Bleach Vol. #02 - Mania.com



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Mania Grade: A-

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Info:

  • Audio Rating: A-
  • Video Rating: A-
  • Packaging Rating: A-
  • Menus Rating: A
  • Extras Rating: B
  • Age Rating: 13 & Up
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: Viz Media
  • MSRP: 24.98
  • Running time: 100
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Bleach

Bleach Vol. #02

By Bryce Coulter     February 15, 2007
Release Date: January 30, 2007


Bleach Vol. #02
© Viz Media


What They Say
After her Soul Reaper powers are transferred to Ichigo, Rukia Kuchiki, becomes disguised as a transfer student, and she must help Ichigo to use his newly acquired powers to destroy soul-devouring Hollows. As if Ichigo didn't have enough trouble, a modified soul takes over temporary control of his body and starts running amok all over town!

The Review!
Now that Ichigo has assumed soul reaper capabilities, Rukia must try to help Ichigo fight off the Hollows while searching to reestablish her own soul reaping powers.

Audio:
For our primary viewing session, we listened to this show in its original language of Japanese. We also sampled the English track, which does a fairly good job of keeping up with standard set by the Japanese cast. In listening to both language tracks, we didn't have any problems with dropouts or distortions during regular playback.

Video:
Originally airing in 2004, the transfer for this series is presented in its original full frame aspect ratio. Bleach's transfer is very clean is good looking release. All of the colors appear very solid. Cross coloration is absent and aliasing is almost nonexistent. On rare occasions there is just a small bit of noticeable background noise, but nothing to be concerned about.

Packaging:
The second volume of Bleach has an illustration of Rukia in her school uniform holding her cell phone against a white background. The white background draws attention to the silver foil used in the domestic version of the series logo and Rukia's cell phone, which is colored in silver foil. Rukia's image wraps around to the back side of the cover where you see her glove. The back side layout provides the series name in the Arial font in silver along with the volume and episode numbers. The standard brief Viz summary of the volume is also contained here along with a few shots from the show along with the standard technical information about the DVD. The insert for this volume, like volume 1, is a black piece with the title from the back cover on it along with chapter stops. A nice little extra inclusion is a sticker sheet that has the front cover and four smaller stickers for each episode number.

Menu:
As with volume 1, the cool menu design is used in volume 2. The blocking movements are used again from the opening sequence to showcase various scenes from episodes 5-8. Again, all of this is kept to an all black background with visuals that slide in and out along with lines of color all set to a brief bit of instrumental music from the show. The navigation strip is along the bottom that has very quick access to the submenus. As in Volume 1, Viz continues to not show the English subtitles for the opening music when watching the show in English, which is a pain. To view the subtitles, one has to watch the show in Japanese with the subtitles turned on.

Extras:
As in Volume 1, the same types of extras are featured in Volume 2. A selection of production art covers the basics of characters. We also get a clean version of the closing sequence. The manga preview contained in this volume is mainly an advertisement for Viz's other manga titles. There is no preview of the Bleach manga in this volume.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers).
More is revealed about the Soul Society and how Ichigo's friends and family members become ever more aware of the spiritual battles that are surrounding them.

Continuing from the last volume, Rukia is still unable to fight Hollows in her weakened state. She has no choice but to wait for Ichigo. Unexpectedly, help arrives in the form of Chad, who blindly fights against the Hollow. This same Hollow is discovered to be the murderer of Shibata's mother as well as the one who put the boy's soul in the cockatiel's body. Defenseless, Rukia is nearly killed by leeches that explode on command by the Hollow. Ichigo finally arrives in the nick of time to save everyone.

As Rukia seeks out Urahara Kisuke's assistance, the veil of mystery surrounding her is slightly lifted. Rukia is found to be living on borrowed time in her faux body. While Rukia is at 'sandal-hat's' shop, she purchases a substitute soul that will animate Ichigo's body while he's away fighting Hollows. This is an attempt to keep Ichigo's family, friends, and classmates from becoming too suspicious about his current activities.

Unknowingly, Urahara's helper, Ururu, grabs the wrong merchandise for Rukia. Not suspecting any problems, Rukia gets Ichigo to try out the substitute soul. Unfortunately, this soul is a banned mod-soul that has a mind of its own along with supernatural agility and strength. Tasting the freedom of a real body, the mod soul runs amok throughout the school creating all kinds of chaos. He proceeds to show off in Ichigo's homeroom, to ruin Ichigo's image by kissing Tatsuki and Orihime, and to terrorize some boys playing video games.

