Tag Archives: supernatural manga

Book Review: Bleach, Vol 26 by Tite Kubo

Bleach, Vol 26   

Author: Tite Kubo

Publisher: Viz Media

American release date: March 3, 2009

Format/Genre/Length: Paperback/Manga/Supernatural/2106 pages

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★★

Reviewer:  Julie Lynn Hayes

 

While communicating with the Soul Society from Kakura Town, Captain Hitsugaya is surprised to see Hinamori up and about. She apologizes to him for having doubted him, of having accused him of murdering Captain Aizen, since obviously that didn’t happen. Her only request is that he not kill Aizen now.

Renji is frustrated with Uruhara, who more or less tricked him into training Chad, but the training is not going smoothly. Ichigo is still training with the Visoreds when Orihime suddenly appears, much to their surprise. How did she even know how to find them when their location is so off the grid, and how did she slip through Hachi’s barrier? Orihime delivers to Ichigo the important message regarding Aizen’s plan, which includes the destruction of Kakura Town for his own nefarious ends (when are his ends not nefarious?) Uyru’s training with his father is not going very well either, and the man is pushing him to his limits.

When Kiskue calls for Orihime to come to the training grounds, she assumes that she is to train also. But his message is quite different—he tells her that she is stay out of this battle. Orihime understands, but is crushed, nonetheless. Rukia finds her and promised she will help her find a way to grow stronger.

In Hueco Mundo, Yammy has received a new arm, but Grimmjow hasn’t, which means he is no longer an Espada. Ulquiorra and Yammy are called by Aizen and told to carry out the order given by him a month before. They are also to take along the new Arrancar, Wonderweiss. In the Seireitei, Ukitake and Hisagi watch Rukia and Orihime train. Ukitake is pleased to see them together, as Rukia has few friends and finds it hard to let people in.

When the Arrancars drop from the sky, they are met by the Soul Reapers. Ichigo tells the Visoreds he has to go, against their better judgment. While they are thus engaged, Ulquiorra carries out his missions…

In this volume of Bleach, we get a little more insight into what the despicable Aizen has planned. I can’t believe Hinamori still defends him, in spite of what he did to her. She has a rude awakening ahead of her. Training for all our heroes is difficult, but no pain, no gain, right? The Visoreds are running out of patience with Ichicgo, especially as he keeps interrupting his training to step into the fray. Wait until he finds out what Aizen has done now. Or rather what he has sent his minions to do. Ichigo will lose his mind. He will not less this pass.

A lot going on in this volume, all a prelude to something that will be some time in the making and has just barely begun. Another great volume, can’t wait for 28!

Book Review: Twentieth Century Boys, VOl 4: Love and Peace

Twentieth Century Boys, Vol 4: Love and Peace   

Author: Naoki Urasawa

Publisher: Viz Media

American release date: August 18, 2009

Format/Genre/Length: Paperback/manga/paranormal/200 pages

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★★

Reviewer:  Julie Lynn Hayes

 

A man from Japan who lives in Bangkok, Thailand, and goes by the name of Shogun, is being sought by a dangerous element. Mostly because he helps girls in slippery situations out of those situations and sends them home, thus putting himself on the radar of some very bad people. But there is more to his being wanted than just that, as a business associate tells him, it has to do with the drugs he destroyed. A valuable new street drug called Rainbow Kid. The associate has a new job for Shogun. He’s to go to a hotel and remove some low-life drug user before he dies and ruins the reputation of the place. Shogun goes to the room, and the druggie tells him a story involving the police, and the military, and cabinet members… and he’s a cop himself. Nothing is making sense. Friends? What friends? And then Shogun finds a pin, a symbol long forgotten from his childhood….

Shogun learns the last girl he saved has been captured again, and so of course he goes to free her.  Once they get out of the place she is being held, she asks him why he is helping her, and Shogun replies, “ (because) I wasn’t there when my own kid died.” On the verge of being attacked, Shogun and the girl are assisted by a group of men, the leader of which introduces himself as a member of the house of representatives, and a member of the FDP—the Friendship and Democracy Party.

