Tag Archives: supernatural manga

Book Review: Bleach, Vol 38 by Tite Kubo

Bleach, Vol 38         

Author: Tite Kubo

Publisher: Viz Media

American release date: February 7, 2012

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

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★★

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

 

The battle of the lieutenants versus the Fracciones continues. Kira is unimpressed by his opponent’s steel wings. It’s time to show this guy what Kira’s Wabisuke can do. Hisagi’s opponent is Findorr, who keeps dumbing down his skills in order to match Hisagi’s level, which he finds infuriating… and not necessary. Also, Hisagi is beyond tired of the way Findorr keeps saying Exacta. Time to end this thing.

To the Soul Reapers’ dismay, one of the four pillars collapses. Have they lost a comrade? Yumichika wishes to rush to his friend’s side, but Hisage stops him.  Ikkaku is not down for the count, as his opponent, Poww, learns. But Poww isn’t done either, and he is a very big boy, even bigger than Captain Komamura. But the captain has a trick or two up his own sleeve.

Iba berates Ikkaku for his loss and accuses him of holding back and deliberately losing. Of course, Ikkaku doesn’t take the accusation well. Meanwhile, as King Berrigan prepares to send in the next group, to replace those who have been defeated, he is confronted by more of the Soul Reapers, and the battle begins anew! Old man Yamamoto exhorts them to “Defend this ground with all your might! Even if your flesh is torn from your bones, the enemy must not enter!” To which, Shunsui’s response to Ukitake is “Oh dear, it makes me tense to be around old man Yama when he’s like this….”

This volume of Bleach continues the battles from the previous book and then some. Definitely action-packed! One thing I like about Bleach is that it’s not an automatic win for the good guys, ever, and sometimes they do lose. And sometimes they do stupid things. That only goes to show how well Tite Kubo draws his characters, fleshes them out until they become real people.  I love that he infuses his writing with a great deal of humor, such as Shunsui’s comment above, and the banter between Matsumoto and the three female Fracciones she faces, as well as the relationship between Sai Fon and Omaeda. I guess my only real complaint is his tendency to draw most of his women with exaggerated busts, which I find unnecessary. But in all fairness, I am probably not the target demographic he is aiming for.

Another great volume of Bleach, even with no sign of Ichigo. But you’ll remember we left him rescuing Orihime so it’s just a matter of time until we return to that. Looking forward to the next one!

Book Review: Bleach, Vol 35 by Tite Kubo

Bleach, Vol 35

Author: Tite Kubo

Publisher: Viz Media

American release date: June 7, 2011

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

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★★

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

 

Kurotsuchi has shut down Szayelaporro for a long time to come, stretching time to an infinitesimal slowness as he waits in agony for the sword to pierce his chest. So, that being done, on to other things. Meanwhile, Nnoitora and Kenpachi are still going at it. The Espada is confident that nothing Kenpachi can do will harm him. Can the Soul Reaper have met his match?

At one time, Nnoitora and Nelliel worked together for Aizen, but there is no love lost between them. Memories of their antagonism flow through his brain as the battle with Kenpachi reaches an end…

But wait… the regularly scheduled program is being interrupted by an announcement from former Captain Aizen. First, he is done with Orihime and has no further use for her. Secondly… he is about to destroy Karakura Town. He gives the location where he has put Orihime, but a choice must be made. Save the girl or save the town. Can’t be both.

Tick tock, tick tock, the clock is ticking the time away. What to do, what to do, what to do?

What would Ichigo do?

A great deal of this volume of Bleach is concerned with the battle between Kenpachi and Nnoitora, and it’s not always clear who will prevail. The part with Kurotsuchi tickles me, as Uryu and Renji watch in horror at the way he is able to revive Nemu. I must say that Kurotsuchi is very… different. And not in an entirely bad way. Still, I wouldn’t want to hang out with him.

