Author: Tite Kubo
Publisher: Viz Media
American release date: June 5, 2012
Format/Genre/Length: Paperback/Manga/Supernatural/192 pages
Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★★
Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes
As Ichigo and Ulquiorra battle, they assess one another to see in what way their opponent has become more skillful since their last encounter. Orihime stands on the sidelines, helpless to do anything but offer her support to Ichigo, ready to heal him if necessary. Behind her back, though, others are plotting against her. Namely the two girls who were previously the object of Lord Aizen’s wrath for what they tried to do to her. They know Orihime is no longer under his protection, so she is fair game. And they intend to get even for their imagined slights.
At that moment, Yammy arrives, eager to be part of the fight against Ichigo, although Ulquiorra has certainly not called for him and doesn’t want his help. Too bad for the girls that one chooses to be mouthy, since he obviously doesn’t like them to begin with. But luck is with them, thanks to the arrival of Uryu, but for how long? It’s getting to be a regular three ring circus there! And Uryu knows how to handle the big dummy… with a little help from Mayuri Kurotsuchi.
Turning back to Ulquiorra, Ichigo apologizes for the interruptions, saying “This is what you’ve been waiting to see” just as he goes Hollow. Ulquiorra reveals that Espada above quatra are forbidden to release beneath Las Noches’ canopy. But never fear, he knows how to remedy that. And so the fight continues. As usual, Ichigo never backs down, never considers the possibility of defeat, even though Ulquiorra insists, “I’m telling you – it’s futile!” Ichigo replies,” You thought I’d give up just because you’re stronger than me?” Uryu carries Orihime up to where the fight is taking place. Why is Ulquiorra dismayed to see her there? Is it possible he has a heart and in this heart he cares for Orihime?
This volume of Bleach is all about Ichigo and Ulquiorra, as if to make up for the lack of Ichigo in previous volumes. Not that I’m complaining about that, mind you, but in the end, Ichigo is the star of the show. Still, doesn’t hurt to let the others shine too. They’re all part of the story. But as the hero, we also know in our heart of hearts that Ichigo can’t fail, not even against Ulquiorra. So how bad will the defeat be for the powerful Espada? Only time will tell. But it’s obvious one of them must fall, and logically it can’t be Ichigo.
A riveting volume of Bleach, look forward to the next one!