Sporadic Sequential
Thursday, August 30, 2007
By reading this post, you are expressly and impliedly agreeing that this is the Best Bleach Blog IN THE WORLD

Thanks to Chris Mautner, here's another suggestion on how to pass the time between Bleach volumes once the release schedule starts to slow down: Play one of the many Bleach video games! (Of course, none of the games are available for my console, the old Xbox. Although it's a moot point, because so far the games are only available in Japan. Although come Oct. 9th, lucky owners of Nintendo systems will be able to play Bleach on either the Wii or DS. Lucky bastards.) Let's see: manga, anime (both episodic and feature-length), musicals, novels, and video games. Is there any medium Bleach isn't available in? (Please, if there are H-doujinshi for Bleach and I'm sure there are don't tell me about them.)

Of course, if you don't mind engaging in questionable moral / ethical behavior, there is another way to keep up with Bleach: keep reading it via scanlations. I thought most scanlators stopped working on a series once it was licensed, but apparently not. A Google search on "Bleach scanlations" turns up 484,000 results, and the first two links I spotchecked both offer scanlations of the entire series, so they're not even retiring chapters that are readily available for purchase. In fact, the first site even has scanlations through chapter 288, which I believe is the most recent installment published in Japan as of this writing.

I'm surprised to find so many scanlation sites up and running (searching for "Naruto scanlations" returns even more results), mainly because I would have expected the publishers to be much more aggressive in protecting their cash cows. Trying to chase after ever-changing BitTorrent sites and seeders might well be an excercise in futility, but these are sites dedicated to putting out bootleg versions of licensed material, and most of the sites I checked even ask visitors for money to help support their operating costs. Why are they allowed to stay up?

I attempted to find statements on several of the scanlation sites explaining their stance on the ethics / legality of their actions but couldn't find anything. I did find this, however, which I found hilarious:
Bleach7.com does not claim to be the creator of the BLEACH manga or anime series. We had absolutely no part in any creation of the series, and are just dedicated fans of this series who have taken their time to create this website. Although we did not create the BLEACH series, we did create this website to be as original as possible. We ask that you respect the originality of our work, and not take anything without expressed written permission by the owners.

Bleach7.com and all of it's original content and images are the sole property of the webmasters of this site. Furthermore, Bleach7.com is protected by the Digital Millenium Copyright Act. Unauthorized use of any original pieces originating from the Bleach7.com are subject to criminal and civil penalties. If it is found that you have taken original work from Bleach7.com, you will be asked to remove it peacefully within 24 hours, or risk possible legal action against you or your website.

Now, I understand that the work on creating and maintaining a website isn't trivial, so there's certainly some justification for feeling protective of the content of your site. But that entire site is built off the work of others, and somehow I really doubt they obtained the express written consent of Tite Kubo or his publishers when putting it together

[By the way, I like that background image you have on your site, so I think I'm going to take it and use it on my blog from now on. You're cool with that, right?]

I also thought this attempt at legalese to avoid criminal prosecution was amusing:
By not agreeing to these terms, you can not threaten Bleach7.com or any company hosting and storing any files related with Bleach7.com with legal action. You also may not prosecute any person(s) affiliated with Bleach7.com including, but not limited to, family, friends or individuals who maintain or visit this website.
You hear that, Viz and Shueisha? By not agreeing to the terms of this site, you forfeit the right to go after us! And if you do agree to the terms of this site, they expressly prohibit you from suing us as well! So either way, you're powerless to prosecute us! Burn!!!

(And I know Google is just providing links without making judgements about the content of those links, but I find it a little insulting that several of the links on their Book Search for Bleach point to scanlation sites. Way to promote book sales, Google!)

Finally, I caught this Bleach-related story by Heather Crabtree of the Corvallis Gazette-Times via Google News and wanted to comment on a couple things in it:

» Regarding how Ichigo gains his powers: I know this is nitpicking, but saying Rukia "accidentally transfers" all of her shinigami powers to Ichigo makes it sound like the whole incident was due to Rukia's incompetence. "Whoops! Silly me! I accidentally gave you all of my powers! Oh, well!" I probably would have phrased this more along the lines of: "Due to Ichigo's own supernatural abilities, he unintentionally absorbs all of Rukia's powers."

» It's Hollow, not Hallow. (Only misspelled once, but it's still sloppy.)

