Mania Grade: B+
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- Art Rating: A-
- Packaging Rating: B
- Text/Translatin Rating: B
- Age Rating: 13 & Up
- Released By: Viz Media
- MSRP: 7.99
- Pages: 200
- ISBN: 1-59116-924-0
- Size: B6
- Orientation: Right to Left
Bleach Vol. #09
By Jarred Pine
October 22, 2005
Release Date: October 04, 2005
© Viz Media
Translated by:Joe Yamazaki
Adapted by:What They Say
The race to save Rukia from the Soul Society is officially on, and Ichigo and company have come to their first roadblock, a very, very big roadblock. Jindanbô, the monstrous, fez-sporting gatekeeper hasn't let a single soul enter the Western Gate he guards in over 300 years, and he isn't about to change his mind about it just because Ichigo's crew wants to go through either. But, in a where-the-rubber-meets-the-road kind of way, Ichigo wasn't expecting his assault on the Soul Society to be a piece of cake either. After all, that'd just be boring.The Review
Ichigo and Co. have finally arrived at the Soul Society, kicking the story up a notch as a lot of intrigue and other developments start to swirl around.Packaging:
VIZ continues to use the original cover artwork from the Japanese tankoubon, featuring a very buxom Kukaku Shiba. I love the design for her character: the missing arm with the sword attached, bandages wrapped around the head, smoking firecracker bomb in mouth, the flowing and leg-revealing garb, and of course the large tracks of land. It’s a perfect example of Kubo-sensei’s sense of style and the color illustration looks great. There’s also another nice illustration of Ichigo and crew on the back cover.
The print reproduction is riddled with some of the same problems as before. There are a lot of instances where the dark black tones are speckled or faded. Some of the grey tone areas are not as clean as they should be.
Inside the book all the chapter headers with character artwork are present, which I admit are sometimes my favorite part of the book. Each chapter ends with little sketches from Kubo-sensei with some amusing commentary. Extras include two character profiles: Renji and Byakuya.Art:
I am definitely a big fan of Tite Kubo-sensei’s artwork and style. The art features a lot of thin, sharp-angled line work that uses nice etching for feature shading that looks great. It’s hard to describe Kubo’s quirky style and flashy characters, but it definitely oozes all over the pages here, not just in the chapters but in the chapter headers and inserts as well.
There’s a good amount of background detail, which is going to become a more important factor now in this new setting. I was really impressed with how improved the action artwork had become in this volume. The art during these panels is much cleaner and there is a solid sense of direction and choreographing of the action sequences. I also love the full-page panel illustrations.Text/SFX:
SFX are translated and retouched. I really don’t care for the retouch job at all with this title. The English text is quite ugly and obtrusive. I’m not quite sure if the original text for the SFX had a similar style, but even so it just feels like the SFX clash with the artwork.
The translation however is quite solid. Many of the Soul Society specific terms are left in Japanese with literal English translations sometimes included the first couple times. All the quirky humor comes across nicely.Contents (Watch out spoilers ahead):
As Ichigo and crew make their way into the Soul Society, they are stopped short from where the Soul Reapers live, called the Seireitei, by a large gate and an even larger guardian named Jindanbo. After Ichigo shows off his new found powers as a Soul Reaper in defeating the gargantuan gate keeper, Jindanbo opens up the way into the Seireitei which metaphorically summarizes my feelings of this volume and the story of Bleach so far. I have subsisted on enjoyable and quirky characters so far while Tite Kubo slowly built up the story behind the scenes into something that felt like it was going to break any moment. With this volume, just like Jindanbo opening the gates of Seireitei to 3rd Company Captain Soul Reaper Gin Ichimaru waiting on the other side, I can feel the story right on the verge of busting through and pouring over.
The characters have a new sense of purpose. Rukia’s execution draws near with conspiracies beginning to fly about her suspect incarceration, all while the Soul Reaper Captains are beginning to mobilize. The chemistry between Ichigo and the crew has never been tighter as they are really working well as a team and helping each other out. Also of interest is the social climate of the Rokungai, the slum areas surrounding the Seiteirei where the konpaku hide from the Soul Reaper bullies. They are separated from their families and assigned numbers, almost resembling a concentration camp of sorts for konpaku. It is an environment that definitely breeds hostility towards the Soul Reapers, which is evident in some of the konpaku. The intrigue is starting to build with this volume as there is so much more new information brought to the table to digest.
Even though the story is becoming a bit more serious, Kubo-sensei still sticks with his guns and infuses the pages once again with his bizarre and quirky sense of humor. Uryu’s bag of extra capes and Yoruichi’s flying head-butts are worth a good chuckle, but it’s Ganju Shiba and his group of boar-riding thugs that takes the cake. Yes, you read that correctly. Thugs riding boars. It doesn’t get anymore quintessential Kubo-sensei as that. Ganju Shiba is the younger brother of Kukaku Shiba, the buxom one-armed lady from the cover who is a fireworks master and not so discreetly hides a giant cannon in her home. After being stopped at the gate by Gin Ichimaru and alerting all the Soul Reapers of their presence, the plan now is to seek help in getting over the gates with Kukaku’s help.Comments
It is beginning to feel as though Bleach is about to bust open as the story kicks up a notch with this volume. Between the hostile social climate of the konpaku toward their Soul Reaper masters and the conspiracies swirling about over Rukia’s incarceration, the level of intrigue is really starting to rise. There is also a great chemistry between Ichigo and his crew that is quite enjoyable. Add in the loads of Kubo-sensei’s quirky humor, and this volume of Bleach shows why it is one of my favorite Shonen Jump titles at the moment.