Tag Archives: Julie Lynn Hayes

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!

Wednesday Briefs: April 27, 2022

Here is a list of all the authors flashing this week, along with a brief snippet from their latest free work. Click the link after the snippet to be taken to the complete story on the author’s home page.

Rose and Thorne 6 #21 (4.7) by Julie Lynn Hayes

The staff and guests of the Hamilton Arms milled about outside of the hotel, congregating in groups as they speculated as to what was going on inside. A light drizzle had begun to fall, which only added to everyone’s discomfort at being unceremoniously rousted in the middle of the night. Emergency vehicles were already onsite, their flashing lights adding an eerie glow to the scene.

As late as it was, most businesses had closed for the night. Passing traffic was sparse. Even so, vehicles slowed to gawk before moving on.

“Think we could get an umbrella?” I muttered to Ethan.

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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!

Saturday is Horror Day #58 – Zombieland: Double Tap, The Grudge (2004)

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

Zombieland: Double Tap

Tallahassee (Woody Harrelson), Columbus (Jesse Eisenberg), Wichita (Emma Stone) and Little Rock (Abigail Breslin) have banded together in the face of the Zombie Apocalypse into a family of sorts. Columbus and Wichita are a couple, and Tallahassee is like Little Rock’s protective father. They decide to take up residence, at least for a while, at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, aka the White House. But nothing lasts forever. When Columbus pops the question and presents Wichita with a huge blue rock surrounded by diamonds, and Little Rock decides she’s being stifled, the sisters do what they do best – they leave.

 While exploring a mall, Tallahassee and Columbus run across another person, a ditzy blonde named Madison (Zoey Deutch), who attaches herself to the, particularly Columbus, who is nursing a wounded heart. Wichita returns unexpectedly to restock her weapons, but she also tells them that Little Rock has left her as well, stealing their vehicle and leaving a note. Karma indeed. Before she left, they’d picked up a hitchhiker, a peace-loving hippie named Berkeley (Avan Jogia), who leaves with Little Rock.

 

The group hits the road, their new destination Graceland, home of the King, hoping to catch up with Little 

Rock there.. However, when they arrive, they discover that the mansion is ruined, and they end up instead at The Hound Dog Cafe where they meet Nevada (Rosario Dawson). Nevada is more than capable of taking care of herself, and sparks fly between her and Tallahassee.

When Madison becomes infected, it becomes Columbus’ job to put her down before they head to Graceland. But now that Madison isn’t there, maybe they’ll find them at the hippie haven of Babylon.

 

The sequel to Zombieland has less emphasis on zombies and more on the relationships within the group, although there are zombies, especially at the end. And, as Columbus explains at the beginning, the zombies have changed, and some are even harder to kill. I think the narration at the beginning got on my nerves. Also, I didn’t like Wichita and Little Rock in the first film, and I’m not more inclined to like them in the second. Now there is a very annoying ditzy blonde who got on my nerves too.

The sequel doesn’t have the charm of the first film, but I’ve seen worse. It’s worth one viewing, wouldn’t watch either one again. Look for Luke Wilson and Thomas Middleditch as clones of Tallahassee and Columbus. Also, I recognized Avan Jogia from a show I used to watch called Now Apocalypse. I hope there isn’t going to be a third film, to be honest. I’ll give this one 3 Stars.

The Grudge (2004)

A house in Tokyo, scene of an horrific event, is the starting point for a number of mysterious deaths. Karen (Sarah Michelle Gellar) is sent to the home to care for its stricken inhabitant, Emma (Grace Zabriskie). The regular caretaker, Yoko (Yoko Maki) is a no-show. But Karen quickly discovers all is not right in this house, including a mysterious boy. Or is he a boy? Sometimes he seems like a cat.

 

The woman’s son, Matthew (William Mapother) and his wife Jennifer (Clea DuVall) have barely moved into the house when strange things begin to happen. Jennifer sees strange things she can’t explain. Is there someone else in the house, someone who means them harm?

 

Matthew’s sister Susan (KaDee Strickland) is concerned about her mother. She also lives in Tokyo. And her brother is acting weirdly, making prank calls during which he only makes strange noises. Working late one night, she hears strange sounds and then sees a strange otherwordly woman who means her harm. She reports her dilemma to the security guard who goes to check out, and Susan watches in horror on the CCTV as the woman seemingly manifests from nowhere.

Inspector Nakagawa (Ryo Ishibashi) has been assigned to the case, and he tries to make sense of what 

Karen has told him. He realizes something foul is afoot and goes to the house with the intention of burning it to the ground. But something prevents him from carrying this out.

