Bleach is a shonen manga (comics for teen boys) series written and illustrated by Tite Kubo. Bleach was serialized in the Japanese manga magazine, Weekly Shōnen Jump, from August 2001 to August 2016 over 686 chapters. The series became a media franchise, spawning a long running anime television series, four feature films, OVA (original video anime) episodes, video games, stage musicals, light novels, and merchandise.
In Japan, the 686 chapters of the Bleach manga were collected in 74 tankobon (book) volumes. VIZ Media has been publishing the Bleach manga in English in a series of graphic novels since 2004. The first week of of October 2018, VIZ will publish the 74th and final graphic novel volume of their publication of Bleach.
Bleach focuses on Ichigo “Strawberry” Kurosaki. He is born with the gift that is the ability to see ghosts, a gift he does not want. However, this ability introduces Ichigo to the world of the Soul Society. After his family is attacked by a Hollow, a malevolent lost soul, Ichigo became a Soul Reaper. He dedicates himself to protecting the innocent from tortured spirits and to helping those spirits find peace.
Bleach, Vol. 74 (entitled The Death and the Strawberry – Chapters 675 to 686) is the conclusion of the final story arc. Yhwach, the leader of the Quincies, is the most powerful adversary in the series. Also known as “The Almighty,” Yhwach wants to unite the Soul Society and the living world into one entity, which apparently will cause the end of death. Now, it is up to Ichigo to engage and to defeat Yhwach in a final battle, but he will need the help of some surprising allies, which includes the unexpected return of a number of infamous figures.
THE LOWDOWN: The Bleach manga is a visually striking graphic narrative. Although it can seem repetitive, both visually and graphically, at times, Bleach was and is a fantastic and invigorating read.
I don't know what to make of Bleach Graphic Novel Volume 74. The graphical storytelling is not as explosive and as kinetic as it was during peak periods of the series. The storytelling is almost impressionistic, whereas creator Tite Kubo, in the past, drew as if he were trying to capture lightning in a bottle.
The last two chapters of this volume are about cleaning up and about the next generations, and in some ways, Kubo is sweeping up the last swaths of energy. A few classic characters even make a cameo to do their last things and to say their goodbyes. Kubo gives us a happy ending, but the truth is that Bleach was at its best when it was in battle royale mode. And that will always be its best. We had to say goodbye sometime, but we can go back and revisit the good, the bad and the peak strawberry of Bleach.
I READS YOU RECOMMENDS: Readers looking for exceptional battle manga are already readers of the Shonen Jump star title, Bleach.