“Marching out the Zombies”
As we’ve been told since Volume 55, the Bleach manga is in its final story arc… though to say the series is ending would be incorrect at this stage, as there is still plenty of story to see, and plenty more fights to smirk over how great they look.
Volume 65 opens with Kenpachi still near death from the end of the last book, surrounded by four female members of the evil Quincy group known as the Wandenreich’s Sternritter division (that’s a lot of strange German words to those jumping on at this point!). His life is spared when Ichigo Kurosaki arrives in grand fashion, and spends a couple of chapters looking damn near invincible. Now, this is the lead character in a Shonen story during its final arc, so I have no issues with this display of power, especially since when the number of Sternritter increases to eight, Ichigo struggles to break out from them and approach the lead villain.
Speaking of whom, Yhwach (still don’t know how to pronounce that one…) announces that Ichigo’s arrival from the Royal Realm has left a temporary hole leading to it, and he’s off to fulfil his goal of killing the Soul King and taking control of the whole of … well, everything. Or destroying it. Either way. He does so, but not before Ichigo’s old friend Uryu finally reveals his apparent loyalty to Yhwach to his former allies.
The last few chapters then deal with Ichigo, his human friends Chad and Orihime, and his old mentors Urahara and Yoruichi as they plan to get to the Royal Realm themselves, and a strangle battle between Sternritter Giselle Gewelle and Squad 12 Captain Mayuri Kurotsuchi, or more precisely, their respective zombie soldiers. Giselle’s special ability is to turn what ever comes in contact with her blood into mindless zombies under her control. Mayuri, being the mad scientist he is, has been experimenting on the bodies of four mostly gag Arrancar characters who were killed two arcs ago and has turned them into zombies under his control. A strange duel indeed, but one that takes a great little twist in the final panels of the volume.
The art, as per usual, is great. Everyone looks on-point, the action is well depicted, and the moments of comedy are well defined by the change to a cartoonier look that Tite Kubo does so well. The cover art of Giselle is also very nice, although I have to point out that my copy at least has the spine printed higher up the book than the others, which is mildly annoying out of the corner of my eye… Whether this is the same for all books I don’t know, but thankfully it doesn’t bother me so much that I want to track down another copy!
So, overall, this volume does move the story along a bit, unlike the last few battle-heavy volumes, and features some great artwork. It has a few, shorter fight scenes and ends with a great cliffhanger. Can’t argue with that!