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Bleach Vol. 38 – Story & Art by Tite Kubo (a J!-ENT Manga Review)

February 25, 2012 by  



The battles to the death continue with the latest all-action volume of “Bleach”!  Kira, Hisagi, Captain Komamura, Sui-Feng and Marechiyo Omaeda take on the Fracciones and it’s a battle to the death.  Who will emerge victorious?

© 2001 Tite Kubo. All Rights Reserved.

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MANGA TITLE: Bleach Vol. 38

STORY AND ART BY: Tite Kubo (久保 宣章)

FIRST PUBLISHED IN JAPAN: SHUEISHA, Inc.

PUBLISHED IN USA BY: VIZ Media, LLC/Shonen Jump Manga

RATED: T for Older Teen

RELEASE DATE: February 7, 2012

The Soul Reapers must guard the four pillars that are protecting Karakura Town from destruction at the hands of Aizen’s minions. Standing guard are assistant captains Yumichika, Kira, Hisagi and Ikkaku! But when Ikkaku goes down, will Karakura Town fall with him…?

The battle between the Soul Reapers and Arrancars continues in vol. 38 of Tite Kubo’s hit manga series “Bleach”!

For those who are not so familiar with “Bleach”, “Bleach” has a strong fan following and since its run began back in 2001, series creator, writer and illustrator Noriaki “Tite” Kubo has been hard at work, continuing to crank chapter after chapter for Weekly Shonen Jump in Japan and with the success of the series extending out to films, OVA’s, feature films and video games and other merchandise.

Because of its airing on the Cartoon Network and it being featured on Shonen Jump magazine, “Bleach” has gone on to become a fan favorite in America but also fans all over the world.

A Brief History of what “Bleach” is about

“Bleach” is a story about a guy named Ichigo Kurasaki who has a gift in which he can see spirits. One day, he saw a Soul Reaper (one who can govern the flow of souls between the human world and the afterlife) named Rukia Kukichiki who has come to find a Hollow (a lost soul). She ends up being wounded in battle when she tried to defend Ichigo and so she illegally transfers her reiatsu (spiritual pressure) to him, so that he can defeat the Hollow. But during the process, he nearly takes all of her energy and becomes a Soul Reaper himself and defeats the Hollow quite easily. So, the first storyline arc features Rukia now powerless stranded in the human world until she has the time to recover her true powers, while Ichigo fills in and battles Hollows in her place. And with each fight, Rukia starts to notice something special about Ichigo’s abilities.

The second storyline arc of “Bleach” features the Soul Society wanting to sentence Rukia to death for transferring her powers to Ichigo. His friends also begin to develop special abilities. His childhood friend, Orihime Inoue, is given special abilities courtesy of her loving brother who has turned into a Hollow. Yasutora “Chad” Sato is Ichigo’s tall friend (who is half Japanese/half Mexican) who suddenly becomes aware of spirits and develops an ability to have a special armored right arm that has special abilities. And Ichigo’s rival/friend, Uryu Ishida, who is a desendant of a hollow hunting group known as the Quincy and are enemies of the Soul Reapers.

Through various chapters, the Soul Reapers learn that one of their own, Sosuke Aizen, is a traitor. It was learned that Aizen has been creating Visoreds, Soul Reapers who have obtained hollow powers (Hollowfication) and are known for their hollow masks (which look like skulls on a human’s face) and Arrancars, a stronger form of hollow which has acquired human form.

It is learned that Ichigo has a Visored that is manifesting within him that has great power. During a fight, this visored tries to take over Ichigo’s body but Ichigo is trying his best to control it and using this power wisely.

Together, Ichigo and his friends continue to increase and enhance their abilities overtime and to take on tough enemies which leads us to the Visored/Arrancar arc.

The Current Storyline

Ichigo and friends are now on a mission to stop the traitorous soul reaper, Sosuke Aizen who along with his army of Arrancars are preparing their plan to destroy the Soul Society and wiping out Karakura Town. Meanwhile, in order to protect Ichigo and her friends, Orihime willingly stays with Aizen’s group but Ichigo and friends will do all they can to save her. Meanwhile, the Thirteen Court Guard Companies head to Karakura.

Last issue, “Bleach” vol. 37 featured the battles between the Soul Reapers and King Barragan’s four pillars. The battles consist of Assistant Captain, Ninth Company Shuhei Hisagi vs. Findorr, Yumichika Ayasegawa vs. Charlotte Chul-Hourne, Madarame Ikkaku vs. Poww and Kira Izuru vs. Abirama.

In vol. 38, the battles continue but also concludes with soul reaper Kira Izuru vs. the bird-like Fracciones named Abirama fight to the death.  Meanwhile, Assistant Captain, Ninth Company Shuhei Hisagi vs. Findorr takes on King Barragan’s Fracciones Findorr Calius.   As Madarame Ikkaku continues to fight Poww, he gets some help from Captain Komamura and Tetsu-Zaemon.

And now King Barragan Luisenbarn has sent his great Fracciones to fight to the death against the soul reapers!

With this latest volume, it’s an all out war.  Unlike vol. 38, which split up the storyline to include Ichigo, this volume is all about the battles between the soul reapers and the Fracciones.  The first half is about one-on-battles involving Kira and Hisagi, while the second half features an all out war.

The storyline is centered around battles and because it’s an all-action storyline and the war is against Fracciones that are humongous, a lot of the panels are action-based and one can go through this latest volume quite quickly.

As always, the artwork by Tite Kubo is fantastic but for those who prefer more story versus all-action, especially for those who want to see Ichigo and friends may be disappointed as Ichigo and others are not featured.  This latest volume is about the fighting, the battles and is action-driven.  No deep storyline, more about explanation of tactics, introductions to bankai and name-calling.  And thus, this volume can be read rather quickly.

But for those who are familiar with “Bleach”, especially the anime series with episodes that focus solely on action, will find this latest volume quite appealing.  Personally, I enjoyed the fact that Tite Kubo focuses on other characters and explores their development and their powers with this latest volume.  Some of these characters have been rather idle, and while we have seen them fight, we have never seen some of these soul reapers put everything on the line as they battle to the death.

So, for fans of the soul reapers, especially for those who want to see more of Kira, Hisagi, Captain Komamura, Sui-Feng and Marechiyo Omaeda in action, these characters are the main focus of vol. 38.

Overall, all-action, less story may not be to everyone’s taste, especially if a manga volume can be read too quickly, but for those who have invested this much time into the “Bleach” series and love the action, then I have no doubt in my mind that you will enjoy “Bleach” Vol. 38.

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