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Title: Bleach Vol 1
Author: Tite Kubo
May Contain Spoilers
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.
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.
Review copy provided by publisher