Bleach Vol. #09 (Mania.com)

By:Bryce Coulter
Review Date: Friday, April 18, 2008
Release Date: Tuesday, March 18, 2008



What They Say
In the world of the living, Ichigo's sisters find themselves in the spotlight as "Karakura Superheroes," while in the Soul Society all-out war is declared against Ichigo and his comrades. But unrest stirs in all corners of the Seireitei, including among the ranks of the Soul Reapers themselves, when a prominent captain meets an untimely fate.

Ichigo and the others attempt to ride the waves of chaos straight to the white tower to rescue Rukia, but they'll have to face a massive outpouring of spiritual energy to get there!

Contains Episode 33-36.

The Review!
Karakura Superheroes... enough said!!

Audio:
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.

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. On rare occasions there is just a small bit of noticeable background noise, but nothing to be concerned about.

Packaging:
Following the style change from the sixth volume, volume 9 features the new front cover design that is primarily covered with a silver foil appearance. The color change, of course corresponds, to the The Entry story arc. In addition, the spine of the case is also colored in red. The same logo and text layout appears as it did in the previous volumes. A sinister looking Zaraki is 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. 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 in this release. The blocking movements are used again from the opening sequence to showcase various scenes from episodes 33-36. 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 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).
It's filler arc time. And, there is no better way to kick this volume off with everyone's favorite Shinigami wanna-be... Don Kanoji. We also get to see Ichigo's sisters, but wait... where's Kon?

As a member of the Holy Trinity of Shonen, it is imperative that there be filler arcs and of course long fight scenes that span across multiple episodes. Anything less would be un Shonen-like... Rest assured, there's really only one filler episode in this volume.

The last several volumes of Bleach have been slowly introducing each of the Seireitei squads and their respective leaders. Of course, this is all done while keeping the viewer hanging onto team Ichigo's goal of saving Rukia. At times it makes you wonder if they are ever going to get Rukia out of that prison tower. One can say that the pacing of this story arc is a bit slow, but it still manages to hold your attention.

The first episode takes you back to the real world where Hollows are being attracted to the spirit of the cat whom Karin and Yuzu have found. They are also visited by Don Kanonji, Ururu and Jinta. This powerhouse of super Hollow hunters is dubbed as Don Kanonji's New Generation of super heroes, or better yet, the Karakura Super Heroes. Karin and Jinta are both vying for the top position as Don Kanonji's number 1. In the end, the biggest hero is Raku, who uses his spiritual energy to turn into a lion. "Karakura Lion Jet" is Kanonji's name for it, but he, along with Karin and Jinta, don't know that it is indeed Raku. This makes for some great humor as the next episodes lead to some rather dark subplots within the Seireitei.

Switching gears, we return to the Soul Society world in the next episode. In the last volume, Ichigo had just beaten Renji. Near the brink of death, Hanatarou heals Ichigo's wounds in the underground water tunnels. Renji is left to be found by members of the 3rd Division. Barely alive, Renji is ordered to a holding cell by Byakuya without any medical treatment. Izuru Kira and Hinamori Momo, are forced with either following Byakuya's orders or treating Renji's wounds. Coincidently, Captain Ichimaru shows up just in time to take care of the cleanup and Renji, thus clearing Izuru and Hinamori from having to disobey orders.

Hinamori Momo, 5th Division Lieutenant, is reeling from the discovery of Renji's body. Hitsugaya, captain of the 10th Division, warns Hinamori to beware of the 3rd Division. More rumblings are going on within the Seireitei ranks. Special wartime orders have been issued because of team Ichigo's infiltration of the Seireitei. All Lieutenant-rank Shinigami or higher are to carry their Zanpakutous under the wartime condition. Something smells fishy as the other lieutenants act as if they are fearful of their respective captains.

While tending to Ichigo's wounds Hanatarou finds the Hollow's mask in Ichigo's clothes. This is the same mask that Ichigo had with him when he was cast into the pit by Urhara. It appears that the mask protected Ichigo from the lethal blows by Renji's Zanpakutou. We are left to wonder with Hanatarou about the power that is behind this mask.

While visiting Renji in his cell, Hinamori reflects on her training days with Renji, Rukia, and Izuru Kira. One can't help to wonder how the friendships between these four will come into play as the story progresses. We also learn that Hinamori is selflessly devoted to the soft spoken and kind acting Captain Aizen. Fearful of the wartime orders, Hinamori seeks refuge in Captain Azien's quarters. Captain Aizen takes time from his work and reassures her as she drifts of to sleep. The next morning, Himamori Aizen's body has been found stuck on the face of a wall, a trail of blood left behind him.

Hinamori attempts to avenge Captain Aizen by attacking Ichimaru. Ichimaru is one creepy dude that is always around when something runs afoul. In a rage of fury, Hinamori tries to attack Ichimaru, but is stopped by Izuru. Her uncontrolled rage continues as she attempts to attack her friend. Captain Hitsugaya shows up in the nick of time to defuse the situation while both Izuru and Hinamori are sent to detention.

Meanwhile, Chad continues to make his way toward the Shrine of Penitence. This does not go unnoticed as he is being watched by two (three if you count Nanao's glasses) pairs of eyes - Kyouraku Shunsui and Ise Nanao, Captain and Lieutenant of the 8th Division respectively. It looks like another butt kicking is in store for whoever gets in Chad's way.

Ichigo, Hanatarou and Ganju are making the same journey, but as they reach the top of the stairs, someone with extraordinarily high spirit power awaits. I wonder who that might be? Someone with spiky hair and a score to settle as two of his subordinates are lying in the infirmary as result of coming across Ichigo's Zanpaktou.

As we close out this volume, we are introduced to yet, another new character. And a well endowed character to say the least. Rangiku Matsumoto is the lieutenant of the 10th Division, under Tōshirō Hitsugaya. She chides Hianmori for her actions toward Ichimaru. She presents a letter from Captain Aizen that Captain Hitsugaya had found in Aizen's room. Hinamori reads it, and is shocked by the contents.

Ichigo, Ganju and Hanatarou discover that the insane spirit force is that of Zaraki Kenpachi. Ganju and Hanatarou collapse under the pressure, but all Zaraki wants is a fight with Ichigo. Ichigo sends Hanatarou and Ganju onward to save Rukia while he makes a futile attempt to fight Zaraki. Zaraki even lets Ichigo have a free shot at him. It looks like trading Zanpakutou blows is gonna be the theme of this fight.

Summary:
This volume of Bleach will give you whiplash as a lot of new content is introduced. The overlying story arc of saving Rukia is still continuing, but there are a lot of subplots that will make your brain strain to remember what is going on. This volume will not disappoint as the right mix of fighting, humor, and plot development will keep you wanting more. Of course, the Karkakura Super Heroes are the real reason for picking up this volume. Bwa, 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, 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: 16 & Up
Region: 1 - North America
Released By: Viz Media
MSRP: 24.98
Running time: 100
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Bleach