Article first published as Manga Review: Bleach Volume Four by Tite Kubo on Blogcritics.
Bleach Volume Four is a manga by Tite Kubo, and it was released in North America by Viz Media on its Shonen Jump imprint in 2004. The series is rated “T” for teens; from what I’ve read so far, I would agree with this rating.
15-year-old Ichigo Kurosaki is the main character of Bleach, and he has the ability to see ghosts. After witnessing a girl attacking a strange creature in his neighborhood, the girl makes an appearance in his room one night. The girl says she’s a Soul Reaper, and is surprised that Ichigo can see her. A creature called a Hollow appears and terrorizes Ichigo’s father and sisters.
The Soul Reaper, who introduces herself as Rukia Kuchiki, is injured while she tries to protect Ichigo. When things look their bleakest, Rukia says she will transfer some of her powers to Ichigo so he can protect his family. However, Ichigo unintentionally absorbs all of Rukia’s power, and he becomes a Soul Reaper. With this new power, Ichigo is able to destroy the creature. Because Rukia has lost her powers, she has to pose as an exchange student at Ichigo’s school while she’s in an artificial body.
The previous three volumes of Bleach introduced several of Ichigo’s classmates, including Orihime, Tatsuki, Mizuiro, Chad, and Keigo. The “mod soul” Kon is also introduced, and he is usually seen as a stuffed animal.
I saw some of the Bleach anime series before reading this volume, so I knew exactly what to expect. The first story in Volume Four focuses on Kon, and it’s rather light hearted and humorous. I saw this story in the anime, and I thought the original manga telling was just as amusing as the anime telling of this story.
The bulk of this volume focuses on Don Kanonji, the spiritualist who has an extremely popular television show. Ichigo can’t stand the show, although most of his friends and family seem to love it. On the show, Kanonji announces he is coming to Ichigo’s town, where there’s supposed to be a spirit in an abandoned hospital. Ichigo accompanies his family to the hospital for the broadcast, and he ends up getting in the middle of the action.
The end of the volume starts a new story arc, which includes introducing a new character named Uryu Ishida; in fact, he’s the character on the cover of Volume Four. Uryu hates Soul Reapers.
Kubo employs a more unique looking art style for the characters in Bleach, and he’s able to bring all of his visual elements together in a way that it tells a compelling story that a reader wants to continue following. The anime really captures Kubo’s art style and brings it to life. It also helps that Kubo has created compelling characters for the Bleach universe, and I find myself emotionally invested in them and in their stories.
I believe that Bleach has an interesting concept, and this concept is executed well in both the manga and in the anime. If you’ve seen the anime series before reading the manga, then you’ll recognize everything you see in the manga; at this point, the anime was following the manga rather closely. Even though I’m already familiar with this portion of Bleach through watching the anime series, I’m still wanting to read Volume Five to see what happens next.
I wrote this review after reading a copy of Bleach Volume Four that I checked out through the King County Library System.