+ Evolving art style
First few volumes are slow
3.5 out of 5
Bleach Manga Review
Written by: Karthon
Kurosaki Ichigo is a high school student with a secret. He has the ability to see ghosts that haven't risen to heaven yet. One day a mysterious girl appears in his bedroom. Her name is Kuchiki Rukia, a shinigami (god of death). She explains that she comes from a place called Soul Society and that her job is to defeat "hollows."
When a person dies, his/her spirit goes up to heaven. However, if the spirit has a strong attachment to something, that spirit will remain on earth. If the spirit is evil, its evil will slowly grow until the spirit is consumed and all that remains is a monster that lives to eat other spirits (namely a "hollow").
At that moment, a hollow attacks Ichigo's house and wounds his father and sisters. Rukia attempts to fight it off but is knocked aside. Their only hope is for Ichigo to become a shinigami in her place, as her powers are far too weakened at the moment. And so Rukia stabs Ichigo, infusing him with her abilities and turning him into a shinigami. It soon becomes apparent, that Ichigo has amazing latent powers which were released when he became a shinigami. But are Ichigo's newfound powers sufficient to defeat the enemies he never even knew existed? And will he (and Rukia because she's been temporarily drained of her power) be able to lead double lives as shinigami and as humans?
The first time I read Bleach I hated it. The first 40 or so chapters cover various short stories involving Ichigo fighting various hollows in classic "good-guy vs. bad-guy" confrontations. After having set it aside for nearly a year, I came back to it and forced myself to read past the point where I had previously stopped. I won't spoil it for you, but soon after that point, the first major story arc began. It was still comprised of Ichigo (and friends) versus various opponents but there was an overarching storyline, with a bit of intrigue and backstabbing involved. It also spent the time to elaborate on many of the questions that surrounded the first 40 chapters, both about Ichigo's new found powers and Rukia's past.
The art style for this manga evolves a lot. The characters are always somewhat detailed, although they change appearance (to look more mature) as the manga progresses. The backgrounds are mostly non-existent, outside of a few two-page spreads. However this does allow one to concentrate more closely on the battles themselves, which is fine. Overall, I enjoy this series, although I do fault it for taking so long to get off the ground. If you're looking for a popular Shounen manga with super-powered people fighting supernatural creatures, I'd suggest you try out Bleach. But just be warned, the first few volumes are full of rather disjoint stories, as opposed to the more coherent later volumes.
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