Baron’s Lecture Full-Course – Ichigo “Strawberry” Kurosaki never asked for the ability to see ghosts – 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 the tortured spirits themselves find peace.
Ichigo, Chad and Uryu are determined to rescue Orihime from Aizen’s vile machinations. But though the Arrancars’ fortress is in sight, the would-be heroes must first pass Tres Cifras – the land of the disgraced Arrancars, who see destroying Ichigo and his friends as a way to redeem their honour!
Volume 28 of Tite Kubo’s hit manga, Bleach, continues the non-stop action by finishing off the fight that kind of reached its conclusion last volume, with new power levels available to both Uryu and Chad. Next it is on to the desolate white spirit desert environment that needs to be traversed in order to reach the gigantic Arrancar fortress, Huego Mundo. Of course this is a pretty hostile land as Ichigo and his travelling companions quickly find out, though at the same time they do encounter some rather reluctant allies in the process (and some not so reluctant ones too!).
Thanks to the last battle, the Arrancars are lying in wait for Ichigo and company, and at the same time their grip over the seized Orihime appears to strengthen. However, even before Ichigo gets to tackle with Aizen’s loyal Espadas, he and his party will first have to overcome the equally powerful disgraced Arrancars, the Privaron Espadas!
It’s the usual mix of over the top drama, action, extreme abilities and surprise reveals, all masterfully blended in with Kube’s signature silly humour to produce a thoroughly entertaining, easy reading and satisfying Shonen tale to lose one’s self in. In other words, all the basics that makes Bleach as big a hit as what it currently is.
In the same vein, Kube’s art is as action packed and stylized as always, portraying an excellent sense of emotion, speed and power to his visuals, with tight pencils and some really good frame layouts. The characters all look spectacular, even if a little angular and as always the action sequences come across really well.
All in all, Bleach volume 28 is as entertaining a read as the rest of the volumes before it, satisfying anyone looking for a nice action-packed, hero-centric story to sit down a lose a hour or two to!
Related Link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bleach_%28manga%29
The battle aboard the magic train between the severely underpowered Wolfina and Shackaboon continues as Wolfina tries to stop the vicious tempered lady with the gargantuan eating problem from stomping the encased Emilio to a bloody pulp.
However, even as this battle rages on, the Ring of Dead now living in a host body is not lying quite as dormant as some would maybe expect!
Meanwhile Gamma Akutabi continues his chase of the train in order to stop it and save the plucky reporter and her brother, though as events will turn out, he may not have to chase it after all – though he certainly will need to think up of something fast if he wants to save the hapless town of Alcantara!
As the main storyline begins to wrap itself up and the final battle plays itself out, gears shift as Tite moves to end off this last volume in the series as neatly as possible, introducing a host of new characters as well as a potential solution to Emilio’s condition, never mind opening up a few more mysteries and glimpses into the past in order to tantalise our tastebuds should he ever decide to return to his creation at some point on later in his already illustrious career.
As we all know by now, ZombiePowder first kicked off in 1999, but after only four volumes’ worth of material, Tite Kubo changed direction and instead kicked off the serialization of Bleach back in 2001, which obviously then shot to fame in a blink of the eye and alongside Naruto, became one of the most popular and eagerly followed Shonen manga pieces out there today.
ZombiePowder saw the end of the light of day with this final volume (which gets padded like all the previous volumes with a bonus Tite Kubo piece of work, entitled Bad Shield United,) but looking back over the four volumes you find that this really was an entertaining piece of work – short yes, but very indicative of what was still to come in terms of Tite’s work.
The story telling style remains the same, with some insane action sequences, larger than life characters with varied and unusual abilities, that same mixture of completely unexpected black humour or just plain slapstick silliness that he is famous for, and of course that bold, sketchy art style of his that emphasizes poses and characters to tell the action-packed story while only including the smallest amount of background detail that he can possible get away with.
Of course, Volume 4’s story does gear down quite a bit and is probably the least exciting of the four volumes as a whole, but Tite does go to great pains to wrap everything up quite neatly for us as the readers and in so doing, crafts an ending that leaves it open enough so that he can continue with the story sometime in the future should he so wish, or simply leave it as is without disappointing anyone really.
In terms of art, his sketchy angular work remains as enthralling as ever and he captures the character interactions perfectly as always. He does for some or other reason continue with that stupid idea of his of always only filling in one eye of a character wearing spectacles and of course remains as light as ever on anything background related, but as per usual his artwork works for this type of book perfectly.
So in summary, volume 4 of this short-lived tail contains everything that one enjoyed about the first three volumes and serves as the perfect (if a little hurried) wrap up of what in the end was a decent tail and more importantly, a great glimpse of what the now legendary mangaka Tite Kubo was able to do before he moved onto his record shattering Bleach!
