Author: Tite Kubo
Publisher: Viz Media
American release date: October 10, 2005
Format/Genre/Length: Paperback/Manga/Supernatural/200 pages
Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★★
Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes
Ichigo, Ishida, Orihime, and Chad, along with Mr. Yoruichi the cat, race through the Precipice in order to get to the Soul Society to save Rukia. If they don’t do it quickly enough, they risk being killed! To make matters worse, the Cleaner is right behind them! Luckily they make it and find themselves in the Slum District, known as the Rukongai, where souls live when they first come to Soul Society, just outside the Seireitei, where the Soul Reapers live. An exuberant Ichigo decides to sprint right into the Seireitei, but quickly learns why that isn’t a good idea when a huge gate slams down in front of him, along with its ginormous guardian, Jindanbô. Yoruichi and Ishida want to regroup and formulate a plan, but Chad and Orihime rush headlong after Ichigo, in order to help him. However, Jindanbô informs them there is only two to a duel, so they have to wait to fight him.
After being defeated by Ichigo, Jindanbô agrees to let them pass, but when he raises the gate, trouble is waiting on the other side in the form of a Soul Reaper by the name of Gin Ichimaru. As big as he is, Jindanbô quails at the sight of Gin, who punishes the gate keeper. When Ichigo protests his treatment of the gentle giant, they briefly skirmish before Gin pushes the giant out of the way, lowering the gate. Guess they’ll need to find another way to get inside!
Ichigo and his group find themselves the object of interest by some of the locals, who usually prefer to keep to themselves. But they are kindly disposed toward Ichigo for standing up for Jindanbô against Gin even as Orihime works to heal him. Chad unexpectedly sees a familiar face among them. But now they have to formulate a new plan and actually listen to Yoruichi. The cat suggests finding Kûkaku Shiba. However it seems this person moves around a lot. Suddenly a wild boar appears, followed by a strange man attempting to catch up to it. Right away he notices a Soul Reaper is present, ie Ichigo, and becomes belligerent. The man’s name is Ganju, and it doesn’t take long for him and Ichigo to get into it!
Before things go too far, one of Ganju’s associates, who are all mounted on boars, reminds him that it’s nine o’clock, and away they all ride. Ichigo is determined to wait for him to come back to finish what was started but Yoruichi puts the kibosh on that idea. They head out to search for the person Yoruichi is sure can help them get into the Seireitei.
In this volume, we get our first introduction to the world of Soul Society. I still have questions about that place. And about Soul Reapers. This isn’t a spoiler, since I still don’t know the answer, even after watching more than 300 episodes of the anime. The people they meet are souls, so they must be dead, and yet it seems like they’re living regular lives here. Also, are the Soul Reapers dead?
The encounter between Ichigo and boar-rider Ganju is hilarious, and you just know they’ll meet again somehow and continue the fight. Assuming nobody interferes or tries to stop them. Ichigo also apparently rubs Ishida the same way. The Quincy doesn’t like to be told what to do and resents that Ichigo assumes leadership of the group, something that Chad and Orihime apparently have no problem with. Mr. Yoruichi seems to be there in an advisory capacity but isn’t always listened to, obviously.
In this volume we see a little more of the enigma that is Gin. Don’t worry, you’ll be seeing more of him. Judging by the way the Seireitei is walled off from everyone else, there seems to be some class division here. Do they think themselves too good to mingle with the others, or is there another reason? I couldn’t tell you. The ending is pretty good and since I know what’s coming, I look forward to it. As usual, Bleach is filled with both action and humor, but don’t discount the author’s ability to delve into his characters. The more we travel with them, the more we’ll learn, layer by layer. Many surprises lie ahead.
Looking forward to volume 10.