» It's Tite Kubo, not Tito Kubo. (Although I'll admit the idea of a manga-ka named Tito is intriguing.)

» I'll admit, I assumed that the shinigami concept had its roots in ancient Japanese mythology / folklore as well, but according to Wikipedia, it was "imported to Japan from Europe during the Meiji period." Upon learning this, Crabtree writes that she was "sadly disappointed at this little discovery," which struck me as odd. Why does it matter how long the concept has been a part of Japanese culture? "Oh no, the concepts I'm reading about in this fictional manga featuring superpowered teens wielding mystic weaponry aren't authentically Japanese enough!" It's like being crestfallen upon learning that Christmas isn't "really" a Christian holiday because it borrows so much from earlier pagan rituals. (To be fair, Crabtree does go on to say she's impressed by how effectively Tite Kubo integrates the "borrowed" shinigami concept with things that are essentially and exclusively Japanese, like sharp swords.)

» Usage question: "Episodes 64 through 109 divert from the manga with original story specific to the anime." Shouldn't that be "diverge from the manga," or is that an acceptable use of "divert"?

» Regarding the anime, Crabtree writes:
Some of the English-version season-one episodes are available to rent. The episodes are being released as volumes instead of seasons; episodes one through 21 are out on DVD. The last disc with season-one episodes will be released Sept. 25.
Again, this is nitpicky, but:
  • All of the English-version season-one episodes are currently available to rent (or buy, for that matter). The first season (really, more of a story arc than season, but still) lasted 20 episodes and all of it has been released on five DVDs as of July 31st.

  • Episodes 1 through 20 are currently out on DVD. Episode 21 won't be available until the sixth DVD (which starts season two note the different DVD coloring scheme!) comes out on Sept. 25th.

  • Although the anime is being released as individual DVDs containing only four episodes per disc, it's also being collected in a season one box set coming out on Oct. 30th.
» Finally, to tie it all together, the article ends with a note that to learn more about Bleach, readers should visit not Viz's official Bleach site or the official Japanese site or even the Wikipedia entry on Bleach but www.bleachexile.com, a fansite that offers, among other things, (you guessed it) Bleach scanlations and fansubs. It's a nice final touch to cap off such a shoddy, slapdash piece of writing. "I know I couldn't be bothered to mention the name of the company that puts out the English versions of the Bleach manga and anime, but here's the website where I cribbed most of my information from."

After years of witnessing the "mainstream media" get things wrong whenever they'd cover comics, you'd think I'd be indifferent when it comes to this sort of thing. But it still irks me that someone can get paid to write such a poorly-researched piece and have it see print. Crabtree even admits that all of her sources are the same online sites any poor blogging schlub could cite. "Shucks, I was unable to locate any scholarly reference material, and my deadline is looming. What to do?" This is what passes for journalism nowadays? Leave the lazy online research to bloggers like me and get out there and pound the pavement to drum up reputable sources! I can look up Wikipedia; I certainly don't need a paid journalist to tell me what it says.

OK, to leave things on an upbeat note, starting tomorrow today you can download individual episodes of the Bleach anime from TotalVid or Direct2Drive. (Well, at least you can buy the episodes from TotalVid today; it looks like Direct2Drive is waiting for the officially announced 8/31 launch date.) Personally, I plan on renting the DVDs through Blockbuster Online, but I do think it's nice (not to mention smart) to see companies like Viz offering their fans legitimate means to download digital content. (I also think it's funny that TotalVid lists three pages of Bleach anime downloads but there's nothing on page three. There is no page three!!)

(Yeah, I totally stole that image from the TotalVid site. It's my new blogging M.O.! Unattributed image theft!!)

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Wednesday, August 29, 2007
Sneaky Shopping Tips

Not sure how long this has been out there or how long it'll last, but right now Buy.com is offering new Google Checkout users $10 off $10. You read that right: $10 off $10. So you can basically order something and get it for free if you use Google Checkout. (You'd have to pay for shipping, but if you order at least $25 worth of stuff, shipping is free, too.) "But wait," I hear you saying, "I've already used Google Checkout before, so I can't get the discount!" Well, you can't with that account, but Gmail users can get around this by sending Gmail invites to themselves (even at their current Gmail address) and creating a new Google account. Apparently Google doesn't check to see if the email address is already associated with a Google account when the invites come via Gmail. (If you just tried creating a new Google account from scratch using an email address already associated with an existing Google account, it would flag the error.)

