First off, this is an entertaining chapter, and I adore the art in these pages. The tumultuous relationship between these two just draws me in to the story. Some may scoff at the idea that Kenpachi has always restrained himself out of his love of battle, but it sounds completely consistent with everything we've ever known about him. He puts bells in his hair so he can be heard, and he wears an eye patch that weakens his power. In contrast, Unohana mastered the healing arts to stay alive, and continue to fight. However, if she loved fighting so much, why is it we're only now seeing her fight?
This sort of story between a man and a woman isn't something we see often in manga. A rivalry mixed with admiration and love -- for battle. It drips delicious melodrama. I have to applaud Kubo for taking that risk in the shonen genre, but it feels almost offensive that we have to lose her just to make Kenpachi bigger and badder.
At this point, it's pretty apparent that Tite Kubo is making things up as he goes along. I have no doubt that he always intended for Unohana to be the woman Kenpachi once mentioned years ago, but since when did BLEACH work by HIGHLANDER rules? Unohana mentions this chapter that there can be only one Kenpachi in an era. If she's the First Kenpachi, where is this rule coming from? They've both essentially held the title simultaneously since the beginning of the Soul Society.
For as amazing as Unohana's bankai looks. I can't for the life of me figure out the point of it. BLEACH is normally much better at explaining the system of a technique when it's not apparent. Yet, here I'm confused. She seems to cover her blade with blood, 'play time' becomes over, then everyone starts to look like a skeleton...for whatever reason. Is it intended to make everyone around look like an 80's death-metal cover? It deserves an explanation outside of some guide book that will be published some years later.
This has to be one of the more difficult chapter scores I've had to calculate in a long time. The dynamics of the characters, and the art are so provocative. I'm not in the least bit concerned that this isn't moving the plot along. Still, there's this contradictory information, and the unexplained bankai working against it. Unohana has never been so fascinating, and now she's apparently going to be left for dead in the eternal darkness. I'm frustrated at even the idea of it. Two conflicting forces pulling my emotions in either direction. Given the struggle, a 3 out of 5 seems fitting.