Tag Archives: Soul Society

Book Review: Bleach, Vol 21 by Tite Kubo

Bleach, Vol 21         

Author: Tite Kubo

Publisher: Viz Media

American release date: October 2 2007

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

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★★

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

In the aftermath of Aizen’s dramatic departure (as if his being there isn’t drama enough alone), the 4th Squad tends to the wounded, including the Ryoka. Captain Unohana is amazed to witness Orihime’s healing skills as she tends to Ichigo. Rukia is stricken at Byakuya’s injuries, sustained while protecting her. He calls her to his side, and proceeds to tell her truths he has previously withheld.

A week passes. Uryu has sewn new clothes for his group, so Orihime wishes to personally take the new dress to Rukia… but she can’t find her. She and Ichigo begin a frantic search, even as some of the captains and lieutenants (including Shunsui, of course lol), at Matsumoto’s suggestion, get down to some serious drinking. They invite Ichigo and Orihime, but they decline the invitation, being busy (and also being underage). Ichigo has an idea where Rukia is, and he turns out to be correct.

The time comes for Ichigo and the others to return to the Living World. They drop from the sky only to find a penitent Uruhara waiting for them. Ichigo lets Kiskue know what he thinks of what he did to them. Before he left the Seireitei, Captain Ukitake gave Ichigo something special, told him to hold onto because it would be useful in all kinds of situations.

Ichigo arrives home to find Kon lounging in his bed. He reclaims his body and tells Kon he’ll listen to his complaints the next day, all he wants to do now is rest. But that isn’t happening when his dad unexpectedly appears, ready to rumble.

Back to school for everyone, back to normalcy. Or is it? Ichigo is shocked when Tatsuki can see his deputy soul reaper badge. But he has no time to think about it, as they keep getting calls about Hollows. On top of that, there’s a new kid in class. His name is Shinji (but I’ll refer to him as Dutch Boy). He takes a seat near Ichigo and hopes they will become friends! That’s not creepy at all, is it?

When Ichigo leaves in the middle of the night on Reaper business, leaving Kon in his body, Kon decides to take the opportunity to kick up his heels a bit, but he gets more than he bargained for. Uryu, who is also out and about, encounters an unexpected blast from the past. And if that’s not enough, a Soul Reaper’s true identity is revealed!

So… Captain Aizen… huh. That happened. Who saw that coming? I sure didn’t. I remember watching the anime and boohooing over “poor Aizen”. And then he wasn’t dead and I texted my daughter, overjoyed, only to be confused the next moment when he stabbed poor Hinamori. (My daughter said she couldn’t wait for that to happen, knowing what she already knew that I didn’t.)  So Aizen, Gin, and Tosen have vamoosed, off to nefarious things no doubt. I don’t believe they specifically say what’s up in the manga, but I remember Aizen telling the Soul Society that his plan would take a year and then he’d be back. I guess that was their way of explaining why the story was about to veer off into filler arcs lol

His departure is almost an anti-climax, as its back to normal business. Well, as normal as Ichigo’s world ever gets. There does seem to be a lot of Hollows, wonder if that means anything? And now we have Dutch Boy in the picture (when you read this volume, you’ll know why I call him that lol). And then a couple of major revelations at the end of the book, keeping us in suspense, waiting for the next volume. Pretty heavy stuff going down. Plus the revelation from Byakuya at the beginning.  As usual, another great volume of Bleach. One reason I love the manga so much, even though I’ve seen the whole series, is that you do learn things that either aren’t mentioned or go by too fast to catch.

Looking forward to the next volume!

Book Review: Bleach, Vol 11 by Tite Kubo

Bleach, Vol 11      Bleach, Vol 11 cover

Author: Tite Kubo

Publisher: Viz Media

American release date: February 7, 2006

Format/Genre/Length: Paperback/Manga/Supernatural/208 pages

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★★

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

 

Ganju is still running from the beauty-obsessed Yumichika as Ichigo deals with Ikkaku. Having defeated him, Ichigo waits for him to awaken so he can question him. Ikkaku is surprised to find himself alive. All Ichigo wants to know is where Rukia is, which makes Ikkaku laugh. But he tells Ichigo where to find her, although he doesn’t have a chance of succeeding. Especially if he runs into Ikkaku’s captain.

