With that out of the way, here is the postscript from the Tite Kubo-Ryohgo Narita collaboration, Bleach: Spirits are Forever With You! As an unabashed fan of Bleach, I was very excited to read this novel (which was split into two parts). Narita and Kubo both have an amazing track record when it comes to creating loads and loads of characters, and I was very curious to see where this team-up would lead.
Needless to say, I was not disappointed. Without giving away anything, I especially enjoyed how Narita's trademark character-juggling style meshed so well with the Bleach universe. In the end, I was left profoundly satisfied as a fan of both Bleach and Narita's works, and now I hope Kubo and Narita decide to collaborate again for even more amazing novel goodness.
So without further ado, here are Kubo and Narita's postscripts. Why the postscripts, of all things? Maybe I was in a very postscript-y mood. Even I don't know.
(By the way, I know it's cool to bash Bleach and/or Kubo on the internets these days. But keep it to a minimum, please. I don't want to have to shut down the comments section.)
Bleach: Spirits are Forever With You
Postscript (Tite Kubo)
Spirits are always with you!
Hello everyone. I would like to begin this postscript by expressing my gratitude as a reader for this novel, which was brimming with love and appreciation for Bleach.
I’d heard of Mr. Narita and his works from Mr. Morita, the voice actor for Ichigo, but I had never actually had a chance to read Mr. Narita’s works. This was simply because when it comes to novels, I am a terribly, terribly slow reader. But when Mr. Narita was tasked with writing this novel, I received the chance to speak with him and read his works.
I was awed by his amazing talent and his great insight.
I was also awed by his deep love for and knowledge of Bleach.
I was awed by many things about this novel, but I’d like to discuss, as a reader, the scene that shocked me the most.
It concerns the climax of the second part--the scene where Kenpachi powers up.
Generally, when it comes to creating foreshadowing in Bleach, I divide them into one of several categories.
- Foreshadowing that I would like all readers to notice.
- Foreshadowing that I would like one in four, or perhaps ten, to notice.
- Foreshadowing that I would like one in a thousand, or perhaps ten thousand, to notice and wonder, “Hey... Just maybe...”
- And finally, foreshadowing that I lay out over a very long period of time in a variety of places, which only the most dedicated readers of Bleach will notice with a good deal of reasoning from their end. In other words, things that I hide so no one will find, which I will eventually reveal much further down the line in the main story.
The revelation about Kenpachi’s powers pertained to this final category.
I remember getting chills down my spine when I first read this scene. To think that there was someone who had such a deep understanding of Bleach! And to think that I would end up giving someone else the scene I wanted to show! I read it over and over again, unable to believe my eyes.
Normally, I would ask the author to remove such a scene because I had it planned for myself. But I was so overjoyed by the fact that Mr. Narita caught on to this plot point that I asked him to leave the scene in the novel.
I think this is one of the greatest joys of being a creator.
As a creator, I would like to express my deepest gratitude for being given the chance to read this story, which was so full of love for my creation.
May 8, 2012 - Tite Kubo
Postscript (Ryohgo Narita)
“I’d like to write a story with Don Kanonji as the main character. Would that be all right?”
If I recall correctly, this was the first question I asked Shueisha.
In any case, I think most of you readers are probably unfamiliar with me. My name is Ryohgo Narita, the author of Dengeki Bunko’s ‘Baccano!’, ‘Durarara!!’, ‘Vamp!’, and other works.
I’d been given the chance to write this novel as part of the celebration for the ten-year serialization of Bleach. This was my first time doing any work for Shueisha.
To be honest, I’d spoken to Mr. Kubo several times over Twitter already. It all started when I read the issue of Jump where Don Kanonji tried to get in Aizen’s way. I was so excited that I tweeted something like “He’s here! In this week’s chapter of Bleach!”, and Mr. Kubo happened to see it. I remember being shocked that Mr. Kubo knew of my works.
