Bleach Box Set 4 Part 2 - Mania.com



DVD Review

Mania Grade: C-

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Info:

  • Audio Rating: B+
  • Video Rating: B+
  • Packaging Rating: B+
  • Menus Rating: B
  • Extras Rating: B
  • Age Rating: 13 and Up
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: Viz Media
  • MSRP: 49.95
  • Running time: 350
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Bleach

Bleach Box Set 4 Part 2

Bleach Box Set 4 Part 2 DVD Review

By Chris Beveridge     March 10, 2010
Release Date: February 16, 2010


Bleach Box Set 4 Part 2
© Viz Media

The true goal of the Bounts is eventually revealed but not until we get a whole lot of fighting going on.

What They Say

The battle against the evil Bounts grows wider and fiercer as Ichigo and friends, reinforced by a group of Soul Reapers, try to take the fight to their hideout. But the Bounts have many tricks up their sleeves, and it looks like certain defeat for Ichigo and his comrades.

Uryu, who had lost his Quincy powers, is the key to the Bount leader Kariya's plans for revenge against the Soul Society, as well as the key to his defeat. Will Uryu be able to regain his powers in time to save his friends?

Contains episodes 80-91.

The Review!

Audio
For our primary viewing session, we listened to this show in its original language of Japanese. The two stereo mixes that are included with this release are pretty good with an encoding of 224 kbps which gives it slightly more depth than the 192 kbps standards we usually hear. With a lot of action to it as well as some exaggerated dialogue sequences, Bleach has a fairly decent stereo mix that has some nice directionality to it but nothing that really sets it out as a truly strong piece. The opening and closing sequences have some solid use but overall the mix is straightforward and competent. In listening to both language tracks, we didn't have any problems with dropouts or distortions during regular playback.
 
Video
Originally airing in 2006, the transfer for this series is presented in its original full frame aspect ratio. This set contains twelve episodes spread across three discs with four episodes per disc. Being a recent show, the transfer for it is in very clean and solid shape and is for the most part generally a good looking release. Colors are solid without any really noticeable bleeding, though some of the red items sometime seem like there's a touch of it. Cross coloration is absent and aliasing is very minimal. Probably more out of expectation, the show does seem a bit soft in how it's presented. Part of it comes from the way so many shows are just so clean and vibrant looking, that something of this nature doesn't feel quite right – especially for something of this pedigree. Backgrounds do exhibit some noise and there are a few very noticeable areas of mosquito noise as well, but by and large this is a good looking release.
 
Packaging
After the first three seasons box sets, I’m really surprised to see Viz Media change its approach, though I hope they apply it to all their box sets at some point. Rather than the digipak we’ve had before, we know get a thin cardboard cover that holds four black thinpak cases. The color of choice this time is a light blue for the overall design, in contrast to the deep blue of the previous set, and I really love how this color looks overall. The central focus for the character artwork is that of Ichigo and Ishida together looking manly and tought. It’s very simple but highly effective with the serious look and the way the eye is dawn right to the characters. There isn’t a lot of text on the front here which works out nicely. The back is designed like previous digipaks but in the shade of blue where it uses the series name and breaks out what it is. The summary is kept to the lower right with white text on the blue that looks good but is pretty minimal overall. The discs production and technical information is all listed underneath that, though I would have liked to have an episode listing/breakdown there as well as the other place it’s found on the back isn’t quickly visible.
 
Inside the box we get the individual thinpak cases which all utilize the same artwork as was found with the individual disc releases. Though clear might have worked better, these covers are all very appealing with the white background and the strong focus on the character artwork. The three covers are given over either to the Soul Reapers that arrive to help out in this arc or a Bount but they all have a fairly restrained and almost angry look overall. The back covers are all laid out the same with a good bit of open unused space, a brief summary of what the story for that volume is and a listing of the episodes to be found on there. There’s a shot from each episode also provided with each volume and a simple breakdown grid that’s more about the logos and copyrights more than anything else. No show related inserts are included in this release nor are there reversible covers.
 
Menu
The menu design is one of the better ones from Viz in recent memory as it uses the blocking movements from the opening sequence to showcase scenes from the show. Kept to an all black background, the visuals slide in and out along with lines of color all set to a brief bit of instrumental music. The navigation strip is along the bottom with quick access times to submenus and starting the show. Viz continues to avoid direction episode navigation from the top level but they're not the only ones to still do that. While this is a simple approach, it's done well and is a definite change from how Viz has done things in the past. On the downside, the discs did not correctly read our players' language presets and defaulted to English only for audio and no subtitles – which is unfortunate since there isn't a sign/song subtitle track so you initially believe the songs are not subtitled.
 
