The reason I started reading Bleach is because it seemed to be so famous. So what is so special about this manga anyway? I thought. I read the manga to find out. I decided to buy the box set for two resons.
1. It was cheaper.
2. I would be able to read the whole first arc together, and it saves me the trouble of hunting for missing volumes. I recommend that if you want to read Bleach, you buy the box set too instead of individual volumes.
Now to the story. Bleach's story first sounded to me like a variant of Yu Yu Hakusho. I heard that Bleach got rejected by many magazines due to the fact that it's story resembled Yu Yu Hakusho. But since I know both, I will say that only the spirit and shinigami part is same. Everything else is quite different.
Bleach is the story of a guy called Ichigo (which means strawberry in Japanese. Hence the name of the first chapter is death and strawberry) Kurosaki who can see malevolent ghosts and spirits called hollows. As expected of any shonen manga, the hero is in for action when he meets a shinigami (a mythical death god in Japan who is supposed to escort souls to heaven/hell after death) called Rukia who is from Soul Society. Soon, a hollow turns up and Rukia is unable to defeat him. But as sure as day, our hero triumphs over the bad guy after the shinigami lends him her powers. Now that she is powerless, she is stuck in the mortal world in a human body and attends Ichigo's school while Ichigo takes over her role as a soul reaper and sends hollows to afterlife.
In the fourth volume or so, after Ichigo has many hollow-slaying adventures, a quincy appears. Quincies are a special type of archers (I could be wrong) who kill hollows but cannot send them to afterlife. The quincy archer challenges Ichigo and unleashes a powerful army of hollows. Unexpectedly, the hollows are so many that they turn into a menos grande (a big, powerful monster) and Ichigo has to defeat him. During this time, two of his best friends in school (Orihime and Sado) discover that they have supernatural powers too.
Finally, when Ichigo's life is about to turn normal, a vice-captain from soul society arrives with Rukia's brother who is one of the twelve captains (most powerful soul reapers) and wants to take Rukia back to soul society to be executed. Ichigo fights him, but loses. Rukia is taken away. This is where the real story starts. Ichigo, Orihime, Sado and the quuincy (they become friends somehow) travel to soul society to save Rukia. Here, they face the captians and this is the best part of the story. I am not going to narrate it, because it will destroy the surprise (there is one BIG surprrise in the story) and it is too long anyway.
Now, what I thought of Bleach.
IT WAS GREAT!
That's right! Bleach truly deserves its fame. Beyond the seventh volume, the story is so well plotted that I was shocked. Every detail has been carefully planned and executed. The action scenes are good although sometimes hard to understand. My favorite part of this book was that Ichigo is a great main character and he lives in the REAL world. I am sick of fantasies happpening in middle ages. The story is easy to understand and has lots and lots of cliffhangers (one at the end of almost every page).
One of the weaker points of the story was that the only person who wins is Ichigo. His friends never seem to win a single fight which gives the impression that they are useless wimps when they are good characters. Also, the villian (I won't tell who he is) is just too strong. I felt that there was no one Ichigo could beat him in ages. He is inhuman.
I give my scores now.
Bleach box set (first arc) is a good buy if you like shonen manga with lots of action, magic and supernatural elements. I started reading the second arc but it is HORRIBLE. So repetitive. Can you believe it? In the second arc, Orihime is kidnapped and Ichigo and co. go to Hueco Mondo to rescue her. A direct copy of the first arc. Sadly, not as interesting with a weak plot and Ichigo losing every alternate battle. The names of the villians are all in Spanish and difficult to understand. But the first arc, will keep you entertained.