Actions in the past return to haunt the Soul Society once again.
What They Say
When a caravan transporting the King's Seal is attacked, Toshiro Hitsugaya and Squad 10 are on the ready. As they prepare to protect the treasure that holds immeasurable power, Hitsugaya suddenly abandons the scene alongside the thieves and becomes one of the accused. In response, the Soul Society calls for his capture and execution.
Upon hearing the edict, Substitute Soul Reaper Ichigo Kurosaki is immediately suspicious and determined to uncover the facts. But when Hitsugaya refuses to defend his actions and fights against his comrades, it seems his fate is all but sealed. Can Ichigo uncover Hitsugaya's motives before they destroy his honor, his life, and the Soul Society?
Viz Media really has some strange ideas when it comes to their audio design sometimes, often with their movie releases. This film has four audio tracks to it, two Japanese tracks and two English tracks. Each language has a 5.1 mix and a 2.0 mix. But unlike the usual bitrate encoding, the stereo mixes are done at a measly 160kbps while the 5.1 mixes are done at a half rate 256kbps. In all these years of DVD, I can’t remember seeing a 5.1 mix done at 256. There have been several 384kbps ones, but not this. I’m hard pressed to find too much of a likely difference between the levels though, because there’s a fairly muted feel to both tracks. The surround sound action is very minimal to begin with as there is more focus on providing something with the forward soundstage when it comes to the action using placement and depth. But all of it feels like it lacks any real impact to it. With no extras on the disc, I can’t fathom why they’d set it up like this. They don’t seem to use the video bitrate any higher than usual and there really isn’t a need to include stereo tracks since it can be downmixed easily in just about every player. There aren’t any noticeable problems with the feature but it comes across as a film that lacks some serious punch.
Originally in theaters in late 2007, the transfer for this film is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and is enhanced for anamorphic playback. Though most of the film looks good, there are a lot of scenes that have a soft feeling to them that doesn’t feel intentional. The opening scene in particular as it pans across the countryside looks very soft and almost fuzzy in some places. This kind of feeling permeates the show at different times throughout it, though it isn’t a constant by any stretch. A lot of the film looks quite good with strong vibrant colors and a very fluid animation that’s captured well. This film spends a good bit of time both in the real world and the spirit world and both of those locales look good, though with different feelings to them in how they’re presented. Colors are generally good and outside of some noise in various moments with the character animation that has large swathes of a single color, it’s a decent looking transfer overall.
Viz continues to use slipcovers for many of their movie releases and this one is no exception. The slipcover is identical to the wraparound cover itself so it’s purely just a marketing piece rather than providing something with some value added artwork. The front cover is a good looking piece that features many of the Captains from the Soul Society while more of the leads are across the center sectin just above the logo, including Ichigo. The dominating feature though is Toshiro with his white cloak and bright hair as he faces his opponent in the hazy background. The back cover hews to traditional Bleach covers with the logo taking up a lot of space and slightly askew. The summary is painfully simple and there’s a decent listing of the discs features. The majority of the text is wrapped up in the production credits and technical grid breakdown. The release does have a very good full color booklet included. The bulk of it is made up of shots from the show with bits of text about it talking about the emotions of the moment. A few of the actors get to talk about their roles and there’s some good material from both Kubo and Abe about the movie. The song gets translated – with a few words from the band members! – and the full feature credits are presented translated here. We also get a brief glossary of terms and a cute little snapshot gallery of many of the supporting characters which is definitely useful.
The menu design for the release is really surprising in a way because it looks so soft. With a gray background, the foreground has a couple of pieces of artwork used in a block layout that’s broken up a bit. The illustrations are good overall and certainly are interesting to look at, but the softness of the whole thing is really surprising. The menu navigation strip is along the bottom on the main feature while the extras disc has it within the artwork itself since there’s more text. Submenus load quickly and as is usual with Viz Media discs, the feature doesn’t use our player presets. Everything is quick and easy to use once you get past the long load-up of unskippable front loaded material.
