Tag Archives: Viz Media

Book Review: Bleach, Vol 4 by Tite Kubo

Bleach, Vol 4       

Author: Tite Kubo

Publisher: Viz Media

American release date: December 7, 2004

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

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★★

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

 

Ichigo is less than impressed with his family’s obsession with a phony TV spiritualist by the name of Don Kanonji. They not only watch his show with enthusiasm but they gladly cross themselves as he does and give his famous cry of “Bo-ha-ha-ha!” To Ichigo’s dismay, the live TV show is coming to his town for an emergency live broadcast special. Of course, everyone wants to go, except for Ichigo. But he ends up going anyway.

The show is broadcasting from in front of an old hospital. Ichigo wonders to Rukio why, if there’s a ghost there, the Soul Reapers haven’t taken care of it by now. She explains to him about jibaku, which are fixed location ghosts that can’t be detected and won’t show themselves… unless someone invades their territory! Just then they hear a wail from inside the building!

A ghost appears, chained to the building. Rukia explains that he isn’t a Hollow yet, because his hole isn’t completely formed. As long as his hole isn’t irritated, they can safely leave him until after the show ends and then perform a konso on him. Until Don Kanonji makes a grand entrance and does the unthinkable and creates a suddenly dangerous situation for everyone involved!

Ichigo tries to stop him, to the complete embarrassment of his friends and family,  but he and Rukia find themselves grabbed by security. Ichigo needs to go soul reaper, but without Rukia’s help, he can’t do that. Help comes in an unexpected form and Ichigo races toward Kanonji. To his surprise, Kanonji can see him in his soul reaper form, but mistakes him for the spirit of a dead fan. Will Don Kanonji be a help or a hindrance to Ichigo as he tries to deal with the newly-formed Hollow before he kills someone?

Back at school, Ichigo and his friends are called on the carpet for what occurred on live TV, but quick thinking by Rukia gets them out of trouble, at least for now. Don Kanonji shows up unexpectedly at Ichigo’s house, to his dismay, even as he wondered how he got his address? The answer quickly shows herself, along with the rice dumplings the spiritualist bribed her with. Luckily relief comes in the form of a Hollow alert, although Rukia’s phone seems to be acting strangely recently. They go on calls only to find no Hollow there. Will this be more of the same?

After a few false alarms, they head to another sighting, only to meet with an oddly dressed young man who is contemptuous of their efforts. Wait, he can see them? Who is this and why does he hat soul reapers?

The fourth volume of Bleach is a riot. Don Kanonji is a priceless character. You just gotta love him. And there is more to him than what appears on the surface. I love him as much in the manga as in the anime. Kisuke’s appearance at the broadcast was both providential and adorable. I love how Ichigo refers to him as Mr. Hat-and-clogs. I love how Ichigo’s friends are unaware that he makes good grades and are taken aback that he’s 18th in the class. Two people are tied for first rank, Kunieda and someone named Uryu Ishida. Remember that name!

I am thoroughly enjoying reading this as much as watching it. This series is a lot of fun, looking forward to the next volume!

 

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Book Review: Bleach, Vol 3 by Tito Kube

Bleach, Vol 3     

Author: Tite Kubo

Publisher: Viz Media

American release date: October 12, 2004

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

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★★

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

 

Ichigo and Rukia deal with the problem of the Mod Soul by inserting him into a stuffed lion and naming him Kon. Now Ichigo has two roommates – Kon and Rukia, who is sleeping in his closet.

The anniversary of Ichigo’s mother’s death arrives, and the Kurosaki family head to the cemetery to pay their respects. Ichigo’s friends know in advance not to expect him to be in school on that day. Surprisingly, when they arrive, they find Rukia there. Ichigo takes her aside to ask why, and she explains she wants to be near him in case a Hollow should show up.

Ichigo was nine when it happened. Even then, he could see dead people, but he couldn’t always distinguish between the living and the dead. So when he first saw the little girl standing by the river, he wanted to protect her and went to her. His mother, who was with him, came rushing after him. He didn’t see what got her, but when he looked she was dead. Since then, he’s blamed himself for her death.

Waiting for Ichigo, Rukia senses a hollow, although there hasn’t been an order. She and Ichigo hurry toward its spiritual pressure, which is close, only to discover Karin already there, on the ground. Worse than that, the same little girl is there who was by the river six years before, when his mother died. Will he be able to settle the past, or will the Hollow defeat Ichigo by dredging up his guilt surrounding his mother’s death?

