Author: Tite Kubo
Publisher: Viz Media
American release date: May 19, 2004
Format/Genre/Length: Paperback/Manga/Supernatural/200 pages
Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★★
Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes
Ichigo Kurosaki can see ghosts. This is something he’s lived with all his life, so dead people are a normal part of his existence. He’s sensitive to their sufferings. When punks break a floral offering for a young child, Ichigo shows them the error of their ways by beating it into them. Ichigo lives with his father and two sisters, Karin and Yuzu, his mother having died some time ago. They run the Kurosaki Clinic. His father is strict, in that he demands the teen-aged Ichigo be home by 7, and he has a disconcerting habit of attacking his son without warning. It’s become something of a male ritual with them, each trying to get over on the other. The girls just roll their eyes and shakes their heads at them.
When a mysterious girl in black robes appears suddenly in Ichigo’s room, he is thrown for a loss. She is equally flabbergasted that not only can he see her, he was able to kick her. She explains to him that she is Rukia Kuchiki, and she is a Soul Reaper from the Soul Society. When Ichigo tries to have his dad remove the intruder, his father looks at him like he’s crazy. Apparently no one can see her but him, lending credence to her story. Rukia explains to Ichigo that there are two kinds of souls – the normal kind, whom she performs konso on so they can pass on to the Soul Society, and the hollows, who must be vaporized. Rukia is looking for a hollow now, in Ichigo’s house.
Ichigo realizes to his horror that his family is in danger, and they are being attacked by a Hollow. His guilt only grows when Rukia surmises the Hollow is looking for Ichigo because of his strong spirit pressure, unlike other humans. Ichigo is determined to fight for his family. Rukia only intends to lend Ichigo half of her power so he can combat this enemy, but to her dismay, he absorbs all of it, rendering her unable to use them.
The next day Ichigo is confused to find his family have no memory of the attack and believe a truck drove into their home, causing extensive damage. He goes to school, wondering what’s become of Rukia. Did she return to her Soul Society? To his surprise and dismay he finds her as a new student in his class. What’s up with that? He confronts her in private and asks why she didn’t return to where she belongs, only to learn that she can’t because he took all her powers. So until she can get them back, he has to perform soul reaper duties in her place!
Ichigo and Rukia run into Ichigo’s friend, Orihime, who is something of a space cadet and a klutz but a super sweet girl. Rukia notices a strange bruise on Orihime’s leg, which she laughingly attributes to clumsiness, but Rukia isn’t sure that’s really the case. That night, Ichigo’s sister questions him about some missing items, such as her pajamas and a dress, but he has no idea where they are, why should he? In his room, he hears a phone go off, which turns out to be Rukia’s, and she is sleeping in his closet? No time to argue, a Hollow is nearby and they must confront it! When they find the monster, Ichigo is appalled when he recognizes who it is!
I’ve been watching the anime for several months now but am just starting to read the manga. It’s every bit as good as the anime, and I love seeing the characters in print. One thing I didn’t realize from the anime is that Ichigo has a nickname, which is Strawberry. My daughter explained that it’s because his name translates to strawberry. Learn something new every day!
In this first volume, we are meeting people, such as Orihime and Chad, and of course Rukia. Her sensing Ichigo’s spirit pressure is what starts everything moving. The Kurosaki family is great, I love their interactions. Dad is really something else. But everything is done with love, and it shows. Ichigo may have been reluctant to take on the duties of a soul reaper, but once he’s agreed to do it, he goes into it wholeheartedly, as it’s his nature to stand up for other people who might not be able to stand up for themselves. He’s a good boy, he is. The only criticism I can make (and it’s not something unusual to Kubo alone, it’s most of the male manga artists) is the tendency to draw women with huge breasts. But what can you do? I guess their primary target audience are teen-aged males.
Great first volume, lots to go, looking forward to it!