Extras
A few extras are on the discs here and spread out across all of them. Each disc has a selection of production art pieces which covers the basics of characters and the like while we also get a clean version of the closing sequence. The third volume has a Behind the Scenes feature which runs just over ten minutes. Its focus is entirely on the US voice actor side and has several of the leads talking about their characters before shifting into showing them at work during recording sessions.
 
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
The fourth season of Bleach comes to a close with this set as twelve more episodes round up events with the Bounts for their launch phase. With only twelve episodes, this set does go by fairly fast but it's also something of a chore to get through as it's all about build-up and a series of fights that leads towards the actual event itself. For all intents and purposes, this filler arc of the series plays more like a Shonen Jump show than Bleach really did prior to this. As much as the Soul Society arc dragged at points, it still had a good flow to it and the right kind of humor. Here, it's just dragging.
 
The second half of the Bount storyline starts to give us more meat on the stick when it comes to the Bounts themselves. After we get past a rather silly episode involving the mod souls, Kariya's plans take center stage as he's gathered everyone together again and has distilled enough of the souls into the bitto for everyone to partake of. The formula does push them to even greater levels than before and the power rushes to their heads, though some are trying to be a bit more restrained than others. The feeling of such power has them pushing ahead with their plans, though there is some mild caution put into place so they don't do too much too quickly. The plans have been in motion for some time but it's all coming together just right now.
 
And this is where this set really lost me outside of a few key areas. With everyone feeling so full of power after having sucked down so many souls, the Bount basically split up and go their separate ways in order to cause trouble and take down Ichigo and the others, including the newly arrived Soul Reapers from the Soul Society that's come to the Living World in order to help out, which includes Rangiku. This setup pushes us to three different attack stages basically where a small group of the good guys takes on the Bount of choice. Of course, the good guys also include the mod souls which get split as well as they stick with the ones they've bonded with. So naturally we get some lengthy fights with an ebb and flow that's normal but altogether dull. The Bount really have not left a good impression in the twenty-eight episodes they've been in so far and saying that it's that many episodes only makes it worse.
 
There are some fun moments to be had in this set though, even if the fights themselves are pretty weak. One is a side story that takes Koga on a trip down memory lane as he remembers when Kariya came to him years ago with a young man named Cain who was a Bount. He asked for the favor of having Koga train and teach him, but it's something that goes against how the Bount live as they value their independence and rarely spend time together. The two do bond well as the story goes on and it's a really good humanizing piece for Koga that also shows how Kariya manipulates things. Most of the Bount really have little personality to them but going this route with him and allowing Kariya to have something more than a cardboard cutout villain.
 
Eventually everything does lead to the conclusion of this season, which is all done for setup for the fifth season in which the Bount make progress towards their goal. What makes the last little bit of this season work is that Ishida gets back in the picture and others are starting to realize the seriousness of what's going on. The history of the Bount is recounted with its ties to the Soul Society being laid bare and that goes a long way towards explaining what their ultimate goal is. With their origins taking place in a time long ago, and with the Bount having only a specific and shrinking number of people, they have only so much time to make things right in their view and that time is now. Though the arc has been long and overdrawn, the motivations of Kariya and the others is crystal and clear and potentially interesting, at least in the next season.

In Summary: 
Looking back at this season, and knowing that it's leading into the actual big event in the next season, Bleach really takes a bad detour here. With season four covering nearly thirty episodes you realize just how drawn out it is. The areas that worked are the more humorous ones, such as the mod souls that inhabit stuffed animals or various interactions from Urahara and his group as they get involved with the Soul Reapers again. While the third season of Bleach had some slow moments, it had a big expansive new world to explore and a bevy of interesting characters involved. The Bount that are introduced, the setting and their ultimate goal all fall float. There is some hope with how this season ended but with what I've seen so far, I'm not holding out much hope for it to be a really good season.
 
Features
Japanese 2.0 Language, English 2.0 Language, English Subtitles, Production Artwork, Behind the Scenes, Clean Closings

Review Equipment

Sony KDS-R70XBR2 70" LCoS 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.
 

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