The incursion into Hueco Mundo continues, and while Ichigo and his friends are making heavy going of reaching Las Noches, Aizen’s base of operations, it seems that Orihime isn’t planning on being quite the obedient pawn that Aizen was expecting her to be…
What They Say:
In the perpetual night and white sand world of Jueco Mundo, Ichigo and the others fight their way to Las Noches, the stronghold of former Soul Reaper captain Sosuke Aizen, where Orihime is being held. In the depths of Las Noches, Rukia encounters Espada Number Nine, Aaroniero Arruruerie, who removes his mask to reveal a very familiar face – could he really be former Squad Thirteen Lieutenant Kaien Shiba?
Audio is presented in English and Japanese 2.0 stereo. I’ve been trying to widen my linguistic boundaries lately, so I listed to this release in both English and Japanese. Both tracks are fairly standard stereo mixes, with some effort having been made to properly place dialogue and effects on the soundstage but nothing particularly spectacular past that. There were no obvious dropouts or other problems. As for the English track – I’ve been becoming more accepting of dubbed anime lately, and Bleach is another series where the quality of the English voice-acting has quite impressed me.
Video’s hard to quantify in one way – this is a recent show, so in general the animation is clean and colourful, while the transfer is free of any obvious encoding issues. Where it’s strange is that there are scenes dotted throughout the show where the animation has noticeably more detail (both in terms of shading representing lighting, which adds a lot of depth to the animation, and in the amount of work that’s gone into portraying the characters) than for the rest of the disc. These scenes really do look good, but they’re different enough from the show’s usual level of animation that they do jar a bit. I can’t really criticise for the extra effort having been made, though.
No packaging was provided with our review copy.
Menus for Bleach remain much the same with every volume – static screen featuring one of the characters (Orihime in her Arrancar uniform on both discs in this set), with options for Play All, Episodes, Setup and (on disc 2 only) Extras. There are no transitions, so it’s quick & painless to use.
Again as predictable as ever: a production art gallery, and a creditless version of the closing songs. That’s yer lot.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Orihime’s power isn’t just a simple healing power: it’s the power to reject reality, to rewind events and leave the world as though they had never happened, and that’s a power that Aizen could make real use of. He’s making a determined effort to play on Orihime’s emotions, to get her to the state where she becomes his loyal servant, but it seems that’s going to require more work than he planned, as she’s still planning on simply playing along until rescue arrives. And when Aizen takes her into his confidence to show her the location of the Orb of Distortion – the key to his plans – she spots a way in which she could seriously disrupt them. Ichigo and the other, meanwhile, continue to fight their way towards Las Noches, but keep being help back by wave upon wave of hollows and Arrancars…
Only nine episodes in this set, which I think makes it the shortest volume of Bleach so far. And given how little of real interest is going on here, that’s probably a good thing. This’ll be a short one.
Cast your mind way back to early in Bleach, which Ichigo and friends had to inflitrate Seireitei to rescue Rukia from her impending execution by the Soul Society. The gang had a clear objective, and somewhere they could easily identify where they had to reach to achieve it (the execution site). The raid on Hueco Mundo is so similar in idea and execution that I could almost copy’n’paste a review from one of the sets that deal with that raid – Ichigo and co arrive in Hueco Mundo, find they’re a long way from where Orihime is being held, but they can at least see Las Noches, Aizen’s castle, so they know where they’re going. All they have to do is make their way there, fighting through the inevitable foes they meet in a series of set-piece battles, and making a few friends along the way. It’s exactly the same “story” (by which I mean “excuse for lots of battles”), just in a different setting. The Seireitei arc quickly became dull and repetitive to me – and with the Hueco Mundo incursion going no more quickly, take a quick guess at what I think of it.
There is one difference, though. Whereas Rukia never got to do much but sit in her cell and await the inevitable, Orihime gets to sit in her cell and await a chance to turn the tables on Aizen in a potential major way. She never realised quite what her powers were capable of until Aizen and his Arrancar pointed it out to him, but once the possibilities are revealed, she’s quick in realising that once the opportunity arises she could use them to destroy his plans, and should she have the backbone to go through with the plan that forms in her mind over the course of these episodes, things could get quite interesting. The danger, of course, is that we’ll find out that Aizen has predicated her actions all along and she’ll end up helping rather than hindering him – we’ve got plenty of precedent that shows that the series just won’t allow Aizen to be thwarted – but hey, I can hope.
Past that, there’s not a hell of a lot to say. The usual Arrancar scheming, the usual continuous stream of battles that you get in arcs like this. Not the sort of thing that particularly floats my boat, but definitely the sort of thing that plays well to Bleach‘s core audience. I just wish there was more to it.
Japanese Language 2.0, English Language 2.0, English subtitles, Production Gallery, Clean Ending
Content Grade: B-
Audio Grade: B+
Video Grade: B+
Packaging Grade: N/A
Menu Grade: B
Extras Grade: B-
Readers Rating: [ratings]
Released By: Manga Entertainment UK
Running Time: 275 minutes
Video Encoding: 480i/p MPEG2
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Toshiba 37X3030DB 37” widescreen HDTV; Sony PS3 Blu-ray player (via HDMI, upscaled to 1080p); Acoustic Solutions DS-22 5.1 speaker system.