And now we’re getting ready for the next arc, in which the Soul Society, along with Ichigo, work to save Karakura Town, as well as Orihime, and some other heroes are about to take to the stage. Another great volume of Bleach, looking forward to more.

Book Review: Bleach, Vol 34 by Tite Kubo

Bleach, Vol 34       

Author: Tite Kubo

Publisher: Viz Media

American release date: March 1, 2011

Format/Genre/Length: Paperback/Manga/Supernatural/216 pages

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★★

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

 

Nel’s transformation has taken Ichigo and everyone else by surprise as she goes from young child to voluptuous fighting woman in a heartbeat! Pesche and Dondochakka also turn out to be more than they seem. Indeed they are true friends and loyal followers and protectors of Nel. As Nel battles Nnoitora, in her Capricorn Knight form, you can almost feel the fear that radiates from him. Apparently he hasn’t missed her presence ever since she almost beat him down once before.

Pesche and Dondochakka attack Szayelaporro, who has vastly underestimated them, not knowing they have been training for years. After Nnoitora unexpectedly causes Nel to revert to her childlike state, he tells Tesla to do what he wants with all of them, he is done. Now Ichigo must face the Armored Tusk Warrior, and Ichigo is in bad shape already.

Szayelaporro deals with Nel’s two friends and is about to put an end to Ichigo when salvation unexpectedly arrives in the form of Kenpachi. A confused Ichigo asks how can he be there, since the captains have been forbidden to help him. Kenpachi explains that it has to do with Uruhara, who was working to stabilize a safe path to Hueco Mundo for the captains, but that Orihime being snatched forced them to speed up the timetable.

The other captains begin to arrive – Unohana, Byakuya, and Kurotsuchi. They are faced by Zommari Rureaux, the number seven Espada

Let the battles begin!

Another action-packed, battle-filled volume of Bleach. Watching Nel and her friends reveal their true selves is pretty awesome. Also, the fortuitous arrival of Kenpachi to save the day! Not exactly an altruistic fellow, I imagine he’s saving Ichigo so he will have the pleasure of battling him again. Look for a brief appearance by Yuchiro as well! Byakuya shows why he has the reputation he has with some pretty awesome moves against Rureaux, and also reveals he is not entirely cold-hearted. But, in my opinion, it is the under-utilized Kurotsuchi who steals the show. We don’t get to see him fight very often, but don’t underestimate him. He takes advantage of a bacteria he planted in the unknowing Uryu in order to gain advance information on the enemy, and that move certainly pays off. Not only does he display his devious skill set but he reaffirms what a cold being he is. His coup de grace against Szayelaporro is priceless!

Hopefully we’ll get to see more of the captains in the next volume, especially Shunsui! I enjoyed this volume of Bleach, look forward to the next one!

Book Review: Bleach, Vol 33 by Tite Kubo

Bleach, Vol 33                   

Author: Tite Kubo

Publisher: Viz Media

American release date: December 7, 2010

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

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★★

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

 

 

Ichigo has defeated Grimmjow, but another Espada is waiting to take him on, Nnitoira.  Contemptuous of Grimmjow, and baffled as to why Ichigo would defend his fallen foe, Nnitoira orders his second-in-command Tesla to keep Orihime close to him. (Will these people never learn? Nothing makes Ichigo fight hard than when one of his friends is in trouble, particularly Orihime).

Meanwhile, Uryu and Renji, having thought they’d escaped the cluthes of Szayelaporro, find themselves back where they started, to their frustration. Besides his disturbing habit of eating his minions in order to regain health, apparently he has the ability to manipulate the inside of his palace to his satisfaction, thus sending the boys on a loop right back to him. “Shall we begin the Second Act?” he queries.

And oh, he has other tricks up his sleeves. Even nastier ones.

