February 10, 2011

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Bleach Volume 6

Written by Tite Kubo
Illustrated by Tite Kubo
Viz

When last we saw Ichigo, he was locked in a deadly duel with Ishida to see who could destroy more hollows, the surrogate soul reaper or the quincy, a group of hollow destroyers now all but destroyed themselves. Their battle, however, has a lot of collateral damage, and soon others must enter the fight in order to save Ichigo's home town. On top of this, there's a giant hollow on the way, lured by all this fighting. Is Ichigo's seemingly limitless power up to the task? Will he and Ishida be able to make amends with each other? And can this disturbance go unnoticed by the Soul Society? Find out in the 6th installment of...Bleach.

I hadn't picked up a volume of Bleach in a long time, but since one of my goals is to try and finish some of the series I've started over the years, I thought it was time to get back. After reading some other shonen titles in the meantime, I have to admit that Bleach doesn't hold quite the same appeal to me that it did when I was reading it last year. This reads more like a superhero story to me, one that keeps going from trade to trade without covering a lot of ground. I still enjoyed reading it, but I was not as into the action as I remember being before.

There are some nice touches here, such as the fact that Ichigo is completely clueless, attacking a foe of immense power in the same way he would a normal hollow. The contrast between his brawling nature and Ishida's calculating brain does work well here. It also sets up the humor in this section of the story. The trouble comes in that the battle itself seems resolved a bit too quickly and easily for such a description of terror. I didn't feel the menace that I should have from a hollow so big it swallows other hollows without a second thought.

The ending part of this set of chapters begins a new point in the story, which if it follows the anime at all, will take Ichigo and his friends to the world of the Soul Society, changing the nature of the monsters Ichigo must fight. I'm hoping that gives this one a bit more weight. Right now, the manga feels a bit too airy, especially when I'm reading other stories that have extra layers of meaning within the overall plot.

Maybe I'm just expecting a bit too much of a series that's designed for kids. Yet I feel like there could be more going on. I'm still enjoying reading these books, at least right now, but it's not one I would call a must-read for others. We'll see what the end of this story arc brings in the next few volumes.