and so devastating that noone sees him coming, nor knows how to exactly defend against him.  What I really enjoy about him is that he is completely calm, cool and collected in every instance.  Nothing phases him because he has already foreseen what and how the person will react and he always has a response that overwhelms the person.  He is so much like me in real life.  [ when a former roommate of mine completely angered me, I did not say anything, I simply left at the end of the month, right before rent was due and turned off all the cable, which was in my name ]

Aizen Prepares to Slash Harribel
When he appeared in the real world, the Captain Commander Yamamoto wasted no time in releasing his shikai, encircling them with impenetrable flames.  Where Aizen is evil incarnate, the Captain Commander Yamamoto is equally one to give absolutely no chances to his opponents.  Realize, this is the same Captain Commander that released his Zampaktu on his own twin blade Captains to encircle them in impenetrable fire when he was about to fight them in the first Aizen arc, telling them to stop messing around and release their own swords, since they were about to fight, or he was about to kill them both in the next blow.

Bleach #285 promises to be pretty exciting if Aizen is really about to start fighting.  However, in the preview the Vizard do say that the fight cannot end unless the main hero, Ichigo, shows up.  This main hero of course is in Gueco Mundo, having just defeated the infamous Ulquiorra Cifer, in Bleach #271 & #272.  The Ichigo vs  Ulquiorra fight, ranks up there as one of my most awesome fights ever in the history of Anime.

Let's keep our fingers crossed to see everyone's Bankai in the next few episodes of Bleach.
Hollow Ichigo

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