Story/Art: Tite Kubo
What They Say:
Ichigo Kurosaki never asked for the ability to see ghost – he was born with the gift. When his family is attacked by a Hollow- a malevolent lost soul – Ichigo becomes a Soul Reaper, dedicating his life to protecting the innocent and helping tortured spirits themselves find peace.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers):
Though the main element going on with this arc at the moment is the fight against Pernida, it wouldn’t be manga without taking the time to do some fleshing out of the supporting cast material. The tidbits that we’ve gotten for Nemuri so far have been decent yet you knew it was just scratching the surface of who she is and how she defines herself. Her character is one that is fairly straightforward overall as everything she’s about is in service to Mayuri and protecting and serving him. So it was little surprise that she’d step up in a big way in this fight to protect him while also going for the secondary route of showing him more about herself, since she was designed to grow as a Soul Reaper.
So giving over most of this to flashback material is what I expected and it actually works better than I thought it would – mostly because I can imagine this taking up an entire anime episode as opposed to just a few minutes worth of reading it. Seeing Mayuri as a young child and working in the labs, understanding her position, and then gaining more and more knowledge about the previous “incarnations” of her is the kind of super creepy science stuff that works well even if it is utterly and completely predictable. What we get with Mayuri is an understanding of the sacrifices that were made prior to her, both by those that were growing as previous “revisions” and from Mayuri in his quest to create a Soul Reaper, and you see how she takes it as something that is a huge positive, reinforcing her desire to help. It doesn’t go in the usual denial of creator and fighting back against him.
Understanding that background and applying it to the present, it’s definitely something that works well as we see how she’s pushing her body to just under the limit of what it can sustain in order to achieve her two main tracks in life. The first being is that she can protect Mayuri while dealing with Pernida as that’s starting to shape up in some really dangerous looking ways. But it also lets Mayuri show the kind of growth that she can achieve under pressure, which is again in service to Mayuri and his dreams. Mayuri’s not your usual type in that he’ll show emotion in all of this, though he has his moments, but the scenes play out well to show just how invested he is in her, and proud of her, in many ways for what she’s accomplished compared to the prior incarnations. It’s a solid bit of bonding in a familiar if awkward way that lets everyone come out well.
Bleach hits a familiar point here where it wants to do more backstory and character exposition and it’s not a shock at all. While I never read past the first volume of the manga when it was first released I did watch the entire anime run and it adapted a lot of things pretty much spot on. What helps here is that Nemuri’s background is essentially captured in the space of a chapter here as related to the fight at hand and it doesn’t really need more exposition to be done beyond this. It serves its point, is over relatively quickly, and pushes us into an escalation of the fight. Kubo does a solid job in presenting this since we get some decent layouts for the science-y side of things and the character interactions there, though again it continues to be generally weak on backgrounds and really setting us to feel like we’re in a place worth remembering on some level.
Age Rating: 13+
Released By: Viz Media via Weekly Shonen Jump’s ComiXology Release
Release Date: September 14th, 2015