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Bleach the Movie 4: Hell Verse (a J!-ENT Anime Blu-ray Disc Review)

January 20, 2013 by  



If you are a “Bleach” fan or an anime fan looking for an action-based film on Blu-ray, you don’t have to be a longtime viewer of “Bleach” to understand this film, you just have to be a fan of action anime.  And if that is the case, you’ll definitely enjoy “Bleach the Movie 4: Hell Verse”.

Image courtesy of Image courtesy of © Tite Kubo/Shueisha. All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: Bleach the Movie 4: Hell Verse

MOVIE RELEASE DATE: 2010

DURATION: 90 Minutes

BLU-RAY INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition, DTS-HD MA English 5.1 and Japanese 5.1, Subtitles: English

COMPANY: Warner Bros./Viz Media

RATED: 13+

Release Date: December 4, 2012

Originally created by Kubotite

Directed by Noriyuki Abe

Screenplay by Masahiro Okubo, Natsuko Takahashi

Music by Shiro Sagisu

Character Design by Masashi Kudo

Art Director: Sawako Takagi

Director of Photography: Toshiyuki Fukushima

Producer: Ken Hagino, Noriko Kobayashi

Anime Production: Studio Pierrot

Featuring the following voice talent:

Fumiko Orikasa/Michelle Ruff as Rukia Kuchiki

Masakazu Morita/Johnny Yong Bosch as Ichigo Kurosaki

Hiroki Yasumoto/Jamieson Price as Sado “Chad” Yasutora

Kentarou Itou/Wally Wingert as Abarai Renji

Kazuya Nakai/Travis Willingham as Kokuto

Tohru Furuya/Ben Diskin as Shuren

Masaaki Tsukasa/Neil Kaplan as Shigekuni Yamamoto-Genryusai

Ryotaro Okiayu/Dan Woren as Byakuya Kuchiki

Noriaki Sugiyama/Derek Stephen Prince as Ishida Uryuu

Yuki Matsuoka/Stephanie Sheh as Inoue Orihime

Kaya Matsutani/Megan Hollingshead as Rangiku Matsumoto

Nobuyuki Hiyama/Vic Mignogna as Ikkaku Madarame

Romi Paku/Steve Staley as Toshiro Hitsugaya

Hell – a place where beings that have committed mortal sins during their lifetime are sent. It is a realm where even Soul Reapers are forbidden to interfere. When a group of vicious Sinners plots to escape from this eternal prison, they discover that Substitute Soul Reaper Ichigo Kurosaki is the key to their freedom.

The Sinners launch an attack and in the process kidnap Ichigo’s younger sister Yuzu and take her to Hell. With the help of a mysterious man named Kokuto, Ichigo and his friends must now travel into the depths of Hell to stop the Sinners and save Yuzu, unaware that their actions could bring Hell to the World of the Living.

Ichigo Kurosaki has faced the greatest enemies and has gotten stronger each time.  But this time, it’s personal as his sisters have been kidnapped by minions from Hell and now Ichigo and friends decide to venture through Hell in order to save his two sisters, but will he be strong enough to fight in the Netherworld?

With an anime production by Studio Pierrot, the film is directed by Noriyuki Abe (“Bleach”, “Ninku”, “Ghost Stories”, “Flame of Recca”) and a screenplay by Masahiro Okubo (“Sugar Sugar Rune”, “Tantei Gakuen Q”) and Natsuko Takahashi (“Bleach”, “Prince of Tennis”, “School Rumble”).

The storyline of “Bleach: Hell Verse” takes place after the fight between Ichigo and the Arrancars and we are given a glimpse of the unusual change that Ichigo had gone through during his fight against the powerful Arrancar Ulquiorra.  Exhibiting power that Ichigo never had exhibited and a transformation to his body that he never knew was possible, Ichigo’s power even made his own friends fear because it was an unusual spiritual pressure.  And with this power, it was how Ichigo slayed the mighty Ulquiorra.

The day starts off normally for Ichigo Kurosaki until he sees Rukia and Renji who happened to be in the world of the living for some unknown reason.  As Ichigo is headed to school, the school is attacked by three demon-like creatures with masks and they are known as Togabito (“The Unforgiven”).  As Ichigo and his friends begin fighting the Unforgiven, Uryu manages to crack open one of the masks of one of the antagonists and it is revealed that the demons have escaped hell and because one of the masks were broken, a Kushanada, a guardian of Hell impales the unmasked demon and drags him back to Hell.

