Bleach Review

The fighting genre always makes a big deal out of physical strength. The hero never shuts up about wanting to get stronger, combatants flex and grunt and boast about how much power they're using (or not using), and manga artists are on a constant quest to draw the most epic, brain-melting, eyeball-incinerating fight scene. Yet the most memorable fights are often not the ones of brute strength, but the ones where the heroes must conquer the villains in their heads. It's a principle that is exemplified in this volume of Bleach, where Rukia gets her turn in the spotlight and puts on a very worthy show. Her elegant swordfighting, her mastery of kidou sorcery, and the emotions she must overcome to defeat this warped version of Kaien it all adds up to a highly multi-faceted battle, and reminds us why Bleach still has its moments.

In between those moments, however, are plenty of painful and regrettable intervals. Consider the first few chapters, which illustrate the converse side of the "strength isn't everything" principle by placing the strongest guy in the most boring fight. Yes, Chad has an incredible right arm, and an incredible left arm, and yet, if that's all he has to offer, why should anyone care? There are plenty of fighting characters who are good with their fists. To make matters worse, a couple of other Arrancars come over to taunt him after he wins, as if to prolong the storyline and hold off Rukia's shining moment.

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