Manga Review: Bleach Volume 14

15-year-old Ichigo Kurosaki is the main character of the series, and he has the ability to see ghosts. After meeting a Soul Reaper named Rukia, his home is attacked by a Hollow. Rukia tries to transfer some of her powers to Ichigo so he can protect his family. However, he unintentionally absorbs all of her power. Ichigo defeats the Hollow and begins serving as a substitute Soul Reaper. In Volume Seven, Rukia was taken back to Soul Society to face punishment for transferring her powers to a human. Rukia now faces execution, and Ichigo and his friends try to find a way to get to Soul Society in order to save her.

Bleach Volume 14
Written by: Tite Kubo
Publisher: Shueisha
English Publisher: VIZ Media
Release Date: August 1, 2006

Volume 14 sees Captain Jushiro Ukitake from 13th Company entering into the story as Byakuya finds Ganju and Hanatora with Rukia at her cell. Ganju takes on Byakuya, and it results in Ganju being injured rather badly. But before Byakuya can do any further harm, Ukitake intervenes.

Meanwhile, Ichigo sees Yoruichi the cat transform into a human woman, which is Yoruichi’s true form. To me, the scene was just as amusing reading it in the manga as when I first saw it when I watched the anime a few years back. While I knew this scene was coming, I suspect that it would catch first time readers off-guard.

After recovering from the shock, an injured Ichigo insists on saving his friends when he senses they’re in danger. He arrives while Ukitake and Byakuya discuss what’s going on. Since I’m further along in the anime series, I picked up on something that happens with Ukitake in this scene that appears to be foreshadowing that I didn’t pick up on when I first saw this scene in the anime. I wish I could go into more detail, but I can’t because of not wanting to provide “spoilers” for readers who haven’t had enough or any exposure to the Bleach anime.

Ichigo and Byakuya launch into a battle. But before it can escalate very far, Yoruichi jumps into the fray. At this point we get an explanation from Rukia as to who Yoruichi truly is, and it turns out she’s a rather impressive member of the Soul Society. After she subdues Ichigo, Yoruichi is able to get away from Byakuya with Ichigo. But before she leaves, Yoruichi declares that she’ll make Ichigo stronger than Byakuya in three days.

After Byakuya leaves, we see that Ukitake is a gentler member of Soul Society. While he has Rukia put back into her cell, he asks his subordinates to contact 4th Company so Ganju can receive medical treatment. If Ukitake had been more like most of the other members of Soul Society that we’d seen up to this point, he would have had Ganju killed. Also, he lets Hanatora live even though he acted as a traitor against the Soul Society. Hopefully this won’t be too much of a spoiler, but this is an accurate depiction of Ukitake. I’ve seen him appear in later episodes of the anime series, and he’s still this gentle. Ukitake definitely ranks up there as one of my favorite Soul Society captains.

We also see Yoruichi training with Ichigo. Unfortunately, we don’t get to see very much of it. Hopefully there will be more of this training in Volume 15.

Then, we see Uryu and Orihime trying to disguise themselves as part of one of the Soul Society squads. This ends up being a humorous scene, especially since they initially make a mistake that should have given them away. Fortunately, the squads involved aren’t very bright. Unfortunately, the humor doesn’t last long, because Captain Mayuri of 12th Company gets involved. Orihime tries to help the injured as Uryu shows his skills as a Quincy. This leads to an impressive battle between Uryu and Mayuri and this serves as the climax of the volume.

Wow, I’d forgotten just how creepy Mayuri’s introduction was from when I watched the anime. While he was annoying in later stories in the anime, he didn’t come across as quite so creepy as he does here. Since I’ve seen much later chapters in Weekly Shonen Jump, some of which featured Mayuri, I’ll say that he’s back to acting rather creepy again. I’ve never cared much for Mayuri, and seeing his introduction in here reminds me of why I dislike him so much.

So there’s definitely going to be one more volume that features this story arc, but from what I remember from seeing this in the anime, there’s still enough material to go that it’ll probably take at least another two or three volumes, if not a little more, to finish off rescuing Rukia from Soul Society. Even though I may remember a lot of what’s going to happen from when I saw this story in the anime series, I’m still enjoying reading them in the manga. It’s been so long since I’ve seen these particular episodes that reading the story again in manga form is jogging my memory and reminding me of what happened to lead up to the point that I’m currently at in the anime.

If you’ve read the previous 13 volumes of Bleach and enjoyed what you read, then I think you’ll also enjoy reading Volume 14.

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