Book Review: Bleach Volume 61 by Tite Kubo

Book Review: Bleach Volume 61 by Tite Kubo
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

My Top Three Reads for 2021!

My Top Three Reads for 2021!

Greetings all!

If you’ve followed my blog for more than a year, then you’ll know that each year around January, I briefly go over the three best books I’ve read in 2021. Now, these might not be top books of the year as a whole, but they are the best of what I read in that twelve-month period.

According to my Goodreads profile, I read at least 44 books in 2021. I have to say at least because I read a ton of manga, and not all of it is registered in Goodreads. I also read a few books more than once, which counts in my opinion. Now I get that manga are short, but it sure feels good to have a high number on the page. In my defense, I read relentlessly. But I read the Bible mostly, and that’s not the sort of book you read in a day. Then there is my love of epic fantasy, which isn’t as long or demanding as the Bible, but those books are thick!

So today I looked at my Goodreads page and put in a lot of thought. To be honest, it wasn’t very hard to identify the top three, but it was very difficult to rank those in an order I thought I could stand behind. Still, I did my best! Here’s my list.

#3 Demon Slayer by Koytoharu Gotouge: I’ve rewatched Dragonball and started watching Baruto again. I’ve rewatched some episodes of Bleach, and it hasn’t been that long since I finished Naruto for the second time. I believe this, and you can @me all you want: Demon Slayer is the best manga ever.

Why number three? I’ll explain more in future numbers, but it’s not because it isn’t a good story. The characters are so charming, sympathetic, and proactive. The action is awesome. The plot is complete AND concise (key point for the “best manga ever” argument). You can find my review for Volume 23 right here.

#2 Devotions from Psalms and Proverbs by C.H. Spurgeon: This is where things get a little hard to explain. So there are great, amazing stories. Stories you might read again and again, but not every day. Two of my top three reads were books I’d read more than once (including this one.) When I last reviewed this book, I felt bad because it was hard to focus. Then I realized something, I just love this book because it’s like a series of little pick-me-ups. I listen to it when I need help falling asleep. I listen to it when I don’t know what other Christian books to read next. This is the sort of book one keeps on a nightstand and picks up when he needs to be picked up. I came very close to putting this as number one for that reason. So because I couldn’t figure out where to put it, I put it here in the middle. For those of you who are Christian, I really think you should try this out. It’s a great book for perspective, encouragement, rebuke, conviction, and hope. Sure, the Bible is the best source for all of those things, but hearing Spurgeon speak about Psalms and Proverbs is pretty darn good, and a tad bit less overwhelming.

#1 Words of Radiance by Brandon Sanderson: I promise you that every year I read this book, it will likely be my favorite book. Believe it or not, this is the first time it appears on any of my lists since I started back in 2016, but that’s because there was another Stormlight book on the list, and I felt like it would be cheating to put two on a yearly list. Also, it takes me a long time to get through all the books in that series. There may be a rival or two (for instance, I intent to read the entire Wheel of Time saga here in a while (got a few Sanderson and Dresden books to get through first). Here is the most recent review or reaction I posted about it. I think this book is still the standard by which the Stormlight Archives will be measured. This is where all the best of each character is on display, and while I hold out hope that Book 5 will surpass it, I acknowledge that it has some big shoes to fill.

So that’s my list. Do you have one for the year? Let me know in the comments below. If it’s a post, I’d be happy to reblog it and share it for you. Until then . . .

Thanks for reading,

Matt

Book Review: Bleach Volume 60 by Tite Kubo

Book Review: Bleach Volume 60 by Tite Kubo

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.

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

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,

Matt

The 2022 State of the Weech

The 2022 State of the Weech

Greetings all,

Welcome to year five of my eight-year commitment to go all in on becoming a successful author businessman. This is my fourth annual State of the Weech, where I talk about how the previous year went and talk about my plans for 2022.

The most important thing I did during 2021 was improve my marketing. I’ll talk about Hazel more in a moment, but without Hazel, I went from being pleasantly surprised I sold a book to regularly selling nine books a month. I’m convinced that this path is a good one. No, it’s not a fast track, but most good things aren’t “overnight” things. Steady effort in a solid direction usually yields good results, and I’m happy with what one year or so of effort has brought.

I released Betrayed. It didn’t have the response I was hoping for, but without being able to go to conventions, it’s hard to get word out. What I know is that anyone who’s said anything about it loved it, which is encouraging.

