Spoiler free summary: In Volume 74 of Bleach by Tite Kubo, finally, the story comes to an end as Ichigo and Yhwach face off. The story ends, and we learn what the cost of this war was.
Character: Almost nothing. That’s the cost of this war. The anticlimactic ending was undercut further by the magical way characters thought lost (though not all) are back just like that. The losses that stuck had some power, but as much as I like this volume (I swear I do), it’s more because of the ending of the story as a whole than the ending of this particular arc. We see the adults these young men and women come to be. It’s nice to see the heroes come into their own, but we don’t see that climax moment I wish I did.
Exposition: As this is a climax, we don’t need a lot of exposition. Neither do we get a lot. It’s better than most manga, but manga stories have an edge in this category to begin with.
Worldbuilding: This is more like worldclosing than building, but I think it’s relevant. There are new captains named (and old ones returned). The balance is reset, and the resolution is far better than it would have been had they stopped after the Aizen arc. This volume would have been just as good had happened after the Aizen arc.
Dialogue: There was a cool scene at the very end where dialogue reveals not only where one of the main cast is, but how he stays connected to his friends. This is the value of dialogue sometimes, and I think it’s underrated. So this volume is probably stronger than most because there are several scenes like this in this volume.
Description: So usually the description in a manga is weighed by the cool fight scenes, and this was very anticlimactic. I think Bleach painted itself into a corner. At a certain point, when a manga like this just keeps bringing in more and more powerful people, they run out of ideas because, well, “How do you really beat that guy?” When I first read this volume, I switched pages back and forth wondering if I scrolled too quickly (I read this on the Viz app on my phone). I didn’t. So this volume is a fairly good representative of the arc as a whole.
Overall: The very end of this is exactly the ending I wanted. But I sort of feel like I got told the end of a story without getting to see it. An arc that could have had great “heroes coming into their strength” moments just wasn’t there. I will say one of the main cast gets the treatment the whole cast deserves (at least in my opinion), but the rest don’t. However, those last five or so pages were what I was waiting for. While I will admit those pages were worth slogging through two arcs that just weren’t that great (especially on the level of the Aizen arc), I really just recommend you buy the last volume. Every cool think you’ve heard (is probably true), but they’re delivered in dialogue exposition that’s met with a shrug and a, “So is it time to fight now?” I leave the choice to you. I’ll say this ending is outstanding, but it could have been legendary. Instead, the arc drags down an otherwise fantastic saga. I don’t regret reading it, but I wish it met its full potential.
Thanks for reading,