Bleach Vol. #23 - Mania.com



DVD Review

Mania Grade: B

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Info:

  • Audio Rating: A
  • Video Rating: A
  • Packaging Rating: B+
  • Menus Rating: A
  • Extras Rating: B
  • Age Rating: 13 and Up
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: Viz Media
  • MSRP: 24.92
  • Running time: 100
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Bleach

Bleach Vol. #23

Bleach Vol. #23 DVD Review

By Bryce Coulter     January 14, 2010
Release Date: December 15, 2009


Bleach Vol. #23
© Viz Media

The Bounts waste no time bringing their A-game to the Soul Society.

What They Say
Kariya and the Bounts arrive in the Soul Society and find themselves battling two Soul Reaper lieutenants, but the abundance of reishi in the Soul Society gives the Bounts a ready source of power, rendering them formidable opponents. Ichigo and friends arrive in the Soul Society, and when Rukia is injured in a fight, Ichigo follows her to the Kuchiki house, where he asks Byakuya to fight alongside him against the Bounts.
Byakuya refuses and insists they leave it up to the 13th Court Squad Guards, but soon enough Byakuya finds himself in a one-on-one battle with Kariya.

Contains episodes 92-95.

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.  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.  

Packaging:
For this collection we are treated to the new boxart color variation for “The Assault”.  Volume 23 uses deviates from the silver foil color design in the previous collections to a design that has a flat black matte..  In addition, the spine of the case and the volume number is now colored inw white.  The same logo and text layout appears as it did in the previous volumes.  A new character perspective, unlike the previous collections, is presented on the front cover.  This time, we get a profile image of Ichigo that is offset to the right side.  Blood is dripping from his lip and jaw, which is pretty much how he looked at the conclusion of the last collection.  The background design is set to an eerie yellowish red color.  The backside of the case contains the usual series name displayed on a white background 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. There is no insert for this volume.  Upon opening the case you will immediately notice that the case design is base on the new eco-friendly DVD cases as the center of the case features a recycling logo that has been hollowed out, thus using less plastic.  The disc features a black label with the Bleach logo along with Jin Kariya’s chant “wind turn to gale, come forward…  force turn to power, enter within…  Windestanz!  Overall,  nice package design, but I miss the shiny foil look and the new eco-friendly case feels kind flimsy.

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 92-95.  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.  

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:
The Assult arc sets stage in a different theater.  The Bount have finally enterd the Soul Society.   Their arrival is sending shock waves throughout the Soul Society.  The court guards are scrambled and okayed by Commander Yamamoto to use deadly force with any ryoka that are found.  

The Bount scatter throughout the world of the dead.  The two main instigators, Kariya and Koga land in the toughest Rukongai district, 80.  Doing their job with excellence, Second Division Vice-Captain Oomaeda and Seventh Division Vice-Captain Iba quickly confront the intruders, and find that they are outmatched.  Koga sends Kariya on his way, takes on the two Shinigami and without much effort defeats Oomaeda and Iba.  If these guys were strong and immortal before, now they are even more so.  Koga gets a major rush as he not only knocks the wind out  Oomaeda and Iba’s sails, he also absorbs the sail.   

Team Ichigo makes it to the Soul Society. It seems that their crossings get easier and easier.  They need to find Kuukaku, but she’s moved.  I’d really love to see how they move the big beefy arms and dig the basement.  When they find Kuukau’s place they find themselves interrupting a ‘love’ session between siblings.  Ganju is being disciplined for his ineptitude during his stay in the world of the living.  Ichigo, of course, has to make some smart side comment and then gets a dose of ‘love’ as well.  After Kuukau’s anger has been dished out on Ganju and Ichigo’s backsides, the group gets down to business.  

