Is anyone going to save Rukia?
What They Say
Lieutenant Momo Hinamori recalls her days in training at the Soul Reaper Academy, where she first met Captain Sosuke Aizen. In the present, the letter Aizen left for her at his death scene leads Momo to believe she has identified his killer... While Ichigo and Renji train with Yoruichi to achieve bankai, Rukia recalls a bit of her own past in a dream that she believes will prepare her to face her execution - which has been moved up to the next day!
Contains episodes 46-49.
As usual, we listened to Bleach 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.
Again, the transfer for Bleach does not disappoint in its original full frame aspect ratio. Bleach’s transfer is consistently clean and pleasing to watch. All of the colors appear very solid and exhibit great vibrancy. 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.
For this collection we are treated to a new boxart color variation for what is now called “The Rescue”. Volume 12 continues to feature the silver foil front cover design. In addition, the spine of the case and the volume number is now colored in blue. The same logo and text layout appears as it did in the previous volumes. 10th Division Captain: Hitsugaya Toushiro is featured on the front cover. The backside of the case contains the usual series name displayed 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. The standard technical information about the DVD is provided at the bottom. The insert for this volume, like the previous volumes, is a black piece with the title from the back cover on it along with chapter stops. The inside jacket has now changed to a white background with the black soul society graphic. A nice little extra inclusion is a sticker sheet that has the front cover and four smaller stickers for each episode number.
As with previous volumes, the same cool menu design is used in this release. The blocking movements are used again from the opening sequence to showcase various scenes from episodes 46-49. 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.
Again, as in previous volumes, the same types of extras are featured. A selection of production art for some of the characters is also available. 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.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers).
Episodes 46-49 begin to focus on a disturbance within the ranks of the Gotei 13. We get to see some backstory on Momo, Renji, Toushiro, and Izuru. Finally, we get to see the relationship between these squad lieutenants develop. Something feels like the bonds that they developed while in the Soul Reaper Academy will come into play as the story progresses. We also get to see how Momo’s devotion to Captain Aizen develops. Another interesting side note is that Captain Toushiro was good friends with Momo at a very young age. In fact Momo refers to Toushiro as “Little Shiro”, which annoys Toushiro like none other.
Some more Soul Reaper academy introductions are made here as we are introduced to Hisagi Shuuhei. Shuuhei is the guy with number 69 tattooed on his face. He was a top-level student at the shinigami academy, being offered a ranked spot in the Gotei 13 before he even graduated. He takes Renji, Momo, and Izuru on a Hollow training raid in the living world. The result of the raid leaves our group of rookie soul reapers in a very tight situation and completely outnumbered. When all seems lost, Captain Aizen and Ichimaru Gin show up to save the rooks. This reveals the drive that Momo has for avenging Aizen’s death. Now, Momo has immobilized the guard of her cell using Demon Arts and escapes to hunt down those responsible for Aizen’s death. She is driven further by the note Aizen left her.
Toushiro has his hands full with Momo, Kira and Renji each escaping from their respective cells. We also get some more backstory on Matsumoto Rangiku, the well endowed lieutenant that serves under Toushiro in Squad 10. She has a past with Gin. Ichigo’s Bankai training is drawing to a close with him still struggling to beat Zangetsu. While healingin a hot spring with Yoruichi, he hears about Urahara’s (Hat and Clogs) past as Squad 12’s captain. This makes for a great scene as Yoruichi has no qualms about getting naked in front of a very embarrassed Ichigo as a cat, no a woman!
Toushiro finds Izuru and Gin together. Momo soon arrives and recites the information from Aizen’s letter, which states that his murderer is Toushiro, and that he even has plans to destroy Soul Society. Sounds like a setup!! Left with no choice, Toushiro must reluctantly remove an emotionally deranged Momo from the scene in order to confront Gin. Gin’s character is definitely designed to provoke a sense of annoying anger for the viewer as you can begin to see how he is manipulating everyone towards some unforeseen objective. But, what is his connection to Aizen??
A fight ensues between the Captains of the 3rd and 10th Squad. Gin taunts Toushiro as to provoke him to attack him with his all. Izuru appears dazed and confused by it all as he must obey his captain, Gin. Both captains release their respective zanpakutos into a free-for-all fight. Gin looks to have the upper hand when Ranginku arrives to stop the fight. It’s obvious that there is a deep past between Ranginku and Gin as she ponders Gin’s mysterious actions.
The date of Rukia’s execution is now changed to an earlier date, which creates a new sense of urgency for Yoruichi to finish Ichigo’s training. Renji coincidentally shows up at Yoruichi’s training area to also train for Bankai. Renji shares his purpose for wanting to train and ups the ante to encourage Ichigo to train even harder alongside him. Nothing like a little friendly/unfriendly competition for Ichigo, huh? He’s a sucker for it!
Volume 12 closes out with an episode devoted to Rukia. This focuses on yet another backstory about a night she cannot forget. A night where the 13th Division Vice Captain: Shiba Kaien died in her arms. Kaien is the brother of Ganju, Ichigo’s wild boar riding friend who has an immense hatred of Soul Reapers. Ganju’s hate for Soul Reapers is because of what happened that night. Another interesting note is that Kaien is a dead ringer for Ichigo. They look almost identical, with exception to their hair color. Things start to come together as Rukia reflects on this pivotal plot point.
Rukia’s post in 13th Squad led to her being mocked by her squad mates. This of course was due to her noble status. Kaien came to her defense and helped her become more accepted by her squad mates. Kaien’s wife, Miyako was sent on a mission and as the only survivor was possessed by a Hollow. Rukia, Kaien and Ukitake hunt down the Hollow, but Kaien succumbs to it and is also possessed. Regrettably, Rukia is forced to kill him.
The plot in Bleach continues to twist! One can’t complain that this series is not interesting. It seems like Rukia will never get rescued, but the plot that ensues makes up for the prolonged attempt. With so many characters, it’s hard to not get lost. Regardless, the next volumes won’t come too soon as this viewer is hooked on what will happen in next volumes to come.
Japanese 2.0 Language, English 2.0 Language, English Subtitles, Production Artwork, Clean Opening, Clean Closing
Hitachi 62VS69 62" UltraVision LCD Projection HDTV, Samsung BDP-1000 Blu-ray Player with Dolby Digital 5.1 surround sound.