This feels a bit dishonest, but I couldn't find anything in Gmail's terms of service or program policies expressly or indirectly forbidding this activity. Right now it just looks like a hole Google didn't think of plugging, so if it doesn't violate your personal principles, I'd say take advantage of the glitch to stock up on some comics while you can. It's a great way to treat yourself to books that felt too indulgent to buy otherwise, especially considering Buy.com's already great discounts. For example, they have The Art of Bone for $23.97, the cheapest I've been able to find it anywhere. Add something small and you just got yourself The Art of Bone for only $13.97 with free shipping!! (And if anyone from Google is reading this, I was just, uh, performing some creative negative testing for you, so let's just consider all those additional $10 off discounts my consulting fee and call it even, OK?)

EDITED TO ADD some tips I forgot to mention last night:
  • Use a form-filling utility like Roboform or Google Toolbar to speed up the process of signing up for Google Checkout accounts.
  • Set up your new Gmail account(s) to forward emails to your old Gmail address so you only have to log in to one account to see all your order updates.
  • If you're only using the new Google account to get the $10 coupon, don't take a good account name that someone else might actually want to use; give it some dummy name like "buy.com000001".
At these prices, I'm tempted to buy stuff I thought I was immune to, like Absolute DC: The New Frontier for only $32.53 with free shipping.

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Monday, August 20, 2007
Kekkaishi Cheers & Jeers

Cheers! to the Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA) for naming Kekkaishi as one of its nominees for 2007's Great Graphic Novels for Teens! The full list is here, while ComiPress has a list of just the manga nominees. (And extra Cheers! to David Welsh for pointing this out to me in the first place!)

Jeers! to Kekkaishi Volume 10 for including one of the worst character designs I've ever seen:

It's My Evil Pony, the Dark Centaur Version!

And right after I went on and on about how great the character designs in Kekkaishi were, too! (This always happens to me after I recommend something. Yes, I'm the one who's responsible for all of your favorite TV shows suddenly sucking in midseason.) At least the story is still good. As Katherine Dacey-Tsuei pointed out in her review, this is the installment where it all starts to hit the fan. You know a manga is skillfully crafted when it can still surprise you even after you feel like you've seen the same old storytelling tricks over and over again.

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Friday, August 17, 2007
Signs of The Mangapocalypse

I don't know if anyone but me cares at this point, but it looks like Akira Club may be coming out sometime before the end of August. On Dark Horse's site, they've moved up the release date from 9/12 to 8/29, and ComicList has it on their preliminary list for 8/22. Against this, the book isn't listed at all on Diamond's "shipping next week" list for 8/22, and Amazon pegs it with a 10/15 release date.

Since I still haven't managed to find time to read through PulpHope and two Miyazaki art books (not to mention dozens of manga sitting on my shelves), I'm not too concerned about getting this any time soon. But it would be nice not to have to approve order extensions for this item every month, so I guess I'm kinda a little bit excited that Akira Club is maybe actually coming out.


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Thursday, August 09, 2007
The Times of Botchan

Just to show that I do read more than manga featuring teens who battle supernatural forces, I thought I'd spend some time looking at some other books I've read recently. Here's the first entry in what I hope will be a recurring feature over the next few weeks.

The Times of Botchan is a great, quirky read. There's not much of a plot (unless you consider "neurotic author with semi-xenophobic attitudes sits around and describes the book he's planning on writing to his slacker friends similarly disaffected by Japan's transition to Western-inspired customs during the Meiji period" a meaty plot*), but that's more than made up for by the delightfully oddball cast of characters and intriguing observations about tradition and culture.

In his review, Chris Mautner argues that Botchan will mean more for those who already have some familiarity with the Meiji era, but I found myself enjoying the book a great deal despite having no knowledge of the historical period. Personally, I came away from reading the first volume with a desire to learn more about this fascinating time during Japan's past. While I can agree that a Meiji scholar would get even more from this book than I did, I think the themes of societal change / cultural upheaval and people's different reactions to those shifts are pretty universal (and fairly timely, given our own country's struggles with immigration, outsourcing, and other "global economy" issues).

This is the closest the book has to a psychic nosebleed incident.

