Bleach for Dummies, Vol. 2
Troublesome hollow makes troubles. Rukia struggles one on one with the hollow. Chad fights blind. Ichigo makes his first delivery to hell. Kisuke Urahara sells Rukia some defective duck-headed soul candy. Ichigo’s body hijacker kisses the girls and makes them cry. Urahara and Rukia both hunt for the condemned mod konpaku in Ichigo’s body. Rukia saves the ant-loving mod from Urahara.
This is Mollie (Ibiki Teishi) again, with the latest install on your Bleach catch up assignment.
This volume was a lot easier to read. Volume one is like medicine, you know you have to take it to feel better, but it kinda tastes like shit after you’re done. And it’s hard to swallow. Only two new characters get introduced in this volume and the others are developed a little more. There are fewer passages of exposition (that’s the bit where they cut to little drawings and explain how the Shinigami world works) and the characters themselves are starting to propel themselves through the story. In other words, this volume took me an hour to read and the prior volume took a good five days.
8. Chase Chad Around
Dumb chapter, but good set up for a battle. Ichigo’s sister, the tomboy Karin is feeling sick and spends a couple pages barfing in the girl’s room. Chad has gone missing. Rukia explains how hollows can hide between worlds, with one of those funny little drawings (exposition alert…this is the way the world works).
They know that it will be after Chad, so Ichigo focuses on the parakeet and amazes Rukia with his near impossible abilities. hmm. You want to know what I think…I think part of Rukia’s amazement might be her incredible lack of skills. She’s the only Shinigami we know, and she’s doing the teaching, and her lack of power is irritating her. She’s set up as the expert, but that doesn’t mean she is. I’m guessing she’s a B level Shinigami–bright, competent, but not an all star.
We expect her to be because she’s the only Soul Reaper in the story right now, but I think that’s a false expectation. Otherwise, how the hell did she get in such an embarrasing predicament? Locked in a gigai (human meat puppet, false body) and losing her powers…Ichigo may be incredible to have pulled that off, but I’m thinking a good bit is her own weakness. And boy, is he gonna be pissed when he finds out she’s not as much of a badass as she presents herself.
Chad runs away, Rukia and Ichigo separate so he can take his sick sister home. She’s sick because she saw the ghost memories of the little boy trapped in the parakeet.
9. Monster and a Transfer (Struck Down)
Rukia takes on the Hollow on her own, because he manages to sneak up behind her while she’s chasing after Chad. Now, see, that’s just what I mean. That’s a rookie move right there. And she shows a lot of grit and backbone despite her loss of powers, so I don’t think she’s incompetent, despite her current state.
Ichigo awkwardly tells us about his tomboy little sister to save some time. I find this irritating as a writer. If you want me to give the character life in my head, you have to show me her tomboy antics and refusal to cry. Her tears motivate Ichigo in this battle, so I get the pause to acknowledge them. Here’s my problem, tho, I still can’t tell if I need to invest myself in her or not. She seems to be supporting cast, used to highlight Ichigo’s temperament and deepest motivations (protection of his family). Yet, she’s being developed here a bit more strongly than a supporting role. If she’s meant to be more, I need clips of these actual memories, and if she’s just there to motivate Ichigo I need a lot less.
Now, Chad. Chad I want to see more of. WTF?! He just ripped a telephone pole outta the ground and swung it at an invisible opponent like Casey Jones at bat. Like John Henry and his hammer. Damn…what makes THIS one tick, huh? It’s always the quiet ones. Be careful of the quiet ones. They will snap and mess you up.
10. Monster and a Transfer, Part 2 (The Deathberry)
Huh, deathberry. I like that…goes to change the message on my Blackberry…
He fights an invisible enemy because its the right thing to do. No special powers…er, wait a minute, I did say TELEPHONE POLE, right?
But he can’t see what he’s fighting, doesn’t know what he’s fighting, he’s just helping out because walking away or hiding doesn’t seem to be an option for him.
He seems to be all mushy and sensitive on the inside and his buddies really think highly of him, that’s always a huge clue about the truth.
I love that he’s like a burnt marshmallow…all gnarly and tough on the outside and full of runny-sweet mushy stuff on the inside. I want to know where he came from and what, aside from his hobby as everyone’s guardian angel, he’s really into.
The hollow starts throwing these leeches around. Sticky little slimes, stickier than your average macrobdellidae member (er…don’t stop to think about it, just laugh at my geekitude that I looked that word up for your entertainment…AND I think I even spelled it right). AND they’re bombs! So Chad gets immobilized to keep the parakeet hostage from being blown up.
Ichigo arrives just in time, jumping up on the hollow’s head. (Is it wrong for me to wish Chad was the Shinigami?) Although the way these two are talking and looking at each other, I’m wondering if they should get a room. Huh. My guess is that’s a tease that never went anywhere. Rukia’s boobs aren’t big enough to be carryin’ on with the male lead of a shonen manga…
11. Back (Leechbomb or Mom)
Rukia knocks Ichigo out of his inconvenient body and gets him up to speed. Chad, now free to move, rescues the parakeet, and comes to help Ichigo’s body. I think this guy’s gonna get in over his head, being who he is and hanging out with these two.
The hollow reveals himself to be real piece of work. Orihime’s brother was a pussycat in a Halloween mask compared to this thing. Ichigo calls him a wanker and takes his tongue. I laughed. FINALLY. This one’s been kicking far too much good guy butt for three chapters.
12. The Gate of the End
The gates of hell!!!! make an appearance (and why was I hearing Tenacious D? If you don’t know what I’m talking about, I don’t suggest you look it up. If you do, you only have yourself to blame…).
Bad guy goes to permanent jail.
