Happy Comic Release Day!
When my two sons take twenty volumes of a manga out of the local library and devour them all in one weekend, I pay attention.
That’s exactly what happened with Bleach by Tito Kube from Viz Media.
Ichigo Kurosaki has always been able to see ghosts. When his family is attacked by a Hollow–a ghost without a soul–Ichigo accidentally becomes part of the community of soul reapers. The reapers help new ghosts pass onto the other side and protect humans from the malevolent Hollows.
The first story arc follows Ichigo as he’s trained in his new abilities by Rukia Kuchiki, the soul reaper who saved his life in his first encounter with a Hollow. Rukia’s abilities were transferred to Ichigo in that fight and the tension and then growing friendship between the two of them fuels some of the story’s finest moments.
What Kids Will Like About It:
I asked my eldest son what kept him so enthralled and while he admitted that there are “lots and lots of fights,” he said what he loved most was the character development and the unpredictable plot elements.
There’s no romance between Ichigo and Rukia but they do have a very strong bond of friendship. His favorite moment in the whole series is when Ichigo defies the entire soul reaper community to save Rukia from execution.
He said he was also surprised more than a few times when events which seemed to indicate one thing led to something completely different and more interesting.
What Parents Will Like About It:
This is an extremely cool idea. I especially like the villains, the Hollows. They’re ghosts that hung around too long on our plane and their souls were destroyed. As a result, they want to devour other souls. The villains in the current story arc are Hollows who can pass as humans. As my son says, the more human they look, the more dangerous they are.
I also liked something I’ve noticed in other manga–the strong sense of responsibility of the main character. I’ve read two volumes sent to me by Viz and understood completely why this manga is so popular. Ichigo is loyal but not blindly loyal so. He honors his friendships and protects the innocent.
I continue to be a little bit frustrated by the backwards setup of manga. It’s not so much the turning of the pages as it is training my eyes to move in a completely different direction to read the panel flow correctly. I also get annoyed at the manga conventions of overly dramatic facial expressions.
That said, the black and white art makes the actions of the characters incredibly crisp and clean. In the volume I read, there’s a full-page panel of Ichigo finally summoning his greatest weapon that is incredibly impressive.
About the Creator:
Tite Kubo, the creator of Bleach, is thirty-two years old. He started writing after graduation from high school. He’s been writing the series since 2001, when it first appeared in the Shonen Jump anthology series. He’s said in a Shonen Jump interview that he has no interest in seeing a live-action version of his creation.
However, there is a very popular anime of Bleach that follows the manga closely. My son highly recommends that too.