Author: Tite Kubo
Publisher: Viz Media
American release date: April 2, 2013
Format/Genre/Length: Paperback/Manga/Supernatural/192 pages
Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★★
Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes
Step One in the healing process sees Ichigo and Renji arrive at the Bowing Pig Palace where their only job is to eat and get full! Ichigo digs right in, and although Renji has reservations about some of the things they are eating, that doesn’t stop him from stuffing himself also. Kirio Hikifune, whose palace they are enjoying the hospitality of, is the soul reaper who created the temporary soul and the ability to insert it into a body. She warns them that the guy in the next palace, though, is unpredictable. He is Oh-etsu Nimaiya, of the Phoenix Palace. He created the zanpaku-to.
Ichigo and Renji find Oh-etsu just a little offputting, as well as his bevy of big-busted beauties. But then he isn’t exactly impressed with them, saying they are heartless jerks who allowed their zankpaku-to be be damaged. Can he fix them? That depends on them. He explains to them what Asauchi are, and how Soul Reapers imprint their soul upon one of them through long and difficult training.
Meanwhile, in the underground great prison, Zaraki and Unohana are about to square off in an epic battle, one Shunsui could not forestall. One in which only one Captain will survive… Each has made such farewells as they care to make, for the outcome of this battle is uncertain.
At the Phoenix Palace, Oh-etsu announces that Renji has passed, but Ichigo has failed, which means he has to go home. Ichigo doesn’t accept that, but Oh-etsu tells him that doesn’t mean it’s over, just that before he can move forward he has to go back to his roots. Back home, Ichigo can’t face Isshin and runs away. He takes refuge at his boss’ house, but Isshin finds him anyway. Isshin takes him home… and tells him the truth about his mother. Finally.
Omigosh, this volume is chock full of valuable information, stuff I’ve been wondering about for some time and stuff I should have been wondering about. For example, who did Kenpachi beat to become Captain? Well now I know, and man, I never realized just how scary she is. This is a whole other side of her. Also, we learn more about Ichigo’s mother than we’ve ever learned before in a flashback to the past. Holy cow, she’s a Quincy? And she was raised in the Ishida household? Mindblowing stuff! Also, Isshin was a captain himself? And his name isn’t Kurosaki, it’s Shiba? Kurosaki is Masaki’s name. Seeing past incarnations of Aizen and Gin gave me chills, too, since this is all pre-the bad times.
So, once he learns he is part Quincy, where will Ichigo’s loyalties lie? And when will Uryu make an appearance, which I’m convinced he must at some point. Can’t wait to see what the next volume brings!