Tag Archives: Viz Media

Book Review: Blue Exorcist, Vol 22 by Kazue Kato

Blue Exorcist, Vol 22   

Author: Kazue Kato

Publisher: Viz Media

American release date: September 3, 2019

Format/Genre/Length: Paperback/manga/paranormal/218 pages

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★★

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

 

Things are not looking good for humanity as demons are on the loose and visible! People are encouraged to stay home. In case of trouble, they should contact their local police, or the knights of the True Cross. Shiemi finally awakens, and Kamiki fills her in on what is happening. When she asks about Rin, Kamiki thinks Sir Pheles has him in custody. But their conversation is interrupted by the arrival of members of the Grigori, who have come to take Shiemi with them! What is going on here?

Mephisto tells Rin he must handle the current situation so Rin has to journey to the past alone, with the aid of a key he gives him, a master key known as the kamikakushi key. He gives Rin a special patrol uniform and sends him on his way, telling him that if he wants to move forward, he has to accept reality for what it is and accept his past. Meanwhile, Yukio is taken to a meeting with Lucifer where he is introduced to Lucifer’s younger brother, Egyn, King of Water, and Amaimon questions Mephisto about things he should have noticed before.

Rin travels to the past and meets up with Mephisto, who looks just the same as in the future, and sees the young man who will one day be Father Fujimoto. And he sees his mother, Yuri, as well. He follows their story as they move from living on the streets to being accepted into the Cram School, and their journey to becoming exorcists. Rin learns about Section 13 and the cloning program to find a suitable vessel for Lucifer, but there’s still a lot to learn about their pasts.

Things are not looking good for humanity. Can the Knights and the Grigori handle this influx of demons? Will Lucifer take control of Assiah too? I suspect Mephisto has something up his proverbial sleeve, and he is putting wheels into motion through his machinations. Although I sometimes wonder whose side he is on, I do believe he has Assiah’s interests at heart, even if he is a demon. He’s the perfect example of appearances can be deceiving!

Rin’s trip through time is not only very interesting but rather enlightening, as well. Before he became a priest, Shiro was not particularly nice, and a far cry from what he later became. We know he’s going to change into the more kindly but still outspoken and somewhat rough priest, but watching the transformation is fascinating. We also know the journey ends for Yuri after she gives birth to Yukio and Rin, but it’s nice to see what she was like before that, before her involvement with Satan, and what led to it. My biggest questions after reading this volume are: why the heck does Yuri remind me so much of Shiemi? And where did they take Shiemi, and why? She almost confessed to Kamiki about who she likes, until interrupted by the Grigori. Is it Rin? Is it Yukio? Or is it a player we’re unaware of yet? I like seeing the friendship between Shiemi and Kamiki deep and solidify. They both need friends, especially Kamiki.

We didn’t see much of Yukio this time, and I’m still stumped as to what’s going on with him and his motives for being where he is. Is he coming to grips with the fact that he’s also part demon or does he have another agenda? I find it hard to believe he never suspected, since he and Rin are twins and have the same parents, that he had demonic power of some sort.  Guess we’ll have have to wait and see.

Another solid volume of Blue Exorcist, can’t wait to read more!

 

Book Review: Bleach, Vol 9 by Tite Kubo

Bleach, Vol 9     

Author: Tite Kubo

Publisher: Viz Media

American release date: October 10, 2005

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

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★★

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

 

Ichigo, Ishida, Orihime, and Chad, along with Mr. Yoruichi the cat, race through the Precipice in order to get to the Soul Society to save Rukia. If they don’t do it quickly enough, they risk being killed! To make matters worse, the Cleaner is right behind them! Luckily they make it and find themselves in the Slum District, known as the Rukongai, where souls live when they first come to Soul Society, just outside the Seireitei, where the Soul Reapers live. An exuberant Ichigo decides to sprint right into the Seireitei, but quickly learns why that isn’t a good idea when a huge gate slams down in front of him, along with its ginormous guardian, Jindanbô. Yoruichi and Ishida want to regroup and formulate a plan, but Chad and Orihime rush headlong after Ichigo, in order to help him. However, Jindanbô informs them there is only two to a duel, so they have to wait to fight him.

After being defeated by Ichigo, Jindanbô agrees to let them pass, but when he raises the gate, trouble is waiting on the other side in the form of a Soul Reaper by the name of Gin Ichimaru. As big as he is, Jindanbô quails at the sight of Gin, who punishes the gate keeper. When Ichigo protests his treatment of the gentle giant, they briefly skirmish before Gin pushes the giant out of the way, lowering the gate. Guess they’ll need to find another way to get inside!

Ichigo and his group find themselves the object of interest by some of the locals, who usually prefer to keep to themselves. But they are kindly disposed toward Ichigo for standing up for Jindanbô against Gin even as Orihime works to heal him. Chad unexpectedly sees a familiar face among them. But now they have to formulate a new plan and actually listen to Yoruichi. The cat suggests finding Kûkaku Shiba. However it seems this person moves around a lot. Suddenly a wild boar appears, followed by a strange man attempting to catch up to it. Right away he notices a Soul Reaper is present, ie Ichigo, and becomes belligerent. The man’s name is Ganju, and it doesn’t take long for him and Ichigo to get into it!

Before things go too far, one of Ganju’s associates, who are all mounted on boars, reminds him that it’s nine o’clock, and away they all ride. Ichigo is determined to wait for him to come back to finish what was started but Yoruichi puts the kibosh on that idea. They head out to search for the person Yoruichi is sure can help them get into the Seireitei.

In this volume, we get our first introduction to the world of Soul Society. I still have questions about that place. And about Soul Reapers. This isn’t a spoiler, since I still don’t know the answer, even after watching more than 300 episodes of the anime. The people they meet are souls, so they must be dead, and yet it seems like they’re living regular lives here. Also, are the Soul Reapers dead?

The encounter between Ichigo and boar-rider Ganju is hilarious, and you just know they’ll meet again somehow and continue the fight. Assuming nobody interferes or tries to stop them. Ichigo also apparently rubs Ishida the same way. The Quincy doesn’t like to be told what to do and resents that Ichigo assumes leadership of the group, something that Chad and Orihime apparently have no problem with. Mr. Yoruichi seems to be there in an advisory capacity but isn’t always listened to, obviously.

In this volume we see a little more of the enigma that is Gin. Don’t worry, you’ll be seeing more of him. Judging by the way the Seireitei is walled off from everyone else, there seems to be some class division here. Do they think themselves too good to mingle with the others, or is there another reason? I couldn’t tell you. The ending is pretty good and since I know what’s coming, I look forward to it. As usual, Bleach is filled with both action and humor, but don’t discount the author’s ability to delve into his characters. The more we travel with them, the more we’ll learn, layer by layer. Many surprises lie ahead.

Many.

Looking forward to volume 10.

 

 

 

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 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!

 

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.