Bleach Vol. #08 (Mania.com)

By:Jarred Pine
Review Date: Thursday, September 08, 2005
Release Date: Tuesday, August 02, 2005



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

What They Say
Ichigo knows that to retrieve Rukia from the Soul Society, he'll have to enter that world himself. But his fight with Rukia's brother Byakuya showed, in no uncertain terms, that Ichigo still has a great deal of rigorous study and training ahead of him. Deep beneath Kisuke's Urahara Shoten, Ichigo practices his fighting and hones his spiritual energies, and now he must face the most daunting challenge of all: prevent his Chain of Fate from consuming itself, or be forever transformed into a soul-devouring Hollow!

The Review
This volumes serves as the transition between story arcs, which Kubo keeps entertaining by filling it with his oddball humor and great sense of style.

Packaging:
Viz continues to use the original Japanese tankubon cover art for this volume. Even though most of the artwork is black, the coloring looks great. The English logo is pretty much identical to the original, only located at the top of the book. There is also more character illustrations of the back cover. Extras include a character popularity poll and another installment of “Radio-Kon Baby!”, this time with the guest being Tatsuki.

The print job on this volume is all over the place, in fact the print job for this title has been erratic across all the volumes so far. There are quite a few instances bleeding, fading, blurred text, but then a good chunk of the book will look quite sharp.

Art:
Kubo sense of style and flashy panel work is definitely a selling point for me with this title. The panels have some very interesting perspectives and great direction of certain sequences that add to the coolness factor. The character designs are creative and extremely stylish, featuring a nice blend of tone and strong angled line work with great etching for shading. I’m also a big sucker for the chapter headers which always featuring quirky, yet sometimes beautiful, artwork. I still don’t think Kubo has quite mastered the action artwork though. At times the action panels can feel quite messy and it was hard to determine just what was happening.

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, with many instances of boxing. 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 is great, reading quite clearly and keeping the right terms surrounding the Soul Society and Soul Reapers in Japanese. I really enjoyed the tone with which Kisuke’s dialogue is written, as it very much fits his personality.

Contents (Watch out spoilers ahead):
Ichigo Kurosaki continues his rigorous training with Kisuke underneath Urahara Shoten, almost turning into a full Hollow until he finally finds his locked up Soul Reaper powers within himself. However, his new found powers are worthless unless he can manifest his sword by figuring out its name. Helping Ichigo through his training, from somewhere deep inside his mind and/or body, is a man dressed in black. No, it’s not Johnny Cash, but is the representation of the sword that Ichigo must call out, Zangetsu. Once unleashed, the transformation into Soul Reaper is complete, and with the KIsuke’s help, Ichigo, Orihime, Chad, and Uryu can now go to the Soul Society to help protect Rukia.

This volume is the standard training/transition period between story arcs that is found in most shounen manga of this style. The training for Ichigo is less about crafting one’s skill and more about himself learning to conquer his fears and other feelings blocking his Soul Reaper powers. Throughout the training, Kubo injects his odd sense of humor and flashy style enough to keep the events entertaining while also keeping the pace brisk. There’s nothing more frustrating than being stuck in a training arc for volumes at a time, waiting for the good stuff to happen, so I’m glad Kubo wrapped things up at the halfway point in this volume.

The quirky humor is still definitely in place, which for me is a strong point of this title. Orihime’s and Chad’s training with Yoruichi, the cat, are good for a few laughs, and there are some nice jokes surrounding Uryu’s new getup. And you got to love Kisuke’s horror clichéd method of delivering the message for the troops to gather. Kubo continues to bring his creative weirdness to the story to keep things lively and fresh.

Throughout the volume are little bits of information and other happenings that help keep the reader engaged, instead of flipping pages in order to hurry until the good parts. The bit with Byakuya in the Soul Society speaking with other Captains was particularly interesting, giving a flash of things to come as well as possible power struggles internally within the organization. There is also a couple nice hints about Kisuke’s past and how is able to understand everything about Soul Reapers and the Soul Society. He is a character that I definitely want to know more about, as his mysterious nature and shrouded past intrigues me.

Before the crew takes off for the Soul Society, they get to have a few moments with family and friends for fireworks on August 1st. It’s a simple moment, but seeing everyone together and having a good time reminds the characters about why they are heading out on this dangerous mission.

Comments
Kubo does a good job at taking the unavoidable shounen training cliché, a technique used to transition from one story arc to the next and forcing characters to develop, and making it an enjoyable experience without ever feeling like the pace is dragging its feet. There really is not too much development of the characters, Ichigo does supposedly confront his fears and accepts being a Soul Reaper, but Kubo injects plenty of his strange sense of humor and flashy style into the story to make it entertaining. Kubo also keeps things engaging by throwing in new bits of information of things to come, as well as offering hints to start clearing away the fog of mystery surrounding some characters.

Overall not the strongest of volumes in this series, but I like the effort taken to make this part of the story take on its own personality and keeping the pace brisk, in what could have been a long, boring transition.



Mania Grade: B
Art Rating: B+
Packaging Rating: B-
Text/Translatin Rating: B
Age Rating: 13 & Up
Released By: Viz Media
MSRP: 7.95
Pages: 200
ISBN: 1-59116-872-4
Size: B6
Orientation: Right to Left