BLEACH: THE MASCARON DRIVE (VOLUME 26)
April 28th 2012 23:38
The voice that pierces deep into my chest
Is like a never ending cheer
Publisher: VIZ Media LLC
Story & Art by: Tite Kubo
English Adaptation: Lance Caselman
Translation: Joe Yamazaki
Touch up Art & Lettering: Mark McMurray
Design: Sean Lee
Apparently the word mascaron comes from the Spanish, as do a lot of terms in this particular arc within the Bleach series, and means a mask or a dance carried out by masked dancers. The term fits nicely with the theme that began in the previous volume No Shaking Throne and the introduction of the Visoreds, a group of individuals who have powers like Hollows and Soul Reapers. A visor is also another term for a mask so as you can see there is something of a theme running here…and what the significance of that particular theme is shall become apparent as things go on.
The last time I talked about this particular series was in relation to No Shaking Throne which I went out on limb and said had to be my favourite Bleach volume to date. This was all down to the fact that a large portion of the story involved the struggle of Ichigo Kurosaki against his inner hollow aka Hollow Ichigo. The confrontation between these two aspects of our spiky haired protagonist is all down to the fact that the hollow aspect feels the time is ripe for him to take over…in his estimation Ichigo is weak and will only end up destroying both of them if someone with killer instinct doesn’t take control.
There is a moment in the anime when the gang are first trying to break into the Seireitei and Ichigo is confronting the giant gate keeper Jidanbo in order to pass through the gate. He explains that during the final five days of training he was constantly active with Kisuke Urahara…Uryu asks him then whether he was learning the secrets of combat or some kind of technique to which Ichigo replies no he was just fighting, nonstop for the whole five days. Chad immediately catches on, he realises that Ichigo needed that constant period of pressure and confrontation to somehow draw out his ability at fighting and as a soul reaper. And in No Shaking Throne he comes to the realisation of this very fact himself; that the fight against his hollow self is in the end only further enhancing his abilities and allowing him the drive to win.
But even though he gains the victory he now has to master this new aspect. Victory in this regard only gives him a breathing space, it has conferred the right to draw upon the powers of the hollow within but it does not by any means confer mastery. So now Ichigo is busy training with the Visoreds, with Hiyori being the one responsible for his training in manifesting his mask that will enable him to utilise hollow powers. Unfortunately though it doesn’t seem to be having much effect, Ichigo’s time limit isn’t all that crash hot. It is in the seconds which in a combat situation doesn’t indicate a serious degree of survivability, especially if the opponent you’re confronting is an Arrancar or an Espada.
Still there is time for Ichigo to grow into his abilities…or is there? And whilst he’s attempting to learn how to master these new abilities his friends are also seeking to improve. Chad is being trained by Renji Abarai, in the basement of Urahara’s shop, Orihime and Rukia seek to improve their abilities by training with each other in the old training grounds behind the Thirteenth Company barracks in the Seireitei and Uryu is engaged in the most desperate gamble of them all. Attempting to regain his Quincy powers he is being ruthlessly attacked by his own father who has said that he has the means to restore those abilities he lost in the Seireitei when he confronted Captain Mayuri Kurotsuchi.
Unlike his friends Uryu is in a situation where the person who is ‘aiding’ his ‘training’ whilst being his father, Ryuken Ishida, a man that he has no great liking for or trust of. He wonders whether this particular regimen will actually produce the desired results or whether it’s all just some kind of horrible joke. But his concerns are overshadowed with the sudden arrival of four Arrancars to Karakura town. Two of them are members of the Espada, one is a newly created Arrancar and the last member of the group is Grimmjow. The sudden appearance of these four couldn’t come at a worse time as everyone is busy attempting to train and not quite ready for a major confrontation with powerful enemies. But there is still an ace in the hole for the defenders of the world of the living which none of the Arrancars have quite factored into their equation…or have they as it seems that the objective of this attack isn’t what it immediately appears to be. Bleach manga volume 26, the Mascaron Drive is well worth making the effort to get your hand’s on.
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