Manga Review: “RIN-NE” Volume 18

Originally written for WatchPlayRead.com

RIN-NE Volume 18 focuses on Rinne Rokudo, a boy who is half-human and half-shinigami. He becomes friends with Sakura Mamiya, a high school girl with an ability to see ghosts. They find themselves investigating strange happenings alongside Rinne’s Black Cat Contract, Rokumon, and Tsubasa Jumonji, a young exorcist who has strong feelings for Sakura.

RIN-NE Volume 18

Written by: Rumiko Takahashi
Publisher: Shogakukan
English Publisher: VIZ Media
Release Date: July 14, 2015

Volume 18 places a bit of its focus on the Black Cats. The first chapter sees Rokumon and the other cats going on a mushroom hunt, with an emphasis on Rokumon’s group. Instead of trying to find mushrooms, they decide to hunt down Eat-Eat Shrooms because they’re worth more. The humor in this chapter derives from Rokumon and his friends trying to capture the Eat-Eat Shrooms and not succeeding. This story falls into the realm of the light-hearted tales that don’t have as much focus on Rinne and don’t truly progress the story. Admittedly, I’m not as big of a fan of these stories in RIN-NE as I am of the stories that focus on Rinne and Sakura and their interactions.

Near the end of the volume, the reader is introduced to Sansei Kuroboshi, the grandson of Tamako’s Black Cat Contract. Tamako has asked Rinne to help train Sansei to work for her so the elder Kuroboshi can retire. As can be imagined in a series like RIN-NE, the results of the training are on the humorous side. And the humor with the training is accentuated by the twist that Tamako reveals at the end of the story. While the reader finds the ending funny, it’s safe to say that Rinne himself doesn’t appreciate it.

Volume 18 also sees some one-off stories, such as a ghost who refuses to leave a bed in the school nurse’s office, an adventure with a pot magistrate found in a pot that Ageha brings over, a story about a haunted coat and a mannequin, Rinne and Sakura helping Tamako to clean up her home in the spirit world, a mystery surrounding a haunted snowman, and Masato trying to trick Rinne with a lockbox made of ice.

Of these one-off stories, my favorite was the one where Rinne and Sakura help Tamako with her cleaning. I liked getting to see the photos in Tamako’s photo albums from when Rinne was younger. But it was amusing when pictures of Rinne’s father are mistaken for Rinne, because the behaviors shown in the picture are not what a reader would associate with Rinne. My least favorite story in the whole volume was the one with the haunted coat and the mannequin, because it was just strange, even by RIN-NE’s standards.

There’s also a two-chapter story that focuses on Renge, a girl who works for Rinne’s father’s Damashigami Company and has a crush on Kain, a registrar in the afterlife. Rinne’s father is trying to give her a bonus, but Kain and Rinne are both after him. Matters are made worse because Renge hides the fact she’s a Damashigami from Kain, so it looks like she’s being a double agent. As we’ve come to know in the series, Rinne’s father, Sabato, is a real jerk, and he lives up to that reputation in this story. And as I’ve come to expect from RIN-NE, there’s a twist at the end that brings about disappointment for at least one of the characters.

At this point, I seem to have become accustomed to the character designs in RIN-NE, because I didn’t find myself thinking that certain characters looked similar to Takahashi’s other characters. As I read this volume, I only thought of each character as looking like a character from RIN-NE. Perhaps watching the current anime adaptation of the series has helped me with that perception.

RIN-NE Volume 18 continues the light-hearted and episodic feel that this series has become known for. Readers who have been following RIN-NE will find the humor, plot twists, and themes that they’ve come to expect.

The reviewer was provided a review copy by VIZ Media

Manga Review: “Yukarism” Volume Three

Originally written for WatchPlayRead.com

Yukarism Volume 3 focuses on an accomplished 17-year-old writer named Yukari Kobayakawa, whose soul has the ability to travel into the Edo period and inhabit the body of a renowned female courtesan named Yumurasaki. It turns out that two people he meets in current time have some kind of connection with people that Yumurasaki knew in the Edo period, but Yukari hasn’t pieced everything together.

