Bleach Volume 30 by Tite Kubo
Well, it has been a long time since I’ve read a volume of Bleach. Fortunately, it wasn’t too hard for me to pick up on what was going on even though I’d only read up to volume 16 or so in the past. Ichigo and his band of friends are on a rescue mission to save Orihime in the Hueco Mundo story arc. They have to fight, and fight some more! I was interested to see that Chad has developed “The Left Arm of the Demon” as he beats up a man in an afro to a pulp. There are many other skirmishes, but the heart of this volume is Rukia’s struggle as she faces down what appears to be the resurrected Captain Kaien Shiba, the mentor who she was forced to kill.
Perhaps because Rukia was sidelined so much in Bleach’s first story arc, I really enjoyed seeing her duke it out in volume 30. She had such a haunted expression in her eyes when confronted with the reanimated corpse of her former comrade, but she didn’t give up when she realized she had to fight. Part of the reason why I dropped Bleach was that I thought the endless fighting of this shonen manga would get to be a little boring. But while I was reading this volume I was struck again by what a great artist Kubo is. Bleach is relentlessly stylish, with giant sound effects incorporated into the action scenes, the words themselves looking like explosions of energy. He isn’t afraid to get absolutely ridiculous with character design, as shown when the final villain reveals that his head is a jar filled with two other shrunken heads that look like mad balls. While I might wish for more complex plots and character development, I found myself enjoying the execution of the individual fight sequences.
While I might not rush out and read all the volumes I missed, revisiting Bleach did remind me why I liked it so much when I started reading it. It is somehow comforting to know that Ichigo will always be out there on a mystical battlefield with people yelling things like “Six-Rod Light Restraint” in order to cause explosions of energy. The formula is always the same, but Bleach has constant elements you can always count on. The villains will always take the time to explain how unbeatable they are. A hero will find hidden reserves of strength at the last possible moment and blow their enemy away. The paneling and pacing of the fight scenes will be epic, and the protagonist will strike a super-cool pose and affirm the power of friendship. That’s what this shonen manga does well.
Review copy provided by the publisher.