Sporadic Sequential
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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