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Book spotlight (Manga): Bleach by Tite Kubo

Bleach is a long-running story originally written in Japanese. It is Kubo's second series, and has become a huge success in Japan and across the world. Recently, Bleach won the prestigious Shogakukan Manga Award in Japan in the boy's category.

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The story and the art are both products of Kubo himself, and both are superb. The main character, Kurosaki Ichigo (or, for us Americans, Ichigo Kurosaki), starts out as just a normal, 15-year-old boy - going to school, surviving the everyday troubles in his home (shared by his father, who runs a clinic, and his two younger sisters), and generally being a stubborn, determined, impatient, impulsive teenager.

Oh, and helping the ghosts he sees cross over into the next life. You know, just general teenage stuff... right.

One night, he meets a woman who will change his destiny forever: a Soul Reaper ("shinigami" in Japanese) named Kuchiki Rukia. Rukia has come from the Soul Society - the spirit realm - to kill an evil spirit that threatens Ichigo's family. However, when Rukia realizes that Ichigo can see her, even though she is a spirit, she is amazed. Ichigo is not just a normal human: he can see spirits, he has immense spiritual energy, and, when Rukia places a binding spell on him to get him out of her way, Ichigo breaks it under his own power - something no human should be able to do.

This immense spiritual pressure of Ichigo's turns out to be the reason why the evil spirit (the Hollow) has come to attack Ichigo's family... it wants to devour Ichigo's soul. Both of Ichigo's sisters are injured in the battle, and Rukia, in a desperate attempt to save Ichigo's life, becomes too injured to continue the fight. There is only one remaining option: Ichigo must take Rukia's powers and become a Soul Reaper if he wants to save his family's life. In order to accomplish this, Rukia drives the point of her spiritual sword (called a zanpakuto) through Ichigo's heart...

...and Ichigo is transformed into a Substitute Soul Reaper. Now his spirit has the same powers as other Soul Reapers, and he wields his own zanpakuto. He defeats the Hollow and saves his family, and everything seems to be just fine... until Rukia shows up at his school the next day, pretending to be a transfer student. She has lost all of her Soul Reaper powers to Ichigo and is trapped in the human world as a mortal until her powers regenerate and she can return to the Soul Society. And until she can continue her work on her own, Ichigo must help her fight off the Hollows that threaten Karakura Town where he lives.

The more he works with Rukia, the more Ichigo grows in strength and power... and the more Rukia realizes that Ichigo is headed far beyond anything she has ever seen.

The plot is well-developed and the character cast is large and varied, making for plenty of interactions and side stories that reveal something important about one of the main characters. For a much more detailed look at the characters (or in fact anything about Bleach that catches your eye) I recommend checking out the Bleach wikia. Amazon.com has both the Manga and the DVD collection available to order. The DVD series stays very true to the original Manga storyline, although there are some episodes that were specifically written for the TV version (in order to give Kubo more time to write). The anime even uses Kubo's own art and most of the same dialogue. If you want the "true" Bleach experience, I suggest watching the anime in Japanese (with English subtitles of course, so you know what's happening). The DVD sets are set up to play both the Japanese and English versions with the option of English subtitles. Hulu.com has all of the Japanese episodes (with English subtitles); they are currently working to secure the rights to stream the English version as well.

Trivia Question: Name at least four characters who can use Bankai, and give the name of the Bankai.

Comments

  • hl_bc97 4 years ago

    This looks like something my son would love to read. Thank you for the information!!

  • Dagda 4 years ago

    I am a HUGE Bleach fan. I own the first four series (well almost four, the fourth is in two parts) and I love to peruse the manga when ever I get to a book store. You are very right when you say the manga (a Japanese "comic") stays true to the anime (a Japanese "cartoon"). I was lucky enough to go to Japan between my freshman and sophomore year of college. Over in Japan they have stores dedicated to manga. What intrigued me the most was that it wasn't a "kids" store. I would say a large percent of the Japanese people read manga no matter what their age is. We (my friends and I) were there for a few hours because the store was so big; all the manga was in, of course, Japanese which I have a very small knowledge of. So I watched people instead. People would stand in the aisles and read the entire thing (or look at ALL the artwork)! Sorry I got so off topic. Top notch article, thank you for steeping outside the realm of books and diving into something less known in USA
    RunningOutOfRoom,

  • aslindy 4 years ago

    I'm not a huge fan of anime, but this does look interesting. Not sure I'd want to start with something actually in Japanese, though. Still, thanks for the information!

  • Addie.Aynsley 4 years ago

    I have a couple friends who are super into manga and anime, hahaha. I'll for sure have to tell them about this one so they can check it out, that is, if they haven't already.

  • Quinn Ril 4 years ago

    I love Bleach! The story is awesome, and it's fun to watch!
    The first season is definitely the best, although it's fun in the second season when Ichigo "Carrot-top"'s sister starts to beat up hollows. (With a soccer ball.)

  • Quinn Ril 4 years ago

    Also, aslindy, you can get it in English from...somewhere. I have the first four seasons all in English.

  • SarahLindesmith 4 years ago

    Dagda: wow, I would love to go to a bookstore like that!

    I was never a fan of anime until my fiance introduced me to Bleach and told me I had to watch it with him. I'm glad I agreed - I am now, shamelessly, addicted to the Bleach series. I just started reading the manga and was amazed and pleased at how well the TV show kept to the manga storyline and artwork.

    aslindy: you certainly don't have to watch it in Japanese. If you rent or purchase the DVD collection or the movies, there is the option to play it in either Japanese or English, and also the choice to have English subtitles on or off.

  • Stephanie Speck 4 years ago

    Great Review!!! ^^

  • Kylandra 4 years ago

    Bleach was my first anime as well. I have seen all the seasons now too! I found myself very attached to the characters and sucked right into the story line. If you've never seen an anime or read a manga this is a great one to start with.
    Since this show I've been delving into other anime as well. They almost always have a driving plot line and unique characters.

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