Manga-ka: Kubo Tite
Publisher: Viz Media
Rating: Teen (13+)
Release Date: February 2012
Synopsis: “The Soul Reapers must guard the four pillars that are protecting Karakura Town from destruction of the hands of Aizen’s minions. Standing guard are assistant captains Yumichika, Kira, Hisagi and Ikkaku! But when Ikkaku goes down, will Karakura Town fall with him…?!”
Bleach’s multi-volume spanning fight scenes are nothing new to readers. Engaging as they can be, by now we’re just hoping this current one will be this arc’s climax so we can finally move on. Starring an assortment of new just-for-this-fight enemies and a dozen different Shinigami, each chapter continues to focus on one or two specific characters. It’s great for learning more about those who’ve been lost to the background but not such a great arrangement if you’re waiting for what happens next.
Seeing the different Shinigami strut their stuff is the name of the game here. We get to see Bankai we’ve never seen before for characters such as Shuhei Hisagi and Captain Komura. We also see some attitude strutting for characters whose powers we’ve already seen, such as the often quiet Izuru Kira. Little glimmers of past relationships I came to really like, namely the friendship between Ikkaku and Yumichika, were a refreshing addition, though sadly short-lived. Ikkaku losing his fight off-page right off the bat at least has the positive effect of meaning one of the four pillars the Captains are protecting has now fallen. Actual story progression of some sort!
Much to my surprise, I ended up being most intrigued by the chapter starring Sei-Fong’s bumbling assistant-Captain, Marechiyo Omaeda. He’s always been there during the Soul Society arcs, complaining or eating. With his high position in the squad, it left us to assume he does indeed have skills of some sort… but the idea was still hard to swallow when all he does is cower and pick his nose. Finally here we’re seeing him in action, balance of the Omaeda we know and the Omaeda we always assumed was there. His scene works as a good cliffhanger ending to the volume.
Neat and snazzy as the fight scenes can be on their own, the characters’ personalities are always more interesting to me than their wham-bam powers. I liked the too-cool-for-you attitude several of the Captains muster here. It makes their brief fight scenes still carry memorable punch thanks to the dramatic dialouge. On the other hand, I found myself wishing we had more time to spend with the Arrancar whose boastful nature is much more lively, and in many ways more human, than the Shinigami they’re fighting against. The slew of insults thrown back and forth, and the energetic reactions before and during the fights, make the enemy much more entertaining than even the ‘good guys’ here some of the time.
Another volume of Bleach down. Though I still enjoy the series, the very short amount of time it takes to read a single volume makes each one significantly less engaging than other purchases. I always like how cinematic scenes of Bleach are since they so easily come alive in your head, but individual volumes are like watching small clips of an episode scattered over months. I’m looking forward to this fight arc completing so I can read the whole thing in one go and get back to the volumes with more substance to appreciate.
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Book bought from Strange Adventures