Bleach Vol. #03 (Mania.com)

By:Bryce Coulter
Review Date: Tuesday, May 01, 2007
Release Date: Tuesday, March 27, 2007



What They Say
Ichigo and Rukia continue their work as Soul Reapers, protecting spirits and the living. But they are not the only ones with power to defeat the evil Hollows. A rival called a Quincy appears with fearsome powers of his own " and a grudge against all Soul Reapers. When he issues a Hollow-battling challenge to Ichigo, it could destroy the world of the living.

The Review!
Confronting, his past and the Hollow responsible for Ichigo's mother's death, Ichigo continues to develop his Soul Reaping powers while the rest of his close friends and family members begin to discover their abilities to see their spiritual powers awaken.

Audio:
For our primary viewing session, we listened to this show 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.

Video:
Originally airing in 2004, the transfer for this series is presented in its original full frame aspect ratio. Bleach's transfer is very clean is good looking release. All of the colors appear very solid. 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.

Packaging:
The third volume of Bleach has an illustration of Ishida Uryuu in his school uniform pulling back his archers bow made of blue spirit energy. The white background draws attention to the silver foil used in the domestic version of the series logo and Ishida's left hand, which is holding the bow and arrow. Ishida's fades around to the back side of the cover. The back side layout provides the series name in the Arial font 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 along with the standard technical information about the DVD. 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. A nice little extra inclusion is a sticker sheet that has the front cover and four smaller stickers for each episode number.

Menu:
As with previous volumes, the same cool menu design is used again in volume 3. The blocking movements are used again from the opening sequence to showcase various scenes from episodes 9-12. 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. As in the previous volumes, Viz continues to not show the English subtitles for the opening music when watching the show in English, which is a pain. To view the subtitles, one has to watch the show in Japanese with the subtitles turned on.

Extras:
Again, as in previous volumes, the same types of extras are featured. A selection of production art covers the basics of characters. 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. There is no preview of the Bleach manga in this volume.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers).
Ichigo continues to fight the Hollow in the cemetery that has captured his sisters. As Ichigo is fighting the internal battle of self-blame for his mother's death, he finds himself in a physical battle for the lives of all those that are still alive. The Hollow that he, Rukia, and the other soul reaper are fighting is none other than the Grand Fisher. Here it is revealed that the Grand Fisher is the true cause of his mother's death. As Ichigo's temper and desire for revenge overtakes him, he fights with reckless abandon and is nearly overcome by the Grand Fisher, who eventually flees from the fight. A defining moment for our hero appears as he vows to overcome the Hollows, to protect others from evil, and to avenge his mother.

After the solemn and dark episode about Ichigo's tragic past, we are introduced to Mr. Don'Kanonji. Bwah, ha, ha, ha, ha! Spirit Hunter, a popular reality TV show comes to town featuring none other than the famous exorcist Don'Kanoji. Six long brades, one part pimp, one part 15th century courtier, and one part circus ring leader, and there you have him! Ichigo's dad and sister love the show, and the whole gang is there...including Rukia. She thinks it's a festival, but then is enlightened about the reality of what is going on. A spirit is present in an old hospital, and when the filming team comes on its territory he cries out. Rukia explains that these type of spirits almost never show up on Soul Society's sensors. She further explains that there is only one reason for an earth-bound ghost to show itself, and that's when a human enters its territory. At that same instant, a cameraman takes one wrong step closer onto the hospital grounds, and a long cry is heard in the distance. Chad, Orihime, Tatsuki and Karin all pick up the sound of the deep wail. It just so happens that this particular cry is the sound of an earth-bound ghost with a strong attachment to the world, thus degrading into a Demi-Hollow as it is neglected.

The ghost does not have the white mask or the large, open chest-hole of regular Hollows. The hole in a Hollow's chest is a mark that indicates that the ghost has lost its heart, and lives purely on instinct. The white mask of a Hollow protects that instinct from the physical world. Rukia explains that when a person dies, their spiritual chains to the body are severed. However, those who have regrets in the world are chained down by the objects of those regrets. She continues to explain that there is nothing to worry about, because it takes months for a ghost to become a Hollow. The ghost must be screaming and writhing in pain if it is about to become a Hollow.

