Bleach: Can’t Fear Your Own World, Vol. 1

By Ryohgo Narita and Tite Kubo. Released in Japan by Shueisha. Released in North America by Viz Media. Translated by Jan Cash.

There have been several Bleach novels released in Japan, but I believe this is the first one to be licensed for the West. Previous books either tended to be novelizations, tie-ins to games, or… well, no, I don’t know why they didn’t pick up We Do (Knot) Always Love You, except shipping reasons. This trilogy, though, is explicitly a direct sequel to the main manga, exploring aftermaths that Kubo couldn’t get to because they cancelled Bleach a bit earlier than expected. Moreover, it’s written by a known name to English-speaking readers: Ryohgo Narita, the creator of Baccano! and Durarara!!. Narita’s series are also known for their huge, hard to wrangle casts and slow-burn plots that end in explosions. Moreover, unlike Kubo, Narita actually knows how to pace. So it makes sense that this is the first novel we see of Bleach over here, and fortunately it’s a good choice, wrapping up several things while introducing a new villain to the piece. And boy howdy, Narita also knows how to write villains. This guy is smug scum who makes you long for Aizen.

Aizen is in this book briefly, and he gets to be smug as well. That said, as the cover might suggest, the star of the book is Hisagi, who is in his capacity as roving reporter for the Soul Society’s newspaper. The newspaper, as you might imagine, was not being published during the last, oh, 30 volumes of Bleach, but it’s starting up again, and he’s trying to interview the participants in the Thousand Year War, figuring that it’s best to get opinions now while it’s fresh than years from now. Unfortunately, a new story inserts its way into the narrative: there’s a new head of one of the Four Great Noble Clans. He’s paying to have the newspaper talk all about him. Oh yes, he’s also a known murderer. Of his wife. Who was Tosen’s best friend. This is not a spoiler, he pretty much admits it. And he has a plan to install a new King in Soul Society. Fortunately, this plan MOSTLY does not involve Ichigo.

The “main” cast of Bleach are pretty much absent from this book, and you get the feeling that will be the case for the other two books as well. Narita seems to have two goals in this book. The first is to wrap up Bleach proper, as we see a lot of the aftermath of Hueco Mundo (including several people I was sure were dead who are, in fact, not dead) and the Sternritter (including several people I was sure were dead who are, in fact, not dead). If you dislike the fact that Jump tends not to kill off characters, this volume may annoy you. The other goal of this book seems to be saying “screw the class system”, and I’m behind that. We’ve seen before that Soul Society has a lot of skeletons in its closet, but here we really get a sense of what it means to be privileged. The villain is absolutely over the top, not in a laughing crazy way but in a smug snake way, and he reminded me not a little bit of another villain Narita has written in his series. I assume he and Hisagi will eventually confront each other.

In the end, I’d say this book succeeds in that it made me interested in Bleach again. I’ll definitely be getting the second in the series. And there’s no romance at all in it, so even shippers can buy it without fear. Maybe Kubo should hire out a writer and just plot his next work. Then again, that did not work very well for Naruto’s creator…

Did you enjoy this article? Consider supporting us.

Speak Your Mind