Rainy day blues.
Story/Art: Tite Kubo
Translation: Joe Yamazaki
What They Say
With the training not going as planned, Ichigo returns to the World of the Living to reevaluate himself. But when he runs into his father, Isshin, he discovers he has a lot to learn about his mother – and the way she died!
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers):
As the rain falls down, Isshin fights back against the powerful black Hollow as Aizen and company watch from afar. Feeling the enormous spiritual pressure, Masaki decides to head out, even though Ryuken tells her not to. She darts off to help, and Ryuken tells Katagiri, a mixed blood Quincy, to suit up. As Isshin holds his ground Aizen and company discuss the situation, mentioning that the Hollow is called White and was created from the soul of a dead Soul Reaper. Though Isshin is able to chop off one of White’s arms the fight remains intense, until Masaki steps in. White darts for her and she lets it bite into her shoulder, in turn firing at point blank range. Although this doesn’t kill White immediately it does cause the monster to self-destruct. Masaki then admits to the injured Isshin that she’s a Quincy, and the two part ways.
Though things seem to be fine, with Masaki unharmed and Isshin relieved of his infraction, Masaki abruptly collapses one day. In addition to the pain it’s causing her, the injury has also left her with a hole like that of a Hollow in her chest. Despite his mother’s protests Ryuken darts off with the injured Masaki in search of help, and ends up running into Isshin. Before the two can argue too intensely, Urahara appears before them to lay down their choices.
Thanks to her encounter Masaki has begun Hollowfication, but since she is a Quincy the process used to save Soul Reapers won’t work for her. The only solution is for Isshin to enter into a Gigai that will seal his powers and then stay with Masaki as long as she lives. To both Ryuken and Urahara’s surprise Isshin accepts the deal without hesitation. With that we return to the present, and Isshin drops one more twist, telling Ichigo the real reason Masaki died was because Yhwach revoked the powers of Quincies who he rejected.
As the volume wraps up, we get a look at various Soul Reapers trying to power up, and Ichigo resumes his quest to gain a new weapon.
Though this volume is far too wrapped up in the convoluted mess that Ichigo’s backstory has become, the core of the tale is actually rather touching. It’s nice to finally get more than a mysterious glimpse here and there to the background of Ichigo’s parents, and as a result they really get a chance to shine as characters. The mystery of Uryu’s father is also dealt with, making him into a character rather than an enigma as well. It’s unfortunate (though unsurprising) that the story doesn’t exactly tie together smoothly, and there’s also an additional awkward “twist” to hype up the evil and importance of the villain. Even so, this is a decent little volume considering it’s a Bleach story with minimal fighting, providing a surprisingly heartfelt moment or two from inside the messy ball of plot twists.
Content Grade: B
Art Grade: B+
Package Rating: B+
Text/Translation Rating: B
Age Rating: 13+
Released by: Viz Books
Release Date: April 1st, 2014