Yukarism Volume 3

Written by: Chika Shiomi
Publisher: Hakusensha
English Publisher: VIZ Media
Release Date: July 7, 2015

Volume 3 is chock full of major revelations for the series. It opens with a flashback of Kazuma remembering when his little sister Yu was sold to the pleasure district by their mother. This opening flashback establishes a very important detail that becomes important later on in the volume.

Throughout this volume, we see a good balance between Yukari in present time and when his soul takes over Yumurasaki’s body. This leads to opportunities for revelations to take place in both time periods. In the present time, as Yukari interacts with Mahoro and Katsuhiko, he starts getting more and more clues as to who they both were in their previous life in the Edo period. And when Yukari’s soul goes into the past, he learns more about Kazuma, Shizuka, and even Yumurasaki herself.

But the most important thing to come out of this volume is the fact that the past and the present seem to be starting to overlap in present time. This becomes a major plot point right at the end of the volume and leaves the reader on a cliffhanger.

If I have any complaints about the storytelling in Yukarism Volume 3, it’s how jumpy the it gets when Yukari’s soul goes back in time. While very little time has passed in present day, there are significant gaps of time in between Yukari’s visits to the Edo period. These gaps are commented on by Yukari when his soul goes back. It also feels like the author is starting to rush the overall story and revelations in this volume in order to reach a certain point, almost as if Shiomi may have been told by her editor that there was a chance for Yukarism’s serialization to abruptly come to an end due to lack of popularity. Shiomi spent so much time in the first two volumes establishing the characters and the concept that this sudden speed up in storytelling feels rather abrupt.

When it comes to the art in Volume 3, the scenes that take place in the Edo period continue to stand out because of all the detail Shiomi puts into the drawings. Unfortunately, this makes the scenes that take place in the present time pale in comparison. I can see how Shiomi cuts corners by having very little, if anything, in the background during scenes that take place in the present time. Also, the drawings of the characters in the present tend to have more of a rushed look to them when compared to the characters in the Edo period. As I read Volume 3, it almost felt like I was reading two different manga whenever the story switched time periods due to the drastic changes in art style.

Readers who have been reading the series and enjoy it will appreciate all the revelations that appear in Yukarism Volume 3, even though the story itself feels rushed. The cliffhanger ending should also make fans of the series want to read Volume 4 in order to find out what happens to Yukari and the other characters.

The reviewer was provided a review copy by VIZ Media

Weekly Shonen Jump (July 27, 2015)

This issue includes chapters for My Hero Academia, Nisekoi: False Love, Bleach, World Trigger, Toriko, Food Wars!, and Black Clover. This issue also includes the third chapter of Best Blue, the next title in Weekly Shonen Jump‘s “Jump Start” initiative, the fourth chapter of Dragon Ball (which is the current title to be featured for the “Jump Back” initiative), and the first chapter of the Twin Star Exorcists manga to preview the series.

For the series that carried over from previous issues I’ve read, I tried to put a little more focus in my write-ups about the progression of the story from the previous chapter. I will warn you that these write-ups will more than likely contain spoilers.

I only started reading Weekly Shonen Jump back in late February/early March of 2014, which means there’s a number of series published in the magazine that I jumped in the middle of. Since then, I’ve been able to start reading older chapters of some of the titles, but I haven’t managed to do this for all of the titles yet. Because of this, there may be times I might inadvertently include incorrect information in the write-ups. If you see something in a write-up that’s incorrect due to my having not read earlier chapters of a series, please feel free to leave a comment and let me know. Not only can I correct the incorrect information in the write-up, it will also help provide information for me to have when reading future chapters of a series in Weekly Shonen Jump.

Of course, you can always check out Weekly Shonen Jump for yourself by subscribing to the digital publication at VIZManga.com.

My Hero Academia CH:052

Midoriya discovers that Ida can’t move because he’s been cut by the Hero Killer. Ida tells Midoriya not to interfere, but Midoriya inists on staying. Then a battle begins between Midoriya and the Hero Killer. During the battle, Midoriya uses his full cloak and finds that it works. But the Hero Killer managed to get a cut in on Midoriya, which affects his ability to move. And just as it looks like Ida’s done for, something surprising happens.

This ended up being a rather bittersweet chapter. On the one hand, Midoriya discovered that his full cloak actually does work. But on the other, it still wasn’t enough to entirely dodge and protect himself from the Hero Killer’s Quirk. After Midoriya was knocked down, I really thought that Ida was done for. So I was legitimately surprised by what happened right at the end of the chapter. I’m actually looking forward to reading the next chapter to find out where the story will go to next.

