Ulquiorra - His Struggle 4 The Heart


Ulquiorra – The Struggle 4 the Heart: 

We respect the literary understanding of one Tite Kubo. Many of my blogs are centered around this idea of Kubology because I believe in Tite Kubo's writing ability. Kubo's storytelling style and perspective are best represented in Ulquiorra Cifer, who is based on emptiness and Nihilism but seems to strive toward everything but that. In this blog, I want to take you through the deep roots of Ulquiorra's character to reveal his Hollow Heart. 

I hope I can give you an insightful perspective on Ulquiorra's character and offer a clear insight into my understanding of who Ulquiorra truly is. In Chapter 354 of BLEACH, titled HEART, we see Ulquiorra in his final moments, fading into ash, his hand reached out toward Orihime Inoue. One of the critical themes of the subplot between Ulquiorra and Orihime was the concept of the HEART. The theme of the heart was Ulquiorra's Nihilistic worldview. Now, an important thing to understand about Kubology is not only specific to Kubo. Kubo loves writing characters representing certain ideas, and many authors do the same. 

During the Rescue Rukia arc, Byakuya stood for the belief that the law must be adhered to at all costs, while Ichigo challenged the law directly, which was in direct opposition to that. Those characters represented Kubo's perspective in that regard.  

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The story behind the conflict between these two perspectives:

Every Espada represents a specific aspect of death, so when Kubo depicts a battle between two characters, he is not only describing an action. He is also creating a conflict. Kubo is also using character themes to symbolize specific ideas. Something that writers do, but it is critical to understand where Kubo is coming from. 

So, when we arrive at the character of Ulquiorra, whose entire essence is drenched in Nihilism, emptiness, and darkness, it's essential to ask these questions. What was the point of Ulquiorra's character? What changed in him? Why pair Ulquiorra with Orihime? What is the point of having Ulquiorra reach out his hand toward Orihime as he tries to understand the concept of the heart? So, let us answer these questions. 

There is a unique parallel between Ulquiorra's relationship with Orihime and White's relationship with Masaki. Now, I know that sounds crazy, but hear me out. Within these two dynamics are two hollows that are the embodiment of a particularly hostile ideology. Solitude was to White, as Nihilism and emptiness were to Ulquiorra. In both cases, a chance encounter with a pure maiden with a genuine personality saves them from themselves, and they both become better for it. 

In the case of White, who suffered from loneliness and abandonment, Masaki forms a Reishi tie with him and frees him from that loneliness. So, he then dedicates his life to protect Ichigo. Masaki also sacrificed her life to protect Ichigo. On Ulquiorra's side, in a fated encounter with Orihime, takes this supposed Nihilistic creature, who believed that there was nothing meaningful in life, and changes him into someone who cares enough about something to die for it. So, let's look at the relationship between Ulquiorra and Orihime. In my opinion, Ulquiorra's true rivalry, the clash of ideologies, was not between him and Ichigo; rather, it was between him and Orihime. 

Ichigo was a side character in the ideological clash of wills between the mighty Espada Number Four and the innocent princess in Orihime. So, I'll come to Ichigo in a second, but Orihime comes first. We know that Ulquiorra believes in the worldview perspective of Nihilism. The rejection of all moral principles and the belief that life and everything are ultimately meaningless.  

Ulquiorra's backstory:

In the Official Characters book, Unmasked, validates Ulquiorra's belief with lines like, there is nothing in you and me, or there is nothing, I felt nothing. The things reflected in my eyes have no meaning, and the things that could not reflect in my eyes do not exist. As a character and a living being, Ulquiorra can't find meaning in anything he sees or cannot see. Therefore, he cannot accept it as accurate. 

Nihilistic individuals like Ulquiorra can understand hierarchies and the pros and cons of certain decisions, but what forms the core of their ideology is that nothing matters. Ulquiorra can know that Aizen is his leader and that he means to do as Aizen asks. Just because he understands hierarchy doesn't mean he cares. In regards to Aizen's orders, he can follow them, though he would not care if an innocent human died. Blame the world for making you weak is his stance. 

When Ulquiorra first enters the narrative, he interacts with Yammy, Kisuke, Yoruichi, and Ichigo, which is evident from the get-go that this man does not care. Yammy asks if he can kill the human bystanders, and Ulquiorra says, "they're trash. Kill them." Yammy: "Should I kill Chad?" Ulquiorra: "He's trash; kill him." 


His tone is evident. No questions. No discussions. You have no rights. This is not a negotiation; it's an order. He then sets a psychological trap for Orihime, allowing her to say goodbye to one person. 

Ulquiorra and Aizen planned to break Orihime's spirit, frame her, and steal everything from her, all in one fluid motion. As a result, she loses her will to escape. The mistake Ulquiorra made here was that by setting this trap for Orihime, he unknowingly set a trap for himself. Allow me to explain. From the moment Ulquiorra gave Orihime the chance to say goodbye to only one person, he began to change and act out of character. I will share all the relevant moments with you where this happened. 