Rukia pushes Kon into Ichigo’s body while he soul reaps, and she and Kon tend to Karin and Yuzu, taking them home, so Ichigo can do what he needs to do. Afterward, Rukia returns to Ichigo, but she’s promised not to interfere, as he says this is personal, and he has to do it. Can she keep from joining the fight, if Ichigo’s life is on the line?

This is a very poignant volume of Bleach and deals with a lot of what makes Ichigo tick, starting with his mother’s death, which changed him forever, and for which he blames himself.  Ichigo and Rukia’s relationship is strengthened. I have to believe that at some point they will become a couple, but as I’m 169 episodes into the anime and that hasn’t happened yet, I guess we have a ways to go before we see that happen.

The scene with Ichigo and his dad at the end is priceless. And having seen the anime, I realize something I hadn’t noticed before, but that would be shenanigans to call that out so soon, so you’ll just have to figure it out yourself or wait for the revelation, which is a ways off. Kon’s character has toned down, maybe because he’s stuck in the lion body or maybe because he isn’t in fear of being killed now, and he isn’t alone.

Next volume should be great, as we meet Don Kanonji!  Can’t wait!

 

Book Review: Bleach, Vol 2 by Tite Kubo

Bleach, Vol 2     

Author: Tite Kubo

Publisher: Viz Media

American release date: August 3, 2004

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

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★★

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

 

After the strange encounter with the Hollow, Ichigo takes Chad to his family’s clinic to be treated. But the next morning, to his dismay, Chad has disappeared! Ichigo questions his friends but no one has seen him. Rukia is helping Ichigo search, but she has no sense of any Hollow presence. Ichigo has the idea to feel for Chad’s parakeet’s spirit presence, although Rukia claims it is too faint to detect. When Ichigo manages to detect it, she is rather taken aback and greatly surprised. Chad and the parakeet are in hiding, and the parakeet, whose name is Yuichi, tries to get Chad to leave but he refuses. He runs into Rukia and Ichigo at the same time as Ichigo’s sister Karin appears, drawn by something she can’t explain. When she faints, Rukia tells Ichigo to take her home and she’ll chase after Chad.

Unfortunately, the Hollow finds her first, and she’s in no position to fight him, not without her powers. When she throws a spell at him, not only doesn’t it work, but he realizes she’s a Soul Reaper. Yuichi tells chad that Rukia is being attacked, although Chad can’t see the Hollow.  Chad puts Yuichi in a safe place then runs to help Rukia. He punches him, which takes the Hollow aback, but he decides it was a lucky punch. Working together, maybe Rukia and Chad can defeat this Hollow, or at least not die before Ichigo has a chance to return. When Ichigo learns what the Hollow has done to Yuichi, it only infuriates him all the more.

Rukia realizes she needs to stock up on a few supplies, so she makes her way to an innocuous-looking shop—Uruhara Shoten. A boy and a girl are sweeping in front of the closed shop, and they admit her. The shopkeeper, Kisuke Uruhara, sleepily greets her. Obviously he is acquainted with the Soul Reaper. Not only that, but he seems to carry supplies such as a soul reaper might require. When Rukia inquires about an order she’s made, Uruhara sends Ururu to get it. To Rukia’s dismay, it’s not the one she ordered. He tells her that was out of stock, this is the second most popular choice, so she is forced to accept it.

The next day, Rukia presents her purchase to Ichigo – a dispenser of sorts marked Soul Candy. The dispenser has the head of a duck, although Rukia had wanted the bunny. She explains that when he takes the candy, in order to perform soul reaper duties, his empty body becomes animated by a proxy soul. Back at Uruhara’s shop, however, the shopkeeper realizes, to his dismay, that a terrible mistake has been made. Can it be rectified in time, even as Rukia demonstrates to Ichigo how it works and they suddenly receive an order to fight a Hollow. Or will the defective soul Uruhara inadvertently sold Rukia ruin Ichigo’s reputation for good?

In the second volume of Bleach we meet Kisuke Uruhara and the people in his employ—Tessai, Ururu, and Jinta. Remember them, you’ll be seeing a lot of them.  We also discover how stubborn Rukia is, very much her own woman who does what needs to be done. She still isn’t sure what to make of Ichigo, who is like no one she’s ever encountered before. For a human, he has some pretty amazing skills. For his part, Ichigo seems to be taking to being a soul reaper—even a substitute soul reaper—like a duck to water. Since he’s used to seeing the dead, he doesn’t think twice about being able to see Hollows, and doesn’t even question their existence, as some might.  Someone else to remember for future volumes is the defective soul who’s taken Ichigo’s place and doesn’t want to give it up. (It helps that I’m also watching the anime).

