Bleach – Chapter 472
There’s a particular fight scene in the manga Rurouni Kenshin that comes to mind when I think of this chapter. Towards the end of that series, Saito Hajime had to fight an opponent whose specialty was understanding the way a technique works almost instantly. If you know anything about Saito’s Gatotsu, you’ll understand how that can leave him at a disadvantage. The opponent gloats that he can’t win with his technique figured out, only for Saito to perform a minor variation of the technique and completely cripple his opponent. The idea was that simply knowing someone’s technique isn’t enough to secure a victory.
Compare this to Byakuya’s fight with Tsukishima, who claims to know all of his techniques off by heart. Of course this version requires a little more magic, but fundamentally it isn’t that far removed from the Kenshin example. All Tsukishima’s ability let him do was see how his various abilities work and what his most common strategies are. Byakuya is easily one of the smarter captains, and has to have had a long history of difficult fights. Nobody knows how his abilities work better than he does, which means he knows best how to use them in new, complicated ways. I would agree with something he said earlier, in that it’s a good thing he’s the one to fight Tsukishima, rather than someone less intelligent.
It’s fairly interesting how he altered his techniques. I knew from the start that Byakuya could attack inside his no-damage zone if he absolutely needed too, because while he isn’t reckless, he certainly isn’t the type to get scared of hurting himself a bit. The actual way he ends the fight is a little more confusing, though. There were a number of ways he could have beaten Tsukishima when he was that close, and I’m not sure why it was necessary to grab some of Zenbonsakura’s petals and punch him through the chest like that. Did the petals make his punch go faster? I would have expected there to be some sort of Kido he could use at that range, which is actually what I thought Byakuya did when I first saw the panel of Tsukishima getting impaled.
Overall, I think this was a good fight. It has some unique abilities in play, and we got to see Byakuya going out of his comfort zone. Bleach has a lot of characters with a plethora of abilities, but sometimes the best fights are when the characters have their backs to the wall and we see how creative they can get with what they’ve got. It’s certainly more exciting than the old Power Up -> Throw Energy Everywhere formula, at any rate.