Shogun takes the girl to safety then returns to his business associate at the travel agency. But the girl suddenly turns up, much the worse for wear, with an important message about the politician they just met, where she’s seen him before. And an unexpected phone call from an old friend in Japan brings Shogun to the realization that it’s time to go back to Japan. But first, there’s something he’s gotta do…

This volume of Twentieth Century Boys is primarily about Shogun, a character we’ve been long awaiting to take his place on this particular stage. In filling in the blanks of his life, past and present, we get a more cohesive picture of our heroes, and what they’re about, and what they are capable of.

Some time has passed, with Kenji in hiding, blamed for the death of the homeless man. But he’s managed to eluded capture and fly under the rader, and his niece, Kanna, is now three, and cute as can be. Kenji, his mom, and Kanna, have all found shelter with the group of homeless men who insist they need his help, that he is the one who will save the world. Not that Kenji believes that, but at this point, he has few options.

Having learned in the previous volume who the baby daddy is, it’s not hard to extrapolate that at some point, Kanna will become a target for his group. Things are really happening. I love all the back story, as more and more things begin to make sense, and we get a lot of omg and wtf moments.  From the beginning of the series, we know that a group of men saves the world, and we can kindof guess who they are, but how they do it definitely remains to be seen. One can surmise that the how involves music in some way, but against this growing group of crazies who are hell-bent on achieving the destruction of the world, that doesn’t seem like a very strong defense.

With every volume, I think I love this series more and more. Can’t wait for the next one!

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 20 by Tite Kubo

Bleach, Vol 20     

Author: Tite Kubo

Publisher: Viz Media

American release date: August 7, 2007

Format/Genre/Length: Paperback/Manga/Supernatural/232 pages

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★★

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

 

When Matsumoto comes face to face with Kira, she learns what the power of his zanpaku-to, Wabisuke, really is.  Kira’s sword doubles the weight of anything it strikes, until the user cannot wield it and sinks to their knees, head in a penitent pose.  (Wabisuke means the Penitent One).

Hinamori is confused as to why Gin has brought her to the place where the 46 govern. But all is explained when she comes face-to-face with the last person she expected to see there. How can this possibly be? But the joyful reunion is brought to a sharp halt.

When Hitsugaya arrives, he too is thunderstruck to see the newcomer then chilled when he learns what has happened to Momo.  Battle is inevitable. It isn’t long before Unohana and Isane appear, having deduced this person’s whereabouts, and we learn what power he really possesses. One which has fooled many people for a long time. Except maybe Tosen, who is immune to it, being blind. Which means he has done what he did with knowing consent. Has everyone been subjected to this? Maybe the Ryoka are immune. Hopefully.

When the traitors disappear, Unohana deduces where they’ve gone and tells Isane to send a special message to all the captains and lieutenants, as well as the Ryoka, to assemble immediately… it’s an emergency!

The newcomer confronts Renji and Rukia and demands that Rukia be given to him. Naturally, Renji refuses. And just in the nick of time, Ichigo appears. More battle is inevitable, and along with it, much is learned, including the secret  of the object known as the Hogyaku. Where before, the object of the Thirteen Court squads was to defeat the Ryoka so that Rukia could be executed, now the common goal is to reclaim her from the newly revealed enemy in their midst.

There’s a lot going on in this volume, so put on your hip boots and wade into it. Don’t be surprised that things aren’t what they seem. You just can’t believe your eyes, apparently. And some people aren’t to be trusted. I think one character said it very well when he said, “Adoration is the state furthest from understanding.” I think that’s just another way of saying love is blind.

Lines will have to be redrawn, foes become enemies and enemies foes. Many things we’ve wondered about will become clearer, such as Kiskue’s place in the scheme of things, and a better understanding of Ichigo’s Hollowfication. The one thing that rather bugs me about this book is Rukia’s limp, wishy-washy attitude. Normally, she’s an in-your-face, don’t-mess-with-me kind of girl, but here she is almost a willing participant in what is going on to happen, as if she’s resigned to it or something. Maybe there’s a logical reason for this, but if there is, I don’t know what it is. Guess I’ll have to wait and see if she gets back the old Rukia spark.

