Tag Archives: Book review

Book Review: Pluto, Vol 3 by Naoki Urasawa & Osamu Tezuka

Pluto, Vol 3      

Author: Naoki Urasawa & Osamu Tezuka

Publisher: Viz Media

American release date: May 19, 2009

Format/Genre/Length: Paperback/Sci-Fi Manga//200 pages

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★★

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

 

Uran is a robot who looks like a little girl. She has the unique ability of being able to sense emotions, even from great distances. As she and Atom leave the police station, Atom notices an odd man heading into the station, but he can’t tell whether he is robot or human. Turns out he is Professor Abdullah. From Persia, he is considered to be Central Asia’s greatest intellect. The police requested he come in to discuss some of the people he met with on a recent visit, some of whom are now dead. As the Professor leaves the station, he requests directions to Central Park where something just happens to be emerging, something dark and sinister-looking.

In Dusseldorf, a family are enjoying their breakfast. The wife reminds her husband, Adolf, that it is the three year anniversary of his brother’s death, and he needs to claim the body. When he does, he requests to see the body and is shocked by what he sees.  Later he attends a clandestine meeting of people wearing hoods who all espouse the cause of death to machines, and seek to eradicate all robots. It appears his brother was practically pulverized by a particular type of weapon which few robots can wield. He is determined to find out which robots are capable. He researches reported incidents involving such a weapon and learns the only one within the last few years since the war was reported just the previous night, and that one involved Inspector Gesicht.

With the help of a friend, Hercules has “borrowed” a military battle suit, knowing this is a serious offense, one that could end his career. As he is testing it out, suddenly a second sun appears in the sky. It turns out to be a robot named Epsilon, who says he had to stop Hercules before he got himself killed, like Brando and Mount Blanc. Back in Germany, Adolf takes his findings to his group, to request their help in locating and destroying Gesicht. They tell him not to take any action as this could reveal the awful things Adolf’s brother did, but let them handle the matter. Epsilon approaches Gesicht and tells him of the children he cares for since the war. One particular little boy, the sole survivor of his village, saw something terrible, and the only word he will utter now is the name Bora.

In Tokyo, Uran oddly wakes to find what seems to be a tear on her pillow. Since when do robots cry? Leaving her building, she says she senses someone in emotional distress, perhaps an animal, and goes off to find it.  Going into a closed park which is forbidden for anyone to enter, she finds a man inside an abandoned building who is in apparent distress. Except he isn’t a man, he’s a robot. When she asks what sort of nutrient he requires, she tells him she can’t get that one but gets the closest thing to that she can find. She helps nurse him back to health and begins to piece together his story. In the meantime, Professor Abdullah has sent out a robot on a mission… and who is Pluto?

Maybe I’m late to realize this and am only stating the obvious, but it seems to me that Pluto can be seen as an allegory about the human condition, even though it involves robots. It has themes of prejudice and hate, which of course are reflected in our everyday lives with people who hate others based solely on the basis of their skin color, sexual identification, religions, etc. People fear what they don’t understand. They also fear people who know more than they do (whether they are willing to admit to it or not) So robots are a double threat in that regard. And these robots are eerily human as well, some of them. That hooded hate group looks remarkably like the KKK – imagine that. Now it seems that Gesicht has a target on his back, assuming he didn’t already just because of who he is. How many more robots have to die before this menace is stopped? Who or what is Pluto?

Another great volume, looking forward to the next one!

