Tag Archives: paranormal manga

Book Review: Twentieth Century Boys, Vol 18: Everybody’s Song by Naoki Urasawa

Twentieth Century Boys, Vol 18: Everybody’s Song     

Author: Naoki Urasawa

Publisher: Viz Media

American release date: December 27, 2011

Format/Genre/Length: Paperback/manga/paranormal/208 pages

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★★

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

 

Otcho and the others are searching for Sanae, who went to warn the Ice Queen to call off the plans for August 20th, panicking when they can’t find her. But when she does turn up, Otcho is amazed that she did make contact, and that the Ice Queen is none other than Kanna, although that is really no surprise to him. But Sanae was unable to dissuade her from her ill-advised plans. Sanae further reveals that a guy she likes at work was singing a song that Kanna played for her on a cassette tape, but that his version went beyond what was on the tape. There is a refrain at the end: Gutarara, sudarara. Otcho perks up at that, eyes wide with wonder. Could it be…. Dare he hope…

Meanwhile at the border, there is a report of an alien invader attempting to gain entrance… and apparently he was admitted. Although it is his day off, Chono is called to action to help find the alien in their midst. They say he is carrying a guitar-shaped weapon. Huh?

Otcho catches up with Kanna, who reveals why she chose August 20th for her plans, and why she won’t change her mind. Otcho tells her what her friends did for her, and how she has to do the right thing now. And how he thinks maybe Kenji is really alive. A DJ in the middle of nowhere continues to play a particular song, even though he receives no comments, no calls regarding it. But still he plays it, hoping someone is listening. And the so-called alien begins to sing. He tells the guards, “When somebody’s singing a song, you can’t shoot them.” Suddenly they are being attacked… by a group of hippies?

Otcho and Kanna find themselves apprehended by the Confidential Guard and taken to a secure location. There, waiting for them, is none other than Manjome. And what he has to say is shocking on more than one level.

Everything is moving now with lightning swift speed, and threads are weaving together more and more, as details we’ve been missing come to light. For one thing, we see more of what Manjome did to propel Friend to where he’s at, which makes what he told Otcho and Kanna actually not as surprising as it might seem. Kanna is undergoing a crisis of faith. Can the hope and belief that her beloved Uncle Kenji is actually alive spur her to do what is right? There can be no doubt of that now, too much evidence not to believe, and I am beyond excited to have been proven right in this regard.

We are barreling toward the end. To be honest, I really don’t know how this will go. I mean, the good guys have to win, right? Right? But at the same time, what is Friend and how has he done what he did? Or did we just get a clue to that question after all?

Great volume, anxiously waiting for more!

Book Review: Twentieth Century Boys, Vol 16: Beyond the Looking Glass by Naoki Urasawa

Twentieth Century Boys, Vol 16: Beyond the Looking Glass     

Author: Naoki Urasawa

Publisher: Viz Media

American release date: August 16, 2011

Format/Genre/Length: Paperback/manga/paranormal/216 pages

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★★

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

Fukube has always wanted to be a part of Kenji and his group, but has always been passed over and overlooked. In an attempt to get an in with them, he collects a great deal of manga. When Kenji’s new issue of Shonen Sunday turns up ruined, Fukube invites the guys over to his house to read his collection. Things seem to go well, but even so, he is devastated when they leave him to work on their secret clubhouse, and never invite him. Waiting for a time when the guys aren’t there, Fukube breaks into their clubhouse, where he is discovered by Sadakiyo, the creepy kid in the mask who has nothing to say. Finding Kenji’s Book of Prophecy, Fukube boasts that he can make better prophecies, and his are all going to come true. Fukube offers to be Sadakiyo’s friend, but on one condition. The other boy is not to call him by his given name at all… just call him his Friend.