Speaking of sparks, I suspect plenty will be flying in the next volume. Looking forward to it!

Book Review: Bleach, Vol 19 by Tite Kubo

Bleach, Vol 19     

Author: Tite Kubo

Publisher: Viz Media

American release date: June 5, 2007

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

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★★

Reviewer:  Julie Lynn Hayes

 

Soi Fon thinks she has the upper hand in her battle against Yoruichi, believing that her one-time commander has been sedentary for the past century. She is in for a rude awakening!

Ikkaku and Iba are drinking and arguing, as usual, when they speculate as to who Captain Kuchiki is fighting, up by the Sokyoku. Iba doesn’t recognize the spiritual pressure, but Ikkaku suspects it’s Ichigo, knowing how strong he is. And he is correct, for that battle is still being waged, even after Rukia has been safely removed from the playing field.

Ichigo is still pressing Kuchiki for an answer to why he is trying to kill his own sister. Byakuya is determined to crush Ichigo, confident that Ichigo can never hold his own against him. Seriously, even if he has to release his bankai, Ichigo can’t possibly do that…. can he?

Boy, does that arrogant s.o.b have another think coming…

Meanwhile, Uryu, Orihime, Chad, and Ganju are hastening toward the summit of the hill, not sure if that is where Ichigo is or not. Why is Ichigo still fighting, since Rukia has already been saved? Uryu explains “She won’t be safe until he’s broken the enemy completely.” Otherwise they will still try to execute her. Makes sense. But can he do it?

When the smoke of battle clears, who will be left standing?

Meanwhile, a horrific sight meets Hitsugaya and Matsumoto—the Council of 46 are all dead, murdered… and not recently. Who’s done this horrible thing? And since they were killed some time ago… who has been issuing orders in their name? Is someone trying to frame Hitsugaya for what has happened? Who would do such a thing… and why?

Just when you think the battle’s won, new battle lines are drawn, and new mysteries appear. I love watching them unfold, especially as I know what awaits in the next volume (one advantage of watching the anime first lol) In this volume, Byakuya is learning that Ichigo is more than he bargained for and not as easily dismissed as he might think.

I love Tite Kubo’s characterizations. His characters are definitely not one-note. There is no such thing as all good or all evil, there are many shades of gray. Not even Rukia’s brother is all bad, just has a mighty high opinion of himself. Even Ichigo has his dark side.

I love seeing the backstories of the characters. This time we got some insight into Soi Fon and  Yoruichi, the past shedding light on the present.

Looking forward to the next volume!

Book Review: Soul Eater, Vol 9 by Atshushi Ohkubo

Soul Eater, Vol 9   

Author: Atsushi Ohkubo

Publisher: Yen Press

American release date: April 8, 2014

Format/Genre/Length: Paperback/manga/paranormal/204 pages

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★

Reviewer:  Julie Lynn Hayes

 

Death the Kid has gone to the DWMA library, determined to learn all he can about the mysterious Eibon, who is supposedly the same as the Shinigami. Wth? He tells the librarian he needs to go through the books in the level 4 stacks, but she tells him he isn’t allowed access, as he’s just a one-star meister. But when he shows her his badge, and she realizes he’s the Shinigami’s son, suddenly she’s all kinds of cooperative and offers to fetch the books he wants herself. Unfortunately, the one book on Eibon the library owns was checked out two months previously and never returned. The only signature is a single M. Kid has a bad feeling he knows who that is.

Crona is in a touch position. He is beginning to make friends for the first time and has been accepted by Maka and her friends, only to be approached by his crazy mother, Medusa, who has an errand for him. How can he please her without betraying his friends? Does he even have the strength to stand up to her, even after the way she has treated him? Ragnarok is no help, constantly reminding Crona that if he doesn’t do as Medusa says, she will get very angry with him. Crona just can’t handle anger…

While searching DWMA for the secret vault, Crona runs into Marie, and is fearful she will be suspicious of his being where he should not be. Luckily, she is clueless and thinks he is lost, just like her, and offers to help him find his way. The blind leading the blind! Will her assistance be worse than her thinking he’s up to something?