Book Review: The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo     

Author: Taylor Jenkins Reid

Publisher: Washington Square Press

American release date: May 29, 2018

Format/Genre/Length: Paperback/LGBTQ Romance/400 pages

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★★

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

Monique Grant had high hopes when she accepted the position of staff writer at Vivant magazine, thinking this would be her springboard to writing fame. But so far, she hasn’t exactly been overwhelmed with great opportunities for thoughtful articles. Still reeling from her husband David’s departure and divorce, she is surprised to be called into her boss Franky’s office one day to receive a new assignment. Turns out that well-known actress Evelyn Hugo, who has been around forever and is still a very beautiful woman,  is donating some of her gowns for a charity auction and is willing to be interviewed regarding the donation. What is surprising about this is that Ms. Hugo has been reclusive for a very long time. Infamous as much for having been married seven times as for her acting career, talking to her would be a feather in any journalist’s cap. So why is she telling Vivant she wants to talk to Monique Grant and only Monique Grant? Monique is completely baffled herself, as she has no ties with the actress, has never met her. The only answer she can get is that the actress read her article about the right-to-die and was impressed. Her employer tried to replace her with someone else, but Hugo was adamant – Monique or no one. So Monique goes off to meet the woman and see what she can find out, although what is there to say about some dresses?

But not everything is as it appears to be. In fact, quite the contrary. At their first meeting, Evelyn discloses that this has nothing to do with dresses or the auction, but that she wants Monique to write her biography. Not ghost write it, to have Evelyn Hugo’s name slapped on it, but actually write it. Furthermore, Monique is going to sell it to the highest bidder (and there will be many of those, Evelyn assures her), because Evelyn won’t be around for much longer, and Monique is to keep all the royalties for herself. ALL THE ROYALTIES FOR HERSELF!

What’s the catch?

Monique is in disbelief, but Evelyn is adamant. She won’t tell Monique why, at least right now, but she assures her that she will find out the truth when the time is right… and she will hate Evelyn for it. How can a girl say no to such an offer? But she can’t let Vivant know what is going on, she has to string them along thinking she’s doing the piece about the dresses, because a girl has to eat, right? While in reality Evelyn is telling her life story, about each and every husband and her meteoric career, while also answering the question – who was her greatest love? This book could set Monique up for life easily.

At first I thought this was just about a Elizabeth Taylor-like actress who bagged and tagged multiple husbands while living the grand life. But I realized early on that it was so much more.  It’s an amazing story of an amazing woman and her journey through life – her loves, her husbands, her career. Certainly not perfect, she made mistakes and she did what she had to. But it’s an epic tale. It’s also Monique’s tale, her desire to hear and tell this story. And to learn its relevance to herself, even as she battles her own self-doubts and problems. I was so sorry to see this story end, but in a very satisfying way. Evelyn Hugo wasn’t free to love as she wished, born into an era which would never allow that to happen. How different things would have been if she’d come along now.

I will definitely have to look for more books by this author.

Book Review: Bleach, Vol 59 by Tite Kubo

Bleach, Vol 59     

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!

Book Review: Skip Beat! Vol 10 by Yoshiki Nakamura

Skip Beat! Vol 10   

Author: Yoshiki Nakamura

Publisher: Viz Media

American release date: September 4, 2007

Format/Genre/Length: Paperback/Shojo Manga//216 pages

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★★

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

 

The remake of Tsukigomori is getting a lot of attention. Kyoko is worried about the director. He seems so frail, as if the weight of producing a better film than the original is getting to him already… and they haven’t even begun shooting! Kyoko makes the mistake of asking Ren if he is nervous, and he gets irate with her. She is reluctant to admit that one reason she took the role was for a chance to act with him and watch him act. At a press conference for the film, a reporter asks the director why he changed his name and he passes out!

Kyoko shows up on the set on her first day as Mio, having already been transformed for the role, complete with scar. Her make-up is so realistic, she frightens some of the actresses playing school girls! Mr Yoshiro praises her for acting so scary only to discover she was being herself. Ren wonders when she changed, and speculates that it’s all Sho’s fault. The actress who played Mio originally, Miss Iizuka, who is playing her mother in the remake, arrives on the set, and she is clearly angry with their choice of Mio. She thinks Kyoko is a no-one and doesn’t deserve to play Mio. She decides she needs to test Kyoko on the role, and if she doesn’t perform to her satisfaction, Kyoko will have to step down! Meanwhile, Sho’s agent is trying to keep Sho from learning that Kyoko has landed a role in Dark Moon. Luckily, he is often oblivious to his surroundings. The trouble is they are headed to the very station that is producing Dark Moon!