Tite Kubo uses humor well in his manga, but he is also capable of dramatic, more soul-intense moments which will bring tears to you eyes. He’s good at manipulating emotions.  Rukia’s annoyance at not getting the “chappy” she ordered (the bunny dispenser) not only pegs her as pretty human and far from perfect, it’s also damn funny.

Looking forward to more of the same in future volumes of this popular series.

 

 

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!

 

Book Review: Blue Exorcist, Vol 21 by Kazue Kato

Blue Exorcist, Vol 21     

Author: Kazue Kato

Publisher: Viz Media

American release date: January 1, 2019

Format/Genre/Length: Paperback/manga/paranormal/202 pages

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★★

 

The public is starting to “see” monsters! What the heck? At an emergency meeting at the Prime Minister’s residence, Lightning reminds them that Mephisto’s barrier is set to expire in February. When Sir Pheles arrives, he tells them they have to quit avoiding reality, then schedules a press conference for that afternoon. He has Shura assigned to him as security, and refers to her as the “beautiful boobalicious exorcist.”

At the press conference, the Prime Minister refers to “an anti-social organism,” as being the cause of the problem. Waiting in the wings, an amused Mephisto faces an angry Yukio Okumura, who wants him to admit he knew all along about Yukio’s flame, like his brother’s. But Mephisto refuses to rise to the bait and strides to the podium to inform the public of the existence of demons, only to be shot…

Rin watches the shocking scenario on the television and rushes to his brother’s side. Meanwhile, Shura is pointing out to the authorities who have scooped Yukio up that he can’t possibly be the shooter and they are allowing the actual shooter to escape! Thanks to Mephisto’s injuries, however, the Gehenna barrier collapses! Rin is struggling to make sense of what has happened, and why Yukio is so determined to know the truth of their birth. Is it possible he has inherited the Satan gene as well?

Rin goes to Yukio’s rescue and attempts an escape! But things do not go as planned, and everyone’s favorite double agent is on hand to add to the confusion. When the Koma sword breaks, will Rin survive?

All I can say is wow, just wow. So much going on here. It’s literally mind-blowing. I can usually tell how things will work out, but right now I can honestly say I have no clue. Yukio is undergoing his own personal trials, but so is Rin. Is Shima taking advantage of the confusion to press his own agenda? What is his agenda? I keep wondering if this is all an elaborate set-up, whereby Yukio infiltrates the other side. He’s got the brains and determination to do something like that. Rin, not so much. But I can’t tell. And what a cliffhanger too, just as Mephisto is about to spill the beans to Rin about his and Yukio’s birth.

What agony, especially not knowing how far away the next volume is. A riveting volume, a real page-turner, and one calculated to keep you on the edge of your seats! Please, next one soon!

Book Review: Blue Exorcist, Vol 20 by Kazue Kato

Blue Exorcist, Vol 20     

Author: Kazue Kato

Publisher: Viz Media

American release date: October 2, 2018

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

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★★

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

 

The Ex-wires decide to throw a party—a combination birthday and Christmas party. Rin buys some cheap reindeer ears for himself and a moustache and glasses costume for Yukio, who is less than impressed. Shiemi dresses as Santa Claus and carries a large bag containing a full-sized decorated Christmas tree (it’s actually Nee). When tragedy accidentally ensues, they salvage what they can, and save the day by having a hot-pot party. As they are partying, Shima receives a call from his older brother Juzo—he and Mamushi are going to have a baby! Although they are officially married, they are going to have a ceremony for family, and they want Shima and Bon and Konekomaru to attend!

After the party, Rin and Yukio learn, to their surprise, that Shura lives in their dorm too. Shura has had a bit to drink and mentions to them that she met their mother. Naturally, they want details, so Shura tells them the story, which occurred when she was a bratty little girl being raised by Father Fujimoto. Afterward, the brothers discuss what they found out. Yukio expresses a desire to know more about their mother, but Rin doesn’t, to his brother’s surprise.

The Ex-wires all travel to Kyoto for the wedding. Everyone pitches in to help with preparations, although with his arm in a sling, Yukio is limited in what he can do. Lots of family members show up from both sides. Rin is concerned about his brother. He feels as if something is wrong with him, but he doesn’t know what.

Even from Kyoto, Bon checks on Lightning, chastising him to get out of bed. As soon as he hangs up with Bon, Lightning places another call, asking about Dr. Dragulescu’s schedule. Shima is sitting alone, away from the festivities, when Konekomaru finds him. They have a talk, and Shima starts to feel better about himself.

