Bleach (20th Anniversary Edition) Vol 1 [Manga] Review – The O.G. Still Reigns Supreme, But More Could’ve Been Done

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The OG Still Reigns Supreme, But More Could’ve Been Done
  • Mangaka : Kubo Tite
  • Publisher : Action, Adventure, Shounen, Drama, Supernatural
  • Genre : Viz
  • Published : August 2022 (original run, April 2004—October 2018)

Twenty years since its original release in Japan, Kubo Tite’s Bleach has undeniably left an indelible mark upon the manga world. One of the “big three” shounen manga (alongside Naruto and One Piece), Bleach was serialized for fourteen years, ending with seventy-four volumes. Kubo would go on to inspire many modern mangaka, including Horikoshi Kouhei of Boku no Hero Academia (My Hero Academia), Akutami Gege of Jujutsu Kaisen, and Gotouge Koyoharu of Kimetsu no Yaiba (Demon Slayer). All three of these mangaka have publicly listed Bleach as an influence on their works and that it shaped them as young artists. Now, twenty years after the first volume’s release in Japan, Bleach returns to the shelves and our television screens, too. Fans are eagerly anticipating the trailer for the Thousand Year Blood War arc, the final manga arc that was never adapted in the original anime release. In celebration of both the TYBW Arc and the series’ twenty-year anniversary, the first volume of Bleach is being re-released with a new cover. Today on Honey’s Anime, we discuss Bleach, its legacy, and whether you should buy the new 20th Anniversary Edition when it releases in August 2022.

BLEACH 20th ANNIVERSARY PROJECT PV

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Discussion Time

For the unacquainted, Bleach stars 15-year-old Ichigo Kurosaki, a delinquent high schooler who can see ghosts. After his family is attacked by a monstrous “Hollow,” Ichigo is saved by a monster-slaying Soul Reaper named Rukia. Before she dies, Ichigo and Rukia make a pact, transferring her powers to Ichigo and making him a temporary Soul Reaper. There’s more to Ichigo than meets the eye, though. His natural strength is tremendous, and his transformation into a Soul Reaper alerts the Soul Society which 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 mount a dangerous rescue mission into the Soul Society to save his mentor. Of course, that barely covers the first arc of Bleach – roughly 21 volumes. Theres a lot more Ichigo gets up to, with powerful threats that he must face, the least of all being his own powers threatening to consume his soul. As it stands, Bleach Vol 1 holds up surprisingly well despite its age. Perhaps that’s due to how many other mangaka were inspired by Kubo’s work—the general setup feels familiar and nostalgic (albeit a little basic). We can’t fault a series from 2002 for feeling “tired” thanks to its own descendants, of course, but if you’re used to reading modern shounen, Bleach might feel like your “dad’s manga.” Kubo’s grunge, urban-inspired sensibilities have helped the series age well, with bold chapter illustrations and distinctive character designs. The artwork lacks some of the sharp clarity we expect in 2022, but the comedy holds up, and Ichigo’s speech with Hollows are still as flashy as ever.

Why You Should Read Bleach (20th Anniversary Edition)

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1. The OG Still Packs a Punch

As we’ve mentioned, Bleach holds 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. It’s best to think of Bleach as a beloved classic that paved the way for future storytellers. If you’ve somehow skipped Bleach, getting the shiny new cover is a nice bonus, and it’s a great way to start the series.

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Why You Should Skip Bleach (20th Anniversary Edition)

1. A Lazy Cash-Grab?

The selling feature for the 20th Anniversary Edition is the new cover art, which first appeared in Shonen Jump magazine in 2001. There’s nothing else that’s been done to the first volume compared to the existing (still in-print) copies. Compare this to the “Fullmetal Editions” of Fullmetal Alchemist, which featured remastered drawings on high-quality stock, with embossed hardcover jackets. All of this is to say – we expected more. The new cover is nice, but currently, there’s no indication that Viz intends to release all seventy-four volumes in this style, so if you wanted to collect the series, you might be better off buying one of the existing box sets.


Final Thoughts

As an individual volume, Bleach Vol 1 holds up as well as a forefather of modern shounen. As a special edition, however, all you’re getting is a new coat of paint, while other franchises like Fullmetal Alchemist received nicer deluxe editions. The new spine and cover are welcome additions, but you could easily grab one of the older covers (or a box set) while you’re at it. Personally, we’ll probably grab the new volume for the collector’s appeal, and if Viz does intend to continue with the new covers, we might be swayed to choose the newer spines over the older ones. If you’re thinking of checking out this special 20th-anniversary volume, let us know down in the comments below. And as always, thanks for reading!

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