Series 1 - Part 1

Starring (voice): Fumiko Orikasa, Masakazu Morita, Hiroki Yasumoto and Kentarou Itou
Manga Entertainment
RRP: 24.99
Certificate: 15
Available 05 November 2007

To anyone in the street Ichigo Kurosaki appears to be a normal fifteen year old, but Ichigo has a secret, he can interact with the dead. Although an unusual ability it does not affect his normal life until he meets Rukia Kuckiki, an emissary of the Soul Society and a Soul Reaper. During one fateful confrontation Rukia transfers some of her power into Ichigo, but unexpectantly the transference turns him into a full Soul Reaper...

Bleach: Series 1 - Part 1 spawns from the original manga by Tite Kubo, ending up as two films, two OVA's, a number of games and even a rock musical. This set contains the first eight episodes of this twenty episode series, as well as four bonus instalments. The individual episodes do not have titles just numbers. The discs come with an audio option of stereo English, Japanese, with optional subtitles.

Bleach 1, and we are introduced to Ichigo's world, where he helps troubled ghosts. Little in his experience can prepare him for meeting the Hollows, who hunt and devour souls or Rukai the Reaper. When a Hollow attacks Ichigo's family, Rukai transfers her power to him in order to stop the Hollow.

Bleach 2, and everyone seems to be in denial as none of his family remembers the attack, the night before. With Rukai's powers spent Ichigo has to take over her role as a Reaper and it is not long before he has his first confrontation.

Bleach 3: Orihime is being attacked by her dead brother who is now a hollow, with Ichigo fighting from the outside and Orihime fighting from the inside. Can the two release his soul before he harms his sister.

Bleach 4: Through a friend Ichigo finds that a bird contains the trapped soul of a young boy, worse still the boy is being hunted by a Hollow.

The first disc also contains extras in the form of textless closing credits and some production art.

Bleach 5, and the story continues. Though Rukai is having problems banishing a creature as her powers are not yet fully restored. Eventually Ichigo arrives and banishes the creature.

Bleach 6: Rukia buys some soul candy for Ichigo, with the idea of helping him turn into a Reaper if she is not around, but when Ichigo tries some it has some unexpected consequences.

Bleach 7, and the story continues with Ichigo still having problems with his unexpected guest in his body. When Rukai explains that he should have put the soul in a dead body and not his own he finds a stuffed toy and transfers the soul, animating the toy.

Bleach 8: On the anniversary of his mother's death Ichigo goes to the graveyard to pay homage to her memory, unfortunately he runs into a Shinigami who is wondering why Rukia has not returned. When Ichigo informs him of what happened, he discovers that what had happened is against Reaper law.

Disc two has another textless closing, production art and trailers for four other shows as well as a look at the Bleach game for the DS and Wii.

Bleach 9: The fight continues, in the graveyard, with the hollow. When Ichigo discovers that the hollow he is fighting is the same one that killed his mother, revenge and honour demand that he kill this hollow himself.

Bleach 10, and a little magic can not only go a long way, but can also get out of hand. Don Kanonji, who believes that he can perform spiritual exorcisms, releases a Hollow and has to turn to Ichigo for help.

Bleach 11, and a new protagonist arrives on the scene when Ichigo and Rukia discover that someone else is despatching Hollows. It is a Quincy, but unlike the Shingami, Quincy's don't just despatch Hollows but kill them outright.

Bleach 12, and it is a hollow killing fest of an episode with Chad, Ichigo and Uryu spending much of the episode kicking Hollow butt.

Disc three has a textless closing sequence and some production art

To be honest I can see why the show became as popular as it did. The animation is high quality and remains that way. The stories are a nice blend of comedy and action, with Ichigo's family providing some much needed emotional content to balance the Hollow killing which appears in each episode. Character designs remain good which makes it easier to distinguish the various characters. The Japanese sound track is good, but then so is the English dub. It's a shame that there wasn't the option of listening to the show in 5.1 as it is an action orientated piece, or that the extras were not a little more substantial. Overall a show worth watching.

Charles Packer

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