Tag Archives: Bleach

Book Review: Bleach, Vol 18 by Tite Kubo

Bleach, Vol 18       

Author: Tite Kubo

Publisher: Viz Media

American release date: April 3, 2007

Format/Genre/Length: Paperback/Manga/Supernatural/208 pages

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★★

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

 

The time has arrived for Rukia’s execution, the Sokyoku has been released and Rukia has been strapped to the scaffold. She awaits her fate with resignation, grateful to those who attempted to rescue her. The halberd assumes its true form as the firebird king, ready to impale Rukia and complete the sentence. Only a deus ex machina can save her now.

And here one is, in the person of Ichigo Kurosaki! And Ichigo is single-handedly holding back the firebird king itself!  How can that be? Instead of being grateful, Rukia calls him a fool and asks him why he came back, warning him Byakuya will surely kill him this time. Meanwhile, the spectators below are marveling at what has happened and wondering who in the world was able to do that.

Before the bird can strike a second time, which would surely be fatal to them both, Ukitake arrives, to Kyoraku’s relief, and proceeds to destroy the Sokyoku. At that, Ichigo destroys the scaffold and takes Rukia in hand. Can her rescue possibly be this easy?

Of course not.

Ichigo tosses Rukia down to Renji and tells him to take her to safety, as he turns to confront Byakuya. Sai Fon sends her people after those who are working to rescue Rukia, then finds herself facing a foe of her own—her former captain, Yoruichi! Ukitake and Kyoraku are about to attempt to talk to Sai Fon, but they are called to task by the Head-Captain himself, and have no choice but to face him down together!

This volume of Bleach is certainly not lacking in action. Everybody seems to be fighting against someone! And the lines between the good guys and the bad guys is most definitely blurred, as two captains—the first two captains to graduate from the Soul Reaper Academy—choose to do what they believe to be right, even if it means defying old man Yama.

Ichigo is his usual cocky self. Remember he’s only fifteen, and still believes himself invincible. But besides that, he has strong sense of honor, as well as a strong desire to protect his family and friends from harm. He won’t allow Rukia to give up, no matter what, a very admirable sentiment indeed. I don’t find manga-Rukia nearly as wishy-washy as I did anime-Rukia. Maybe that’s because we are more privy to her inner thoughts in the manga than in the anime.

I was especially thrilled to see so much of Shunsui in this volume, especially as he is so obviously on the side of right. He and Ukitake are such good friends and so very much in sync with one another. It’s very heart-warming. (On the other hand, although I write fanfiction, I have no desire to slash them, although I’m fairly sure that’s been done already. I don’t see either one of them as being gay, and they certainly aren’t written that way. I mean, have you ever watched Shunsui with the women? Seriously?) One thing about the manga that I love is that I sometimes end up having questions answered that bothered me from watching the anime. Such as what’s wrong with Ukitake. He’s always treated as if he’s fragile and might keel over at any moment. But common sense says that if he’s strong enough to become a Soul Reaper, he’s not a wilting flower either. Well, the answer is at the back of this volume, which has bios of both Ukitake and Shunsui. Apparently Ukitake has a lung ailment! That explains much and answers that question.

I like the little vignettes in between chapters involving those left behind in the World of the Living. Kon (in Ichigo’s body) has become involved in a soccer game with Jinta and Ururu and Karin, and notices that Jinta has his Kon body! The result is hilarious and is still ongoing.

I liked the scenes between Yoruichi and Sai Fon. I think you’d have to be pretty blind not to realize that Yoriuchi and Kiskue are a couple. But also, Sai Fon has a huge crush on Yoruichi, which probably contributes to her behavior at times.

With most of the strength of the Sereitei arrayed against them, can Ichigo and his friends pull off this daring rescue? Only time will tell. Looking forward to the next volume!

 

Book Review: Bleach, Vol 17 by Tite Kubo

Bleach, Vol 17         

Author: Tite Kubo

Publisher: Viz Media

American release date: February 6, 2007

Format/Genre/Length: Paperback/Manga/Supernatural/208 pages

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★★

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

 

The countdown to execution has begun! No time to lose if Rukia Kuchiki is to be saved! Renji is determined to save his friend, even if he has to go through Byakuya, his captain, to do it. Byakuya is confident in his ability to defeat Renji, but Renji has been training with Ichigo and has a few surprises up his sleeves!

