This post is the second in Laura's Manga Mania series.
Naruto and Bleach are both team-centered shonen adventure series which star blond spiky-haired troublemaking teenagers. Both heroes have enormous power and a desire to protect everyone. The series are epically long (over 40 volumes each and growing), with complicated plots and a huge cast of characters.
For some reason, anime and manga fans have taken it upon themselves to pit Naruto and Bleach against one another. So I urge you, read them both, get in on the action, and pick your team!
Art and story by: Tite Kubo
Teenage trouble-maker Ichigo Kurosaki has always been able to see spirits. But his trouble really begins when he meets Soul Reaper Rukia Kuchiki. He accidentally inherits her shinigami (death god) powers, and is forced to take up her task of sending lost souls to the afterlife and defending humans from evil spirits.
Bleach is an ongoing series, and the English translations are currently at volume 28, with a new volume coming out in December. It’s currently one of the hottest series in Japan, and has sold over 40 million copies. Bleach is so popular, it’s inspired several Original Video Animations (OVAs), animated feature films, rock musicals, video games, and a plethora of other merchandise.
Some fun facts:
You will notice the appearance of the number 15 in background art and costume design. This is because the name Ichigo can be broken up into “ichi” and “go,” which in Japanese are the words for “1” and “5.” The word “ichigo” also means “strawberry,” something that the hero is often teased about. His father meant for “Ichigo” to mean “he who protects." With Japanese kanji, it all depends on how you spell it!
Art and story by: Masashi Kishimoto
Naruto is a story about an adolescent ninja, Naruto Uzumaki, whose skill is pulling pranks. However, his dream is to prove himself by becoming the leader and most powerful ninja in the village, the Hokage. Although this seems to be a pipe-dream, it’s not out of his reach. After all, he’s the vessel of an enormous power: the nine-tailed fox demon.
This series is ongoing, and available in English up to volume 46. The next volume is due out in December. Naruto has sold over 89 million copies in Japan and is the inspiration for: several sequels, original video animations (OVAs), novellas, video games, trading card games, and much more!
Some fun facts:
The name “Uzumaki” literally means “coil.” You will find images of coils throughout this manga (especially noticeable on Naruto’s belly). The word “naruto” is the Japanese word for a steamed fish-paste cake (looks like a flower with a coil in the middle) which is used to decorate soup or ramen -- Naruto’s favourite thing!