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DVD Review

DVD cover

Series 9 - Part 1


Starring (voice): Fumiko Orikasa, Masakazu Morita, Hiroki Yasumoto and Kentarou Itou
Manga Entertainment
RRP: £24.99
Certificate: 12
Available 25 June 2012

Ichigo Kurosaki’s life still refuses to settle down, but I guess that's what you get for inheriting the power of a Shinigami. Fighting both the ghost like hollows and embroiled in the internal machinations of the Soul Society, we exited season eight with Ichigo seemingly getting the upper hand in his fight with Grimmjow and preparing to take Orihime away from Las Noches. As we start season nine we get to that embossing point where the anime has caught up with the manga, leaving nothing left to adapt. So, season nine is another filler season.

This is not necessarily a bad thing, some of the filler episodes have been as good, and some even better that the on-going adaptation, which does have a habit of disintegrating into fight of the week, with some fights spread across a number of episodes. If this is what you love about the show, then power to your elbow, personally I found many of these too repetitious in the extreme.

Bleach: Series 9 - Part 1 is a two DVD set which covers episodes 168 to 178 and has the title, New Leader Shūsuke Amagai Series, so guess who is the new character. The first episode opens with a preamble which side steps the fact that the story will not be following on from season eight before we are introduced to Amagai. The opening episode acts as an introduction of the character. Amagai is placed in charge of the Thirteen Court Guard Squads, which causes some controversy; however, he is able to redeem himself in the eyes of his squad when he defeats a cleaner which was threatening all their lives, mostly because they have become a disorganised pants squad.

Introductions over, we start the usual process of interlinked stories which will cover the whole of the season. The first involves a Soul Society princess, Lurichiyo Kasumiōji, who has appeared on earth with two companions. Being a princess she is placed in peril so that she may be rescued from hollows, assassins, carrots and then another assassin. For the first half of this season get used to this paradigm as it forms much of the season's impetus.

Episode 172 has a quick interlude with Shūsuke Amagai getting his squad to engage in little tasks and training to better get them working together, time for a little light hearted comedy. With the blink and you’ll miss the point of the episode out of the way were back to the imperilled princess. The sinking feeling is that the whole season will be based around these new characters, although Ichigo does get a look in, as the action shifts between the real world and the Soul Society. In the following episodes Ichigo, the princess and generally everybody he knows becomes a target. It’s a thin device to give a basis for the usual fight of the week format.

Visually, things have progressed with the start of this season as Bleach bulks up into the realms of widescreen with a 1.78:1 anamorphic aspect ratio, which is more fitting to modern televisions. Whilst the larger picture is a nice surprise, the relatively poor encoding is not so welcomed. It even makes last season's picture look good. Audio is a reasonable DD 2.0 for both the Japanese and English tracks. The extras are restricted to the opening and closing sequence.

The lack of extras do not bother me, anime is a niche market so the sales are relatively small, certainly not generating enough revenue to demand discs full of expensive extras. If you want anime then you have to live with the lack of extras. The picture quality is another matter, the lines which are evident from the process in fast pace action are likely to spoil the whole experience, probably not a problem in a romantic comedy, but the kiss of death on a show which relies on its action sequences.


Charles Packer

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