Bleach (20th Anniversary Edition) Volume One [Manga] Review – OG is still sublime, but more could have been done

by Youssef


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OG is still sublime, but more could have been done
  • mangaca : Kubo Titi
  • publisher : Action, Adventure, Shounen, Drama, Supernatural
  • Type : meaning
  • published : August 2022 (original run, April 2004 – October 2018)

Twenty years after its original release in Japan, Kubo Tite’s Bleach has undoubtedly left an indelible mark on the manga world. One of the “Big Three” Shun manga (along with Naruto and One Piece), Bleach has been serialized for fourteen years, ending in seventy-four volumes. Kubo has gone on to inspire many modern mangaka, including Horikoshi Kohei from Boku no Hero Academia (My Hero Academia), Akutami Jiji from Jujutsu Kaisen, and Gotouge Koyoharu from Kimetsu no Yaiba (Demon Slayer). Each of these three mangaka has publicly included Bleach as an influence on their work and has shaped them as young artists. Now, twenty years after the first volume was released in Japan, Bleach is back on shelves and on TV screens, too. Fans are eagerly awaiting the trailer for the Thousand Years War of Blood arc, the definitive manga arc that was never modified in the original anime version. In celebration of both TYBW Arc and the series’ 20th anniversary, the first volume of Bleach is being re-released with a new cover. Today at Honey’s Anime, we discuss Bleach, his legacy, and whether you should buy the new 20th Anniversary Edition when it releases in August 2022.

Bleach 20th Anniversary PV

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discussion time

For the uninitiated, Bleach plays 15-year-old Ichigo Kurosaki, a delinquent high school student who can see ghosts. After his family is attacked by a monstrous “hollow”, Ichigo is rescued by a monster-slaying spirit reaper named Rukia. Before she dies, Ichigo and Rukia make an agreement, transferring her powers to Ichigo and making him a temporary Soul Reaper. However, there is more to Ichigo than meets the eye. His natural strength is enormous, and his transformation into a Soul Reaper alerts the Soul Society that monitors the world of the living. Rukia finds herself on death row for the crime of transferring her powers, forcing Ichigo to find allies and undertake a dangerous rescue mission in the Soul Society to save his mentor. Of course, that hardly covers the first part of Bleach – roughly 21 volumes. There is a lot for Ichigo to face, with the increasingly powerful threats he must face, least of which being his special powers that threaten to consume his soul. As it stands, the Bleach Vol 1 is surprisingly durable despite its age. This is probably due to the number of other mangakas inspired by Kubo’s work – the overall setting feels familiar and nostalgic (albeit a bit simple). We can’t blame the 2002 series for feeling “tired” thanks to its grandchildren, of course, but if you’re used to reading modern shounen, Bleach might feel like “your dad’s manga.” Kobo’s urban-inspired sensibilities helped the series age it well, with bold chapter illustrations and distinctive character designs. The artwork lacks some of the sharpening clarity we’d expect in 2022, but the comedy holds up, and Ichigo’s clashes with the Hollows are still as glamorous as ever.

Why You Should Read Bleach (20th Anniversary Edition)

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1. The OG Still packs a punch

As mentioned, Bleach has held up well twenty years after its release. Sure, there are objectively better manga to read these days, but that’s something you’d expect from two decades of innovation. Bleach is best thought of as a beloved classic that paved the way for future storytellers. If you somehow skipped Bleach, getting the shiny new cover is a great bonus, and it’s a great way to start the series.

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Why You Should Skip Bleach (20th Anniversary Edition)

1. Lazy cash grab?

The selling feature of the 20th Anniversary Edition is the new cover art, which debuted in Shonen Jump magazine in 2001. Nothing else has been done for the first volume compared to the existing copies (which are still in print). Compare this to the “Fullmetal Editions” of Fullmetal Alchemist, which featured remastered graphics on high-quality stock, with embossed hardcover jackets. All this means – we were expecting more. The new cover is great, but at the moment there is no indication that Viz intends to release all seventy-four volumes in this style, so if you want to collect the series, you might be better off buying one of the existing chest sets.


last thoughts

As a single volume, Bleach Vol 1 is considered one of the predecessors of modern shounen. As a special edition, all you get is a fresh coat of paint, while other franchises like Fullmetal Alchemist get nicer deluxe editions. The new spine and cover are welcome additions, but you can easily grab one of the old covers (or set of boxes) while you’re at it. Personally, we’d be obsessed with the new size of the collector’s appeal, and if Viz intends to continue with the new covers, we might be swayed to choose the newer columns over the older ones. If you’re thinking of checking out this 20th anniversary volume, let us know in the comments below. And as always, thanks for reading!

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