Orihime is powerless to do anything to help Ichigo. Although Aizen has made it clear she is not to be harmed, all bets are off if she has her Rikka attack.  Tesla wonders where the small Arrancar has gone. When she is found cowering on the ground, Nnitoira recognizes her, to his surprise. Ichigo wonders how an Espada knows a simple Arrancar, and a child at that.  Nel recognizes Nnitoira… and still doesn’t like him. But what is Nel’s secret?  And for how much longer can she hide it?

Renji, Uryu, Pesche, and Dondochakka have their own problems. With multiple versions of each of them running around, it’s difficult to know who is real and who is an imposter. But again, things can get worse… and they do.

This volume of Bleach is divided between two battles—that of Ichigo and Nnitoira and that of Uryu and Renji vs Szayelaporro. Not sure where Rukia is at this point, but Orihime is being held hostage, a witness to Ichigo’s battle. The surprise here is not Ichigo, but Nel, as we learn her back story, and as she transforms into what she once was. Who saw this coming? Certainly not Ichigo, who never expected to encounter a fully grown former Espada once named Nelliel. Her story is very touching, as is the story of her friends, Pesche and Dondochakka, who prove themselves to be much more than comic relief. They are true subordinates and faithful friends. As for Uryu and Renji, they are being tortured by the devious Szayaleporro. Getting out of this sticky wicket will be a problem. If I had to guess, it will be Uryu’s quick thinking and calm demeanor that will get them through this but we won’t know until the next volume. Likewise, how will the encounter with Nel and Nnitoira end? Gotta wait and see.

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

 

 

Book Review: Bleach, Vol 32 by Tite Kubo

 

Bleach, Vol 32       

Author: Tite Kubo

Publisher: Viz Media

American release date: September 7, 2010

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

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★★

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

 

Nel and Orihime are stricken at the idea of Ichigo having to face down Grimmjow yet again, but he assures them everything will be all right. Heartened by his words, Orihime reassures the still upset Nel that Ichigo is a man of his word, and if he says he will do something, he will. Grimmjow continues to taunt Ichigo until he releases his inner Hollow, which frightens Orihime. Is this the same Ichigo she has always known? Now it is Nel’s turn to tell Orihime to have faith and to cheer on Ichigo, for if they don’t, who will?

Gillians are the lowest class of Menos. They consume souls to the point where they lose all individuality. But occasionally, one of the consumed Hollows takes control of the others and dominates, continuing to consume until it becomes an Adjucha. If this Adjucha doesn’t continue to eat Hollows, it will regress into a Gillian and then there is no coming back from that. This is the perpetual fear that keeps them going. Grimmjow was once such an Adjucha, who continued to climb in the ranks until he became an Espada. He never wishes to go back again, so he must defeat Ichigo.

Although, if he fails, there is always another Espada waiting in the wings…

This volume of Bleach is concerned with the ongoing epic battle between Ichigo and Grimmjow, both of whom are determined to win. This fight was inevitable, considering their history together.  Orihime and Nel are helpless to do other than cheer Ichigo on, but never underestimate the value of a good rooting section! Reading about how Grimmjow became what he is was interesting, and gives us more insight into the hierarchy of the Hollows, as well as their development.

There is also a bonus story concerning Hitsugaya which I enjoyed.

Looking forward to the next volume!

 

 

 

Book Review: Blue Exorcist, Vol 25 by Kazue Kato

Blue Exorcist, Vol 25     

Author: Kazue Kato

Publisher: Viz Media

American release date: February 2, 2021

Format/Genre/Length: Paperback/manga/paranormal/282 pages

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★★

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

 

The Blue Night has begun…

A rapidly deteriorating Satan has found what he has sought, namely Yuri. But in his mind, he thinks she has betrayed him, so seeks her destruction. Father Fujimoto helps Yuri to deliver her second son as the others keep Satan at bay. At first, he is not responsive, then he takes his first breath, to her relief.