As long as the ghost doesn't receive any strange stimuli to the hole on his chest, it would take at least 6 months for the transformation. And just as Rukia finishes explaining this, the brilliant Don'Kanonji begins his exorcism, wielding a "Spirit Stick". Of course he plunges his Spirit Stick into the ghost's chest, thus speeding up the transformation process. Unable to stop Don'Kanonji, Ichigo and Rukia witness the ghost crying fiercely as it breaks its chains to become a Hollow. Suddenly, Ichigo's Shinigami or Soul Reaper form is expelled by none other than Urahara, who urges Ichigo to hurry up and stop the transformation. It just so happens that Urahara is a fan of Spirit Hunter

In his Soul Reaping form, Ichigo, now invisible to the rest of the crowd, darts in front of Don Kan'onji, who is able to see him. The ghost vanishes amidst the smoke and wailing. The crowd cheers with excitement, thinking that Don successfully expelled the spirit, which suddenly reappears on the roof of the hospital as a full-fledged Hollow. The rest of the episode humorously deals with Ichigo and Don'Kanonji confronting each other on how to deal with spirits and Hollows. Ultimately, Ichigo has to save Don'Kanonji from the Hollow while helping him confront a new found realization that he is a total failure because he has been creating more Hollows instead of ridding them. The last scene closes out an excellent episode as Don'Kanonji proclaims that Ichigo Ichigo is his number one student. The scene fades out as Ichigo cries out " I got Demoted!!"

The final two episodes of this collection deal with the not-so-friendly introduction of Ishida Uryuu. He has been ever-so calculating Ichigo and Rukia's every move as he is able to sense their spirit energy. While in search of a Hollow, Rukia and Ichigo encounter Ishida who quickly and instantaneously destroys the Hollow with his bow and arrow. Here Ishida reveals himself as a Qunicy and his hate of Soul Reapers.

At the Urahara Store, Rukia learns from Urahara about the Quincy clan, an anti-demon clan that specialized in anti-Hollow combat. They had been scattered across the globe, but were destroyed 200 years ago. Unlike Soul Reapers, who purify Hollows and release them to the Soul Society, Quincys actually destroy Hollows. The Quincys believe that there was no benefit in sending Hollows, who ate the souls of many innocent people, to Soul Society, and thus they destroyed them. But, Urahara explains that it was this philosophy that would be their undoing.

A challenge is issued by Ishida who claims that he can take out more Hollows than Ichigo. The challenge is accepted and all hell breaks loose as Ishida releases bait that attracts a multitude of Hollows. Hollows, who are naturally attracted to high forms of spiritual energy, begin to attack Ichigo and Ishida. However, Karin, Uzu, Orihime, and Chad are also targeted by the Hollows. Is this by coincidence? Or is there some type of hidden ability in Ichigo's friends and family? The final episode leaves you hanging as Chad's abilities to fight Hollows are finally revealed.

In Summary:
Bleach is one of those series that has the right balance of tension, humor, and action. The episode with Don'Kanoji has to be one of the funniest of the series. However, there is a mysterious plot twist that seems to be taking place and Rukia seems to be hiding some kind of secret. This reviewer is definitely hooked and can't wait for the next volume. Until then... Bwah, ha, ha, ha, ha!

Features
Japanese 2.0 Language,English 2.0 Language,English Subtitles,Clean Closing,Production Gallery,Bleach Stickers

Review Equipment
Hitachi 62VS69 62" UltraVision LCD Projection HDTV, XBOX 360 DVD player, XBOX 360 HDMI Cable with Dolby Digital 5.1 surround sound.



Mania Grade: A
Audio Rating: A
Video Rating: A-
Packaging Rating: A-
Menus Rating: A
Extras Rating: B
Age Rating: 13 & Up
Region: 1 - North America
Released By: Viz Media
MSRP: 24.95
Running time: 100
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Bleach