 

Speaking of which, that same captain is on the trail of Ishida and Orihime. But his directional skills are faulty, as are those of the small lieutenant who rides on his shoulder, and they escape detection. Ganju has exhausted himself running from Yumichika, who savors his impending victory just as they hear a voice screaming for Ganju and realize it’s Ichigo. Ganju points out that if Ichigo is there, he must have defeated Ikkaku, which Yumichika claims is impossible. Ganju manages a few slick maneuvers, finally drawing Ichigo’s attention.

 

Ishida and Orihime find themselves facing Jidanbo’s brother, Jirobo. He seems to be targeting Orihime, for some reason. Ishida shows how much he has progressed during his recent training.

 

After leaving Yumichika, Ganju finds himself running once more, chased by a number of soul reapers. Hearing Ichigo’s voice, he thinks everything will be fine now, only to discover that Ichigo is also being chased by a pack of soul reapers and they’re headed right toward Ganju! Can this end well?

 

Things are really getting exciting in this volume of Bleach. Ichigo is determined to rescue Rukia, no matter who gets in his way. He has that mindset that predetermines that he will succeed and that failure is not an option. Watching him fight the various members of the Thirteen Court Guard Squads is epic! Also, it’s fun to be introduced to characters who will turn out to be very crucial to the story, ones we will come to know and love. I’ve learned, from watching the anime, that first impressions don’t always count, and that the people you think you hate and/or despise often become favorites with time. Similarly, not everyone you like will stay liked, and that’s all I’ll say for now lol

 

I love the dynamics between the members of the squads as well. They are not all friends just because they work together, as evidenced by Kenpachi and Kurotsuchi. Yes, Kurotsuchi is very odd, you have no idea how odd yet, but there is also something about him that I like. Ditto with Kenpachi and Yachiru. Ichigo is growing and developing all the time, as a person and as a soul reaper.

 

Renji Abarai has already grown on me, and the glimpse of his backstory with Rukia is priceless.

 

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

 

 

 

Book Review: Bleach, Vol 10 by Tite Kubo

Bleach, Vol 10     

Author: Tite Kubo

Publisher: Viz Media

American release date: December 6, 2005

Format/Genre/Length: Paperback/Manga/Supernatural/208 pages

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★★

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

 

Ichigo is confused when he learns that the person who is going to help them get into the Seireitei is a fireworks expert. What use is that? Turns out she plans to use her expertise to launch them through the sphere that surrounds their target. But they all have to be able to create a reishukaku – a spirit core – which means training for everyone. And Ganju is to help them. When the others stop to eat, Ichigo persists in continuing with his training and Ganju remains, to Ichigo’s annoyance. Ganju confronts Ichigo and demands to know why he is working so hard to save a soul reaper.

 

The Thirteen Court Guard Squad captains and their lieutenants have been instructed to assemble in full insignia. The captains question Gin as to how and why he let a ryoku past him, although Gin seems unconcerned by their anger. When the Head Captain asks for an explanation, Gin has none to give. An intruder alarm interrupts the discussion, as everyone rushes out to see what’s happening.

 

After a short rest, the team is ready to be catapulted into the Seireitei! Kûkaku warns them that they must keep their focus and not let their energy level grow too strong. Yuruichi cautions them to stay together inside the Seireitei and avoid confrontations with anyone of captain level. (Famous last words!)

 

Their entrance does not go unnoticed.

 

Despite their best efforts, the group becomes separated into smaller groups. Ichigo and Ganju come up against Ikkaku and Kamichiki. Ganju decides to run, and is chased by Kamichiki, while Ichigo faces Ikkaku in battle. How will Ichigo fare against such an opponent?

 

This volume of Bleach sees our heroes training for entry into the Seireitei in order to rescue Rukia from her death sentence. As usual, Ichigo never stops to think what the consequences might be. He sees what he thinks has to be done and he decides to do it. He has a very strong sense of loyalty and commitment, especially when it comes to Rukia. But then again, we have to remember he’s a fifteen-year old teenager. At that age, they think they’re invincible. Although I will admit that Ichigo has a better sense of life and death than most young people since he can see dead people.