Then there’s Hazel. Now that was a success! Currently, Hazel sells about 38 copies a month. I expect that to calm a little. I tend to sell a lot of a book early, and then things die down. However, I’d be happy if Hazel continued to move at this pace. I know Collin and I appreciate every single one of you who’ve tried it.

I managed to finish the discovery draft of Discovered, the final book in the Oneiros Log, and I did a read-through of 1,200 in preparation for a draft I’ll do once I get Discovered to Alpha Readers.

So those are things I have done, but now I need to repeat something I mentioned recently.

I’m still writing as much as I can, but without conventions to bolster sales, money for editors and art is a serious concern. This means I’m going to make whatever progress I can, but I don’t have any real certainty on when things will come out because that just depends on how much I can save, how much I spend in marketing, and how many sales I get. So where the past years I had some pretty solid ideas on when I’d get products out to you, I don’t have that same ability this year.

But I am still working, so allow me to tell you about those projects.

Hopefully in 2023 (but don’t quote me on it): Discovered, the final book in the Oneiros Log. The discovery draft was OK, but it needs some work. I hope to finish the next draft in the next 100 days, which is when hopeful Alpha Readers can count on reading the early version. I do hope to get it out in 2023, but that depends on the things I mentioned above, as do the other projects.

The 1,200: I talked about this recently. I’m actually pretty proud of where that is now, but it does need some work. So each time I get a draft of Discovered done, this is the project I’ll skip to until Discovered is out. This will be the next release you can expect from me baring how long it takes to save up and what smaller projects I might get done.

Visits From A Man Named Nobody: This is my weekly Christian Science Fiction series. It’s larger than I thought (at least this draft). It’s growing in the writing, and I’m discovery writing it, which means it’ll have plenty of kinks to work out. I don’t honestly know when I’ll finish it, but once a draft is done, it’ll take its place in line for release. You can read it now if you want. I’ll do revisions and edits on it before its published through Amazon.

Perception of War: Images of Truth: I’m honestly frustrated I haven’t found a chance to finish the discovery draft. Other projects are more urgent, but as soon as Discovered and The 1,200 are out the door, this puppy is getting some work. This is a very ambitious project, but I can get the writing done, and I plan to. Again, this project is massive! So while I’m going to work very hard on it, it’s going to take time.

New Utopia: This is another older project that’s probably been sitting in a drawer for too long. It needs love, but the the next draft of this story (pitched as Mistborn meets Avatar), won’t be done until Discovered and The 1,200 are as far as I can get them and the Discovery Draft of Perception is done.

Mercer: Now this project could move in a lot of directions because it’s a series of shorter works. I call this Dresden meets Bones, and I love the premise and basic ideas. I haven’t really played with this much in a while, but that’s only because I owe fans of Oneiros a conclusion to their story. I’ll probably start chipping away at this once in between the above projects. So you might see Season One, Episode One before New Utopia.

Leah Saldawn and The Nick of Time: This probably the “older” project that’s farthest from being out. It’s a teen/young reader book that I think is cute, but it’ll have to wait behind those much larger projects.

I’m still working my way toward 60 sales a month. Because of Hazel, I have three averages: My total sales per month, Collin’s and my Hazel sales per month, and my non-Hazel sales per month. The goal for sales per month is still 60, and that’s always been an initial goal aimed at growing after I meet it. I lose less and less each year, and I’m hopeful I get to that first profitable year soon.

If I’m being honest, I’m never going to stop writing. The eight-year goal has always been more about putting in hard-charging, never-back-down energy. It’s spending money on marketing and things like that. I’m hopeful that bears some fruit, but if all I do is write and publish stories I enjoy, that’s OK. I’ll work as hard as I can, and if after eight years, I’m not earning an income, well, I’ll slow down on the costs of publishing and focus more on the writing.

It’s hard to fathom that Bob Drifter came out almost seven years ago! Man it’s been fun!

If you’re interested in helping, the best way to do that is to purchase one of my books, read it, rate it, and review it. You can take it to the next level (if you like the book) by recommending it (or buying it) for a friend. In addition to God’s will, which I will always cheerfully submit to, this dream of mine isn’t possible without loyal readers.

I want to finish as I always do, by praising God, and thanking Him for all of you who read and enjoy my work. I’m blessed to have anyone enjoy my books, and a lot of you are just so wonderful to me with emails and help with reviewing drafts. Thank you.

God bless you all, and thank you for another year. I hope your hear has been amazing.

Thanks for reading,

Matt

Book Review: Bleach Volume 59 by Tite Kubo

Book Review: Bleach Volume 59 by Tite Kubo
The cover for this manga was taken from its Amazon buy page for review purposes under Fair Use doctrine.