Plus, there's the artwork by Jiro Taniguchi a wonderful blend of detailed realism and expressive cartooning (especially his faces), which alone is worth the price of admission. Yes, these books are pricey (the series is projected to run ten volumes, at $20 a slender pop), but Fanfare/Ponent Mon does a wonderful job with the production values: the cover is sturdy with end flaps; the paper stock is high quality with a slightly yellow tone to it (a nice touch given the historical subject matter); and the book features plenty of helpful footnotes plus a short background essay at the end.

Other reviews: Katherine Dacey-Tsuei gave the first three volumes of Botchan an overall grade of A-. Joey Manley thought the book was marred by a bad translation. (The examples he cites didn't bother me, as they struck me as oddities of speech that could happen in actual casual conversation among friends.) Derik Badman felt the book rewards multiple readings, so it received a "highly recommended" rating from him. Finally, Tom Spurgeon listed it as #10 out of his Top 50 Comics for 2006, describing it as "one of the best comics ever and one of the most uniquely told, with sterling craft and precision," and apparently that high praise was based on not even reading the whole book.

* OK, granted, put that way, it does sound like a meaty premise, but still not much happens plot-wise. I mean, for a manga, there are hardly any sword fights / telekenetic duels / alien invasions.

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Wednesday, August 08, 2007
Another Image-Heavy Kekkaishi Post:
The Joy of Great Character Designs

One of the things I love about Kekkaishi are the distinctive character designs. Creator Yellow Tanabe does a wonderful job creating memorable and fitting looks for each character. One of my favorite characters in the book is Tokine, the childhood friend and next-door neighbor of the series' main protagonist, Yoshimori. Tokine is older and more mature than Yoshimori, and it shows in the way Tanabe depicts the two characters: whereas Yoshimori's impatient temperament is betrayed by his unruly hair and forward-leaning motion, Tokine's sensibly pulled-back straight hair and solid stance convey confidence and stability. Unlike many manga heroines, Tokine isn't ditsy or unsure of herself. And don't even think of sneaking an upskirt peek at her panties:

My only complaint about Tokine's character is that sometimes she's written as mentally marveling at Yoshimori's untapped / unrefined prowess. Those bits are annoying for two reasons: First, it comes across as a clunky moment of the writer trying to convince readers how great the main character is. (Don't tell us how great the character is; just show us.) Second, it makes Tokine look like she's fawning over Yoshimori as being naturally great even though he doesn't bother to train or take his responsibilities seriously like she does. (As you can probably guess, Yoshimori isn't my favorite character. He suffers from what I term "Manga Manifest Destiny Syndrome" where slacker characters expect to become really good at something simply by virtue of wanting it really badly. And generally those characters do get what they want, since they just so happen to have some amazing innate talent. Still, while I don't like Yoshimori much considered in his own right, he is a decent foil for the rest of the cast to react to.)

Back to characters I do like, here's Yoshimori's older brother Masamori, who's so cool he can take time to answer his cell phone in the middle of battling a many-limbed monster.

Tanabe draws Masamori as such an attractive guy that I've developed a bit of a fictional mancrush on him:

Tanabe's villains are also strangely attractive. Consider this villainess, who somehow manages to be both spooky and sexy even though she lacks the traditional "bad girl" massive mammaries:

Here are a couple other designs that caught my eye:

Creepy old scholar guy, who apparently has some unusual sexual proclivities looked down upon by other characters

Some bad guy demons who have adopted human form.

Finally, in the
omake at the end of volume two, Tanabe offers a fascinating look at character designs that could have been:

Even better, Tanabe images how differently the manga would have read if she had gone with alternate designs:

After growing accustomed to the characters' "normal" looks, it's a bit odd to see other characters acting out their parts. It's like watching a horribly miscast remake of a favorite old show.

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Tuesday, August 07, 2007
Iron Man Dickery, Pre-Civil War Edition

One recurring complaint about Civil War and its aftermath has been that it damaged the character of Iron Man, turning Tony Stark into an unlikeable dick. After reading an old Iron Man annual, though, I'm thinking that perhaps Iron Man's dickishness was a well-established character trait. Consider:

Iron Man says doors are for chumps who can't afford to smash through walls:

"Who has time for doors with their complicated knobs and locks? It's easier just to smash your way through whatever architectural feature happens to be in your way!"

If you don't accept Iron Man's apology, he will hit you in the face until you do:

"Look, I said I was sorry, so I'm going to keep punching you in the face until you accept my apology!! And I said I was too busy to play Scrabble, so that's another punch in the face!"

