Bleach Series 06 Part 02 Review

Stark realities face Ichigo and Orihime in Series 6 Part 2 of Bleach, when Espada bad-boy Grimmjow Jeagerjaques puts a full stop at the end of his invasion of Karakura Town by toying with our favourite orange-haired soul reaper to deliver a smack down almost as crushing as the time Ichigo failed to stop Aizen from obtaining the Hyougyoku in Soul Society. With his inner Hollow (known by fans as Shirosaki) threatening to consume him every time he goes bankai, Ichigo recognises that the time has come to confront his "dark side" once and for all, and he's going to need the help of people who have gone through the same transition themselves. Enter the Visored - the whole team of Visored that is - to shed light on Ichigo's dilemma and formulate a training regime that will bring out his latent Hollow Powers. If Ichigo can survive the process that is...

Yup, it's time for another Shounen training arc! Although this one is reasonably brief, or would be if it wasn't for all the filler they've wedged into the Anime before the next big story arc kicks off in full. Indeed, the last four episodes in this volume are taken up by a filler arc where Hitsugaya Toushiro and his team help a couple of young sibling souls fight off a "Mock Arrancar" that looks suspiciously like Grand Fisher (Obviously the staff writers were too lazy to design their own enemy from scratch). Those episodes aside though, the rest of this volume maintains the quality from Season 6 Part 1, with the Visored team finally revealed in full and brought to the front of the narrative as they battle an increasingly more Hollowfied Ichigo, which reveals a tantalising glimpse into something fans have no doubt been wondering about since he first started turning into a Hollow back during the Kisuke Training arc in the early days of the series: Just what would a fully-transformed hollow Ichigo look like?

Add to that a confrontation with Shirosaki in Ichigo's Inner world, some intriguing expository insight into the nature of Orihime's soul powers, an amusing subplot where Ikkaku and Yumichika move in with Keigo and his sister Asano, and the big revelation of what Aizen Sousuke intends to do with the Hyougyoku and his Arrancar army, and you have a pretty eventful volume considering over a third of it is taken up by filler!

The Disc

Bleach Series 06 Part 02 is presented to the same standards as previous volumes, so I will simply repeat my A/V review from the first set here:

Bleach’s transfer generally looks quite pleasing: The print is in pristine condition and colours are crisp, bold and exhibit little to no noise or bleeding. Contrast and brightness levels are excellent and the image is about as sharp and detailed as you’d expect from the show’s varying production methods – plus there’s no noticeable Edge Enhancements either. However, there are two factors that let the transfer down a little: The usual NTSC-PAL standards conversion and the amount of Mosquito Noise in the image, pretty much every frame on these DVDs exhibits some form of Mosquito Noise!

Eschewing their recent trend of slapping on DTS and DD5.1 tracks to their releases, MangaUK have decided to just stick with the original Japanese DD2.0 track and an English DD2.0 track for the fans who like their American dubs. For the purposes of this review I sat down and listened to both tracks and can confirm they are both pretty equal in terms of quality. So with that being said I’ll just talk about both audio tracks as one singular track. The DD2.0 surround audio is of suitably high quality, handling the loud destructive action sequences with plenty of verve – thanks mostly to the punchy bass, good dynamics and some genuinely effective use of the rear channel. Dialogue too remains very clear and audible with no tearing when voices are raised; solid bass lends the voices a nice resonance as well.

As ever the Extra Features come in the form of a Production Artwork gallery, a Textless Closing, and MangaUK Trailers for Bleach: The Series, Bleach: The Movie 1, and Bleach: The Movie 2.

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