Manga-ka: Kubo Tite
Rating: Teen (13+)
Released: June 2008
Synopsis: “The Arrancars, Hollows that have attained Soul Reaper-like powers, have descended on Karakura Town. Led by Grimmjow Jeagerjaques, they plan to eliminate anyone who poses a threat to them. And their deadly hunt doesn’t stop with Ichigo and the Soul Reapers – the Arrancars are after anyone with even a trace of spiritual powers!”
The plot continues to thicken as the new group of baddies on the scene prepare to create some havoc for the inhabitants of Karakura Town, home of Ichigo and friends. Much to the lead cast’s surprise, however, is the appearance of several acquaintances in light of the coming attacks, acquaintances who are looking for places to stay. With a first half dedicated to humour and drama and a second half that packs a dangerous punch, volume 23 delivers a little bit of everything and does it wonderfully.
There were so many parts about this book that I enjoyed. The action scenes didn’t disappoint and the bad guys are satisfying evil. There’s a lot left to learn but bits and pieces are trickled out to readers in a way that’s bound to leave them yearning for more. What really stood out to me, however, was the character drama, established through emotional character interactions. They weren’t over the top, spastic or forced, they were heartfelt and in the middle of a shonen series, moments that feel this sincere are rare to come by. The end of the book has two bonus flashback chapters that flesh out several of the series’ characters via events prior to the series beginning.
Kubo Tite’s art style continues to fit like a perfect glove on this action-oriented series. Diverse character designs, well rendered fight scenes and the ability to go from serious to comedic are just some of the reasons it’s worth staring at. In this particular volume, I fell in love with some of Kubo’s artistic choices, in particular a scene with Orihime when the curling of toes and posturing shows more than endless panels of sad faces ever could.
This volume of Bleach proves yet again that this series isn’t your run-of-the-mill shonen series. Fast-paced, intense action sequences, numerous unique characters, and some heartfelt moments sprinkled in that show more emotional depth than many similiar stories out there, it continues to a finely balanced piece of work and I eagerly await the next volume.
Review written June 20, 2008 by Lissa Pattillo
Book purchased from independant hobby store, The Batter’s Box