Book Review: Bleach Volume 62 by Tite Kubo

Book Review: Bleach Volume 62 by Tite Kubo

Spoiler free summary: In Volume 62 of Bleach by Tite Kubo, the renown captains are without their most powerful tool, and it’s making the battle against the Quincy army look grim. Can they hold on until someone comes up with a solution?

Character: This is one of the more interesting turns in the battle. Before this arc, characters were pretty fast and loose with their Bankai, and so it seemed that they relied on them pretty heavily. Taking that away from the characters showed us more and revealed some of their resolve. I’ve probably been pretty negative about this arc as a whole (and I’ve made my reasons clear as I made my complaints), but this was a plot twist I enjoyed. As much as I liked the idea, I wish they’d have shown more. We got some decent character development here, but we could have had a lot more.

Exposition: This volume was probably a bit heavier than the others in terms of exposition through dialogue. This is because the author has to set the terms this plot twist creates. Yeah, it slowed the pace a bit, but this entire volume was sort of a setting of the table so to speak. It’s probably not the manga you can’t put down, but it isn’t any different than any other volume of any other manga where pieces are being set for a new push or prep us for a new fight.

Worldbuilding: I have normally been praising or at least complementing the world building of this particular arc (if for no other reason than it provided data that filled in some gaps for us). Here I thought we had this great chance to really explore how characters react or how they are affected by this loss, and I don’t feel like I got what I wanted there. It’s a minor gripe in this regard, but it sort of demonstrates the overall point. There is so much lost opportunity here, and there has been lost opportunity. Most of that lost opportunity was in regard to character, but not in this case.

Dialogue: Most of the dialogue in this volume was spoken exposition, so it’s sort of draining to get through, but that tends to be par for the course in manga.

Description: The art here is as good as it normally is when there isn’t much action to speak of, which is to say it isn’t bad, but there isn’t much to do but look at panels, most of which display characters talking or pontificating. So it’s not very dynamic.

Overall: I liked the idea of taking Bankai away from the main characters, but I wish there was more consequence. It sort of felt like a hold plot, where the main characters are waiting to spring their trap or make their move, but it lacked the tension an arc like that needs, which is probably why this arc falls flat for me.

Thanks for reading,

Matt

Announcing the 2021 M.L.S. Weech January Book Cover of the Month! Vote for Week 3 of February!

Announcing the 2021 M.L.S. Weech January Book Cover of the Month! Vote for Week 3 of February!

Greetings all,

As I type this, we are officially only two book covers away from naming the 2021 M.L.S. Weech Book Cover of the Year! That means we can announce the January Book Cover of the Month!

The 2021 M.L.S. Weech January Book Cover of the Month is …

The Tinder Box by Kate Elliott was such a unique cover. That uniqueness paid off as it beat out three other great covers to earn a spot in the 2021 overall bracket. Congrats to them!

The February competition is already halfway done, too. The Week 2 winner for the 2021 M.L.S. Weech February Book Cover of the Month Winner is …

The Atomic Ballerina by I.O. Adler was just amazing from top to bottom. Some may argue the art could be more “realistic,” and I suppose they’re right, but this cover is just wonderful! It joins Rising Shadows in the overall bracket for February.

You can vote for Week 3’s cover right here.

I’d appreciate it if you’d hop over to my YouTube channel and gave it a like and subscribe. It not only helps me out, but it also supports the authors and artists of these titles.

Thanks for reading,

Matt

Visits From A Man Named Nobody 65

Visits From A Man Named Nobody 65

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Paul considered the thought. It was good moral premise. It even made him consider the religion for an instant, but that made him think of Bill. The next moment, he was a teenager hearing the man he’d thought of as a father had died. The most exemplary Christian Paul could ever name was ripped away from a family. 

He opened his mouth to ask how his mother could love the same God who took Bill away, but that would only hurt her, and he didn’t want to do that. Instead, he changed the subject.

“I think about you plenty,” he said. “I’ll do a better job visiting and calling more often.”

“I appreciate that,” she replied, “but I understand you’re busy, and you’re building a life for yourself. When you were a child, I had a greater role in your life, and you had fewer influences. Frankly, the size of your world was much smaller.”

She smiled  at him, causing her brown eyes brighten. “I remember when your world was little more than our house and a video arcade. You’re older; your world is bigger; but I know you love me.”

“You’re saying I should let Lidia and Jordan have their space, and that they still love me,” Paul said. “Whether I’m the same size in a bigger world or they’re just with me less, it still feels like a loss.”

