Bleach 3 by Tite Kubo: B+

From the back cover:
It’s the anniversary of Ichigo’s mother’s death, and the entire Kurosaki clan, along with former Soul Reaper Rukia Kuchiki, head to the cemetery to pay their respects. Sleeping demons rarely ever stay still and pretty soon Ichigo confronts the Grand Fisher, the Hollow that may be responsible for his mother’s demise.

Ichigo’s fight with the Grand Fisher is your typical shounen fare. What made the whole arc more special were the reactions from Ichigo’s sisters, Rukia, and Kon and some background information provided by Ichigo’s long-time friend, Tatsuki. The pacing of the story is excellent, including a lot of great atmospheric art that sets the mood. It is so easy to imagine the action being animated that I am left with a surprisingly strong desire to check out the anime.

There are a few funny moments, mostly provided by Kon (whom I adore) and reactions to Ichigo’s spastic dad (who, in himself, is kinda creepy). I usually am not amused by jokes where a character suddenly flourishes a random prop from somewhere to make a joke, so was happy to see that when a gag of this type was employed in this volume, the logistics of lugging said random prop around were acknowledged.

In his comments in the beginning of the volume, Kubo states that, with this volume, the introduction of Ichigo has come to an end. This reminds me of Rurouni Kenshin, as several volumes are employed to introduce characters, have a few minor skirmishes on home turf, etc., before launching into the meat of the story. These twenty-five chapters have been well spent— getting everything set as well as totally hooking me!

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