Bleach 9 by Tite Kubo: B

From the back cover:
The race to save Rukia from the Soul Society is officially on, and Ichigo and company have come to their first roadblock, a very, very big roadblock. Jidanbou, the monstrous, fez-sporting gatekeeper, hasn’t let a single soul enter the Western Gate he guards in over 300 years, and he isn’t about to change his mind about it just because Ichigo’s crew wants to go through. But, in a where-the-rubber-meets-the-road kind of way, Ichigo wasn’t expecting his assault on the Soul Society to be a piece of cake. After all, that’d just be boring.

Where the… rubber… meets the road kind of way? What the heck does that mean? Anyway, I didn’t enjoy this volume as much as the last, though the characters, humor, and cool stuff were still in evidence.

The first few chapters deal with the group’s entry into the Soul Society, and the three-chapter battle to breach the gate was pretty good. Better, though, was what happened after Ichigo’s victory over Jidanbou—the face-off with an evil-looking Soul Reaper captain that ended with said captain going “Bye~” and slamming the gate back down in their faces.

Thus ends the good bits of this volume, really. Next, Ichigo has a fight with some annoying boar-riding guy that is cut short, and displays idiocy when he proclaims that he’s going to wait there for the guy to return so they can resume their battle, having forgotten all about Rukia’s plight, evidently. Eventually, they find another possible way to get inside the inner area of the Soul Society where Rukia is being held, and I hope they get there soon, ‘cos I don’t particularly like either of the new characters introduced in these chapters.

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