So, first things first, Ulquiorra and Aizen knew that Orihime chose to say goodbye to Ichigo because it would have made no sense if they could not track her whereabouts, so they knew that. Of all her comrades, Ichigo was the one person she could not leave without saying goodbye. Ulquiorra captures her and puts her in her room, and when he's speaking to Nnoitora about the reason why he and Aizen decide to do things this way, he compliments Orihime. He says she's a brave girl. 

Now, there's not much in that, but the spark will turn into a flame later. Ichigo and the others break into Hueco Mundo. Aizen holds an Espada meeting and lets everyone know that they are here. What is the first thing Ulquiorra does after He goes to Orihime? Tell her that her friends just invaded the enemy stronghold to save her. What’s the next thing he does after he leaves? 

He sees Gin Ichimaru in the control room to ask where each of them is. He's starting to care now. After Aizen's meeting, he sent all the Espada back to their rooms. Grimmjow wanted to go, find, and kill them, but Aizen said No. Ignore them. Everything will be fine.

Ulquiorra then goes out of his way to find Ichigo. The one person Orihime chooses to say goodbye to, and he goads him into a fight. And then defeats him; he doesn't kill him but beats him, and he leaves. After that, we see Ulquiorra's mini squabble with Grimmjow.

He gets trapped in the Caja de Negacion, and the next time we see him is after Grimmjow is defeated and Orihime recaptured. Aizen places Ulquiorra in charge of Las Noches to wage war on Karakura Town, and Ulquiorra gets some time to speak with Orihime. He asks Orihime if she is afraid. Lord Aizen doesn't need you anymore. You will die here alone with no one by your side.

Ulquiorra asks if Orihime is frightened by this. She replies with conviction in her eyes that no, she is not scared that her friends will come and save her. She is already connected to their hearts. 

When Orihime came to Las Noches, she wanted to protect her friends, but seeing them invade Hueco Mundo made her feel like her sacrifice had been in vain. She was disturbed to see them battle, as she believed they were as passionate as she was. She would have acted the same way if someone had abducted her friends. She describes this idea as 'having one heart' as caring for other individuals and putting your heart in sync with theirs, even if you do not feel the same way. 

When two people share the same concerns, their hearts are in sync, and they are of one heart, in Orihime's view. So, what? The basis of their synchronization forms from her care for her friends and their care for her. That is what allows them to be of one heart. This is extremely important to understand because, as I said before, Ulquiorra's fight is not with Ichigo. The true battle is with Orihime. Ulquiorra believes that whatever he cannot see with his eyes does not exist. 

Will I see this heart if I rip open your chest or crush your skull? No, that means it does not exist. Ichigo enters a battle with Ulquiorra, and something monumental happens. Ichigo, struggling to keep up with Ulquiorra’s speed, can dodge him, and he slashes Ulquiorra across the chest. 

Ichigo tells Ulquiorra that before, it was hard to predict his movements because it felt like he was fighting a stone statue. There was no emotion; it was blank. Ichigo asks him, is it because I've come closer to a hollow or because you have become more human? This statement from Ichigo is consistent. The idea permeates through this entire episode. Ulquiorra is changing.

His encounters with Orihime are changing him. Ichigo and Ulquiorra take the battle above the canopy of Las Noches, and Ulquiorra releases his Zanpakuto called Murcielago. The tremendous spike in power overwhelms Ichigo, and the difference in strength is clear: Ulquiorra beats down Ichigo and tries to get Ichigo to submit, but Ichigo refuses to. So, you see, as Orihime said: If two people care about one thing enough, their hearts synchronize, becoming one heart.  

Kubo is using Ichigo as a stand-in for Orihime's thematic back and forth with Ulquiorra because Ichigo and Orihime want to protect each other. They are the representation of the ONE HEART that Ulquiorra intends to destroy. They are the embodiment of what Ulquiorra wants to disprove. In addition, it's essential to understand this aspect of hollows, especially those at his level. 

On the path to becoming a Vasto Lorde, Hollows put themselves through an excruciating process where they come together to form Gillians, then create Adjuchas. Thousands and thousands of hollows pit against each other, and the one who wins retains their individuality and identity. That is why Grimmjow was not satisfied with beating Ichigo, who is on death's door after being defeated by Ulquiorra. Grimmjow's aspect of death is to destroy. Destroy those who look down on him because he sees himself as KING.

And so, to him, it's not enough to kill; he needs submission. Here's an example; despite wanting Soi Fon and Hachi dead, Barragan fought them to prove the superiority of Senescent powers, which formed the basis of his identity. So even as Ulquiorra is in a battle to the death with Ichigo, it's noticeable, and it's clear that Ulquiorra wants to impose his perspective on Ichigo and Orihime. If I can make them despair to such a high extent that they lose this hope in their synchronized heart and understand that in the face of overwhelming power, their beliefs mean nothing, I can win.

My existence is validated, and my identity preserved. But unfortunately, this desire pushes Ulquiorra into decisions that seem unnecessary. Allow me to explain. After Ulquiorra awakens Murcielago, Ichigo does not land a single blow on him. His Hollowfied Getsugatensho does not work, and Ichigo can barely keep up with anything.