BONUS PANELS: How modern comics have ruined my enjoyment of older comics.

1. I can't read panels like the one below without imagining the erotic fanfic it has undoubtedly spawned:

Bonus Creepy Points: In the preceding panel, Black Widow remarked to Hercules how being carried on his shoulders reminded her of her father.

2. When I see scenes like the one below, I worry about Brad Meltzer getting ideas for a shocking new series revealing previously unknown details from a Seventies superhero team's sordid past.

"See, everyone always thinks A.I.M. is just a bunch of goofy goons in beekeeper outfits. But what if we reveal that a group of them held the Black Widow down and then..." [I'll leave that last bit unfinished because there's only so far I'm willing to go to make yet another joke about Identity Crisis's creepy sexual politics.]

All panels from Iron Man Annual #4 (1977), reprinted in the misleadingly named Champions Classic Volume 2.

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Monday, August 06, 2007
Can't Buy It If I Can't Find It

This is a topic that's been discussed before, but it was on my mind again last week. I was trying to find earlier volumes of Kekkaishi and the B&N near work only had a single copy of volume one. I logged on to BN.com and used their "Search Inventory" feature (see image at right) to see if other stores in the area had the volume I was looking for. Here are the results of my search:
Out of 11 stores in the Minneapolis area:
  • Eight stores had Kekkaishi volume 1 in stock
  • No stores had any copies of volumes 2 through 8
  • Three had volume 9
Curious, I decided to search the store inventory for other manga series to see how they fared:

Book# Stores Stocking
Bleach 19
Bleach 29
Bleach 108
Bleach 163
Bleach 2010
Naruto 19
Naruto 102
Naruto 1510
Sgt. Frog 1N/A (store search not available; going out of print?)
Sgt. Frog 135
Yotsuba&! 10
Yotsuba&! 48
Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service 10
Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service 32
MPD-Psycho 10
Town of Evening Calm, Country of Cherry Blossoms0
Times of Botchan 10
Vagabond 1N/A; 1st edition out of print; 2nd edition not yet available?
Vagabond 250
Emma 13
Emma 40
Antique Bakery 13
Fruits Basket 110
Fruits Basket 1610
Dragon Head 15
Dragon Head 72
Banya 15
Banya 42
Blue (Fanfare/Ponent Mon)1
Between the Sheets0
The JudgedN/A (out of print?)
Pure Trance0
Sexy Voice and Robo0

Those last five were taken from David Welsh's online shopping test. So David was correct when he noted that those titles "might not be found on the shelves of the local bookstore chain."

Some thoughts:

» If you want to buy manga in Minneapolis, Borders is probably a better bet than Barnes & Noble. I don't shop at Borders that often because there's only one relatively nearby, but it's a pain to get to. Still, Borders' inventory search (down at the time this was written) showed that they had the book I was looking for, so I went there and was impressed with their selection. The shelf space devoted to manga is probably close to the same as at most Barnes & Nobles I've seen, but the selection is much more diverse. Borders had one shelf copy of each volume of Kekkaishi, and I noticed a number of other manga series that I've never seen at a B&N. (Again, others have mentioned this before, but the point was really driven home for me when I was actually looking for something and not just casually checking out the manga sections.)

» If you want to buy manga at a Barnes & Noble in Minneapolis, make it the one in the Mall of America: Almost every manga I found available in-store was in-stock at MOA.

» This exercise reinforces a topic numerous pundits have discussed before: The problem of inventory. With so many manga series being released (and so many of them multi-volume), it's impossible to stock them all given limited shelf space. So it's disappointing but not surprising that quirkier books like Sexy Voice and Robo can't be found on store shelves. What is surprising is that proven hits such as Naruto and Bleach have gaps in their runs at many stores. Perhaps the likelihood of a new reader coming in and needing a copy of Naruto 10 is slim, but it seems like not having those middle volumes would be a stumbling block for snagging new readers if they do wander in. I know those books are available through other sources, but it looks odd to see scattered volumes of a long-running series sitting picked over on the shelves. It also makes me wonder how dedicated brick-and-mortar stores will be to stocking each and every volume of Naruto during the upcoming "Naruto Nation" surge. Perhaps we are getting to a point where comic shops can distinguish themselves from the chain bookstores as manga destinations by having a wider selection of manga available on-hand. After all, comic shops are probably more accustomed to handling long-running serialized product (as Brian Hibbs has been arguing for some time now). The question becomes what comic shops can do to attract customers who have grown accustomed to getting their manga fix from the big booksellers. I know one shop, Neptune Comics in Waukesha, Wisconsin, offers a manga club where members can get one free book for every ten they purchase. Are there other shops out there trying to win over manga readers? What challenges do comic shops face in trying to stock manga?

