Bleach Vol. 55 – Story & Art by Tite Kubo (a J!-ENT Manga Review)

January 28, 2013 by  

An exciting, action-packed volume of “Bleach”! Ichigo Kurosaki vs. Ginjo but also the battle between the Soul Reapers vs. Xcution continues in the conclusion of the “Fullbringer” arc! Recommended for “Bleach” fans!

© 2001 Tite Kubo. All Rights Reserved.

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MANGA TITLE: Bleach Vol. 55

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: February 5, 2013

The peace is suddenly broken when warning sirens blare through the Soul Society. Residents there are disappearing without a trace, and nobody knows who’s behind it. Meanwhile, a dark shadow is also extending itself toward Ichigo and his friends in Karakura Town…

For many volumes, we have seen how powerful the Soul Society has been in keeping the peace and keeping order from the hollows.

Not long ago, we have seen the Soul Reapers take on their most difficult nemesis with Aizen’s Arrancars.  But what if, there was something out there that not even the Soul Reapers may not be powerful enough to fight?

In volume 55 of “Bleach”, the Vandenreich (Invisible Empire) has penetrated the Soul Society and have declared that five days from now, the Soul Society will be annihilated.

And to show their dominance, people all over the Soul Society are missing, Hueco Mundo Arrancars are now being put into camps and forced to fight alongside the Vandenreich and to show their intent to destroy the Soul Society, they leave a message by murdering one of the most powerful Lt. of the Soul Society, First Division Lt. Chojiro Sasakibe under Soul Society leader, Genryusai Yamamoto.

And to make things even more interesting, the person leading the Vandenreich belongs to a race that was long thought to be gone.

Find out more in volume 55 of Tite Kubo’s hit manga series “Bleach”!

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 descendant of a hollow hunting group known as the Quincy and are enemies of the Soul Reapers.

As their adventures have continued, we have seen Ichigo and his friends getting stronger, developing new abilities and taking on their most difficult foes yet but also earning the respect of his friends and the Soul Society, having saved their lives time and time again.  But this time around, there comes a new enemy that may be so powerful that Ichigo may not be able to take them on…

Enter the Vandenreich!

The Current Storyline

Volume 55 begins a new chapter of “Bleach”.    The series begins with hollows missing or being mass executed.

Meanwhile, two practicing soul reapers of the 13th Division, Ryunosuke Yuki and Shino have been appointed to be the new guardians of Karakura Town to replace Zennosuke Kurumadani.  But as the two take on hollows, they are nearly bludgeoned to death but are quickly rescued by Ichigo Kurosaki and friends.

And as Orihime continues to heal both soul reapers, out of nowhere, Asguiaro Ebern, a man with an Arrancar mask shows up in Ichigo’s room.  This leads to a fight between Ichigo and Ebern but while fighting, the man reveals himself not to be an Arrancar and out of his sleeve is a pendant that only Quincies should have.

Meanwhile, in the Soul Society, men in black masks and military robes known as the Vandenreich have managed to penetrate the Soul Society and enter the room of leader, Genryusai Yamamoto with their declaration of war and giving him a warning that in five days, the Soul Society will be destroyed.

And immediately, Yamamoto’s most trusted lieutenant, First Division Lt. Chojiro Sasakibe comes to the defend the leader and for the first time, activating his bankai, only to have it disappear and is killed in battle.

As Ebern fights with Ichigo, Ebern is shocked that Ichigo’s bankai has not disappeared.  Immediately, Ebern disappears from battle.

As the Soul Reapers receive an emergency message to go back to the Soul Society after being informed that Sasakibe has been killed, out of nowhere, Nel returns to visit Ichigo with distressing news that the Hollows and Arrancars have been attacked in Hueco Mundo and is in possession of a new deadly force known as the Vandenreich led by General Hunt Commander Quilge Opie of the Hueco Mundo Hunter Unit.  Powerful adversaries that even the Soul Reapers had fought during the Arrancar battle, are not in the position of power to fight against the Vandenreich.

But who is leading the Vandenreich and why is he so intent of destroying the Soul Society?

“Bleach” volume 55 takes us to a new direction for Bleach.

We have seen classic battles that involved Ichigo Kurosaki and we have seen the power of the Soul Reapers as they defeated the most difficult of enemies.

But with the death of Lt. Sasakibe, one of the most powerful soul reapers and also the elite division one squad, for him to be murdered by a single attack from the Vandenreich goes to show that their power literally exceeds the Soul Reapers.

With five days left before the Soul Society is to be annihilated, chaos has once come for Ichigo Kurosaki and friends.  With Nel escaping from Hueco Mundo to warn them about how the Vandenreich has taken possession of the area and are forcing or killing Arrancar, things are quickly getting ugly.

But possibly the biggest revelation are the clues that have been shown in volume 55, primarily between a battle between Ichigo and Asguiaro Ebern, a man with an Arrancar mask, but a man who appears to be… a Quincy.

A race of mediums who were able to detect Hollows and were destroyed over 200 years ago in order to prevent the destruction of the world.   A race that were eliminated by the Shinagami after the Quincy numbers have grown and the Quincy were not in agreement that the hollows must be turned over to the Shingami (Soul Society).  It is thought that only one Quincy exists and that is Uryu Ishida.  Or so that is what was thought…

Suffice to say, things are shaping up to be an action-packed story arc as the Soul Society must face their most deadliest opponent that may be much more powerful than them.

As always, the artwork by Tite Kubo is fantastic. His action illustrations are wonderful and he has been doing it long enough to know what works and how to get the reader interested when there is so much action that takes place in a page. Granted, action-paced manga with a lot of fighting does make the reading go quickly but fortunately, there are some major surprises in store with this volume that makes things manga volume worthwhile.

An exciting action-packed volume from Tite Kubo and the beginning for what appears to be an epic, action-packed arc, for “Bleach” fans who have stayed with the series for this long or those wanting to jump in, “Bleach” volume 55 is highly recommended!

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