With the end of the current Fall of the Arrancar and the storyline surrounding Eizen looking set to be wrapped up, this latest Bleach release courtesy of Manga Entertainment promised to potentially be a must have purchase for both fans and casual viewers alike.
This season features episodes 304-316 and as mentioned, on paper, looks to be a must have DVD. However once you start watching it you begin to see that all may not be what you first thought and hoped. Whilst both the aforementioned storyline and story arc are wrapped up, you will be surprised to hear that it is all done in five episodes, leaving a total of eight episodes that are pure filler/fan service.
Yes, Bleach is well known for its filler/fan service episodes, and as pointed out in previous reviews, this can help when it fills in character background. Most of the eight filler episodes on this set however are just pointless.
Worse still is that the storyline that has taken up hundreds of episodes is seemingly wrapped up in five short episodes. The final battle itself, the one everyone has been waiting for, Ichigo v Aizen, lasts, unusually for Bleach, only two episodes! That’s right, the series that can sometimes eek a battle out for four or five episodes or more resolves the battle everyone was waiting for in what seems like a blink of an eye and as such leaves you feeling somewhat cheated. As if this point was not irritating enough, the sub-plot surrounding Ichigo learning his final Getsuga Tenshō is resolved through a flashback during the final battle with Aizen. What is odd about this is that in the past when he has been training the writers have taken their time to show Ichigo learning new powers. Here it seems as if they wrote the battle sequence and halfway through remembered that they had forgotten to resolve this point and so quickly wrote in something to cover it off.
There is also only one episode devoted to the aftermath of the battle and as such you are only shown what has happened to a handful of characters. Considering the sheer number of characters who were used in big ways throughout this arc, it leaves you wanting and reaching for the internet again to find out if your favourite lieutenant was killed or if that captain survived.
Add to this the somewhat casual mention of something or someone that could potentially be a huge story arc and something crucial to the whole world of the Soul Society, only for it to be left unanswered. You are left wondering whether the writers forgot everything that they had been taught about resolving plotlines and building intrigue when adapting this section of the manga.
Granted in the build up to the battle there are some interesting plot twists relating to some of the characters that will make you gasp, but sadly these are overwhelmed by the aforementioned points.
The rest of this release is fairly standard by now, in that the voice performances by all the cast are good and the anime quality is presented well. The disc menus too are still the same static picture background, but that again is no surprise. What is interesting is the cover art for the set that Manga Entertainment have chosen to use, for it is a huge spoiler, revealing the look for Ichigo when he achieves his final Getsuga Tenshō. In revealing this they actually show that Ichigo not only learns it, but that we will be seeing him use it in the episodes.
It is difficult to defend a release that promises much on the surface but then sadly fails to deliver. It is releases such as this that are enough to make the audience wish for the days when they could buy individual volumes so as to avoid episodes that they did not want to see. It might be difficult to justify spending the RRP of £30 here, unless you are a collector or a major fan of the series.
Bleach Series 14 Part 2 is available on DVD from April 6th courtesy of Manga Entertainment at the reduced price of £22.49.