Bleach Vol. 61 – Story & Art by Tite Kubo (a J!-ENT Manga Review)
August 17, 2014 by Dennis Amith
“Bleach” vol. 61 is a good volume that features less of Ichigo and more of the Soul Reapers in battle with the Vandenreich. If you have stayed with this manga series for this long, it’s a no-brainer that vol. 61 is a volume worth reading. For longtime “Bleach” fans, “Bleach” Vol. 61 is highly recommended!
© 2001 Tite Kubo. All Rights Reserved.
MANGA TITLE: Bleach Vol. 61
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: August 5, 2014
With the true identity of his sword finally revealed, how will Ichigo take the next step forward? Will his new Zanpaku-to be enough to stop the invading Quincies? And just where does Uryu stand in all of this…?
Zangetsu, the sword that Ichigo has learned and how to use his zanpaku-to in battle, has finally revealed himself to be Yhwach, but not of the Yhwach that is in control of the Vandenreich. But why is Zangetsu and Yhwach connected?
Meanwhile, the Vandenreich has initiated their attack on the Soul Society. Having been defeated by the Vandenreich the first time, will the Soul Reapers have what it takes to fight them a second time and win?
Find out in action-packed volume 61 of “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
We have only heard of how the Quincies had perished after a long feud with the Soul Reapers. The Soul Reapers which believed in having the soul of a hollow crossover to the Soul Society, while the Quincies believed in the total destruction of the hollow’s soul. And while the two had tried to work out their dispute, in the end, it let do a war in which the Soul Reapers vanquished the Quincies.
With only Uryu Ishida thought to be the last Quincy alive, in volume 55 of “Bleach”, it was revealed that one of the deadly Quincy’s from the past, Yhwach, was not killed and has assembled a group known as the Vandenreich to eliminate all Soul Reapers and destroy the Soul Society.
Many have gone missing in Karakura Town and while the Vandenreich have made their presence known to Captain Yamamoto by killing 1st Division Lt. Sasakibe. Also, Hueco Mundo Arrancars have been attacked by the Hueco Mundo Army led by Quilge Opie who are trying to force the Arrancars to join them or else be killed.
As Nel goes to the human world to beg for Ichigo to save Hueco Mundo, Ichigo, Kisuke Urahara, Chad and Orihime hurry to Hueco Mundo to see what is happening. And with the distraction caused in that area, Yhwach orders the Vandenreich to attack the Soul Reapers in their home area inside the Seiretei and the top Quincy combatants of the Vandenreich, the Stern Ritter continues their destruction by trying to kill all Soul Reaper captains.
In vol. 57, as Ichigo tries to hurry back to the Soul Society, he is encased in some object and is unable to escape from it. Meanwhile, Byakuya Kuchiki and Renji Abarai take on Stern Ritter’s “As Nodt”, Shuhei Hisagi takes on Stern Ritter’s “O” [The Overkill] Driscoll Berci and it looks like that without using their Bankai, the Soul Reapers have no chance.
Until Division 1 Captain, Shigekuni Yamamoto Genryusai, the most power soul reaper decides it is time to intervene and try to kill all of the Stern Ritter.
Leading up to a battle between Soul Reaper leader Captain Yamamoto vs. the King of Quincy’s, Yhwach.
In vol. 58, Captain Yamamoto unleashes his bankai on Yhwach, a bankai that is so powerful that he would lost his arm. With the great power of Yamamoto’s Bankai, it was thought to have killed Yhwach but instead, it is revealed that the man who died is one of his followers who has the power to shapeshift.
With many Soul Reapers badly injured or have been slaughtered by the Vandenreich, others try to get Ichigo Kurosaki to fight Yhwach but will Ichigo be powerful enough to take him or the Vandenreich on?
Meanwhile, there may be a group that can help Ichigo fight against Yhwach and its the mysterious and secretive Squad Zero.
In vol. 59, after the death of Captain Yamamoto and the Soul Reapers trying to assess the damages to their corps, Ichigo and Renji are taken in by Squad Zero to partake in their special training in hopes to fight the Vandenreich.
But as the two go through the simple path of meeting Kirio Hikifune, the two must go through the tests of Oh-Etsu Nimaiya, best know as the creator of the zanpakuto that each Soul Reaper is responsible for.
Meanwhile, as Ichigo and Renji undergo training, Kenpachi Zaraki is engaged in a fight to the death with Division 4 Captain Retsu Unohana. But why are these two Soul Reapers fighting to the death?
And last, the biggest reveal from Ichigo’s father of who and what his mother is and why he is special.
In vol. 60, all is revealed of who Ichigo’s parents are and how Ichigo became the person he is today and why his supernatural abilities are unlike others.
But also the biggest reveal of how Ichigo’s mother died and the true identity of Zangetsu.
Which leads us to volume 61 of “Bleach” as the Vandenreich has removed the protection of the Seiretei and initiated their attack on the Soul Reapers.
The war has begun and are the Soul Reapers ready for battle?
With the latest volume of “Bleach”, the Vandenreich have now entered the Soul Society.
After the last battle in which the Soul Reapers received a major thrashing, as everyone hopes Ichigo will complete his intensive training (sound familiar?), the Soul Reapers must take on the upper echilons of the Vandenreich.
Meanwhile, Yhwach has chosen a successor and it’s none other than Uryu.
Suffice to say, the storyline seems quite banal, Ichigo receives some major training and the Soul Reapers must fight. We have seen it with the Arrancar and now we see it with the Vandenreich, the only difference is that the Vandenreich has given the Soul Reapers a major thrashing that the Soul Reapers are the underdogs this time around.
While I wished the storyline had more of Ichigo, you do get a little story involving his Zanpaku-to and its true identity, which leaves more questions than answers, but I’m sure those answers will be given in the near future.
The battles are exciting but I’m sure things will heat up even more for volume 62.
As always, Tite Kubo’s artwork is awesome and he manages to showcase the action and emotions of the character through his panels. But “Bleach” has always been an action-driven manga series and you can’t help but think that this late volume is setting up for big things to come.
Overall, “Bleach” vol. 61 is a good volume that features less of Ichigo and more of the Soul Reapers in battle with the Vandenreich. If you have stayed with this manga series for this long, it’s a no-brainer that vol. 61 is a volume worth reading.
For longtime “Bleach” fans, “Bleach” Vol. 61 is highly recommended!
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