At that moment, who should appear but Sir Pheles himself, who announces he is in charge, following the death of the Paladin. He tells everyone else to withdraw and then proceeds to discuss matters with Fujimoto. Pheles tells the priest that no ordinary sword will kill the son of Satan, as the first child continues to fly out of everyone’s reach, but perhaps the Koma sword could. Too bad he gave it to a young monk a long time ago. Nevertheless, Fujimoto struggles to kill the child, only to have Pheles give both children to their grateful mother. A jealous Satan appears and begins a standoff with Father Fujimoto.

Fujimoto takes Yuri and the babies and escapes. She decides on their names.  The first one is Rin, like a Rinka, since he burst into blue flames. The other one is Yukio, because Yukiotoko are strong and warm! Yuri and Shiro make plans for the future, their future with the babies. But alas, Yuri’s health fails her and she dies, to Shiro’s grief. He protects the babies as best he can.

In the aftermath of the Blue Night, everyone begins to pick up the pieces, even as Samael makes a deal with his father to provide a proper vessel for him, as does the traitor Dragulescu. Pheles leaves the kids with Shiro to raise, but he’ll have to change some of his ways. And it won’t be easy. He becomes the next Paladin, and does his best to bring up Yuri’s boys, always mindful of the power inherent in Rin. Up until the moment when Rin’s father reappears to try to claim him…

And so we reach the end of the past. Rin has seen it all and now he understands so much more than he did before, primarily that he is not an abomination or a mistake, that he and his brother were loved and wanted by their parents, but fate would not allow them to be a happy family.  He uses the key to return to his brother, who is about to…

This volume of Blue Exorcist is jam-packed with action. So much going on, so much explained. So much tragedy. And yet from all of this we know Rin and Yukio will emerge much stronger for the experience. The love story of Yuri and Satan has come to a tragic end, but that isn’t exactly news. We’ve known that since the beginning. But it’s just heart-breaking to see it play out. I couldn’t help but wish they could have been together. I like Shiro, and I’m sorry his story came to such an end, but he was a good father to the boys, and taught them much. Mephisto Pheles is still somewhat of an enigma, but I have to believe there is more good in him than not, even if he loves a good joke at the worst of times.

There is so much to be done, but I’m sure that Rin and Yukio can succeed, if they only stay together, a united front. Another great volume, looking forward to the next!

Book Review: Bleach, Vol 31 by Tite Kubo

Bleach, Vol 31     

Author: Tite Kubo

Publisher: Viz Media

American release date: June 1, 2010

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

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★★

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

 

Ichigo comes face to face with Ulquiorra, who informs him that Rukia is dead. And so is the Espada she was fighting. Ichigo doesn’t believe him, insisting he will save her. When Ulquiorra asks why Ichigo doesn’t attack him, he says it’s because Ulquiorra hasn’t hurt any of his friends. That quickly changes when Ulquiorra replies,” What if I told you that I brought Orihime Inoue to Hueco Mundo?” And the battle is on…

Meanwhile, Orihime is alone in her room, her solitude disturbed by two young Arrancar girls, one of whom is determined to torture her. But their fun is quickly disrupted by Grimmjow, who sets the torturer straight, despite her threats to tell Aizen what he did to her. But Grimmjow has his reasons for his actions, which he reveals to Orihime.

Renji is still battling Szayelaporro, who has a rather disturbing way of replenishing his health. Renji is at the end of his strength when help arrives from an unexpected source. Grimmjow has taken Orihime with him, for his own purposes, despite the intervention of Ulquiorra. Grimmjow is determined to use Orihime’s healing ability to fully heal the opponent he intends to fight. Orihime doesn’t wish to obey, until she is presented with a good reason to do so.

Another battle-centric volume of Bleach. I imagine that’s what we’ll be getting for a while as Ichigo and his friends make their way to Aizen’s inner sanctum. I’m sure he’s anticipated all this in advance and is waiting for them with plans of his own.

I love the banter between Renji and Dondochakka, and Uryu and Pesche. Not to mention Nel and Ichigo. At the same time, they are more than mere comic relief. If we know nothing else about Ichigo, it is that he will not give up, no matter what the odds, in order to save the people he cares about. Never say never is his motto.

