Bleach 2:1 - Mania.com



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Mania Grade: B-

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Info:

  • Audio Rating: B+
  • Video Rating: B+
  • Packaging Rating: N/A
  • Menus Rating: B+
  • Extras Rating: B
  • Age Rating: 15 & Up
  • Region: 2 - Europe
  • Released By: Manga UK
  • MSRP: £24.99
  • Running time: 300
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Bleach

Bleach 2:1

By Bryan Morton     July 07, 2008
Release Date: June 30, 2008


Bleach 2:1
© Manga UK


What They Say
Guided by Yoruichi the mysterious talking cat, Ichigo and school friends Orihime, Chad and Uryu make the dangerous crossing over to the Soul Society and land on the outskirts of the city where the Soul Reapers live. To succeed in their mission to save Rukia from her captors, they must defeat the giant gatekeeper and find some way into the walled city. But it's not going to be easy.

Alerted to the intruders' attempts to enter the city, the Soul Reapers mobilize their forces to attack. Meanwhile, Rukia is transferred to the Shishinro, the Repentance Cell, to await her execution. Will the rescuers save her in time, or are they destined to die trying?



The Review!
The rescue of Rukia gets underway as Ichigo and his friends head to take on the Soul Society. Just don't be expecting the rescue to happen any time soon, as three discs and 12 episodes later there's the distinct feeling that this battle is only getting started...

Audio:
Audio is presented in English and Japanese 2.0 stereo. I've been trying to widen my linguistic boundaries lately, to I listed to this release in both English and Japanese. Both tracks are fairly standard stereo mixes, with some effort having been made to properly place dialogue and effects on the soundstage but nothing particularly spectacular past that. There were no obvious dropouts or other problems. As for the English track - I've been becoming more accepting of dubbed anime lately, and Bleach is another series where the quality of the English voice-acting has quite impressed me.

Video:
Video's hard to quantify in one way - this is a recent show, so in general the animation is clean and colourful, while the transfer is free of any obvious encoding issues. Where it's strange is that there are scenes dotted throughout the disc where the animation has noticeably more detail (both in terms of shading representing lighting, which adds a lot of depth to the animation, and in the amount of work that's gone into portraying the characters) than for the rest of the disc. These scenes really do look good, but they're different enough from the show's usual level of animation that they do jar a bit. I can't really criticise for the extra effort having been made, though.

Packaging:
No packaging was provided with our review copy.

Menu:
The menu is a static screen, with an image of one of the main off to one side. Options are provided for Play All, direct access to each episode, language setup and extras. There are no transition animations, so it's all quick & easy to use.

Extras:
Each disc (it's a three-disc set) has a creditless version of the show's closing sequence, and a gallery of production artwork. There are two different version of the ending used here. That's your lot.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review will contain spoilers)
As Ichigo and his friends begin their journey to the world of the Shinigami, the Soul Society is instantly aware that something's not quite right - although surviving the trip is the gang's first challenge, and it's only Orihime's quick thinking that save them from being swept away into nothingness. Literally. On arrival, their first challenge is against Jidanbo, guardian of the Seirei Gate the restricts access to the Soul Society - and he's just the first in what looks set to be a looong list of challenges for the gang to face before they can rescue Rukia...

This set marks a bit of a turn-around for Bleach, at least to me. The first two sets impressed me - we got the good aspects of fighting shows without the tedium that often goes along with season-spanning missions. I'd even gone so far as to call it my favourite fighting show. This release brought me back down to earth with a bump, though, with the first episode marking the beginning of the gang's mission to rescue Rukia, 12 episodes later we're still miles away from seeing that happen - and with Ichigo having so far defeated just one of the Soul Society's top fighters, there's the distinct feeling that this may take some time. One episode is kind enough to point out that he'll have to defeat the lieutenants and captains of all 13 of the Society's divisions before reaching her side - that's 26 fighters, fact fans, and already I'm hoping the dandelion-headed one can find a way to avoid fighting them all.

Not that I should really expect anything else from a Shonen Jump show - long, drawn-out fight scenes are what they do, and complaining about them being there is a bit like complaining about seawater being salty. It's just the way things are. In truth, Bleach is still easier to sit through than most similar shows I've seen lately - there's a lot less of the running commentary and angst that Naruto seems to indulge in, for example - and with Bleach sporting decent production values, the battle scenes look the part. Add in that they're that little bit more gory than most, and there are enough redeeming features to make it surprisingly enjoyable, even to someone like me who usually doesn't do the fighting thing.

The show's other good points aren't forgotten about under all the swordplay, either. There are some good pieces of character development, dealt with by way of flashback scenes, while the interaction between Ichigo and new "rival" Ganju provides plenty of laughs.

The only real downside is that so many new characters are introduced over the set, some of them only getting two or three scenes space many episodes apart, that it quickly becomes difficult to keep track of who's who. It doesn't help that a lot of the Soul Society characters looking pretty much the same as each other - only the squad captains are really distinctive. Some of the other "core" characters, like Orihime and Ishida, also get a little short-changed - a few scenes to remind you that they're still about, but that's all.

In summary:
The increased emphasis on fighting that comes with the gang being on a mission does spoil Bleach's appeal a little for me, but the aspects of the series that made the first two sets decently enjoyable are still there, so it's not a total loss. While there is a lot of fighting here, there's also enough going on elsewhere to keep the set from becoming a chore to watch. Now if they could just hurry up and rescue Rukia, so we can get back to normal service...

Features
Japanese 2.0 Language 2.0,English Language 2.0,English Subtitles,Creditless Endings,Production Art

Review Equipment
Toshiba 37X3030DB 37" widescreen HDTV; Sony PS3 Blu-ray player (via HDMI, upscaled to 1080p); Acoustic Solutions DS-222 5.1 speaker system.

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