Bleach will always be known as one of the greatest manga to ever walk the planet. It balanced together a ton of action and hype moments but at the same time fans will note that we were left with a lot of unanswered questions. Well, this book seeks to answer at least some of them. Others will need more novels but if you had any questions about Hisagi or the origins of the Soul Society then this should answer them. It’s a pretty fun trilogy even if it probably would have been better to have sidelined Hisagi since he’s so far out of his depth.
The books starts with Aizen finally being sentenced to prison again. He may have helped out during the Thousand Blood War but nobody wants to see him since he makes them feel bad. The guy is successfully able to manipulate the whole cast in his few pages of screen time at the beginning. He says some rather disturbing things though which causes Hisagi to decide to run a newspaper. He aims to get to the bottom of the dark web of lies known as the Soul Society. To do this he will have to interview every character who had a role during the Bleach manga series. There’s just one problem: he may have just walked into a conspiracy.
Meanwhile Tokinada has decided that it’s time to act more openly. He’s the head of one of the 4 sacred houses of the Soul Society. This means that he can do just about whatever he wants whenever he wants. In this case he just wants to stir up some trouble and intends to use his protégé Hikone to accomplish this goal. With Ichigo away on vacation, do the heroes have any chance against this guy?
Since there are 3 books here there is a whole lot of time for story progression. As such the books are able to be very dialogue heavy with character discussing abstract concepts such as what it means to fear someone and if it makes you stronger. In particular Hisagi loves discussing such topics since he is obsessed with them. In a way I would say Tosen leaving seems to have traumatized Hisagi in some way because the guy is really obsessed.
You’ll have long monologues of Hisagi wondering if what he is doing is right or perhaps he made a mistake somewhere. It’s definitely a rough road for the guy that’s for sure. Hisagi’s not a bad character, I’ve never minded him at least although I would say he is probably better in the manga than in the novels because we didn’t know he was so dramatic. In the books he tends to panic whenever anyone talks to him. In his defense he is rather outmatched by everyone though. He still gets to participate in the climax though and I would say that was handled really well.
In terms of moments where he overthinks things, I would say that the answer usually isn’t all that hard to find. For example, he talks about the kind of justice that Tosen has but no matter how you try to explain it away, that guy was just crazy. You can’t find meaning in his actions due to that being the case.
Then later on when he’s panicking about Tokinada getting the better of him, you realize he just needs to beat that guy. Now, some of the characters have valid gripes against the Soul Society like Ginjo. I thought he looked really good here as well. I would argue in the fights he should have looked a lot stronger but he doesn’t train as much as Ichigo so I guess it’s not a big deal.
His main issue is really just that the Soul Society did betray him and they murdered a bunch of people. You can see why he is always upset at them because they get away with everything without any issue. That’s where the problem lies because you’d think that by now things would be different but they really aren’t.
Look no further than Mayuri’s subplot. Sure it’s mainly used as a dark humor kind of plot but he’s literally enslaved a bunch of hollows and quincies. The Soul Society looks the other way because they don’t like those factions at all but you’re really going to let them live such a tough existence? Mayuri doesn’t hide this at all either and is just as demented as he ever was. All of his scenes are painful just because of how dark they are. The guy gets his kicks out of experimenting on everyone but nobody stops him. It’s why I could never root for the Soul Society in any arc.
First they tried to murder Rukia on rather flimsy reasoning. That event is mentioned here a lot since of course Tokinada had something to do with it. That was one of their first appearances and things never really changed. They’re on Ichigo’s good side but that doesn’t mean that they are actually heroes. Throughout this trilogy we find out many other dark secrets about them which just keeps on adding up. Honestly I don’t think Hisagi will ever get to finish his story. He’ll probably be bumped off at some point.
Even characters with high ranks like Shunsui threaten Hisagi about this a lot. He really will have no friends if he goes too far to the point where it’s hinted that he would need to call in Ichigo. Ichigo gets a lot of hype here which was nice. Every tie the books hype up the new villains they always make sure to mention that Ichigo would still win. It’s nice to see because the power levels had be a bit worried. Sequels tend to surpass the heroes pretty quick like Granolah surpassing Goku and a bunch of Androids all surpassed Naruto with ease. So far that has not happened to Ichigo here.
In general the power levels in these books aren’t too bad but I definitely have some issues. Mainly it’s that too many of the characters seem deadlocked. You’ll be surprised at how many ties there are in this trilogy. Characters keep tanking everything until the battle gets interrupted. Most of the battles in the final book end at least which is good.
We get to see some of the Espada show up like Harribel, Nel, and Grimmjow. Harribel is currently the leader of Hueco Mundo and still looks good here. She doesn’t get a very big role but looks tough. The same is true of Nel as well. Grimmjow definitely gets a bigger role than the other two. He has several fights to himself and looks pretty good. It was always fun to see him get involved and was nostalgic in a way too.