Ulquiorra does his Cero Oscuras which shatters his mask, and his spear is more than Ichigo can handle. Ichigo cannot win. It's clear as day. Everyone can see that, including Ichigo, who admitted that he knew from the jump that Ulquiorra was more potent than him. Despite that, Ulquiorra decides to risk his life and activates his Segunda Etapa transformation.

The Resurreccion of the Espada is their ace in the hole, but just like Soul Reapers, their Bankai resurrection comes with risks. When Ichigo fought against Grimmjow, Grimmjow had to be wary of the strain the transformation placed on his body. So, Ulquiorra had to worry about the natural risks of activating Murcielago, even though that would have been enough to beat Ichigo. Yet, he wants so badly to make him and Orihime submit that he enters Segunda Etapa and places an even more significant burden on himself. Does that sound like a man who cares about nothing?

So, he beats down Ichigo and, as Orihime rises to the canopy of Las Noches with Uryu, she casts her eyes to the top of the tower and sees Ichigo strung up by Ulquiorra’s tail, motionless and speechless. Ulquiorra is delighted to see her here to witness the downfall of the man she placed all her hopes and dreams in. He points his finger at Ichigo's chest and blows a hole right through him, ending his life. Ulquiorra killed Ichigo because he refused to surrender and yield to him. It was then Orihime's turn because if Ichigo refused to give up, the despair of losing him should be sufficient to plunge Orihime into permanent darkness and make her surrender. Ichigo and Orihime are allegedly of one heart.

It does not matter which of the two gives in because for ONE HEART to exist, the two must hold on to each other. If one falls, the entire concept fails, and Ulquiorra wins. So Ichigo's lifeless body floats to the sandy dunes of Hueco Mundo, and Orihime rushes to help him. What we get here is one of the most powerful moments in the entire BLEACH series.  

I believed that to understand Ulquiorra, you needed to understand the relationship between Orihime and the thematic battle between them. On one side of the spectrum is Ulquiorra, who believes in nothing, cares about nothing, and lives in a world of eternal darkness and dread. Standing on the other side is Orihime, one who believes in the unbreakable bond between two people who care enough about each other to have their hearts exist as one.  

At this point, Ulquiorra has succeeded in getting Orihime to despair; her words and actions reflect that. What should I do? I don't know what to do? I don't know anything. Her shield won't defend her, and her healing techniques won't work. She cannot fight, she cannot protect herself. 


And she cannot heal, nothing matters, nothing works, and she has nothing else. Ulquiorra is right on the cusp of victory. But then Orihime starts to say Ichigo. Ichigo, Ichigo, HELP ME, ICHIGO. Ichigo from beyond the grave hears her. Upon hearing Orihime's lament, White takes control. In order to save Ichigo, he shares Orihime's desire to protect him. White defeats Ulquiorra and restores Ichigo's internal organs, he brings him back to life. Now comes Ulquiorra’s final moments. He reaches out his hand toward Orihime, and she does the same. But before she can reach him. He starts to fade, but not before finally understanding the true meaning of the heart. Let's break it down.  

Ulquiorra’s final moments:

The inarguable fact is that Ulquiorra has finally understood what the heart is. So, the question here is, what is it about Ulquiorra that stands as something he can call HEART? What is it that changed? What did he learn? Firstly, Ulquiorra's definition of the heart comes from Orihime's explanation of what HEART means to her. 

And based on Orihime's explanation from before, she believed that when two people care enough about each other, their common feelings allow them to synchronize and have what she calls one heart. Ulquiorra asks Ichigo to kill him after realizing his time is up. Ichigo says no, and Ulquiorra says, "Just when I was starting to take an interest in you people." He reaches out his hand towards Orihime. The image of his outstretched hand is not merely for physical touch but indicates Ulquiorra is finally willing to understand. He's finally ready to reach out to Orihime, but he makes sure to ask her. Are you afraid of me? After all, I threatened and psychologically imprisoned you, killed the one you wanted to protect, and put you through proverbial hell. Are YOU AFRAID OF ME?

Orihime, with genuine care in her eyes, tells him no. I'm not afraid, and just like that, Ulquiorra finally understands. You see Ulquiorra's outstretched hand is an attempt to reach out and close the emotional and psychological gap between him and Orihime. Remember that from Orihime's perspective, the heart It's not enough for one person to want something. The other person must too.

The common desire to meet and understand forgiveness, love, and protection is what forms the one heart. And when she says no, I'm not afraid and reaches out towards Ulquiorra. That is the completion of the connection and immediately, Ulquiorra understands this thing. The palm of my hand is, my HEART: I cannot see it, I cannot touch it.

Ulquiorra has changed from someone who doesn't believe in anything unless he can see or touch it to someone who cares deeply about the things in his hands, a metaphor for his heart. Kubo's decision to focus on Orihime and Ulquiorra's relationship rather than Ichigo in Ulquiorra's final moments is interesting since Ulquiorra's battles and rivalries throughout the series were always with Orihime rather than Ichigo. 

Even though Ulquiorra died, one thing was clear: Ulquiorra's Hollow Heart was no longer hollow. Because Ulquiorra finally attained heart, the hole in his chest was no longer empty. Thank you for reading.

Credit: Flame of Rebirth
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