Bleach Vol. #16 - Mania.com



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Mania Grade: B

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Info:

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

Bleach Vol. #16

By Bryce Coulter     June 23, 2009
Release Date: May 12, 2009


Bleach Vol. #16
© Viz Media

The Bount filler arc begins.  Is it really less bountiful than the other releases?

What They Say
Returning to the world of the living after their adventures in the Soul Society, Ichigo and friends resume their regular lives at home and school. But strange disappearances keep occurring, and no culprit is in sight. Something strange has followed them home, putting their faith and trust in each other to the test.

Contains episodes 64-67.

The Review:
Audio:
We listened to this collection using the English dub as we have become fans of the English cast.  They continue to do an excellent job of portraying the characters as set forth by the original Japanese voice cast.  Being more of a English dub fan, in general, we find it harder to go back to listening to the Japanese voice cast.  As usual, the audio is clean and clear.  The overall soundtrack does a great job of using the multiple channels on my new Samsung soundbar.  In all, still a great audio dub.

Video:
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. This DVD collection was the first review I conducted with my new Samsung LED TV and Sony Playstation 3.  The upconverting to 1080p makes this collection look fantastic.  It was almost next to impossible to find any imperfections in the video transfer. 

Packaging:
For this collection we are treated to the new boxart color variation for “The Bount”.  Volume 16 continues to feature the silver foil front cover design.  In addition, the spine of the case and the volume number is now colored in skyblue.  The same logo and text layout appears as it did in the previous volumes.  Ichigo is featured on the front cover in his school uniform with his black kimono that he wears as a Soul Reaper.  The backside of the case contains the usual series name displayed in a silvery skyblue color 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 continues to use the white background with the black soul reaper icon.  The insert for this collection lists the episode numbers as well as the “The Bount” written in kanji. The DVD label uses the skyblue color and features the text “Once one enters soul society and is enlightened by the order, eyes cannot be closed, ears cannot be blocked…”  This is also clearly found on the back of the insert, which is a lot easier to read.

Menu:
As with previous volumes, the same cool menu design is used in this release.  The blocking movements are used again from to showcase various scenes from episodes 64-67.  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.  The title menu for Bleach has to be one of the coolest menus that I have reviewed.

Extras:
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). 
The easiest way to talk about the large blue elephant in the room is…directly.  Some folks that have watched the subtitled or televised versions of this arc strongly dislike them.  The general criticism is that the bount arc doesn’t follow the manga story-line by Tite Kubo, and this divergence arc appears to resemble many shonen filler arcs that one would find in anime such as Yu Yu Hakusho and Naruto.  This reviewer is going to critique this product from the perspective of the animation alone, and how it develops the overall storyline from the previous arc and ties it to the next one.

The Bount arc begins with the gang back in Karakura Town attempting to get back to a ‘normal’ life.  Normal is overrated so the first thing that happens is Ichigo finding himself waking to his Father’s surprise attack through a bedroom window.  After a quick battle with his Dad, Ichigo makes his way to school with his chums.  The moment of high school normalcy is quickly blown away by Renji.  Renji almost seems like a lost or bored puppy at this point.  The new guardian of Karakura Town becomes more of a stalker.  He shadows Ichigo where ever he goes, and he doesn’t seem to completely ‘get’ how he is causing a few problems now and then.  

The crew is trying to adjust to being back in the real world with a few bumps along the way.  Orahime is struggling with her self esteem.  She feels like she wasn’t able to help the others save Rukia in the Soul Society, and she wants to be able to grow stronger and pull her own weight, so to speak.  In this frame of mind, she encounters her brother once again.  Unfortunately her moment of happiness is an elaborate trap for an unarguably annoying ‘game’.  Orahime is snatched away right in front of Ichigo, et.al.  A little girl’s laugh (that we love to hate), leads them on a wild goose chase around town.   

A definite positive to this arc is Kon, Kon, and more Kon.  Kon’s ever changing body is a humor subplot that is sure to tickle a few funny bones.  My personal favorite is the Kon backpack complete with a variety of sewing materials and/ Quincy paraphernalia.  Kon is definitely full of his typical antics.  Given his lust for Orahime and Rukia, it is unfortunate that he wasn’t a stuffed dog or pig instead of a noble lion. 

Getting back to the action, after completing several classic brainteasers and challanges, the guys begin to piece together the puzzle of who or what is kidnapping everyone, Mod souls.  Even with this knowledge, will the team be able to rescue their classmates from being held captives?  You’ll have to wait for the next release to answer that one!

Summary:
The Bount Arc provides some truly redeeming qualities.  It provides enough action and character development mixed with a dose of humor to make worthwhile to continuing watching it.  The story isn’t bad, plus, you get to see Kon.  The flip-side is that the story is a bit of an emotional deflation after the climactic conclusion of the last arc.  After finding out that Aisen is really the evil mastermind behind so much, the complete change of pace is a harsh jolt.  Every story has its ebb and flow, and this arc is a bit of an ebb but still enjoyable.  Enjoyably recommended!
   
Features
Japanese 2.0 Language, English 2.0 Language, English Subtitles, Clean Closing,  Production Gallery

Review Equipment

Samsung UN40B6000V 40” LED HDTV, Sony PlayStation 3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Samsung HT-WS1R/XAA 2.1home theater Sound Bar Speaker System with Wireless Subwoofer

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