His mother shrugged. “Nothing in this world is permanent.” She pointed her fork at him. “And that’s why it’s important to make the most of whatever time you get with anyone. Let the time you have with people be about love and fellowship. That way, when those people aren’t in our lives anymore, for whatever reason, we have all those happy memories to hold on to. Isn’t that better than just being angry and resentful and arguing?” She returned to using her fork to eat rather than emphasize her words.

Paul chuckled at her. “No matter what happens, I love you, mom.”

She looked at him and smiled. “That’s so sweet. Now, eat your food. I figure we could enjoy some nostalgia tonight.”

“Nostalgia?” He cocked his head in confusion.

“I still have our game. It’s saved on the console just where we left it,” she said.

“Does that thing still work?” Hadn’t he thrown it away? Maybe that was an older system. No, he distinctly remembered …

“I started it up and played a second or two,” she said. “Still seems to work.”

“But didn’t I throw it away?” Paul was more certain every second he thought about it.

“I don’t know what anybody else did with it,” she said with a bit too much innocence in her tone,” but I found it, and when I realized it still worked, I put it away for just such an occasion. I suppose I’ll finish it alone if you don’t want to play it with me.”

“I didn’t say that!” The thought of her finishing the game on her own gave him a strange blend of remorse and betrayal. 

“OK then,” she said. “I think it’s been far too long since we’ve finished that game”

“Have you even touched a controller in the last six years?” He couldn’t keep the grin off his face.

“I just said I played a few seconds, so yes. Besides, how many video games have you played in the last six years?”

He stared at her. She had a point. The project had taken up pretty much all of his time and effort, at least when a girl wasn’t involved.

“Let’s do it.” He dug into his food, genuinely excited to play a kids game with his mother.

… The End of Chapter eighteen …

… to be continued …

Still Taking It A Bit Easy

Still Taking It A Bit Easy

Greetings all,

In terms of an update, I’m somewhere around twenty-five percent through the First Draft of Discovered. However the last two weeks have been pretty tough. By God’s grace, I’ve been protected from COVID, but I’ve wanted to support my wife and kids. This means that my writing and marketing time is what it’s always been, but the blogging energy is low. So I’m asking for a few more days of patience.

You’ll see a Testimony post tomorrow, and I’ll update the Book Cover of the Month bracket, but I just wanted to use this post to say I’m ramping up. That means this post doesn’t have much in the way of content, but I didn’t want to just ghost, which I did by skipping Wednesday’s book review, and I’m sorry for that.

I should be back to my regular schedule starting tomorrow.

Thanks for your patience, and thanks for reading,

Matt

Announcing the Week 1 M.LS. Weech 2021 Book Cover of the Month of February! Vote For Week 2 Here!

Announcing the Week 1 M.LS. Weech 2021 Book Cover of the Month of February! Vote For Week 2 Here!

Greetings all,

We’re getting closer and closer to naming the 2021 M.L.S. Weech Book Cover of the Year. If I’m being honest, it looks like this plan was a bust, but I will finish the event because I just think people should finish what they start. We’ll try a few other YouTube ideas and see how they go, but this one didn’t take off like I thought it would.

That said, we can still work hard to name a good list of candidates for February, and we’re off to a good start.

The Week 1 M.L.S. Weech 2021 Book Cover of the Month of February is …

Rising Shadows by A.E. King wasn’t the most dynamic cover in the batch, but I do think it was the best executed, so it’s a nice first entry into the February Book Cover of the Month.

You can vote for your favorite cover of Week 2 right here.

I’d be thrilled if any of you were kind enough to head on over to my YouTube channel and gave it like and subscribe. I’m still open to doing more book covers; I’m just trying to find content people would be interested in watching.

Thanks for reading,

Matt

Visits From A Man Named Nobody 64

Visits From A Man Named Nobody 64

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She smiled at him. “Of course I miss you, and, if I’m being honest, sometimes I get a little jealous. I just have to remember that while you are my son, you’re not my property.”

Paul chuckled. It was very similar to the point Nobody had made. But it didn’t answer his question. “But how do you remind yourself that?”

“I think I’m different from you there. You’re supposed to leave me to find a wife,” she gave him another shameless grin.

