I haven’t done any manga reviews in a while. Between my job and thesis work, there was simply no time I could afford on the hobby. Which is a shame, because I had a lot of plans for the summer. I wanted to do these massive multi-part retrospective for all the Shonen Jump series that were or are ending this year – namely Assassination Classroom, Bleach, Nisekoi, and Toriko – and began re-reading them in order to prepare for those. Unfortunately, I didn’t find much time to re-read all of them from beginning to end. I also realized it was too time-consuming to do any of these projects, and since I’m so pressed for time, I needed to prioritize my work.
That being said, I didn’t want to end the summer without doing anything, but I didn’t know what. Then Nick’s ill-fated Naruto marathon read gave me an exciting, painful idea. Now that Bleach is over, why don’t I attempt the inadvisable and re-read the entire thing from beginning to end? I had already started re-reading it earlier in the summer, and had gathered up most of the 67 currently released volumes from my local library, but only got through the first thirteen volumes and haven’t gotten back to it since. Besides, so many people have already commented over the years on why Bleach went downhill that I felt that I couldn’t really add much to the conversation with just a normal retrospective. A full-blown re-read of the series beginning to end isn’t something I’ve seen people try yet, and since it’s only been a week since the series ended, I thought I could strike while the iron’s hot and begin what I’d like to call…the Bleach-binge!
I’ve stated my thoughts on Bleach before on Manga Mavericks, but suffice to say, I don’t have a particularly favorable opinion on the series. I got into it around 2010 after seeing some stray episodes of the anime on [adult swim], but soon realized I had made a grave mistake after catching up to the manga in time for the disastrously disappointing conclusion of the Arrancar arc and the beginning of the painfully pointless Fullbring arc. I still kept up with Bleach on and off right up until the end, but I wish I bailed earlier considering what a mess the Thousand Year Blood War ended up being. But though I’m not fond of Bleach or where it ended up on the whole, I do think the series has merits. For the longest time, the Soul Society arc was one of my favorite arcs in anime/manga, and I found myself enjoying a lot of early Bleach when I revisited it earlier in the summer. I’m not going to hold back on my criticisms of the story as I go along, but I won’t neglect to give it it’s dues when it’s genuinely good too.
Unlike Nick’s Naruto read-through, where he posted brief opinions on each volume after he finished reading them in one post, my Bleach-binge will devote a new post for each volume of the series, detailing my stream-of-consciousness thoughts and reflections as I go along. I felt this would make navigating my read-through and finding my thoughts on certain parts of the series easier. Not to mention I write A LOT, so this thing could end up being over a million words by the time I’m done with it.
Nick’s Naruto read-through went abandoned partly because there wasn’t any goal he was working toward. So, to give this thing some stakes, my challenge will be re-reading and reviewing the entire series within 74 hours, giving me roughly one hour for each volume. Keep in mind, I still have a life and responsibilities I need to juggle the next couple of days. It takes an average of 30 minutes for me to read a volume of manga cover to cover, and I’m a very meticulous writer and have often spent over an hour just writing a review for a single chapter of manga. So yes, this is going to be an extremely difficult challenge. That said, this kind of time limit is only possible when you have some stakes to keep you accountable. So if I fail to complete my read-through of the series in 74 hours, I’m going to penalize myself by re-watching and reviewing ALL THE ANIME FILLER ARCS AND MOVIES! So yeah, I’ve got good reason to finish with the time limit. My very sanity is on the line here!
I’ve got all 67 volumes currently-released volumes on my shelf and the remaining 7 volumes worth of chapters on my phone, and I’m ready to go! I even went ought and bought the second Bleach character book as reference material to help me keep track of the series ever-changing and convoluted lore! Never say I’m not devoted to my hobbies! When each new review is done, I’ll tweet out the link to it, but make sure to keep checking back on my progress these next three days for updates because I’m sure when it comes down to the wire I’ll just focus on reading and neglect the social media part. When every post is finished this intro post will become a master post for the entire project, with links to reviews of all 74 volumes.
This post should be up around 12:00pm, so let’s set the clock ticking. I’ll have until Wednesday, August 31st at 2:00pm to finish my Bleach-binge. My goal for today will probably be to get through the Soul Society arc, then Arrancar on Monday, leaving the Fullbring and Blood War arcs for Tuesday and Wednesday. Will I succeed only to numb myself into a catatonic state from reading so much shonen mediocrity? Will I fail and end up wallowing in the abyss of Bleach filler hell? Or will I die from Bleach poisoning and be forced to spend my afterlife in the ghettos of Soul Society? Either way, enjoy my pain and suffering as I trudge through Bleach one last time. You sickos.