The cover for this volume was taken from its Amazon buy page for review purposes under Fair Use doctrine.

Spoiler free summary: In Volume 61 of Bleach by Tite Kubo, Ichigo has learned the dark truth about his family. He’s learned his friend Uryu is working with the enemy. Now, he must face the truth about the friend he’s thought he’s had from the beginning, his own Zanpakuto.

Character: Honestly, I think a part of me got more fulfillment out of this particular revelation than the others, and that’s unfortunate. The other secret was far more relevant, but because this one focused on the character and had an actual consequence, it stuck with me more. We learn more about Zengetsu, and that information then affects (improves) the bond Ichigo has with him. This is what plot reveals are supposed to do. As a result, this volume moved a bit better than the others for me.

Exposition: Sure, the dialogue in this is laden with exposition, but that’s common (even I do it more than I’d like). This story moves pretty well, but it’s much more information based than action based, so there are those who will feel this issue drags down a touch. I wouldn’t argue with them if they read Bleach for the cool fights.

Worldbuilding: This issue expands the Vanenreich. It also has to build on the lore of the characters, finally helping people (if they didn’t already have it figured out) understand why Ichigo is seemingly so much more powerful than anyone else (there is an actual plot explanation). For those who had it figured out already, this is another reason why this volume might drag a bit for them.

Dialogue: I was probably hard on Volume 60 (but I don’t really think that). But if you read both 60 and 61, I’d like you to take a close look at how each conversations impact Ichigo. Which one affects him more? Which one alters how he thinks or fights? Which one causes him to question his role in the battle. The one you’re thinking of? That’s the plot reveal that was more significant. If you’re a person looking to study the craft of writing, studying that aspect of these two volumes is probably a great case study.

Description: I’m pretty sure this is the volume I’m thinking it is (I binge read them all in a matter of two or three days). If so, this has one of the more memorable panels in all of Bleach. Granted, this panel I’m thinking of harkens back to three other specific panels (therefore showing the progression of Goku’s Super Sa—errr Ichigo’s growth in power). Ok, that last tangental thought might come off as a bit snide, but I didn’t mean it that way. Again, I affirm that all great fighting anime (and Bleach is one of them) follow a very similar formula. The panel I’m thinking of (or panels as it may be) is just another example of that.

Overall: While I was still committed to reading for the sake of finishing the series, I affirm that this volume was stronger than its predecessor. There’s a nice mix of data and progression. The plot takes shape and has an impact on the characters as they go through the plot points. It’s probably not on my top five favorite volumes (I’m looking for the cool fights), but it does expand the scope of the story from “Quick, get to the next fight!” to a story that feels more immersive and interesting.

Thanks for reading,

Matt

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