This Sam Raimi movie is a re-make of a Japanese film, Juon. I haven’t seen that yet, but I intend to. The story is good, but sometimes I found the acting lacking, mostly from the Western actors. Almost as if they didn’t belong in what feels like a Japanese story. I like Sarah Michelle Gellar as Buffy the Vampire Slayer, but I think she came off a little wooden in this role. That’s just my opinion, of course. I am going to keep watching the series and will let you know when I view The Grudge 2. I have to say that I did like Ted Raimi in his role, and I remembered Ryo Ishibashi from watching him in Audition.

 

Not a bad film, it just felt a little off. I’m looking forward to seeing Juon, and hope for better things. I will give this one 3.5 Stars.

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.

Wednesday Briefs: April 20, 2022

Here is a list of all the authors flashing this week, along with a brief snippet from their latest free work. Click the link after the snippet to be taken to the complete story on the author’s home page.

The Garret Farm: Part 28 by J Ray Lamb

Trent kept driving towards Flat River but was just meandering towards it. He didn’t have a specific destination in mind. His mind was replaying the earlier conversation with Sandy over and over.

How did I get so lucky? Trent thought to himself as he kept driving, Don’t count your chickens before they hatch!

As much as Trent was enjoying the throb of Sandy’s crotch in his hand, he felt that he needed to move it. Sandy had put his hand there, but Trent wasn’t comfortable with it after a few minutes. He was smitten with Sandy, the sex this morning…

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Book Review: Bleach, Vol 55 by Tite Kubo

Bleach, Vol 55     

Author: Tite Kubo

Publisher: Viz Media

American release date: February 5, 2013

Format/Genre/Length: Paperback/Manga/Supernatural/192 pages

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★★

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

 

Hollows are beginning to disappear at an alarming rate. This is especially bad news to those in the Soul Society who monitor such things because of the delicate balance that exists between the Soul Society and the World of the Living. Should this balance be disrupted, well, the result would not be pretty. And Kurotsuchi has an idea who is responsible for this imbalance.

It’s Yuki’s first day on the job but he’s very tired, having been too worried to get much sleep the night before. He is yelled at by Shino, who tells him he has nothing to fear while she’s around and to pull his act together! They travel to Karakura Town to begin making their rounds. Yuki is dismayed that they are patrolling separately, especially when he runs into his first Hollows! And oh dear, they’ve got Shino on the ground, unconscious. What’s a new guy to do? Luckily for him, the Deputy Soul Reaper arrives to save the day!

Yuki awakens a day later to learn he missed the battle. While Ichigo is trying to get the new Soul Reaper out of his bed, other people assemble – Orihime, Chad, Uryu and some guy named Ebern. Ebern? Who the heck is that? Ichigo realizes this new guy, who he believes to be an Arrancar, has come on account of him so he decides to handle him quickly. Except Ebern is not an Arrancar, not at all. And what he is is surprising.

Meanwhile a situation is developing in the Rukongai. Entire villages of people are disappearing.  Even as the Soul Reapers investigate, Captain General Yamamoto is visited by a contingent who have come to declare war! Even as he faces them down, Ebern taunts Ichigo to use his bankai and defeat him. However when Ichigo does as he wishes, Ebern seems frustrated that Ichigo’s bankai doesn’t disappear. What does that even mean? He departs in a huff, leaving a confused Ichigo.

Tragedy strikes the Soul Society with the death of one of their own, although the Captain General is safe. Yuki receives the news and relays it to Ichigo and the others. Suddenly, Ichigo spots something hurtling toward the earth and hastens to catch it, only to discover it is none other than Nel! Hueco Mundo has been attacked!  Naturally, Ichigo feels the need to help, as do Chad and Orihime, and even Kiskue. But Uryu has to sit this one out because he cannot conscience saving Hollows.

There is a new villain on the scene, and he has subordinates who seem to be as evil and crazy as he is!  They call themselves the Vandenreich, the Invisible  Empire… and the most surprising thing about them is that they are an army of Quincies! Now Soul Society and Hueco Mundo and the World of the Living are all in danger. These guys have a trick up their sleeves – they don’t just seal the Soul Reapers’ bankais – they can steal them! How does that even work? And why does Ichigo seem immune to that? Will Ichigo once again be the key to everyone’s survival?

I’m reminded of that old saying – be careful what you wish for. I wished for the end of the Fullbring arc and the arrival of the new arc. Well, it’s here, and I have a feeling we’re in for a bumpy ride!