Book Review: Bleach Vol. 01 The Death and The Strawberry by Tite Kubo

Finally I get to write my first book review on this blog. While I love reading, the time I have for it is rare. Manga has been one of my greatest loves since I was about 13-years-old. I’ll tell you how I came to love manga another day. For now, let me tell you about the first volume of Bleach, an anime I have been a fan of for quite a while. This is, however, the first time I have picked up the manga.

If you are not familiar with the anime or the Manga, Bleach is about 15-year-old high school student Ichigo Kurosaki. Ever since he can remember, he’s been able to see ghosts. Unbeknownst to him, this is a result of his unusually high spiritual pressure. He is a rarity among mankind. This atypical spiritual pressure eventually leads the soul reaper, Rukia Kuchiki to investigate. Unfortunately, a hollow also comes to investigate, attracted by the same spiritual pressure. Hollows are lost, fallen souls who consume the souls of the living and the dead who have not yet passed on. Their name suits them as hollows consume in order to fill the void caused by their loneliness and grief. Sometimes, hollows seek out specific prey because of their high spiritual pressure.

In The Death and The Strawberry, Ichigo and Rukia’s first meeting is interrupted when a hollow approaches. Rukia rushes into action and Ichicgo, upon seeing his family attacked by the hollow, follows her. His desperate attempt gets in the soul reaper’s way, gravely injuring her. The only choice left is for her to impale Ichigo with her Zanpakutō, a soul reaper’s sword. This action will transfer some of Rukia’s powers to Ichigo, allowing him to face the hollow before it kills them all.

The plan is more than a success. Ichigo’s power is so strong, that he accidentally sucks all of Rukia’s powers into him. Until her powers return, Ichigo is charged with protecting the community from hollows. This is a responsibility that Ichigo is hesitant to take at first, but his heart is too kind. By that I mean that he’s an obnoxious 15-year-old who could care less about anyone, or so he would like everyone to think. He puts off a tough guy persona, but I think he’s a softy at heart.

Throughout the book, Ichigo begins his struggle to balance life as a high school student and life as a soul reaper. He encounters other hollows and sees their monstrous potential first hand. The volume leaves off with a cliffhanger involving one of Ichigo’s close friends.

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I know the book is always better, but when it comes to Bleach, the manga exist on another platform of awesomeness the anime can never reach. As always, images are far more detailed than they are in the manga. This is seen in the very beginning, specifically this image from page 15. In the anime, the ghost looks like any other little girl, but the ghost in the manga retains the injuries that killed her.

Capture
Source: mangahit.com

The other difference I noticed was the banter between the Ichigo and Rukia. I had to laugh out loud when Ichigo had Rukia follow him to a part of his school where no one could eavesdrop on their conversation. While following, Rukia says (in a manner considered rude in Japanese) “Such a secluded place. What’s on your mind, big boy?” I had to laugh out loud. In my head, Rukia was trying to use a ‘sexy’ voice when she said big boy just to poke fun at Ichigo. It’s completely in character and just a bit more suggestive than the anime would typically be (at least the English anime). Her games work, because Ichigo exclaims, clearly embarrassed “Don’t say stuff like that, it’s disgusting.

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I already knew I like the anime, although I had only seen the first couple seasons. It wasn’t until recently that I started watching the anime again to see what I had missed. What I apparently missed was a lot of filler. It got so bad that I started skipping every filler episode. Even in animated form, the difference in story quality is painfully obvious. I picked up the manga from the library in a desperate attempt to prove that the cannon story was the great tale I knew it to be. This volume did not disappoint. Look forward to the review for volume 2 soon.

Rating: 5 Stars

Kubo, Tite. Bleach, Vol. 01: The Death and The Strawberry. San Francisco, CA: VIZ Media LLC, 2004. 
Print.
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