Crona receives his next assignment, when he fails to find the vault. He has to bug Dr. Stein’s lab!

The worst meister ever at DWMA is Hero, a guy the other students pick on and use for menial tasks. But Hero has a goal—to claim the Holy Sword as his weapon. Then no one will treat him like that. So what if it comes with some strange requirements he has to meet. The fight is on! How long will DWMA remain under Hero’s control?

Shinigami informs Stein that Arachnophobia knows the whereabouts of another Demon Tool known as Brew. Stein must begin more intensive duel instructions with his students immediately! Teams who are unable to synchronize their wavelengths will be cut from Stein’s class by the end of the day! Maka, Black Star, and Kid are failing spectacularly, and things aren’t looking good for them. Maka wants Black Star off the team, but Stein refuses. Can they get their act together in time or will they end up being cut?

Brew is located on an island just north of Alaska, Lost Island. But there’s a catch. Once the witches had a demon tool development facility on the island, but it was accidentally destroyed. Because of that a magnetic field has arisen, keeping people from approaching the island. Anyone who lingers inside the magnetic field risk permanent damage to their body. Twenty minutes is the limit. The timer has begun, the race is on!

This volume of Soul Eater introduces us to a couple of students we haven’t met before, including Hero, Pot Meister Kilik Rung, Lamp Meister Kim Diehl, and Spear Meister Ox Ford. Before this, we seldom saw other students, so it’s good to have that chance now.

Death the Kid is one of my favorite characters. Despite his quirks, he’s a really good Shinigami, and has a strong sense of justice. I know he will research Eibon until he finds an answer, no matter where the information leads him.  Stein has come a long way since we first met him. I can see what a good instructor he is. He won’t let the students get hurt if he can help it. Interesting that he and Marie are living together now. I hadn’t seen him as the domestic type. You have to feel sorry for Crona, caught between a rock and a hard place—the mother he loves, for some unknown reason, and the new friends he’s made at DWMA. I suspect that when the time comes, he will do the right thing.

Justin is on top of his game in this volume, and shows he is more than just that annoying weapon. Watching Maka, Black Star and Kid attempt to resonate together, and failing at it, is just a reminder that despite what kind of students they are, they are still teenagers who have a lot to learn. But they will, I’m sure.

Another appearance by Mifune, whom I truly believe will end up on the right side in the end, and DWMA will learn a lesson in tolerance as well.

A special mysterious guest appearance at the end of the book sets us up for the next one! Not sure when I’ll be able to read that, since the libraries are closed right now because of COVID-19, but will get to it as soon as I can. Looking forward to it!

 

Book Review: Soul Eater, Vol 8 by Atsushi Ohkubo

Soul Eater, Vol 8       

Author: Atsushi Ohkubo

Publisher: Yen Press

American release date: April 8, 2014

Format/Genre/Length: Paperback/manga/paranormal/188 pages

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★★

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

 

It’s Black Star against the bodyguard Mifune! Mifune doesn’t have much choice in the matter, as the little witch Angela is being held hostage. Black Star has come to help Sid, who is to destroy the demon tool Mifune admires Black Star’s Uncanny sword, but is Tsubaki any match for Mifune’s Infinite One-sword style? When Tsibaki tries to persuade Mifune to become a teacher at DWMA, where he can work with children, he tells her the story of how he and Angela met.

Back at DWMA, Maka is still recovering in the infirmary, and gets annoyed when Soul and Black Star begin whispering together in front of her and won’t explain what’s going on.

Something evil is on the loose in Death City, as evidenced by the snake which has wriggled its way into a little girl, out for a walk with her mommy. When Sid returns with the blueprints for the demon tool, he’s surprised that Shinigami-sama tells him to seal it inside the Secret Vault for now, rather than destroy it. What can Shinigami-sama want with such a thing? Isn’t it dangerous to keep it intact? What if someone managed to get their hands on it?

