Review by: Clive Owen
Publisher: VIZ Media
Author: Tite Kubo
Genre: Graphic Novel (Shonen Jump)
MSRP: $9.99 US
Rating: T (Teen)
Release Date: Now Available
My Espada is more dangerous than yours.
Not since their entry into the Soul Society has Ichigo Kurosaki and his friends experienced such resistance from foes who are considerably more power them but Hueco Mundo really is even more dangerous. For one thing, Rukia and Chad had already fallen and they didn’t even go up against single-digit Espadas. Oh, but things are going to get worst as we can see from Volume 31 of Bleach.
In the thirtieth volume, Rukia Kuchiki faced off against an opponent who used the one person whose death still tortures her and because of it she loses her battle. Then there’s Chad who showed us he has developed a new weapon to his arsenal but it just wasn’t enough to save him. Now Renji Abarai finds himself up against the tactical-minded Espada, Szayelaporro Grantz, and it’s not looking good.
So in Volume 31, Renji is beginning to think that he just isn’t powerful enough to take his opponent down since his Zanpakuto isn’t even coming close to striking Szayelaporro. To top it all off, the Espada calls in a number of Arrancar minions to finish off the wounded Soul Reaper when – surprisingly enough – an arrow rips through an Arrancar. It’s Uryu who shows up after having defeated the disgraced Arrancar and he’s ready to give Renji much needed backup.
Meanwhile, Ichigo runs into Ulquiorra and is about to keep moving without raising his Zanpakuto to fight him. His reasons are simple: Ulquiorra has done nothing to harm any of his friends but then the Espada tells him that he was the one responsible for bringing Orihime to Hueco Mundo and thus sparking the fire that has Ichigo attacking the Espada.
As it turns out, however, Uliquiorra isn’t what Ichigo had expected in terms of his position in the Espada lineup. He might not be the leader but he is powerful enough that Ichigo makes use of all the tricks he learned during his most recent training. Unfortunately, it isn’t enough and in defending Nel from a dangerous blast, the Substitute Soul Reaper is struck down. In one of the more endearing moments of this volume, Nel comes to the realization that Ichigo is dying right before her eyes.
Back in Lord Aizen’s fortress, Las Noches, a desperate Orihime wants to know what has happened to her friends. Instead, two jealous Arrancar girls enter her room and begin to smack the young girl around and Orihime does not defend herself. Somebody does come to her aid, though, and it is none other than Grimmjow who defends Orihime and punishes the two girls. He has two reasons for stepping in and helping Orihime and one of them is gratitude over the fact that Orihime had used her powers to heal to bring his arm back. The other, well, Orihime finds out as Grimmjow kidnaps her after Orihime heals the two girls that had attacked her.
We soon find out exactly what Grimmjow has planned for Orihime as he sets her down near the battered Ichigo. You see, Grimmjow is intentionally going against Uliquiorra because he considers Ichigo his nemesis and should have been hands-off. In one of the best moments of this volume, Grimmjow and Uliquiorra fight over Orihime and Ichigo while Orihime heals Ichigo. While the battle between the two Espadas doesn’t last very long thanks to an object that Grimmjow uses on Uliquiorra, so now the somewhat healed Ichigo will battle Grimmjow.
As for Renji and Uryu, it is the young Quincy who pulls off some surprises of his own as he has Renji providing a distraction for when he unleashes an attack assured to bring down their opponent. However, Szayelaporro is a harder opponent to defeat as the fight is now going to become even more interesting in the next volume.
Volume 31 of Bleach finds Ichigo and the others in a tight spot as the Arrancar threat moves their more dangerous agents to go up against them. Unlike their assault on the Soul Society, Hueco Mundo is proving to be a deadly place and they haven’t even reached Lord Aizen yet. However, interesting new developments has Ichigo and Orihime reunited again as he is prepared to face off against Grimmjow in a true battle.
MANGA REVIEW BREAKDOWN
Having encountered Ulquiorra, Ichigo makes a startling discovery about him as well as finds out that he was the one who tricked Orihime into coming to Hueco Mundo. The confrontation between these two gets really ugly fast while Renji’s finds himself backed up by none other than Uryu. However, the real surprise comes when Grimmjow shows up to aid two of the most unlikeliest people.
There are more flashy fight scenes in this volume but the real visual eye candy comes from the confrontation between two Arrancar Espadas in the last chapter. Tite Kubo’s artwork never fails to impress even after thirty volumes of this series.
Hueco Mundo has turned into a real battlefield where the opponents are now more dangerous as Ichigo and the others move closer to finding Orihime in Volume 31 of Bleach. With two casualties already, the others find themselves facing off against Espada who will not easily go down. Oh but the real fight is about to begin as two major players clash for the right to battle Ichigo.
Review copy provided by VIZ Media