Bleach, Volume 34 – 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


Salvation arrives and in the form of the most unlikely characters.

It was not easy navigating through the various strange locations that make up Hueco Mundo and it certainly wasn’t easy defeating its various numbered residents, but Ichigo and his comrades have gotten far to the point that Ichigo Kurosaki was finally reunited with Orihime. Unfortunately, the battles that followed after find the Substitute Soul Reaper and his friends on the verge of being slaughtered … that us until Volume 34 of Bleach finds a new ray of hope lighting up this battlefield.

Who would have thought that the cute cherub-like Nel was actually a strikingly beautiful and very powerful warrior who stands up for Ichigo against the dangerous Nnoitora. In fact, this mature and buxom babe even swats away the Espada’s attacks as if they were nothing. Nelliel transforms yet again to show us an even more formidable form and is about to end this fight with a single blow when – unfortunately – something unexpected occurs that changes everything.

With a swift kick, Nnoitora ends what little hope that Ichigo had of surviving this fight. Almost immediately, Nnoitora sends his subordinate to transform and break every bone in the Substitute Soul Reaper’s body and Ichigo takes an even more brutal beating and just when something vital is about to be snapped in half, salvation arrives and his name is Captain Kenpachi Zaraki.

Meanwhile, with Renji Abarai and Uryu Ishida too badly injured to defend themselves, Nel’s zany companions – Pesche and Dondochakka – decide to take on Szayelaporro using their best attacks. It’s an impressive display, to say the most, but it’s not even enough to really hurt the powerful Espada. Just as things are about to look even uglier, in steps one of the most unexpected allies. As it turns out, help arrives in the form of Captain Mayuri Kurotsuchi and his loyal assistant, Nemu. The look on Uryu’s face when he sees who is saving him and their dialogue after that is worth the purchase price alone.

Not too far away, two more Soul Reaper Captains enter Hueco Mundo. We witness the arrival of the lovely Captain Retsu Unohana along with her Assistant Captain, Isane Kotetsu, who has come to heal the wounded as they arrive in time to start healing a soundly defeated Chad. Not far from them, Captain Byakuya Kuchiki arrives right before a menacing Septima Espada by the name of Zommari Rureaux is about to put Rukia Kuchiki out of her misery.

For an Espada, Zommari actually comes off as a gentleman on the battlefield who quickly identifies Byakuya as an arrogant and pompous man who thinks he’s better than everyone around him. That might actually not be an inaccurate description of the man but Byakuya doesn’t care one way or another and attacks the Espada. As it turns out, however, Zommari is actually slightly faster than Captain Kuchiki. He also displays a strange power that allows him to grow fifty eyes capable of targeting an opponent’s limbs and taking controlling of it.

As Zommari uses this power on different parts of Byakuya’s limbs, little does Zommari know that the Soul Reaper is cold enough to slash away at his own limbs if necessary. Wanting to end the fight, Byakuya pulls off his famous Bankai only to find Zommari still alive afterwards and controlling Rukia’s badly injured body as Rukia hurts a very familiar face who arrives to help. Oh, but there’s a good reason for Byakuya’s overconfidence as this battle ends quite grimly.

While Byakuya Kuchiki’s battle against Zommari is an exciting one, it is Mayuri’s fight with Szayelaporro that steals the show. Mayuri isn’t just a wonderfully twisted and interesting character but – as we saw from his fight with Uryu – is willing to test his opponents’ true potential. He does exactly that as the Espada pulls off the same attack using a doll. However, Mayuri has already seen this trick before … through Uryu!

Oh, there’s more as Mayuri unleashes his Bankai and uses Nemu as a sacrificial lamb when Szayalaporro pulls off his greatest and last trick that impresses the oddball Captain. Ultimately, even with all his tricks and abilities, Szayalaporro has no idea what lethal tricks Captain Mayuri Kurotsuchi has hidden in each attack and the great lengths he’s willing to go through to get what he wants.

Volume 34 of Bleach finds new combatants and an assortment of other familiar characters stepping into the battlefield that is Hueco Mundo as Ichigo and the Soul Society finally enters the fray. As four Captains and their assistants step in to lend a hand, you can bet the battles get a lot more exhilarating and even surprisingly intense as the Espadas take on an even different class of opponents. Now this story arc has officially become even better.

MANGA REVIEW BREAKDOWN

STORY: A
Just as things are starting to look bleak for Ichigo and his friends, help arrives just in time to go up against the formidable Espadas who will soon find their opponents to be bad for their health. With four Captains – and a few other familiar faces – entering the battlefield, things get even more interesting as the real battles truly begin.

ART: A+
If you thought the battles in the last three volumes were flashy and intense, it pales in comparison to the fights in this volume. On top of that, Nel’s transformations and Mayuri Kurotsuchi’s Bankai do not cease to impress. Even the cover is awesome and not for the obvious reason.

OVERALL: A
A delightfully unexpected twist to this story arc, Volume 34 of Bleach turns the tables on what was beginning to become a one-sided beat down. The arrival of four Captains and their subordinates suddenly inject more excitement in these chapters as the battles – with one in particular – stealing the show. It’s about to get crazy in Hueco Mundo for sure.

Review copy provided by VIZ Media

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3 thoughts on “Bleach, Volume 34 – Manga Review

  1. Pingback: Breaking: Amazon pulling yaoi from Kindle store « MangaBlog

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