Dragon Ball meets Ghostbusters
Ichigo Kurosaki was a normal high school student. He just happened to also be able to see and communicate with spirits. When he gets caught up in the affairs of a Soul Reaper (one who sends spirits to the afterlife) that's battling a Hollow (evil spirits that attack the dead and the living) he ends up becoming a Soul Reaper himself and under the tutilage of his new roommate and renegade Soul Reaper, Rukia. If Ichigo is going to become her substitute while she tries to regain her powers, he's going to need a whole lot of help to stop the Hollows from consuming innocent spirits, as well as his friends and family. But there's something special about this attitude-ridden teenager, something that makes him almost invincible on the field of battle. How can a human being have so much spiritual power inside of him? Can he really be as strong as his attitude suggests? The answer -- YES.
Volumes 1 - 10 follow Ichigo from the moment he becomes a Soul Reaper to his training and attack on the Soul Society. Along the way he encounters Hollows, tries to hide his new job as a Soul Reaper, and tries to keep his friends and loved ones from getting wrapped up in his problems. Written and illustrated by Tite Kubo, this series is a huge hit all over the world, and it's hard to go to a store where Bleach merchandise isn't sold. The writing is pretty solid for what the story is, and the artwork doesn't let the reader down. The pacing is incredible. I found myself reading one or two volumes of the manga at a time. If the story is able to suck me in that much, it has to be attributed to the talent of the creator.
If there's one thing that I know about Bleach, it's that it's a Tournament Manga. What's a Tournament Manga? It's a series much like Dragon Ball where the strangely strong hero constantly encounters enemies, has to train, and then defeats them, only to do so over and over with stronger and stronger villains. It's not a bad genre, but it is a predictable one. While the plot lines in Bleach aren't always the most surprising, the characters are written well enough that the cheesiness is easily looked over.
From what other readers have told me, the series starts to teeter off around the 33rd volume of the collected manga. Considering I'm not even halfway done with the 16th volume of Fullmetal Alchemist, I don't think I'll be finishing what's been done of Bleach anytime soon. I will say that I'm not disappointed so far and that I'm willing to see if the rumors are true about it's redundancy.
In the meantime, I'm willing to suspend my doubts and enjoy a fast-paced and very fun manga that combines ghosts, swords, and insane fighting moves.