“Mom, I told you-“

“You’re making up excuses because you don’t think you’re worthy of having a wife.” Her face hardened the moment she said it. She gave him stern look. “That’s a lie! Life is a series of choices. Sometimes people make the wrong ones. A lot of people fail to make the correct ultimate choice. But even if you never make that choice, you don’t have to be like your father, and this nonsense that you’re destined to be like him is only a self-fulfilling prophecy if you focus on that rather than just giving your love to the woman who is lucky enough to choose you.”

“Stacy was a wonderful girl,” Paul frowned as he looked down and picked at his food with his fork. 

“Wonderful girls don’t cheat on their boyfriends,” his mother replied. 

“You’re being inconsiderate,” Paul said flatly. “Yeah, she shouldn’t have cheated, and the most painful part is she apologized for doing it. Meanwhile, I ignored her. I never spoke to her. I pretty much only used her.”

“So learn from that,” she said. “For one, remember to truly invest in whatever partner you choose. Don’t use them to gratify your physical desire. Simply appreciate them and care for them. The thing you should learn from her is something we should learn from anyone who sins against us.”

“What’s that?” Paul asked.

She looked at him. “No amount of wrong someone does to you permits you to do wrong.”

He rolled his eyes. “So you’re saying a guy should let someone steal or assault him and just let it go?”

“Or a guy could lock his house and buy an alarm system and maybe defend himself without attacking, smart guy.” She furrowed her eyebrows, annoyed at his half-hearted witticism.  “It’s not OK to lie just because others lie. It’s not OK to kill just because others kill. It’s not OK to commit adultery just because others commit adultery. If one person hurting another made it OK for people to respond in kind, then the world would devolve into a planet of animals.”

Paul tried to press his lips together. This conversation was a set up, and he knew it, but she’d gotten him bantering, and she knew he could’t resist the debate. Eventually, he caved. “So what are we supposed to do?”

“Forgive.” She said. 

He stared at her as if she just suggested a person learn to sprout wings and fly off. “That’s it.”

She nodded. “The hardest thing to do is learn to forgive, but it’s what I wanted. It’s what I needed. So why, if I’m so hungry to be forgiven, shouldn’t I find it in my heart to forgive?”

“If that’s true why don’t you call-up the bio-dad and tell him you forgive him.” The words flew out of his mouth. They were insensitive. It was a crass, hurtful thing to say, and for no other reason than to win an argument.

“Actually,” she said softly. “I went and visited him in prison to offer my forgiveness.” He stared at her. His mouth opened and closed a few times, but he couldn’t possibly imagine what he would say. 

“I only visited him one time,” she said. “I’m not really sure what else to do, but I didn’t want that resentment anymore. I didn’t want that anger. So I let it go, and the way I did it was remembering all the things I’ve done.”

“You’ve never done anything as bad as what he did.” Some of the words sounded more like an animal’s growl than actual words. It was all Paul could do to keep from shouting.

“Oh if only it were that simple,” she said. She held a hand in front of herself horizontally. “This is all the wrong I’ve done in my life.” She placed her other hand far below the first. “And this is your father. At least as you describe it. Sure, I’ve done wrong, but the things your father did are so much lower and so much more awful.”

She raised her first hand almost like a student in class and pointed upward. “But how does any human look compared to a perfect and holy God? All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”

Paul flung his hands in the air in frustration. “How perfect and holy can a being be to allow that man to do what he did?”

“Would you rather be a machine?” she asked. “Would you rather have no choice? Would you be human if you didn’t have the capacity to choose? People always get that question wrong. They ask, ‘Why would God allow these things to happen?’ But the better question is, ‘Why do we keep choosing to do the wrong thing when God gave us a way to do the right thing?’ We can’t cry out for freedom to choose and then be shocked when some choose to do evil, especially when we want to use the sins of others to justify our own.”

Paul stared at her. It wasn’t blind religion. It wasn’t pseudo philosophy. It was simple reason. 

“Did you plan this?” he asked her.

She chuckled. “I’m not nearly so calculating, but I’m your mother. Anyone who’s talking to you better be very careful with what they say and think. But don’t miss my point, Son. I forgave your father because it was the right thing to do, but more so because that’s what I wanted. I want to be forgiven for how I let him do what he did to you. I want to be forgiven for so much more than that. And if that’s what I want, then that has to be what I’m willing to give. That’s what it means to love your neighbor as yourself.”

… to be continued ..

COVID Has Hit the Weech Household

COVID Has Hit the Weech Household

Greetings all,

Don’t worry! While that headline is absolutely true, we’re all fine (or at lest it’s not too terrible)!