Kenpachi is happily facing the masked Komamura and the blind Tosen. Finally, a real challenge! As Rukia is being led to the Sokyoku, across the bridge, she encounters Gin Ichimaru, who can’t resist a last chance to tease the condemned Soul Reaper. He informs her that Renji is still alive, and offers to help her.  Reaching the Sokyoku,  she is asked if she has anything to say, and makes a last request.

Realizing Captain Tosen has used his bankai, Hisagi wants to go to him, but Yumichika tells him they are not finished. When Tosen questions his abilities and standing in his company, Yumichika enlightens him as to why he holds the position that he does. In fact, Yumichika will show him something, if Tosen promises not to tell the other members of his squad.

The execution has begun. It’s now or never, if Rukia is to be saved.

This volume is becoming a real nail-biter as Ichigo and friends battle to save Rukia from what they consider to be an unwarranted execution. Ichigo is conspicuous by his absence, still working to learn how to bankai. But he has an indomitable spirit and refuses to consider failure to be an option. No doubt we’ll see him in the next book.  Tosen’s backstory is poignant, and the revelation of Komamura’s actual face is enlightening. You can’t help but love Yachiru, the way she refers to Orihime as “Chubby”, and calls Ichigo “Itchy”. Although perhaps that should be translated as Ichi. It’s hard to tell, and translation can be a tricky thing.

There are so many questions here that beg to be answered. Is Rukia’s so-called infraction really of such a serious nature that it requires her execution? And, if you go with the idea that Soul Society is a sort of heaven, where the dead go, and that therefore the Soul Reapers themselves are not alive and not human, then how can she be executed and what does this really mean to them? Why is Byakuya such an uptight and cold monster, who is willing to see his own sister lose her life?

Plus we still have the mystery of who killed Captain Aizen. We know it wasn’t Ichigo and Company, despite what the Soul Society thinks. So who is the killer, and why was he killed? So many questions, so few answers. .. yet.  Something’s gotta give, hopefully in the next volume.

Looking forward to the big event, be there!

Book Review: Bleach, Vol 16 by Tite Kubo

Bleach, Vol 16         

Author: Tite Kubo

Publisher: Viz Media

American release date: December 5, 2006

Format/Genre/Length: Paperback/Manga/Supernatural/208 pages

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★★

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

 

The date of Rukia’s execution keeps getting pushed forward, and now it’s set for noon the next day! The time that was gained on the passage through the Senkaimon will count for nothing if Ichigo doesn’t figure out how to bankai! Without that, he’s doomed to failure!

Hitsugaya finds himself under attack by none other than Hinamori, to his confusion and consternation. She’s found a letter, in the late Captain Aizen’s hand, blaming his death on none other than the captain of the 10th Company. Of course Toshiro is innocent of the charge, but Momo is in no condition to understand that. It doesn’t help that she is being egged on by the ever-smiling Gin Ichimaru.

Meanwhile, Renji has shown up at the place where Ichigo is training. He wants to train there too, to be ready to save Rukia. He informs Ichigo of the change in date of the execution, which causes Yoruichi dismay. But she continues to have faith in Ichigo’s abilities.

Learning of the change, Rukia seems to be accepting of her fate, as her mind turns to a fallen comrade, Assistant Captain Kaien Shiba, the man whose death she is responsible for. Nothing could have changed what happened, and yet she feels guilty for what she did. No wonder Ganju hates her and doesn’t wish to help her. Shiba was his brother.  Captain Ukitake tries to talk to Byakuya, but doesn’t understand his acceptance of Rukia’s fate. His own sister!

Thanks to Kenpachi, Orihime is reunited with Ishida, Chad, and Ganju, but they are confronted by Captain Komamura, Captain Tosen, Hisagi, and Iba. Kenpachi says he’ll take them all on. When Ikkaku and Kumchiki show up, the subordinates go off to fight, leaving the captains to it. For his part, Captain Kyoraku is thinking he’ll be the only one to be yelled at by old man Yama, but he has to do what he feels is right.

The clock is ticking and Rukia’s fate lies in Ichigo’s hands. The backstory of Rukia and Kaien is very poignant and explains much. I enjoy seeing such stories about the characters, which flesh them out. Having already watched the anime, it only adds to my enjoyment and knowledge of them, and sometimes explains things I didn’t realize, or things that went by too fast in the anime.

