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Ichigo Kurosaki has a big problem -- an inner dark side that is starting to consume him from the inside out.

And after the big clash in the previous volume, our orange-haired hero is left with exactly one option: Get strong enough to overcome his inner Hollow. The twenty-fifth volume of Tite Kubo's "Bleach" spends most of its time following Ichigo's efforts to regain control of himself -- not quite as interesting as pitched battles against the arrancar, but a necessary part of the story.

After voicing his intent to "use" the vizards, Ichigo ends up in a heated battle with a "Hollowfied" Hiyori, so they can gauge his inner power. While his friends search for him, Ichigo is put through a harrowing (and sometimes ridiculous) training regimen -- and then is shown the way to his inner Hollow. The ultimatum: devour it, or be devoured.

As his monstrously Hollowfied body goes on a berserk rampage, Ichigo and his Hollow self duel to the death, even using bankai against each other -- but he has no chance against a foe who knows everything he does. While the Vizards prepare to kill Ichigo, the head captain of the Soul Society contacts Hitsugaya and Rangiku, with the revelation of what Aizen's true plans may be...

Ichigo Kurosaki has been warming up for a big Hollow-side problem for a very long time now, and virtually all of the twenty-fifth "Bleach" volume is devoted to that. Well, that and the increasingly mysterious Vizards, who seem to know an awful lot about the disastrous events in the Soul Society, as well as knowledge about Ichigo's power-ups as well.

And along the way, Tite Kubo provides plenty of bloody, flashy action, with Ichigo getting carved up by his Inner Hollow even as his body attacks the Vizards (and almost gets the upper hand... er, claw). The whole time he's verbally lashed by his sneering dark side, except for a brief moment where he meets the incarnation of his own instincts... which looks strangely familiar. Let's just say it's not what Ichigo probably would have selected.

And at the end of all this mayhem, Kubo tacks on a reminder of the wider struggles going on, and reveals what Aizen is planning. There are some lighthearted moments with Ichigo chugging away on Hiyori's exercise machine, but these are quickly swamped by the grim stuff. And by the end of this volume, it's pretty clear that Kubo is plotting out an epic arc with even more epic repercussions.

Poor Ichigo gets put through the wringer in this one, and though he acts cocky and demanding his fear is evident in everything he does. And we get to know some more of the Vizards -- including a punky young guy, a serious young woman, an afroed dude, a rotund quiet guy, and a feminine-looking audiophile. Not only are they a bit grimmer than the Soul Reapers, but they seem to have a nasty past with Aizen.

The twenty-fifth volume of "Bleach" devotes itself to the inner workings of Ichigo Kurosaki's mind, and it speeds by almost too quickly. Too bad it ends just when intriguing new revelations are piling up.
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