The boys are all excited about the Expo in Osaka, Fukube boasting that he would be there all summer and would go to the Expo every day. But things don’t work out, and he not only can’t go, he doesn’t dare show himself around town, since that would mark him as being a liar. It’s a long hot summer for him, until he borrows Sadakiyo’s mask so he can get out of the house for a little bit. When Sadakiyo suggests they play at the haunted house on the hill, where no one will see them, Fukube gets an idea of how to frighten Kenji and the other boys.

Yamane approaches Fukube, trying to get back in his good graces, wondering if he is still rejected. The two boys run across a street vendor, who really has nothing to offer them that they are interested in. But they discuss Fukube’s idea of a man with a briefcase who travels around spreading a virus, to the shock of the salesman. It’s not until the strange kid bends one of his spoons, using just his mind, that the man becomes interested and gives the kid his card, telling him to look him up. And this man turns out to be none other than Manjome.

Meanwhile, in year 3 of the Friendship Era, Otcho is being hidden and taken care of by a young boy, whose sister quickly learns his secret. Funny thing, but everyone who owns a TV is ordered, by law, to turn the TV set off at the end of the broadcast day. When Otcho and the kids don’t do that, they hear a lady’s voice with an important message.

This volume differs from the others in that now, finally, we are inside the mind of Fukube, otherwise known as Friend, watching the development of the Friend persona. While it’s very easy to say that Kenji and the boys are at fault for being mean and not befriending him, I think it’s not that simple. There is something seriously not right about that boy, and when he lets his guard down, you can see glimpses of something evil. After all, how normal is it for someone to wish to destroy an entire world, and how egotistical to even think he can do so?

What I was excited about in the last volume hasn’t come to pass yet, but that’s because we shifted gears in this volume. I still believe it’s going to happen, so I’ll be patient. I can’t tell if we’re getting closer to the truth or not, but it seems that way. I’m waiting to see Kanna’s mother make her anticipated entrance. At least we know now she is one of the good guys, rather than the flake we assumed she was after dumping baby Kanna on Kenji’s doorstep. Another great volume, can’t wait for more.

Book Review: Twentieth Century Boys, Vol 13: Beginning of the End by Naoki Urasawa

Twentieth Century Boys, Vol 13: Beginning of the End     

Author: Naoki Urasawa

Publisher: Viz Media

American release date: February 15, 2011

Format/Genre/Length: Paperback/manga/paranormal/232 pages

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★★

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

Yoshitsune thinks back to that fateful New Year’s Eve, and the man who snapped the picture of them as they faced down the Friend’s menace, none other than Fukube. Why doesn’t he have any childhood memories of Fukube as a boy? Where did he come from and when exactly did he become part of their group? As Yoshitsune and the others try to fathom this, all hell has broken out at the elementary school where rumor has it that Friend has been shot! Kanna recognizes Maruo at the scene, and he tells her he knows a secret way to get into the school, so they can find out what has happened. Meanwhile, Manjome is wakened from a fitful sleep with the news.

Kanna is amazed to find that so many people she believed to be dead are very much alive, working to rid the world of Friend. But not only is Friend dead, his identity has been revealed. Who would have thought it?

Friend’s group assemble, but they are one short – Yamane, who betrayed them. What are they going to do now? Will a successor to Friend be appointed? If so, who? Everyone accuses Manjome of wishing to take over, but he assures them he has no such aspirations. A new member arrives, whom they refer to as Number 13, claiming there is now room for him at the table, and counseling that they continue with Friend’s plans to end the world. Not everyone agrees with this course of action… and suddenly some of the high ranking members wind up dead!

While the others seem content to rest on their laurels now that Friend is dead, Otcho is far from convinced that the threat he represented is over. Kanna says she wants to go with him, since what is happening is her mother’s fault. But Otcho has a story to tell her, one that Yamane told him, about what happened in 2003.

Meanwhile, in 2015, people are starting to die…

Wow, now we know who Friend is… or was. Not at all what I expected. Him? Seriously? How the heck did he become Kanna’s father? What could Kenji’s sister ever see in him? There must be more to this story than we know.