 

Watching Ichigo and Ganju go at it is hilarious! Ichigo makes friends easily but he can also rub people the wrong way until they get to know him. One thing I’ve learned with this series is don’t necessarily trust your first instincts when meeting a character, things are not always what they seem. And that works both ways. The person you thought was so nice and good may turn out to be a major league villain!

 

I love the battle between Ichigo and Ikkaku. And I love what Ichigo tells him when Ikkaku wonders why he didn’t run, like his friend, which he considered a smart move. Ichigo replies: “If your power is greater than mine, then it would be pointless to run ‘cause you’d catch me for sure. But if your power is less than mine, then I just have to beat you.”

 

This is the beginning of a lengthy arc involving the rescue of Rukia, but it’s a very interesting one in that we become familiar with the captains and lieutenants of the Thirteen Court Squads. We’ll be seeing a lot of them, trust me. And when we get to the one I’m crushing on, I’ll let you know lol

 

Another great volume of Bleach, looking forward to the next one.

 

 

 

 

Book Review: Bleach, Vol 8 by Tite Kubo

Bleach, Vol 8     

Author: Tite Kubo

Publisher: Viz Media

American release date: August 3, 2005

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

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★★

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

 

Kiskue Uruhara is training Ichigo so that he can go to the Soul Society and rescue Rukia before she is executed. But Kiskue’s tests are… well, something else. In fact, some might call them extreme. This one is called encroachment, where the chain Ichigo is attached to at the bottom of a deep hole begins to devour itself. If they get too close to Ichigo, they’ll devour him. If he doesn’t get out of that hole within seven days, he’ll become a Hollow and they’ll have to put him down!

Meanwhile, Mr. Yoruichi, the talking cat, is training Orihime and Chad to prepare them to accompany Ichigo to the Soul Society. But so far results haven’t been the best. The feline tells them to remember what was going on when their powers first manifested, who did they want to protect.

Jinta and Ururu think Ichigo is transforming and want to dispatch him, but Kiskue bids them to wait. Ichigo finds himself in a strange place with a strange man in black, who tries to get Ichigo to realize who he is. A figure is seen emerging from the shaft, but is it Ichigo or a Hollow?

For the third test, Kiskue tells Ichigo to knock his hat off. Sounds simple, but nothing is every truly easy where Mr. Hat-and-clogs is concerned!

Back in the Soul Society, Byakuya pronounces sentence on Rukia, who seems resigned to her fate. Afterward, he is approached by two of the other captains—Gin Ichimaru of 3rd Squad and Kenpachi Zaraki of the 11th Squad. (An odd couple, indeed)

Ichigo is finding that it’s not as easy to knock off Kiskue’s hat as he imagined. Will Uruhara really kill him if he gets the chance? Or is that just a part of his training technique?

And where is Ishida? Why isn’t he training? Or does he really intend to stay out of this?

And what the heck is the Wall of Koryu, and just how dangerous is it?

This volume of Bleach is all about Ichigo and his companions preparing themselves to enter the Soul Society and rescue Rukia, a daunting task at best. There are so many questions that need to be answered! One advantage of reading the manga, even while watching the anime, is that the manga sometimes explains things I wondered about. Like how all these people stand around in the middle of the air as though they were on solid ground. Zangetsu explains to Ichigo that it is the reishi floating in the air that coalesces and allows the Soul Reapers to apparently stand on nothing. Good to know!

Kiskue Uruhara is a very strange and unusual character. The mysterious shop owner must have more to him than we can see, considering the powers he displays when training Ichigo. Who or what is he? Sorry, gotta wait for his backstory. Same with the talking cat.

With Bleach, never assume that what you see is what you get. Or that people are what they seem. I’ve been fooled by that before. More than once. This volume has a lot going on, but there are still questions.

