Bleach Volume 32: Howling

Bleach Volume 32: Howling
Story and Art: Tite Kubo
Release Date: 4th February 2008
Covers Chapters 279-286
Shonen Jump /Viz Media

Ichigo versus Grimmjow! The fight of the arc we’ve all been waiting for is here, can Ichigo beat him on round 3? A whole volume dedicated to the art of fighting. Howling.

Volume 32 stays on one event, the fight, and it’s better off for it. Focussed on this moment leads to a vicious, fluid and glorious fight to read. Or more like look at, as text is sparse. Beams are fired, transformations take place and Kubo’s style really comes into its own here. Everything feels so fluid and dynamic and the lack of text while providing an incredibly short volume regarding reading time, means you can stay focussed on the excellent art and attacks. It feels like an all out brawl with both sides even and a sense of struggle is created. It helps that Grimmjow has been developed as a crazy villain up to this point, not just some two bit guy we haven’t seen do anything yet. Like those filler Ex Espada a few volumes back.

Throw in huge panels for the big attacks and shock moments plus incredible presentation regarding chapter title placements and the names shows why Bleach is so popular. At it’s best, Bleach is just really cool. Not many other manga incorporate the chapter titles with the action and with titles that stick in the mind. Historia del Pantera y sus Sombras, THE PRIMAL FEAR and Devour the flesh alone really strike out adding to the minimalistic backgrounds and detailed characters. It may feel a bit light on content, but it borders on being a form of pop art.

It isn’t all fighting though. Grimmjow has a back story which is perhaps a little bit vague in regards to what actually happens and doesn’t really create any sense of importance. Plus the volume ends with a bonus story of how Hitsugaya went on to become a Soul Reaper, which has ice cool presentation. I don’t like the guy, but this story actually makes him a little more likable and less two-dimensional. These moments help throw a bit of depth to the ferocity of the volume and help form one of the best volumes in the arc, certainly the best fight. Grimmjow was the coolest Espada of them all, I hope the next set of enemies can equal the joy this fight brought.

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