PERSONAL NOTE: My new graphic novel Hazel is out right now, and I’d be honored if you considered picking up a copy!
Spoiler free summary: In Volume 53 of Bleach by Tite Kubo, Ichigo has reached his lowest point, but some old friends return to hel out. They also bring with him a true return to the fight, which was brought by scheming and betrayal. Does he still have the will to win?
Character: So the character and worldbuilding sort of tie together in this volume. Also, a few of my favorite characters are back, and they easily make this volume fun to read. If the payment for the action in this volume is the redundant story arc from the previous ones, I’m at least willing (if begrudgingly) to pay. The character development belongs to the Fullbringers though. We learn a lot about them through these fights.
Exposition: There is probably less in this volume than in the others, which is true of action volumes (volumes that are more about the fight than plot). There’s the usual explanation of, “Look at see why my ability is so horrifying!” However, that’s about the long and short of it.
Worldbuilding: Here, as we learn about the Fullbringers and their pasts, we also learn about the lore of the Soul Society and some history about substitute soul reapers. This is the interesting part about the arc and it helps set the stage for the final arc of the series. It’s great that the world is deeper; it really is, but that depth comes with little context, and that diminishes the impact of the revelations in this and future volumes. One on hand, I think, “That’s pretty cool,” but I don’t have an emotional connection to the world and these particular characters, so it’s cool, but not emotionally valuable.
Dialogue: This is pretty much on par with the other volumes. Ichigo: “We fight to protect, and I’m on team Soul Society!” Bad guys: “Soul Society is bad, and we support this cause! Behold my ultimate power.” Ichigo shrugs and goes ultra mode. Conversation over. Butt-whooping to commence.
Description: The fight scenes are well rendered. The action sequences here would translate better to anime. I keep hearing that these are being adapted to animation, but I don’t really know. If these are coming, would you let me know. The plot isn’t as wonderful, but the fight scenes should be entertaining to watch.
Overall: If your favorite things about Bleach are the fights, this volume gives you what you’ve been waiting for. What we have in some 40-something volumes of buildup for Aizen’s arc, we get some 10 volumes that lead to a reasonable plot twist that lacks any sense of danger. However, if you’re just here for the cool fighting, then sit down and enjoy!
Thanks for reading,