Best Blue CH:003

After arriving in Tokyo, Souta takes Takumi to a tournament. It turns out Souta entered Takumi into it. It’s hosted by a swim club that Souta knows, and he’s using it as a prebattle before Takumi enters high school. While there, Takumi meets Oshiro, someone that Souta knows. While training in the sub pool, Takumi meets an arrogant boy named Yohei Onaga. When Takumi competes in his first race, it’s shown that he’s really fast. And at the end of the chapter, we see he came in first place.

So I guess I was wrong about seeing him going into high school in this chapter. But we do get to see that Takumi doesn’t quite understand the etiquette that’s expected at swimming competitions, and that he seems to have already made a rival out of Yohei. I expect the story will be set up where Takumi and Yohei will either be going to the same high school and competing on the same team, or that they end up on rival teams.

So it looks like this is the end of Best Blue for the “Jump Start” initiative. It’s a decent series, and perhaps it’s one I might grow to like better if I was able to read more of it. If there’s enough interest from the readers of the English Weekly Shonen Jump, there could always be the potential for Best Blue to become a regular manga featured in the publication.

Nisekoi: False Love CH:179

Raku learns from Yui that she was planning to leave after she told him how she felt and that she feels like she’s depended on him too long already. She’s now renting an apartment and moved most of her stuff, because Yui suspected what his answer would be. Yui reiterates that she’ll tell what she knows about 10 years ago once Raku decides who he cares about the most. But she does throw out something: she’s not Raku’s promise girl. We then see Yui informing Chitoge that Raku rejected her, and it appears Chitoge wants to be friends with Yui. Near the end of the chapter, Yui learns that the marriage proposal was made up.

So, Yui may no longer be part of the harem, but she hasn’t been written out of the series completely. That makes sense, considering she’s a teacher at Raku’s school. She can’t just simply up and leave at moment’s notice. Besides, it appears she still holds a clue to the promise 10 years ago. I had suspected that the marriage proposal was probably fake, so that didn’t really catch me by surprise. But I’m hoping that with this development, maybe Komi is starting to lay a foundation for bringing Nisekoi: False Love to an end.

Bleach CH:636

The Soul Reapers see an opponent that has made its head grow larger. Kenpachi’s broken arm suddenly starts twisting on its own and he rips it off. Mayuri can’t figure out what the opponent’s abilities are and advises Kenpachi to stay away. Kenpachi decides to disregard this advice and charges toward the opponent. As Kenpachi attacks, Mayuri comes up from behind and sends a sword through him. Mayuri uses an anesthetic, and it works on both Kenpachi and on the opponent. Mayuri then starts to take on the opponent.

This chapter focuses exclusively on Mayuri, Kenpachi, and the group of Soul Reapers with them. However, the main focus is on Kenpachi and Mayuri. From what’s shown here, it looks like Kenpachi could be down for the count, thus allowing Mayuri to become the star of this battle. It looks like the stage is being set for Mayuri to toy with this opponent in the next chapter.

World Trigger CH:110

The solo Rank War between Yuiga and Osamu gets underway. After their first bouts are done, Osamu wonders why Yuiga is an A-Rank. He later learns that Yuiga is the son of Border’s biggest sponsor. The next day is Chika’s birthday, and Osamu learns on that day that Chika let it slip out that she can’t shoot people. Osamu now has to come up with new strategies for their upcoming B-Rank War. We then see Azuma Squad meeting and working out their own strategies for the upcoming battle. A few days later, we see that Osamu is still a long way off from making his goal in the Solo Rank War, but he is learning how to get more hits which should allow him to help his team. Then the fourth round of the B-Rank Wars begin.

This chapter basically spends a lot of its time trying to quickly get through the days in order to get to the beginning of the next round of the B-Rank Wars at the end of it. Not much in the way of action really takes place, and it’s more of an exposition chapter than anything else. Since the chapter ends with the beginning of the next round of the B-Rank Wars, I feel safe in saying that the next chapter will be focusing on that.

