Review by: Clive Owen
Publisher: VIZ Media
Author: Tite Kubo
Genre: Graphic Novel (Shonen Jump Manga)
MSRP: $7.95 US
Rating: T (Teen)
Release Date: Available Now
Sing it with me … “Getting strong now!”
Our boy Ichigo Kurosaki has come a long way since he met a Soul Reaper named Rukia Kuchiki and having fought numerous battles against powerful opponents he couldn’t have done it without training and more training and … well, more training. Having turned to everyone from Urahara to Yoruichi, Ichigo turns to the most unlikely people to train for the upcoming battle spearheaded by Aizen and his Arrancar army. Yes, Volume 20 of Bleach has Ichigo and the others training – again – but there’s still a good story here with an ending that will have you wanting more.
Then again, Bleach fans already knows that Tite Kubo is able to maintain all the elements that made us fall in love with the series in the first place. Volume 26 has action, comedy and a few surprises but, unfortunately, the training sequences are starting to get really old to the point the you can practically hear the “Rocky” training song in your head. The goal, this time, is the become Hollowfied for a longer period of time and thus controlling the part of himself Ichigo tried to hold back.
In the last volume, Orihime Inoue has been revealed quite a shocking bit of news and, of course, her first stop is with Ichigo. Somehow, Orihime is able to not only sense Ichigo’s spiritual energy but she is able to slip through the Vizards’ protective barrier. We’ve known Orihime to be loopy yet determined but she is really beginning to be quite a remarkable character that surprises everyone around her including Hachi … the Vizard who created the barrier. Oh, she also catches the eye of somebody else but you really have to read the volume to find out.
Orihime finds Ichigo training with the Vizards but he isn’t the only one working to become stronger. In Urahara’s training grounds, Chad is training with the Soul Reaper Renji and in another spot Uryu Ishida is training/battling his Quincy father who is helping Uryu regain his lost spiritual powers. The only one who feels left out is Orihime and even more so when Yoruichi brings her before Urahara who tells her to sit the upcoming fight out.
This news, of course, hurts Orihime in ways she isn’t really able to show. Still, she runs into Rukia who sees Urahara’s decision to keep Orihime out of the fight a really bad idea and offers to train the determined girl in the Soul Society. Even Hachi offers to repair the source of the girl’s power and does so successfully.
While Orihime clearly makes up the more interesting parts of this volume, we find Captain Hitsugaya’s crew being confronted by a quartet of Arrancars that step out into Karakura. The foursome include two new Arrancars selected by Aizen as well as the return of Yammy and Grimmjow. Despite being told that he’s just not ready to go up against that Arrancars, Ichigo runs off the join the fight and ends up taking on Grimmjow who is itching for payback after their last encounter. The battle is brutal and we find Hitsugaya, Ikkaku, Yumichika and Rangiku struggling to stay alive against an Arrancar that proves to be considerably deadly.
Yes, the training sequence is wearing out its welcome but the story builds up to an exciting and attention-grabbing ending that will not only end up drawing you in once again. Volume 26 of Bleach pushes the training scenes but it doesn’t hold back the volume filled with outstanding action scenes with splash panels that won’t fail to impress. We love Orihime for many reasons but she really become quite a favorite thanks to this volume.
I say this often about Bleach … each volume makes you look forward to the next one and you better believe this one is no different.
MANGA REVIEW BREAKDOWN
As Aizen’s threat to take out the king of the Soul Society as well as destroy all of Karakura is quickly reaching its deadline, we watch Ichigo train yet again and it’s already getting a wee bit tiresome. Still, there are plenty of other interesting things that happen in Volume 26.
Tite Kubo’s art certainly compliments his storytelling style and his fight scenes are just as flashy as ever. Bleach is just one good-looking manga.
Bleach, Volume 26, isn’t a bad volume but it paints a familiar picture that we seen one too many times in this series. Still, Bleach is a series with a lot of personality and it definitely shines through the already tiresome training scenes. Orihime is also starting to become one of my more favorite Bleach characters.