More battles ahead, looking forward to the next volume!

Book Review: Twentieth Century Boys, Vol 5 by Naoki Urasawa

Twentieth Century Boys, Vol 5: Reunion     

Author: Naoki Urasawa

Publisher: Viz Media

American release date: October 20, 2009

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

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★★

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

 

Kenji summons all his friends who knew of the clubhouse and the book to a secret meeting. Well, almost all. But she shows up anyway, thanks to a map carelessly left behind by one of the group, and dares them to deny she is as strong as they are, maybe even stronger. Kenji tells them he was told they would need nine people to accomplish their task, but only have seven have assembled. Luckily, as he tells them, he has contacted two others.

Yanbo and Mabo were twin terrors who made the lives of Kenji and his friends living Hell back in the day. Grown now, they own their own IT company and seem the antithesis of what they once were. Yoshitsune goes to see them on Kenji’s behalf and is amazed at the change in them. They seem to understand what Kenji is asking of them… but then they take a meeting with Inshu, the smarmy FDP politician. Are they deluded as to what is going on, and do they really not remember how awful they once were?

Kenji disguises himself in order to take his niece Kanna out for ramen before he sends her and his mom off in order to keep them safe. Yukiji tells him he’s doing the right thing, and also not to worry about her. She’ll be fine, and she wants to be a part of what’s going on. Consulting their book of Doom, they see that a giant robot is due to make an appearance, but aren’t sure what the picture before that means.

Kenji begins to doubt himself, doubt their theories. Everything is quiet. Is he just being paranoid? Is he causing trouble for his friends for no good reason? And then Ocho remembers what the picture means, and that too comes to pass… all around the world.

In the year 2014, a young woman named Kanna Endo has her own apartment…

In this volume of Twentieth Century Boys, the plot definitely thickens. There are so many questions, and few answers as of now. What about the twins? Are they going to be a help or a hindrance to Kenji and his friends? Do they not really remember what bullies they were when they speak of having played with these guys as kids? Is Kenji really blind to the fact that Yukiji likes him? Can they really take on the Friends and do they have any hope of defeating them? Will they ever find out the true identity of their mysterious leader?

Is this future written in stone? Can it end in some other way? Prepare to be shocked at the ending. What the hell happened? And is everything we assumed totally wrong?

Another great volume, looking forward to the next one.

 

Book Review: Bleach, Vol 29 by Tite Kubo

Bleach, Vol 29     

Author: Tite Kubo

Publisher: Viz Media

American release date: December 1, 2009

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

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★★

Reviewer:  Julie Lynn Hayes

 

Renji finds himself being followed by Dondochakka, who thought he was following Nel, while Ichigo squares off against an Arrancar named Dordoni. Dordoni’s appearance is devilishly rakish, and he tries to persuade Ichigo to release his bankai . Ichigo has other ideas, though. He’s saving that move for higher level opponents, as Dordoni is only 103, which makes him low on the totem pole. However, Ichigo is not aware of what his number really means. So a disappointed Dordoni decides to release a Cero, but is surprised when Nel intervenes on Ichigo’s behalf.

Aizen is following the exploits of Ichigo and his friends with interest. One thing he does wonder about is who sent the Exequias after Ichigo? Szayelaporro confesses it was him and prepares to accept Aizen’s punishment. Gin accuses Aizen of having too much fun with the current situation.

Uryu’s first opponent is Cirucci Sanderwicci, Arrancar #105, and her weapon, Golondrina. When she spins Golondrina, she is able to deflect Uryu’s spirit arrows. But Uryu is more than a one trick pony. However, when Pesche puts in an unexpected appearance, will he be a help or a hindrance? And what the heck is Infinite Slick?

Chad is battling Arrancar #107, Gantenbainne Mosqueda, a huge Afro’d man, who think he’ll make short work of Chad. But Chad is a lot stronger than he appears to be. And since Chad’s arrival in Hueco Mundo, he has discovered abilities he wasn’t aware he possessed.

