Review by: Faith McAdams
Publisher: VIZ Media (SJ Collector’s Edition)
Author: Tite Kubo
Genre: Graphic Novel (Hardcover)
MSRP: $19.99 US
Release Date: Now Available
Reminding us why we love this series so much.
When Tite Kubo’s BLEACH reached North America, it quickly became something special to manga readers until it unfolded into a something big enough that the mass following it received surprised even Kubo himself. VIZ Media is honoring the anniversary of such a major title with the release of a hardcover Collector’s Edition of BLEACH, Volume 1 and I must say that it’s quite a pretty package fans of the series will certainly appreciate.
One of the things that will spring out at you is the dust jacket that is wonderfully colorful with images of Ichigo and his friends while the hardcover itself is a reproduction of the First Edition cover. Inside, the blues and red images are a nice touch but the most surprising thing about the Collector’s Edition is that the first few panels are in color (boy, Ichigo’s hair really is that orange). The fifth chapter image is even in color … which is a nice touch but why couldn’t all the chapter intro images be in color?
The volume itself is a faithful reproduction of the first volume the First Edition subtitled as “Strawberry and the Soul Reapers.” The story revolves around Ichigo “Strawberry” Kurosaki, a young 15-year old high school student who has always had the ability to see dead people. When we first meet Ichigo, he totally trashes three punks that knocked over a small shrine left for a dead little girl only Ichigo can see. While he tries to maintain a certain rough attitude to go with his carrot top (hence the “Strawberry” nickname), he’s actually a thoughtful young man whose life will soon change thanks to a mysterious girl named Rukia Kuchiki.
You see, Rukia is actually a Soul Reaper and a Soul Reaper’s job is to defend the world of the living by battling malicious wayward spirits called Hollows as well as guiding the recently deceased to a better place. Sensing some unusual power, Rukia is drawn into Ichigo’s room only to receive a kick in the behind by Ichigo who thought this diminutive pretty girl with the samurai sword was a burglar. When a Hollow attacks Ichigo’s family, Rukia is injured so her solution is to give Ichigo some of her powers. Of course, things don’t work out the way they should and Ichigo ends up draining all of Rukia’s Soul Reaper powers and ending up with a sword (called Zanpaku-to) that’s bigger than him.
And so begins Ichigo’s life as a Substitute Soul Reaper. The first volume follows young Ichigo as he attempts to juggle life as a high school student and a Soul Reaper. He’s joined by Rukia who managed to install herself into his classroom as well as sleep in his closet. We meet Ichigo’s friends such as the quiet-yet-incredibly-strong Chad and the bubbly Orihime who will play a part in this volume … and later on in the series they become part of a much bigger role.
As Ichigo discovers his power as a Soul Reaper, we later find out that Orihime – the buxom girl who has a crush on Ichigo – might just be the target of a Hollow. Kubo’s certainly knows how to weave an interesting story that mixes action with his great sense of humor and ability to convey emotional scenes such as the one between Orihime and the tortured spirit of somebody close to her.
In the final chapters of the volume, Chad comes to possess a parakeet that can actually form sentences. Something is certainly wrong with the parakeet and it becomes apparent to one of Ichigo’s sisters who sees the bird’s real form. In the end, Ichigo comes to his family’s clinic (run by his father that almost always attacks his son) only to find Chad severely injured. Like with Orihime, Ichigo can’t help but smell a Hollow at work here but that, as they say, is a story for another time. By the end of this volume, you can’t help but jump on the BLEACH bandwagon.
The Collector’s Edition of BLEACH’s first volume is a wonderful collectible for BLEACH fans and those who would like a sturdier edition to place in their book shelves. If you already own the first edition, justifying a $20 purchase is up to how much you love the series but for my money I found it a worthy purchase and a great gift to any manga fan.
MANGA REVIEW BREAKDOWN
It’s the basic story of a young boy whose life gets really interesting when a pretty girl with special abilities gives said young man the same abilities only to find out that he’s something special. Yet what drives this pretty basic concept is the fact that the characters are really likeable straight off the bat and the tale is both exciting and funny.
Fans of Tite Kubo know that BLEACH really starts to look good in the second or third volume of the BLEACH series seeing as he breaks away from the ZOMBIEPOWDER-styled art to give the series its own detailed look. Still, the art is really good and the Kubo’s comical touches won’t fail to put a smile on your face. The Collector’s Edition even brings out the color panels and the dust jacket cover is awesome.
If you’re a true BLEACH fan or are new to the series, this Collector’s Edition is delightful addition to your BLEACH collection. I’m actually recommending this as a perfect gift for those just starting to get into manga and die hard fans will definitely want this one on their book shelves.