• Viz (2004–ongoing)
• Shueisha (Weekly Shônen Jump, 2001–ongoing)
• Shônen, Occult, Samurai, Battle
• 13+ (violence)
Ichigo Kurosaki, a teenager with the ability to see ghosts, is conscripted for duty as a Soul Reaper—a spiritual being who exorcises good ghosts and fights evil ones, aka Hollows, with a samurai sword. Starting out as a monster-of-the-week manga (the masked Hollows resemble Mexican Day of the Dead figures), Bleach takes several 90-degree turns; around volume 9 the heroes travel to the Soul
Society, the Soul Reapers’ home plane, which resembles feudal Japan, and later they venture to other strange dimensions where even deadlier enemies await. Bleach follows the conventional fight-train-fight pattern of Shônen Jump manga, with cinematic swordfighting combat; however, in addition to action, Kubo keeps things entertaining with snarky Tarantino-esque humor and weird ideas. This is a world of occult Pez dispensers, TV spiritualists, animated teddy bears, and high-tech dimension warping. Although the plot is not particularly character-driven, Ichigo’s classmates and the rest of the supporting cast are distinctive and occasionally sexy. More style than substance, but a good read just the same.