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Bleach, vols. 10-20 (Tite Kubo)

With the help of the semi-crazed, ultra-buxom rocketry expert Kukaku Shiba, teenaged novice Soul Reaper Ichigo Kurosaki and his motley crew arrive not-very-subtly in the Soul Reaper city on their quest to rescue Rukia Kuchiki, the Soul Reaper who inadvertently lost all her own powers to Ichigo in the first volume of the series. As you may recall, Rukia's actions in the living world have resulted in her being sentenced to death, and so the story becomes a race against the clock to rescue her.

The party is split up before they hit the ground, and these 11 volumes trace their assorted paths through the city as they attempt to find each other and rescue the young woman who became their friend during her sojourn in our world. Along the way, they win the grudging approval or dire enmity of various members of the Soul Reaper guard companies, and we learn more of the backstories of both the original party and their new acquaintances, as well as a lot about Soul Reaper society, training, and politics. Something is very rotten near the core of the Soul Society, and Rukia's situation is just one move of a sinister power game that some of its members are playing. Volume 20 wraps up the story arc with a dramatic showdown that involves just about all of the most interesting characters we've met thus far in the series.

Bleach, vols. 10-20 (review)

Holy crap, does Kubo bombard us with new characters in these volumes! There are 13 guard companies, each with a captain and assistant captain, and we meet all of them, plus various lesser luminaries - some of whom are extremely vivid personalities to say the least (I think "vivid" barely begins to describe the joyfully narcissistic peacock Yumichika Ayasegawa, for example).

The main frame of the story arc is a series of confrontations in which Ichigo is forced to become stronger - both in combat with Soul Society officers and in training with Yoruichi, who, it turns out, is not actually the kittycat we met in the earlier volumes. But similar story threads follow the development of Soul Reaper Renji Abarai, who showed up to menace Rukia and Ichigo at the end of the previous set of volumes and who turns out to be carrying a torch for Rukia from their earliest days; Ichigo's schoolmate Uryu Ishida, who has a terrifying confrontation with the self-made monstrous head of the Research and Development arm of the Soul Society that leaves Uryu apparently stripped of his Quincy powers; and even mousy Hanataro, a middling member of the utilitarian Fourth Company, who are charged with all the uninteresting, unchallenging Soul Reaper duties, such as healing and supplies - as well as Ichigo's friends Chad and Orihime.

All of this is terrifically entertaining and pitched at breakneck speeds: the flashbacks to the various characters' histories provide the only breaks in the action (and even some of the flashbacks are pretty action-filled!). Some of the aspects of the Soul Society don't make a lot of sense (the noble Soul Reapers are born in this alternative world, an idea which boggles the mind on a metaphysical level ... ), but the momentum of the plot carried me along willy-nilly anyway. I personally would like to know more about some of these characters' histories, but either Kubo will tell us more in the future, or - well, that's why the good Lord let us invent fanfic.

I have to speak specifically about Volume 20, which was amazingly apocalyptic. The discovery that Aizen was alive all along - and Momo's fate at his hands - were a devastating one-two punch. Toshiro's apparent destruction thereafter hardly registered. I was rather gratified by Unohana's confrontation of Aizen and Gin, even though it didn't do much but delay the inevitable - but I guess that was valuable, because it gave Ichigo a chance to arrive. I was also glad that Rangiku was able to stop Gin, at least until outside forces interfered, and was deeply pleased when Byakuya arrived to help save Rukia at the end.

There are plenty of wonderful characters in these 11 volumes ... among my favorites: Yumichika and Ikkaku, Kenpachi and Yachiru, Yoruichi, Renji, Hanataro, Shunsui, Jushiro, Toshiro, Rangiku, and Ganju. I am a little ticked off by the handling of most of the female characters: it seems odd to have women as Assistant Captains and then treat them as frail little things. I love Shunsui Koryaku, but Nanao is basically just his secretary, and he treats her as such. Momo, likewise, is supposed to be basically a powerful sorceress - everyone keeps mentioning her force and skill at Kido - but she's a sweet, delicate, emotionally vulnerable little creature. Rangiku, at least, despite her amazing boobage, seems to be a genuinely tough cookie. But I understand that this is a shonen manga, and I guess that's the way it's going to be.

I really had to do this, because I may be able to get hold of volume 21 this weekend, and I desperately wanted to be blogged up to date on at least one more series!

Comments

meganbmoore
Sep. 30th, 2007 04:34 am (UTC)
Roy/Ed just scars me, period. Probably because it's so massive. Though it is a pairing where imagining the characters' reactions to learning about it makes it ever so much better...it'd be like ep 13 of the anime(if you've seen it) on a massive scale.

Rachel bought some Lord of the Rings dj because the idea horrified her.

It horrified me when I read about it on resprctive LJs, as well.

The worst of the covers was one that looked like the inside would be heavy Kakashi/Sasuke bloodplay, which squicked the hell out of both of us.

*shudders*

It's an anthology of Bleach stories that contains one with Kenpachi in it.

