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Bleach Vol. 48 – Story & Art by Tite Kubo (a J!-ENT Manga Review)

September 19, 2012 by  



It all ends here!  The Arrancar storyline has lasted a very long time, but now the battle culminates in “Bleach Vol. 48” as Ichigo Kurosaki takes on the evil Aizen in a final battle between two powerful men.  Who will be the victor?  And once again, another tragedy for a character in the series.  For “Bleach” fans, this is one volume you do not want to miss and is highly recommended!

© 2001 Tite Kubo. All Rights Reserved.

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MANGA TITLE: Bleach Vol. 48

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: October 2, 2012

As Aizen strolls through Karakura Town, Ichigo undergoes furious training in order to master the one technique that could bring an end to the conflict. But when the battle is finally over, how will Ichigo’s world have changed…?

For so long, we have watched Ichigo and friends take on the Arrancars and watched as the Soul Reapers fought the Fracciones in battles to the death and major casualties suffered on both sides.

For so long, people have wanted to see how the storyline vs. Aizen will conclude, and that time is now.  It’s the final battle that everyone has waiting for… Ichigo vs. Aizen and the fate of Gin is revealed in “Bleach” vol. 48.

And after this final battle, Ichigo Kurosaki will no longer be the same.

What is “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?

And for the next three volumes, we have seen Soul Reapers take on the Espada.  We have also seen a change in Ichigo Kurosaki and possibly a new growth in power.  But through many battles between the Soul Reapers and the Arrancars, it now comes down to the final battle as Ichigo takes on Aizen in vol. 48, a fitting conclusion of the long running Arrancar story arc.

The Arrancar Arc concludes with vol. 48 of “Bleach”.

And right before we get to the final battle between Ichigo vs. Aizen, we are treated to the ultimate betrayal as Gin reveals his true goal, which I don’t want to spoil.  But it’s a shocker, especially since many of us who have followed Gin’s original betrayal of the Soul Society and to see how the former Captain has once again plotted another major betrayal.  A betrayal that Gin has been planning for years.

And as for the battle between Ichigo and Aizen, Ichigo is no longer the same man as he once was when he first fought Aizen.  Within Ichigo flows a dangerous power that has made him one of the most powerful man alive and the ability to shatter and transcend the boundary between Sol Reapers and Hollows.

But Aizen is also one of the most powerful, but with Ichigo, he knows he must finish Aizen off immediately.  And to do that, he must risk using the “Final Getsuga Tensho”.  But there is one major downfall for using that final attack.  To use the “Final Getsuga Tensho”, you would permanently lose all your Soul Reaper powers immediately after using that devastating move.

Will Ichigo risk everything for that one move to defeat Aizen?

Once again, this is the concluding volume of the Arrancar arc.  It took a long time to get to this volume and for the anime series, it seemed like it took forever.  But for the manga series, this was one of the longest buildups to get to a final battle.  When I was younger, I could remember how long they dragged out the “Dragon Ball Z” series for the fight against Frieza and Cell but the fight against Aizen took much longer just to get to that point.  And here we are with that final battle.  And interesting enough, where battles often took two volumes against Ichigo or another character vs. an Arrancar, this one took one volume.  But suffice to say, both Ichigo and Aizen felt no need to just fight, they wanted to end each other as quickly as possible and not drag things out.

But after this battle, without spoiling much, what I can say is that Ichigo Kurosaki will never be the same guy again, after this battle.

As always, the artwork by Tite Kubo is fantastic but for those who prefer more story versus all-action. The story will appeal to action fans, as each page focuses on visual battles and the use of special abilities. Because of that, the story does go quickly and one will be able to finish this volume quickly because each page is action-driven and with only a few word bubbles, possibly a few seconds to read each page. But to see how this battle unfolds, I was shocked and in awe. You may not have much to read but just the visuals alone is enough to show the reader how chaotic things have become.

Overall, this is a volume that many “Bleach” fans have been waiting a long time for.  Ichigo vs. Aizen… Who will become victorious?

Another intense, action-packed, heavy hitting volume in the “Bleach” manga series… for those who have stayed with this Arrancar storyline for so long, “Bleach” vol. 48 is a must-own and is highly recommended!

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