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August 20, 2012

Bento Bako Weekly: Bleach volume 38-39

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Written by: Kristin
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Title: Bleach
Author: Tite Kubo
Publisher: Viz Media (Shonen Jump)
Volume: Volumes 38 and 39 (ongoing), $9.99 each
Vintage: 2009 by Shueisha, February and April 2012 by Viz Media
Genre: Action, fantasy, supernatural

[Previous Bleach reviews.]

The flashback is over, and it’s back to the business at hand. That business is saving Karakura Town from Aizen’s Arrancars. Izura Kira finishes up his battle with the Fracción Abirama rather quickly, using Wabisuke to increase the weight of the Fracción’s wings. Meanwhile, Shuhei Hisagi continues his fight with the Fracción Findorr, but Shuhei has no patience for Findorr’s arrogance. The Arrancar thinks that Shuhei, a mere assistant captain, is weak, and he calls on his Resurrection form to finish him off quickly. Surprised by its strength, Shuhei is forced to bring out his zanpaku-to, Kazeshini. After giving the Arrancar a lesson on fear, the battle comes to an abrupt end (so abrupt I thought a page was missing from the book). Just in time for a massive explosion, as one of the four pillars holding up the fake Karakura Town breaks. With the enormous Poww looming over him, Ikkaku is rescued by Captain Komamura, and the deterioration of the seal is halted by Tetsuzaemon. Poww releases his Resurrection form, a massive, whale-like monster with ridiculous strength, but it’s no match for Komamura’s equally massive bankai form. And it’s time for another lecture, and Tetsuzaemon schools Ikkaku on the importance of his duty as a Soul Reaper. Soi Fon and Omaeda get ready to take on Barragan’s remaining two Fracciónes, Nirgge and Ggio. At the same time, Hitsugaya and Rangiku take on Halibel and her three Fracciónes, respectively (Apache, Mila, and Sun-sun).  And Shunsui squares off against Coyote Stark, while Ukitake keeps an eye on Lilinette.

The battles really heat up in volume 39. Omaeda proves that he’s not just a slow poke, fatty loud mouth. He’s just big and loud. But Nirgge is defeated anyway (Kubo hasn’t been showing the finishing strikes and final blows lately…it’s like they all take place off the page, which is rather silly; not all of them, but enough that an absence is noted). Soi Fon makes sure Omaeda understands the ways of the Secret Remote Squad, before getting down to business and doing away with Ggio with her deadly stings. Then they turn their attention to Barragan, who has been watching his Fracciónes fall one by one from his throne. Halibel’s trio of Arrancar taunt Rangiku, who has chosen to face them alone. She gets some extra help, however, from a surprising source. Rangiku and her extra set of hands do well to hold off the three Arrancar, until they enter their Resurrection forms and each remove an arm to form a massive creature who packs an immensely powerful punch. So powerful that it incapacitates Rangiku immediately with a single strike. Shuhei and Kira arrive just in time to bind the creature and rescue Rangiku, but even Shuhei’s chains can’t keep the beast under control, and Captain General Yamamoto is forced to intervene and teach the mindless construct a lesson. Along with its three mistresses. Elsewhere, Shunsui and Coyote Stark finally decide to get serious, and spend some time gauging each other’s strengths. Ukitake, who is perfectly content to sit and wait on the sidelines while Shunsui fights, is attacked by the impatient Lilinette. But sensing that he is far more powerful than the child-like Fracción, Ukitake encourages Lilinette to pack it up and leave the battle. As the volume wraps up, Hitsugaya begins his battle with Halibel, and the story then switches back to the Hueco Mundo group to set up volume 40.

What’s nice about this set of volumes, are the interactions between Captains and their Lieutenants. Each squad Captain has a different way of dealing with their subordinates, whether it’s with a measure of disdain (Soi Fon) or genuine concern (Hitsugaya). There’s camaraderie and respect, and a sense of duty toward each other, even for those outside their squads. The higher ranks are not above doling out advice, and the lower ranks are…at least begrudgingly accepting of that advice. Though the story jumps back and forth quickly, going from Soul Reaper to Soul Reaper, Kubo manages to give each one just enough time to highlight their personalities, their fighting styles, and their relationships with those around them. It’s fast paced, the action is running wild, but Kubo shoves a lot in there for the fans. Plus it keeps the constant battles from becoming monotonous, because they’ve pretty much been battling nonstop for quite a while now. My only problem here is a pretty classic one for series like this. Why don’t they just go all out to begin with? Just bankai it up right off the bat. They know they’re dealing with very powerful opponents. In a past volume, they flat out said they could only handle a certain amount of high powered Arrancar (Espada). And there’s way more than that. Plus all their underlings. And yet, although their power has been released (the seals that normally regulate their power output so they don’t destroy the human world, basically), they’re still holding back at times. And it just seems ridiculous. I’ll buy the excuse of wanting to examine the enemy, which Soi Fon brings up during her battle against Ggio, saying she wants to see the Resurrection form in preparation for the Espadas. But that’s just one Soul Reaper; they all have their own motivations. And since they’re fighting to kill the Arrancars, well, sometimes I wonder why they don’t just get to it already. Then I remember that I’m reading Jump manga, and just toss all that nonsense out the window.


Review copies provided by Viz Media.



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