Wearing a school uniform.

A girl's school uniform.


You realize, don't you, that just THINKING about this has scarred me for life?
chomiji
Sep. 30th, 2007 04:39 am (UTC)

(Man-o-Manischewitz, you guys are having a great time here! I branch off to read a fanfic or two and come back to 11 new messages .... my eyes are falling out of my head, so I'm going to bed ... enjoy!)

meganbmoore
Sep. 30th, 2007 04:42 am (UTC)
Well, you just have lots of fun reading to look forward to reading properly in the morning.
telophase
Sep. 30th, 2007 04:47 am (UTC)
You realize, don't you, that just THINKING about this has scarred me for life?

And I came upon it, all unknowing! I think this one scarred me far worse than the Komamura/Iba one we mailed to mscongeniality, because she said she'd dare it (and will soon be reviewing and posting scans XD). That one featured the characters drawn as if they were in JoJo's Bizarre Adventure, school uniform and all, and ... well, let's say that the proportions would not be out of place in Japanese shunga art. :)
meganbmoore
Sep. 30th, 2007 04:52 am (UTC)
I'm almost too scared to ask(partly because it's likely a property I'm familiar with and I've just forgotten the names...) but who are Komamura/Iba?
telophase
Sep. 30th, 2007 04:55 am (UTC)
Bleach. Komamura's the captain with the head that's somewhere between a fox and a wolf, and Iba's his lieutenant.

I was looking for doujinshi that had Komamura in it, and completely missed the discreet "For adult only" note on the cover. :)
meganbmoore
Sep. 30th, 2007 05:01 am (UTC)
sww, I TOLD you I'd know them...and love them...I have serious name retention problems.

I wonder if I'd ever be brave enough to wander into a doujinshi section of a bookstore....probably not...
chomiji
Oct. 1st, 2007 02:59 am (UTC)

I'm pondering what all of this does to my theory that most slash-ups have a lot to do with the character with whom the author most identifies and the character whom they find most attractive ... or sometimes just the character whom they find most attractive and the character within the manga/anime who seems most likely to end up in the sack with the attractive character ... .

I don't know if I want to try to think of what the Kenpachi-in-schoolgirl-rig means ... .

(Heh, I like Shigure as the icon for this .,.. I bet he'd have theories on this subject too ... .)

BTW, did you see in Neil Gaiman's blog about his experience with a Maid Cafe in Japan, and the letters he got about his blog post - including someone who was very offended that Gaiman wasn't offended by such pedophiliac activities, and a more informed and tolerant poster who explained a lot about Maid/Butler cafes, and the concept of moe? Hmmm ... I can't seem to link to the exact date, so the journal is here and the post with the sensible explanations is on Sept. 26, and the other 2 are earlier ... of course.

telophase
Oct. 1st, 2007 03:07 am (UTC)
I don't know. I've seen too many cracked slash pairings to even find a pattern. (Someone pointed me to a Renji/Hanatarou fic that actually managed to work, because the writer kept them both in character - or in Hanatarou's case, a character that could reasonably be extrapolated from the bits of the manga he's in - and kept a sense of humor about it.)

I love Komamura, but ... he's nine feet tall! Just the mechanisms of attempting to draw him in the sack with anyone and keep them in proper proportion is completely beyond me. And I've even seen the manga! XD

I happen to know what the Kenpachi-in-schoolgirl-rig means, and I'm not telling anyone, because the readers need to be traumatized in EXACTLY THE WAY I WAS. XD

Yes, I read all of that in his blog. XD
chomiji
Oct. 4th, 2007 10:03 pm (UTC)

Um ... I can hardly wait!

(Yeah, I'm still digging through this ... !)

I wonder if they try to accommodate the actual issues with Komamura's size, or just have him automagically become large human size. (Yes, I know I shouldn't wonder, but I do ... I'm the child of a microbiologist and an engineer, and the wondering just happens sometimes ... .)

smillaraaq
Oct. 1st, 2007 03:45 am (UTC)
I'm pondering what all of this does to my theory that most slash-ups have a lot to do with the character with whom the author most identifies and the character whom they find most attractive

I have been simultaneously pondering this, and shying away from pondering this, quite a bit recently because Saiyuki has left me with the utterly brain-hurty situation of being the most attracted to the character that I also identify with the most strongly. I'm sure this says something very disturbing about my id and I'm still not quite sure I want to know what it is. ;)

(The Renji/Hanatarou crackfic-of-awesome is here, btw.)
chomiji
Oct. 2nd, 2007 01:11 pm (UTC)

I wouldn't get too freaked ... I think that the dream of partner who knows exactly how we feel can lead to that. My sister and her college boyfriend were surely not the only young couple in the world to try to dress and look more or less alike ... .

chomiji
Oct. 5th, 2007 06:31 pm (UTC)

I check out that fic ... I don't know if I buy it, but that may be because I still have telophase's gorgeous Renji/Rukia pic burned into my brain.

(BTW, meganbmoore has decided that Goku is really Sanzo's dog ... .)

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