BLEACH (VOL. 3) [ADVANCE REVIEW]

Posted On March - 15 - 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:   03/27/2007
  REVIEW DATE:   03/16/2007
  REVIEWED BY:   HOLLY ELLINGWOOD


An annual trip by Ichigo’s family to visit his mother’s grave turns into a nightmare when a vicious Hollow attacks. This is no ordinary Hollow, but the very same creature who slaughtered Ichigo’s mother years ago and now stands before Ichigo with the Soul Reaper’s little sister in its claws ready to devour her! Horror clashes with a grief strewn past as Ichigo is forced to face both his past and a vengeful present as he unleashes all his grief, fury and desperation to save his sister.

The tense action doesn’t end there. Afterwards, still reeling from the events at the cemetery, Ichigo is confronted by a student with his own devastating Hollow destroying powers. Uryu Ishida is a Quincy. Quincies are a sect that separated itself from the Soul Reapers. Both groups want to end the Hollows reign of terror on the innocents of this world. However, where the Soul Reapers want to purify the Hollows and give them passage to the Soul Society, Quincies want to obliterate all Hollows, no matter the cost or the loss in souls. Uryu Ishida in particular has a hatred for the Hollows and an even deeper, more personal hatred against all Soul Reapers. When he confronts Ichigo, he challenges the new Soul Reaper to a duel. This won’t be like just any face-off though. The Quincy has made things far more interesting and that much more dangerous by challenging Ichigo to a test: the person to finish the most Hollows within the next 24 hours will win. Ichigo protests at the thought of all the innocent people who would be put at risk by attracting so many Hollows to this one spot. His words go unheeded as Uryu unleashes the bait to attract the lethal creatures. Now Ichigo must race to save his family and friends who are ripe targets for the supernatural monsters now raining down from the skies to hunt the streets. Can he save them all in time?

The animation highlights the tense atmosphere of the dramatic episodes and supernatural elements superbly. The visuals are simply striking. This is a pivotal set of episodes with so many deep revelations occurring for Ichigo in regards to his past, his mother’s death, and his new goal to remain a Soul Reaper and the vehement reasons behind it. Then there is the widening of the world of Bleach in this volume with the appearance of a Quincy and the growing view we’re given of the world of the Soul Society and the various factions that exist within it such as Soul Reapers and Quincies. Uryu’s manifestation of power is both eye-catching and impressive. It will be interesting to see if other Quincies show similar abilities down the road and to learn just how this division between the Soul Reapers and the Quincies occurred, as well as the reasons for Uryu’s deeper and far more personal hatred of the Soul Reapers, a hatred that seems to surpass even the loathing he holds for the Hollows.

With all this dramatic build up and supernatural battles with everything on the line, there is still some comedy to be found in this volume in one episode when a cult favorite TV show is filmed in the town. Ichigo couldn’t bother giving it the time of day but all his friends are crazy for it and so he finds himself dragged along. But things get more than just a little interesting when spirit hunter TV hero Don Kan’onji finds himself facing off with the real deal! Can Ichigo help save the eccentric and over the top TV star while keeping his identity a secret and the crowds safe? Being a Soul Reaper sure isn’t easy, when it comes to Ichigo’s luck, it’s a killer.

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 captivating fun filled with suspenseful action and excellent character development. It’s supernatural action, intrigue and bouts of comedy all wound up with stellar animation and fantastic story telling.

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