Hisagi must throw himself into a new fight as the mystery that Kaname Tōsen left behind resurfaces. The story reveals more details about the four Noble Houses, the Soul King, Arrancar and Fullbringers.
A trip down memory lane, a stay at Nostalgia Inn, a new, exciting novelisation for those who are familiar with the original Bleach manga; now the announcement of this one caught me by surprise – pleasantly. And I thank the guys at Viz Media for providing me with this copy. I’ve always admired Kubo’s imagination, and the likeness with Heian period samurai is something that will always capture my interest, but this is certainly only a novel for those who have read the manga.
This story, or at least the prologue, takes place after the Soul King Saviour War and we get to meet all of our favourites characters bar the one that actually matters: Ichigo. A new threat awaits, because of a shift in the Tsunayashiro family, and its questionable new leader, Soul Society once again faces change. The ripples of this are felt throughout Hueco Mundo, who are still fighting the dregs of the Quincy and their attacks on its denizens with guerrilla warfare. Shuhei Hisagi is left to pick up the pieces with his Captain zombified, and everything around him needing to be rebuilt after the Vandereich obliterated it; his role as editor-in-chief, on the hunt for information about the war, leads him to cross path with the Four Great Families and a new plot that threatens all three realms.
Now, because this is a Japanese light novel, it skimps on exposition, leaning on the fact that it expects readers to know about the manga, or the anime, not making it one of the most accessible reads. But it does feature sporadic illustrations by Tite Kubo himself, which really appeal to a long-time fan of the series like me. Seeing the characters that I’ve missed in the years since Bleach’s serialisation ended was great, the plot is fresh and almost feels like a natural continuation to the series. What happens after a war? Change. And this change comes in a grab for power from the surviving factions in this.
I found the choice of Shuhei (pictured on the cover) as the protagonist quite intriguing. In the manga, he was a character with a strong sense of duty, a duty that led him to hide his power and a man of action. Having said this, he was a side character. There was slight resentment towards him because the main character of over a decade is nowhere to be seen, but it is fun, action-packed and just a cruel as the original material; the powers are just as insane, and the battles huge and grandiose. Just what I expected from Bleach.
Overall, if you know anything about the anime or manga… well, if you’ve finished it, do give it read. If anything, for the nostalgia. Those not familiar with Bleach that love fantasy may find something to love in this, as every story has its own starting point amidst other stories, but be prepared to be thrown in at the deep end.