May Contain Spoilers
Immediately after checking into the Kurosaki Clinic with a mysterious scar on his back, the muscle-bound Chad goes AWOL. Accompanying Chad is a talking parakeet imbued with the soul of a young boy named Y?ichi. It doesn’t take newbie Soul Reaper Ichigo Kurosaki long to surmise that a Hollow must be involved. By far the strongest spirit he’s faced to date, Ichigo is about to discover that not every soul is bound for the Soul Society, especially if it’s tainted with innocent blood
I loved this volume of Bleach! Picking up right where the first volume left off, Chad is in oodles of trouble because of a possessed parakeet. Housing the soul of the a young boy, Chad has promised to keep him safe, unaware that a Hallow is hot on their heels. It’s a good thing that Chad is a strong, sturdy fellow, because the evil spirit does its level best to thoroughly annihilate him. Rukia tries to race to the rescue, but without her Soul Reaper powers, she’s even more helpless than Chad and the parakeet! Ichigo is temporarily out of the picture. His sister Karin is very ill, and he’s been tasked with seeing her home safely. Will he get to Rukia and Chad in time to save the day?
I thought this story arc was very entertaining. It revealed that Chad has some spiritual energy, and even though he can’t see the Hallow, he can pummel the heck out of it, holding it off until Ichigo’s arrival. While creating a tense and exciting action sequence, Tite Kubo manages to sneak in some humor to the heightened emotions and make the action even more memorable. I think that’s what I like best about the series; while things are fraught with stress and impending doom, the mood is altered ever so slightly with quick bursts of humor. The opposite happens when the mood is light and Rukia and Ichigo are joking around. The reality of their responsibilities intrudes, if just for a moment, causing a complete shift in tone. The emotional roller coaster makes this a very engaging read for me.
During the battle over the little boy’s soul, we also learn what happens to people who were evil when they were alive. Ichigo’s zanpakut? can’t cleanse their souls of the evil they carry, and they are dragged down to Hell. Wah! That’s pretty scary! Some of the Hallows weren’t decent people when they were among the living, so it’s somewhat gratifying to see them get their just rewards in the afterlife.
This volume also introduces one of my favorite characters, Kisuke Urahara. He doesn’t seem like much here, other than a shifty merchant peddling in questionable Soul Society goods, and one all too ready to take advantage of Rukia unfortunate circumstances. There’s also the hint that things in the Soul Society are not all rainbows and unicorns. Experiments with dubious moral implications are just the start. I like how these tidbits are scattered like so much bird seed throughout the chapters. Both Rukia and Ichigo have a lot to learn about what’s really going on in the Soul Society.
This series is highly recommended if you enjoy action, gripping storylines, and likeable characters. Yes, yes, the fact that it’s at 60 volumes and counting is a little daunting, but on the plus side – you won’t run out of new story for a long time!
Review copy provided by publisher