- Title: Bleach
- Author & Illustrator: Tite Kubo
- Series: Bleach 62 volumes in total
- Genre: Manga
- Available in the library: Yes – Edition 1, 2 and 3 (Volume 1-9)
- Rating: 6/10 – Read it when you have the time but only buy it if you plan on following the entire series.
Review by Karune Walker
Overview: Ahh… Bleach. One of the “big three” as known by some in the manga fan base. The big three for those who don’t know consist of “One Piece”, “Naruto” and of course “Bleach” and are the three longest running and popular shōnen (targeted for teenage boys and is a combination of action and adventure) manga currently running with all of them at least reaching 60 volumes each and they are always being compared to each other, one way or another. Most manga fans including myself usually pick one to follow while the other two are just “interests”. For me, it was Bleach. Written and illustrated by Tite Kubo, Bleach follows the story of fifteen year-old high school student Ichigo Kurosaki, who has the ability to see wandering spirits which he believes is more than annoyance than anything else. However his life changes when he meets Rukia Kuchiki, a Soul Reaper whose mission is to destroy the demonic “hollows” or evil spirits that consume other beings. When Rukia is severely wounded in defending Ichigo from a hollow, she “lends” Ichigo her powers allowing Ichigo to become a Soul Reaper himself. With his new powers and awesome looking swords, Ichigo protects the innocent from evil spirits while guiding the dearly departed to the “Soul Society”, also known as the afterlife. As mentioned earlier, Bleach has a total of 62 volumes, with 58 of them being released in English, and the series is still ongoing. To some, this can be a little off-putting, I mean, 58 volumes? That’s about a good six months reading and that’s if you’re dedicated. However, unlike most long running series in any form of media, Bleach takes quite a while to form an opinion on whether you love or hate it. That’s why when I know someone starting the series, I recommend to them to read the first 18 volumes before deciding to continue or give up. Why? Because not only does it introduce key-characters and plot elements but it also sets the story up so that you will be satisfied if you decide to stop reading or if you keep reading on (which I recommend).
Characters: Ok. With 62 volumes under this franchises belt, there is bound to be a lot of characters that one could talk about. Well yes, so that’s why I decided to talk about the two characters that are key to the whole series. That and if I did talk about any other characters, I would have to mention about six or seven others as well because they complement each other.
Ichigo Kurosaki – Also known as “strawberry” (even though no-one calls him this. Ever), fifteen year old Ichigo is recognizable for his spikey orange hair and the permanent scowl on his face, which he claims is to maintain his “cool” image. He initially appears short-tempered, strong willed and very impulsive, but shows himself to be compassionate and empathetic to those who need it, especially when it comes to his two younger sisters, Yuzu and Karin Kurosaki. When he gains Soul Reaper powers, Ichigo decides to protect the innocent from hollows while guiding the departed souls to the Soul Society.
Rukia Kuchiki – A Soul Reaper sent from the Soul Society to defeat hollows, Rukia is quite short and claims to be thirty times older than Ichigo, even though she has the physical appearance of a young teenage girl. She has an obsession with rabbits, to the point where she feels offended when others insult her infatuation with them. Rukia is calm and collected in most situations and constantly “acts” herself out of trouble. As a Soul Reaper, Rukia takes her job very seriously and serves as a sort of mentor to Ichigo after she lends him her Soul Reaper powers.
Art Style and Visuals: In all honesty, Bleach is not the greatest manga visually. The setting is quite bland and it has hardly had any detail put into it, and it shows. Thankfully this does improve as the series goes on but not to a mind blowing level and I feel this sometimes takes away from the story, but that’s just me. The character and creature designs are nothing special at first but when it comes to action packed battles and using Soul Reaper powers, you realize how these initially “basic” designs actually complement those sorts of scenes. Apart from that, the only other thing I can think of that Tite Kubo puts some detail in is the expression and emotions on a characters face (even though is rarely seen in volume 1).
The Verdict: As a long running franchise, Bleach is certainly enjoyable for most of the way. Sure there are a few bad volumes out there but this only a minor bump in the road. While many people may not have the patience to read 62 volumes, the first 18 offers something for everyone and I highly recommend to everyone to read the first 18 and after that is your choice to continue reading or not. The average visuals may certainly take away some of the enjoyment of the story but it also adds to it in some aspects so it is not detrimental to the overall enjoyment of the series. All in all Bleach is a series that a manga fan should pick up when they have the time to spare.
Out of 10, I rate Bleach: 6/10 – Read it when you have the time but only buy it if you plan on following the entire series.
The series has also been released as a TV Anime series. Watch the trailer below.
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