In other words, only four volumes long and you still haven’t picked this one up for your collection? O.o
Related Link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zombiepowder
Can’t Kiss the Ring (of the Dead): A knife-thrower. A sharp-shooter. A martial artist with a metal hand. And now… a journalist?! Meet the newest member of Gamma Akutabi’s gang, the amazing Wolfina, as deadly with a camera as her friends are with a gun. Their goal is to find the Rings of the Dead… but only Wolfina knows the Rings’ true twisted nature firsthand, having seen them turn her brother into a mindless husk. Does the secret of eternal life now dwell in her brother’s body? And what kind of human vultures would pry the secrets from his remains?
Tite Kubo’s ZombiePower, the same mangaka that went on to create the hugely successful and popular title Bleach, continues its story about the seemingly invulnerable rogue and s-class villain with the metal hand, Gamma Akutabi and his quest to find the legendary Rings of the Dead with this volume 2 release. The story follows on directly from the first volume and sees the trio of unlikely partners in the process of stealing their first Ring of the Dead from a heavily guarded building, though taking the ring may actually prove to be more deadly than getting to it was in the first place!
Also, we get introduced to a new major cast member in the form of the spunky, vivacious young reporter Wolfina, who turns out to be harboring some pretty deep secrets, the least of which seems to be the actual location of another Ring of the Dead!
As with the last volume, the story is heavily action-orientated and Tite sets up some great action-packed encounters that features a lot of explosions and a fantastic mix of his ever over the top characters, both as villains and as protagonists. Gamma Akutabi’s character gets nicely expanded upon and in the process has a whole lot of new abilities briefly shown to us, tantalizing us just that little bit extra. As always, the heavy melodrama and motivations for character actions are present and similarly, the quirky and sometimes quite unexpected humorous moments litter the pages left, right and center, making for a smooth and quite enjoyable Shonen read.
Artistically Tite continues to throw his lanky posed characters at us and as we’ve come to expect from the master, his depiction of action sequences and ultimately “coolness”, are absolutely spot on. Of course, this does mean he still harbors that intense dislike for drawing backgrounds and so once again don’t expect too much in terms of background details. However, when it comes to characters his sharp and often untidy pencils capture emotion and tone perfectly and his clever use of sometimes dropping certain facial features or forcing in exaggerated elements works like an absolute charm.
As we’ve come to expect, character design remains a plus and we’re treated to some great larger than life characters, including the maniacal magician Balmunk who seems the perfect foil for Tite to cut loose against! It’s not polished, its not very detailed and there isn’t a great deal of background information to soak in, but it flows surprisingly smoothly and you’ll find yourself turning the one page after another as the book sucks you in and forces you to advance at its breakneck pace.
(And in case you still aren’t satisfied with the main storyline, the guys have seen fit to toss in a short from Tite, the very first one he drew in fact, entitled Ultra Unholy Hearted Machine, which goes a long way in showing just how Tite has since improved upon his craft).
ZombiePower is a fast-paced, action-packed read with some good laughs to be had, a fair bit of graphic violence to glance through and more importantly delivers a great little story that certainly seems to be building up a good head of steam. Of course, we all know that he never finished this particular series (after all, why would you want to go back if your next title made it as big as what it has), but it is still well worth picking up and paging through, even if it is just to get more of this manga master’s work!
Related Link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ZOMBIEPOWDER
Somewhere in the desert lies the world’s greatest treasure: the 12 Rings of the Dead, the only source of the mysterious substance “Zombie Powder,” which can raise the dead and give the living eternal life…
The Man with the Black Hand: Elwood was a knife-thrower caught in a life of crime until he met Gamma Akutabi, class “S” criminal, a man with a 6-foot chainsaw and a metal hand. Soon, Elwood is caught up in Gamma’s quest for the most precious objects in the world, the Rings that might give new life to Elwood’s sister… or make Gamma even harder to kill than he is already. But to get eternal life, they’ll have to put their own lives on the line… and look down the barrel of the gun of the only man who is Gamma’s equal…
ZombiePowder was the first manga title to spring from the hands of Tite Kubo, the man responsible for the worldwide smash hit phenomena known as Bleach. As mentioned above, the story revolves around the Rings of the Dead, 12 rings that supposedly have the power to grant eternal life to the living and raise the dead back to life. The main hero of the story is Gamma Akutabi, one of those bad-ass, long hair in a long coat with a bad attitude brawlers that happens to have black armour grafted to his left arm and also swings around a six foot long chainsaw sword!
This first volume introduces us to Gamma and his quest to find the rings and basically puts him in a whole lot of danger and propels us through an almost endless number of action-packed fight scenes. Along the way we get introduced to a kid that ends up following Gamma as well as his equally hard to kill partner, C.T. Smith.
