BLEACH: A STAR AND A STRAY DOG (MANGA VOLUME 11)
September 5th 2010 08:36
Publisher: VIZ Media LLC
Story & Art by: Tite Kubo
English Adaptation: Lance Caselman
Translation: Joe Yamazaki
Touch up Art & Lettering: Andy Ristaino
Design: Sean Lee
Having gotten into the Seireitei via a rather unconventional means of entry Ichigo Kurosaki is due to the vagaries of fortune teamed up with Ganju Shiba, younger brother of Kukaku Shiba, premier fireworks expert of the Rukongai who helped them enter by her Flower Crane Cannon. Surviving the dissolution of the ‘cannonball’ which carried them through the sky Ganju and Ichigo find themselves in the area of the Seireitei that at first seems rather deserted but that soon proves ephemeral. Confronted by two members of Squad 11, the elite combat squad amongst the 13 Court Guard squads, Ichigo and Ganju find themselves in a series fight from the get go. Ichigo handles his foe Ikkaku Madarame whilst Ganju is having problems with Yumichika Ayesagawa...and it is with this particular scenario that the action commences.
So who will prevail? Will legalistic tradition win out over heroic resolve? Certainly it seems as if the odds and means are really stacked against Ichigo and his friends. But as this volume’s drama unfolds we soon see that Ichigo is not the only one who is strengthened by his resolve and desire to save Rukia. His friends are equally strengthened by their resolve to aid this quest, to back their friend up to the hilt and save the woman he seems to owe a great debt to. Even Uryu Ishida, last scion of the Quincy line, has strengthened his skills and might, developing greater potency in his abilities in order to play his part in the drama. Even Chad and Orihime have gained ground on their own skills and powers, they know that they can’t fold, can’t crumple and they’re stronger for this drive.
Apparently that such developments are all part of shonen style manga, that as the characters progress further into the overarching story they grow stronger and their resolve to succeed becomes greater. The primary character in shonen manga is usually the one who gains the most from this process...kind of like a sword being tempered in the heat and fire of struggle. But then again this is in reality nothing new, in fact if anything what shonen manga draws upon in its storytelling is a primal and archetypal concept to fuel its drama. We are all being tempered by the vagaries of life, its travails and relentless slings and bows of misfortune, we are all moving through a process through which we are either made stronger and or more resilient by life or we break. Granted we’re all not having to face off against soul reaper captains in order to rescue someone special to us but I’m sure you get what I mean.
Let’s face it it’s a successful formula that has been employed by storytellers for thousands of years, ever since someone came up with the idea of storytelling. And Tite Kubo with Bleach does it so well, you’d have to have the emotional sensitivity of a stone not to be move by the story – it is the heroes journey writ large and boldly with the hero and his friends seeking to rescue the fair ‘maiden’ from a fate worse than death. Who in their right mind couldn’t enjoy that kind of tale? It is a classic story, but what Mr Kubo does is makes that kind of archetype his own and presents it to his audience in his unique way.
Things begin to get potentially hairy when Ichigo, Ganju and their new friend Hanataro Yamada, a healer from Squad 4, arrive near the tower where Rukia is held prisoner. Just as brief digression apparently the name Hanataro Yamada is so ordinary its ordinariness makes it hard to remember – not being a speaker of Japanese I cannot attest to the veracity of this claim. But back to the main issue, the storyline, Ichigo and his immediate comrades; Ganju and Hanataro find themselves near the Senzaikyu Shi-Shinro (Repentance Cell) only to be confronted by a soul reaper that Ichigo knows and knows quite well. Renji Abarai, vice captain of Squad 6, seeks to prevent Ichigo from progressing further. As the action unfolds we get a bit of a back story on the crimson haired vice captain, a kid from the wrong side of the tracks so to speak. But does he have what it takes to thwart the orange haired substitute soul reaper who is willing to risk all? Time will tell. Bleach: A Star and a Stray Dog is superlative storytelling...my advice is to get out there and get your hands on it...
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