Right now, Bleach is all about the battles against the three digit Arrancars, whom we learn were once Espadas but who have lost their ranks. Doesn’t mean they’re necessarily weak, though. Nel and Pesche and Dondochakka add humor to these battles, as well as assistance which may or may not be helpful. It’s a foregone conclusion that somehow Ichigo and the others will win their respective battles, continuing onward until they reach Aizen, right? We can only hope that they will then be able to put down the renegade Soul Reaper once for all.

Oh who am I kidding? Is it ever that easy? Always something, right?

In a bonus at the end of the book, we get to see the first seaside art competition, which is hilarious! There are also some concept sketches from the anime. Another great volume, can’t wait for the next one!

Book Review: Bleach, Vol 28 by Tite Kubo

Bleach, Vol 28         

Author: Tite Kubo

Publisher: Viz Media

American release date: September 1, 2009

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

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★★

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

 

Having arrived in Hueco Mundo, Ichigo, Uryu, and Chad find themselves in the middle of a huge desert, facing Los Noches, Aizen’s residence/fortress. But the structure is farther away than it looks, as they find after running toward it for a long time, seemingly drawing no closer. Ah, the illusions of the desert! Meanwhile, Aizen  has gathered his Espada in order to discuss current events. He tells them they have been invaded and not to underestimate the Ryoku, particularly Ichigo. Grimmjow doesn’t seem to be listening to his commander, and wants to head off to dispatch Ichigo immediately, and has to be reminded of his place.

As Ichigo et al take a break in the desert, a strange worm-like creature emerges from the said, with two other odd creatures on its back. It seems to be in pursuit of a small being, who screams in terror. Of course Ichigo can’t sit by and do nothing, so engages the pursuers, only to learn it’s just a game of Eternal Tag (because there is little to do in Hueco Mundo) and the person being pursued is just having fun. She turns out to be a little girl named Nel, who introduces her companions—Pesche and Dondochakka, all three of whom are Hollows. Nel takes an instant shine to Ichigo. Things seem to be going well until the Guardian of the White Sand appears to take down the Hollows for offering aid and comfort to the enemy.

Renji and Rukia appear unexpectedly, to Ichigo’s surprise. Rukia is angry with him for having left the World of the Living before they came back, saying he should have realized they would return to help. Coming to a crossroads, they decide to separate, in order to cover the different paths, promising to meet up afterward. Although Ichigo goes off on his own, Nel is soon running after him, crying. Dondo and Pesche want to follow Nel, but they confusedly end up going down the wrong paths, separating from each other in the process.

Aizen sends for Orihime and sends the others away in order speak with her privately, producing jealousy in two of his female followers, arousing their hatred for the innocent Orihime. Aizen shows off the Hogyuku to her, so now she knows exactly where it is as he tells her he needs her help. Now Orihime knows what she must do. Meanwhile, the battles with the Espadas begin.

Ichigo is determined to rescue Orihime at any cost… it’s what he does. He faces the challenge with the same relentless determination he showed in saving Rukia from being executed. He just does not know the meaning of failure. There is a lot being set up in this volume, sowing the seeds for what is to come. It’s interesting to note that Ulquiorra believes Orihime is one of them, having given her word to help. Those of us who know and have followed her from the start of the series know this can’t be true… can it? We know how honest she is, to a fault. But she is also timid. Is she going along because she gave her word or because she is afraid? Or does she truly have something else in mind?

Ulquiorra is an interesting character, obviously intelligent, and not insensitive to Orihime’s beauty and charms. At the same time, he is a hardened Espada. An interesting dichotomy indeed. I can find nothing redeeming to say about Aizen, though. Nel is also an interesting character, the sort of helpless innocent that Ichigo tends to attract, and whom he automatically defends.

Another great volume of Bleach, can’t wait to see the battles as they unfold.