Once again, I’ll be turning my attention to Tite Kubo’s Bleach manga. The forty-ninth volume marks the start of a new arc – one that is mercifully much shorter than the Arrancar arc that came before it.
This new arc is the Lost Agent arc, which shows us how Ichigo is acclimatising to life after the events of the Arrancar arc. The Bleach anime adaptation ended with this arc, despite it being more of a new beginning.
Volume forty-nine contains nine chapters, running from chapter four hundred and twenty-four through to chapter four hundred and thirty-two.
After the long battle with Aizen, Ichigo loses his Soul Reaper powers… Ichigo now leads a quiet and peaceful life until he is approached by a mysterious man. What does the man want and how does it relate to Ichigo’s lost powers?!
The volume kicks off with chapter 424, ‘The Lost Agent’. It pretty much just shows how Ichigo is getting on with his family and at school.
Though he’s lost his powers, Ichigo still retains the body and reflexes he forged as a Soul Reaper. This comes in handy when a thief tries to steal a bag from a man. The man seems to know Ichigo…
Ichigo joins his school’s football club as a goalkeeper in chapter 425, ‘A Day Without Melodies’. He had been doing that in order to save money, in addition to a part time job. Ichigo calls his boss and gets chewed out. Shortly afterwards, a bunch of delinquents arrive at the school’s gates. Uryu confronts them.
Ichigo and Uryu end up fighting the delinquents in chapter 426, ‘The Starter 2’. The fight soon comes to an end when Ichigo’s boss, Ikumi Unagiya, shows up and kidnaps Ichigo. Uryu just watches on.
Ikumi takes Ichigo to the shop she owns. The man from earlier, who’s bag Ichigo retrieved, shows up.
Both Orihime and Uryu realise that there is something strange about Ichigo’s presence in chapter 427, ‘A Delicious Dissonance’.
At Unagiya, the strange man asks Ichigo to do a background check on Isshin Kurosaki. Ichigo says he’ll tell him anything he wants, but the man asks if he really knows about his family.
Meanwhile, Karin visits Urahara’s shop.
Ikumi brings the conversation to an end in chapter 428, ‘The Known’. The man leaves, where he finds two of his colleagues – Riruka and Kutsuzawa waiting for him.
Ichigo goes over to Urahara’s shop, where he spots Karin leaving. After witnessing that, the man from earlier approaches Ichigo and introduces himself as Kugo Ginjo.
Ichigo returns home in chapter 429, ‘Welcome to our EXECUTION’ only to discover that his dad has pulled a disappearing act. Orihime drops by later to check on him – Uryu has the same idea, but decides to leave Orihime to it when he sense her spiritual pressure.
However, Uryu spots a suspicious person and follows them – only to end up seriously wounded.
Uryu is hospitalised in chapter 430, ‘Welcome to our EXECUTION 2’. Both Ichigo and Orihime go to visit him. Ichigo tries to find out what happened, but Uryu isn’t very forthcoming. After Ichigo goes home, Ryuken tells Orihime that Uryu was not attacked by a Hollow.
Ichigo contacts Ginjo.
Orihime goes to check on Chad in chapter 431, ‘Welcome to our EXECUTION 3’, but he isn’t in.
Meanwhile, Ichigo meets with Ginjo who takes him to a building where his colleagues are waiting. Ginjo says that their goal is to restore Ichigo’s Soul Reaper powers.
Ichigo has several questions for Ginjo in chapter 432, ‘The Soul Pantheism’. Ginjo reveals that he and his colleagues are humans who were born with special powers. He demonstrates his power and reveals that it is called Fullbring.
Riruka arrives at the hideout, accompanied by Chad.
That’s it for volume 49. The focus of Ichigo’s school life has a similar feel to the earliest chapters of Bleach, where Ichigo was juggling being a substitute Soul Reaper with being a student.
I quite like that, as it returns Bleach to having greater focus on characters themselves rather than battles. We also get some intrigue with Ginjo’s knowledge of Ichigo’s past as a Soul Reaper, not to mention Uryu’ mysterious assailant.
I also enjoy the sillier moments Tite Kubo throws in there – Ikumi kidnapping Ichigo is amusing. There’s also Ikumi flipping between being Ichigo’s violent boss and a doting mother to her child at the drop of a hat.
Also pretty noteworthy is Orihime being back to the way she was during the earlier parts of the series. The Arrancar arc really did not do her any favours, but it’s clear that she has put that experience behind her.
After the seemingly endless action of the Arrancar arc, I quite like how comparatively relaxed the tone is for the Lost Agent arc. I also appreciate how we get a relatively small number of new characters introduced for this arc – well, a small number for Tite Kubo at least…
My favourite of the Fullbringers got a brief introduction in this volume, but we’ll be seeing more from her in the next volume.