Bleach

 BLE5   (Viz, 2004-Present)

ô and © 2001 Tite Kubo
Shonen Jump graphic novel; reads right to left; b&w.

Boys who can see dead people have been a manga staple for years and can be found in such kidsí titles as YuYu Hakusho and Shaman King as well as the more adult Eerie Queerie. But Bleach (seriously, is that the best title they could come up with?) splits the difference between those extremes, creating a lead whoís half ghost-breaker and half ghost-whisperer.

Ichigo has always taken seeing ghosts for granted, but life didnít get really weird until Rukia, a member of the Soul Society, inadvertently transferred her powers and duties to him. Now, itís up to him to protect mankind from The Hollow: hungry ghosts who prey on humans. Although he wants no part of the job, Rukia hangs about as Ichigoís unwanted mentor. These are standard, weíve-seen-it-all-before situations. What makes this different (besides the ultra-modern-looking art) is its unconventional working-class characters and their attitudes toward the supernatural. Moreover, itís refreshing having a hero whose first impulse isnít to smack something around.

ó S.A. Bennett

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