Bleach Vol. #11 -

Anime/Manga Reviews

Mania Grade: A-

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  • Art Rating: A-
  • Packaging Rating: B
  • Text/Translatin Rating: B
  • Age Rating: 12 & Up
  • Released By: Viz Media
  • MSRP: 7.99
  • Pages: 208
  • ISBN: 1-4215-0271-2
  • Size: B6
  • Orientation: Right to Left

Bleach Vol. #11

By Jarred Pine     February 21, 2006
Release Date: February 07, 2006

Bleach Vol.#11
© Viz Media

Creative Talent
Writer/Artist:Tite Kubo
Translated by:Joe Yamazaki
Adapted by:

What They Say
Ichigo successfully defeats Ikkaku of the Eleventh Company and is rewarded with a valuable piece of information - the location of where Rukia is being detained as she awaits execution. However, Ichigo's companion, the pyrotechnics-wielding Ganju, is having a much harder time with his Soul Reaper opponent. Meanwhile, Orihime and Uryű confront the younger brother of the gargantuan gatekeeper whom Ichigo defeated a little while ago. It's time for Uryű to put all his training to the test and prove to everyone (and himself) how much more powerful he has become.

The Review
The action is getting more intense and the revelations are starting to drop in this eleventh installment of Tite Kubo’s Bleach, easily one of the best shounen titles available in English.

VIZ continues to use the original cover artwork from the Japanese tankoubon, this time featuring Renji Abarai. Eleven volumes now and still no repeated character on the cover! One of those little things I like about this title. There is also a small color illustration on the back cover, which features some Bleach characters in their “street clothing”. The colors on the cover look very sharp and bright. No color plates inside though, but there weren’t any color pages to be printed in this volume in the first place.

The print reproduction still has its issues, a little dark and some moiré tones in places, but the lines do look sharp. There are some smudging issues with the text bubbles. 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 Tite Kubo, which are always good for a couple laughs. No extras this time around, just a one-page preview for the next volume.

I continue to just be enamored with Tite Kubo’s art style. There is just so much energy and creativity oozing out of his artwork with his own particular twist on things. The angled character artwork might not be the most impressive, although I love the etched shading on the facial features, but his characters have personalities and oddities all described in those designs. The action sequences are very well done this time around, not so much the actual art but how Kubo lays out the scenes with big payoff panels and interesting perspectives. Being a weekly Jump title, there is not a lot of background art as there is just a lot of action going on here.

SFX are translated and retouched. The new SFX are still horribly cluttered and garish, but I understand that most likely they were the same originally. I do appreciate a few of the new SFX trying to mimic the brush strokes. I do very much enjoy the translation and adaptation jobs done here. Most of the proper or cultural specific terms regarding the Seireitei and Zanpakuto remain in romanji with accompanying English literal translations in parenthesis. The dialogue also feels quite appropriate for each of the characters.

Contents (Watch out spoilers ahead):
Tite Kubo knows exactly what he’s doing. While you are simply sitting there enjoying the next battle between some Nth Seat Soul Reaper and one of Ichigo’s crew, he’s working on something that will take you by surprise later on. You’ll get all safe and relaxed, enjoying the stylishly drawn action moments and laughing at the goofy bits of humor, but then Kubo will ratchet it up a notch with an even bigger battle. Finally, once you are getting all worked up wondering if Ichigo is going to make it, Kubo drops the hammer and leaves you gasping for more. How was he able to manipulate you so easily? Let’s examine the evidence shall we.

During the first six chapters of this 11th volume, Ichigo and crew continue their way through the Seireitei while split up in pairs, each pair taking on a new Soul Reaper while trying to reunite with each other. The battles are entertaining with Kubo’s exciting illustrations and have a good amount of that quirky humor delivered at just the right moments. We also see how some of the crew has grown in strength. Ganju was the only one whose strength was uncertain, but watching him throw around firecrackers and smoke bombs like a drunken redneck on the Fourth of July is quite a riot. The boy has skills and a sense of humor. Uryű shows off the results of his isolated training, rescuing Orihime from a Soul Reaper attack and making quite the impression on her. That’s all well and good, but when do I get to see Orihime bust out with some of her mad barrette fairy action? And when Ichigo and Ganju find themselves in a bind, Chad shows up with his Arm of Badass-ness to take down a few Soul Reapers in one blow. It’s too bad that he missed Ichigo and Ganju and now they continue on still separated from each other.

At this point, everything is progressing just fine, but nothing truly exciting is happening yet. After receiving some guidance through the Seireitei from a weak, low-seated Soul Reaper who cleans out Rukia’s cell, Ichigo gets to have his big showdown and rematch with Renji. For three chapters, Renji and Ichigo duke it out in full force and woo-boy, it’s a fun one. Lots of momentum shifts, explosive action, and nice direction from Kubo that makes the reader feel those “klang”-ing Zanpakuto. It now becomes a fight where Ichigo must no longer fight out of fear, but find his resolve. It’s kill or be killed! There are also some interesting movements back in the Soul Society amongst the other Soul Reapers, some who have noticed Renji’s absence, but nothing really concrete is happening yet. Just another mystery Kubo is building, I’m sure.

So now we are feeling pretty good as the battle has hit its peak and now it is time to relax while we move on to the next stage, right? Wrong. Tite Kubo saves the best for last here by presenting some new information through Renji that changes a lot of the character relationships and dynamics. It is not a huge, world shattering revelation, but it was a great way to end the volume on a huge cliffhanger that left me thinking about previous interactions between certain characters. I also now see a few characters in a different light than I did before. And of course, Kubo did all this in the last chapter of the book so I can’t even really talk about it because I don’t want to spoil the big moment for anyone else. So we are now left with are pulse up, jaws wide open, excitement level raised, and thirsty for the next volume. Nice work, Tite Kubo. Nice work indeed.

Oh Tite Kubo, you did it to me again. For the first 9 out of 10 chapters in this volume, you lowered my defenses by simply presenting some more battles between Soul Reapers and Ichigo’s crew. Sure, there are some entertaining battles and we get to see the growth in strength in Uryű, Chad, and Ichigo, but I still found myself waiting for something big to drop to take this story to the next level.

Then you gave me the last chapter: Chapter #98, “A Star And A Stray Dog”. After finishing the book, my whole opinion on this volume changed; thoughts about certain characters changed, relationships and dynamics changed, and the future now is wide open with excitement. And now I can’t very well explain to the readers of this review exactly why my grade jumped a couple levels, because of one single chapter, without spoiling the entire moment for everyone else. You got me to jump up out of my chair and left my jaw dropped. You left me hungry to have my hands on the next volume, which in my opinion is a big success. You got me Tite Kubo, you got me good.


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