Bleach, Volume 32 – Manga Review

 

Review by: Eduardo Zacarias

Publisher: VIZ Media
Author: Tite Kubo
Genre: Graphic Novel (Shonen Jump)
MSRP: $9.99 US
Rating: T (Teen)
Release Date: Now Available

The jaguar and the Soul Reaper dance once more.

There aren’t many manga-ka out there who can get away with dedicating nearly an entire volume to a single battle but Tite Kubo has proven he can tell a story and create unforgettable battles especially when it concerns Bleach. With Volume 32, the showdown that we saw coming since Ichigo and Grimmjow first faced off is finally here as the real rumble in Hueco Mundo begins.

Having rescued Orihime from a beating and kidnapped her (thus defying Ulquiorra and challenging him) in order to have Orihime heal a defeated and badly injured Ichigo, Grimmjow has crossed the line with his fellow Espadas just to get a chance to pay Ichigo back for the damage done during their first encounter. Now, with both of them healed, the Substitute Soul Reaper and the out-of-control Espada have a fair fight on their hands.

It’s clear that Grimmjow is powerful and the fact he keeps goading Ichigo on speaks volumes of the Espada’s confidence in his strength and skill. In fact, he wants Ichigo to unleash every ounce of power he possesses. Waiting in the sidelines is a Orihime and Nel, both worried for Ichigo despite the fact that their orangehaired friend is just as confident as his opponent that he will defeat his opponent. Nel, on the other hand, is the only one who feels that maybe Ichigo doesn’t have what it takes to defeat Grimmjow even though Orihime assures her that if Ichigo says he’s win then that’s what he’ll do.

“Ichigo’s scared!” Nel says to her. “Scared people always talk big!”

As Grimmjow shows no signs of taking it easy on Ichigo, he forces Ichigo to use the power of Hollowfication that the Visoreds had trained him to unleash. When he does use the power, the sight of Ichigo with the Hollow mask is shocking to Orihime who is watching the fight with Nel. She has seen Ichigo at his finest and at his worst but nothing compares to the sight of Ichigo’s eyes beneath that mask. To her it’s almost as if the person fighting Grimmjow is somebody else.

Surprisingly enough, though, it is Nel who pushes Orihime to look past the mask and cheer for Ichigo. He is, after all, fighting for her and despite the appearances that is still the young man that she had fallen in love with for a long time now. As the fight continues, it is starting to look like Ichigo is able to maintain Hollowfication for a bit longer now.

However, even more surprising is Grimmjow true form that reveals his past in a flashback that is actually quite sad. You see, Grimmjow didn’t always have a humanoid form and like all Vasto Lordes they started as an Adjucha with an appetite that is quite abnormal. Grimmjow, however, is different and other Adjucha recognized this in him.

Oh but like all good things the fight does come to an end as Grimmjow’s strength and monstrous power doesn’t match up to Ichigo’s determination to win. Then, another surprise as another player steps in by removing Grimmjow from the equation. As a new opponent steps in and Grimmjow’s fate unclear, things are going to get ugly yet again.

This volume also includes a short story about Captain Toshiro Hitsugaya that – according to Kubo-sensei – serves as sort of prologue to the second Bleach movie, “The Diamond Dust Rebellion.” In this Bleach: Untold Stories tale, we are given a rare glimpse of a young Toshiro who is just recently acknowledging a strange voice that tells him of a great power locked within him. In the story we witness the day Momo goes off to the academy to become a Soul Reaper as well as the day Toshiro first met Rangiku Matsumoto.

Volume 32 of Bleach is just one long fight sequences but that doesn’t mean nothing surprising happens in the span of the few chapter. Orihime’s reaction to Ichigo’s Hollow mask is priceless as is the scene where Nel’s steadfast loyalty to Ichigo makes Orihime realize Ichigo is Ichigo no matter how scary his power has become. There’s also something compelling about Grimmjow’s past and his need to prove himself. As I said, the real rumble in Hueco Mundo has begun.

MANGA REVIEW BREAKDOWN

STORY: A
Both fully healed thanks to Orihime, Ichigo and Grimmjow begin an impressive battle where both opponents don’t hold back even for a moment. It is during this battle that Orihime sees Ichigo’s power takes a scary physical change and the real Grimmjow – including his past – is revealed. There’s a bonus story as well about the day that changed Toshiro Hitsugaya’s life.

ART: A+
I said this once and I’ll say it again, Tite Kubo knows how to make an eye-catching fight scene but what he really excels at is crafting original-looking characters that are memorable straight off the bat. In this volume, Grimmjow’s other form is simply too awesome for words.

OVERALL: A
Focusing on two very powerful forces fighting at full strength, Volume 32 of Bleach still manages to be impressive and – at times – even poetic. As the two of them lose themselves in the moment, Orihime is taken aback by Ichigo’s power that has changed the young man as things get more complicated in Hueco Mundo.

Review copy provided by VIZ Media

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2 thoughts on “Bleach, Volume 32 – Manga Review

  1. Pingback: Ed Chavez interviewed, Stu Levy defended, and Oscar-potential manga « MangaBlog

  2. Pingback: The Naruto Lounge » Blog Archive » Bleach, Vol. 9

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