Spoiler free summary: In Volume 60 of Bleach by Tite Kubo, Isshin, Ichigo’s father, is in the middle of one fight when a new combatant, someone from his past, appears. The fight isn’t what matters; the secrets that it reveals are far more important.
Character: So we get this huge secret reveals (one which some may find rather anticlimactic), and this news has zero impact on the character, which is my ultimate problem with these later volumes. Here we have all these piece of “shocking” news, and the characters just sort of shrug and move on. In writing, the news isn’t shocking in and of itself. What matters is the impact the information has on the characters. Sure you can have a character remain the same after one shock, and that might show the character’s resolve and stability, but this is the second time in as many arcs that Ichigo had this big reveal moment, and he just sort of plugs along. It doesn’t expand his ability. It doesn’t develop his character. It doesn’t make him question his motives. It just feels unsatisfying for there to be no consequence to what should be a huge plot reveal (even if it’s sort of haphazardly given).
Exposition: The good news is that manga never have the problem of too much exposition. They’re just fundamentally designed to avoid it. The art and action sequences take over, and so we don’t need thousands of words of exposition because we can just see what’s happening. That doesn’t prevent using dialogue to vomit data, but that’s a different issue.
Worldbuilding: I can’t really tell you what we learn, but the non-spoiler version is that the secret I promise in the summary expands the universe to a degree. It gives us some valued back-story as well. At least the back story is interesting and cool. My frustration was that the back story should have been far more impactful than it was.
Dialogue: So years ago, there was this movie. In this movie, during what’s already a pretty cool fight scene, there was a lull in the fight, during which the villain uttered words that have been misquoted ever since. So other writers got it into their heads that all great plot reveals should be done during fight scenes. But that’s not true! It’s impossible! Ok, so it’s not impossible, but it’s also not the only way to do it. Also, that particular “shocking revelation” had an impact on the main character that altered his life and changed how he fought through the rest of the series. So if you’ve looked at all your options for your great plot reveal, and it turns out, the best way to drop this bomb on readers and main characters alike is during a big fight, then at least be sure that the information does more than tell readers what happened. It should change how characters see things.
Description: I can’t remember a single panel from this volume. I read the add copy, and I honestly had trouble remembering the plot other than, “Oh, it’s the plot reveal!” This doesn’t mean the art is bad unless you equate “good” with “memorable.” A lot of the art in Bleach is super awesome and memorable (one of those is coming up). It’s not not as amazing in this particular volume.
Overall: On one hand, this is the volume that made me pick up the series again after I’d quit mid-way through the Fullbringer arc. I thought, “Wow! That’s really got to make for some great story.” I wanted to see how it ended, but at this point in the series, I was more committed to finishing out of determination than desire to see what happened next. This volume should have been what took the story in a powerful dimension that made the fights more than just visual spectacles. Will I watch the anime? Probably … eventually, but I would have had the same level of enjoyment if a friend had just sat down and described it. Of course, that would have made me pick it up and read it. Then I would have been much more upset. The fights are cool, but they aren’t compelling.
Thanks for reading,