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something in the aftermath

I began reading Bleach shortly before the anime started airing in Japan. I first became interested because I loved the style; Kubo's wacky title pages and colorful spreads drew my eye. A number of now-dead fansites I used to visit showcased this art, so I started reading the series. The story was fairly typical shounen fare, but I found myself loving it, especially the characters. I loved the amount of work Kubo put into creating such a memorable cast, from giving them theme songs to putting a ridiculous amount of thought into their names. I loved the poems written for each volume. I loved the relationships between the characters, which always managed to be sweet or touching, a surprising accomplishment for a shounen series. If you did not tear up during at least one scene then you are a heartless monster. But the series decreased in quality after the Soul Society arc, in my opinion; I was probably deluding myself, but when I started reading the series I found it to be more character driven with a healthy dose of action scenes. In other words, I thought it was a bit more substantial than just a story about a boy and his sword fighting things. But after the Soul Society arc ended, the series seemed to devolve into POWER LEVELS and fights that lasted for ten chapters. Straight up Namek shit, my friends. It has its moments now and then, but Bleach now hardly feels like what it was when I started reading it. I still have a big soft spot for the series, but I donít love it like I used to.

Still, I love Aizen's character and I think I always will. While there's loads of characters in the series I absolutely adore (Orihime, Renji, Rukia, Chad, Momo, Matsumoto, Ukitake, Hanatarou, Shunsui, Zaraki, ShinjiÖ the list goes on! Hell, I fucking love Don Kanoji. And Kon. Everyone who isnít an Arrancar, basically.), the evil mastermind remains my favorite.

Aizen interested me from the start; when he was first introduced it seemed as if he was one of the only sane members of the Gotei 13. He seemed like an all-around nice guy, plus Iím a sucker for glasses. And then he got brutally murdered, which was a disappointment. But then of course, he apparently came back from the dead and proceeded to stab his Vice Captain and leave her for dead. That one moment where he stabs Momo was a huge, "oh snap" moment for me, and one of my favorites in the manga. I love that panel. No one in Soul Society had pegged Aizen as the villain, and I'm sure other readers didnít either. It was fascinating to see just how far his betrayal had gone: he had orchestrated everything, Rukia giving Ichigo her powers, the break-in to Soul Society, Rukia's execution, and more. Aizen was the ultimate villain; he was completely untouchable. He had the power of deception, which I loved the idea of, as I detail here. I was really curious to see just how on earth the heroes of the series planned to go up against that sort of power. Though I found his ultimate downfall to be pretty dull, I still love that evil bastard. I'm not usually a big fan of villains, but Aizen was just interesting enough to be an exception.

I also find Aizen's character to be sad, in a way. I mean, dude's a total dick and deserved to get his ass beat and all, but reading the end of "Deicide" and then reading some of Rukia's flashbacks to her time training with Kaien made me realize something: Aizen was totally alone. Bleach places a good deal of importance on the idea of nakama, which doesn't quite have an English translation, but essentially means very close and trusted comrades. People you share your "heart" with, who you trust and care for and vice versa. When Kaien was training Rukia, he warned her that she must never die alone. Her "heart" must lie somewhere. Kaien is eventually killed by Rukia's hands after a Hollow takes over his body, and he tells Rukia with his dying words that he can die, because his heart is with her. Orihime mentions this as well; when Ulquiorra asks if she is scared to die after Aizen reveals that she is useless to him, she says no, since her heart is with the friends that came to rescue her.

Right before Aizen is defeated, Ichigo claims that he feels loneliness after touching Aizenís zanpakutou. The man was truly alone; no one else shared his immense power, and he came to regard others as worthless and disposable. Aizen is one of the few characters in the series who has no friends and no one he trusts, and within the context of Bleach this paints Aizen as a rather tragic character.


un, deux, trois, dis miroir noir

I began working on this site a million years ago. Well not really, more like five or six years ago. Bleach was really popular at the time and had loads of fansites dedicated to its characters, and I just had to make one for Aizen. But I couldnít think of a name, and at the time no one had any idea just what the hell Aizenís next move would be, which made writing content for the site nearly impossible. I finally decided on the name "Stand on the Sky," which I ended up hating and that left me completely unmotivated to finish the site. Soon I and other fans began losing interest in the manga, and the site was left in limbo.

A year or two ago, I decided to re-read the manga and catch up on the story. I even thought about working on that Aizen fansite Iíd all but abandoned. I finally came up with a name that I felt was perfect, Smoke & Mirrors, which came from a line in The New Pornographers' song "Stacked Crooked." I go into more detail about that name here. I made about five layouts that I hated for this site, and finally this one, which I sort of like. I wrote bits and pieces of content for the site over time, but the Villains Marathon at Amassment finally provided the motivation that I needed to get it online. Thereís still work to be done, but hey, after years and years of being on my projects list, itís here! Even if no one reads Bleach anymore.

Oh, and I decided to focus on only the manga for this site, since I stopped watching the anime when the filler started and there were annoying puppets and vampires or some crap. I did thoroughly enjoy the anime up until that point, but I don't see myself getting back into it any time soon. But the art department apparently likes to put Aizen and co. in the most fabulous (but which I mean so terrible they're fucking amazing) clothes, as seen to the right, so maybe I should. I've never played any of the Bleach games or anything like that either, so there's none o' that on this site. Also I should mention that most of my info comes from fan translations, so it may very well be completely wrong. Just so you know. Some other bits of info came from Bleach Wiki.


masterly! and farewell!

It's pretty depressing how few Bleach shrines there are left; a couple years ago there were dozens and dozens of them! Though the series took a bit of a nosedive so uhhh I can't really blame people for losing interest. Still, here are a few of my favorite character shrines:
Aegrus - Ukitake Jyuushirou
Bloodred Conflict - Abarai Renji
Captain of Division Awesome - Kurosaki Isshin
Course of Empire - Yamada Hanatarou
Mack Daddy - Kurosaki Isshin
Venus in the Dark - Matsumoto Rangiku

If you want to link back here, you can use one of the buttons below :).

"Bleach" and its characters © Kubo Tite. All other content belongs to Michelle.