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 59 of Bleach by Tite Kubo, Ichigo has faced loss before. He’s been beaten. He’s been utterly crushed, but he always had his friends and the seemingly invincible Soul Reaper captains to lean on. The defeat they suffered at the hands of the Vandenreich was complete and terrible. Even through all the losses, there is nothing left to do but what he always does: Get stronger. And he isn’t the only one with more strength to find.

Character: I’m trying to verify this volume is the one I think it is. I read them all in basically two days, so It’s hard to separate one from another in that way. From what I can research at the moment, I feel like this is the one. This Volume is essentially my favorite in the series. It has a great fight (though maybe not the best in this arc). The thing is, this is the volume where characters I care about reveal things that give me a better understanding of who they are. It has great worldbuilding. And these characters grow. Kenpachi steals the show (and some other characters that I hesitate to mention because of spoilers). Almost every other volume has some sort of revelation that was either really cool but poorly executed or just plain uninteresting. This reveal is both interesting and well executed, and that’s why this volume stands out to me. We not only learn why Kenpachi works the way he works, but we understand just how far he’s gone to make it so his fights are a fun challenge.

Exposition: This is still provided through dialogue during fights, but it’s not nearly as cheesy as other fights. This is because the fight isn’t full of comments like, “See there, I set you up for that move.” Instead, the conversation is there. It’s two people who deeply respect each other striving to push each other to a new level. There’s love and respect and loss, and the dialogue is about them rather than an odd sort of commentary of the fight we can see.

Worldbuilding: We learn more about Bankai here and the history of the court guard captains. This is less about Bankai, which we saw plenty of lore on very early on in the series, and more about the backgrounds of characters we actually care about. A lot of this story was rushed in some ways and equally too slow. This is because we get background on characters we only met on issue ago. We have no relationship to the characters that leads us to even care why they’re doing what they’re doing. So the back story at best only makes us care, but then they win or lose, and we never see them again. What’s the point? This volume has character we’ve had a chance to get to know, and it expands on their stories. That expansion gives us insight into the history of the captains and the politics of the world. They work in harmony as great story telling should.

Dialogue: While this is a step up from what it has been, it’s probably not perfect. I will say it’s probably equal to the best that I could do, which I say only to acknowledge that it’s already about as good as I could do at my level. Sometimes I do these reviews, and I worry readers might come to believe I think I could do better. This is an opportunity for me to admit I don’t think I could. However, I do think there is a higher level to dialogue to be reached.

Description: This volume is actually all about description from a certain point of view. This entire volume revolves around two very specific scars, and those scars serve as a storytelling tool that really makes this volume sing. The best part is one of those scars has always been something we knew about but didn’t know the origin of. Here we have description serving not just as a way to distinguish one character from another, but also as a way to develop that character. The scar helps us identify one character from the crowd, but the story of how that scar came to be helps us understand that character better. This is great storytelling at its best.

Overall: The good news is this is my favorite volume. The bad news is there are plenty left to go. I think there’s something to learn about “fighting manga” here. I’ll acknowledge that some of the fights are cool, but fights in an of themselves can only reach a certain level of entertainment. For fights to be memorable, they need meaning and emotion. This volume demonstrates that and helps us see why the others don’t measure up so well.

Thanks for reading,

Matt

I’ve Finished Reviewing 1,200; I’m 12% Through The 1st Draft of Discovered!

I’ve Finished  Reviewing 1,200; I’m 12% Through The 1st Draft of Discovered!

Geetings all,

Maybe if you haven’t tried it already, you can read Betrayed while you wait for me to get Discovered finished.

It’s been a while since I’ve updated you on my progress on things so far, but that’s not because I haven’t been working.

I’d originally picked up 1,200 just to let my mind rest before I got moving on the first draft of Discovered, but then I just fell in love with 1,200. I was genuinely happy with how good I felt it was. I think there were some things that concerned me, but while reading it, I just really felt horrible for setting it in a drawer for this long. (This was either the third or fourth book I finished writing.)

It still does need a bit of work. I have to change the main character’s name, which is currently Steve, but with Oneiros having the success it’s having (relatively speaking), having two characters with that name would be troublesome. Then there are a few ideas I had that would flesh out a few details, but this book is great, and I’m excited to be putting this book out hopefully in 2022, more likely in 2023 (more on why below).