We have one confirmed COVID case and two more family members with symptoms. Add to that all three of my in laws, and this has been one rough week.

So honestly, this is just me saying I’ve had a rough week. I’ll (hopefully) be back next week.

Thanks for reading,

Matt

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

The 2021 M.L.S. Weech January Book Cover of the Month is live! Voting for February’s covers has begun!

The 2021 M.L.S. Weech January Book Cover of the Month is live! Voting for February’s covers has begun!

Greetings all,

We’re one step closer to naming the 2021 M.L.S. Weech Book Cover of the Year!

The Week 4 2021 M.L.S. Weech Book Cover of the Month of January is …

Eye of the Fates by AR Colbert was just a really well done cover with some unique color and composition. Fates joins Spark, Ravens of Yellowstone, and The Tinder Box to round up the four nominees for the 2021 M.L.S. Weech January Book Cover of the Month, which you can vote for right here!

The Week 1 2021 M.L.S. Weech February Book Cover of the Month is live, too, and you can vote for that cover right here.

I’d appreciate it if you stopped by my YouTube channel and gave it a like and subscribe. It helps me out and supports these authors and artists.

Thanks for reading,

Matt

Visits From A Man Named Nobody 63

Visits From A Man Named Nobody 63

PT1 // PT 2 // PT 3 // PT 4 // PT 5 // PT 6 // PT 7 // PT 8 // PT 9 // PT 10 // PT 11 // PT 12 // PT 13 // PT 14 // PT 15 // PT 16 // PT 17 // PT 18 // PT 19 // PT 20 // PT 21 // PT 22 // PT 23 // PT 24 // PT 25 // PT 26 // PT 27 // PT 28 // PT 29 // PT 30 // PT 31 // PT 32 // PT 33 // PT 34 // PT 35 // PT 36 // PT 37 // PT 38 // PT 39 // PT 40 // PT 41 // PT 42 // PT 43 // PT 44 // PT 45 // PT 46 // PT 47 // PT 48 // PT 49 // PT 50 // PT 51 // PT 52 // PT 53 // PT 54 // PT 55 // PT 56 // PT 57 // PT 58 // PT 59 // PT 60 // PT 61 // PT 62 //

Eighteen

November 20, 2036, 2:21 p.m. 

14 Years, 13 Days Ago

Paul felt truly excited to be approaching his home. He hadn’t seen his mother in quite a while. He couldn’t help looking out of the car window during each turn. A smile came on his face. He spoke with his mother here and there about life and how things were going, but he hand’t been home since Christmas the year before. He took a short flight to get most of the way, some 200 miles, and sent a message for a ride the rest of the way.

The vehicle he was in turned the corner, and the smile on Paul’s face melted in to shock. A black, four-door car sat in the driveway. Paul’s PID dinged, and he jumped a the noise. It was just the driver connecting with his unit to collect the fair for his ride from the airport. Paul slowly got out of the car in a daze. 

It was the same color, make, and model. Paul reached out and touched the car, scrambling to think about what it meant. Maybe it was just the same type of car. It wasn’t like there was only one black car in all the world.

He tired the rear door, surprised it opened. He leaned in, looking at the center console. There it was: the tiny dent he put in it when he hit it in frustration. It was the exact dent, and this was the exact car Nobody had used to drive Paul home.

“So I guess you like it.”

Paul jerked at the sound and knocked his head against the frame of the car. He spun around even as he rubbed his skull. “Where is he!?”

“Where is who?” His mother stood before him in a long, form-fitting pea coat. Some blue jeans peaked out from under the black overgarment. A few streaks of gray had started to creep into her black hair, which was loose around her head and shoulders. 

“Who’s car is this?” Paul asked.

She laughed. “It’s mine.” She cocked her head at him in confusion. “I’m glad you like it?” Her voice squeaked as if it were more of a question than a statement. 

“You bought this car?” Paul asked.

She nodded. 

“When?” 

She shrugged, “About six months ago.”

The math flew through Paul’s mind. “Did someone come to borrow it from you. He’d be about my height with black hair.”

Her face lit up with a bright smile. “What’s going on?” She reached into her pocked and produced a key. “I had this key made for you, so you could borrow it whenever you wanted.” She walked over and held it out to him. “But no one has come to borrow it. Who would?”

So he did steal it! Well, Nobody borrowed his mom’s car without asking. Sure he returned it, but it was stealing regardless of whether or not he gave it back.