The Ex-Wires and a few others head to the temple for New Year’s Eve, with a stern warning to stay together, but Rin finds himself standing next to Shiemi, separated from the others. He reveals to her his feelings that Yukio is hiding something from him. Before they can really talk, though, they are discovered and the moment passes.

New Year’s Day. Bon helps his father prepare for the wedding ceremony. He asks him about Father Fujimoto, but before Tatsuma can respond, he is called away. Afterward, Bon is seated next to Yukio, during the ceremony. Yukio overheard Bon’s question, and wants to know what Lightning is investigating. Even as they speak, Lightning is making his move, but Bon tells Yukio he can’t reveal any information regarding the investigation. The situation threatens to boil over when Yukio threatens Bon with a gun, but everything ends up being put on hold when the Ex-wires are recalled to handle a dangerous situation—a Cyclops is loose in Ikebukuro Station!

There is a lot going on in this volume of Blue Exorcist, aside from the wedding and New Year’s and the baby. Yukio is trying to figure things out, such as why Father Fujimoto raised him and Rin, what is their mother’s story, and what do Bon and Lightning have to do with anything? Rin is trying to understand why Shiemi has chosen not to take the exorcist’s exam, although she assures him it isn’t because she is dying or moving or anything, but she can’t tell him the reason. She just can’t. We see Lightning in action and get a better feel for what he does. I have to say I’m liking him more than I did before. Shima is a hard person to get a handle on. As a double spy, it’s hard to say which is his true face, and which side is he truly on. Yukio reveals a surprising memory, which is a tender moment. I like seeing more of Shura as a little girl, it’s really cute.

On pins and needles now, waiting for the next volume!

 

Book Review: Blue Exorcist, Vol 19 by Kazue Kato

Blue Exorcist, Vol 19       

Author: Kazue Kato

Publisher: Viz Media

American release date: June 5, 2018

Format/Genre/Length: Paperback/manga/paranormal/194 pages

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

 

True Cross has a new student – Ambrosius Faust. But he’s actually Amaimon, passing himself off as Johann Faust’s nephew. What’s up with that? To Rin’s dismay, he claims Shiemi is his bride, but she quickly sets him straight on that count. Meanwhile, Lightning and Suguro have been investigating in the monastery where Rin and Yukio were raised. Afterward, Lightning storms into Mephisto’s bath to confront him an unofficial contract of Morinath, which is completely against order rules. Mephisto tells him the location of the treasure he seeks, and advises he go at night, and to “place the key in the hand.” Off Lightning and Suguro go!

Shiemi has been wrestling with whether or not to take the exorcist exam, conflicted between her desire to please and her wishes for the future. Having made her decision, she approaches her mother, who asks that Shiemi hear her out before she makes a final decision.

Lightning and Suguro find themselves beneath the monastery, in the place that was the predecessor of the cram school. This place was dismantled sixteen years before, because it was ground zero on the Blue Night! They talk to one another about their backgrounds, and then they run into an unexpected blast from the past. When Lightning accuses the newcomer of signing a contract or Morinath, he tells them where to find the Section 13 they seek. Lightning and Suguro find the ruins of what was once the cram school, as well as Section 13. It seems as though someone was experimenting with finding elixirs for immortality! Worse than that, they were delving into cloning! Mephisto, you have some ‘splaining to do!

Christmas break has arrived, but the Exwires decide to stay at the school in order to study for the exorcist exam. When a discussion of birthdays arises, they decide to hold a Christmas party/birthday party for the group! The students split into groups to take care of preparations, even as they speculate on what Shiemi has just told them, trying to figure out why she made the decision that she did.

I love following the ongoing investigation of Lightning and Suguro. What they are uncovering is totally fascinating, even if I’m not sure how it fits into the scheme of things. Cloning, immortality and elixirs? We learn more about the Blue Night, as well as Lucifer, while Mephisto continues to protest that he is not the enemy, and he’s certainly not helping the Illuminati. The plot is definitely thickening, and as usual, the Okumura brothers in in the midst of it, whether they know the truth or not.

I also love Suguro’s character development. At the beginning of the series, I thought of him as a muscle-bound lunkhead, but there is a lot more to him than that. I’m dying to find out about why Shiemi decided what she did – what did her mother say to her? And is Yukio ever going to confide his fears to his brother? After all, two heads are better than one!

The beat goes on in this volume of Blue Exorcist. Unfortunately, now I have to wait for the next one to arrive! I’ve reached the end of what is already published. I’m greatly looking forward to the next volume, whenever it comes out!