Mr. Masakazu Morita, the voice actor for Ichigo, also played a major role in the anime version of my own work, ‘Baccano!’. I was told that it was Mr. Morita who mentioned ‘Baccano!’ to Mr. Kubo, and I was amazed at how my work could connect me to others in such wonderful ways.
Of course, that little conversation on Twitter wasn’t the reason for this collaboration. It was Mr. Rokugo, a Jbooks editor who had been reading my works since he was in high school, who gave me this wonderful opportunity once he became an editor at Shueisha.
I, a reader of Bleach, went on to become a novelist. And a high school student who read my works went on to become a Shueisha editor, which eventually led me to write a novel for Bleach.
This book here is the product of a series of wonderful coincidences. And so I thought that the hero of this book should be one of my personal favorites, the one who spurred my Twitter conversation with Mr. Kubo. So why am I a fan of Don Kanonji? I hope the story I wrote with him as its hero speaks for itself.
Now, let’s get back to everyone else.
I was quite nervous about how Mr. Kubo and the editorial team would respond to my request. I was so anxious that I began to think up alternate suggestions like ‘A steamy story with Chizuru Honsho as the main character, also featuring Yoruichi and Soi Fon...’. But Mr. Kubo and the editorial team so easily gave me the green light to write a novel with Don Kanonji as the protagonist.
So things went on. I think when I first met Mr. Kubo in person, I barely even greeted him properly because I was so busy rambling incoherently to ask him all kinds of things.
“There was a female arrancar whose head was smashed by Yammy. Could I have her make an appearance?”
“Could I also write about Mareyo Omaeda?”
“Is it okay to have a scene with Aizen in the Mugen?”
I cannot thank Mr. Kubo enough for allowing all of these outrageous things to happen and teaching me all sorts of things about the backstory, world, and mechanics of the Bleach universe.
I think the most outrageous thing I asked permission for was... permission to write the stories of the seventh and eighth Kenpachi.
Once I was confirmed to be writing this novel, I read through the collected volumes of Bleach in one go. As a huge fan of shonen manga, I felt my very soul tremble at the amazing character of Kenpachi Zaraki, a man who threatened to overpower even the title of Kenpachi--the strongest of all soul reapers. And I got the idea to show this powerful warrior in contrast to Don Kanonji, a man who lives the life of a true hero despite being rather physically weak.
Yes. The ideas in this book were inspired by everything from the Bleach manga to the extras like Colorful Bleach, to the movies and anime, to the spinoff novels written by Mr. Makoto Matsubara. If you enjoyed reading this work, it’s probably because the world of Bleach is such a massive and fascinating universe.
This novel might be a rather haphazard entry in the immense tale Mr. Kubo is creating, but I hope that this work of mine will be able to show you readers a new side of Bleach. If I ever get the chance to cruise along with this work, I hope you will be there to read it again.
Finally, I’d like to extend my thanks to everyone who assisted me over the course of the writing of this novel.
First of all, I would like to thank Mr. Tite Kubo, who gave me invaluable advice on character background, character voice, the creation of this book’s subtitle, the Picaro’s attack names, Roca’s last name, and many other aspects of this work. Thank you also for your marvelous illustrations and for giving me so much freedom to work with Bleach, despite my often outrageous requests.
I’d also like to thank my editor, Mr. Rokugo, and the the editors of Bleach over the course of its serialization--Mr. Asada, Mr. Hattori, and Mr. Onodera, who gave me so much great feedback and encouragement. I’m also grateful to the graphic designers and proofreaders who worked on this book, as well as everyone from Shueisha who supported me even as I stumbled through our first meeting.
And finally, I would like to thank you, the fans of Bleach, or perhaps those of you who have been reading my works all this time, or those of you who belong to both categories. I extend my greatest thanks to you.
Thank you so much!
I hope that the spirits of the many characters of Bleach: Spirits are Forever With You will always be by your side.
May 2012 - Ryohgo Narita