The shinigami sword cuts and cleanses hollows of sins committed as hollows. This means if they were good in life they can get to Soul Society, but if they were pricks like our serial killer friend here, they get a one way ticket to damnation.
The child trapped in the parakeet goes to Soul Society to be with his mum, and Chad’s goodbye, simple and non-wordy is gooshy, sweet warm marshmallowy goodness.
13. BAD STANDARD
Rukia’s memory altering, flashy thing lighter is running low on juice, so she goes to the ‘store’ for much needed supplies. Enter Kisuke Urahara. hmm. Don’t know if its okay if Urahara can kiss me yet, but he has potential. I know this guys a series regular, but I dunno if Tite thought so at this point–he didn’t even give him a last name. He seems to be a convenient artifact to keep the plot device (acquisition of Soul Candy) from unraveling. I’m wondering if his unexpected popularity made him more of a player or he just gets a slow reveal. He’s a little shady, a little lazy, comments off the cuff and probably got his morals off the back of a bank note. There is potential for comedy and terrible things and surprises. I like the potential, but don’t know enough about him to know if I like him.
Rukia gives Soul Candy to Ichigo; it’s a cute little pez-like candy with a duck head. She’s pouting because she wanted the bunny…and as disappointed as she was in the store, I thought she’d had to compromise functionality. Nice. I like the idea of the soul candy, it allows Ichigo to leave his body without getting smacked around, so he can go shinigami without Rukia’s help. Always a plus. It also puts a soul into his empty body from the candy.
That’s where the premise didn’t quite work for me. Rukia says the candy is to remove reluctant souls who won’t leave their bodies in the morgue. I can see the need for that. BUT, then why put another one back in the body? What is the purpose of that? Now the further developments in the next few chappies make me think there could be more of a story to this candy thing, especially since it was renamed from Gikongan (substitute soul pills) to Soul Candy. It seems to have a popular following (bunny or duck head). So is it a shinigami party trick to pop soul candy into people’s drinks and watch the hijinks ensue? I’ll be disappointed if this contradiction isn’t explained better…why the replacement soul?
Ichigo isn’t happy with his doppelganger, he seems to be a dork suck-up and he’s worried his rep is going to crash and burn.
14. School Daze!!!
Heh, Ichigo needed to be scared, but not the way he thought. His doppelganger is in need of excitement…and he likes to jump…and he likes Orihime’s boobs.
Urahara finds out the soul in the candy was stamped defective. Whups. My guess is he bought that shit on a discount out the back of a panel van. Again, this could be an endearing flaw or a sinister bent…and I’m not getting enough on him right now to figure that out. He does rally his troops and go out to make it right…but seems only to do so because otherwise it’s his ass. Capitalist pig.
Ichigo’s body, full of defective soul, kisses the girls and makes a stir. Tatsuki, the amazing girl-boy clocks the lascivious substitute soul and he jumps out the window. Invisible shinigami Ichigo shows up and faces the terror, the unholy terror of a bad rep. Rukia names the thing in Ichigo’s body: mod konpaku.
15. Jumpin’ Jack, Jolted
More of Rukia’s drawings and exposition. Mod konpaku is a modified soul, with exaggerated skills of some sort. And suddenly the soul candy makes more sense. The idea was to inject the Mod into a corpse so they could serve as soldiers against hollows. Apparently the idea didn’t work so well. You know, ethics of using people’s bodies, standard necromancer performance code issues, nothing to be alarmed about. So the project was scrapped…and now I have a different question about the candy…why is it still available?! Or is it? hmmm…maybe this is a shadier deal by Urahara than I expected.
The icky part: since it was wrong to reanimate the dead, what to do with the modified souls? OH, yeah. Condemn them. Destroy them. Reasonable, eh? I’m starting to think Soul Society is a little too bureaucratic to have come up with a solution like that. Did Mengele make it to heaven or something? How did this happen in the first place?
Urahara comforts the little girl who thinks she screwed everything up, but it’s awkward. Damn. More on him…I can read him either way. Look at the stiffness of his hand, the masklike expression. Is he pretending to be nice? or is he sympathetic but uncomfortable with affection? It’s mildly amusing, but if I knew he wasn’t some sort of freaky pedophile, I supposed I’d laugh out loud.
16. Wasted but Wanted
Everything converges on Mod Ichigo, and he saves his sisters’ nerdy classmates from a hungry hollow. Ichigo and Rukia show up. There is a sweet fight scene where the Mod and Ichigo argue while booting hollow head. The Mod puts Ichigo’s body in danger saving some ants from the crush of the hollow as it falls. Great character development on the Mod, who became a pacifist philosopher sitting in his pill candy waiting to be executed. He’s a candy buddha who respects all life.
And just as you really feel for him, Urahara steps in and stamps him, and for a second you think the worst, but he just put him back in the pill. Rukia lifts the pill and tells Urahara it isn’t his problem and to back off, by pointing out that his little operation is illegal. He does, but takes this seriously. hmm…very interesting.
Ichigo tries to thank Rukia for saving his Mod, and this is what she says. I’m not sure what it means, but I’m hoping I find out.
Now I’m really looking forward to Volume 3! So far, I like the characters, but it’s usually the little mysteries that get me hooked. There’s plenty of great action and cool one-liners and sexual tension, so that holds my interest. But it’s the mysteries that pull me deeper into the story. Urahara is a mystery. Soul Candy and the seedy underbelly being hinted at in Soul Society is also a mystery. The Mod is a mystery. And Rukia’s reaction to it all…also a mystery. So at the end of Vol. 2 I can say I’ve been hooked.
Am I obsessed yet? Naw.
I don’t trust Tite yet, that’s something that develops over time…seeing my questions answered without contradiction, watching the complexities and mysteries develop. That trust takes time, and I’m forging ahead to help that trust along. Hope to see you again soon.