I started working on the official First Draft of Discovered maybe two weeks ago. I just finished Chapter 5. Given how many challenges we’ve had in the past few weeks, I feel like I’ll pick up speed on that, but it does need work, so please don’t be surprised if my Twitter account has big gaps. Those will be spots where I’m adding content (chapters or scenes) that I feel need to be added to help the flow of the story. It’s currently taking two sessions per chapter, and I usually get one session in a day.

Yeah, at 42 chapters, this means it’ll take at least 84 days to get this draft done, and that’s probably not enough time. I’m thinking 100 days is a safer estimate. Writing is obviously still a part of my life, but it falls way below God, my family, and the job that actually provides for my family. I do wish I had more writing time, but I promise I’m making the use of the time I do have.

Once I’ve finished that First Draft, those of you who want to be Alpha Readers can expect to see a post on this blog letting you know.

If you haven’t seen how it all starts, this is the book you want to read.

While Discovered is in Alpha Readers hands, I’ll get to work on the official First Draft of 1,200. In full honesty, I feel like I’ll want to get that draft done before I do the Alpha Draft of Discovered. Those of you looking forward to how this book ends deserve to understand why. First, I like to have projects rotating on a pretty regular basis, and I need to finish one draft of one book before I work on a new draft of the other. But even if I jumped on Discovered as soon as Alpha Readers got back to me, I’m not sure I will have saved up the money I need for the Developmental Draft. Discovered is already over 100,000 words, and that means getting edits done on that book will cost more than its predecessors. So rather than just sit and do nothing while I save up money for edits, I might as well get progress on other titles. This is the main reason why I’m going to finish another draft of 1,200 before I jump back to Discovered.

Saturday is the 1st, so I’ll do one of my annual State of the Weech posts, where I talk about current and future projects. But my hope is this post helps you sort of see the two major factors in how quickly I can release material (time and money). Even if I did find more time to write (which I would love), I don’t have many options on how to generate more money for edits and art (covers, chapter icons, and other things).

That’s where I continue to ask for your support. Please don’t misunderstand. Those of you who follow this blog are always so amazing. We’re a small clan, but I’m just humbled by how loyal and kind you all are. Hazel is definitely doing her part, but I only earn a percent of a percent of her royalties. I honestly am only just about to get the first royalties from that release here in a few days.

The best way to help me is to help my sales, which means telling your friends about my work, convincing them to try it, and posting reviews and ratings on all the bookish places. I’m in a place now where if I’m going to do anything for the business of writing, the writing needs to pay for it. We budget a bit each month for this dream, but at this point the marketing is still costing more than the books are earning. We’re moving in the right direction, but we still have a ways to go.

All this means I have to be patient. I wanted to be releasing four books a year, and now I’m in a place where it might take two more years before I get any new titles out. That really hurts, but in this world, the art matters, not the pace at which it’s released. I hope you’ll be patient with me as well.

I hope to have this draft done by mid April, when I hope Alpha Readers will be ready and willing to see that early draft. I’d love to try and get it to you sooner and get Discovered to Sara’s hands even sooner, but that would require things that I don’t have direct control over.

As always, thank you all for your wonderful support, and thanks for reading,

Matt

Book Review: Bleach Volume 58 by Tite Kubo

Book Review: Bleach Volume 58 by Tite Kubo
The cover for this volume was taken from its Amazon buy page for review purposes under Fair Use doctrine.

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 58 of Bleach by Tite Kubo, the battle against the Vandenreich reaches a peak as Captain General Yamamoto takes the filed. He unlocks his Bankai, ready to end the war before it begins, but can he?

Character: Some fans feel like the arc here is telling. We see an aspect of Yamamoto that makes the events of this volume more than a typical manga moment. I’m just not one of them. When people talk about character, they’re looking for sympathy, competence, power and proactivity. If the opinion is that we see Yamamoto’s key character deficiency, then I go back to the Azien arc, when we saw that same failing. That doesn’t mean this fight isn’t cool to see, but we come to a point where when characters reach a certain power level, it becomes harder to create a sense of awe or worry over the characters. This volume exemplifies that worry.

Exposition: The fighting continues, which means exposition take a very distant back seat. Yes, there is some “you see how I had the upper hand all along?” dialogue, but that’s always expected at this point.

