Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Bleach Manga vol. 21 & 22 Impression

It’s no secret I’ve become a huge Bleach fan. I’ve been sure to read all 22 volumes of the manga as well as most of the anime. The story of Ichigo Kurosaki, the Soul Society and Hollows if fun, just plain fun. Recently I’ve been spoiled as Bleach moved back to the pages of Shonen Jump, but even with this move picking up the manga is still a must for fans of the series. Enough about my thoughts, onto the manga.

Bleach Manga volume 21Bleach Vol. 21 – Time to get back to the land of the living, but before that Ichigo and team must first recover. The Soul Society story arc comes to an end with everybody involved, on the Soul Society side, coming to grips with the recent events not to mention all the healing that must be done. These chapters are not covered in Shonen Jump, so it’s imperative that fans don’t miss out. We meet Captain Unohana, learn about Lady Hisana, Rukia’s older sister and how she affected Rukia’s brother and his commitment to justice. It’s a nice wrap-up to the arc and sets the stage for things to come. Now we get to the Shonen Jump chapters where Ichigo, Chad, Orihime and Uryu return to the land of the living and school. Ichigo is now a Deputy Soul Reaper with official badge and all. He still fights Hollows, and the reunions at school are classic from booby grabbing with Orihime to Kon repairs. A new student peaks Ichigo’s interest, his name Shinji Hirako, a Vizard. See he’s seeking Ichigo’s membership in his group, a group that consists of Reapers who embraced their Hollow power. Did I mention they carry zanpaku-to? Who is this new group that wants Ichigo, and how are they similar to him and his inner Hollow? Things get really interesting as Grand Fisher shows up, but he’s taken off his mask to become an Arrancar (I hope I have this straight, Vizard are fallen Reapers while Arrancar are Hollows who’ve taken off their mask). Kurosaki faces off against Grand Fisher, and dispatches him very easily, but it’s Isshin, Ichigo’s father, who does this. Did not see that one coming. We are also introduced to Uryu’s father, who unleashes the power of a Quincy and promises to restore his lost power, if he will cut off all contact from the Soul Reapers.

Bleach Manga volume 22Bleach Vol. 22 – Ok, so getting over the surprise of Isshin, we learn that Urahara knows him (how many secrets does this guy have). A little girl, Hiyori, shows up, she’s another Vizard and his here to help Shinji. She seems a wee-bit evil with a mean streak, so keep an eye on that. The main part of volume 22 is the arrival of two Arrancar, Yammy a big lug and Ulquiorra, a cold looking powerful Arrancar. They are scouting the area, looking for strong spirit energy. Chad and Orihime show up to battle sensing the spirit energy only to have their collective butts kicked, Chad protecting Orihime and Orihime after Ichigo shows up. Ichigo goes head to head with Yammy, but his inner Hollow gets in the way. Yoruichi and Urahara show up to protect the fallen and take on Yammy, who happens to get his arm sliced off. After a brief battle Ulquiorra decides to withdraw to report to Lord Aizen, who looks s very evil now (must be the lack of glasses). While everyone deals with the magnitude of this new threat and heals we are reintroduced to Renji, Ikkaku, Yumichika, Rangiku, Toshiro and Rukia who all show up at school, as students, intending to stay in the area and monitor the new threats. Living arrangements are getting sorted out, and we also see a few of Ichigo’s other friends and family starting to awaken their spirit powers. All of this and a new crush for Kon, good times.

When Lord Aizen made his move we knew it would create interesting new story paths, but the way Bleach is now shaping up, oh man, it’s going to be great. Not only do we have Ichigo and his crew, we have the depleted Soul Society, the Vizard’s, Quincy, Arrancar … yeah that’s everyone. The battles to come will be epic, but what intrigues me the most is the inner battle Ichigo is waging with himself, and his dad. What is Isshin’s history, with his wife, the Soul Society, what is Ichigo? This story point is what will keep me going, and the triad of fights to take place … yummy. Here’s looking forward to the next volume of Shonen Jump and volume 22 of Bleach.

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