Kyoko has a sudden inspiration and tells Mr Yoshiro she’ll be back soon, dashing away. He chases after her but to no avail. This sudden departure just feeds into Miss Iizuka’s prediction of failure if they continue with Kyoko as Mio. But Ren is confident that she will return, he has faith in her. The director prays that he is right. Three hours pass before Kyoko returns – with dyed hair and a new haircut! One that exposes Mio’s scar! What can she be thinking? Will the old battleaxe get her way and have Kyoko removed from the cast?

I love to watch Kyoko grow as an actress. She is so intent and so serious, and determined to give everything her best. It was hilarious when Mr. Yoshiro told Kyoko that Ren loves her but she wasn’t even listening! Watching the director of the film grow a backbone and tell that old witch he’s in charge was great! Kyoko’s interpretation of Mio is going to put her on everyone’s radar, I’m sure! I’m curious to see what Sho’s reaction will be, now that he’s seen the Dark Moon poster. Will he want what he can’t have? He did say that he considers Kyoko his!  Looking forward to the next volume!

Book Review: Pluto, Vol 2 by Naoki Urasawa & Osamu Tezuka

Pluto, Vol 2     

Author: Naoki Urasawa & Osamu Tezuka

Publisher: Viz Media

American release date: March 17, 2009

Format/Genre/Length: Paperback/Sci-Fi Manga//208 pages

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★★

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

 

Investigators called to the scene of a collapsed old-style Japanese house find a dead man has been strung up there, two horns affixed to his head.  The victim is a professor of law, the same man who came up with the National Robot Laws. Superintendent Tawashi recalls there have been other recent cases involving horns, and decides they need to talk to the lead investigators on those cases. But, as it turns out, there is only one, Detective Gesicht.

Gesicht has gone to Japan to talk to Atom, a robot who looks like a little boy. The detective tells him that someone is targeting the strongest robots in the world, thus placing him in danger. Atom offers to swap memory sticks. At first, Gesicht is reluctant, then decides to trust Atom. Having seen Gesicht’s memories, Atom excuses himself to go the bathroom, to pretend to be more human, but once there he cries because of what he saw in Gesicht’s mind. On his return, he encourages Gesicht to take the trip to Japan he’s been planning with his wife, and he will gladly show them the sights. Gesicht says he might just do that.

Atom shows up at the police station, where Tawashi and Inspector Nakamura are examining the 3-D image of the ruined house. Atom offers to sift through the rubble and discovers something the others missed – two tea cups. Tawashi admits that traces of tea leaves and yokan were found in the stomach of the victim. Atom explains why he thinks there were two people, and at least one of them was human. Witnesses  reported seeing a huge tornado that seemed to target just that one house. Atom speculates on various gods of death and ends with Pluto. Finding a trace of ink on the victim’s hand, Atom investigates until he ends up with Professor Ochanomizu. He knew of Tasaki, the legal expert, and he had met Lanke when they were both part of the Survey Group! Atom warns the professor that he is in danger.

During the war, a group was formed to search Persia for weapons of mass destruction, but none were ever found. What they did find was thousands of discarded robot bodies buried beneath an old mosque. What did this mean? Meanwhile, in Istanbul, Brando manages to get ahold of his pankration suit, even though it’s not allowed for him to do so, but he gives the man a story of why he needs that and the truck and off he goes. Gesicht is in Greece, speaking with Hercules, when the latter realizes something is happening with Brando and urges Gesicht to quickly patch in, and also Atom. Brando! A monstrous tornado is attacking! They rush to help him.

In the aftermath of the tragedy, Gesicht decides to go ahead and book his travel to Japan. But something the travel agent says bothers him and he begins to doubt his own memories.  He goes to see Brau 1859, even as Hercules vows to find out what happened to Brando and to avenge his friend.