» I was going to search for some superhero books to see how they fared in terms of in-store availability, but I gave up when I did a search for Marvel's Civil War books. There are 23 trade paperbacks collecting Civil War material? (For the record, the main Civil War collection was available in all eleven stores. Even the Heroes for Hire Civil War tie-in was in ten stores So I guess Marvel is doing something right with its bookstore program.)

» There's a Civil War Script Book???? Well, at least I know what I'm getting Graeme for Christmas now.

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Wednesday, August 01, 2007
And So It Begins

After growing spoiled with Bleach releases that were only two months apart, it looks like there will now be a five month gap between volumes 21 (10/2/07) and 22 (3/4/08). No idea if this longer delay will become the norm between volumes, but based on the fact that Bleach is now being serialized first in the monthly Shonen Jump, I think the release schedule would have to slow down. (Various fans have speculated that a slowdown would have occurred even without the SJ serialization because the American releases were catching up to the Japanese volumes.)

So how is a Bleach fan supposed to while away the months between volumes? Here are a few suggestions. (Feel free to add your own in the comments.)

Catch up with the anime. By Sept. 25, the sixth DVD will be out, which covers up to the 24th episode, and the season one boxed set containing the first five discs (20 episodes) comes out a little after that in October. I've only watched the first DVD and wasn't that impressed, but I remember watching snippets of later episodes via BitTorrent and it looked like the animation quality had improved, so I might be tempted to check out more of the series.

Catch up with the musical. In addition to the episodes available on YouTube, there's also the official musical site, which has some interesting features. I especially like the opening animation on the subsite for the "Blue Heavens" production where the illustration of key characters by Tite Kubo is replaced by photos of the corresponding cast members in full Bleach costume.

Catch up with the merchandise. Viz (apparently sensing my anxiety over the upcoming delays) just sent me an email reminding me about all the Bleach merchandise available for purchase through the online Viz store. What better way to ease your Bleach withdrawal symptoms than by crying into your Kon plushie every night?

Catch up with the fansites. I'm completely out of it when it comes to all the LiveJournal fansites that are out there for various manga and anime, but I did manage to stumble across one called Soul Society that at least has a nice-looking design. I'm a bit nervous about digging too deep into any Bleach fanfic, and I don't want to spoil anything by stumbling across advance scanlations, but who knows how adventurous I'll become when it's still months until the next volume comes out?

Catch up with the other Shonen Jump features. If you're an obsessive Bleach fan like me, you know you're going to break down and subscribe to SJ so you can read the material as soon as it's available, so you may as well speed up the process by familiarizing yourself with the other manga serialized in the monthly anthology. It'll make the transition easier and more enjoyable if you're already up-to-date with the other series once the subscription kicks in.

Catch up with Kekkaishi. Back when I first read this other Viz manga featuring a superpowered teen who fights wayward spirits, I was a bit dismissive towards it, basically referring to it as "Bleach lite," but Yellow Tanabe's series has really come into its own lately. There are still similarities to Bleach for example, there are political machinations going on in a shadowy organization reminiscent of the Soul Society but the tone and execution is very different from Tite Kubo's epic. For one thing, there's more space devoted to a smaller core cast of characters, which means more opportunities for deeper characterization. And Tanabe's art is very different from Kubo's, more solid and weighty as opposed to fluid and fast. I haven't read the latest volume yet, since I've been following the series through the library and they're slow to get the newest releases. But Katherine Dacey-Tsuei's review of volume ten (scroll down) makes me think I'm not going to be able to wait to read this for free. (For more background on how great Kekkaishi is, make sure to check out Kate's super-sized review of the first nine books!) And looking at the sales charts, I can tell that not enough of you are reading Kekkaishi, so get cracking and rectify this oversight ASAP! (Actually, I guess I have to point the finger at myself since I've been reading this series through the library rather than purchasing it myself. Oops.)

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