Author: Tite Kubo
Publisher: Viz Media
American release date: September 2, 2008
Format/Genre/Length: Paperback/Manga/Supernatural/208 pages
Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★★
Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes
A group of Arrancars has arrived in Kakura Town, led by Grimmjow Jeagerjaques. Their mission is to find anyone with even a hint of spiritual pressure… and destroy them. Ikkaku faces a fierce opponent, but the bald Soul Reaper doesn’t know when to give up and continues to fight, despite the odds against him. He can’t help but remember to a fight he’d been in years previously against an opponent who valued his fighting skills and gave him some sound advice.
Toshiro Hitsugaya is often underestimated because of his lack of height and his youthful appearance. The Arrancar he faces is no exception. Meanwhile, Renji is engaged in a fight of his own, and his bankai doesn’t seem to be doing the trick, earning the other’s disdain. Due to all the strange spiritual pressure, Ururu is drawn from her bed, to Jinta’s dismay, fearful of what may happen if he cannot get her under control.
Not all Arrancars are created equal, apparently. Created by Aizen, through the use of the Hogyoku, they “are numbered according to the order of (their) birth, beginning with the number 11. The most gifted killers… receive the numbers one through ten , in descending order of their lethality.” These are known as the Espada. And among these is present in Kakura Town, Espada Sexta—Grimmjow. Small surprise that Ichigo finds himself battling this opponent.
Things are looking pretty grim for everyone (except the Arrancars) who belittle their opponents as being unworthy. But then Rangiku Matumoto receives a call she’s been waiting for from Soul Society, concerning the gentei kaijo (restriction removal). Apparently there is something that keeps Soul Reapers from operating at peak levels when in the World of the Living. Now that they can use more of their powers, perhaps the tide will turn!
Ichigo, however, has never been subject to these restrictions. He battles against Grimmjow himself. Is he up to the challenge, or will he require the intervention of a deux ex machina to save him? What of Uryu, who feels the spiritual pressure of the Arrancars but has promised to have nothing to do with the Soul Reapers? Will he find a way around that? Or will he be forced to sit on the sidelines.
This volume of Bleach is pretty battle heavy as the Soul Reapers and Ichigo square off against Grimmjow and his Arrancars. I like the way the battles aren’t all one-sided or weighed in the favor of the heroes. They’re more realistic in that the good guys don’t always win, and yes, they can get hurt. Sometimes die. I found what happened in Ichigo’s battle with Grimmjow very interesting, as well as its aftermath.
But of course, this is just the tip of the iceberg. To paraphrase the Carpenters, “They’ve only just begun….” Good volume of Bleach, looking forward to the next one.