Bleach Vol. #03 (

By:Jarred Pine
Review Date: Monday, March 14, 2005
Release Date: Wednesday, September 01, 2004

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

What They Say
Ichigo Kurosaki was a little boy when his mother passed away. One rainy day, Ichigo, who's ability to see the undead is a blessing and a curse, frantically tried to stop a young girl from drowning in a nearby river. His Mother Masaki ran after them, frantically trying to rescue her only son. Then everything went black, and Ichigo awoke only to discover his mother dead and the little girl gone. It's the anniversary of Masaki's death, and the entire Kurosaki clan, along with former Soul Reaper Rukia Kuchiki, head to the cemetery to pay their respects to Masaki. Sleeping demons rarely ever stay still and pretty soon Ichigo confronts the Grand Fisher, the Hollow that may be responsible for his mother's demise. This and more in the latest, action-packed volume of Tite Kubo's manga smash-hit BLEACH.

The Review
For the front cover we get the JP cover artwork that features Orihime laying down and kicking her feet up. The Orihime fan boys will definitely enjoy this cover. The English logo is the same as the JP logo in the same position at the top. The Shonen Jump label is present in small text at the bottom right along with the creator name. The back cover has the full color version of one of the chapter headers from volume 2, which features Ichigo and company kicking back on a white sofa sporting their jumpsuits. Inside there is the artwork from the JP sleeve along with a few words from Kubo about seasons in his manga, and how he wishes everyone would read this volume on a rainy night. For extras we get a couple character profiles of Isshin and Tatsuki that include original character sketches. The print job is nicely done and the tones are dark, and in fact this is the best looking print job so far with this series. We also get the original chapter headers which feature some great character art.

I found the character designs in this volume to be a bit cleaner than the previous two. It’s very subtle but overall I thought the artwork was a bit more refined. Kubo does a great job with using the light and dark tones to complement each other and make characters pop out as well as setting certain moods for the reader. The content of this volume is much darker than previous volumes and I thought the panel work help heightened the overall moody feeling, especially during the explanation of Ichigo’s past. There’s only one Hollow in this volume and I’m still just not impressed with the designs, although I liked the “bait” concept. The action artwork continues to get better, but the strength of the action scenes is in how the panels are laid out to create a clear understanding of what is happening.

The SFX are translated and retouched. I did notice that in this volume there is less emphasis on SFX, so the retouch didn’t feel as invasive.

The translation is done very well for this volume. There is a lot of narrative that tells the story of Ichigo’s past and it really helps bring out the seriousness and horror of his back story. I also really enjoyed how Tatsuki’s dialogue came out. It is through her words that we learn about what happened to Ichigo, and it is quite moving. Rukia’s dialogue continues to impress me the most as the translation/adaptation crew really have done a fantastic job at bringing out her personality through her speech.

Contents (Watch out spoilers ahead):
June 17th is a day that the Kurosaki family will never forget, and it’s the day that wiped the smile of Ichigo’s face. At the beginning of the book, Kubo asks his readers if they could read this volume on a rainy night, which I believe is the perfect way to enjoy this part of the story.

It’s the anniversary of Masaki Kurosaki’s death and the Kurosaki family makes its yearly visit to her grave to have fun and have a day of remembrance. This day is especially hard on Ichigo, since he feels he was responsible for his mother’s death as she was killed right before his eyes while he couldn’t do anything about it. It’s because of this that Ichigo feels so strongly about protecting others, especially Yuzu and Karin. However, on this anniversary day Ichigo must confront his dark past when a Hollow shows up at the cemetery with some answers about what happened on that rainy night 6 years ago.

I found the story in this volume to be extremely moving. The details of Masaki’s death are told through the voice of Tatsuki, as she is explaining it all to Orihime. They way it is presented gave me the feeling of a ghost story or something quite horrifying. The storyline bounces between Tatsuki’s telling and Ichigo’s battle with the Hollow at the cemetery. It’s the first time where I actually felt suspense during a battle with the Hollow, as I finally understood Ichigo’s motivations. He wants revenge for his mother’s death all while protecting the lives of his family and friends. He also is a confused boy who thinks his family should be mad at him, but some really consoling words from Isshin help bring everything into perspective for Ichigo. The scene with Ichigo and his father is really touching, and it’s really the first time that Isshin is serious and not being his usually court jester self. My only complaints with this volume would be that the fight with the Hollow lasted a bit too long and I would have preferred a bit more character building with the other family members.

This volume concludes the introduction of Ichigo Kurosaki and I thought it did a fantastic job. Ichigo has gone from the simple bad-attitude punk in the first volume, to a more complex, conflicted, multi-dimensional character that can now I can relate with. In fact, even Orihime now feels a special bond with Ichigo after learning about his past and how they share the similar feelings of loss. There is still enough humor and quirkiness in this volume (see Kon and Isshin’s antics) to keep things from getting to morose, but the tone for this volume is more serious than the others so far. Very recommended.

Mania Grade: A-
Art Rating: A-
Packaging Rating: A-
Text/Translatin Rating: A-
Age Rating: 13 & Up
Released By: Viz Media
MSRP: 7.95
Pages: 190
ISBN: 1-59116-443-5
Size: B6
Orientation: Right to Left