Now I’ve finished looking at the manga I picked up from Comic Con, I’ll go back to looking at the Bleach manga for another arc. More specifically, the Soul Society arc.
Volume 8 left off with Ichigo and his friends entering the Soul Society, and that’s exactly where this volume picks up from. New challenges await Ichigo and company as they make their way to the Seireitei.
There are nine chapters in this volume of Bleach, starting with seventy-one and ending with seventy-nine.
The race to save Rukia from the Soul Society is officially on, and Ichigo and company have come to their first roadblock, a very, very big roadblock. Jidanbô, the monstrous, fez-sporting gatekeeper hasn’t let a single soul enter the Western Gate he guards in over 300 years, and he isn’t about to change his mind about it just because Ichigo’s crew wants to go through either. But, in a where-the-rubber-meets-the-road kind of way, Ichigo wasn’t expecting his assault on the Soul Society to be a piece of cake either. After all, that’d just be boring.
We start with chapter 71, ‘INTRUDERZ’. An alarm sounds in the Soul Society, warning of a distortion in the slums.
The entry into the Soul Society proves to be fraught with dangers, but some quick thinking from Orihime ensures that the group are able to get into the Soul Society. They arrive in the slum district, Rukongai. With the Seireitei right before them, Ichigo charges right for it only to be blocked by a giant.
‘The Superchunk’ is the title of chapter 72. Jidanbô challenges Ichigo to a duel. Chad and Orihime try to jump in to help out, but Jidanbô keeps them separated by smashing the ground to create a barrier.
However, Ichigo is prepared to face the giant in combat – he didn’t spend all that time training with Kisuke for nothing, after all.
Chapter 73 is ‘Ax Storm’, and that’s a pretty good summary of what happens in this chapter. Jidanbô unleashes his best attacks – which are pretty much just swinging his twin axes as much as possible.
We get to see just how far Ichigo has progressed when it comes to fighting in this chapter.
Ichigo claims victory over Jidanbô in chapter 74, ‘Amputation’. After seeing his axes broken Jidanbô begins to cry. Ichigo apologises, and the giant decides to open the gate for Ichigo and the others.
However, Captain Gin Ichimaru is waiting on the other side.
Gin Ichimaru severs one of Jidanbô’s arms in chapter 75, ‘Crimson Rain’. He threatens to kill the giant for not doing his job properly as gatekeeper, but Ichigo defends him. This is despite the fact that Yoruichi tells him that Gin Ichimaru is an enemy they shouldn’t fight.
Gin uses his zanpaku-tô, Shinsô, to force Ichigo and Jidanbô back out of the gate, leaving it to slam down and prevent entry into the Seireitei.
‘Boarrider Comin” is the title of chapter 76. Orihime tends to Jidanbô’s severed arm with the help of the people of Rukongai, whilst Yoruichi has an alternate plan for entering the Seireitei – it involves someone called Kûkaku Shiba.
A man called Ganju appears, and is less than happy to see Ichigo – a Soul Reaper.
Chapter 77 is ‘My Name is Ganju’. Ichigo and Ganju end up fighting each other – this does provide a glimpse of Ganju’s abilities. The fight continues right up until an alarm clock goes off.
Ganju makes a hasty retreat in chapter 78, ‘meeT ‘Em iN tHE basemenT’. This allows Ichigo’s group to get back on track and travel to Kûkaku Shiba’s house – it’s quite a sight.
Kûkaku agrees to help get Ichigo and the others into the Seireitei, and introduces her brother who will be overseeing the operation – Ganju Shiba.
The last chapter of this volume is 79, ‘FOURTEEN DAYS FOR CONSPIRACY’. Renji transfers Rukia to the repentance palace four-deep cell, and reveals there ar less than 14 days until her execution. He also mentions some Ryoka – or intruders – one of them matches Ichigo’s description.
After that, Renji has an encounter with fifth company captain, Sôsuke Aizen. The captain suggests that someone may have been responsible for arranging Rukia’s execution, but an alarm sounds before the conversation can really go anywhere.
Kûkaku violently calms Ichigo and Ganju down, and then shows the group how she intends to get them into the Seireitei. The chapter ends with Kûkaku introducing herself as Rukongai’s premier fireworks expert.
At the end of this volume, we get profiles for Byakuya Kuchiki and Renji Abarai. Byakuya’s theme song is “Je Chante Pour Passer Le Temps” by Giovanni Mirabassi, whilst Renji’s is “Norainu” (“Stray Dog”) by Hazu featuring Ill-Bosstino.
This is the start of the Soul Society arc, and we don’t have to wait long at all for some action to take place. Seeing Ichigo’s fight against Jidanbô allows us to see how much more experienced he has become thanks to training with Kisuke. Admittedly there are lots more fearsome opponents waiting for him in the Seireitei, but we’ll have to wait to see how he handles those.
There’s some silly moments in between the action – the meetings between Ichigo and Ganju providing some funny interactions. The new plan for entering the Seireitei is pretty out there, too.
Ichigo was the only one of his group who really got to do much of anything in this volume – his fight against Jidanbô is definitely the main focal point of this volume.
The other characters do get chances to shine later on, but that’s another thing we’ll have to wait to see.