Bleach Vol. #14 (

By:Bryce Coulter
Review Date: Monday, March 09, 2009
Release Date: Tuesday, January 20, 2009

It’s a free for all in the Seireitei… and Rukia gets saved too!

What They Say
The day of reckoning has arrived in the Soul Society, where unrest and dissent are running rampant. Soul Reaper is pitted against Soul Reaper when many denizens of the Seireitei ally themselves with Ichigo and his friends, who are struggling to navigate their way through the madness.

While Rukia stands on the Sokyoku on the brink of execution, Ichigo and his dedicated comrades all race to save her life. Will they make it in time, or will the power of one million zanpaku-to consume her life?

Contains episodes 54-58.

The Review!
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 the boxart color variation for what is now called “The Rescue”.  Volume 14 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.  Yoruichi 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 54-58.  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). 
Major Spoiler Alert ---- Rukia gets saved in this collection, FINALLY!

Like I’ve stated before, Bleach has a lot of variety… sometimes too much variety that it makes it difficult to keep up with every major plot, minor plot, subplot, etc…  The Rescue story arc is about to wrap up, but it has taken more than 20 plus episodes to complete.  I for one have been waiting a long time for this to become resolved.  It feels like it has just gone on way too long.

In this collection we are treated to a climatic, yet anti-climatic rescue as there is so much going on.  The rescue becomes easy to overlook.  This collection opens up with most of the squad captains awaiting Rukia’s execution on Soukyoku Hill.  Ichigo immerges to vanquish the almighty Soukyoku as it descends upon the crucifixion platform where Rukia is bound.  Ichigo seems to easily remove Rukia from the clutches of this mighty beast which the squad captains fear.

Kyôraku and Shunsui unexpected show up and actually destroy the Soukyoku. Renji makes his way to Soukyoku Hill as well.  Renji aids in the rescue as Ichigo literally throws Rukia to him.  It seems Ichigo is more concerned about fighting Byakua than the rescue attempt.

What takes place next is a series of monologue fights that continue throughout the rest of the collection’s episodes.  Essentially there are three major fights that ensue.  The first fight centers on Ichigo and Byakua.  I knew this was coming and it proves to be insightful as Ichigo confronts Byakua about his honor.  It’s a grand fight with the unleashing of Bankai like you’ve never seen before.

The second fight is rather unexpected as it focuses on Yoruichi and her former Lieutenant, Soi Fon.  Yoruichi apprehends Soi Fon as she is about to execute one of the Lieutenants for allowing Rukia to escape.  Yoruichi carries Soi Fon away to an isolated place where they begin to fight.  Soi Fon feels betrayed by Yorouichi. Quite a bit of backstory is revealed while they fight.  Soi Fon has progressed into a very powerful Soul Reaper whose skills almost surpass Yoruichi.  Of the three fights, this one has the most meat as we get a solid perspective on both women.  The result of their fight culminates with both women almost destroying one another.  Talk about a cat fight…

The third involves Kyôraku and Shunsui, who aided Ichigo in defeating the Soukyoku.  Their motive for doing so is uncertain.  However, First Company Captain Genryûsai thinks that their motives are treasonous.  Kyôraku and Shunsui attempt to flee from Captain Genryûsai, but are soon cornered by him.  Again, more monologue occurs here as Kyôraku, Shunsui, and Captain Genryûsai’s past is revealed.  Captain Genryûsai trained them and treated them as his own sons.  Captain Genryûsai’s sense of justice trumps the feelings he has towards his two former students.  All three release their respective zanpaku-to and Captain Genryûsai’s reveals his true nature.  He is one ripped old man who is about to unleash a can….

As this collection draws to a close, we find Ichigo and Byakua at a climatic point in their fight.  We are also clued in on another plot that has been slowly unfolding for some time.  Previously, Tôshirô was on to a lead that made him suspect Gin of some devious plot.  Tôshirô and Rangiku are attempting to make contact with the Central 46. The gates are suspiciously unguarded and the doors are locked from within.  Even, the emergency defense locks are activated and nobody will answer the door.  Something definitely smells afoul…

Rukia is finally rescued.  However, her rescue is of little importance as the captains of the 13 Court Guard are literally at each other’s throats over the escape of Rukia.  It’s a free for all that will leave your head spinning as this collection is chocked full of monologuing and backstories.  If you don’t pay attention to the new plot that is developing, you could be left as dazed and confused as Byakua is after having experienced the unleashing of Ichigo’s zanpaku-to.  Oh, and don’t forget the cheesy Don Kanonji and Kon antics that follow after the credits of each episode.  Soul Reapingly recommended…

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

Review Equipment
Hitachi 62VS69 62" UltraVision LCD Projection HDTV, Samsung BDP-1000 Blu-ray Player with Dolby Digital 5.1 surround sound.

Mania Grade: B
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