Friend’s followers are divided on whether to continue with his plan or not, but there are fanatics among them, determined to set a dangerous course. I loved finding out the truth about Kanna’s mother, who has been a shadowy figure up until now but who has finally stepped into the spotlight. And in the far-off United States, a player long since forgotten has taken the stage once more.

So much going on, and so many threads to follow. I keep hoping at the end of one of them that Kenji will emerge. Guess we just have to wait and see. Great volume, looking forward to the next one!

Book Review: Twentieth Century Boys, Vol 14: A Boy and a Dream by Naoki Urasawa

Twentieth Century Boys, Vol 14: A Boy and a Dream

Author: Naoki Urasawa

Publisher: Viz Media

American release date: April 19, 2011

Format/Genre/Length: Paperback/manga/paranormal/232 pages

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★★

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

The mourners of Friend are many. Griefstricken people wait in line for hours to sign the register and file past his masked body. It seems as if all Friend’s predictions are coming to pass. Manjome is dispirited himself, and confused, and decides to take a trip into Friend Land to find answers to his questions, such as why is this happening.

At the same time, Kanna wants to send Koizumi with Yoshitsune  into Friend Land to find their own answers. Kanna would rather go herself, but he tells her she is too emotionally involved, since Friend is her father and all.  On their arrival, Yoshitsune shows Koizumi around to all the familiar places he remembers from 1971. But when they come to the location that was once their secret headquarters, they find a bowling alley there… one which Koizumi insists wasn’t there when she visited. What’s going on? She’s sure she’s right, but Yoshitsune remembers the place that destroyed their secret clubhouse. How can that be? Yoshitsune is having a difficult time remembering what he was doing that summer. While they are in the bowling alley, he comes face to face with the owner, the man he refers to as the King of Evil. Koizumi is shocked to discover that the man is actually Kamisama!

As they monitor Yoshitsune and Koizumi in the game, Kanna realizes they have been joined by another player, who is quickly headed toward them. They are unaware that it is Manjome, and he wonders if he is going to learn the real truth about 1971. As Manjome “sleeps”, his lover takes control, and she is ruthless.

Yoshitsune thinks the key to what happened lies in what happened at the science lab one particular night, and hinges on what Donkey saw, so he and Koizumi head there. And a fourth player has entered the game, and this person is swiftly descending upon Yoshitsune and Koizumi! Kanna asks to be placed into the game in the spot where they are, but winds up in Kenji’s room instead. She gives him some words of wisdom and heads to the school. And now they are all there…

The more I learn, the less I know. Nothing is what it appears to be, including 1971. Why the deception? Why hide the fact that a bowling alley was built where the boys had their secret headquarters? What is real and what isn’t? As for what Donkey saw that night… how does that even work? And why?

And the fourth player… could it be….

So many questions. Can’t wait to keep going on this crazy rollercoaster ride. Love it!

Book Review: Twentieth Century Boys, Vol 12: Friend’s Face by Naoki Urasawa

Twentieth Century Boys, Vol 12: Friend’s Face     

Author: Naoki Urasawa

Publisher: Viz Media

American release date: December 21, 2010

Format/Genre/Length: Paperback/manga/paranormal/232 pages

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★★

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

2014 is drawing to a close. Fourteen years since Bloody New Years Eve. A new year, new beginnings. But what will 2015 hold?

A large gathering is being held for the occasion in Friendship Plaza, with Haru Namio singing the “Hello, Hello Expo Song”. Watching the events on television, Yoshitsune and his group are celebrating in a much quieter way. Kanna has gone to where her uncle used to sing, and is listening to a street singer. Finishing his performance, Haru leaves for home, accompanied by his right-hand man…. Maruo!

