Bleach Series 06 Part 01 Review

We've had to wait a long time, but finally the Bleach anime is back on track with the original manga plotline - which in case you've forgotten picks up right after Ichigo and friends had succeeded in preventing Rukia's execution in Seireitei, but failed to stop grand-villain Aizen Sousuke from stealing the Hougyoku and escaping to the hollow world of Hueco Mundo with his lieutenants: Gin & Tousen in tow. As the Gotei 13 lick their wounds in the spirit world, Ichigo, Inoue, Chad, and Ishida have returned home to Karakura town with the intent of settling back into everyday life, which provides the context for a not-unwelcome return to the highschool comedy and Karakura Hollow-hunting format that characterised the series' earliest story arcs. Of course, those early arcs have long since passed and complex machinations have been put into play by Aizen's escape, so it's not long before Ichigo is dragged back into a grander scheme, which initially comes in the ambiguous form of transfer student: Hirako Shinji, who reveals himself to be a member of a faction known as the "Visored", a group of Shinigami who have acquired Hollow powers. Hirako knows all about Ichigo's burgeoning Inner Hollow and invites him to join their fold so he can learn to control the darkness within before it consumes him....

It's fair to say that Series 6 of Bleach immediately redresses the balance of the appalling Bount Arc and wastes little time in moving the over-arching plotline into new and intriguing areas. Not only do we quickly get an official classification for what Ichigo's Hollow-side is, but we're also introduced to new and colourful characters in Hirako Shinji and his Visored friend(s). A cap is also finally put on the Grand Fisher plotline, which last ended with the Hollow returning injured to Hueco Mundo and being treated by a shadowy figure all those episodes ago. This not only introduces a new class of Hollow to the story: The Arrancar, but also ties in to some very exciting revelations about Ichigo's father, which plays out in parallel to other revelations about Ishida's father. Other parallels are drawn in the arena of good and evil with the Visored (Shinigami who have acquired Hollow powers and a mask) and their antithesis: the Arrancar, Hollows that have acquired Shinigami-like powers by removing their masks.

Their appearance forms the crux of the episodes in Series 6 Part 1 when extremely powerful Arrancar appear in Karakura town and cause a series of confrontations that will force Ichigo to realise the limitations of his own powers, interesting match-ups soon ensue and this volume ends with a series of confrontations that are both exciting and also illuminating for some of the lower-ranked shinigami like Rukia, Yumichaka, and Ikkaku. The only mistep is that those horrid Bount filler characters: Kurodo, Ririn, and Noda have been shoe-horned into this canon arc like a bad stink, interrupting the pace of the action sequences and reminding us of how fast the quality of this series nosedives when the writers stray from Tite Kubo's original manga scripts.

The Disc

Bleach Series 06 Part 01 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.

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, two Textless Closings, and MangaUK Trailers for Bleach: The Series, Bleach: The Movie 1, and Bleach: The Movie 2.

Last updated: 18/04/2018 12:45:39

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