More training, shopping sprees, and Mock Arrancars dominate this collection.
What They Say
Ichigo and his friends undergo exhaustive training, and Captain Hitsugaya's advance troops prepare for the showdown with Sosuke Aizen. But Lieutenant Rangiku Matsumoto is more interested in exploring life in the World of the Living, embarking on the shopping spree of a lifetime. Her fun is interrupted by the appearance of a formidable new enemy, Mock Arrancars that are wreaking havoc in Karakura Town.
Contains episodes 127-131
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.
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.
Volume 31 follows the previous Arrancar boxart theme. The Arrancar is prominently displayed along the spine as was done with other single disc collections. The front of the case features the Ichigo in his bankai outfit and equipped with the formidable Hollow mask. 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 case. The disc itself features a matching white label with the Bleach logo.
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 127-131. 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.
This volume feels very much like the last where the main cast of characters are focused on training. Nothing really advances the story too much in this collection. What you will find is that these episodes expound more on side story, which may or may not come into play as the Arrancar story arc progresses. I can't help but feel like these episodes act more like filler.
The first episode in this collection revolves around Orihime as she struggles with the fact that she is not strong enough to help out the team. What really bothers her is that she feels lonely and helpless. To make this even more complicated, Urahara tells Orihime to stay out of upcoming battle that will take place with the Arrancar. Chad and Rukia come to argue her case with Urahara as she played a vital role back in the battle that took place in the Soul Society. Rukia takes Orihime under her wing. In a sudden change of events, Hiyori Sarugaki wisks Orihime off to the Vizard hideout to meet with Hachigen Ushoda who wants to examine the power that resides in her hairpins. He believes that Orihime's hairpins are similar to a Zanpakuto and offers to heal it since they have similar types of abilities. This restores Tsubaki, who is her only source of combat ability. Hachigen also encourages Orihime to not participate in the upcoming battle, but she still wants to try even if that means training even harder. Of course, Rukia aims to help her meet that goal. Little does she know that Aizen has his eye on her powers as well.
The next three episodes revolve around short story involving a boy named Shota and his sister Yui. Shota is a Whole who has lost his sister. To make a long story short, he ran away when an Arrancar attacked his sister. Strangley enough, this Arrancar emits a strange whistling sound that can be heard throughout the city. Rangiku comes upon this Hollow by happenstance when she discovers the Hollow attacking Shota. Rangiku and Captain Hitsugaya investigate the weird appearances of this Hollow as it is very illusive and hard to kill. What makes it so difficult to kill is the fact that it is capable of creating clones of itself. Without spoiling too much of this short story, Captain Hitsugaya, Rangiku, Ikkaku, and Yumichika to help fight the massive number of clones. The clones and the source of the partial Arrancar's powers are soley dependent upon the engery leached from Yui. The ending is a bittersweet but satisfying conclusion that will make way for the next batch of episodes.
In the previous collection, I predicted that there would be more training episodes and to brace for another lull in the plot. I was wrong as this collection brings about a short story about a brother and sister who are trying to escape the clutches of a partial Arrancar. The story relies heavily on Rangiku and Captain Hitsugaya and how they come to the aid these two youngsters. We know that our heroes are in training, but I am getting the feeling that these episodes act more like filler and don't really advance the Arrancar story arc. I just hope I don't forget what the main plot of the story arc is as these filler episodes file through.
Japanese 2.0 Language, English 2.0 Language, English Subtitles
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