Bleach on DVD and the Bleach Manga ... what a great series. Oh, so this is what all the hype is about. Bleach, the anime and manga being distributed by Viz Media in the United States, is the story of Ichigo Kurosaki an almost normal high school boy who just happens to have strawberry colored hair … and he can see ghost. Long story short, Ichigo encounter Rukia Kuchiki, a Soul Reaper, inherits her power and begins to fight Hollows. See Hollows are evil sprits that feed on souls and also the living if they have a high enough concentration of spiritual energy. The Soul Reapers, part of the Soul Society, are charged with defeating these Hollows. Ichigo continues to use his borrowed powers while Rukia recovers, battling Hollows, learning about himself, his past, death of his mother, as well as awakening the dormant powers in friends of his. After various Hollow battling adventures Ichigo and Rukia attract the attention of the Soul Society. See Rukia broke some rules giving her power to Ichigo, and they’ve come to punish her.
This storyline is followed pretty much to the T in both the anime and manga. There are six volumes of the anime on DVD and twenty volumes of the manga out. The story arc in volume six of the DVD sees Bleach and his team entering the Soul Society, a story arc that was just wrapped up in volume 20 of the manga. I’ve read and seen both, and trust me it does not get old, it just gets better. So let me tell you a little about Bleach, on DVD and manga from Viz.
Bleach DVD vol. 6
Mr. Hat and Clogs has just completed his training of Ichigo to allow the unleashing of his own Soul Reaper powers while Orihime and Chad have completed their training with Yoruichi (talking cat). Joined by the Quincy Uryu they are about to enter the Soul Society to save Rukia from execution. This volume of Bleach serves as the transition story. Everyone wraps up their training, an episode is spend with friends saying goodbye before a new journey, one which they are not all guaranteed to return from. The humor you’ve come to expect form Bleach is here, even with the seriousness of the story. The animation is bleach never blew me away, but the style, the unique characters and settings, that’s got me hooked. As a stand alone DVD, volume six will confuse newbie’s, but it’s not a stand alone, it serves it’s purpose very well to carry on the story and set the stage for one sweet story arc taking place in the Soul Society. Now if only I could get me some uncut action, with red blood.
Bleach Manga vol. 19
This is the near end of the Soul Society story arc I’ve touched on above, and I’m not going to recap what’s happened to this point, would ruin some great story twist for you, BUT I must warn if you read beyond this point I am going to reveal some story twist, so you’ve been warned.
Ichigo and Byakuya Kuchiki face off; Ichigo unleashes his bankai, a skill someone of his level and training should not be able to fathom. Besides this great face-off we begin to see who’s been manipulating the Soul Society Council of 46 … or should I say who killed them and acted under their guise. Meanwhile during his battle with Byakuya, Ichigo is ‘interrupted’ by another force, another personality who takes over his body and fights for him, a very Hollow-ish type of personality. The action found in volume 19 mixed with the story and mystery is outstanding. On one hand here’s Ichigo revealing powers that are unheard of, taking on a Captain who killed him weeks earlier, showing signs of a dual personality while the Soul Society is being manipulated by a few of it’s own most trusted. Oh the intrigue, oh the action, oh dang this is one hot series. Now while 19 was good, 20 is great …
Bleach Manga vol. 20
Ah, the end of a story-arc. It’s always bittersweet in that the story you’ve been following ends while (hopefully) a new one begins. The one time captains who’ve betrayed the Soul Society explain why they’ve gone to such measures to turn on those who most trusted in them. Could it be that a Soul Reaper, Hollow hybrid can exist, a being so powerful they would eclipse anything either side has seen, or is it just a pipe dream? Is Ichigo the first successful recipient of the Hollowfication process created by Kisuke Uraharu (Hat and Clogs) that breaks down the barrier between Reapers and Hollows? The entire execution of Rukia was to gain the Breakdown Sphere (Hogyoku) hidden inside her body, placed there in the Gigai she used while recovering way back in the beginning of the series. So many things click, so may ‘oh my god’ moments appear in this issue. Friends are no longer so, those you most trusted were just using you, and it feels like we are just beginning. Gin Ichimaru, Kaname Tosen and Sosuke Aizen all ascent to a plane full of Menos Grande … and something stronger.
Twenty volumes. That’s a lot of manga, a lot of money to put out for a series, but well worth it. See when I get this far into a series and it throws me a curve ball, story twist that just make me say ‘hot damn’ and want more, well hell, that’s a series I just have to keep reading and telling others to read. I cannot begin to explain how excited I am for more Bleach. Is Ichigo a Reaper/Hollow hybrid? How will the Hollows react now that the three betraying captains have joined them, and they are not the mindless beast we’ve come to know? How will Rukia, Ichigo and the rest of our cast work with those left in the Soul Society? What is Uraharu’s game? The next issue of Bleach sees our new friends back in school, trying to assimilate into regular life, when a new student, carrying a Gigai and a Hollow mask appears. OH THE MYESTERY! Really, I’ve not anticipated a series like this since the days of Dragon Ball Z. Bleach is good times, don’t walk, run to start your journey, a journey any fan of action anime needs to jump into right now.