As I mentioned this volume is pretty much one long action sequence with a few story plot scenes forced in just to let you know where we are and what is going on. There’s a little sprinkle of drama in the sequences around Elwood’s sister, but apart from that it is fight, fight, fight. If you are familiar with Bleach then you will recognize Kubo’s writing style instantly, the non-stop action, impossible cool lead characters and the silly little bits of humour that get dropped in every now and then. His writing is like that of a Hong Kong action flick and is as enjoyable, even if it isn’t going to leave you scratching your head and pondering the mysteries of love and the universe.
Artistically speaking, Tite Kubo is not the most polished of manga artists out there and a lot of his shots look rushed and feel incomplete. He doesn’t seem too fond of drawing backgrounds or even drawing two eyes on his characters at times! Still, his linework does convey a sense of great energy and his action sequences are fast-paced and flow very nicely, making it an absolute breeze to follow what is going on in the sequence. His character designs are all sharp, stylish and ultra cool and his artwork works well for this kind of genre. Of course he does make use of a lot of humour in his writing and his art mirrors this, often going for extremely humorously deformed facial expressions and caricatures.
ZombiePowder is not going to win any awards for writing or art, but it is an action-packed rollercoaster that is a fun read, will make you laugh and gives you a great look at the early Tite Kubo as he was just starting out in a career of manga. A word of warning though – don’t get too stuck into ZombiePowder because unfortunately it is one of those unfinished titles that just gets dropped by its creator – which perhaps isn’t all that bad a thing if you consider the piece he moved on to is none other than the legendary Bleach!
Just a note, there is a bit of violence in ZombiePowder and the occasional severed head or finger does tend to fly by every now and then.
Related Link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ZOMBIEPOWDER
Strawberry and the Soul Reapers: Ichigo Kurosaki has always been able to see ghosts, but this ability doesn’t change his life nearly as much as his close encounter with Rukia Kuchiki, a Soul Reaper and member of the mysterious Soul Society. While fighting a Hollow, an evil spirit that preys on humans who display psychic energy, Rukia attempts to lend Ichigo some of her powers so that he can save his family; but much to her surprise, Ichigo absorbs every last drop of her energy. Now a full-fledged Soul Reaper himself, Ichigo quickly learns that the world he inhabits is one full of dangerous spirits and, along with Rukia – who is slowly regaining her powers – it’s Ichigo’s job to protect the innocent from Hollows and help the spirits themselves find peace.
If Naruto is currently leading the pack in terms of anime popularity, then Bleach must surely be placed squarely in second place. Almost as famous as it ninja rival, Bleach tells the story of on Ichigo Kurosaki, a hard-headed, stubborn brawler with the heart of gold and a desire to do the right thing. Plus, the ability to see spirits comes in pretty handy when he becomes inadvertently sucked into the world of the Soul Reapers or Shinigamis, beings responsible for maintaining the order in the spirit world.
Bleach was first serialized in 2001 and volume 1 introduces us to our orange haired protagonist and his head-on collision with the Soul Society, more specifically with that of Soul Reaper Rukia Kuchiki as she enters our world to combat a Hollow that has made its vile appearance in our plain of existence, specifically targeting a close friend of Ichigo. It wraps up this first tale before teasing us with the beginnings of a second, leaving us panting for more in anticipation of the second volume.
Tite Kubo is both the writer and artist on this title, and as Bleach is primarily a Shonen story, his writing follows this well established sort of story pattern. That said, Bleach’s unique setting, unique monsters and badass attitude makes for an intriguing read and the heavy doses of action sequences are enough to get any boy’s blood pumping. The story tends to lean to the dramatic side of things, but this is tempered with lots of humour, particularly in the form of the interactions that take place between Ichigo and his dad and Ichigo and Rukia.
The writing isn’t going to win any awards for drama, intrigue or depth, but there are enough emotions, humour and action flowing through it to make it an instant hit.
On the artistic side of things, Kubo certainly isn’t an artist with the cleanest of lines, and sometimes his heads and facial expressions don’t seem to come out quite right, but he does have a flair for style and design, evident in the numerous action shots and monsters he crams into the pages.
His drawings are sometimes simple but extremely expressive which makes it easy to pick up on the various emotions and tones of the book and indeed, makes for a thoroughly enjoyable and immersive read. Just note that he does seem to take quite a few shortcuts when it comes to backgrounds, so don’t expect too much on that front.
Overall Bleach is a thoroughly enjoyable, funny and action-packed adventure that will excite any teenage boy (or young at heart adult) and certainly should not be missed. Its popularity speaks for itself – Bleach is simply something you can’t miss out on!
Related link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bleach_%28manga%29