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August 27, 2010

Bento Bako Bonus: Bleach vol. 32

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Written by: Kristin
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Title: Bleach
Author: Tite Kubo
Publisher: Viz Media (Shonen Jump)
Volume: Volume 32 (ongoing): Howling (collects chapters 279-286), $9.99
Vintage: 2008 by Shueisha in Japan, September 1, 2010 from Viz
Genre: Shonen, action, supernatural

So far (see my review of volume 31 for more info): Orihime was taken by the Arrancar on Aizen’s orders to Hueco Mundo, where she was forced to aid them with her powers.  After finding out that she had been taken, and realizing the Soul Society had no intention of rescuing her, Ichigo decided to go fight the powerful Hollows on his own.  Joined by Chad, Rukia, Uryu, and Renji, Ichigo set out to rescue Orihime from Aizen’s clutches.  Eventually, the team was forced to split up, and they each had to deal with powerful foes in the maze-like fortress of Las Noches.  Ichigo got into a fight with Ulquiorra and was severely injured, but Grimmjow, wanting a full power fight with the substitute Soul Reaper, ordered Orihime to heal him, and the two began an intense battle.

Volume 32 picks right up with the beginning of the vicious battle between Soul Reaper and Espada.  Orihime and Nel stay out of the way, and Orihime assures Nel that when Ichigo says he’ll win, he never breaks his word.  Grimmjow throws everything he has at Ichigo, including insults, attempting to goad him into unleashing his full power for a real battle.  Eventually he forces Ichigo to activate his Hollow mask, which terrifies Orihime, causing Ichigo’s fighting spirit to falter.  Finally getting the reaction he wants, Grimmjow activates his Resurrección form, the Panther King.  In this fight of massive power, it’s all Ichigo can do to maintain his Hollow form and protect Orihime from stray attacks.  As Orihime struggles with this new, frightening side of Ichigo, Nel has to convince her that Ichigo is still Ichigo, no matter what he looks like.  The battle breaks for a bit of flashback, showing the origin of Grimmjow, and illustrating how a Hollow becomes an Espada.  For the curious, it’s all about consumption.  The more Hollows you consume, the more powerful you become, and Grimmjow was once a leader among Adjuchas (it goes something like…Hollow < Gillian < Adjucha < Vasto Lorde <  Arrancar <Espada…but Arrancar and Espada I think are just more powerful versions of Vasto Lordes).  Adjuchas that stop consuming souls can regress back into Gillian, never to regain that power again.  It’s a story of sacrifice and destiny, as Grimmjow believes he was always meant for something great, and he won’t stand someone who gives up like a coward, including himself.  Unfortunately, just as a worn out Ichigo finally claims victory, another Espada appears on the scene, intent on eliminating him.

The volume also contains a gentler bonus story about Hitsugaya as a child, discovering his latent Soul Reaper abilities.  Momo and Rangiku make appearances, Momo as his childhood friend, and Rangiku as the person who discovers him and convinces him to start training at the Soul Reaper Academy.

It’s another action packed volume this time, with an immense battle between two incredibly powerful characters.  The flashback serves to humanize and explain Grimmjow to an extent, and any Bleach fan will be familiar with this sort of exposition, which accompanies most fights of this nature.  The flashback also serves to illustrate the scope of the Hollow world.  It’s a little unbelievable, to be honest.  Gillians consume thousands of Hollow souls to become Adjucha, and Adjucha consume thousands of souls to become Vasto Lordes.  It makes you wonder if the Soul Reapers are really doing their jobs.  Why are there that many Hollows?  I mean, there’s around 100 Arrancar; that’s a LOT of consumed Hollows (one of them even claims to have absorbed 30,000).  It just seems unfathomable, really.  Aside from that slight head scratching segue, the volume is solid.  Orihime gains the courage to accept Ichigo’s new form, and Ichigo once again overcomes all odds with the strength and support of his friends (the central part of his character).  If your favorite character is one other than the…well three, mentioned here, this won’t be a favorite volume for you.  The entire book focuses on the battle between Grimmjow and Ichigo, with Nel and Orihime in the background.  Oh, and the little bonus story with Hitsugaya at the end, which is apart from this story line, and was written to (sort of) go along with The DiamondDust Rebellion film.  But if you’re a Hitsugaya fan, it’s worth picking up for that.  Also, for the gorgeous cover.

By the way, if you are a fan of the anime, new episodes of Bleach will start airing again (with episode 168) on Adult Swim this Saturday night.

Also, and you can read about this in depth all over the Internet now, acclaimed anime director (and writer and artist!) Satoshi Kon died this week after a battle with cancer.  He was 46.  Kon was featured in the anthology Memories, and directed Perfect Blue, the outstanding Tokyo Godfathers, the truly wonderfully bizarre Paranoia Agent, Millennium Actress, and Paprika.  He was working on another film, The Dream Machine, at his death.

Kris
kristin@comicattack.net
@girlg33k_Kris

Review copy provided by Viz Media.

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  2. Kon-sensei. May you rest and dream in peace.



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