Another series I can blame my sister on getting me addicted to. This is a classic shounen or boy's manga that manages to be unique and interesting rather than cliche and over done. The characters and their growth are focused on equally with the fighting and training (which is often not the case in other shounen series), the story is fascinating and pulls you in, and the writing and drawing are brilliant.
Ichigo Kurosaki - a teenager who hides a caring heart behind a gruff exterior, his life is changed forever when his ability to see ghosts causes him to discover he hold great spiritual power. Fate and choice lead him to become a soul reaper, a group of spiritual beings who aid souls on their journey to the other side and fight against Hollows, twisted souls that eat and twist other souls. His powers and very existence will be instrumental in the times to come.
Rukia Kuchiki - the soul reaper who befriends Ichigo and helps him discover his potential, she is an opinionated person, but a very good friend. Their interactions together are often humorous and break up the story's often dark tones.
Many, MANY more characters are a part of the story and become important in various ways in later books, but these are the cornerstone and much of the story focuses around them.
This is the introductory book to the series and as such spends a great deal of time having us meet the characters and learning traits and beliefs. Who Ichigo is especially will become pivotal to the series in later arcs. This is one of those delightful mangas that give westerners a glimpse into how Japanese teenagers live, what they might be interested in, and the culture surrounding them. It also has fantastical monsters and brings in Japanese mythology, soul reapers, and near samurai swordsmanship. It is really the best of all words within the manga genre. For someone familiar with shounen series, think of it as a cross between YuYu Hakusho and Rurouni Kenshin with a dash of Naruto thrown in for good measure. For readers not familiar, this is a great introductory manga, as it does not require previous knowledge of mangas to understand the humor and would be a fascinating tale in any medium.
Tite Kubo does a wonderful job of pairing words with drawings and the English translation is quite good in this series. The pace of this book is solid, combining interesting action with necessary explanations.
My main problem with the series is its length. Kubo's pacing in single books might be excellent, but as a series he takes an awfully long time to get anywhere. Now that also mean lots of time spent with beloved characters and interesting plots...but for someone who followed Inuyasha for awhile, and collects multiple mangas and animes, Bleach is one of those new series you dread. "Please may I not find it interesting. Please may I not find it interesting. Please may I not...dang. Another 30+ book series to collect. Warning: Bleach is addicting. *smirk*
READ. If you like shounen manga or if you have never read manga before, this is a great series to get into. Just hope you don't get into too many long ones, your local library has it, or have a good bit of money! ;P