Back at DWMA, Maka has returned to class. Tsubaki is concerned about Black Star. He keeps challenging other people and getting into fights. But why? Dr. Stein is trying to teach the students about cooperation and teamwork, but that isn’t working out so well. Meanwhile, at Arachnophobia headquarters, an unexpected player shows up in the form of Arachne’s younger sister, Medusa!

Death the Kid is throwing a party, and Tsubaki has made all the food, although Liz keeps taking credit for having done it, in order to impress a guy. But Patty and Soul put the kibosh on that plan pretty effectively! Kid unexpectedly tells Patty and Liz to come with him to the Sahara, by orders of the Shinigami. Their mission is to stop the Runaway Express. Shinigami suspects that it’s being powered by a Demon Tool, so they must overtake it and capture the tool! However, that means going toe to toe with with the Fisher King!

Crona is thrilled to be making friends at DWMA, even if Ragnarok can be rather surly to them at the best of times. But things are looking up for him… until a certain someone from his past shows up, someone he has always had trouble saying no to. Will Medusa use the child she was so quick to toss out? And for what purpose?

Two of my favorite things about this action-packed volume of Soul Eater are seeing Mifune again and seeing Death the Kid in action again. I like Mifune, and I hope that ultimately they’ll be able to persuade him to become a teacher at DWMA. With his love of children, I think he would be a natural. But for that to happen, there has to be a place there for Angela too. Which means some attitude readjustment regarding witches. As for Death, he’s one of my favorite characters, quirks and all. Sometimes it’s easy to forget just how very powerful he is, and watching him in action only serves to reinforce that.

My only lament is there is not much of Maka and Soul, but now that Maka is feeling better, I hope to see more of them in future volumes. Also, not much of Spirit, Maka’s father. I can’t help but feel he is actually growing and maturing. He does love his daughter very much (plus I think he’s cute lol).

The big mystery here concerns Shinigami and his growing collection of demon tools. Does he have ulterior motives for not destroying them? I don’t believe he’s doing it for bad reasons, maybe misguided ones? Hard to say at this point, too little information.

Another great volume, looking forward to more of the same!

Book Review: Bleach, Vol 18 by Tite Kubo

Bleach, Vol 18       

Author: Tite Kubo

Publisher: Viz Media

American release date: April 3, 2007

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

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★★

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

 

The time has arrived for Rukia’s execution, the Sokyoku has been released and Rukia has been strapped to the scaffold. She awaits her fate with resignation, grateful to those who attempted to rescue her. The halberd assumes its true form as the firebird king, ready to impale Rukia and complete the sentence. Only a deus ex machina can save her now.

And here one is, in the person of Ichigo Kurosaki! And Ichigo is single-handedly holding back the firebird king itself!  How can that be? Instead of being grateful, Rukia calls him a fool and asks him why he came back, warning him Byakuya will surely kill him this time. Meanwhile, the spectators below are marveling at what has happened and wondering who in the world was able to do that.

Before the bird can strike a second time, which would surely be fatal to them both, Ukitake arrives, to Kyoraku’s relief, and proceeds to destroy the Sokyoku. At that, Ichigo destroys the scaffold and takes Rukia in hand. Can her rescue possibly be this easy?

Of course not.

Ichigo tosses Rukia down to Renji and tells him to take her to safety, as he turns to confront Byakuya. Sai Fon sends her people after those who are working to rescue Rukia, then finds herself facing a foe of her own—her former captain, Yoruichi! Ukitake and Kyoraku are about to attempt to talk to Sai Fon, but they are called to task by the Head-Captain himself, and have no choice but to face him down together!

This volume of Bleach is certainly not lacking in action. Everybody seems to be fighting against someone! And the lines between the good guys and the bad guys is most definitely blurred, as two captains—the first two captains to graduate from the Soul Reaper Academy—choose to do what they believe to be right, even if it means defying old man Yama.

