Author: Tite Kubo
Publisher: Viz Media
American release date: July 3, 2012
Format/Genre/Length: Paperback/Manga/Supernatural/192 pages
Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★★
Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes
And so the battles between the Thirteen Court Guard Companies and the Espadas continue.
Halibel is dismayed to learn just how powerful Hitsugaya is as he unleashes his Frozen Heavens Hundred Flower Funeral on her, encasing her in ice. Sai Fon and Omaeda face Reaper Barragan, and Sai Fon is forced to use her Bankai. Omaeda has never seen her Bankai before and wonders what she can do with a weapon of that shape.
Shunsui is still facing Stark, and throws his kimono down to Ukitake to catch. Stark calls to Lilinette, who is still trying to fight Ukitake, who refuses to fight a child. Turns out that Stark and Lilinette work together, their powers divided into two bodies. Not only that, but Lilinette becomes a gun that can fire cero blasts! Stark is determined to force Shunsui to use his Bankai, but Shunsui resists, until Stark ups the ante, turning Lilinette into a submachine gun. Things look bad until Ukitake steps in, claiming it isn’t unfair since there are two of them.
Suddenly a garganta appears, and Wonderweiss arrives. According to Stark, “If Wonderweiss is here that can only mean that Lord Aizen’s patience has been exhausted.” Wonderweiss’ unnatural scream shatters Halibel’s ice prison. And the strange creature that came with Wonderweiss has just extinguished the flames surrounding Aizen, Tosen, and Gin… which means they are now free to join the fray.
Although this is a matter of dismay to the Soul Reapers, there is another group who have also just arrived and are just as eager to square off against Aizen et al – namely, Shinji and the other Visoreds. They aren’t thrilled to be working with the Soul Society, but it’s more a question of the enemy of my enemy is my ally. At least for now. Shunsui and Lisa have a touching reunion, and Shinji lets Captain Yamamoto that he considers himself Ichigo’s ally, not Soul Society’s. The Visoreds get their first taste of battle when the strange creature that came with Wonderweiss spews out a bunch of Gillians. Captain Komamura steps up to fight alongside the Visoreds, and to face Tosen as well. As he does, Hisagi, requests to join that particular fight.
Another battle-heavy volume of Bleach, but it feels like we’re finally progressing. Maybe because Aizen and his toadies have stepped into the fight. There could be no denouement without that. The appearance of the Visoreds was unexpected and very welcome. They certainly have just cause to hate Aizen, although they also have no real love for Soul Society, who should consider themselves lucky to have them as temporary allies. I loved watching Shunsui battle against Stark, and I loved the way Ukitake didn’t hesitate to join him. They’ve been friends for a very long time, and are favorites of the Old Man himself.
Nothing of Ichigo this time around, although that’s just a matter of time since he has defeated Ulquiorra. I guess he needs to figure out how to get out of Hueco Mundo first.
Another great volume, looking forward to the next.