I like the relationship between Hitsugaya and Hinamori, which never wavers through the series. He is very protective of her, just as Matsumoto is protective of him. The brief scene with Shunsui and Nanao is priceless (in case you hadn’t noticed by now, he is quite my favorite lol).

Of course I already know what’s going on, so I won’t speculate on some things, but it is obvious that there are wheels within wheels. Byakuya’s seeming indifference to his sister’s fate is baffling. Also, what is the health issue which seems to greatly affect Ukitake (if it’s explained in the anime, I missed it). We see little of Ichigo’s companions in this volume, but I found it funny to see both Orihime and Yachiru riding on Kenpachi’s shoulders. Kenny is an interesting man. He lives to fight, without rancor or malice but a simple love of fighting. I would never cross this man, although I suspect he has a good heart deep down, and I love his relationship with Yachiru. Gin is enigmatic as ever, and layered much like an onion. And Komamura with the strange mask – what’s up with that? How does he even see?

Then again, Tosen is blind and he manages, reminding me of Geordi La Forge on Star Trek Next Generation, even down to the visor! The race is on to save Rukia and time is running out. If the hero is going to make a dramatic rescue, he had best do it soon! Another great volume, looking forward to more!

 

 

Book Review: Bleach, Vol 15 by Tite Kubo

Bleach, Vol 15        Bleach, Vol 15 cover

Author: Tite Kubo

Publisher: Viz Media

American release date: October 3, 2006

Format/Genre/Length: Paperback/Manga/Supernatural/208 pages

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★★

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

 

Ishida is facing down the Captain of the 12th Company, Mayuri Kurotsuchi, and is doing very well for himself, despite Kurotsuchi’s immense spiritual pressure and his paralyzing tactics. The captain is so impressed he decides not to kill Ishida, so that he can capture and study him. But Ishida will have none of that, especially after learning the part the Soul Reaper played in the death of his beloved Grandfather. He calls upon a power that amazes Kurotsuchi, who warns him of the devastating side effect of such a move. Will Ishida throw caution to the wind in order to avenge his mentor?

Meanwhile, Yoruichi is determined to teach Ichigo what often takes soul reapers ten years to master—namely, how to bankai—in only three days! In order to do this, she manifests Zangetsu in his physical form and Ichigo must defeat him. But that’s easier said than done, as Ichigo finds himself surrounded by a number of swords and must choose the right one in order to cut Zangetsu down!

Renji, Kira, and Hinamoi are being held in cells until they find themselves unexpectedly released by one of the captains! Meanwhile, a baffled ishida awakens to find himself in the Soul Reaper infirmary, along with Ganju and Chad. Chad feels that all they can do is to stay there and heal and wait for Ichigo to come for them, which he is confident Ichigo will do. Orihime, who was rescued against her will by a random member of the 11th Company, finds herself with members of the 12th Company, namely Yachiru, Kenpachi, Ikkaku, and Yumichika. Kenpachi decides to watch over the girl, confident that where she is, there will Ichigo end up, and he wants to have another battle with Ichigo!

Matsumoto is with Captain Hitsugaya, after she fell asleep in his office, when he learns of the prisoner escape. He knows just where to go, and hopes to arrive there before Hinamori. He knows she blames Gin for Captain Aizen’s death and is determined to avenge him! In the meantime, taking a break from his bankai traning, Ichigo learns some things about Uruhara that he never knew before!

We see more of Ishida than we ever have before, including some backstory, and the last Quincy really shines. If you ever wonder what he’s doing with the others, this volume shows that he definitely belongs among their company. He may be irritating at times, and often insufferable, but he is more talented that I gave him credit for, and loyal to a fault. When he has a difficult decision to make, he doesn’t hesitate to do what’s best for everyone, whether or not it’s best for him personally.

Ichigo’s bankai training is absolutely essential to his growth and development. It’s imperative that he master it, as will become even more evident as the story continues. Watching him train with Zangetsu is great. Ichigo pushes himself constantly, doesn’t know the meaning of defeat, and would never give up. He still has a lot to learn, but he’s definitely on his way to bigger and better things.

The untold story at the end concerns Renji, Kira, and Hinamori as young soul reapers who encounter something beyond their skill level while on a training mission and who decide to handle it as best they can.