Yoruichi gives a recap of the Bount back history, in case you missed it the first time.  In a nut shell, think Frankenstein.  Somebody tried to play God, messed up the experiment; made a Bount who thinks life sucks and wants to destroy his creator.  Yoruichi then adds to the viewer’s knowledge.  She gives Kuukaku a mission to dig up any dirt she can find on the Shinigami, Rantao.  He was the lead researcher on the experiment that ended in the creation of the Bount 1,000 years ago.  She thinks he’s still alive in the Rukongai after being kicked out of the Seireitei.  If he is still kicking around, he might give them some valuable nuggets of information to fight the Bount.  

As Kuukaku and Yoriuchi continue to chat, Yoriuchi demonstrates again why she was the former leader of the Gotei’s special forces.  She informs Kuukaku about Ichinose, the Shinigami that is now a Bount lackey.  He has already penetrated the Seireitei once, and she thinks the current situation is a set up by him.  She also thinks he was the one that messed with Mayuri’s databases which piqued his curiosity toward the Bount.  Thus the dominos fell, leading to Uryu regaining his Quincy powers, which in turn allowed the Bount  to gain access to  the Soul Society.  With such a cunning adversary, perhaps Yoriuchi is hiding from the Bount spy to cover her tracks.  

Team Ichigo’s splits up to look for the Bount.  Classic set up for individual fight scenes.  First one out of the gate is Rukia versus Yoshi, …fight!  Ririn actually senses the Bount before Rukia, but neither one are ready for what is coming.  Rukia is now powerless from the doll that Yoshi put into her when they last met, thus harming her soul.  Ririn is pretty much useless as her  only strength is sensing the Bount.  Despite being fairly powerless, Rukia puts up a good contest as she tries to permanently harm the self-healing Yoshi.  All the same, the battle ends before it begins, and Rukia is nearly killed.  Yoshi’s lethal onslaught only ends when Byakuya steps in to bust up the game.  Yoshi hastily leaves the fight uncontested.  The reason for Yoshi’s departure becomes apparent when explosions resound from the center of the Seireitei.  The fighting was a diversion to keep attention away from the true first strike at the heart of the Soul Society.  Pursuit of the Bount gets even more earnest.  

Back in the Rukongai, District 80, Kariya and Koga set off another part of the plan, namely turn the members of the Soul Society against the Seireitei and Shingami.  The antagonists in this arc are surprisingly cunning and have planned far ahead.  If this district falls under their influence, gathering up the rest of the districts will be easy.  If the hearts and souls of Soul Society’s members are against the authority of the land, it is much easier to destroy that authority because of further divided interests.  As Kariya continues to lay out his plan he senses someone’s spiritual pressure.  He decides to go for a stroll and happens upon Byakuya.  Why Byakuya decides to take on Kariya by himself is a mystery.  Perhaps his brotherly feelings for Rukia are deeper than they seem, or perhaps he’s just put out.  As usual, you don’t get much of a monologued explanation from him; bring on the fighting!  

Round two – Rukia and Byakuya – fight!

Byakuya underestimated Kariya.  His Senka technique and Senbonzakura attacks fail.  It is nice to finally have an idea of some of Kariya’s abilities, though.  Kariya uses the wind to fight, and fight very effectively I might add.  We don’t see Kariya’s doll, just the effect of it.  The two duel on and finally draw blood as they begin close combat.  They continue on until a Getsuga Tenshou technique divides them.  Ichigo interrupts the dance in the middle of the song with two flat feet.   

Summary:
The Assult arc amps up with increased fighting and mystery surrounding the plot to destroy the Seireitei.  What ensue are a three-way battle and a preeminent strike at the heart of the Soul Society.  How can the team and the Gotie deal with this multipronged attack, and will they lay bare the Bount’s plans or weakness in time to save the Soul Society?  Better yet will Byakuya decide to kick Ichigo’s but for interrupting his fight with Kariya?  Tune in next time for a little less talk and more action!

Features:
Japanese 2.0 Language, English 2.0 Language, English Subtitles, Clean Closing, Production Gallery

Review Equipment:
Samsung  UN46B6000VF 120Hz  LED HDTV, Samsung HT-WS1R/XAA  2.1 Channel Soundbar Speaker System with Wireless Subwoofer, and Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p

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