11th Monthly Topic: “Failure”
One of the best ways we can learn is through failure. This month we will be talking about the failures of our favorite characters in pop culture media and what we can learn from them. We will also reflect on our own mistakes and failures and how those experiences have allowed us to grow as human beings.
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Please be sure to check out Hikari’s blog on her post on Black Clover.
When you lose, do you get up? Or do you stay down?
As we go through life, we go through our own battles. Whether it is in school, work or just dealing with our personal struggles, we are always fighting. When we win battles, we feel a sense of accomplishment and we feel like we can succeed anything. However, what happens if you lose your battles? When you lose, it hurts because you feel like you failed and you feel like staying down and letting your enemy to hurt you even more. Sometimes it feels easy to give up because once you give up, you can feel like you can escape from your problems, but you will be haunted by your failures. What if there was another solution to defeat? Instead of letting the enemy kick while you are down, you should get up and knock down your enemy until they feel your pain. Even in anime, your favorite characters has suffered many loses and they take it seriously. In One Piece, Luffy lost his brother’s life during the war between the Marines and Whitebeard Pirates. In Dragon Ball Z, Goku’s sacrifice went in vain when he tried to save the Earth from Cell’s suicidal explosion and Cell came back stronger than ever.
What did these two do in these situations? They pressed on. With the advice Goku gave to his son, Gohan used every ounce of his Saiyan strength to take down an enemy with every warrior’s DNA and powers. In One Piece, Luffy learned that he has to be strong in order to protect his friends because the seas is a dangerous place and if he ever wants to protect them, he needs to train himself to go beyond.
It may sound easy to give up once you see something to impossible to conquer, but giving up is not the way to grow. In order to grow, you have to learn from your actions and gather your strength to try again. In Bleach, the main character Ichigo had his share of Hail Mary.
What is Bleach?
The story of Bleach tells the story of a teenager named Ichigo Kurosaki who has the ability to see ghosts. One day, he sees a mysterious girl in a black kimono with a sword appear in his room. Ichigo attacks this girl thinking she’s a burglar, but it turns out, she isn’t a typical prowler. This girl is named Rukia Kuchiki and she is a Soul Reaper who helps puts spirits to rest and fight off evil spirit monsters called Hollows. In the same night, a giant Hollow attacks Ichigo’s family and Rukia has trouble fighting it. In desperation, Ichigo takes all of Rukia’s powers and defeats the Hollow. After the incident, Rukia has lost her powers and she asks Ichigo to do her work in the World of the Living. This is the beginning of Ichigo’s adventure and his ever going trials as he face off against powerful foes.
Try again kid
Just like a kid trying to ride a bicycle without training wheels, Ichigo may be a strong kid, but he has his moments where not even his vigor can help win. Throughout the adventures, Ichigo has faced many adversaries such as Hollows, Soul Reapers, Arrancars, Fullbringers and even Quincies. All of them has gave Ichigo a beating and even moments where he is grasping in a thin line of life and death.
I am not going to cover all of Ichigo’s defeat but rather, focusing on the ones I feel are important. Here is some notable losses:
1. Ichigo loses Byakuya Kuchiki (first encounter)
During his early experience of being a substitute Soul Reaper, Ichigo had faced many tough enemies and even managed to survive against a giant Hollow called Menos Grande. With word going around that Menos ran away from Ichigo, it didn’t take long until the Soul Society had their suspicions. The Soul Society sends out Squad 6 Captain Byakuya Kuchiki and lieutenant Renji Abarai to find and retrieve Rukia and give her a punishment. For allowing a human to possess Soul Reapers, Rukia is to be captured and sent back for execution. Ichigo manages to find Rukia getting taken by Renji and Byakuya and fights them to save her. His first fights Renji and notices that his Zanpakuto was different than his based on its ability and shape. Nevertheless, Ichigo still managed to give Renji something to sweat and when things was starting to look good for Ichigo, it all went grim when Byakuya interfered the fight. In a flash, Byakuya destroyed Ichigo’s sword and unleashed his abilities. Ichigo lost the fight and can only see Rukia return home for her punishment.
2. Ichigo loses to Kenpachi Zaraki
Fast forward, in order to save Rukia from getting executed, Ichigo and his friends invade the Soul Society. With his renowned strength, Ichigo is ready to face off against anyone stopping him and his goal. During his mission, he comes across one of the most dangerous captains of the Soul Society: Squad 10 Captain Kenpachi Zaraki. Ichigo realized that Kenpachi had monstrous strength and he had great feared that not even his strength can slice any flesh of him. To make matters worse, Kenpachi was strong enough to bring down him and pierce his sword, Zangetsu.
3. Ichigo loses and gets killed by Ulquiorra Cifer
After the events with Rukia and the Soul Society, Ichigo encounters another threat created by the traitorous Captain Sosuke Aizen. Aizen has taken refuge in Hueco Mundo, a place where Hollows live, and created an army of Arrancars, Hollows that removed their masks and have similar powers of a Soul Reaper. Aizen and the Arrancars have become a great threats for Ichigo and the rest of Soul Society. The straw that broke the camel’s back is when Aizen kidnaps Ichigo’s friend Orihime Inoue. Ichigo with his closest friends decides to take matters in their own hands and they attempt to save Orihime from the Arrancars. In this mission, Ichigo encounters a powerful Arrancar that is blocking Ichigo’s path on saving Orihime. This Arrancar is named Ulquiorra and he is an Espada, one of the top ten ranked Arrancars that serves Aizen. Even with Ichigo’s combined powers of his Bankai and his Visored’s power, Ichigo couldn’t handle fighting an enemy with more than transformation . In his second state, Ulquiorra was able to defeat Ichigo and even kill him.
