These mini musings are meant to be quick reviews of manga of ongoing series, mostly titles I follow on a regular basis and don’t really need the full analysis I usually give a volume. Enjoy. Reviews after the cut.
Bleach Volume 20
by Tite Kubo
Publisher: Viz Media
Age Ratig: Teen
Genre: Action, Supernatural
As the final volume of the Soul Society Arc, this is a pretty thick volume, but it needs to be! The whole volume is about Aizen explaining how he manipulated the entire Soul Society to his own ends. Previously portrayed as a kind and caring Captain, he rips the mask away, showing the cold and cruel machinations he used, all the while with a bemused smile.
Even though there is some action with Captains, the Court Guard, and Ichigo and Renji trying to stop him, this volume is all about tying up the last 178 chapters, right to the beginning when Rukia gave her powers to Ichigo, to her arrest and return to the Soul Society, Ichigo’s attempt to rescue her, and the complete manipulation of the Soul Society’s hierarchy. It seems there’s nothing that Aizen didn’t think of, and he played everyone. Ties that we have seen between characters through the series so far in the Soul Society, don’t just get cut, but are shattered; Gin and Rangiku, Tosen and Komamura, Aizen’s complete betrayal of everyone. Kubo-sensei shows the pain of these betrayals so well, from Komamura’s rage, to Rangiku’s shock, that you can practically feel it yourself. This volume has so much going on, that it needs at least two read throughs to get it all. This was an excellent volume to tie up so many strings that have been dangling while leaving just enough to prepare for the next storyline that will start in volume 21.
Black Cat Volume 9
By Kentaro Yabuki
Publisher: Viz Media
Age Rating: Teen
The fight between Creed and the Numbers that started in volume 8 continues here. Creed shows off his secret weapon, nanotechnology and the Numbers Nizer, Jenos and Beluga fight to their final breath to stop him. Train makes an appearance in the battle, but only long enough to rescue Rinslet. He refuses Creed’s offer to fight. This sends Creed into an uncontrollable frenzy, and brings down the castle. The Apostles escape without their leader, while two Apostles, Charden and Kyoko desert the group.
This volume give us a little more insight into the Numbers and Creed’s time with them. Nizer has a vendetta against Creed for killing the former Number X, and he is determined to complete his revenge, even at the cost of his own life. We also see how unstable Creed is, as he goes berserk when Train once again refuses to join Creed, and then won’t even fight him. Train also shows some amazing insight (unusual for him) in seeing Sephiria’s attempt to manipulate him into fighting Creed. This volume doesn’t move along much in story, but it seems to be setting up for the gives a lot of good character insight on all sides.