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February 18, 2011

Bento Bako Bonus: Bleach vols. 33 & 34

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Written by: Kristin
Tags: , , ,

Title: Bleach
Author: Tite Kubo
Publisher: Viz Media (Shonen Jump)
Volume: Volumes 33 and 34, $9.99 each
Vintage: 2008 by Shueisha in Japan, December 2010 and March 1, 2011 (respectively) by Viz Media
Genre: Action, supernatural

[Volume 32 review here.]

In volume 32, Ichigo engaged in an intense battle with the Espada Grimmjow. He won, though just barely, and was about to walk away with Nel and Orihime when another Espada appeared to finish off Grimmjow. Espada number 5, Nnoitora, attempts to deal the final blow to the helpless Grimmjow, but Ichigo steps in to block the blow. Annoyed but also amused that the Soul Reaper would defend his enemy, Nnoitora announces his intent to destroy Ichigo instead. Off to the side, Orihime is held back (and held hostage) by Nnoitora’s assistant, Tesla. Meanwhile, Renji and Uryu continue trying to escape from the immensely powerful Szayelaporro, but are trapped inside a loop created by the Espada. Szayelaporro changes into his released form, and the troubled due are thrown into an even more impossible situation. The Espada’s released form is able to attack and creates countless clones of anyone it touches. Not only that, he is also capable of creating a sort of voodoo doll of his enemies, allowing him to destroy their inner organs one by one. Unable to find a way to defeat the seemingly immortal Espada, Uryu and Renji can only do their best to stay alive as long as they can. Ichigo isn’t having a fun time, either. Nnoitora is merciless and powerful, and Ichigo is still injured and exhausted from his fight with Grimmjow. Yet when Nnoitora lays eyes on Nel, cowering behind some rocks, he pauses, recognizing her, and reveals her true identity: Nelliel Tu Odelschwanck, a former Espada. Regardless of this revelation, Ichigo jumps in to protect her, but the stress of Nnoitora’s words and watching Ichigo get beaten causes her to revert to her original, adult form, and she then steps in to protect Ichigo. As the battle between the two Espada’s plays out, we are treated to a flashback that details the former relationship between the two, and Nnoitora’s jealousy of a woman ranked higher than he is. Because he couldn’t stand Nel or her higher rank, he viciously attacked her from behind, cracking her mask and causing her to turn into a child, and then dumped her in the desert.

Volume 34 begins with Nel activating her released form, going all out on Nnoitora. Back with Renji and Uryu, Nel’s Fracciones Pesche and Dondochakka reveal some surprising powers to try and save their friends and hurry on to Nel’s side. Unfortunately, Nel suddenly reverts back to her child form, and Pesche and Dondochakka’s attack fails. Tesla takes over for Nnoitora, and things start to look even bleaker than before. Rukia and Chad, incapacitated after their recent, brutal battles, are about to be finished off. Just as it looks like everyone is about to be defeated for good, some surprising back up shows up to save the day. Kenpachi Zaraki appears to aid Ichigo, Byakuya Kuchiki to aid Rukia, Mayuri Kurotsuchi to fight Szayelaporro, and Retsu Unohana with Isane Kotetsu arrive to provide healing. It’s nothing short of a miracle, but even for these Soul Reaper Captains, victory won’t come easily. The story first focuses on the ever calm and cool (and sexy) Byakuya’s battle with séptima Espada Zommari Rureaux. Zommari’s powers of duplication and body control give Byakuya a few problems, but he deals with everything with an eerie, dispassionate calm. But when Zommari tries to screw with Rukia, Byakuya goes all out and unleashes his bankai. Meanwhile, Szayelaporro uses his tricks to overcome Mayuri, and thinks he’s got things handled. But as usual, Mayuri, who never comes unprepared, has a slew of tricks up his sleeve. As the battle continues, Szayelaporro’s apparent immortality doesn’t seem to phase Mayuri; rather, Mayuri is fascinated by the Espada’s powers. Even so, his patience is running thin….

The excitement continues as everyone gets ready for the big battle against Aizen and his Espada. These two volumes are little more than fantastical fight scenes, but there’s nothing wrong with that. It’s Kubo’s specialty, after all. The Captains and Espada are perfectly matched for their battles. Only Byakuya has the focus and ruthlessness to go up against Zommari, and only Mayuri has the resourcefulness to battle someone like Szayelaporro. Kenpachi’s brute strength is an excellent math for the nearly impenetrable Nnoitora and his massive weapon. Kenpachi and Nnoitora’s battle doesn’t get much page time here, so it will likely play out in volume 35. It’s great to see the Captains come in and get down to business, and their immense power is proven by how quickly their battles play out compared to the chapters upon chapters that have already been spent with the other characters. That’s both good and bad, as it’s a little disappointing that after all that work, Uryu, Renji, and Ichigo (and Nel) are simply cast aside while the Captains take over and wrap things up on their own. With Nel’s secret finally revealed, it will be interesting to see what will follow regarding her future and her relationship with the Soul Reapers. Ichigo doesn’t seem at all bothered; Nel is Nel, no matter what form she takes. Not everyone may be as accepting, however. Everyone seems to be out of the woods now, but it’s only a lull as everyone recuperates and gets ready for even bigger battles. After all, no one has fought Espada 1-3 yet (or even met them, that I can recall), and there’s still Aizen himself to contend with. The battle is far from over.

Kris
kristin@comicattack.net
@girlg33k_Kris

A copy of Bleach volume 34 was provided by the publisher for review.

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