Author: Tite Kubo
Publisher: Viz Media
American release date: October 12, 2004
Format/Genre/Length: Paperback/Manga/Supernatural/200 pages
Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★★
Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes
Ichigo and Rukia deal with the problem of the Mod Soul by inserting him into a stuffed lion and naming him Kon. Now Ichigo has two roommates – Kon and Rukia, who is sleeping in his closet.
The anniversary of Ichigo’s mother’s death arrives, and the Kurosaki family head to the cemetery to pay their respects. Ichigo’s friends know in advance not to expect him to be in school on that day. Surprisingly, when they arrive, they find Rukia there. Ichigo takes her aside to ask why, and she explains she wants to be near him in case a Hollow should show up.
Ichigo was nine when it happened. Even then, he could see dead people, but he couldn’t always distinguish between the living and the dead. So when he first saw the little girl standing by the river, he wanted to protect her and went to her. His mother, who was with him, came rushing after him. He didn’t see what got her, but when he looked she was dead. Since then, he’s blamed himself for her death.
Waiting for Ichigo, Rukia senses a hollow, although there hasn’t been an order. She and Ichigo hurry toward its spiritual pressure, which is close, only to discover Karin already there, on the ground. Worse than that, the same little girl is there who was by the river six years before, when his mother died. Will he be able to settle the past, or will the Hollow defeat Ichigo by dredging up his guilt surrounding his mother’s death?
Rukia pushes Kon into Ichigo’s body while he soul reaps, and she and Kon tend to Karin and Yuzu, taking them home, so Ichigo can do what he needs to do. Afterward, Rukia returns to Ichigo, but she’s promised not to interfere, as he says this is personal, and he has to do it. Can she keep from joining the fight, if Ichigo’s life is on the line?
This is a very poignant volume of Bleach and deals with a lot of what makes Ichigo tick, starting with his mother’s death, which changed him forever, and for which he blames himself. Ichigo and Rukia’s relationship is strengthened. I have to believe that at some point they will become a couple, but as I’m 169 episodes into the anime and that hasn’t happened yet, I guess we have a ways to go before we see that happen.
The scene with Ichigo and his dad at the end is priceless. And having seen the anime, I realize something I hadn’t noticed before, but that would be shenanigans to call that out so soon, so you’ll just have to figure it out yourself or wait for the revelation, which is a ways off. Kon’s character has toned down, maybe because he’s stuck in the lion body or maybe because he isn’t in fear of being killed now, and he isn’t alone.
Next volume should be great, as we meet Don Kanonji! Can’t wait!