Bleach Vol. #26 (Mania.com)
Review Date: Wednesday, May 12, 2010
Release Date: Tuesday, March 23, 2010
The anticipated final showdown between Ichigo and Kariaya is here, but can the Bount Arc come to a satisfying conclusion?
What They Say
The Bount leader Jin Kariya has obtained the Jokai Crest and is absorbing its immense power. While Ichigo and the others rest and prepare for their next battle, the Soul Reapers are warned by Rantao that there are many Crests within the Seireitei, and all may explode if Kariya's Crest is released.
Head Captain Yamamoto mobilizes all Soul Reapers to find and seal the remaining Crests. Then, atop Sokyoku Hill, Ichigo faces Kariya in their final clash!Contains episodes 104-108.
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 26 follows the same boxart color variation for “The Assault” arc as introduced with volume 24. The front of the case uses another unique perspective of a character. This time we have Jin Kariya featured if he has just revealed the Joki Crest in his final fight with Ichigo. This image is presented in a vertical perspective rather than the horizontal perspective that has been typical of theprevious volumes. 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 a quote from Kariya “I could not forgive anyone or anything, I will drag everything with me to my grave. Soul Reapers, Souls… Complete annihilation of all things!”
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 104-108. 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.
The end is nigh for the Bount Arc and Jin Kariya’s time is short. The Bount Arc has proven to be pretty good so far and I have enjoyed it even though it does not follow the canon established in the manga. The Bount Arc was created in order to allow Tite Kubo to establish more content, namely the upcoming Arrancar Arc. This collection wraps up the Bount Arc rather quickly, almost too quickly.
In the last collection, we witnessed the defeat of the last Bount Lieutenant. Having finished his battle with Koga, Toshiro Hitsugaya returns to his division and asks his men to recover Koga’s body. Toshiro feels like he should give him a proper burial, but where is Koga’s body?
Orihime arrives with Izuru in time to aid a badly injured Uryu. At this point all of the Soul Reapers are gathered together and Head Captain Yamato is hearing out the information that Nanao is relaying about Kariya’s plans. Captain’s Shunsui Kyoraku and Jushiro Ukitake have discovered Ran Tao’s documents about the power of the Jokai Crest. Time is short as Kariya will obtain its full power within the next day. The Court Guard Captains have got to stop Kariya in any way they can, which means digging up old ruins from which Kariya plans to draw his power.
Meanwhile Ran Tao tries to stop Kariya. The final piece to Kariya’s motives finally comes to fruition as a flashback reveals how both Ran Tao and Kariya’s pasts are intertwined. As expected, Ran Tao feels some responsibility for what has happened with the Bounts. Her attempts to correct the problems caused by the Bount’s creation were all but extinguished when the Soul Society ordered their eradication. Back to the present day Ran Tao again attempts to atone for her past sins with Kariya. She tries to appeal to his memory of her previous support, but she utterly fails. Kariya has no compassion for the woman who tried to help him as kid.
Uryu, sensing that Ran Tou is trying to stop Kariya, slips out without letting his comrades know what he is up to. In his injured state, he is no match for Kariya. Using an amplifier to focus his spirit energy, Uryu catches Kariya off guard in order to aid Ran Tou. This is encounter provides a sense of closure for Uryu as he feels a strong connection to Ran Tao. This is because of his relationship with the Bount that looked exactly like her, Yoshino. Uryu knows Kariya’s intentions and places some well hit attacks, but his bow is cracking as he pushes his Quincy powers to the limit. Kariya is becoming too powerful and Ran Tao tries one more attempt that is all but suicidal. It requires Uryu to fire his most powerful shot at her and Kariya. Uryu hesitates and that proves to be a nearly fatal mistake. The death of Yoshino is too real for him, and he can’t bear the thought of letting Ran Tou die. In order to save Ran Tao, Uryu sacrifices his bow and Qunicy powers to save her. Powerless, both Uryu and
Ran Tao are done for. Kariya releases his most powerful attack that is all but stopped in its tracks by Ichigo who shows up.
The second fight between Ichigo and Kariya proves to be a real nail biter as both are locked in mortal combat. Ichigo unleashes his Bankai, which throws Kariya for a loop as Ichigo was unable to do so in the living world. The fight moves through the Seireitei and up to SÅkyoku Hill. The battle between Ichigo and Kariya takes up just two episodes with several of the Court Guard Captains lending some minor support. A Bount defector makes a brief appearance, but ends up exiting just as fast. His sacrifice, not in vain, will help turn the tide for Ichigo in this battle. Kariya’s end is all but instantaneous and feels unjustified for an evil character with such depth. His demise feels too cheapened and rushed. Perhaps this was plot decision was based on the need to finish the Bount Arc and get on with the Arancar Arc.
The collection comes to a close with our main characters reminiscing about their pasts, the defeat of Kariya, and where the future will lead them. We also get to see Ran Tao, with a Bount who we thought was dead, recovering in a secluded location. This is a nice touch in that not all of the Bounts were destroyed by Kariya’s zealous lust to end it all.
Ichigo has some nice reflective moments that represent pretty powerful statements about the maturity his character is gaining. It’s nice to see that aspect from a hero who is so emotionally driven that he often fails to think about the repercussions of his actions. Karyia’s existence up to this point can be surmised in the conversation between Captain Jushiro Ukitake and Ichigo where both come to the same conclusion about Kariya. Kariya wanted to break free of the circle of history where life’s events seem to keep repeating themselves even if that meant destroying everything. Ichigo gives that observation a simple but insightful response. Repetition is not so bad if one has friends.
The Bount Arc comes to a conclusion in a rather hurried and quick fashion. The story arc was enjoyable and had some great moments. Things wrap up quickly with our heroes stopping Jin Kariya dead in his tracks. Quickly surmising the events of this collection is a bit difficult in that there is a lot going on. The battle between Ichigo and Kariya is action packed and will keep you on the edge of your seat for the two episodes it spans across. The final episode hurries in a reflective piece that might deserve a second viewing as there some powerful reflective moments from Ichigo. Those are the moments that make this series so great and makes you want to cheer on the hero. The last few seconds of this collection reveal a mysterious figure who has just arrived in Karakura Town. Bring on the Arrancar!
Japanese 2.0 Language, English 2.0 Language, English Subtitles, Clean Closing, Product
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
Running time: 100
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Disc Resolution: 480i/p
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2