Bleach by Tite Kubo
Age Rating: 13+
– Serialised in Shounen Jump
– Number of books: 19 so far (Japan), 8 (in U.S.)
– Licensed by Shounen Jump under Viz Entertainment
REVIEW APPLIES TO: Books 1-8 and then some….
(Reviewer’s note: this is an ongoing review meaning that at some point, this will be reborn as a full review someday when it finishes. Ongoing review means that there are no ratings for specific aspects of the series yet as a full conclusion has yet to be reached. You’ll know when it’s done, though: no worries ^_^)
Like I did with Naruto, I approached this series cautiously. I heard of it as soon as it came out , but it was gobbled up by the public so quickly that I stayed away until it was safe to approach without throngs of fans strangling me for it. The craze over Bleach hasn’t exactly died. Oh no. Not when there’s a musical coming out soon about it. Tite’s story of what happened when a boy haunted by creatures of the spiritual world suddenly has to come face to face and battle it is very well told and put together. Yes, like most shounen series, we have a protagonist – called Ichigo Kurosaki here – who desires to attain power in order to achieve far-fetched goals, hundreds upon hundreds of characters whose names no one could ever remember all at once, clever humour, and lots of blood, dirt, and dust. It’s also very very long (The manga is currently at chapter 198 or whereabouts). Of course, as with any very long story, it drags a bit here and there. But it always picks itself back up with just as much, if not more than before, speed and excitement. The story has spawned into something very profound and deeply engrossing as Tite explores the minds of his characters with the delicacy and force of an eye surgeon.
Pretty much all the characters have a set personality that they hardly diverge from. However, with the diversity of this cast, there’s no room for boredom in character, even with the hundreds of characters that the series has spawned. It almost feels like Tite Kubo is cheating, with the new world creation as an excuse to make lots of new chara lane the series has taken a turn into. But with everyone as unique as they are, it’s hard to hold this tactic against him.
The artwork is not complicated, but instead is straightforward and clean. It’s got sleek movements and Tite Kubo’s style is funky, hip, and edgy. It’s a lot of fun to observe. With the exception of the dirty evil monsters, it’s quite pleasing to the eye. Without doubt, even if this series threatens to run very very long, it’s something to stay with for sure.
The serialisation is excellent. There are no severe page discrepancies so far as lining up frames go, words are well placed, and language translation, though softened sometimes, keeps the playful edge or haunting seriousness of its context. However, Shounen Jump publishing is still putting arrows on select pages reminding the reader to read from right to left and that not only distracts from the story but probably contributes to large amounts of editing. Luckily, the editing is well done enough that the original frames aren’t destroyed.
My personal wish is that Shounen Jump kept the Japanese edition trademark of putting the title of the tankoubon (each tankoubon is individually titled. It’s always a ridiculously cool title, too) on the front cover. It’s a nice edgy topping for the nature of the series and if one were to judge Bleach by its current design cover, it wouldn’t make much of an impression. But, things being as they already are, that’s just my wish heh.