Paul held the key staring at it in thought. Then he looked at his mom. “I don’t visit you enough; do I?”

“Come on inside,” she said. “I have some food ready.”

Paul followed her in, and they both removed their coats. Paul wore a university shirt. He wasn’t exactly all about school spirit, but his mom liked the idea of seeing him in a school shirt. His mother wore a simple blouse. It was black with a series of white specks that made the shirt look like a pattern of stars. 

Sure enough, there was a feast on the table even though it was several days before Thanksgiving.  He chuckled. “Your church friends coming over to eat, too?” He tried to keep his tone even, but he never felt comfortable around her church friends. They weren’t bossy or preachy. They were a lot like Jordan, or even Bill. But it wasn’t exactly easy to sit around a table full of people who seemed determined to talk about God in some way, shape, or form.

“They’ll be here for Thanksgiving, but not today. I wanted my son to myself.” She sat down at the table and offered a silent prayer before making a plate. 

Paul bent over and gave her a side hug and a kiss on the cheek. “I’m glad to be home.”

He walked around the table and sat down across from her. 

“So you like the car, huh?” She stabbed her fork at a slice of ham. 

“Yeah.” She offered him the serving dish of meat, and he took it, gratefully plopping a few slices on his own plate before setting it down. 

They traded food as they spoke. 

“So did you notice the mileage change?” Paul asked.

She laughed. “I only pay attention to that stuff when I think it’s getting close to the time I need to change the oil.”

“What about the small dent on the back seat center console?” They’d finished filling their plates, and Paul set to cutting up his food.

“There’s a dent back there?” She took a bite of her own food, completely oblivious to the fact that someone took her car, drove it almost 200 miles,  and returned it.

“Yeah, I saw it when I was checking it out.” He also put it there, but he didn’t intend to say that. 

“The truth is I did buy it hoping you’d use it, which, yes, would mean I’d get to see you more.” She rolled her eyes as if he’d just caught her cheating in a board game. 

Paul let out a breath. “I’ll come visit more, but I wish you’d just say what you want.”

She took a bite, giving him a flat stare as she chewed and swallowed. “What I want is for you to want to come visit me more. I certainly don’t want you to show up on some regular basis just because you think you have to.”

“It’s not that,” Paul said. “I know I should visit more often, and I do want to. I just get caught up on work and other things.”

Her eyes glittered. “Do any of those other things have a name, maybe?”

“No.” This time he gave her the flat stare. 

“So no one since Stacy?” Her tone was as gentle as anyone could make it. She wasn’t trying to bring her up, just see if there was anyone new. 

Paul shook his head, trying to hide his frustration and shame. “Not me, but Jordan just got engaged.”

His mother dropped her knife and fork and clapped excitedly. “Oh that’s wonderful! Do you have a picture? What’s her name? How long have they been dating? What—“ she paused. “What’s wrong?”

She read his expression. Paul offered her a smile and worked at his PID, trying to find a picture of the three of them together.

“It’s OK.” He found a picture and sent it to her PID. 

“Ohhh, she’s beautiful! They look so happy!” She looked at him and narrowed her eyes. “So why does my son have that fake smile he uses when he wants everyone to believe he’s not angry about something.”

“I talked to them about it,” Paul said after swallowing another bite of food. “The truth is I was jealous about their relationship and how much time they were spending together. I felt left out, but we’ve worked it out.”

She stared at him.

“OK, so we don’t hang out like we used to,” Paul admitted. “But things are good in the lab, and I’m still his best man at the wedding.” He took another bite of food. “The truth is none of us really know how to act around each other, so we hang out every now and then, but we haven’t figured it all out yet. Honestly I still have to figure out how to be happy for them instead of thinking about how I’m losing out on two friends.”

“I see.” His mother grabbed a roll and used it to scoop up some mashed potatoes. “It can be challenging when relationships change.”

“How did you do it?” Paul suddenly realized she had experience. One minute, he was living there and hanging out, the next he was at college.

“I have to accept that you’re your own person,” she said. “I have to remind myself that I know you love me, and then I have to appreciate the time I do get with you.”

“Even if you have to buy a car to try and get me to spend more time with you?” 

She smiled. “It’s completely fair to provide motivation for people to come see you. But that motivation isn’t obligation, and that’s the real trick. I don’t want to guilt trip you into spending time with me. I just want to make sure I give you plenty of reasons.”

Paul nodded. That made a kind of sense. 

… to be continued …