BLEACH (VOL. 2) [ADVANCE REVIEW]

Posted On January - 23 - 2007
  RELEASED BY:   VIZ MEDIA
  ASPECT RATIO:   4:3 FULL FRAME
  AUDIO:   ENGLISH AND JAPANESE DD 2.0
  RUNNING TIME:   100 MIN
  RATING:   T
  RELEASE DATE:   01/30/2007
  REVIEW DATE:   01/24/2007
  REVIEWED BY:   HOLLY ELLINGWOOD


Picking up right from the cliffhanger volume one left off on, Rukia faces off against a diabolical Hollow all alone and without any Soul Reaper powers to help her. Ichigo, the carrier of those powers after the freak occurrence when they first met, is nowhere to be found. Can she defeat the monstrous Hollow with the help of the strange quiet fellow called Chad? Or will she be devoured like so many others before her?

The show doesn’t stop there with the nail-biting suspense. After a small comedic reprieve of Ichigo’s body being highjacked and a crazy battle of Ichigo versus Ichigo, we are then given more angst and suspense when Ichigo and family visit his mother’s grave. Curious to discover the heavy secret weighing down Ichigo’s heart, Rukia follows and we learn that there is much more to the mother’s death than meets the eye. The final episodes end on a stunning secret and a murderous cliff-hanger with Ichigo’s sisters are in peril and Ichigo racing to get to them in time.

What a fantastic show. The anime lives up to the explosive hit manga it is based on. The anime captures the excitement, the caustic humour and supernatural intrigue perfectly. The animation also does a smashing job of capturing the art style of the manga giving it added life in this animated incarnation. Combine that with the fine acting voice talent and great soundtrack and this show is one of the top ten anime of the year.

A stand out sound wise is the ending theme song “Life is Like a Boat” sung by Rie Fu. It’s strikingly beautiful and hits the more dramatic emotional undercurrents of the show exceptionally well. Speaking of those undercurrents, the show hits a lot of them in this volume with the revelations about Ichigo’s past, specifically around the death of his mother. There is also the looming danger regarding Rukia’s secret, hinted at in these episodes. The Soul Society may be after her and it may have something to do with Ichigo. This kind of compelling character intrigue makes for riveting story telling, a fast pace and exciting action. This is a title you don’t want to miss!

EXTRAS:
Bonus feature include a sticker sheet, production art gallery, manga previews, clean ending animation, and trailers of other anime titles from Viz Media’s Shonen Jump video line.

IN SUMMARY:
Bleach is one of the best anime titles of the year. Supernatural sword wielding action, demonic secrets and intriguing characters combine with kinetic animation for an addictive anime series.

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