Bleach Official Bootleg: Color Bleach

By Tite Kubo. Based on the manga “Bleach”, released in Japan by Shueisha, serialization ongoing in the magazine Weekly Shonen Jump. Released in North America by Viz.

There is one big reason to get this book, which is sort of a mix of half-databook, half-omake 4-komas, and half “mook” (a type of magazine/book in Japan). It’s funny. Many of the gags in this book made me laugh out loud. This is quite a shock to those people reading the manga currently running in Japan, as I believe we’re approaching the second anniversary of Bleach’s last joke. But yes, much like the route taken by Dragon Ball, Bleach was once filled with silly, dorky fun, and this volume, which slots in right after the Soul Society arc, is also just as fun.

Most of the first third is devoted to 4-komas that ran in Shonen Jump’s sister publication V-Jump, which is gamer oriented (Yu-Gi-Oh moved there after it became more merchandise driven). These were essentially ads for the Bleach video games that were coming out on the Playstation 2, but clearly Kubo was taking this as an opportunity to have his cast act like complete idiots. Everyone’s quirks are turned up to 11, and the result is, if you like Bleach, fantastic. The fact that this is the section in full color also adds to its value, as the colors are vibrant and well-used.

Following this we get the usual character profiles, except these are written in character by Shuhei Hisagi, the so-called “editor” of this book, and thus an entertaining mix of actual facts and useless information. My favorite bit was the writer attempting to justify Mayuri not being a complete and total monster, saying that he’s “showing his personal kind of love” as he backhands his daughter across the chops. Even better are the profiles of the human cast who invaded Soul Society, with Orihime described as being a terrifying clothes-stealing poisonous flower. Hee!

The last section is the mook parody, and is the most variable, as mooks in general are. I’m not a big fan of the quizzes and personality match quizzes. But as with the previous section, the writing is kept light, as the Kubo writes with his tongue firmly in his cheek.

Obviously, you aren’t going to buy this if you aren’t reading Bleach. If you still enjoy Bleach, I definitely recommend it. And if you dropped Bleach a while back as you were tired of being Aizen’d, then you may still want to get the book, as it’s a great reminder of what the series once was when it was firing on all cylinders.