Bleach Vol. 44 – Story & Art by Tite Kubo (a J!-ENT Manga Review)

July 18, 2012 by  

This is a volume that many “Bleach” fans have been waiting for.  The battle against Aizen, Ichimaru and Tosen.  This volume features multiple battles but it strictly focuses on the fight against Tosen and it’s a battle to the death.  For “Bleach” fans, this is one volume you just don’t want to miss!  “Bleach” vol 44 is highly recommended!

© 2001 Tite Kubo. All Rights Reserved.

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MANGA TITLE: Bleach Vol. 44

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: August 7, 2012

Old friends turn against each other as Tosen and Komamura battle it out.  Will Tosen’s new powers be too much for the Soul Reapers?  And when Hirako reveals his Bankai for the first time, can he turn the tables against Aizen?!

With the Soul Reapers (thanks to some help from the Visoreds) defeating the Espadas, one more still stands.  #0 Espada, Yammy Llargo, the most powerful, huge Espada who has already hurt Renji, Rukia is left to fight against him.  But out of nowhere, she gets some help from a familiar face!

Meanwhile, Shinji Hirako having seen his friend Hiyori Sarugaki having her body cut in half, prepares for his battle against Aizen.  Meanwhile, Kaname Tosen takes on Seventh Division Captain Sajin Komamura and Ninth Division’s Shuhei Hisagi.

Who will live and who will die in the latest issue 44 of “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.

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! For volume 41, the battle between Ichigo vs. Ulquiorra has concluded!

In volume 42, 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.

In volume 43, Aizen, Ichimaru and Tosen make their appearance during the battle between the Soul Reapers vs. Espadas. As Captain Hitsugaya takes on Halibel, Soi Fon and Marechiyo Omaeda take on Barragan and Shunsui Kyoraku and Jushiro Ukitake take on Stark.  But just when you think the Espadas are going to win, the Visoreds have come to join forces with the Soul Reapers. An uneasy alliance. But who will become the victor of this battle?

In volume 44, with Ichigo having defeated Ulquiorra, he rushes to help out his friends.  With Rukia in a difficult battle with the #0 Espada, will Ichigo be able to save Rukia from getting killed by Yammy?  Meanwhile, Captain Komamura and Shuhei Hisagi take on their former friend Kaname Tosen.  But Tosen has a surprise for his former friends!

And with Aizen sizing his competition for battle, Shinji knows believes that the only person that can defeat Aizen is Ichigo, but with Ichigo out helping Rukia, does Shinji Hirako have any chance of fighting against Aizen by himself?

With another action-packed 44th volume of “Bleach”, this latest issue is quite fascinating as we finally get to see Kenpachi Zaraki fight in battle, but also for a long time coming, we finally get to see Kaname Tosen in action.  A former Soul Reaper who has chosen the path to follow Aizen,what’s interesting is seeing Shuhei Hisagi going against his former leader, Tosen but also seeing Sajin Komamura taking on his former friend.

It’s a battle to the death as the body count continues to grow in this latest volume of “Bleach” as two characters die.  But who lives and who dies?

Meanwhile, we start to see how much Ichigo’s powers have grown and his friends see a new, more powerful Ichigo.  But at what cost is it to him, having all this power?

So, for me, the highlight of this volume, now that the Espadas are out of the way, we are going to see more of Aizen, Gin Ichimaru and Kaname Tosen.  And with this volume, it begins with Captain Komamura and Hisagi engaged in battle with Tosen to the death.

This buildup leading to the battle with Aizen, Ichimaru and Tosen has been a very long time for “Bleach” fans.  And it took a long time just to get to this point since the three defected from the Soul Society, so for those who have been patient to wait this long for this battle, it finally begins in vol. 44.

As always, the artwork by Tite Kubo is fantastic but for those who prefer more story versus all-action. The story is still good, easy to follow and the good news is that there is a story that explains more about Aizen’s power, how much powerful Ichigo has become but also learning about Tosen’s past with Captain Komamura and how he was an inspiration to Hisagi before become a traitor.

While I’m not so sure that anyone can jump in at vol. 44 without reading the previous volumes, it’s important to note that “Bleach” is one of those series that features more characters than most manga series. But when it comes to action-based anime, the more characters, the merrier.  And in this case, it works out but in order to know the backgrounds of these characters, you really can’t miss an issue.

Overall, this is a volume that many “Bleach” fans have been waiting for.  The battle against Aizen, Ichimaru and Tosen.  This volume features multiple battles but it strictly focuses on the fight against Tosen and it’s a battle to the death.

For “Bleach” fans, this is one volume you just don’t want to miss!  “Bleach” vol 44 is highly recommended!

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