Author: Tite Kubo
Publisher: Viz Media
American release date: June 2, 2009
Format/Genre/Length: Paperback/Manga/Supernatural/200 pages
Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★★
Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes
Ulquiorra has taken Orihime hostage, capture while she is being escorted back to the World of the Living. Warning her that resistance is futile, he allows her to go to Kakura Town to say good-bye to one person, without being seen, and then she is to report to Hueco Mundo. Orihime agrees, rather than see anyone get hurt. And of course the one person she chooses to say good-bye to is Ichigo.
Meanwhile, the battle between the Soul Reapers and the Arrancars continues, following the arrival of Uruhara. Yammy thinks he’s killed Kiskue but the shop owner is a lot tougher than he’s given him credit for. And he’s a quick study. Fool me once, shame on you… but Kiskue won’t be fooled again.
Ichigo, along with Rukia, is battling Grimmjow, and things aren’t going particularly well when Dutch Boy (Shinji) shows up, and he isn’t anything Grimmjow has ever seen before. And neither will he explain himself to the Arrancar, which infuriates him. But just as Dutch Boy lashes out with a Cero of his own, and it seems as if the tide has turned in their favor, the call comes to the Arrancars that the battle is and they are to return. Obviously a sign that their objective has been attained, ie the capture of Orihime, although the others don’t know that yet.
An exhausted Ichigo is taken home to recuperate and is totally unaware of Orihime’s arrival and her heartfelt good-bye in the middle of the night. But when Hitsugaya arrives the next morning and detects her spiritual pressure, that knowledge seems to change everything. Now the Soul Reapers will do nothing to assist in her rescue, claiming that she has joined Aizen et al of her own accord and is therefore a traitor. Rukia and the other Soul Reapers are ordered back to Soul Society immediately and the Captain General forbids Ichigo to help Orihime either, claiming he needs him for more important thing.
Like Ichigo’s going to listen to the old man when Orihime’s life is in danger.
Before he heads off to Hueco Mundo, Ichigo briefly returns to school and cuts ties with his friends for their own protection, then heads to the shop, suspecting Kiskue can help him get to Hueco Mundo. But rather than play Lone Ranger, it seems that Ichigo will have a couple of companions, who have been waiting for him to turn up. And they are not the only ones keeping Ichigo on their radar.
An interesting turn of events with the capture of Orihime. Now we finally understand just why Uruhara wanted to keep her from the battle, and it has nothing to do with her abilities or lack of, but it was done for her protection, knowing she will become a target of Aizen. See how well that worked out. Now is the time to find out what this seemingly fragile, mind-mannered, sweet young girl is truly made of. In order to survive Aizen and his cohorts in Hueco Mundo, it had best be something really strong. Also interesting is her admission of her feelings when saying farewell to Ichigo.
Perhaps losing the support of the Soul Reapers – at least for now – was for the best, because that’s what is allowing Uryu to come along, providing the loophole in his agreement with his father which helped him regain his Quincy powers. But it seems that dear old Dad is not surprised, as even Isshin can tell.
In this volume, we get a little more of a glimpse into Kiskue as more than a comic relief character who happens to own a shop in the World of the Living. Did you really think that was his only purpose? No, that man has a lot more to him, and a lot more we have to learn about him. You just don’t become a supplier to the Soul Reapers without having some sort of inside knowledge… maybe friends in high places?
The first arc of Bleach involved the saving of Rukia, and now on to the saving of Orihime. Not coincidentally, both rescues involve Aizen, the renegade Soul Reaper, who no longer has any redeeming values. That man is just bad to the bone. And more than a little egomaniacal and crazy. No telling what that kind of crazy will do, as it tends to want everything.
Another good volume of Bleach, setting the stage for what is coming, namely battle with Aizen and pals on their own turf. That can’t be good, surely, especially when he was so many bad things at his disposal. So what is his long-term agenda? Well, he still has the Hogyoku, waiting for it to come to fruition. What’s he plan to do with it? Hard to say.
Can’t wait for the next volume.