Bleach Series 8 Part 2 (Episodes 160-167) (Cert 15)
2 Discs (Distributor: Manga Entertainment) Running time: 189 minutes approx.
The battle rages on between Ichigo Kurosaki’s team of rescuers and the Arrancar of Hueco Mundo as the quest to liberate kidnapped friend Orihime Inuoe continues. We pick up the action were we left off the last volume with the group split up each taking on a separate foe. Rukia’s confrontation with Aaroniero Arruruerie – the Arancar who ahs transformed itself into the body of her late instructor Kaien Shiba who she killed in battle – reaches its climax while Renji kicks things off against vain Espada Szayel Aporro Granz. The centrepiece of these eight episodes is the long awaited and inevitable collision between Ichigo and the ice cold Espada Ulquiorra Cifer, an eventful clash with leads to an unexpected development.
Ichigo and his shinigami friends may have summoned their last Bankai in their native Japan but here in Old Blighty the Bleach train keeps a rollin! These episodes are from 2008 meaning there is still have four years worth of soul reaping action to come. As far as this collection is concerned we may still be in extended battle mode but there is some forward motion story wise by the time the last episode rolls around.
Things start of with a bit of a stutter than a bang as the opening episode is devoted to Rukia’s memories of her training under Kaien Shiba, offering some exposition to flesh out Rukia’s emotional struggle in this particular clash. It makes some sense as this acts an the impetus for Rukia to find her inner strength to fight back but had this appeared earlier in this confrontation it would have been more effective in this writer’s opinion and let the fight have a more spectacular and intense conclusion. Renji’s fight is more of a comedic affair since it features the unwelcome distraction of alleged light relief characters Pesche Guatiche and Dondochakka Bilstin, who deserve to feel the sharp end of Renji’s zanpaktou more than his Arrancar opponent does! Even the high drama of Ichigo’sclash with Ulquiorra is sadly not immune from the infection of stupidity as hideous troll Nel is on hand to ruin things.
Another gripe, which seems to be an irritating by-product of battle shows such as this scenario, is that each scuffle is punctuated with too many scenes of flashbacks or pointless chat in between strikes, in which the successful fighter feels it necessary to explain what they just did and why. Surely there are more sensible battle strategy would be to keep your attack methods to yourself? You know the element of surprise and all that?
In the midst of these protracted conflicts there is a serious thread within these episodes involving Orihime and two of the female Arancar Loly and Menoly, insanely jealous that their messiah Aizen is smitten with the kind hearted redhead human. They decided to take matters into their own hands and corner Orihime in her cell, but help comes in the most unlikely and surprising form. The fallout of this leads to some dissension in the Arrancar ranks and the onset of a potential mutiny. How does this play out? Unfortunately we shall not know for quite a while as we learn from the previews that this particular arc will be sidelined for the foreseeable future as a new (whisper it) filler arc begins with the next volume.
As has been the trend with Bleach of late there is nothing intrinsically bad about the content but nothing earth shattering or overwhelming which excited us about the show in the first place seem to happen anymore. But, like Naruto, its fanbase is rabid and these hungry mouths need to be fed which is why the snacks keep on coming but for this reviewer, some meatier nourishment would be nice. It will be interesting to see what the next volume brings while the main arc takes break and whether Tite Kubo has a more succulent feast waiting for us on the other side.
English Language 2.0
Japanese Language 2.0
Ratings – *** /5
Man In Black