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 55 of Bleach by Tite Kubo, things seem pretty peaceful until the Soul Society personnel start going missing. Whatever is going on, it’s starting to affect Ichigo and his friends.

Character: Already we see these characters starting to flesh out much more than in the last arc. There’s more compelling mystery and more emotional context that while equally sudden from the last arc, is still somehow more powerful because we have a deeper connection to the history of the arc.

Exposition: This is hard to gauge for me because this whole arc bleeds together. There are some blocks here that explain the previously mentioned context, but I don’t honestly know which volume had those blocks. While noticeable, the exposition wasn’t exactly offensive.

Worldbuilding: This volume sets up a deeper history of Soul Society and finally connects to information teased in the much more popular Aizen arc. At this point, we’re only getting set up data, but it promises rewards that are far more satisfying than the previous arc.

Dialogue: I think most of the dialogue in Bleach is more about “Behold my super ability!” than anything that develops character. At its best, Bleach has truly touching lines that make it easy to bond with the characters. At its worst, the series (and this volume) is full of data dumping that at least sets up the threat of the upcoming arc.

Description: As far as set-up volumes go, the art in this volume is better than some. The settings really give the Soul Society a sense of depth that activates the imagination. No, there aren’t a lot of cool fight scenes, but there are several great spreads of art that reveal the technology and culture of that world.

Overall: I honestly felt like I earned the right to read this arc because I soldiered through the previous one. This means I was so excited to start this arc that my self-hype could possibly elevate my opinion. However, I was far more invested in the history and lore of Soul Society than that of Fullbringers. It may have been clunky, but this volume sets up a wonderfully action-packed saga (even if it’s undercut a bit by some of the things that happen).

Thanks for reading,

Matt

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