Author: Tite Kubo
Publisher: Viz Media
American release date: June 3, 2008
Format/Genre/Length: Paperback/Manga/Supernatural/208 pages
Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★★
Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes
All is not well with Aizen’s group, when Ulquiorra makes his report, explaining why he did not kill Ichigo and the others. Grimmjow maintains that he is weak, perhaps afraid, while Ulquiorra maintains that perhaps Ichigo will be of use to them in the future.
Back in the World of the Living, Ichigo informs the Soul Reapers that they are not welcome to stay in his tiny room (or his home) and they are responsible for finding their own digs for as long as they are on assignment there. Matsumoto asks Orihime if she can stay with her, Ikkaku and Yumichika strike out on their own, and Renji decides to head to Uruhara’s place. Ichigo explains to Rukia why she can’t stay with him anymore, since his family have seen her, but she manages to circumvent his objection and get herself invited to stay, to his chagrin.
Aware of the presence of the Soul Reapers in Kakura Town, Grimmjow receives the orders he was hoping for—take a few of the other Arrancars and kill anyone with even a hint of spiritual pressure. When Ichigo and Rukia come face to face with their first Arrancar, Ichigo makes the startling discovery that Rukia has her spiritual pressure back! She proceeds to demonstrate what she can do with her unusual white sword.
The Arrancars have split up to pursue individual targets, and Ikkaku finds himself fighting Edarod, a fight which he swears will be to the death, whether his or the other’s. Yumichiki contacts the Soul Society to give them certain instructions, including orders for Ikkaku’s funeral!
In bonus stories, we get glimpses of the characters set prior to this time, and we get our first look at the Society of Female Soul Reapers.
The plot thickens as the Arrancars, aka Aizen’s Dream Team, are thrown into the mix. And they have just begun… I keep wondering what makes Aizen so appealing that people just automatically do what he tells them? And yet they do.
I love the scene with Rukia and Ichigo’s family where she sweet talks them into letting her stay there. I notice that in the manga there is more about Orihime’s feelings for Ichigo then in the anime, at least in my opinion. In fact, she is very jealous of Rukia and how close they seem. I wonder if that will end differently in the manga, since nothing happened in the anime in that regard.
There is an ongoing story between chapters involving Kon, who being Kon, has taken over Hanamoto’s body. I love this characterization of Ichigo: “No matter how strong I get, I can’t protect them (in reference to the spirits he can see). The realization cuts my heart like cold steel.” This is Ichigo all over, and is probably the largest motivating factor for everything he has done or will do, his overwhelming need to protect everyone, especially his friends and family. This is what drives him, what keeps him going… and what ensures he will never give up, never surrender.
Also in the bonus stories is a teaser concerning Renji and Rukia that I hope to see more of. Another great volume of bleach, looking forward to the next one!