Review: Bleach Vol 1 by Tite Kubo

 

Title: Bleach Vol 1

Author:  Tite Kubo

 

May Contain Spoilers

From Amazon:

 

Hot-tempered 15-year-old Ichigo Kurosaki, the hero of the popular fantasy-adventure Bleach, has the unsettling ability to see spirits who are unable to rest in peace. His sixth sense leads him to Rukia, a Soul Reaper who destroys Hollows (soul-devouring monsters) and ensures the deceased find repose with the Soul Society. When she’s injured in battle, Rukia transfers her sword and much of her power to Ichigo, whose spiritual energy makes him a formidable substitute Soul Reaper. But the orange-haired teenager isn’t sure he wants the job: too many risks and moral dilemmas.


Review:

Bleach is one of my favorite series, and I realized with a great deal of dismay that I am far, far behind in my reading of this title.  I don’t think I’ve reviewed many of the volumes, so I opted to take advantage of a comp copy through Vizmanga.com to reacquaint myself with Ichigo, Rukia, and the rest of the gang.  This is a very fun series that features a ton of action, surprisingly touching emotions, and fan favorite protagonists in both Ichigo and Ruikia.  If you enjoyed The Ghost and the Goth or The Curse Workers by Holly Black, I think you should give Bleach a try.  Admittedly, the length of the series is daunting, and it’s still being published, but there are enough volumes released in English that you can read it in manageable chunks by utilizing online sales and trips to the library. 

Ichigo Kurosaki is 15 years old and he can see ghosts.  His sisters can too, though all they can see are faint outlines.  Ichigo can see, touch, talk to, and channel these pesky spirits that he thinks are a pain in the butt.  He just wants to be left alone to mind his own business but NOPE!  That’s not happening.  Ichigo also has a high moral obligation to help anyone in trouble, even those troublesome ghosts.  When an evil spirit threatens to hurt his family, he’s forced to borrow Soul Reaper powers from Rukia, a Soul Reaper who was badly injured saving his bacon.  Too hurt to fight, she offers to lend Ichigo half of her dark powers so he can save his family.  She’s dismayed to discover that he’s so spiritually powerful that he steals all of them, and now she can’t get them back!

I love the relationship between Ichigo and Rukia.  Their back and forth banter is humorous and full of snark.  While Ichigo isn’t exactly disrespectful, he doesn’t understand the need to put himself in danger, fighting the Hollows, regardless of the obligation he acquired when he snatched away all of Rukia’s power.  When the chips are down, though, her forceful prodding  makes him realize how important a Soul Reaper’s duties are.  If he doesn’t take care of the restless spirits, they will eventually turn into Hollows, and once they become these evil monsters, they lose their last shred of humanity.  There is no going back, and the Hollows have an insatiable need to feed on souls.   Rukia put her life at risk to save Ichigo and his family, so he acknowledges that he has a duty to help Rukia until she can figure out a way to get her powers back.

Ichigo is one of my favorite characters because he can’t stand to see an injustice and not want to correct it.  He and One Piece’s Luffy have a lot in common. Both of them will give their heart and soul, not to mention their life, to defend those needing help.  They are white knights in attitude.  Ichigo can’t turn his back on bullying, or just stand by when someone is about to get hurt.  He’s not perfect, and there are many times when he should learn to keep his mouth shut, but he can’t do it.  He is fiercely devoted to his friends and family, and he won’t let anyone hurt them.  Now that he’s a Soul Reaper by default, he can’t ignore when a soul is in danger, either.

The first volume of Bleach is fast-paced, brimming with frantic action, yet it doesn’t let the characters and their interactions take a back seat to all of the fighting.  That is what I enjoy most about Bleach.  The character come to life for me, and I so badly want Ichigo to master his new powers so he doesn’t come to harm.  It’s hard watching such a likeable guy getting the crap beat out of him, even though I have few doubts that he’ll always persevere.  That assurance is the main appeal of manga for me.  I know that even as the protagonists are facing certain doom, they will eventually find a solution to all of their problems.  Reading along as they figure that out is what makes reading them so rewarding.

Grade:  A-

Review copy provided by publisher

Interview with Kathleen Shaputis, Author of Her Ghost Wears Kilts

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Good morning, Kathleen, and welcome to the Manga Maniac Café! Can you please describe yourself in 140 characters or less.

[Kathleen Shaputis] A wanna-be hermit trapped in the disguise of a working full-time wife and grandmother who winnows her other spare time in writing.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Can you tell us a little about Her Ghost Wears Kilts?

[Kathleen Shaputis] Inspired by the movie “The Ghost and Mrs. Muir” this book is a paranormal romance where Baillie, is a 54 year-old business owner and the ghost Kai is a gorgeous 27 year old (plus three hundred or so) Highlander. Baillie inherits a castle in Scotland and Kai tries to warn her of threats on her life. But does she listen? No-o-o. Stubborn and independent, Baillie leaves Washington and finds herself in the middle of an ancient clan dispute, with her life on the line.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] How did you come up with the concept and the characters for the story?

[Kathleen Shaputis] The original concept came in a 1993 writing class exercise where we had to brainstorm an idea for a genre we didn’t read. Mine was mystery. My outline or mind mapping started as more a clash between two clans, the Baillies versus the Bruces and a working title of The B & B Mystery. I kept my notes in a drawer where eventually Gillian Nation, a character from my debut romantic comedy “Changes in Attitude” demanded inclusion in this musty old story idea. He was the nudge to finally write the book. Being gay, he couldn’t be the love interest, but loves to steal a scene every chance he gets.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three words best describe Baillie?