This is such a great story already! I know it has its origins in Astro Boy, but I’m unfamiliar with that so I can’t tell you in what way it was influenced. I might have to find that too and read it. But I do know Urasawa is a genius in the depth and complexity of his plots and characterizations. Only two volumes and I feel as if I know his characters, and I mourn the ones who have been lost. I hope there is justice in store and retribution against the perpetrator of these crimes.

Great volume, looking forward to the next one!

Book Review: Bleach, Vol 58 by Tite Kubo

Bleach, Vol 58     

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

 

Captain General Yamamoto’s battle with Yhwach is done, the foe defeated. So why is the man apologizing… to Lord Yhwach? Because, as it turns out, this man is a mere double, not the terrible Quincy king. Lord Yhwach is alive and ready to continue the battle. But first he admits that he has been a busy boy, visiting the underground great prison, where he made an offer to Aizen, which was refused. And now the battle is done, and Yhwach instructs his Stern Ritter to destroy the Soul Society!

Ichigo is finally able to break out of the cage he was being held in. He makes his way to what is left of the Soul Society, where a seemingly dying Byakuya begs him to please save the Soul Society. Ichigo comes face to face with Yhwach, who doesn’t want him killed.  Yhwach hints to Ichigo about information he doesn’t possess, about himself… and about his mother. He plans to overcome Ichigo and take him back with him. But thanks to a trick of Aizen’s, he is out of time and is forced to retreat… for now. He promises Ichigo he will return, though.

The Soul Society begins to licks its wounds in the aftermath of the onslaught, finally able to bring the wounded indoors. Ichigo visits Rukia and Renji in the infirmary but claims he is fine. The issue is tabled when he learns Captain Kurotsuchi wishes to speak with him. Meanwhile the Captains are in disarray themselves, receiving news that while Byakuya and Kenpachi are alive, they may never be themselves again. Sai Fon is beside herself with fury and grief, and the captain are at each other’s throats, until Shunsui calls for their attention and calmly tells them to stop fighting.

Ichigo is devastated when Kurotsuchi tells him his zanpakuto cannot be fixed, although the captain claims that are circumstances.  An unexpected blast from the past shows up, but before Ichigo can fathom what happened, Kurotsuchi announces that the Zero Squad have arrived. Who the heck are they?

Turns out they are five captains whose combined strength is greater than that of the entire Thirteen Court Guards! They’ve come to rebuild the Thirteen Court Guard Squads. But first they want to take Ichigo back to the palace! They have four items on their list that they intend to take back with them – Byakuya, Rukia, Renji, and Ichigo.  Just then, Kiskue manages to open communications and Ichigo is happy to see that Orihime and Chad are fine. But then Ichigo hears a familiar voice and wants to know what they’re doing with him. Kiskue blows him off and breaks the connection. When Ichigo learns that the Zero Squad can fix his zanpakuto almost as good as new, he’s more than willing to go with them.

This arc is just getting worse and worse. Captain General Yamamoto gone?  Yhwach and his cohorts alive? And now these Zero Squad clowns who seem to think they can do whatever they want? I don’t know if I can survive this arc, it’s so depressing. The best thing in this volume is watching Shunsui step up to do what needs to be done as he becomes the new Captain General. Unfortunately, it looks like he has to give up Nanao and has no choice in the matter. His seconds have been chosen for him. Be that as it may, he has business he intends to get down to, including teaching Kenpachi zanjutsu. He can’t be sure the others will return, so he can’t take any chances.  But when he comes face to face with Captain Kenpachi, he is in for a surprise.

What will happen next? More heartbreak or the beginning of healing? I don’t see how, not until the Quincies are dealt with. What’s the deal with Ichigo’s mother? And when will Uryu finally make an appearance. Also, are we going to see Aizen’s return? That’s twice now he’s been mentioned, and I have to believe that means something. Looking forward with trepidation to the next volume.