Ichigo is his usual cocky self. Remember he’s only fifteen, and still believes himself invincible. But besides that, he has strong sense of honor, as well as a strong desire to protect his family and friends from harm. He won’t allow Rukia to give up, no matter what, a very admirable sentiment indeed. I don’t find manga-Rukia nearly as wishy-washy as I did anime-Rukia. Maybe that’s because we are more privy to her inner thoughts in the manga than in the anime.

I was especially thrilled to see so much of Shunsui in this volume, especially as he is so obviously on the side of right. He and Ukitake are such good friends and so very much in sync with one another. It’s very heart-warming. (On the other hand, although I write fanfiction, I have no desire to slash them, although I’m fairly sure that’s been done already. I don’t see either one of them as being gay, and they certainly aren’t written that way. I mean, have you ever watched Shunsui with the women? Seriously?) One thing about the manga that I love is that I sometimes end up having questions answered that bothered me from watching the anime. Such as what’s wrong with Ukitake. He’s always treated as if he’s fragile and might keel over at any moment. But common sense says that if he’s strong enough to become a Soul Reaper, he’s not a wilting flower either. Well, the answer is at the back of this volume, which has bios of both Ukitake and Shunsui. Apparently Ukitake has a lung ailment! That explains much and answers that question.

I like the little vignettes in between chapters involving those left behind in the World of the Living. Kon (in Ichigo’s body) has become involved in a soccer game with Jinta and Ururu and Karin, and notices that Jinta has his Kon body! The result is hilarious and is still ongoing.

I liked the scenes between Yoruichi and Sai Fon. I think you’d have to be pretty blind not to realize that Yoriuchi and Kiskue are a couple. But also, Sai Fon has a huge crush on Yoruichi, which probably contributes to her behavior at times.

With most of the strength of the Sereitei arrayed against them, can Ichigo and his friends pull off this daring rescue? Only time will tell. Looking forward to the next volume!

 

Book Review: Bleach, Vol 17 by Tite Kubo

Bleach, Vol 17         

Author: Tite Kubo

Publisher: Viz Media

American release date: February 6, 2007

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

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★★

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

 

The countdown to execution has begun! No time to lose if Rukia Kuchiki is to be saved! Renji is determined to save his friend, even if he has to go through Byakuya, his captain, to do it. Byakuya is confident in his ability to defeat Renji, but Renji has been training with Ichigo and has a few surprises up his sleeves!

Kenpachi is happily facing the masked Komamura and the blind Tosen. Finally, a real challenge! As Rukia is being led to the Sokyoku, across the bridge, she encounters Gin Ichimaru, who can’t resist a last chance to tease the condemned Soul Reaper. He informs her that Renji is still alive, and offers to help her.  Reaching the Sokyoku,  she is asked if she has anything to say, and makes a last request.

Realizing Captain Tosen has used his bankai, Hisagi wants to go to him, but Yumichika tells him they are not finished. When Tosen questions his abilities and standing in his company, Yumichika enlightens him as to why he holds the position that he does. In fact, Yumichika will show him something, if Tosen promises not to tell the other members of his squad.

The execution has begun. It’s now or never, if Rukia is to be saved.

This volume is becoming a real nail-biter as Ichigo and friends battle to save Rukia from what they consider to be an unwarranted execution. Ichigo is conspicuous by his absence, still working to learn how to bankai. But he has an indomitable spirit and refuses to consider failure to be an option. No doubt we’ll see him in the next book.  Tosen’s backstory is poignant, and the revelation of Komamura’s actual face is enlightening. You can’t help but love Yachiru, the way she refers to Orihime as “Chubby”, and calls Ichigo “Itchy”. Although perhaps that should be translated as Ichi. It’s hard to tell, and translation can be a tricky thing.

There are so many questions here that beg to be answered. Is Rukia’s so-called infraction really of such a serious nature that it requires her execution? And, if you go with the idea that Soul Society is a sort of heaven, where the dead go, and that therefore the Soul Reapers themselves are not alive and not human, then how can she be executed and what does this really mean to them? Why is Byakuya such an uptight and cold monster, who is willing to see his own sister lose her life?