A second disc of extras is included as there are no extras on the first disc outside of some trailers for other shows. The second disc has some good material on it, including over five minutes worth of the original trailers and promos made for the release of the film in Japan. The superdeformed piece alone is worth the price of admission, particularly because it lets Kon show up! Also included is a brief production artwork gallery that you can step through that has maybe two dozen or so pieces in it. The “big” extra is the behind the scenes making of feature which runs… twelve minutes. It’s a fairly standard piece and it’s the biggest extra on the disc. In total, there’s maybe twenty minutes of extras on here that are tied to a ninety minute movie. Essentially, the double disc promotion is all marketing instead of using the space properly and not annoying the viewer by having it all on one disc.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
A year after the Memories of Nobody hit theaters, the second theatrical feature for Bleach hit with generally positive responses. The feature feels different from the start as it doesn’t focus too heavily on the characters that have been leads in the TV series, but rather focuses heavily on one of the Captains, Toshiro Hitsugaya. This helps to avoid any sort of serious Ichigo-fatigue but it also mostly eliminates the Earthly cast from the majority of the film which really does make me said. They have a nice brief supporting moment, but otherwise this is mostly Toshiro’s film.
The DiamondDust Rebellion story is one that plays rather well with Toshiro as we get some good background on him that really does flesh him out well. The entire story boils down to revenge by using a device that is being transported to the Soul Society called the Ouim. This small blocky object is actually able to distort and rewrite reality, making it quite the powerful object in both good or bad hands. Unsurprisingly, being transported publicly like it is, someone is bound to want to grab it and use it for evil intent. The Soul Society is certainly portrayed incompetently here as a mysterious blue haired girl arrives in the middle of the procession and is able to take down the honor guard and a lot of those that try to stop her afterwards.
Where it goes badly is when the man who is directing her appears and ends up in a direct confrontation with Toshiro. Toshiro ends up recognizing him when his mask is removed and their conflict distorts events itself, causing Toshiro to end up on Earth while the masked man escapes with the Ouim. Showing just how strange the Soul Society operates, they put out a standard recovery/capture order for Toshiro but they also put the entire squad he captains in house arrest with the possibility of being executed along with him if it turns out he was involved in orchestrating the theft of the Ouim. Everything really galls those within his squad, particularly Matusmoto since she can’t imagine that Toshiro would do anything like this at all. They’re unable to truly do anything, but through some proxies, they’re able to get an idea of what’s going on and to try and influence events to save their beloved captain.
Connected only by tangents up until now, Ichigo is finally brought in directly as he runs into Toshiro as he’s trying to survive on Earth after the battle he just fought. Toshiro does his best to avoid revealing what’s going on, but eventually everything starts to catch up with him. Ichigo’s nature keeps him close to things and we learn more of the past because of how unique Ichigo is in all of this. His connection and his ability to find out the truths keeps him tied closely to Toshiro as everything starts to spiral out of control and the adversary makes his move to destroy all of the Soul Society and rewrite the world in his favor. It’s a classic revenge storyline fueled by a deus ex machine device that comes out of nowhere, but it works rather well for what it wants to do here by teasing out a few more ideas of how this structured society works and the kind of rules that have been created over time.
With this being an original story, one that also got a manga one-shot made for it to help promote the movie before it came out, it certainly feels more worthy than many other movies made from anime series. Kubo’s involvement in the story at all helps as does his creation of a supporting manga to tie it into the original work more closely. What also helps is that while Ichigo does figure into it prominently at times, he’s not the central focus. While we do have the big all powerful device in the Ouim, it is much more about Toshiro Hitsugaya than anything else. Having that as the focus of the movie works very well because we don’t feel like it’s simply a side story of no importance. It’s a fleshing out of a popular character and expanding upon him in a way that builds upon everything and potentially adds more to the future. While they can ignore it soundly if they like, it doesn’t come across as a tacked on and pointless tale like so many other movies (and yes, Naruto, I’m looking at you.) That alone helps make this a much more engaging work than it could be otherwise.
Bleach: The DiamondDust Rebellion is a pretty decent little movie, one that won’t change the shape of things but also one that doesn’t feel like a waste of time. They introduce something that I really don’t like in the Ouim, but the bulk of the focus is on Toshiro and his past. Through this we get to see more of him and how he stands as a man when faced with a very personal kind of adversity, something very different from when it was just dealing with Ichigo and company ravaging throughout the Soul Society. This kind of format is good for doing stories for most of the characters in Bleach and I’d certainly love to see a good rousing Kenpachi movie sometime as his singular moment in this film was a real highlight. This is a good addition to the Bleach universe and it left me feeling positive about and like I hadn’t wasted my time. And for any movie based off of an ongoing TV series which is based off of an ongoing manga series, that says a lot I think.
Japanese 2.0 Language, English 2.0 Language, English Subtitles
Sony KDS-R70XBR2 70" LCoS 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.