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DVD Review

DVD cover

Complete Series 11


Starring (voice): Fumiko Orikasa, Masakazu Morita, Hiroki Yasumoto and Kentarou Itou
Distributor: Manga Entertainment
RRP: £24.99
Certificate: 12
Release Date: 09 September 2013

It seems, that the release schedule for Bleach is well on its way to finishing in a year or so. The latest release sees the first half of season eleven.

Bleach: Series 11 (2009) contains seventeen episodes spread across four DVD disc. The overall title of this season is Arrancar: Decisive Battle of Karakura arc. The season was directed by Noriyuki Abe for TV Tokyo and concentrates on the defence of Karakura Town by the soul society from an onslaught by Sōsuke Aizen's army of Arrancar. The show is based on Tite Kubo's original manga, although this season does contain some filler episodes. One confusion with the release schedule is that these are actually season twelve and all of it.

The season opens with a bit of a rewind, having seen the events which happened when Ichigo and friends left to battle in Hueco Mundo, the show reboots itself to show what was concurrently happening in the land of the living. This means that the focus of the action moves away from the main characters and takes on a more comedic aspect. There are some other things which are instantly noticeable. Having kept the quality of the animation up for many seasons the opening show of season eleven demonstrates a distinct drop in quality. When the inevitable Hollow turns up the drawing is very flat, more two dimensional than that which you would normally see in this show. There is also a dumbing down of the story, with the first episode being little more than a joke, with Kon dressed as a superhero.

Much of the seasons action takes place in and around Karakura Town, I guess this makes some economic sense in that the animators can reuse backgrounds, but it also means that this season, although it has the requisite number of fights expected by fans of the show, has the weakest story arc, more akin to a Saturday morning cartoon. Bleach was never a great intellectual challenge, but at its best it was exciting and entertaining, something much of this season seems to have forgotten. Many long running shows start to run out of steam, repeating themes and stories, we will have to wait until the release of the next season to see if this is the beginning of the end for the show.

There are a few extras spread across the discs, disc one has the virgin opening sequence, disc two the closing sequence and that’s about it. The presentation remains the same as the previous discs.

Because no one in their right mind would start a show in its eleventh year, the only people likely to purchase this set are fans of the show and for those fans the season remains an essential purchase. The number of characters which the show contains and the on-going story means that to miss it would be to throw yourself into fevered confusion, when the inevitable release of the next season comes around.


Charles Packer

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