Urahara knows a lot more than he lets on as always. He’s certainly a crucial piece to the heroes’ arsenal even if he tends to help behind the scenes. The guy hasn’t lost his edge. Then there’s Shunsui who may be the leader of the Soul Society but he has to play politics so often that he rarely gets to do what he wants to do anymore. I would say that holds him back as a character because he feels like someone who ended up joining corporate and can’t be trusted anymore. At the end of the day it’s clear that he will choose duty above all else.
Yoruichi and Shinji are other characters who get quick roles here. Yoruichi is confident as always and likes testing various characters but only participates in a fight briefly. Shinji also gets one fight but it’s quite the important one. He’s one of the few side characters to get a full fight to himself which is pretty big. His fans should definitely be satisfied with the results since you really can’t ask for a whole lot more than that.
Not to be outdone, Zaraki gets some hype as well. He doesn’t fight until nearly the end of the trilogy but it’s really a fight that’s worth your while. His power level has to be one of the strongest among all the captains at this point if not the absolute strongest based on how everyone acts around him.
Tosen is important only in the sense that his justice speech gets mentioned a lot by Hisagi. Honestly I think Hisagi reads way too far into everything. Tosen was pretty much insane and made his choice. You can’t use him as a beacon of hope anymore. Then you have Aizen who looked great in his initial appearance as I mentioned. He gets a flashback as well and appears a bit near the end so it’s always good to see him show up. The guy gets so much hype that you can’t help but feel he would able to win against the heroes if he were to ever return.
Mayuri gets a bit role as mentioned earlier as he really tries to make the Soul Society look as evil as possible. Between him and Tokinada they make a compelling case for why the place needs to be taken down. Then we get onto the 4 new characters in the series. First up is Tokinada since he is the main villain. The guy is certainly going for an Aizen vibe but a crazier version of the character.
Aizen always spoke very respectfully and had grand ideals. He knew how to talk about those in a very regal sense. Tokinada is also a master strategist but he likes really messing with the heroes. He’ll constantly bring up old traumas to see how everyone reacts. His back story really hits different as a result of that. It’s not an origin where you’re supposed to feel bad for him. Far from it, it shows that he was always twisted to the core right from the start.
He makes for a very powerful villain but not a likable one. You feel like Shunsui or Byakuya should have taken him out long ago. The main problem is that they just accept what happened each time without retaliating. That would lead to Tokinada growing more and more bold. It is impressive how he is able to hold his own against everyone though. Maybe a little too impressive since taking on Espada, the Quincy, and the Gotei 13 is just insane. This guy could have even ended Arc 2 based on how good he looks here.
Then you have Hikone who is Tokinada’s right hand man. As a human, arrancar, quincy hybrid creation the kid doesn’t know anything about the world except what Tokinada has told him. To that extent he’s a rather tragic character since he has no possible way to know that what he is doing is wrong. All he can do is keep on moving forward and hoping for the best. This guy’s power is also very impressive and he keeps on getting stronger throughout the series. I ended up liking him. Hikone’s true personality shines through since he doesn’t murder his opponents the way he would have if the guy was pure evil. He simply doesn’t know better and I can’t really blame him for that.
Then you have his sword Ikomikidomae. That guy’s a very interesting character and I would have liked to have seen more of him. He’s a very old being who has so much power that it’s hard to even say what he is. The guy ultimately gets overshadowed by the other two villains but looked really impressive in the meantime. In a 1 on 1 fight it’s hard to say that anyone else would be able to defeat him. Not the way he was dominating the other characters.
Finally you have Aura. She’s certainly an interesting character with the way her intangibility powers work. Aura is quite broken in that sense as nobody could really land a hit on her throughout the whole trilogy. Only one specific blade would even have a chance against her and since Tokinada is a master strategist she would need to be careful of him. She gets her own backstory and everything so by the end you feel like you know Aura quite well. She got a very satisfying ending to her character I would say.
In the books there are some illustrations which is fun. It would be nice to see this turned into a manga or anime at some point since there’s a lot to absorb here. I don’t read a whole lot of novels though so it’s fun to see how the information is presented in a different medium. For sure it allows you to have a lot more dialogue and characters really processing the events. To an extent I would say that a novel will always be more dramatic than other versions since you have the characters thinking and using hyperbole about everything. (“This is the strongest attack I’ve ever seen!!!!”)
Overall, This was a really fun trilogy. The only goal the trilogy didn’t succeed with was getting me to like Hisagi. The guy is just too filled with self doubt and panicking all the time. Since that was part of his character arc perhaps he will be better going forward though. I liked how the series handled the Ichigo aspect since the guy would have cleaned shop if he was around. I thought the reason for why he wasn’t around was logical though and there’s even potential room for a sequel explaining more in depth what happened to him. What really seals the deal for the trilogy being great though was the ending. It’s really the ideal ending in many respects and an ending is always important since it leaves an impression. I was pleasantly surprised at some of the final outcomes. So if you’re looking for more Bleach content until we hopefully get a sequel soon, these 3 books are great ones to check out.