Bleach Vol. #24 (Mania.com)

By:Bryce Coulter
Review Date: Wednesday, February 24, 2010
Release Date: Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Assaulting the Soul Society proves to be bigger feat than the Bounts thought.

What They Say
Captain Toshiro Hitsugaya is assigned to lead the defense of the Soul Society and mobilize the Soul Reapers to find and kill the intruding Bounts. But the Bount leader Jin Kariya has gathered a huge mob of ruffians and plans to use them in his quest for revenge.

Meanwhile, it is discovered that Maki Ichinose, the banished Soul Reaper, helping the Bounts, has infiltrated the Seireitei, and has been secretly manipulating their data. What strategies will play out, and how can Ichigo and his allies stop them?

Contains episodes 96-99.

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 24 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 Byakuya.  Cherrly blossoms appear around him as if he just released his bankai, Senbonzakura Kageyoshi.  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 the text spoken by Rantao; “I knew you would return some day…  For an endlessly long time, I was waiting…”  Again, a nice package design, but I miss the shiny foil look and the new eco-friendly case feels still feels 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 96-99.  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 Bount arc continues within volume 24.  The first episode continues the three some between Ichigo, Byakuya and Kariya’s. Although it is really two against one, Kariya is not giving in any ground.  Seeing Byakuya in a fight is a nice change, and seeing him struggle a bit with his cool exterior is nice as well.  Ichigo uses his usual tactics, speed and raw power.  Neither approach is making a real dent in Kariya’s power.  A flashy, abrupt entrance of another Shingami calls for a time-out in the fighting.  Yoruichi had directed Ichigo and crew finding Rantao, the lead researcher in the Bount project.  Well, she found them.  We finally find out about the person they are searching for, and the strangest thing is that she is a dead ringer for Yoshino.  I had an image of a little, winkled old man, and for her to look like Ishida’s love interest is a nice twist.  Rantao predicted that the Bount would return to the Seringeti, and she immediately identifies Kariya as one.  Rantao expects Kariya to have deadly intent towards her, but he states that he will take her out only after he destroys the Soul Society.  In other words, after you’re dead, I’m going to make you even deader.  I guess that’s the equivalent of after I rip off your head I’m going to…well use your imagination.  That’s harsh!
 
Byakuya takes the distraction as an opportunity to resume the fight.  Byakuya is focused as usual.  Just as things start heating up, someone else walks on scene to interrupt.  This time the party crasher is Koga. Koga stops the fun all together by helping Kariya escape.  With the interloper gone, Byakuya decides to abruptly exit stage left.  Either the guy is socially awkward, extremely arrogant or a combination of the two.   
 
After the three-way is over, Ishida pops out of the woods and meets up with Ichigo and Rantao. Of course Ishida immediately sees the resemblance Rantoa holds and has to know more.  The two go to Rantao’s home where she gives an in-depth back story about the Bount, and tells the two of her own personal fate.  The Bount had tried to enter the Soul Society once before.  An all out war took place, and the Quincy became involved.  The Bount decimated the Quincy, and then the Soul Society took out the Bount.   Kariya’s bitterness and hatred for the Soul Society came from that very war, eons ago.  Rantao tells the duo that her powers are sealed, and that the Bount Ishida encountered, Yoshino, was probably a soul-clone of her.  You really have to feel sorry for Ishida in his taste for women.  Anyway, as a side note, it was interesting to find out that the Bount were the original research project that eventually developed Mod Souls.  That piece of history was a nice tie in and an additional element to the mythology of the Bleach canon.  
 
While Ishida and Ichigo are getting filled in on the details of the past and current issues, the Bount continue to mount their attack.  They are going to be doing something soon with all the colorful folks from the Rangko??? district.   Whatever Kariya has planned, it’s going to happen soon.  
 
Back at headquarters, the Shinigami leadership isn’t keeping up on intel.  Captains and underlings alike appear at a loss.  Captain Kurotsuchi and Kenpachi are the only two that aren’t affected adversely. Kurotsuchi  and Kenpachi have both had revelations about Ichinose, and take action.  Kurotsuchi puts two and two together and figures out how Ichinose set him up to be used as an instrument for the Bount.  Unfortunately, Nemu, not Ichinose, has to endure Kurotsuchi’s anger.   In reality, Ichonose got the pick of the draw coming after him.  Better Kenpachi’s questions and sword than what Kurotwuchi could imagine up (that guy is freaky!)!  Kenpachi figures it’s time to go have a chat ‘his way’, and goes to test out Ichinose’s metal.  Even though he’s a bit of a wild man, I like Kenpachi’s character.  He’s sincere, honest, forthright, and because of his own moral strength, has insight into the character of those around him.  Unfortunately, after being weighed and measured, Ichinose was still found wanting.   It was a pitiful ending to a tragic character.  
 
Ichinose finds his end, but the Bount’s invasion of the Seireitei is just beginning.  After using the riff-raff from the Rukon  District to open the door, the Bount proceed to yet another phase of their plan.  Ichigo and gang are close on the trail of the Bount again.  The question is how can they battle so great an enemy when they don’t even know what to expect next?  
 
Summary
The assult on the Seireitei is in full swing and there is a swarm of activity going on.  In typical Bleach fashion, you are going to be tasked with trying to keep up with what is going on.  Having more episode at hand makes this easier, but if you are collecting the single releases it could be a bit difficult in trying to remember where everyone is and what is going on.  The joys of shonen fun continue with monologues during fights, but we do gain a deeper understanding of the Bount project from Rantao.  I’m sure there will be plenty more revealed about her before this arc comes to a close.  With Kenny involved and duking it out with Ichinose, you can sure bet that this going to be a good fight!  I can’t wait for the next release as it won’t come too soon!
 
Features
Japanese 2.0 Language, English 2.0 Language, English Subtitles, Clean Closing, Production Artwork 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

 



Mania Grade: B+
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