Noriaki Kubo (久保 宣章, Kubo Noriaki; born June 26, 1977), known by his pen name Tite Kubo (久保 帯人, Kubo Taito), is a Japanese manga artist. He is best known for his manga series Bleach, which has sold over 82 million copies as of 2013.
Kubo is the son of a town council member in Fuchu, Aki District, Hiroshima. He never took drawing seriously until he was 17, and after reading the manga Saint Seiya, which influenced him to become a manga artist. His first one-shot was "Ultra Unholy Hearted Machine", written for the Weekly Shōnen Jump in 1996. He wrote his first manga Zombiepowder, which was also published in Weekly Shōnen Jump in 1999. It ran a short 27 chapters before being canceled in 2000. According to the author's commentary, Kubo was in a state of severe emotional trauma when he wrote it. Kubo later stated that he was not used to the magazine weekly serialization and used to pay more attention to his editor's comments rather than his own ideas.
His next series, Bleach, about a high school student who becomes a shinigami and fights creatures known as Hollows, began running in the same magazine in 2001. Kubo initially expected the series' serialization to continue no longer than five years. The original story concept was submitted to Weekly Shōnen Jump shortly after the cancellation of Zombiepowder, but was rejected. Akira Toriyama, creator of Dragon Ball, saw the story and wrote a letter of encouragement to Kubo. As of June 2013, Bleach has reached 556 chapters, and an anime adaptation began running in Japan in 2004. The manga was named a winner of the Shogakukan Manga Award for its category in 2004. Kubo and Makoto Matsubara have co-authored two novelizations of the Bleach series, which were published by Shueisha under their Jump Books label. A Bleach movie was released in Japan on December 16, 2006, followed by a second movie on December 22, 2007, a third on December 13, 2008, and a fourth on December 4, 2010. Kubo also appeared in the episode 112 of the Japanese radio program of Bleach B-Station. In that program, Kubo was interviewed by Masakazu Morita, voice actor of Ichigo Kurosaki, the main character of Bleach, and answered several questions from fans. On July 26, 2008, Kubo went to the United States for the first time and made an appearance at the San Diego Comic-Con International.
Tite Kubo's earliest influence is from Shigeru Mizuki's manga Gegege no Kitaro. He remembers trying to sketch its characters and found his own designs to be simpler that of Mizuki's. Bleach was first conceived from a desire on Kubo's part to draw shinigami in kimono, which formed the basis for the design of the Shinigami in the series, and conception of the character Rukia Kuchiki. Kubo has cited influences for elements of Bleach ranging from other manga series to music, foreign language, architecture, and film. He attributes his interest in drawing the supernatural and monsters to Shigeru Mizuki's GeGeGe no Kitaro and Bleachs focus on interesting weaponry and battle scenes to Masami Kurumada's Saint Seiya, both manga Kubo enjoyed as a boy. The action style and storytelling found in Bleach are inspired by cinema, though Kubo has not revealed any specific movie as being an influence for fight scenes. Kubo has also stated that he wishes to make Bleach an experience that can only be found by reading manga, and dismissed ideas of creating any live-action film adaptations of the series.
In the making of battle scenes, Kubo's comments that he imagines the fights with the empty backgrounds and then he tries to find the best angle to make it. Then, he tries to make the injuries look very realistic in order to make the readers feel the character's pain. Kubo mentions he sometimes is bored while illustrating them, so he tries to add a few jokes to make it more humorous. When asked about romantic relationships between certain characters, Kubo answers saying that he does not want to turn the series into a love story since he thinks there are more exciting aspects concerning their personalities.
Initially appearing in Weekly Shōnen Jump and published by Shueisha in Tokyo, Japan, both manga have been licensed in North America by Viz Media.
- Zombiepowder. (1999–2000, Weekly Shōnen Jump, Shueisha. Collected in four volumes and discontinued.)
- Bleach (2001—present, Weekly Shōnen Jump, Shueisha. Currently collected in 61 volumes.)
- Bleach All Colour But The Black
- Bleach Official Bootleg
- Bleach Official Character Book SOULs
- Bleach Official Anime Guide Book VIBEs
- Bleach Official Character Book 2 MASKED
- Bleach Official Character Book 3 UNMASKED