The next day, Haru goes to make a New Year’s visit to Friend, Maruo by his side, although Maruo has to wait in the outer office. Admission to Friend’s presence is strictly limited. Maruo tells Haru that he has explosives strapped to his body, but that isn’t entirely true. As he sits in the outer office and waits, Kenji’s words keep going through Maruo’s mind: “Try to make sure ordinary people don’t get caught in the crossfire.” And “If you ever feel your own life is in danger, turn and run like Hell.” Can Maruo do what he feels needs to be done to rid the world of Friend?

Acting on an old tip, Otcho and Kakuta go to the last known address of Dr Yamane. It’s a long shot, sure, but what else can do they? They believe he holds the key to what is going on. The house is deserted but a neighbor is able to give them useful information. Otcho is startled to realize the address she gives them is in the neighborhood where he grew up. Suddenly Otcho remembers a conversation he had with a classmate many years ago, and says it’s imperative he go to his old school. The conversation included the New Book of Prophecy and germ warfare!

Otcho and Kakuta find Dr Yamane at the old Science Lab. As he waits for what he feels is Friend’s imminent arrival, he tells them a little about Kanna’s mother and her involvement with the group. Yoshitsune and his group are studying the infamous Bloody New Year’s Eve photo. Koizumi claims it’s photostopped, clearly, but Yoshitsune says it isn’t, that is actually them facing the monster. But then, who took the picture from behind them?

The moment we’ve been waiting for has arrived… or has it? Now I’m not sure that what we think happened happened, but I have to wait for the next volume to know for sure. The face of the Friend has been revealed. Maybe. So much going on, like threads being woven together to form a complete picture. This series just keeps on getting better. Can’t wait for the next book to find out what’s really going on.

Book Review: Twentieth Century Boys, Vol 11: List of Ingredients by Naoki Urasawa

Twentieth Century Boys, Vol 11: List of Ingredients     

Author: Naoki Urasawa

Publisher: Viz Media

American release date: October 19, 2010

Format/Genre/Length: Paperback/manga/paranormal/232 pages

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★★

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

Kanna is shocked to learn that her father is none other than the Friend himself, leader of the Friend Society which her Uncle Kenji tried to protect the world from.  As if that weren’t bad enough, her Walkman is broken, leaving her unable to hear Kenji’s voice when she needs to hear it the most. Taking her frustration out by playing video games, she afterward accepts a ride with three other gamers who are impressed with her skills. During the drive, a news bulletin tells of the escape of the Friend Museum director, along with student Koizumi Kyoko, in a Toyota 2000GT. Now the guys are on the watch for the old car.

Manjome is Friend’s right-hand man. Apparently, he is thought to have a harem, including one lady in particular, Takasu, director of the Dream Navigators, whom one of his underlings mistakes for a man. She has a meeting with Manjone, in which he reminds her that the upcoming Expo is what is important. That and making their Friend the president of the world. Manjome isn’t surprised to hear about Sadakiyo, and he knows he has a certain memo in his possession. The one left by the man known by his friends as Mon-chan. Takasu fears that with Otcho escaped from prison, Kanna’s powers awakening, and the memo being held in hostile hands, the Kenji faction may just learn about the lie of 1970! Manjome doesn’t seem concerned, and reminds her that she has agreed to carry the Friend’s child!

Meanwhile, at the nursing home, Koizumi and Sadakiyo learn that the home has been surrounded. Sadakiyo surmises that they are there to reject him. Surely that can’t be good? He remembers a meeting he had with Mon-chan years ago, and tells Koizumi how he ended up with the Mon-chan memo. He gives it to Koizumi to hold on to. Kanna’s arrival at the same nursing home can’t be a coincidence, can it? In evacuating the residents to safety, Kanna is mistaken for her mother by a former teacher, and is shocked to learn things about her that she didn’t know. Such as her mother once dreamed of being a famous bacteriologist. The teacher tells Kanna her mother was good, to believe in her.

Kanna ends up at an old cinema, which has old film footage that includes her mother. She won’t give up on looking for her, even though it seems like she may be involved in what is going on now. Koizumi is being pressured to pick out which face in the yearbook belongs to Friend, since she caught a glimpse of him as a child, but she can’t tell one face from another.

