Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Bleach Series 8 Part 1
Released By: Manga Entertainment UK
Rating: 12
Running Time: 292 Mins
Audio: English & Japanese DD 5.1
Release Date: 19/03/2012
Reviewed By: Sandra Scholes

Ichigo, Chad, Renji, Rukia and Uryu have all gone in different directions to deal with any foes that might be around the corner. Each one has their own foe, and they prove to be more dangerous than they look. Ichigo gets the pleasure of Dordonni's company, Both Chad, and Uryu have their respective Arrancars to come up against, Rukia discovers a long lost friend, while Renji has an encounter of a different kind with the hysterical Dondochakka. So far they have fought several enemies, from Hollows to the Bounts, but the Arrancars are different enemies. They are much stronger due to Aizen's use of the Hogyokou. With it he has managed to create increased strength beings with high intelligence and power beyond that of most standard Hollows.

Kubo has made a clever use of his new creations, and to cause conflict among them in the series, he has put them into several different categories, Espada being the strongest and highest ranked.  Privaron Espada are lower ranked Arrancar who at some point have had their privileges taken from them when they were once high ranking Espada. These have to fight to get the attention of Lord Aizen in the vain hope he might notice them and let them ascend back to their place at his table. Dordonni mentions his experiences of being one of the high ranking ones, and tells Ichigo during their fight that once he has been at the top he gets used to the view. Rukia has the strangest experience of all Ichigo’s friends as she encounters a man she has not seen since she was a young woman, and not even a seated officer at the time. Ichigo doesn’t know what it means to be a Privaron Espada, and misses the plot entirely – maybe he can understand later in the series. Chad’s as strong as he can be, but they don’t like the idea of Orihime being kept in a cell – their horror is not knowing what the Arrancar are doing to her, and after all, she is the reason they went into enemy territory in the first place.

There are several humorous points to this anime that take the viewer away from all the battles that are going on; Ichigo calling Dordonni Don Panini for one, Renji being chased around by the crazy and Nel fixated Dondochakka, Nel drooling all over Dordonni when Ichigo gets in a sizable blow against him – there’s something about Nel’s drool, but it’s too easy to say anymore here.

One of the down points of the recent Arrancar Arc is the annoying intro telling everyone about what happened in the previous episodes – if you are a fan – you will already know what happened!

Bonus Material: Art Gallery and Opening and Closing Songs.

Verdict: Amusing as well as serious, and speaks from the heart even though it is an action anime.

Bleach The Movie: 1 Memories of Nobody
Released By: Manga Entertainment
Rating: 12
Running Time: 93 Mins
Audio: English and Japanese Dolby Digital 5.1
Release Date: Out Now
Reviewed By: Sandra Scholes

This is the first movie in the series, and what considered as the start of three full-length episodes where substitute Soul Reaper, Ichigo Kurosaki has to help his friends in certain cases that come up.

Normally it involves Hollows, but in this case Ichigo comes in touch with a strange girl called Senna who looks like a Soul Reaper, but on seeing her, Ichigo realizes that there is an influx of Blanks. These are already passed over souls who have no memories and they are aimlessly wandering around causing trouble. They are on their trail, but have no idea why it happened and who the ringleader is. Ichigo only remembers that Kon has seen a dark figure hanging around the Blanks.  He doesn't have to wait long, though as Senna is captured and held by The Dark Ones, a faction who are out to cause trouble wherever they go.

They have to go to Urahara’s shop to find out what they can do to stop the problems they are having with the real world and the Soul Society. Kisuke opens their eyes when he tells them there is a barrier between these two worlds that is enlarging, called the Valley of Screams, and the Blanks they saw are lost between those two worlds, but trouble can happen when the Blanks combine to become a single being called a Shinenju.

Senna is seen running away again, and Ichigo tries to talk to her, but only succeeds in fending them off her. When he tries to help her out, the members of the Soul Society come to him ordering him to hand over Senna who they think is actually the evil entity Shinenju they have heard about. The Dark Ones finally come and announce themselves, wanting a fight which Ichigo fails in taking out the ringleader. He instead is badly wounded and taken for healing. In failing he and the Soul Society captains and lieutenants have lost her and Senna is taken by the Dark Ones for their cruel experiments, and in one where she will be the one who destroys both the real world and the Soul Society.

Memories of Nobody is a dark and extremely emotional movie, and it is easy to see that the writers and animators have worked hard on the first movie, hoping for a different kind of story where Ichigo has to rely on his friends a little more. Senna is a victim all the way through the anime, and one who has to prove herself even though she is seen as weak when she appears. She is a trier, and not like the other Soul Reapers. Ichigo, as is usual with him isn’t invincible; in fact he is the exact opposite. Although he has a tremendous amount of power, the can’t always defeat a foe the first time around.

Unlike in the TV series, the movie offers a higher production value, so with the addition of Blu-ray features, it gives a clarity to it that will impress the viewer. Memories of Nobody first aired back in 2006 in Japanese cinemas which saw Ichigo in the substitute shinigami arc of the series. 

Bonus Material: Inside Bleach The Movie, Japanese Production Interviews, US Theatrical Trailer, Original Japanese Trailers and Original Japanese Movie Booklet. (in translated version).

Verdict: Emotionally charged and slower paced than the other movies made after it, yet it is memorable for that reason.