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DVD Review

Series 2 - Part 1


Starring (voice): Fumiko Orikasa, Masakazu Morita, Hiroki Yasumoto and Kentarou Itou
Manga Entertainment
RRP: £24.99
Certificate: 15
Available 30 June 2008

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, the transference turns him into a full Soul Reaper. For this transgression Rukia has been returned to the realm of the Soul Society to face condemnation and death. Ichigo believes in a life for a life so determines, with his friends, to rescue Rukia, but are they up to the job?...

Bleach Series Two: Volume One continues Ichigo’s story as he sets off, sword in hand and companions at his back, to wrestle Rukia back from her fate with the Soul Society. This three disc set covers episodes twenty-one to thirty-two, and as such represents great value for an anime.

Set up on all the discs is the same with a choice of either English or Japanese stereo and Japanese with subtitles. The sound remains clear and dynamic. The 4:3 picture is pin sharp, as you would expect from a relatively modern show, with good character design and bright, vibrant colours. The show itself is a mixture of ongoing narrative and action/comedy and it would appear that the makers haven’t yet run out of story and degenerated into the sort of ‘fight of the week’ show that so many do.

Disc one contains episodes twenty-one to twenty-four, and finds Ichigo, accompanied by his friends Uryu, Orihime, Chad and Yoruichi, in the form of a cat, finally arriving in the Rukon district, the outer towns of the soul realm. However the entrance to the citadel of Seireitei is blocked by the immense form of its guardian.

Ichigo finally defeats the guardian, but still this does not give then access to the city. Following a run in with a pig riding thug named Ganju, the team must find another way into the city, so turn towards Kukaku, a rather buxom fireworks expert, for help. Meanwhile the preparations for Rukia’s execution continue...

Extras on disc one consist of some production art and textless closing titles.

Disc two houses episodes twenty-five to twenty-eight. Ichigo and the gang practice building the personal shield which will allow Kukaku to fire the group, from her fireworks cannon, through the Seireitei’s shield and into the citadel.

Ganju, who still has issues about the death of his Soul Reaper brother, joins the group looking for his own answers. Their passage through the shield splits the group up with Ganju and Ichigo getting into a fight almost immediately. Whilst Ganju runs away, Ichigo faces off his opponent, Ikkaku. These concurrent fights take up all of the latter three episodes, falling into the old problem of some good fight scenes filled with endless talk between the protagonists about how they are going to kick each others butts.

Extras on disc two consist of some more production art and another textless closing title.

Disc three contains episodes twenty-nine to thirty-two. The extended fights continue as does the endless battle chat. Eventually things start to resolve when Ichigo and Ganju meet up with a possible new ally - Hanatarou, from squad fourteen, who has his own reasons to save Rukia. These reasons are explained in a flashback. Hanatarou helps them use the sewers to get closer to the tower, only to find that their way is blocked by Renji, the lieutenant of squad six. Time for another fight, and with each battle Ichigo gets stronger.

The disc ends with a sentimental flashback for Renji as he recalls his childhood relationship with Rukia, whilst having a "life flashing past your eyes" moment.

Extras on disc three consist of even more production art and yet another textless closing credit sequence, plus come trailers - the most interesting of which is the rather short promo for the Bleach Wii game.

Although the story drags a tad in the middle sections, with the need for the group to engage in endless combat, Bleach remains a nice mix of action and comedy, with just enough story so that you don’t loose interest. The extras are a bit thin; however this is made up with the sheer number of episodes on offer.


Charles Packer

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