Two Soul Reapers, two swords, and both with the same powers - which isn't supposed to happen. I wonder who'll come out on top...
What They Say
When a caravan transporting the King's Seal is attacked, Toshiro Hitsugaya and Squad 10 are on the ready. As they prepare to protect the treasure that holds immeasurable power, Hitsugaya suddenly abandons the scene alongside the thieves and becomes one of the accused. In response, the Soul Society calls for his capture and execution.
Upon hearing the edict, Substitute Soul Reaper Ichigo Kurosaki is immediately suspicious and determined to uncover the facts. But when Hitsugaya refuses to defend his actions and fights against his comrades, it seems his fate is all but sealed. Can Ichigo uncover Hitsugaya's motives before they destroy his honor, his life, and the Soul Society?
Audio comes in 5.1 surround for both the English and Japanese soundtracks. I listened to the Japanese track for this review, and it has to be said that for a surround track, there's surprisingly little use made of the rear channels. The front channels get a good workout, though, with decent placement of effects and dialogue. There were no obvious encoding problems.
Video is presented in the original 1.78:1 aspect, enhanced for anamorphic playback. As you would expect from a theatrical release, the visuals in general are a step above what we usually get from the TV show, with fluid animation supplementing the show's usual bright colour palette. There are some scenes that seem to have a softer focus than most of the movies - I'm not sure if that's intentional or not - but it's not a major distraction. There were no other obvious issues.
No packaging was provided with our review copy.
The main menu is a static affair, as usual these days, with Hitsugaya and Ichigo posing either side of options for Play, Scenes, Extras and Setup. The boys also appear on the submenus for Extras and Setup. There are no transition animations between screens, making most sections quick & easy to use. The exception is the Scenes menu, which is split across several pages, with small clips used to indicate each scene. No complaints overall, though.
There's a reasonable batch of extras here, with "Making he Bleach Movie 2" taking pride of place. It's a collection of six video segments (total running time around 40 minutes), each looking at different stages of the production process and providing interviews with key staff who worked on the movie. That's supplemented with a 35-piece production art gallery, and 5 Japanese promo clips - including one downright weird Kon special.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review will contain spoilers)
When a caravan transporting the Ouin - the Seal of the Royal Family - is attacked, Toshiro Hitsugaya and Squad 10 are mobilised to guard it. As they prepare to protect the treasure, the source of immeasurable power, Hitsugaya suddenly abandons his position, apparently switching sides to leave the scene of the attack alongside the thieves. In doing so he becomes a fugitive, with the Soul Society quick to call for his capture and execution. Upon hearing of this from Soi Fon, Ichigo is immediately suspicious and determined to uncover the truth behind what he's heard. When Hitsugaya refuses to return to the Soul Society to defend his actions and instead fights against his comrades, it seems his fate is all but sealed. But there's more going on than those at the top of the Soul Society are letting on, with the root cause of Hitsugaya's "desertion" coming years earlier, when he and his friend Kusaka somehow managed to obtain the same zanpakuto. That was never supposed to be possible, and Kusaka was ultimately killed to correct the situation. Now, though, he's back - and planing on using the power of the Ouin to take his revenge for the injustice he suffered at the hands of the Soul Society...
There's a general rule of thumb that I've been able to rely on with both the Bleach and Naruto movies: since they have time constraints that the TV series doesn't have, you can usually bet on ending up with a better paced, more tightly-scripted story. Add on the benefits that the budget for a theatrical release can bring to production values, and so far I haven't been disappointed.
Sadly, The Diamond Dust Rebellion breaks that run of form. At around 90 minutes running time, it's not particularly long, but the first thing you'll notice about it is that it seems to take forever to get past the introduction of what's going on and get down to the "interesting" stuff - mainly because, while there's a decent amount going on, no-one seems interested in explaining any of it, at least on-screen. Ichigo meets Soi Fon and her Stealth Squad shortly after Hitsugaya's 'defection', but while it's made clear that she's explained the situation to Ichigo, that takes place conveniently off-screen. Hitsugaya also remains stubbornly tight-lipped about what' going on after Ichigo gives him refuge, and it's not until the final third of the movie - after several set-piece battle have already taken place - that you finally get a full explanation of what had happened in the past between Hitsugaya and Kusaka.
Even when things do happen, there are question marks over just how much sense they make. For starters, the Soul Society seems rather quick to condemn Hitsugaya's actions - the idea that Hitsugaya may have gone in pursuit of those involved in the initial raid on the Ouin's caravan, instead of simply having defected with them, never seems to be considered. Passing mention is made of Kusaka's resurrection, without the details ever being explored; and as for his motivations, the base idea that one wrong deserves an even greater one seems to be good enough for him.
So in story terms, colour me not particularly impressed. The fight scenes, on the other hand, are a visual treat once they really get going towards the end of the movie - there's plenty of detail to them, with some good choreography, plenty of opportunity for all the Soul Society regulars to get involved and, thanks to the short running time, no opportunity for any one battle to be dragged out to the point where it becomes dull to watch. Given that the plots in these movies boil down to little more than creating opportunities for protagonists and antagonists to get it on, it's almost a shame that the action was almost relegated to the tail end of the movie. And that's something I never though I'd see myself type.
There's good and bad here, then - battles and plot respectively - and once you put it all together it comes out as something that's simply okay. 90 minutes is hardly a long movie, but the way the plot drags its way to a conclusion makes it feel so much longer than that, and the final battle sequences come as blessed relief. One for the fans.
Japanese Language 5.1, English Language 5.1, English Subtitles, Making Beach the Movie 2, Production Art Gallery, Original Japanese Promos
Toshiba 37X3030DB 37" widescreen HDTV; Sony PS3 Blu-ray player (via HDMI, upscaled to 1080p); Acoustic Solutions DS-222 5.1 speaker system.