Toriko CH:332

We see some of the chefs in Blue Grill talking amongst themselves, and their discussion turns to Ichiryu. Their conversation is interrupted and informed and their turns are coming up. The cooking battle between the Ten-Shell Masters and the human chefs is gearing up to get started. The story then returns to Komatsu, who learns about soul transactions and learns about these people’s ancestors. He also learns what the project is that Chaco mentioned earlier. Komatsu asks where Chaco was taken to. Before he can do anything, Komatsu receives a call about the cook-off.

This chapter spends a bit of time establishing the Ten-Shell Masters, but it’s also important because of Komatsu learning the truth about the people who live in the slums. He’s received a call about the cook-off, but I have a suspicion he’ll decide to skip out on it and try to rescue Chaco instead. I can’t see Komatsu abandoning someone who he knows needs help.

Food Wars! CH:128

We learn that on the third day of the festival, Soma’s cart is still in the red because of how big of a hole they found themselves in at the end of the first day. Kuga comes over to Soma and tells him that he’s an eyesore and tries to intimidate him to close up shop. We then see Soma and Megumi in the kitchen, with Soma trying to figure out a way to improve his father’s tofu recipe. It’s now the fourth day of the festival, and we see that Soma has arranged to have benches by his booth for people to sit and eat at. Soma also unveils his mapo tofu.

This chapter sets up that the odds still seem to not be in Soma’s favor. But the night before the fourth day of the festival, he comes up with a couple of ideas that are revealed at the end of this chapter. It’ll be interesting to see how these new ideas help Soma out. I’m sure they have to, because the author isn’t going to have his main character expelled from the school.

Black Clover CH:023

The chapter begins with the distinguished service ceremony. This ceremony introduces several new characters and explains why each of them are being recognized for distinguished service. Then it goes to the reception taking place after the ceremony. Asta ends up being noisy and acting like a stereotypical bumpkin at this fancy affair, and some of the wizards recognized at the ceremony look down on him. They also look down on Yuno as well, simply because he comes from the country. It turns out one particular wizard is Noelle’s older brother. She’s also looked down on by an older sister and another brother. She tries to run away, but Asta tells her that she doesn’t need to run. A wizard uses their magic on him, but Asta repels their magic.

This chapter establishes just how snooty some of these long-time wizards are. It also provided insight into how many people from Noelle’s family are involved and how much they look down on her. I’m not surprised that Asta encouraged Noelle to not run away from her snooty relatives and their taunts. When one of the magicians uses their magic on Asta to silence him, I couldn’t help but think that it might have been inspired by one of Gaara’s sand jutsu attacks from the Naruto franchise. And just when it seemed like the Naruto comparisons were disappearing. But my biggest frustration with this chapter was with how many new characters were being thrown out at the reader. There was no way I was going to remember who any of them are.

Twin Star Exorcists CH:001

This chapter was published to promote the first volume of the Twin Star Exorcists manga, which VIZ Media released on July 7, 2015.

Rokuro is from a family of exorcists, but he’d rather be a singer, a soccer player, or anything but an exorcist. He’s constantly getting shot down by girls, with the most recent one asking Rokuro if there’s anything right about him. In order to ask this girl out, he skipped out on a kegare excorism and is scolded. We learn that Rokuro had been fighting as an exorcist until two years ago, and that he was talented at it. It turns out that Rokuro is also the only survivor of Hinatsuki Dorm. We then get to see a flashback of the training Rokuro did when he was younger. As Rokuro is walking around thinking about his life, a girl falls from the sky and falls into a nearby river. He jumps in to save her, but she’s not hurt and gets herself out. Rokuro then realizes he can’t swim and asks the girl for help. After he’s saved, Rokuro thinks that the girl looks rather cute. She needs help finding a location on a map, and Rokuro tries to help her. Unfortunately, he manages to get them lost. As they walk, something happens, and the girl reveals that she’s an exorcist. Rokuro realizes she’s an exorcist and understands what she’s talking about, but he tries to claim he isn’t an exorcist. When another kegare attacks, the girl gives Rokuro another talisman and tells him to get himself and a couple of kids out of the area. The girl makes a reference to the Hinatsuki tragedy, which surprises Rokuro. We then hear an explanation of what the tragedy was. When he hears one of the kids crying, it reminds him of the Hinatsuki tragedy. Just when it seems like the girl has given up again the kegare, Rokuro suddenly jumps in. It turns out he has a black paper talisman with nothing written on it, and we see a flashback of how he got it. Rokuro uses the talisman and is able to defeat the kegare. The girl is impressed, but lectures Rokuro for jumping in when she didn’t ask for help. Rokuro learns that the girl’s name is Benio. We see that the two of them don’t like each other and want nothing to do with each other ever again. When Rokuro returns home, he finds that Benio is there and that she’ll be staying with them from now on.