4. Ichigo loes to Yhwach and loses his Zanpakuto (first time)
Fast forward to the final act of Bleach, Ichigo and the rest of the Soul Reapers faces a threat that are worse than the Arrancars: the Vandenreich. Vandenreich is a group of Quincy that survived the massacre led by the Soul Reapers and they hid for many years plotting for revenge. Led by the king of Quincy Yhwach, they attacked the Soul Reapers and destroyed their home base. With their advance weapons and powers, they defeated everyone and even stole the Bankai of most of Captains of the Soul Society. To make matters worse, Yhwach also killed the head captain of the Soul Reapers, Genryusai Shigekuni Yamamoto. Ichigo comes to the rescue to help the Soul Reapers and fight Yhwach alone. Unfortunately, Ichigo willpower was no match against the king of Quincy and it was sheer luck that Ichigo survived. When Ichigo tried to fight Yhwach, his sword Tensa Zangetsu gets destroyed. You would think that if a sword gets broken, it can be repaired, but according to Captain Mayuri Kurotsuchi, when a Zanpakuto in Bankai form is destroyed, a Soul Reaper can not wield anymore. (The only exceptions is that a sword can be put together by remodeling, but it becomes a weaker state.) The result of this is that Ichigo is powerless and he is unable to fight and defend his friends.
Not bad, kid
Just because you lost, doesn’t mean you lost everything. You got pick whatever you have and start all over. In order to get strong, you got to learn and grow. The best way to learn is to learn from your mistakes and seek any possibilities to evolve. Ichigo isn’t a Saiyan like Goku where he lives from fighting, he is only human who can learn and adapt in combat. With ever loss, he strikes back determined as ever and willing to gamble his chances.
1. Ichigo learns Bankai and gains a lot of power to defeat Byakuya
With enough trainning with Zangetsu and Yoruichi, Ichigo was able to unlock his sword’s hidden potential which is called Bankai. Bankai is a transformation in which a Zanpakuto transforms into its full power called Tensa Zangetsu. With his Bankai, Ichigo was able to match against Byakuya’s Bankai, Senbonzakura Kageyoshi. With the power of his training and the unnecessary assist from his inner Hollow, Ichigo was able to defeat Byakuya and save Rukia.
2. Ichigo defeats Kenpachi with the help of his Zanpakuto, Zangetsu
Before getting a rematch with Byakuya, Ichigo had to fight his way through the Soul Reapers including the dangerous captain, Kenpachi. Kenpachi quickly disposed Ichigo after seeing how weak he was in the fight. However, unlike his first fight with Byakuya, Ichigo got up and was ready for round 2. Ichigo learned that the best way to get strong was to team up with his Zanpakuto, Zangetsu, and combine both strengths in order to fight. Instead of treating Zangetsu like a weapon, Ichigo had to learn to fight with him like a partner. Unlike Ichigo, Kenpachi never knew his sword’s name and he relied on his strength. Ichigo used this advantage to defeat Kenpachi and this showed Kenpachi that Ichigo was a tough opponent.
3 Ichigo returns from the dead and kills Ulquiorra
Even death couldn’t Ichigo from standing up. After getting killed by the Espada, Ulquiorra, Ichigo was presumed dead and not Orihime could revive him. Miraculously, Ichigo was revived as a Hollow. With the mind and body of a monster and speed of a Soul Reaper, Ichigo was too much for Ulquiorra. As payback, Ichigo unleashed a Cero (a powerful energy bean used by Arrancars and Hollows) and blasted on Ulquiorra. Once Ichigo regained consciousness, Ichigo realized that he took down the enemy that killed him. Not even Ulquiorra could recover from an attack from Ichigo and this caused him to die and disappear.
4. Ichigo learns about his past and gains new weapons
After the attack from the Vandenreich, Ichigo got help from Squad 0 in order to recover from fighting and fix his sword. Squad 0 member Oetsu Nimaiya helped Ichigo in order to understand a Zanpakuto through trial and error. Ichigo first failed his challenge because he didn’t understand what it means to be a Soul Reaper and how to use a Zanpakuto like Renji. It turns out that Ichigo, throughout his fights, never asked for help from his weapon and only used his own powers. With the help of Ichigo’s dad, Isshin, Ichigo learned about his parents and their powers. Ichigo tried again with Oetsu and understood what it means to be a Soul Reaper. With his help, Ichigo obtained a new and improve sword of Zangetsu.
Conclusion – Every attempt leads to victory
Fiction or reality, we will be challenged and the chances of winning all depends on probability. If you win, you move on to the next challenge in life. If you fail, you have two options: rethink your strategy and try again, or give up. If you’re going to try again, this will give you the chance to learn from your opponent and grow in strength and skills. Ichigo Kurosaki had his share of wins and losses. Whenever he loses to someone powerful than him, he doesn’t think about running away from his enemy. Instead, Ichigo does whatever it takes to get a second chance in his challenges. Through each time he trains, he learns about himself as warrior. He learns to trust in others for strength and how starting over pays off. When we go trough trials, sometimes we fail because we forget the basic fundamentals. Forgeting stuff like walking, thinking or breathing can lead to ultimate defeats. Going back to what you learned before and seeing the mistakes you made will ensure a sweet victory. We all fail but we can always redeem ourselves if we continue to try and learn from our mistakes. If we rinse and repeat, we can be number one.
I hope you enjoyed my post. Please be sure to check out Aria’s post at The Animanga Spellbook blog focusing on Aoharu x Machinegun.