[Kathleen Shaputis] Independent, stubborn, likeable.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] If Lord Kai had a theme song, what would it be?

[Kathleen Shaputis] Hmm, though not a theme song I have to mention during one part of the story I could hear Bonnie Tyler singing “Holding Out for a Hero” in my head and goose bumps ran up and down my arms.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Name one thing Baillie is never without.

[Kathleen Shaputis] First impulse is to say she’s never without a Diet Coke. But that’s not true in the castle. I’d say she’s never without her sense of wonder, the ability to look at the world with rose-colored spectacles.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three things will you never find in Baillie’s bathroom?

[Kathleen Shaputis] Those cutesy little guest soaps shaped like seashells or flowers; a variety of partly-used hair products as she’s rather brand dedicated and definitely no bathroom scale.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What is Baillie’s greatest regret?

[Kathleen Shaputis] I would say she regrets not being adventurous in her younger years, traveling more, opening her world. She was content over the decades, a gentle lifestyle like riding the carousel over and over, but not necessarily happy. And now she’s discovered the thrill of stepping off the safe ride onto something more intense and she sparkles.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What are your greatest creative influences?

[Kathleen Shaputis] Movies and music, absolutely. I am thoroughly addicted to movies: light-hearted romances, musicals, black and white classics and the three-tissue animal stories. I have no problem going to the movies alone if I don’t have someone tagging along. I can watch a good movie over and over again, picking out different nuances in dialogue or surroundings. My dialogue tends to flow as if I’m watching a movie of my characters. A good instrumental soundtrack of violins, large wind section and drums will also lead me down the road of words.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three things do you need in order to write?

[Kathleen Shaputis] Three? Hmm, that would be something to write on, something to write with and a Diet Coke. Whether it’s a pad of paper and a pen, a pencil and the back of scratch paper in my purse, I’ll use anything if the muse strikes. And I tend to dry up if there isn’t a can, glass or paper cup of Diet Coke within reach. I’ve used AlphaSmarts to write with, a variety of notepads and notebooks and you don’t want to know the dozens of various pens I have in almost every room of the house including my purse.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What was your biggest distraction while working on Her Ghost Wears Kilts?

[Kathleen Shaputis] Besides life in general? Have you seen my world with adult children moving in and out, grandchildren everywhere, taking care of aging parents and a sibling until they passed away plus that full time job I need to help pay the bills? Actually it was more myself in the way. I finished almost a dozen other books before I let myself be serious. The storyline never moved too far from the back of my mind but I let other things, other people keep pushing it to the back of the line. I love this story, but I guess it wasn’t its time. Now that’s it’s done, the sequel is not letting much get in the way.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What is the last book that you read that knocked your socks off?

[Kathleen Shaputis] That’s easy, the ebook “Wool” by Hugh Howey. That little novella thing just plunked me into his alternate reality and I couldn’t believe how quickly I was drawn in and strapped down. I’ve read the series and his easy style of writing is deceiving.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] If you had to pick one book that turned you on to reading, which would it be?

[Kathleen Shaputis] I would have to say “The Boxcar Children” by Gertrude Chandler Warner. I acted out scenes in the book for months, especially eating pieces of cheddar cheese with plain bread slices. My husband found a first edition for my birthday one year. It is my treasure.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What do you like to do when you aren’t writing?

[Kathleen Shaputis] I have grandchildren who seem to fill up most hours. But relaxing comes with watching movies on Lifetime, Hallmark channel, TMC, AMC, and an occasional theater romp with my own box of buttered popcorn. And of course, I read before falling asleep, a delicious way to wrap up the day.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] How can readers connect with you?

[Kathleen Shaputis] https://mail.google.com/mail/u/0/images/cleardot.gifI enjoy getting a chance to talk with my readers. My website is www.shaputis.com (Yes, it was a good thing my husband was cute, sticking me with a Lithuanian name) or my blog at HerGhostWearsKilts.com. My Twitter handle is NwAuthor and I have a Facebook fan page.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Thank you!

Purchase link

About the book:

Something’s not right at Baillie’s popular used bookstore in rain-soaked western Washington and frigid, heart-stopping air is her first clue. When the cat refuses to enter the shop and Baillie hears faint bagpipes in the travel book section, her nerves are rubbed raw.

Meanwhile in Scotland, the heir of a local castle falls to a suspicious death. An evil banker claims ownership of the castle, leaving the staff to ponder their fate.

How are these events connected? The answer lies in a Ghost and Mrs. Muir tale 21st century style that flips the table with a ghostly twenty-seven-year-old hunk, Lord Kai, and fifty-something bachelorette Baillie.

Her gay best friend Gillian Nation and his girls dash to Scotland to Baillie’s rescue when the combination of alcohol, villainous banker, DNA, and good old-fashioned jealousy throw Baillie into the fight of her life. Will she choose to reclaim her normal Northwest existence or grab onto an unorthodox love that makes life magical and breath-taking?

About the author:

Author of six published books and ghostwriter of another dozen, Kathleen Shaputis lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband, Bob and two Pomeranian pups, Brugh and Bouncer.