How can Byakuya be so calm as to accept the execution of his sister? Why is she so resigned to such a fate? There has to be more to it than this. I believe, even when this situation is resolved, that the truth goes far deeper, and that even as far as I am in the anime, I don’t know everything. But I have my suspicions, which it’s too early to share. Let me just say that I believe everything happens for a reason and nothing is coincidence.

Another great volume of Bleach, looking forward to the next one!

Book Review: Bleach, Vol 7 by Tite Kubo

Bleach, Vol 7     

Author: Tite Kubo

Publisher: Viz Media

American release date: May 15, 2005

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

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★★

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

 

Rukia has been confronted by two Soul Reapers, newly arrived from the Soul Society, who have announced their intention to take her back to Soul Society—for her trial and execution—when unexpected assistance arrives in the form of Uryu Ishida. Ishida claims to just be in the neighborhood, going to a 24-hour dressmaking shop. No one’s actually buying that. Meanwhile, Ichigo comes across a trussed-up, smelly Kon behind the toilet. Once freed, Kon tells Ichigo that Rukia is gone and left a note, which they have to decipher. Once the message is read, Ichigo decides to go after her, but he has a problem—he can’t become a Soul Reaper without Rukia’s help! What can he do? Luckily help arrives in an unexpected form, and Ichigo is soon on his way.

He arrives just to time to find Ishida laid out flat. One of the Soul Reapers, Renji Abarai, can’t figure out who or what Ichigo is, and Ichigo isn’t exactly forthcoming on details. The other Soul Reaper is Renji’s Captain (or taichou), Byakuya Kuchiki, and he has heard of Ichigo. Renji has to laugh when he learns that Ichigo has no idea what his zanpaku-to’s name is! Renji has seriously misjudged Ichigo, though. In the ensuing battle, Ichigo is felled, presumably killed, to Rukia’s horror. But you can’t keep a good man down (and seriously, what hero dies at the beginning of a manga?), and Ichigo regains his feet, determined to keep fighting. Rukia has to act fast, so she does, announcing rather loudly that she will return to Soul Society with her brother and Renji.

Ichigo is saved by the same savior as before, who is none other than Kiskue Uruhara, whom Ichigo refers to as Hat-and-clogs. Ichigo expresses his frustration at not being able to get to Soul Society to save Rukia. The enigmatic Kiskue says he knows how, but he’ll only tell Ichigo if he agrees to train with him for ten days. Otherwise, he says, Ichigo will die if he tries to save her. Of course Ichigo agrees. Meanwhile, unknown to him, Orihime and Chad and Ishida end up together, also determined to go to Soul Society to save Rukia. They end up with a rather unusual mentor of their own.

Kiskue’s training isn’t easy. The question is, can Ichigo survive it, or will he turn into his own worst nightmare?

Watching the anime as well as reading the manga gives me a somewhat unique perspective, and lets me pick up on things in the manga that I don’t remember from the anime. This volume is a good example. At one point, when it looks as though Byakuya has killed Ichigo, he comments that he somewhat understands Rukia’s motives, that Ichigo does resemble him. Who’s him? And why wasn’t this in the anime? Or did I miss it? Hmmm, keeping an eye on that one.

I have to say that Rukia, at this point in the manga, isn’t nearly as doom and gloom as she is in the anime. I love how Tite Kubo sets up so many questions, many of which won’t be answered for a long time to come. To keep us wondering, I guess lol One such mystery is Kiskue Uruhara. He obviously isn’t just another shopkeeper, despite his attempts to appear innocuous and innocent. But first off, he knows about Soul Reapers and he sells their merchandise to Soul Reapers in the Land of the Living. So why is he there? What about his mysterious employees – the large Tessai, and the children, Ururu and Jinta? And a talking cat? I know there’s a story there.

This volume is the beginning of the Rescue Rukia arc (not sure what the official name is but that works for me). Forces are gathering, plans are being made, and everyone is preparing to fight the entire Soul Society if necessary in order to save Rukia’s life. This is our first glimpse of Renji and Byakuya. They grow on you, trust me. Especially Renji. The jury’s still out on Byakuya, ‘cause frankly he has a major stick up his backside and an attitude for days. Ishida grows on you too, although right now he’s something of a pain too. But Renji is a pretty good guy. Some of my favorite characters have yet to appear, looking forward to that.

