Manga Review: Bleach Volume 63

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 faced execution, and Ichigo and his friends went to Soul Society to save her. During their time in Soul Society, it’s revealed that Aizen, Gin, and Tosen are traitors.

Bleach Volume 63
Written by: Tite Kubo
Publisher: Shueisha
English Publisher: VIZ Media
Release Date: February 3, 2015

Ichigo meets Shinji Hirako, who reveals himself to be a Visored, a Soul Reaper who has obtained Hollow powers. Shinji keeps trying to recruit Ichigo into the Visoreds, but Ichigo refuses. However, he later goes to the Visoreds only so he can learn how to control the Hollow that is inside him. This story arc also introduces the Arrancar, Hollows who have removed their mask and gained Shinigami-like powers. They also work for Aizen, who is now in Hueco Mundo. The ten highest-ranking Arrancar are known as Espada.

Orihime is threatened by an Arrancar named Ulquiorra, saying he’ll kill her friends if she doesn’t go with him. After the Soul Society declares they will do nothing to save Orihime, Ichigo and some of his friends go to Hueco Mundo to save her. This then leads to another story arc that sees the Soul Society fighting against the Espada. At the end of all this, Aizen is imprisoned and Ichigo loses his powers.

Ichigo then meets Ginjo, who offers to help Ichigo get his powers back and to develop Fullbring powers. However, Ginjo only wanted steal Ichigo’s powers. But thanks to help from Rukia, Ichigo gets his Soul Reaper powers back. War is then declared on Soul Society by The Wandenreich, who are a group of Quincies that survived a massacre centuries ago.

Volume 63 sees the war in full stride, with Soul Reapers fighting against the Quincies. This volume starts in the middle of the battle where Kensei and Roujuro are fighting against Mask De Masculine. Unfortunately, both of the Soul Reapers are knocked out of the battle. But Renji arrives, and there’s a very exciting battle between Renji and Mask De Masculine that takes place here, with Mask thinking that he’s defeated Renji, only for his opponent to appear again.

During the battle, though, we see Renji have an important flashback to a conversation that he had with Ichibe. Here, it’s revealed that Renji’s zanpakuto had only revealed half of its name because it didn’t fully recognize Renji’s power. After the flashback, we hear Renji use Zabimaru’s full name, and his weapon becomes even stronger. Of course, this development ultimately turns the tide of the battle.

I’m sorry to say this, but Mask De Masculine scared me a little with his looks at the beginning of the volume, and then he absolutely frightened me when he powered up. Fortunately, we didn’t have to see him in that powered up form for long.

This volume also includes some backstory for Yhwach, the leader of the Quincies. We also see that Uryu is with the group and learn that he is to be Yhwach’s successor. Even though I knew about Uryu being with the Quincies from reading the more recent chapters that have appeared in Weekly Shonen Jump, I still found it jarring that he’s now with the Quincies, since I haven’t seen this happen in where I’ve gotten in the anime or the earlier volumes of the Bleach manga that I’ve already read. It can definitely be a problem when you’re at various different points in the story between the anime, the manga volumes, and Weekly Shonen Jump. At least this volume has started to help me piece together what I’ve been reading in Weekly Shonen Jump over the past year!

We then see Rukia encountering As Nodt and the two of them have a battle. During the battle, Rukia reveals the truth about Sode No Shitayuki. But just as things look bleak, Byakuya arrives. Together, he and Rukia are able to take As Nodt down. Afterward, Rukia is taken aback by the praise that her brother gives her. Rukia’s reaction made for some good character development for her, as well as for Byakuya as well.

The final chapter sees Kotechi and Kusajishi are in confinement, and something calling itself “V” suddenly appears in the room. This is where Volume 63 ends. It turns out that the final two chapters that appeared in Volume 63 are the first two chapters of Bleach that I read in Weekly Shonen Jump when I first started reading the digital publication almost a year ago now.

Early on in Volume 63, it’s a very action-packed story, where the panels focus primarily on the fighting between the characters and there’s a minimal amount of dialogue. This especially makes the first chapter in the volume a very quick read. When Renji enters the battle, there’s still a lot of action, but the amount of dialogue goes up quite a bit. Even with the increase in the dialogue, the first 80 pages or so end up going by quickly. While there are battles later in the volume, the overall pacing of the volume slows down noticeably. But the slowdown was necessary, since important revelations and plot points were taking place, and the reader needed to be able to spend a little more time on those in order to get the full impact of what’s being said.

I can’t really speak for the first battle in this volume, since I jumped into the middle of it, but the other battles in this volume didn’t feel overly drawn out. Drawing out the battles has become a problem in recent months in the serialized chapters of Bleach in Weekly Shonen Jump, so I’m glad that that wasn’t the case in Volume 63.

I can’t entirely place my finger on it, but there’s something different about the art in these more recent chapters than there was in the early chapters of the Bleach manga. In some respects, it feels like Kubo isn’t putting as much effort into the details in his drawings now and seems to be focusing more on the absolute basics. I have to admit that the more recent art that I’ve seen for this series has been disappointing to me, because I know Kubo can do better than this.

If you’re still following Bleach at this point and enjoy what you’ve been reading, then I would recommend reading Volume 63 in order to see how the story continues. If you’ve been following Bleach in Weekly Shonen Jump, then you’ll already know what’s going on and would probably only want to read Volume 63 if you like this part of the story and want to read it again.

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