Bleach 2 by Tite Kubo: B+

From the back cover:
Immediately after checking into the Kurosaki Clinic with a mysterious scar on his back, the muscle-bound Chad goes AWOL. Accompanying Chad is a talking parakeet imbued with the soul of a young boy named Yuuichi. It doesn’t take newbie Soul Reaper Ichigo Kurosaki long to surmise that a Hollow must be involved. By far the strongest spirit he’s faced to date, Ichigo is about to discover that not every soul is bound for the Soul Society, especially if it’s tainted with innocent blood.

Volume 2 is even more fast-paced and fun than the first, and even though it employs some of the shounen cliches, there’s enough unique world-building to keep me interested. Of course, Ichigo is developing quickly and uber-awesomely, but nobody really harps on this point, so it doesn’t become annoying. One weird thing is how talkative the Hollows are. I’m not used to big hulking monsters (with exploding leech-bombs!) that actually say stuff.

My favorite part of the story continues to be the shinigami system and methods. They receive orders to take out specific Hollows, receive bonuses for eliminating particularly nefarious ones, and can actually use the bonuses as currency to purchase more nifty shinigami equipment. One such gadget featured in this volume is a pill that allows Ichigo to remove his own soul from his body (he has to be in soul form to fight Hollows) when Rukia is not around to do it. His first experience with it provides the material for the last few chapters, which I liked a great deal.

Disclosures in this volume also suggest that life in the Soul Society might not be as rosy as Rukia has suggested. I am really starting to get into this series.

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