This seems to have a rather classic set up of a protagonist who has a gift but doesn’t want to use it, and ends up in a situation where they’re forced to do something. The relationship between Rokuro and Benio is the classic rival setup, and after seeing the two of them say that they never wanted to see each other again, it was obvious that they would be together at some point. I kind of had a suspicion that the map Rokuro was unable to follow would lead to his home. Even though some of the elements were predictable, there was still an interesting idea going into this. From this chapter, it looks like Twin Star Exorcists might have potential.

Dragon Ball CH:004

Goku and Bulma officially meet Master Roshi. As a reward for Goku saving Trutle, Roshi summons Kinto’un, a magical cloud. Bulma sees that Roshi has a Dragon Ball hanging around his neck, and she gets it from him. Now she and Goku have four Dragon Balls. Right at the end of the chapter, they reach what appears to be a deserted village.

Well, this is the last chapter of Dragon Ball to appear for the “Jump Back” initiative. It basically introduces Master Roshi and establishes how pervy he is. For plot advancement, though, Bulma was able to get her hands on another Dragon Ball. The chapter ends with a hint of what could happen with the next storyline in the series.

I like Dragon Ball, so I have to admit that I will miss reading it in Weekly Shonen Jump in next week’s issue.

Manga Review: “Case Closed” Volume 55

Originally written for WatchPlayRead.com

Case Closed Volume 55 focuses on first grade detective Conan Edogawa, who had previously been a high school detective named Jimmy Kudo. While investigating a case, Jimmy was discovered by a criminal organization and forced to take an experimental poison. Unknown to the criminals, Jimmy survived and shrunk down to his first grade self. He takes on the name Conan Edogawa to hide his identity, goes to live with his friend Rachel and her bumbling private detective father, and receives help and gadgets from his neighbor, Dr. Agasa. Conan’s overall goal is to find a way to return to his regular self again.

Case Closed Volume 55

Written by: Gosho Aoyama
Publisher: Shogakukan
English Publisher: VIZ Media
Release Date: July 14, 2015

Volume 55 opens with a case that began in the previous volume. It’s a locked room murder mystery that features Conan, Harley Hartwell, and another teen detective competing to deduce what happened. Surprisingly, it wasn’t Conan who ultimately cracked the case. But I appreciated the touch that this detective did of psyching out both the characters in the story and the reader when the suspect was revealed. Even though I only jumped into this mystery at this point in the story, I still enjoyed what I read and thought the storytelling was rather clever.

The next three chapters in Case Closed Volume 55 see Conan and the other members of the Junior Detective League encountering an assault case after seeing their favorite soccer team lose in a match. Junior Detective League member George ends up playing a big role in this mystery, which is rather unusual, since he’s usually around for comic relief. In this mystery, I appreciated seeing how Aoyama incorporated the German language into the clue for determining the suspect in the assault case. Since I took German in high school, I was able to understand the German reference.

After this, four chapters in Volume 55 are devoted to telling about a scavenger hunt case that a young Shinichi and young Rachel went on to try to discover the identity of someone suspicious that they encountered in their school library. Dr. Agasa ultimately helps them out, since the kanji being used was too difficult for kids their age to understand. As an American reader, I did have a little trouble following what was going on with the clues when the kanji were utilized in dialogue. Since I don’t have the knowledge of how to read Japanese kanji, I had to rely on what explanations the English translation provided. Outside of that, I liked the various twists that were revealed at the end of the story. But of these twists, I especially enjoyed getting a hint about the origins of the phantom thief, Kaito Kid. I also liked getting to see little Shinichi and little Rachel because they looked so adorable.

