Bleach Vol. 41 – Story & Art by Tite Kubo (a J!-ENT Manga Review)

May 30, 2012 by  

The final battle… Ichigo Kurosaki vs. Ulquiorra Cifer in the battle to the death. Who will live and who will die? Also, the Soul Reapers now take on the top Espadas in also, a battle to the death.  “Bleach” vol. 41 features non-stop action and a storyline that will have major repercussions for the characters.  Highly recommended for “Bleach” fans!

© 2001 Tite Kubo. All Rights Reserved.

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MANGA TITLE: Bleach Vol. 41

STORY AND ART BY: Tite Kubo (久保 宣章)


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

RATED: T for Older Teen

RELEASE DATE: June 5, 2012

Pushed to the verge of death by Ulquiorra, Ichigo releases his Hollow powers.  But can Ichigo control his powers long enough to claim victory against his rival, or will he lose everything that he’s been fighting for…?

It’s the battle to the death…one lives, one dies.  Ichigo Kurosaki vs. Ulquiorra Cifer in “Bleach” vol. 41!

For the past few volumes, we have seen the Soul Reapers take on the Espadas/Arrancars, with casualties on both sides, but this time around, continuing from the last volume, Ichigo takes on his most powerful adversary yet, Ulquiorra and with volume 40, it ended with a cliffhanger that suggested that Ichigo may have been killed?  Or was he?

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.

In volume 38 & 39, the Soul Reapers go into battle against the Arrancars, and there are casualties on both sides.

In “Bleach” vol. 40, it is now Ichigo Kurosaki’s turn to take on an Arrancar, the deadly Ulquiorra Cifer. A powerful Arrancar with a second stage, not many know of the extent of his true power but Ulquiorra will do whatever he can to destroy Ichigo. But no matter what happens, Ichigo is determined to never give up.

In the last chapter of vol. 40, the fighting between Ichigo and Ulquiorra has been one-sided.  Ulquiorra is too powerful of a being.  As Uryu tried fighting Ulquiorra to protect Ichigo and Orihime, Uryu paid the price by losing his hand. And now, as Ulquiorra shows his vicious side and having blasted a hole through Ichigo, Ichigo should be dead.

But that is not the case, a new type of hollow has emerged from Ichigo Kurosaki, and this time, he’s more powerful than ever!  Round II between Ichigo vs. Ulquiorra begins!

Also, the fight between the Soul Reapers and Espadas continue, but this time around, things are not looking so good for the Soul Reapers as they take on the most powerful Espadas, who may be more powerful than they had expected.

After reading “Bleach” volume 41, all I could think was…”Wow!”.

First, we see a new hollow emerging from Ichigo Kurosaki.  We have seen his hollow transformations but this time around, something has emerged…something so powerful, who knows if Ichigo will have control of it.

And as Ichigo and Ulquiorra fight to the death, we watch as Sui-Feng and Marechiyo Omaeda take on Baraggan Louisenbairn, Tenth Division Captain Toshiro Hitsugaya takes on Tier Harribel, Eighth Division captain Shunsui Kyoraku takes on Coyote Starrk and Rukia, Chad and Renji take on the Espada giant Yammy Llargo.

And what makes this volume so fantastic is that these battles are to the death.  With Ichigo’s storyline, the emergence of a new hollow and the new battle vs. Ulquiorra is shocking!  But even moreso, is the battle between Sui-Feng vs. Baraggan Louisenbairn and possibly a life changing move for Sui-Feng during her battle, that I never saw coming!

As always, the artwork by Tite Kubo is fantastic but for those who prefer more story versus all-action, it’s a no-brainer that this war against the Soul Reapers vs. the Espadas will be more action-driven. The story is still good, that is if you care about the character’s special abilities and the fight that takes place.

While I’m not so sure that anyone can jump in at vol. 41 without knowing about “Bleach”, it’s important to note that “Bleach” is one of those series that features more characters than most manga series.  In fact, “Bleach” and “Naruto” are character-heavy, but when it comes to action-based anime, the more, the merrier and in this case, it works out.  The pacing is fluid and the action is non-stop!

Overall, “Bleach” vol 41 is another fantastic action-driven volume with major repercussions.  So far, I’ve been addicted to the action of this series and I’m looking forward to vol. 42!

“Bleach” Vol 41 is highly recommended!

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