Knowing what’s coming, since I already watched the anime, allows me to look for things I missed in that, or things that were missing. It also keeps me from missing the anime too much, since I am revisiting everything. I’ve also started to watch the movies. There is no such thing as boredom when you’re reading these books! Can’t wait to read the next one!

 

Book Review: Bleach, Vol 14 by Tite Kubo

Bleach, Vol 14    Bleach, Vol 14 cover

Author: Tite Kubo

Publisher: Viz Media

American release date: August 1, 2006

Format/Genre/Length: Paperback/Manga/Supernatural/208 pages

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★★

 Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

 

Captain Ukitake, head of the 13th Company, awakens to learn the news of Captain Aizen’s death and decides to look into things for himself. Meanwhile, Ganju is arguing with Hanatoro about rescuing Rukia, on Ichigo’s orders as he faces down Byakuya. Ganju refuses to help the soul reaper who killed his brother! However, he relents when he sees Hanatoro prepare to face down the powerful Byakuya without even a sword!

Mr. Yoruichi has taken the injured Ichigo to safety, to his dismay. But when he wonders how the cat was able to drag him to safety, he is in for a huge surprise! Meanwhile, Ganju is facing Byakuya, who plans to simply walk away from him until he learns that Ganju is a Shiba! Now it’s on! Only Ukitake’s provident arrival saves Ganju’s life.

Ichigo arrives and announces his intention of saving Rukia, despite her protestations, but Byakuya tells Ukitake that he will dispose of the pest. “You’ve got a big mouth, boy,” he tells Ichigo. Can Ichigo defeat such a powerful Soul Reaper? Or will he require some kind of divine intervention?

Orihime has a plan to help Ishida and herself not stand out to the Soul Reapers. They “borrow” some Soul Reaper uniforms in order to be inconspicuous. But when someone asks what squad they belong to, they give the first answer that comes to mind, only to find they chose the wrong one. But help comes from an unexpected source… or is that a trap?

Each volume of Bleach gets more and more exciting! And we learn more and more about the characters. The people you might think you dislike grow on you while some turn out to be wolves in sheep’s clothing! But there is still so much to discover! What about the mask in Ichigo’s pocket? How did it get there and what does it mean? Also, the more we find out about Kiskue Uruhara, the more we don’t know. Former Captain? The plot thickens indeed! I love the scenes of Ichigo learning to use his bankai, and I love Zangetsu! Also, the scenes with Ishida facing down Captain Kurotsuchi are fabulous! The captain is rather different, I have to admit, and difficult to like but very interesting.

Looking forward to the next volume!

Book Review: Bleach, Vol 13 by Tite Kubo

Bleach, Vol 13      Bleach, Vol 13 cover

Author: Tite Kubo

Publisher: Viz Media

American release date: June 6, 2006

Format/Genre/Length: Paperback/Manga/Supernatural/208 pages

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★★

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

 

 

Despite his size and brute strength, Chad has been bested by 8th Squad Captain Kyoraku. When his lieutenant, Nanao, arrives with an important message concerning the death of Captain Aizen of 5th Squad, she offers to finish Chad off, as probably the Ryoka are the cause of his death. But Shunsui tells her no, they can’t be sure of that, and wants him taken to the 4th Squad instead, for healing. Shunsui sighs. “Things are getting complicated.”

Meanwhile, Ichigo is battling Kenpachi Zaraki, who is one scary and fierce dude, which makes Zaraki’s lieutenant, Yachiru, happy because it makes Kenny happy. Ichigo becomes cocky, which translates to careless, and is run through by Zaraki’s sword, to the captain’s disappointment. Bleeding and dismayed, Ichigo recognizes Zangetsu, his zanpaku-tô, who questions him: “Do you want to win or do you want to live?”

Meanwhile, Ganju and Hanataro have reached Rukia’s cell, prepared to liberate her. But there is a slight wrinkle in their plan as Ganju realizes who she is. Will he still rescue her, or will he try to kill her himself?

The action continued in this volume of Bleach. I love how relentless Ichigo is, how determined and sometimes headstrong and brash. Well, he is a teenager after all, and probably imbued with the same spirit of seeming immortality that so many teens are because they can’t conceive of maybe dying. Ichigo is loyal to a fault and will do anything for his friends, but he doesn’t always think before he acts. I love his interactions with Zangetsu. The old man is usually good at instilling a modicum of good sense into Ichigo, as well as strength.