The final two chapters in Case Closed Volume 55 see Rachel making another attempt at trying to get her parents to reconcile. Her mother blows her off after getting a phone call and rushes out. When Rachel discovers a picture of her mother with another man, she jumps to conclusions and takes Conan with her to find her mother. Once I saw the location where Rachel’s mother and this man met, I figured out that the situation wasn’t what Rachel thought it was. While this story may not have been along the lines of the “whodunit?” model that most of the mysteries in the Case Closed series utilize, it was a nice character development moment for Rachel’s mother.

When it comes to Aoyama’s art style, he actually includes quite a bit of detail in his drawings. Since Case Closed is a mystery series, it makes a lot of sense for the drawings to be rather detailed, since “the devil is in the details” when it comes to solving some of the mysteries that appear in the series.

I would highly recommend Case Closed to readers who are fans of the mystery genre, whether or not they’re already manga readers. And readers who are familiar with the series should be able to find a mystery that they enjoy in Case Closed Volume 55.

The reviewer was provided a review copy by VIZ Media

Manga Review: “My Love Story!!” Volume Five

Originally written for WatchPlayRead.com

My Love Story!! Volume 5 focuses on a large high school student named Takeo Goda and his girlfriend, Rinko Yamato. The series follows what happens to them as their relationship progresses.

My Love Story!! Volume 5

Written by: Kazune Kawahara
Publisher: Shueisha
English Publisher: VIZ Media
Release Date: July 7, 2015

Volume 5 focuses heavily on Mariya, the girl Takeo trained when they were competing in the Swedish Relay. For about half of the volume, Mariya tries to hide the fact she’s fallen for Takeo from everyone. Rinko is having fears of someone else falling for Takeo, but when she hears that Mariya told Takeo she “likes him as a person,” Rinko is willing to try to be friends with Mariya. But Makoto sees through Mariya and questions how she can keep this hidden and not have it affect her.

Mariya ends up confessing her feelings to Takeo, and this becomes the first real test for his relationship with Rinko. While there have been other tests for Takeo and Rinko in previous volumes, they were generally tests more of their own making through misunderstandings. This is the first time in the series that an obstacle was placed in front of their relationship through a third party. As you can imagine, this is rough on Takeo, but I believe he ultimately did the right thing in this situation.

The next story sees Rinko and Takeo deciding to throw a Christmas party for their friends. However, the focus isn’t so much on their relationship as it is on Takeo and Rinko trying to play matchmaker for friends who like each other but haven’t been able to confess their feelings. Takeo and Rinko end up learning an important lesson about interfering with other people’s relationships. But even with them learning this lesson, this still turns out to be a cute story.

The final story is set on New Year’s Day, which just also happens to be Takeo’s birthday. While Rinko is looking forward to celebrating his birthday, she also finds herself wondering why she and Takeo haven’t kissed yet, even though they’ve been going out for a while. Rinko does something I hadn’t expected her to in this story, and it’s actually amusing how clueless Takeo was when it happened. It becomes even more humorous when Takeo mentions what happened to Makoto later, and his friend points out what it was that Takeo hadn’t picked up on. But this little event marks a major progression in Takeo and Rinko’s relationship. The volume ends with Takeo realizing the significance of what happened, so we won’t know how this will truly affect Rinko and Takeo going forward until Volume 6 is released.

Takeo and Rinko can both be goofy protagonists at times, but this is what makes them endearing characters. They’re both innocent and naïve, and that helps to make them relatable. I think their personalities and relationships also set a good example for the series’ teen girl demographic.

While the art in My Love Story!! Volume 5 includes the usual tropes and styles associated with shojo manga, I actually liked the character design for Kurihara, Takeo’s friend from the Christmas party story. Aruko, the artist, gave him a hairstyle that looks like an afro. It’s a hair style that’s normally not seen on characters in shojo manga, so it was a pleasant surprise. Aruko is willing to take chances on character designs, which was evident with Takeo, who doesn’t look anything close to a typical male lead in a shojo manga.

Even though the target demographic for My Love Story!! is teen girls, I believe that older readers can also appreciate what the series has to offer. Readers already familiar with the series and have been following it from the beginning will enjoy the events in My Love Story!! Volume 5.

The reviewer was provided a review copy by VIZ Media

Anime DVD Review: Bleach Set 25

Bleach Set 25 includes episodes 343-354 of the series on two DVDs. Audio options include the original Japanese audio with English subtitles and the English dub.