All in all, a good volume, and a good set-up for what’s to come.

Book Review: Bleach, Vol 1 by Tite Kubo

Bleach, Vol 1     

Author: Tite Kubo

Publisher: Viz Media

American release date: May 19, 2004

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

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★★

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

Ichigo Kurosaki can see ghosts. This is something he’s lived with all his life, so dead people are a normal part of his existence. He’s sensitive to their sufferings. When punks break a floral offering for a young child, Ichigo shows them the error of their ways by beating it into them.  Ichigo lives with his father and two sisters, Karin and Yuzu, his mother having died some time ago. They run the Kurosaki Clinic. His father is strict, in that he demands the teen-aged Ichigo be home by 7, and he has a disconcerting habit of attacking his son without warning. It’s become something of a male ritual with them, each trying to get over on the other. The girls just roll their eyes and shakes their heads at them.

When a mysterious girl in black robes appears suddenly in Ichigo’s room, he is thrown for a loss. She is equally flabbergasted that not only can he see her, he was able to kick her. She explains to him that she is Rukia Kuchiki, and she is a Soul Reaper from the Soul Society. When Ichigo tries to have his dad remove the intruder, his father looks at him like he’s crazy. Apparently no one can see her but him, lending credence to her story. Rukia explains to Ichigo that there are two kinds of souls – the normal kind, whom she performs konso on so they can pass on to the Soul Society, and the hollows, who must be vaporized. Rukia is looking for a hollow now, in Ichigo’s house.

Ichigo realizes to his horror that his family is in danger, and they are being attacked by a Hollow. His guilt only grows when Rukia surmises the Hollow is looking for Ichigo because of his strong spirit pressure, unlike other humans. Ichigo is determined to fight for his family. Rukia only intends to lend Ichigo half of her power so he can combat this enemy, but to her dismay, he absorbs all of it, rendering her unable to use them.

The next day Ichigo is confused to find his family have no memory of the attack and believe a truck drove into their home, causing extensive damage. He goes to school, wondering what’s become of Rukia. Did she return to her Soul Society? To his surprise and dismay he finds her as a new student in his class. What’s up with that? He confronts her in private and asks why she didn’t return to where she belongs, only to learn that she can’t because he took all her powers. So until she can get them back, he has to perform soul reaper duties in her place!

Ichigo and Rukia run into Ichigo’s friend, Orihime, who is something of a space cadet and a klutz but a super sweet girl. Rukia notices a strange bruise on Orihime’s leg, which she laughingly attributes to clumsiness, but Rukia isn’t sure that’s really the case. That night, Ichigo’s sister questions him about some missing items, such as her pajamas and a dress, but he has no idea where they are, why should he? In his room, he hears a phone go off, which turns out to be Rukia’s, and she is sleeping in his closet? No time to argue, a Hollow is nearby and they must confront it! When they find the monster, Ichigo is appalled when he recognizes who it is!

I’ve been watching the anime for several months now but am just starting to read the manga. It’s every bit as good as the anime, and I love seeing the characters in print. One thing I didn’t realize from the anime is that Ichigo has a nickname, which is Strawberry. My daughter explained that it’s because his name translates to strawberry. Learn something new every day!

In this first volume, we are meeting people, such as Orihime and Chad, and of course Rukia. Her sensing Ichigo’s spirit pressure is what starts everything moving.  The Kurosaki family is great, I love their interactions. Dad is really something else. But everything is done with love, and it shows. Ichigo may have been reluctant to take on the duties of a soul reaper, but once he’s agreed to do it, he goes into it wholeheartedly, as it’s his nature to stand up for other people who might not be able to stand up for themselves. He’s a good boy, he is.  The only criticism I can make (and it’s not something unusual to Kubo alone, it’s most of the male manga artists) is the tendency to draw women with huge breasts. But what can you do? I guess their primary target audience are teen-aged males.

Great first volume, lots to go, looking forward to it!