Story/Art: Tite Kubo
What They Say:
Ichigo Kurosaki never asked for the ability to see ghost – he was born with the gift. When his family is attacked by a Hollow- a malevolent lost soul – Ichigo becomes a Soul Reaper, dedicating his life to protecting the innocent and helping tortured spirits themselves find peace.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers):
When you have as expansive a cast as you have with Bleach it doesn’t take much going on to lose sight of your main cast. Of course, Bleach excels at running a lot of subplots at the same time and spreading itself out so that it can go on for awhile, making it a double-edged sword depending on situation and characters of interest. This chapter does continue its focus on both Lille and Shunsui, which is a big plus, but it also dips us back to Ichigo himself and a few others briefly. Having only really reconnected with the manga less than ten chapters ago it certainly feels like forever for me since I really saw Ichigo, as my last real time wsa with the end of the anime. So getting something new with the character is pleasant, even if only briefly.
Getting a little prologue with Ichigo is definitely nicely done as we get him running about to his next encounter only to end up stumbling across someone else from the other said. Owing to good manners, he’s introduced as Askin Nakk le Vaar, who had apparently faced off (and defeated) Grimmjow recently. That certainly adds an air of unease to Ichigo since that means there’s definitely some power involved here, but all of that has to get shunted to the side as the nature of the area is suddenly changing. This is pretty nicely done since it has to convey the atmosphere as the spiritual pressure increases and there’s a dark sense about things that comes from Shunsui’s bankai power. Ichigo knows what it is and that’s a huge, huge, red flag as to what’s going on elsewhere and just how high the stakes are.
The bulk of the chapter is focused on what Shunsui and Lille are going through as the two continue to face off. We’ve seen things being pushed back against Shunsui while knowing that he’s likely just getting things in place for what he wants to do. And with his bankai in full effect we get to see that kind of pressure and how it seemingly doesn’t have any impact on Lille, which makes Lille even more confident and cockier. But seeing the truth of what Shunsui’s able to do and the nature of his power makes for a really solid turning point in the battle between them. There’s some really nicely laid out pages here that sets the tone well with the backgrounds making it feel more a part of things, especially since of the scale aspects with how Lille’s attacks work. It’s certainly not as richly detailed as it could be but it definitely clicks well when combined with what we get from Ichigo’s smaller sequence.
While I enjoyed this installment just for reconnecting with Ichigo and getting a few others gracing the panels ever so briefly, the main attraction is definitely still all about the Shunsui and Lille fight. With it having shifted away from exposition and rules to actual encounters it’s definitely moving well and fast here with a quick scaling up of who can do what. It’s no surprise to see Lille believing he has the upper hand based on his background and knowledge of his own abilities, but the discounting of things like the bankai – which he admits he has no knowledge of its abilities – is just a dangerously foolish move. There’s a good sense of style about this installment, helped by my own happiness at seeing more backgrounds or stage settings at least, but a lot of what drives it is just Shunsui feeling like he’s right at that tipping point with just being done with all of this.
Age Rating: 13+
Released By: Viz Media via Weekly Shonen Jump’s ComiXology Release
Release Date: October 26th, 2015