Worldbuilding: This is where fans will get what they want. If you’re one who cares about Bankai and power levels and the mechanics of those elements, this was where you get your money’s worth. It was cool seeing Yamamoto’s Bankai, but the way the volume goes sort of undercuts it for me. This is sort of the down-side to this arc. We have so many characters who are more or less world-breaking powerful, so the creator has to develop even more powerful people, and that trick sort of gets old after a while. So yeah, it’s cool to see a new move, but cool moves aren’t as satisfying when they don’t really advance the plot (or even reverse it). I can understand why this volume had to happen, but it falls short of the goal in shock factor, which makes the events in this volume unsatisfying for me. If you liked it, feel free to explain why in the comments below. I’d be interested to know.

Dialogue: Aside from the aforementioned “witness my overwhelming power!” stuff, there isn’t a lot of character building dialogue. While not great, it’s not as annoying as the short-comings of the worldbuilding. It’s just kind of how things go.

Description: Now what is satisfying about the aforementioned Bankai is that the rendering of that power is pretty epic. This sort of art and moment is destined for anime (which I believe and hope is forthcoming, though I may be wrong). Even without full color and movement, the art of this fight is exactly what Bleach fans have come to expect.

Overall: The thing is, I wish there was more drama and set up in this fight. I never really felt this fight was going to go any other way than it did. I think if that fight had been more dramatic, this volume and arc would have been more satisfying. Also, we don’t care about Yamamoto. He wasn’t really a character in the story. I was honestly more worried about other members of the guard. Yamamoto is more of a plot device than a character, and that hurts the overall story. So this is little more than what we’ve seen. “Oh, you thought that guy was powerful? Check this guy out!” If the formula works for you, you’ll love this arc. If you’d like a bit more than just the reapplication of the same old formula, then this arc isn’t as satisfying.

Thanks for reading,

Matt

Book Review: Bleach Volume 57 by Tite Kubo

Book Review: Bleach Volume 57 by Tite Kubo

PERSONAL NOTE: My new graphic novel Hazel is out right now, and I’d be honored if you considered picking up a copy!

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

Spoiler free summary: In Volume 57 of Bleach by Tite Kubo, Ichigo is trapped in Hueco Mundo, leaving the Vandenreich free to attack Soul Society. Luckily, the captains are there to defend, but can they win?

Character: So this doesn’t have arc so much as it increases our fear for our teammates. There are a few captains that (with the exception of Aizen) seemed unbeatable, and this new cast of enemies brings us a new level of worry for the cast. There is some arc in that these characters, all used to being the most powerful guys around, now have to deal with the humbling truth, and that’s somewhat interesting, but it’s more of a shock factor.

Exposition: Given that this is a “fight” manga, there really isn’t much more to it (nor should there be). These manga are like the rewards for patiently enjoying the story that comes before. I remember two fights, which is a good sign, but I don’t really remember much more than the two captains (who shall remain nameless) who fight in this chapter. This means that we didn’t have too much exposition if any.

Worldbuilding: This volume also serves to establish the new power levels given the Vandenreich. Obviously, they need to be a threat, and there’s really only one way to establish that. However, as we see those power rankings play out, we learn about how they work.

Dialogue: This is what one comes to expect of the combination of Bleach and fight scenes. There’s a lot of, “My power is so great!” followed by, “Oh, really?” Insert awesome power move. Rinse. Repeat. Now that probably wouldn’t cut it in a full novel, but in manga or animated action, it works. I think anime will evolve, but there will always be room for this level of dialogue. So it’s not quality, but it is what’s expected.

Description: The art continues to improve as the story evolves. The fight scenes are not quite to the quality of Demon Slayer, but I really believe that’s the best manga ever (I said it. @ me if you want.) So it’s a little unfair to judge anything against that standard. However, this is still very cool.

Overall: Honestly, fans of Bleach have been waiting for this volume. Bleach is mostly about fights (much like Naruto). While a lot of the other arcs center around the action, some of the other (and, probably, better) manga have more story progression rather than action with a slice of justification via dialogue. But if you like Bleach, what you’re looking for is the fight, and it’s good to see the volumes finally get down to it.

Thanks for reading,

Matt

A 5-Star Review for Betrayed

A 5-Star Review for Betrayed

Greetings all,

This review comes at a great time because it’s been a rough few weeks here in the Weech household. We’re battling an illness, so we’re glad to have some content to present you that’s low maintenance.

That said, a nice five-star review really helps keep the motivation up. So we’d like to share this review with you all.

As always, if you’ve read some of my work, we’d be grateful if you’d take a second to offer a rating and review. I’m actually pretty close to 100 ratings on Goodreads, and I’m excited for that milestone.

Thanks for reading,

Matt

Book Review: Bleach Volume 55 by Tite Kubo

Book Review: Bleach Volume 55 by Tite Kubo

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