Book Review: Pluto, Vol 1 by Naoki Urasawa & Osamu Tezuka

Pluto, Vol 1   

Author: Naoki Urasawa & Osamu Tezuka

Publisher: Viz Media

American release date: February 17, 2009

Format/Genre/Length: Paperback/Shojo Manga//200 pages

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★★

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

 

A wildfire in Switzerland leads to a horrific discovery – the body of beloved robot Mont Blanc! People are in shock. How could this have happened? Robots are commonplace in the future, and some resemble humans while others are more mechanical in nature. Sometimes it’s hard to tell which are humans and which are robots. Detective Gesicht of Europol is disturbed by what he saw at the crime scene. When his wife tells him he works too hard, he suggests they take a vacation, just the two of them.

Gesicht is sent to the scene of another murder, this one a human. Bernard Lanke was a key member in the movement to preserve robot laws. He tells the local police that robbery was not the motive, but they are skeptical. Then he asks them to explain why there are two horn-like objects that were shoved into the victim’s head… and strangely enough the same thing had been perpetrated on Mont Blanc. Are the two cases related somehow?

As he’s investigating, there is a disturbance in the street outside, one of the police robots having been attacked. Gesicht chases down the suspect and then goes to see the wife of the dead robot. He offers to wipe some of her memories, to relieve her pain, but she says she would rather have them. When Gesicht happens to run into a maintenance man about to throw out what is left of the robot cop, he is horrified to hear him refer to the parts as just junk. He retrieves the memory chip and takes it to the robot’s widow. She seems disturbed and he wonders if he did the right thing, but she tells him no, it’s what is in the video that is disturbing—what distracted her husband for just a moment, enough time to get him killed. The video shows something apparently leaping between two high rise buildings, and that something is… human? How can that be?

After making travel plans to go to Japan,  Gesicht goes to an AI Correction Facility to interview a dangerous robot, Brau 1589. He wants Brau’s take on the murders. The robot keeps suggesting they trade memory sticks, but Gesicht tells him that isn’t happening. Brau tells him his theory, and says there will be six more murders.

In Scotland, a blind film composer lives alone, except for his robot servant. The man has been through a number of robots from the agency already and expects no more from the new one, whose name is North No 2. North was once in the military and served in the 39th Central Asian War. The composer gives whole meaning to the world surly. He is very difficult and bitter. Frustrated with his apparent inability to compose, he takes it out on North, who refuses to be shaken. He also rejects North’s offers of assistance, when he says he thinks he knows what the problem is. North tells him he wants to learn to play the piano, and he wants to never go to war again. When North detects an approaching anomaly, he goes to investigate.

This is the first volume in this series, and I am already hooked! So good! Urasawa, of course, is the genius behind Monster and Twentieth Century Boys, both of which series I have reviewed. I can already tell I am going to greatly enjoy this one too. Obviously, the man likes robots, but this goes beyond the giant robot in Twentieth Century Boys, envisioning a future in which they are commonplace, and some can’t be distinguished from humans. This implies great leaps in AI research. Also I imagine laws would have to be changed to allow for such intelligent beings. So much to think about. And of course there’s the downside – what to do when something or someone goes horribly wrong. Does intelligence/consciousness equate to responsibility and culpability? What if someone manipulated AI to the point where they could take over the world? So many questions.

Another observation – I couldn’t help but compare the scene with Gesicht and Brau to that of Clarice and Hannibal in Silence of the Lambs. Like the old saying goes, it takes a thief to know a thief. In this case, it’s a robot murderer.

Looking forward to the next volume!

Book Review: Skip Beat! Vol 9 by Yoshiki Nakamura

Skip Beat! Vol 9   

Author: Yoshiki Nakamura

Publisher: Viz Media

American release date: September 4, 2007

Format/Genre/Length: Paperback/Shojo Manga//216 pages

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★★

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

 

Kyoko has an ongoing role as a giant chicken named Bo, but very few people know that, thank goodness. What are the chances that the same bratty child who said that Moko’s career is done should be the guest on the show? Kyoko sees it as her chance to find out what happened, but ends up being told her career is done too! Kyoko refuses to be intimidated by the child. Even when he threatens to out her to the world as Bo! (Unfortunately clever that one is!)  Kyoko engineers a meeting between Hio and Moko in order to find out what really happened, and why this brat is so vindictive. Turns out that on the set, Moko threw Hio, who claims to have suffered grievously at her hands. Why would she treat a child like that? And why doesn’t she see anything wrong with her behavior? In order to clear up the mystery, and explain why she did what she did, Moko takes Kyoko and  Hio to her home. Kyoko is excited to see Moko’s family, but she is in for quite the shock!

