Bleach Vol. #13 (Mania.com)

By:Bryce Coulter
Review Date: Wednesday, December 24, 2008
Release Date: Tuesday, November 18, 2008

The Karakura Super Heroes are back in action…. Bwaa, ha, ha, ha!!

What They Say:
Television luminary Don Kanonji brings back Yuzu, Jinta, and Ururu as his Karakura Superheroes to revive his flagging show - with Kon serving as mascot! In the Soul Society, Rukia's execution is imminent. Luckily for Ichigo and his comrades, some of the Soul Reapers have taken their side and help break Chad, Ganju, and Uryu out of their prison cell.

While Ichigo struggles to complete his bankai training, Renji emerges to rescue Rukia, but finds himself face to face with none other than Rukia's brother, Byakuya Kuchiki. Will Renji's bankai prove strong enough to defeat his own captain?

Contains episdoes 50-53.

The Review:
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:
For this collection we are treated to a new boxart color variation for what is now called “The Rescue”.  Volume 13 continues to feature the silver foil front cover design.  In addition, the spine of the case and the volume number is now colored in blue.  The same logo and text layout appears as it did in the previous volumes.  6th Division Captain: Kuchiki Byakuyais 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. The inside jacket has now changed to a white background with the black soul society graphic.  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 50-53.  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: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers). 
The one thing that you cannot complain about when it comes to Bleach, is its variety.  As I have stated in earlier reviews, you can get whiplash from all of the subplots and supporting cast members.  It can be tough to keep up with everyone and every subplot without having an episode or character guide.  I wholeheartedly recommend that you pick one up if you are serious about Bleach!!

If variety is the spice of life, then Don Kanonji accomplishes just that in the world of Bleach.  Whether you love him or hate him, you have to admit that the episodes that he’s involved in aren’t without zany-fun or slap stick stupidity.  As volume 13 opens, we are thrust back into the present day and back in Karakura.  This episode also marries up Don Kanonji with Kon.  This relationship makes for one of the funniest episodes to date.  

While on route to visit his favorite family, the Kurosakis, Don Kanonji happens upon and dubs Kon as the new mascot for the Karakura Super Heroes.  Kon really eats this up as his new name proudly refers to him as being the Karakura King. Kanonji’s show is hurting for new material, viewer ratings and is on the verge of cancellation.  So, Kanonji, Yuzu and Kon go around to the Urahara Store to round up Ururu and Jinta.  Thus begins a TV documentary of their adventures.  This seems like a lost cause until a Hollow, conveniently, takes a liking to Kon.  Hence begins the first official mission for the Karakura Super Heroes; save the Karakura King.

Episode 51 returns us back to Zaraki, Yachiru, Ikkaku, Yumichika, Aramaki and Orihime.  We last saw them beginning to search for the prison cell containing Ishida, Chad and Ganju.  The prison break doesn’t go without resistance as they encounter the Captains and Lieutenants of the 7th and 9th Divisions.  Zaraki is a glutton for fighting and chooses to take on both Captain Komamura Sajin and Captain Tousen Kaname.  Zaraki’s insane strength allows him to endure the most brutal attacks these captains can throw at him. You wonder if the eye patch will come off yet again. 

In the last collection Renji finally learned to release his Bankai.  With his focus on freeing Rukia, Renji heads to take on Byakuya.  A Bankai fight ensues with Renji giving it his all.  This is nothing but a nuisance to Byakua as he is resigned to defeat Renji with some effort.  Byakua even exhibits a sense of remorse as he leaves Renji's crumpled body lying on the ground.   Byakua definitely has some skeletons in his closet as we catch a brief glimpse of a shrine he attends.  Within the shrine is a picture of a woman shrine who bears a striking resemblance to Rukia.  Could this be the key to cracking the impenetrable wall that Byakuya puts up, even at the expense of Rukia and Renji?

As the collection closes, Rukia begins to make her journey towards her execution place, Soukyoku Hill.  Gin decides to show his sinister side by toying with Rukia’s emotions and resignation to death.  It becomes obvious that he is involved in whatever evil is going on around the Seireitei. 

So much is happening at once within the Seireitei.  While Rukia continues on to the execution stage, she senses Renji’s fading spiritual pressure as he struggles to live after falling to Byakua’s Bankai attack. The fight between Komamura, Tousen and Zaraki continues to intensify. Tousen releases his Bankai, thus plunging Zaraki into an “Empty Hell”.  Zaraki lives up to the name ‘demon’ as he defeats Tousen’s attack of darkenss.   Now, he must take on Komamura and his real face! In the final scenes, Rukia finally stands at Soukyoku Hill.  Attendance is poor but at least Byakuya has come.  Will the execution stand and Rukia become victim to some deeper, evil plot?  Tune in next time!

Summary:
More subplot action ensues!  It looks like the major players are going to meet up at Soukyoku Hill where something big is bound to come down!  All in all, Bleach is a great shonen anime, with everything that a shonen fan could ask for except for the episode count and quicker release dates for the single volumes!  I can’t wait for the next release!!

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: A-
Audio Rating: A
Video Rating: A
Packaging Rating: A-
Menus Rating: A
Extras Rating: B
Age Rating: 13+
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