I loved seeing the back story between Kenachi and Yachiru. At first I found her annoying but she’s grown on me. There is a lot of back story in Bleach, which I enjoy. The problem with Ganju and Rukia sets up a question of principle, but I suspect there is more to that story than meets the eye, and probably a flashback to go with.

The ending contains a good cliffhanger, looking forward to the next volume to see what happens!

Book Review: Bleach, Vol 12 by Tite Kubo

Bleach, Vol 12      Bleach, Vol 12 cover

Author: Tite Kubo

Publisher: Viz Media

American release date: April 4, 2006

Format/Genre/Length: Paperback/Manga/Supernatural/208 pages

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★★

Reviewer:  Julie Lynn Hayes

 

Renji Abarai, assistant captain to 6th squad’s Captain Kuchiki, after being defeated by Ichigo has only one thing to say to him—“Save Rukia!” Kira and Hinamori come upon Renji and are amazed that he has been defeated, but they are too late to fight Ichigo, as he and Ganju and Hanatoro have already gone. Kira and Hinamori intend to send Renji to be healed by the 4th Company but are prevented from doing so by Byakuya Kuchiki, who instructs them to dump him in a cell! Gin Ichimaru assures Kira and Hinamori that he will send word to 4th Company anyway. Toshiro Hitsugaya appears after Gin leaves and warns Hinamori not to trust the Third Company, especially….

 

Head-Captain Yamamoto overlooks Gin’s previous actions and declares all-out war on the Ryoka.

 

Ichigo awakens to find himself being healed by Hanataro of the wounds he suffered fighting Renji. When he insists he’s ready to go, Ganju knocks him out again, proving how weak he really is. Hanataro tells Ganju that Ichigo’s life was saved by a mask in his pocket, one which resembles a Hollow. How did he acquire such an object, though?

 

Disturbed by the idea of fighting, the peaceful Hinamori, assistant captain of the 6th Company, seeks out her captain, Aizen, to speak with him. His soothing voice and words, his calm smile, relax her so much she falls asleep. When she wakens, she finds Aizen gone and she is going to be late for assembly if she doesn’t hurry. Luckily, she knows a short-cut, but in taking this route, she comes upon a horrific sight!

 

Hinamori finds herself in hot water when she tries to attack Gin for what she believes he has done, only to be confronted by Kira. Hitsugaya steps in between them and has both arrested, then warns Gin not to ever make Hinamori bleed. Rangiku Matsumoto visits Hinamori in her cell and brings her a letter addressed to her that was found in Captain Aizen’s room, revealing what he has discovered.

 

Ichigo, Ganju, and Hanatoro approach the high tower where Rukia is being held, which seems surprisingly empty of people, only to feel a frightfully enormous spiritual pressure. The pressure turns out to belong to the soul reaper who Ikkaku spoke of to Ichigo, Kenpachi Zaraki, captain of the 11th Company. He anticipates an interesting fight against Ichigo and is excited to get started. Ichigo tells Ganju and Hanataro to go ahead and continue with their mission while he stays behind to engage in battle with Kenpachi.

 

Meanwhile, Chad has run into the captain of the 8th Company, Shunsui Kyoraku, a very laid-back fellow in a pink flowered kimono. Shunsui attempts to get Chad to have a drink with him,  not wishing to fight, but to no avail. Chad is giving him no choice in the matter.

 

I love this volume of Bleach for many reasons, but I have to mention first and foremost that I adore Shunsui Kyoraku, and these is his first real scenes in the series, which is exciting. Also the first real scenes with Kenpachi and Yachiru. I was upset over the unexpected and tragic death that occurred in this volume, but you’ll find that happens in Bleach, like it or not. It’s exciting to watch Ichigo work his way through the various captains and lieutenants of the 13 Court Guard Squads in order to reach Rukia. He is far stronger than they gave him credit for being. Uryu and Orihime were absent in this volume, but I’m sure we’ll see them soon.

 

I just finished watching the anime and am excited that I am still living the Bleach story through the manga. I understand that the manga goes beyond what I saw in the anime, so I look forward to seeing where it takes me. Another great volume of Bleach, looking forward to the next one!