While this occurs, Rukia explains that in Soul Society, there was a plan called "Spearhead". This concept behind the project was the use of specialized souls designed exclusively for destroying Hollows. These specialized souls or mod-souls were injected into soul-less dead bodies. Here we get to see one of Rukia's hilarious and famous flip-book sketches that she uses to explain difficult information to Ichigo. Of course Rukia's attempts at an explanation leave Ichigo feeling insulted and as though he is being treated like a little kid. Ichigo comments that he understands Rukia's explanation, but that with her drawings, it's hard to take the moment seriously. The development of the mod-souls by the Soul Society leads one to suspect there is more about the relationship between Hollows and the Soul Society than appears on the surface.

Realizing that Ururu gave Rukia the wrong item, Urahara and company set out to collect the illegal merchandise. Meanwhile, the mod-soul continues to taunt the three boys trying to skip out on PE class. Ichigo is able to thwart the mod-soul's bullying. In the middle of Ichigo and the mod-soul's fray, they find themselves needing to address a Hollow who coincidently shows up to devour the kids' souls. This whole incident provides insight on the background of the mod-soul and his life up to this point. Together, the two Ichigo's defeat the Hollow. Upon defeating the Hollow, Urahara shows up to remove the mod-soul from Ichigo's body, allowing Ichigo's soul to return to his own body. Rukia coerces Urahara to let her keep the mod-soul.
Rukia gives Ichigo the mod-soul to use in the future. Ichigo winces in pain from the wounds that the mod-soul endured while battling the Hollow. Ichigo complains that the mod-soul did whatever he wanted to his body because the mod-soul knew he wouldn't have to deal with the consequences. Another funny moment in this episode surfaces as Ichigo begins scolding the pill while Rukia is poking fun at him.

Wanting to get even, Ichigo asks Rukia how he can complain directly to the 'temporary' soul, and Rukia replies that he should put it in some dead body. Knowing that he can't find a dead body, Ichigo looks to find a suitable substitute. He finds a stuffed toy lion and crams the pill in it. When Ichigo doesn't see any instant results, he picks up the plushie, becomes annoyed, and begins to throw down the stuffed lion. As the toy spins in the air, it comes alive and calls Ichigo a 'dumbass', and tells Ichigo that it hurts. The mod-soul then demands a rematch with Ichigo, but then suddenly realizes that he is a stuffed toy and whole lot smaller. Ichigo puts a hand on his head, making the plushie squeak. He tells the mod-soul that he better say his prayers. Even in this state, the mod-soul declares he will fight Ichigo. Ichigo picks him up and throws him against the closet, telling him to be obedient and be quiet like a normal stuffed animal. Ichigo says that calling him "Modified Soul" is such a hassle, so he has shortened it to "Kon" (from the "konpaku" part of "kaizon konpaku"). Kon suggests that he be called "Kai" instead, because "Kon" sounds lame. Ichigo refuses because "Kai" sounds cool, and that thought pisses him off.

In the final episode a Shinigami named Eikichirou has been dispatched by the Soul Socitey to look for Rukia. The Kurosaki family goes to visit the grave of Masaki, their mother. Here we get the back story on Ichigo's childhood and how his mother was killed. Reluctantly, Ichigo is forced to reveal his past pain to Rukia. Upon hearing the story, Rukia theorizes that it is possible that a Hollow had killed his mother. Ichigo refuses to believe her theory. He thinks that the one who killed his mother was, not a Hollow, but he himself. Ichigo then runs off with Rukia calling after him. Rukia then finds herself confronted by Eikichirou who has come to ask her reason for exceeding her time limit in the human world. Having slipped into Rukia's backpack and understanding the significance of the confrontation, Kon runs to search for Ichigo and tell him Rukia that is in trouble. After Ichigo finds Rukia to protect her he identifies himself to as a "temporary Shinigami". Eikichirou is surprised that Ichigo, a mere human, can even see him. Eikichirou proceeds to proclaim that Rukia has committed a felony and begins to confront Ichigo. Once again a Hollow suddenly appears on the scene and diverts everyone's attention from the initial fight to saving the lives of the Kurosaki family.

Summary:
One can't help from getting sucked into this series with its balance of action, humor, and drama. The stories in this volume add depth to the main characters and answer many questions from the first volume. Many answers actually raise even more questions. Who is the Soul Society, why are these Hollows showing up, What is Kon going to do next? I'm definitely looking forward to the next release as the action and suspense seems to keep building up.

Features
Japanese 2.0 Language,English 2.0 Language,English Subtitles,Clean Closing,Production Gallery,Bleach Stickers

Review Equipment
Hitachi 62VS69 62" UltraVision LCD Projection HDTV, XBOX 360 DVD player, XBOX 360 Component HDAV Cable with Dolby Digital 5.1 surround sound.

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