Mangaka: Tite Kubo
Ichigo is your average 15-year-old kid with an attitude. He lives with his dad and two sisters, helps out with his dad’s clinic, goes to school, hangs out with friends . . . oh, and he sees spirits. So maybe it’s only a matter of time until he gets drawn into the issues of the spirit world, but when it happens, it really happens! One night, a Soul Reaper girl by the name of Rukia Kuchiki happens to wander through his room tracking a hollow (a bad spirit), never suspecting that Ichigo would actually see or notice her. One thing leads to another, and Rukia finds herself unable to fight the hollow. In order to protect her and his own family, Ichigo takes her Soul Reaper powers on himself and becomes a Substitute Soul Reaper. From which point, things really start getting out of hand. . . .
Bleach is absolutely epic. One of my favorite manga, and indeed, one of my favorite stories in any medium. The plot is huge and complex, yet it maintains an impressive cohesiveness. I seriously don’t know how Kubo-sensei manages to make all the details work in a story that’s serialized in a magazine. Bleach is definitely a shounen story, with plenty of battle sequences, but that’s okay. It’s about the only manga in which I actually enjoy the battles; they’re honestly pretty cool. Regarding the characters, the cast of Bleach is astonishingly huge, yet each individual is crafted with paternal affection–even the antagonists and random side characters! (It’s one of the only stories that I can sit with my friends and have conversations about what this or that character would do in this or that random situation–and love it!) The art is also quite nice–clean and crisp and slightly funky. It’s fun to see Kubo-sensei’s style develop as the story progresses. So yeah, Bleach gets top recommendations all around.
Note: I know it’s pretty unusual for me to review a segment of a manga that’s still ongoing, but volumes 1-48 make a fairly complete story with a clean break before the next segment. I’ll cover the later volumes when the manga’s finished. But I couldn’t wait that long to review a manga I love this much!