The Bount plot thickens with a tragedy of sorts.
What They Say
Attempting to rescue Uryu, Ichigo, Rukia and their diverse allies launch an attack on the stronghold of the Bounts. But the evil Bount leader Kariya is far too powerful a foe, and things are looking grim. To make things more complicated still, it appears that one of their foes fighting alongside the Bounts is a former Soul Reaper, Maki Ichinose.
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.
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.
For this collection we are treated to the boxart color variation for “The Bount”. Volume 19 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. Rukia is featured on the front in her school uniform performing one of her kido spells, which looks really cool with the silver foil background. 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.
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 76-79. 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 continues to be one the best menus I have reviewed.
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.
Onward with the Bount arc! The plot begins to darken in this collection. Continuing with the precedence set forth by the previous release, this release reveals a wealth of background knowledge on the Bounts and their connection with the Soul Society.
Within these episodes we learn how demented and vile Jin Kariya is. I’ve seen some evil antagonists and Jin scores up there with the worst of them. He dupes Rya, one of his trusted lieutenants, and takes him out after Rya gives a speech about the ‘rules of honor’ that Bount live by to Ichigo. Neither one demonstrated honor, but instead demonstrate the infighting and deception that the Bount are capable of.
Ichigo and gang retrieve Uryu and manage to escape. Jin doesn’t really seem that ‘put out’ or bothered by either the invasion or the escape. At this point, his narcissistic, ‘god-like’ demeanor is shown in his attitude toward others. He acts as thought everyone around him is just a pawn in his plan; they are predictable as well as merely a means to his end. The greatest example of this is his relationship with Yoshino. She was his lover for many years as well as a loyal follower. After a very long relationship, she turned against him. Despite this he kept her around, although locked up. Did he have lingering affection towards her? The answer is no. He ‘kept’ her because she was a tool to be used in his overall plan. When he is finally able to kill her, he was able to set a part of his plan in motion. Pretty twisted.
We also get a few more back stories on some of the characters. We learn more about the former Soul Reaper from Squad 11, Maki Ichinose. The identity of his captain and his potential relationship with his captain remain a mystery, but we do learn that he was close to whoever he/she was. It is interesting to see how a person’s character flaw can really ruin their life. Kenny recognized Maki’s weakness and actually did him a favor (tough love) by bluntly pointing it out. Instead of heeding the correction and dealing with himself, Maki ran away from the truth. After nearly dying, he found another strong person to ‘cling’. Machi is almost a parable of sorts regarding not listening to constructive criticism, even when it may hurt.
The other issue that remains is regarding Uryu. His relationship with Yoshino is interesting. He shows a tender and protective heart towards Yoshino, and you are led to think that he has become deeply attached to her. At times, it seems as though she even returns that affection in like. Her tragedy through his eyes is even more moving. More moving is that what is built up between the two will not end as one might hope. It leaves one thinking about what might have been as one of the main cast is dealt, yet another tragic blow to his psyche.
The question that lingers in our minds during his entire interaction with the Bount is, “What in the world do they want with Uryu’s power?” The storyline continues to string you along on that one. We don’t know what will happen to him, or the rest of the gang. I guess we’ll have to wait for the next DVD to come around quickly!
Like any good shonen series, Bleach keeps you coming back for more as the story arc slowly peels away. Whether you’re a manga purist or just a shonen fan of Bleach, you can’t deny that the Bount arc is not interesting and engaging. Just like the previous plots we’ve encountered in Bleach, you are not going to get the whole story until the end. So, sit back and enjoy the ride as this tale will eventually culminate in a massive fight that I am sure will not disappoint!
Japanese 2.0 Language, English 2.0 Language, English Subtitles
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