I can’t even begin to describe how exciting this is all getting. So much going on, so much new information, and yet so much needs to be learned. Maybe we’ll even find out where Kanna’s mother, Kiriko, has been all these years and what she’s been doing. Is she the good girl her former teacher claims, or is she on the side of the Friends? Only time will tell.

Book Review: Twentieth Century Boys, Vol 10: The Faceless Boy by Naoki Urasawa

Twentieth Century Boys, Vol 10: Faceless Boy   

Author: Naoki Urasawa

Publisher: Viz Media

American release date: August 17, 2010

Format/Genre/Length: Paperback/manga/paranormal/216 pages

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★★

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

The meeting which Kanna has arranged has been interrupted by a man who styles himself a savior, and who dies for his cause. Now the police are outside, demanding the crowd disperse. Has Kanna achieved her goals, or was this gathering a failure? The young detective, Chono, is able to keep the police force at bay, at least for now, by claiming he’s protecting a crime scene. How long can that last?

Koizumi, home from Friend Land, goes to see her favorite band but finds there is something different about them. Turns out they fired their guitarist, Damian Yoshida, because of irreconcilable differences. Koizumi can’t stop dreaming of Friend Land, and the strange boy who tries to take off his mask. She doesn’t want to see his face, though, fearful of what might happen to her if she does.

Koizumi attempts to speak with Kanna at school, but that doesn’t turn out very well. Instead, she’s approached by someone who calls themselves a Dream Navigator. They inform her that she is soon to go to Friend World, like it or not. The very thought is frightening to Koizumi. Her parents, on the other hand, seem thrilled for her and have no clue how dangerous a place it really is. A terrified Koizumi remembers the card she got from Yoshitsune. Can he help her? Things go from bad to worse when she sees the new home room teacher, and recognizes his face…

This series just gets better and better. It seems as though things are gearing up to happen during the Pope’s planned visit to Japan. Obviously, the Friends have an agenda, but what is it? To further ingratiate themselves to the world? Or maybe take it over? Either way, they need to be stopped. Not to mention, they need to be outed as the true perpetrators of Bloody New Year’s Eve, and Kenji needs to be exonerated.

Koizumi is playing a dangerous game, but with the aid of Yoshitsune, she may just turn out all right. And what we think we know turns out to be very wrong, which leaves us back at square one again. Makes you wonder why so many people put their trust in a man who never ever shows his face, based on the alleged actions of some of his followers. And what does Kanna’s mother have to do with anything? More questions than answers here!

Anxiously awaiting the next volume.

Book Review: Twentieth Century Boys, Vol 9: Rabbit Nabokov by Naoki Urasawa

Twentieth Century Boys, Vol 9: Rabbit Nabokov   

Author: Naoki Urasawa

Publisher: Viz Media

American release date: June 15, 2010

Format/Genre/Length: Paperback/manga/paranormal/216 pages

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★★

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

 

Koizumi was sent to Friend Land because of her desire to write her paper on Bloody New Year’s Eve, although she tried to change her subject but was not allowed to. There she discovers that people who do not conform disappear. And just what is Friend World? Can it be worse than this? She learns that being sent to Friend World is not something anyone wants. Koizumi is shocked to learn one of the janitors is none than Yoshitsune, one of the Kenji Faction and long presumed to be deceased. He warns her that if she flunks out of Friend Land she will be sent to Friend World, so she has to do well. When she places in the top three, she finds herself in the past, where she meets the Kenji Faction as children. She thinks this is her opportunity to get to the bottom of things, but Yoshitsune is afraid she will see the Friend’s actual face… and be killed for that knowledge. He must stop that from happening!