Plus we still have the mystery of who killed Captain Aizen. We know it wasn’t Ichigo and Company, despite what the Soul Society thinks. So who is the killer, and why was he killed? So many questions, so few answers. .. yet.  Something’s gotta give, hopefully in the next volume.

Looking forward to the big event, be there!

Book Review: Blue Exorcist, Vol 23 by Kazue Kato

Blue Exorcist, Vol 23   

Author: Kazue Kato

Publisher: Viz Media

American release date: February 4, 2020

Format/Genre/Length: Paperback/manga/paranormal/210 pages

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★★

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

 

We’re still in the backstory of Yuri and Satan, as Sir Pheles accompanies Rin on his voyage of discovery into his past. Deep below the Academy, in Section 13, exorcists are researching elixirs of immortality and developing clones to house the spirits of demons, including Lord Lucifer himself. But a new demon has arrived, one much stronger and more powerful than the rest—none other than Satan himself! However, they are unaware of his identity… at least for now.

Lucifer’s hopes of receiving a new body before his old one completely fails are slowly diminishing, as another body goes to the demon Amaimon. But Lucifer never gives up hope. The next demon to emerge manages to escape and runs into Yuri. She is shocked to recognize Rinka. Unfortunately for him, he is captured immediately after their reunion and returned to Section 13.

Yuri is the only one who can get through to Rinka, so Mephisto decides to enlist her aid with the newborn demon. Although practically an infant at first, Rinka learns quickly under Yuri’s tutelage. But his intellect far outstrips his emotional development, as well as his reasoning powers, leaving him subject to violent outbursts. Shiro agrees to help Yuri with Rinka, which leads to some head-butting between the two. But Rinka is clever, and although Yuri tries to keep him from learning too much, he gets around her and makes even greater strides. And he now realizes who he really is. New arrivals contain the area, leaving Yuri without access and unable to visit Rinka.

Shiro finds himself in control of an orphaned little girl named Shura, to his chagrin, who dreams of one day marrying him. Satan is making his demands known, on behalf of himself and Lucifer. And one demand is to have Yuri brought to him. But they don’t bring her right away and he doesn’t repeat his demand. However, Yuri decides to go to him on her own, determined to save him in exchange for his release of the demons. She succeeds, and for a while they are happy together. But Satan’s body is weakening… and Yuri is pregnant. What to do, what to do, what to do?

I can’t tell you how much I enjoyed this volume of Blue Exorcist, definitely worth the wait. This explains so much that I’ve wondered from the beginning, mostly what would attract an exorcist to consort with Satan himself. This is actually romantic, and I think they are cute together (sorry, Shiro!).  Alas, I already know the ending all too well. Perhaps I should write a fanfic where they are not torn apart, Yuri doesn’t die, she tames the demon, and they live happily together with their twin sons.

Other familiar figures have entered the scene, ie Todo and Niehaus,  And we also see the Koma sword, which we are more than passing familiar with at this point. I love the little picture in between chapters, with Rin hiding his face at what is going on and Mephisto munching on popcorn like he’s watching a movie.

You have to feel sorry for Shiro. It’s obvious he’s deeply in love with Yuri, but it’s his own fault for never having said anything to her about it. His feelings for her also explain his love for Rin and Yukio, and his vigilance in regards to Rin and his concealed powers. I’m not sure if he realized the truth about Yukio. If he did, he trusted him to handle it, which he didn’t trust Rin to do. At least not until it became a necessity when he was dying, having fought against Rin’s father. He saved the son but lost his life in the process.

I also feel sorry for Yuri. That is no way to spend a pregnancy, which should be a happy time but which has become a nightmare for her. Separated from her baby daddy, treated like a test subject.  I hope that at least Rin comes away from this knowing that he and his brother were conceived in love, albeit an ill-fated one. I imagine the backstory will stop with the birth of the twins, but that remains to be seen. No sign of Yukio in this volume since it was all backstory. Can’t wait to see what happens next!