Ren is called to an early morning meeting with Lory, who is curious about the reason Ren’s phone was broken, assuming it had to do with a woman. But Ren denies that. Ren becomes confused when Lory brings up the lack of romantic gossip concerning Ren, like that’s a bad thing. But Lory finally comes to the point and tells Ren that “his acting of love sucks!” Ren is shocked as Lory explains that he’s hidden it so far because his roles haven’t called for it, but it’s obvious he’s never really loved. Ren tries to deny that, but can’t prove it and is dismayed at the way their conversation is going.

Kyoko and Moko have finally figured out what Hio’s problem is. Well, mostly. And Moko confesses to Kyoko what she has been doing for extra money, which is simply acting and nothing horrible at all. But Moko calls Kyoko out for not telling her own secrets, despite having confessed to her. Kyoko is terrified that Moko won’t like her anymore and she’ll lose her only friend! So Moko walks away!

Kyoko is shocked to learn she is being offered a part in a drama! She was even recommended for the role by the producer of Sho’s video! The drama is the remake of one that was very successful twenty years before. And oh, the lead actor is going to be Ren! She tells them she has to think about it, suddenly terrified of being around Ren like that. Meanwhile Mr. Yashiro is trying to find out what is bothering Ren, and for some reason he keeps linking Ren’s bad mood to Kyoko.

Kyoko meets Moko at a karaoke box and confesses her past relationship with Sho Fuwa. Moko is shocked, having believed Kyoko to be a mega-fan of Sho’s. They discuss Kyoko’s options regarding her acting and the offer of the drama. And then Moko drops a bombshell when she dares to suggest that maybe Ren actually likes Kyoko.

Ren is disturbed after leaving Lory. Maybe the man is right, maybe he shouldn’t accept the role. But a familiar scream draws his attention. And yes, it’s Kyoko, who has just read the script and realized she is not being cast as a rich nice young girl but a disturbed one. She has just run into the director of the drama, who is pleading with her not to change her mind, that she is the one he wants ever since he saw her play the angel in the video. Ren is caught unawares by the knowledge that Kyoko is to appear in the drama as well. And suddenly he accepts the offer to be the star!

So much going on in this volume! At least the mystery of Hio has been solved (even if he is still somewhat of an entitled brat) and also we learn a lot about Moko’s home life (egad, that would drive me crazy!). Now on to the drama! Both the series and the behind-the-scenes drama! I wonder how Lory would react to the knowledge of Ren as Corn, and his past relationship with Kyoko. After all, his current one is very complicated. I think he would not only understand, he would see through both their protestations. Of course, Kyoko doesn’t know Ren is Corn, and the longer he waits to tell her, the bigger the explosion, I’m sure. Especially if they manage to draw closer in the meantime.

Love, love, love this series, so awesome!  Until next time!

Book Review: Bleach, Vol 57 by Tite Kubo

Bleach, Vol 57   

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

 

Word spreads throughout the Seretei – Ichigo Kurosaki is on the way, and his bankai cannot be stolen by the Quincies!  Everyone rejoices until Akon notices that Ichigo’s presence in the Garganta is gone, and Ichigo has to inform him that he has been trapped in a cage and is currently unable to escape. Unfortunately, his message doesn’t get through. Things are really starting to go haywire now!

Byakuya is facing Quincy Äs Nödt. Renji wants to attack but his captain warns they need to identify his ability first. Byakuya begins to feel an unfamiliar sensation, as if his arms and legs are freezing. Although he fears poison, the Quincy tells him that it is only fear that he feels, an unaccustomed sensation indeed. An indignant Renji attacks when the Quincy steals Byakuya’s bankai and dares to use it on him. Renji is put out of commission just before he is about to use bankai by an overzealous Quincy who assumed only Captains could do such things, irritating Äs Nödt.

