Foreign Friday: Bleach

It’s true. I can see and talk with ghosts. For real. I’ve been able to see ghosts for as long as I can remember. I see the dead as well as I see the living. So…the existence of Soul Reapers never crossed my mind.” –Bleach

This week’s Foreign Friday will be showcasing Bleach by Tite Kubo.

The Story

Ichigo Kurosaki has always been able to see ghosts, but this ability doesn’t change his life nearly as much as his close encounter with Rukia Kuchiki, a Soul Reaper and member of the mysterious Soul Society. While fighting a Hollow, an evil spirit that preys on humans who display psychic energy, Rukia attempts to lend Ichigo some of her powers so that he can save his family; but much to her surprise, Ichigo absorbs every last drop of her energy. Now a full-fledged Soul Reaper himself, Ichigo quickly learns that the world he inhabits is one full of dangerous spirits and, along with Rukia – who is slowly regaining her powers – it’s Ichigo’s job to protect the innocent from Hollows and help the spirits themselves find peace.

The Characters

Ichigo is your classic shonen manga hero: a high schooler with tough-guy attitude and a stubborn nature who cares about his friends and family. He may not be the sharpest psychic-powered guy on the block (and there are a few of them around), but he uses his strength and his stubbornness to protect the ones he cares for. Rukia Kuchiki is the know-how mentor who guides Ichigo through his new duties. She’s smart, but isn’t completely clued in on life in the human world. Also important in the series are Ichigo’s friends Chad (the strong, silent type), Orihime (an airhead with a great figure and a gentle nature), and Uryu (smart but prickly), all of whom possess or develop psychic abilities of their own. There are many other characters that come into the series (mostly other Soul Reapers) but it would take my entire blog space for today to describe them all.

What I Thought

Bleach is a great series if you like lots of action and interesting super-abilities. The plot is great up through volume 20, and then dips into a sort of repeat of a previous arc (I was disappointed, but it was still worth reading). The world that Tite Kubo created is creative and interesting, although not everything adds up (those nit-picky details may not bother other people) and it is jam-packed with people. I love characters, so this is certainly a series I enjoy. Ichigo is a strong main character who leaves an “I wish my brothers were this cool” impression on me. The psychic powers are all fairly diverse, with Soul Reaper abilities mainly focusing on their swords (called zanpaku-to). The Soul Reapers themselves resemble a sort of feudal Japan society. However, this series is also home to my least favorite, most irritating, knows-everything arch villain, whose smug face has me kicking things whenever it shows him. Despite that, I really enjoy this series, which currently has 35 volumes available in the US.

Tite Kubo’s art style is really fun. If I had to pick a word to describe it, it would be “punk.” Kubo puts a lot of bonus images inside each volume that are fun (and sometimes explain details that get skipped in the story). A small book of short Bleach comics was released last year, the big draw being that it was IN COLOR! Bleach also has a very popular anime series, the first six or seven seasons available in English. It’s a good series, although the first three seasons are the best (they stay pretty close to the manga) with the filler episodes being mediocre. There are a lot of fight scenes, but fortunately they don’t seem to take as long as the fights in Naruto. Like the manga, the anime is still running.

Bleach is definitely a rear-kicking read! Stay tuned for next’s week’s review!

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