When I first started this issue, I was rather confused why the dialog was just repeating the final moments of the previous chapter. It sort of reminded me of an anime that pad their openings with the closing moments of the episode before. In the case of anime, they more often do that so people who haven't been watching for the passing week can be caught up or reminded of where things left off. For BLEACH, Kubo is putting you directly into Hitsugaya's shoes.
He's become the unwitting guinea pig to one of Kurotsuchi's more insidious experiments, and the reader is dragged into the past right along with the little captain. It's a surreal moments that I found to be both confusing and rather enjoyable once I caught on. It's not that I enjoy reading the same moments over and over. I just love the wickedness of such a plan, and it really falls into Kurotsuchi's character.
He's not the kind of personality who wins fights with skill or power. This chapter easily shows that Kurotsuchi wouldn't stand a snow ball's chance against Htsugaya in a fair fight. So, what's his motivation to fight fair? He's the sort that uses his more than extraordinary mind to consider any situation and prepare for it. The way this chapter closes out. I really do wonder when Kurotsuchi infected Hitsugaya. Was it long before when was even turned into a zombie?
While I can sympathize with a reader who doesn't want to be repeating moments at this stage of the series, I really didn't have a problem with it in this issue. The concept is used to good effect, and I don't see it being dragged out any further into the following chapters. At least, I hope not. Kubo has gotten his point across.
Other than some rather incredible action scenes, the real enjoyment from this chapter is found in the more psychological levels. I love how is plays with the audience for a second and lets you realize what's happening slowly. Kurotsuchi has always made me think of what if Josef Mengele had been coerced into working for the good guys. Incredible evil used for the sake of doing something good, and that isn't too far off from reality. Go look deeper into the history of NASA and the moon landing, and you'll find more than a few names of former Nazi scientists. Remember that before you criticize the Soul Society too harshly.
I've yet to find any solid confirmation on this, but I've been hearing rumors about the return of the BLEACH anime. That would fit into my own theory. The production company didn't want to invest in another filler arc or two. They instead were opting to follow the FMA: BROTHERHOOD method of waiting for the manga series to end, then just animate the final arc. This would be stellar news. Think back on all those awesome moments I was worried may never be animated.
Follow along with the latest BLEACH chapters yourself, tune in for the SJ Podcast, and check out the free starter pack sampler at ShonenJump.com here. You can download the free app for both iOS and Android devices.