Bleach Set 25

English Publisher: VIZ Media
Format: DVD
Release Date: June 23, 2015

Set 25 picks the canon storyline back up after a 17-month time skip. In the intervening time, Ichigo has lost his Soul Reaper powers and is living in peace as a third year high school student. But that peace is soon shattered when Chad seems to disappear and Uryu is attacked by an unknown assailant.

Ichigo finds himself being approached by Kugo Ginjo, a member of a group known as Xcution. Its member are made up of people who were born with or have manifested a Fullbring ability, and it turns out this is where Chad has been. Xcution wants to help Ichigo restore his Soul Reaper powers in order to rid themselves of their Fullbring abilities, but Ichigo wants no part of it at first. But after his younger sister Yuzu is attacked by a Hollow, Ichigo decides to take Xcution up on their offer.

With a new story arc, of course, comes new characters. Obviously, there’s Kugo and the other members of Fullbring. Of the Xcution characters, a lot of focus is also placed on Riruka Dokugamine, the member who takes charge of Ichigo’s training. Her Fullbring is known as “Dollhouse” and allows her to place people into objects that she finds to be cute. With her ability, Riruka places Ichigo into objects like a dollhouse or a birdcage and has him fighting plush animals she brings to life by kidnapping humans and putting them into the plushes. Admittedly, these training battles are on the surreal side for the viewer, but they end up accomplishing what they need to do as Ichigo begins taking steps to learn how to activate a Fullbring. We get to see three other members of Xcution as well, but they tended to not be focused on as much as Kugo or Riruka were.

A new enemy is also introduced in this set, a man named Shukuro Tsukishima who has ties with Xcution. He has a lackey named Moe Shishigawara, but it’s safe to say that this guy’s not very bright. It’s no wonder that he’s Shukuro’s lackey.

Ichigo has a part-time job, and this set also introduces the viewer to his boss, Ikumi Unagiya. She owns the Unagiya Shop, a business that performs odd jobs for its customers. In a lot of respects, her personality kind of reminds me of Kukaku Shiba.

Since there’s a 17-month time skip, some of the characters have received some major changes to their character design. Ichigo, Uryu, and the adults don’t seem to have changed much, but many of the other characters have significant changes to them. Characters like Karin, Yuzu, Jinta, and Keigo look drastically different, while others have noticeable changes that aren’t quite as significant.

There’s also something about the atmosphere of the series that has changed, in addition to the character designs. The overall aesthetics of the animation seem to have noticeably changed, and there also seems to be a change to the feel in the storytelling. Considering that there’s a significant time skip and the main characters have grown up in that intervening time, having this change in the series’ atmosphere makes a lot of sense. But as a viewer, it took me a few episodes to truly adjust to these changes.

When it comes to the DVD set itself, the omake are cut off from the end of the episodes and collected together in the “Omake” feature included on both discs. The quality of the omake on this set was poor overall, although a couple of them induced some chuckles.

The bonus features on both discs have the same clean opening and clean ending, since there was only one opening animation and one closing animation that appeared on the episodes in this set. The opening and closing both have options for English subtitles and Romaji subtitles.

“More From VIZ Media” includes the exact same trailers that appear at the beginning of each disc before the menu loads. Not only that, but the trailers used for Bleach Set 25 are the exact same trailers that were used for Sets 22-24. If the trailers didn’t entice me to buy what they were selling three sets ago, they’re not going to convince me to buy them now.

If you’re a Bleach fan, this set is a “must own” if you want to have all of the episodes that include canon material in your anime home video collection.

The reviewer was provided a review copy by VIZ Media

VIZ Media’s Shojo Beat Imprint Announces New License

VIZ Media’s Shojo Beat imprint announced at its Otakon panel that it has licensed Keiko Ishihara’s The Heiress and the Chauffeur (Ojō-sama no Untenshu) manga. The first volume will be available in May 2016.

The story takes place in the Taishō era, at a girl’s school where one young lady, Sayaka, earns the envy of all the other girls. She wears a red ribbon to mark her the top student at school. She is always followed by a chauffeur, an employee of her family. The rumor among the students is that the two are in love.

Ishihara began the manga in Hakusensha’s LaLa DX magazine in 2010. Hakusensha published the series in two compiled volumes.

Source: ANN