Bleach Series 14 Part 1 review (Episodes 292-303)


Bleach_14.1_1It seems hard to believe that it was almost seven years ago (Monday 5th November 2007 to be exact) that we first got a glimpse of an orange haired young man battling Hollows on our screens. Nearly seven years on and courtesy of this release from Manga Entertainment, we are now celebrating a milestone – the passing of the 300th episode of the series, with perhaps the most important release of the series to date.

Bleach14This set starts what appears to be the final battle between Sōsuke Aizen and everybody’s favourite substitute Soul Reaper, Ichigo Kurosaki. There are some interesting revelations about the series along the way that will have long term spoiler free fans chomping at the bit for more by the time the set is over. It also features several other battles that fans have been waiting for, the results of which will also leave fans open-mouthed. As you can imagine, this battle brings to end a storyline that has lasted several years, so there are many plot lines to wrap up and reference along the way. Interestingly some of the aforementioned plot lines are not ones you would expect. This is all handled with a mixture of long pieces of expositional dialogue between Eizen, Ichigo and other characters, as well as flashbacks to earlier points in the series that now have new scenes added to illustrate the points that are being made. It is interesting to note here that some of flashbacks are to points when the show was not yet shown in HD and therefore these clips are shown in the letterbox format. Whilst this is initially jarring, it does in the end help to serve as a reminder that we are indeed taking a trip back in time. These flashbacks also serve as perfect way to bring casual fans of the series up to date and bring them back into the show.

Once this is all said and done there is still the matter of the battle between the characters, and as you would expect, this is one that is not going to be over quickly. In fact it actually lasts beyond this set. These battles are animated in the same style we have become accustomed to, however, occasionally we are treated to the odd flurry of something different when a new power is used, or when a character uses a powerful move that is new to us. The writing on the whole is good and the story for the first few episodes is compelling to the point that you will find yourself watching just one more to see how the story develops or if a revelation is expanded upon. The voice acting is great too, with Kyle Herbert delivering a fantastic performance as Eizen, which only serves to add to the level of calculating malice that the writers wanted to get across with his dialogue.

Where this set lets itself down in a big and almost unforgivable way is through the use of filler episodes. Love them or hate them, these episodes can, on occasion, be used to help explain a character’s back story or help develop characters. But in the case of the ones on this set there frankly is no reason to include them in their chosen positions. The main reason for this is that the episodes are placed at points in the run where the main story has reached a dramatic peak and then, ‘bang’, you are given a story about, Japanese New Year celebrations, or the characters making movies to raise money for repairs. Whilst mildly humorous, all these filler episodes do is bring to a halt the pace that has been brilliantly set by the preceding episodes and as such prove to be somewhat of an annoyance. Whilst you could argue that this was done deliberately to give viewers time to prepare for the next shocking plot revelation or to make sure that the story is eeked out that little bit longer, it still, whatever the reason, does not make it any less annoying.

That said, in this case it is the story that saves the day and makes this set a must buy if you are, or ever have been, a fan of Bleach. Bleach Series 14 Part 1 is available on DVD from Monday 22nd September courtesy of Manga Entertainment priced at £18.75.

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