By Leroy Douresseaux
March 13, 2012 - 09:37
|Bleach Masked cover image|
Rated “T” for “Teen”
Bleach is a shonen manga written and drawn by Tite Kubo. It began serialization in the Japanese manga magazine, Weekly Shonen Jump, in April 2001, and is still ongoing. Bleach is also a media franchise, which includes an animated television series, four animated feature films, video games, and Bleach-related merchandise. The manga has also been collected in 54 tankobon (trade paperbacks or graphic novels) as of March 2012. VIZ Media will publish the 39th English trade edition in early April 2012.
The series follows Ichigo “Strawberry” Kurosaki, a young man with the ability to see ghosts. After a “Hollow,” a malevolent lost soul, attacked his family, Ichigo was introduced into the world of the Soul Reapers (similar to the Grim Reaper) and the Soul Society. He obtains the powers of a Soul Reaper from Rukia Kuchiki, another Reaper. Now, Ichigo protects the innocent, defending humans and cleansing malevolent lost souls, helping them find peace.
Bleach Official Character Books 2: Masked is part of the Shonen Jump Profile line of character and series guides covering manga that appear in Weekly Shonen Jump. Bleach Masked contains extensive information on the characters and story that appear in the Bleach manga, Volumes 21 to 37.
At the front of Bleach Masked is a pull-out mini-poster; one side features multiple character vignettes in full color, with the reverse side featuring those same characters in pencil sketch form. The opening section of the book is a 16-page section, entitled “Color Illustration Museum,” of spot illustrations, cover art, title page illustrations, and other art related to Bleach storylines.
The rest of the book is a heavily-illustrated guidebook featuring detailed explanations, illustrated diagrams, and character profiles of the Soul Reapers, Arrancars, and others. There is a six-page storyline timetable that begins when Ichigo discovered the Soul Reapers and also a seven-page section explaining terms used in the series. There is also a big interview with creator Tite Kubo that offers hints about the future direction of the series without really giving away details.
Bleach Masked is for the serious Bleach fan or for a new reader who wants to immerse himself or herself into the story and characters as a way of becoming a serious fan. With a cover price of $14.99, this guide book is a steal because it offers the details no single volume of the Bleach manga can do without utterly turning the narrative into an encyclopedia. Bleach Official Character Books 2: Masked offers the information overload that many readers of the Bleach manga want and, in some cases, need.