When Kanna finds a token, her friend Mariah explains that it comes from the Casino. Remembering her uncle Kenji’s stories about the Woodstock experience, Kanna decides to make a lot of money, using her unusual talents, in order to do what must be done. She and Mariah and Chono head to the Casino. She starts off winning a little, but decides that method is too slow. That’s when someone tells her about a game with great risks but enormous payoffs, known as Rabbit Nabokov.

Yukiji learns of the crowd that is gathering because someone is allegedly giving out money. But Yukiji remembers what was said in the Book of Prophecy: “At the meeting a savior will rise up for the forces of good…but the savior will be assassinated.” Both Yukiji and Otcho race to the scene of the meeting, hoping to prevent that from happening. Can they outrun Fate?

Things are really getting exciting, what with Koizumi undercover at Friend Land, and Kanna raising awareness to prevent the assassination of the Pope. Otcho comes out of hiding and we now know that Yoshitsune is still alive. Can we hope that Kenji’s arrival is imminent, or is that expecting too much? And yet, he has been the leader all along, the voice crying in the wilderness. I’m going to cross my fingers and keep on believing!

Also, look for someone we’ve often wondered about but never really met to make an unexpected appearance at the end of this volume! Can’t wait for the next one!

 

Book Review: Twentieth Century Boys, Vol 7: The Truth by Naoki Urasawa

Twentieth Century Boys, Vol 7: The Truth     

Author: Naoki Urasawa

Publisher: Viz Media

American release date: Feb 16, 2010

Format/Genre/Length: Paperback/manga/paranormal/216 pages

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★★

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

Otcho and Kakuta struggle to escape from the island prison of Umihotaru. Kakuta is determined to become a famous manga artist, while Otcho’s desire is to get revenge for a friend. Once they reach the water, Kakuta is sure he can’t possibly swim the distance required to get to freedom, but Otcho tells him the story of his friend who beat him in a swimming competition, and the friend couldn’t even swim! Meanwhile, the warden has learned of the escapes and while he is not concerned with the manga artist, he is upset about Prisoner #3, and wants him back as soon as possible, or else…

Back in 1970, Kenji and his friends are planning to see the Exposition in Osaka. Since time will be at a premium, and lines long, they have to carefully arrange their time to see as much as they can. Donkey confesses to Kenji that his parents can’t afford for him to take the bullet train to Osaka, and asks to borrow Kenji’s bike, to which he agrees. When Otcho and Kakuta reach the mainland,  years later, they find, to Otcho’s amazement, a recreation of that very Expo, with one important exception.

In 2014, a class in a Tokyo high school is given an assignment to write an essay on the Japanese history topic of their choice. Koizumi, caught trying to sneak out of class, chooses to write about Hitler, but her teacher won’t allow that, so she picks up a book at random and points to her “choice” for her subject, which turns out to be Endo Kenji, leader of the Kenji terrorist group that unleashed Bloody New Years Eve in 2000. The teacher objects, but Koizumi insists, claims she always found the official story of that night suspicious, including the iconic photograph of the group who was supposedly controlling the giant monster threatening to destroy Japan. Koizumi isn’t doing well in class because she constantly skips school in order to follow bands that she loves. A classmate of Koizumi’s tells her about another student who went berserk during a discussion of Bloody New Year’s Eve. Her name was Endo Kanna! Koizumi has some research to do!

When Koizumi runs into Kamisama and learns he knew Kenji, she has to learn more!  Back in 2000, Kenji and his friends prepare to save the world from the Friends. They need to find the remote that controls the monster that is destroying Japan!

On top of worrying about Kenji and what has happened to him and the others, we have to deal with Otcho and Kakuta and their ordeal in the current situation, still not knowing exactly what happened in the past. Plus we have a new character, Koizumi, who I feel is going to play a part in revealing the truth about the so-called Kenji terrorist group. I have to hope and believe that Kenji and the others survived whatever put Otcho in prison, and that they will yet emerge to save the day and defeat the evil Friends. Also, Kenji and Yukiji will finally get together!

Another great volume, can’t wait to read the next one!

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!