Just after the so-called Majesty learns of the death of the Captain, Kenpachi arrives, carrying three Quincies he has defeated, and he’s glad to tell how he did it. Kenpachi announces he wants to battle His Majesty, even as things are falling apart for the Soul Reapers, and Ichigo is still contained in the cage, put there by Quilgie Opie J! Apparently, J stands for Jail!

In an unexpected twist, things are looking bleak for Kenpachi, when Captain General Yamamoto steps in to face the so-called majesty, whom he addresses as Yhwach. Turns out he’s known him for a thousand years and foresaw this day. But can he defeat this megalomaniac?

Things are only getting worse. In fact they’re downright horrifying. First Kira, now Byakuya. Where will this madness end? Is no one safe? I fear even more for my Shunsui. There is a great deal of back story here for the Captain General, which has been a long time coming, as I think he’s the least known of the Soul Reapers. Gives a lot more dimension to his character. The ending threw me off a bit, and I admit to being a little confused, but hopefully that will be cleared up in the next volume. I know this fight is far from over, as this thousand year bloodwar arc has just begun. I am afraid to find out who will be lost next.

Looking forward with trepidation to the next volume!

Book Review: Bleach, Vol 56 by Tite Kubo

Bleach, Vol 56     

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

 

An army of Quincies known as the Stern Ritter (Star Knights) has attacked the Soul Society. Meanwhile, one of them, Quilgie Opie, is facing Ichigo in Hueco Mundo. Ichigo went there, along with Orihime, Chad, and Urahara, after Nel informed him that it was under attack. When Ichigo tells Quilgie that his arrows are stronger than Uryu’s, the Quincy is confused and begins to say something but decides that silence is golden instead. What was he about to say? And what does he know of Ishida?

The Quincy keeps talking about His Majesty, but when Ichigo presses him for information, he just tells him that His Majesty has said Ichigo must die. Quilgie changes into his Holy Form and the battle continues, while the others search for Nel’s companion, Dondochakka. Their fight is interrupted by three female Arrancars and their monster, Aon, who was created using their three left arms. Since their fight is not with Ichigo, they tell him he can go so he doesn’t die. Like that would ever happen.

Back at the Soul Society, pillars of light have descended upon them, leaving the captains and lieutenants to wonder what is going on. Captain General Yamamoto announces he is stepping out and leaves the defense to his third seat, Genshiro. Sensing spiritual pressure, some of the Soul Reapers attack, and they suffer a devastating loss in the death of one of their own, a lieutenant. The newcomers announce they have orders to kill everyone, and it’s time for the purge.

Each Stern Ritter has a letter after their name which corresponds with their ability. The Soul Reapers are quickly dismayed to learn that the enemy can seal their bankai so they are unable to use them. They determine to find a way to break the seal. Byakuya is the first to realize the bankai haven’t been sealed, they’ve been stolen! The order goes out to not use Bankai. But this is a problem, because the Bankai are their only means of defeating the invaders. What to do? “Then how are we supposed to fight them?” Renji cries. Akon realizes they need Ichigo, and on his own he determines to contact the Deputy Soul Reaper.  But he is surprised to learn he is not in the Land of the Living, but in Hueco Mundo. He gets through to Ichigo and explains the situation, and tells him he needs to come immediately. Ichigo agrees, but things don’t go exactly smoothly. What’s he going to do now? As things stand, he can’t possibly get to the Soul Reapers to help them, and without him, they are doomed.

Things just got real. One Captain and one Lieutenant dead? Just devastating. No access to Bankai? And Ichigo contained in a cage, prevented from reaching the Soul Society. As usual, he is their only hope, but unless he can free himself, they are doomed. A heartbreaking volume. I fear for my Shunsui, who was injured during the battle. He’s alive, yes, but who knows what will happen next? Nervously looking forward to the next volume.