This is a review for all the BLEACH profile books available in English so far: SOULs, MASKED, and BLEACH Official Bootleg COLOR PLUS.
One thing that appeals to me about profile books is that I don’t often go back to read a long series again, especially one like BLEACH. Profiles allow the reader to keep the series fresh in their minds in an organized way without taking as much time as re-reading the entire series would take.
These books doesn’t have a story to tell; they are more recaps of characters and plots for a specific volume range. I recommend reading the manga first, or else it is actually confusing, as multiple plot points are in there without much context. This doesn’t detract from anything, as the book is meant to recap the series and provide revealing information about the characters straight from Tite Kubo himself.
The art is all in Kubo’s style, unique and distinct. It’s also very detailed; the muscles of certain characters are well defined and you can see where the bones are as well. His art style is one of the more realistic ones in the business. As Kubo says in an interview in the first profile book, SOULs, if he weren’t drawing manga now, he’d want to become a fashion designer. This certainly comes out in the clothing designs of BLEACH — everything the characters wear is different and interesting to look at, and reflective of each character as an individual (with the exclusion of the school uniforms). Each character has a specialized look, and they don’t look like copies of each other, either.
Age and Warning-
This series is a shounen manga, meaning that there’s blood and violence as a standard. There’s some swearing scattered around, but it never gets too harsh. There’s one instance of an aggressive character posing with his middle finger, as well as covered nudity and minor mentions of a girl’s cup size.
Features per book
Profile Book 1 — SOULs: Covers vols 1-22
The profiles are of Karakura town residents, Soul Society residents, and some Hollows. In the front are color illustrations and stickers (the sticker availability, however, may be dependent on the time of printing). Non-profile content includes an interview with Kubo and with the voice actor of Ichigo Kurosaki from the Japanese anime, a chronology table, explanations of terms used, and a character index. Scattered around are various omake (side comics) for humor’s sake. Toward the end is the pilot one-shot that was published before BLEACH was to be a serialized manga.
Profile Book 2 — MASKED: Covers vols 21-37
The profiles are of characters from Karakura town, the Soul Society, the Arrancars, and the Visored. The non-profile content includes things such as abridged popularity polls from Japan, character correlation diagrams, the story “Turn Back the Pendulum,” an interview with Kubo, and Soul Society historical facts. There’s also a collection of color BLEACH illustrations in the beginning of the book, and a poster featuring the captains and co-captains from “Turn Back the Pendulum.”
BLEACH Official Bootleg COLOR PLUS (I recommend reading up to the end of the Soul Society arc to get the most out of this book.)
This book is different from the others. One half is a collection of ‘four panel’ manga in full color, which was previously published in the Japanese edition of Shounen Jump Magazine. The other half is the “Seireitei Bulletin,” a magazine from the Soul Society. In this imaginary magazine are more detailed profiles of Soul Society captains, vice captains, and Arrancars. There are also other pages outlining mechanics of the manga, fake advertisements, a quiz on elements of the series, and a personality quiz.
BLEACH Profile Books
by Tite Kubo
SOULs ISBN: 9781421520537
MASKED ISBN: 978-1421542300
BLEACH Official Bootleg COLOR PLUS ISBN: 9781421532271
Viz Media LLC, 2008, 2012, 2010
Publisher Age Rating: T (13+)