Meanwhile, the leader of the Unforgiven, Shuren has kidnapped Ichigo’s two sisters and as Ichigo and friends try to save them, a man named Kokuto arrives and defeats one of the Unforgiven and saves Karin Kurosaki, but unfortunately, Ichigo’s youngest sister Yuzu is brought to Hell.

Needing to get into Hell to rescue her, Kokuto who is from Hell (but without a mask) tells them that he can show them the route to save his sister and so, Ichigo with the help of Rukia, Renji and Uryu head off to the upper levels of Hell to try to save Yuzu.  But once in Hell, Ichigo’s hollow mask begins manifesting spontaneously and Kokuto warns him to not use the mask or else he will lose control and turn into a hollow.  And also reveals that spirits killed in Hell will become members of the Unforgiven and that the Kushanada torture the Unforgiven for their sins and consumes them, until they are reborn in the lower level of Hell and are continuously are caught by the Kushanada in a cycle, until the spirit of the Unforgiven is eliminated.

And as everyone follows Kokuto’s lead, they encounter Shuren, who reveals that he wants Ichigo to use his hollow powers, the kind that was used in the fight against Ulquiorra in order to destroy the Gates of Hell and so the Unforgiven can be free. If he does, then Yuzu will be free?  But will Ichigo risk the world of the living by unleashing the Unforgiven demons of hell just to save his sister?  Or is there another way to save her?

VIDEO:

“Bleach the Movie 4: Hell Verse” is presented in 1080p High Definition and “Bleach” looks fantastic on Blu-ray! Granted, it helps that this is a film and not the TV series, as there is much more detail in the actual character designs, more emphasis on fluidity on the action sequences, especially during the “bankai” segments. But this is what I enjoy about seeing the transition of popular TV series for film, a higher production and also the fact that animators have more time in production and quality of the animation and art backgrounds than the typical quick turn around that they are expected to do on a TV series.

Wonderful PQ and because many shots are in Hell, and a lot of reds and oranges, I personally didn’t see any banding issues.  For the most part, “Hell Verse” looks vibrant, colorful, sharp and fantastic on Blu-ray!

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

For “Bleach the Movie 4: Hell Verse is presented in DTS-HD MA 5.1 English and Japanese.  Great use of surround during the more action intense sequences and because there is so much action, good amount of immersion from the surround channels and also moments of LFE.

Subtitles are provided in English as optional during the English soundtrack and also featured in the Japanese soundtrack of the film.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Bleach the Movie 4: Hell Verse” comes with the following special features:

  • Japanese Trailers – (2:03) Featuring the Japanese trailers for “Bleach the Movie 4: Hell Verse”.
  • Production Art Gallery – Using your remote (or mouse and keyboard), you can cycle through various production art.
  • Illustration Gallery – Using your remote (or mouse and keyboard), you can cycle through various illustration art.

December is the month for a “Bleach” animated film and as the U.S. DVD release is trying to catchup with what is being released in Japan, the fourth “Bleach” movie “Hell Verse” features a non-canon storyline and takes Ichigo Kurosaki and friends to a new area to fight in…Hell.

For “Bleach” fans, the storyline may seem inconsistent timeline wise with the manga and TV series as after the Arrancar arc, Ichigo Kurosaki has lost his powers.  But animated films inspired from the TV or manga series are typically side stories that are not mean to be part of the series’ cannon.

For “Bleach the Movie 4: Hell Verse”, it’s rather interesting because we are given a scene between Ichigo’s fight vs. Ulquiorra and the truth is that during that time of the Arrancar arc, not much is known about Ichigo’s mysterious power that he gained during that fight.  We know he tapped into something mysterious, perhaps something that may not be good at all but we do know it’s the most powerful transformation that he has been in and something he has no control over.

And while the TV and manga series tend to focus more on the battle between the Soul Reapers vs. the Arrancars during that arc, suffice to say, there was not as much Ichigo Kurosaki featured as the goal was to show an all out war featuring as many people as possible.  And it became one of Tite Kubo’s most exciting, action-packed arc thus far in the “Bleach” series at the time.

But for “Hell Verse”, it’s nice to see the animated film bring back that uncontrollable power and transformation of Ichigo Kurosaki and while a battle in Hell will provide new antagonists and a whole new world that Ichigo Kurosaki and friends that have never ventured, hardcore Bleach fans know that the Soul Society would probably not have let Ichigo Kurosaki be that reckless and endanger the World of the Living for the sake of his sister (for those who are familiar with the Deputy Soul Reaper storyline in “Bleach”, those fans will know what I’m talking about).

Otherwise, for an animated film and for fans with no familiarity with the series, it is a standalone storyline that is accessible to fans and non-fans as it focuses on Ichigo and friends trying to save his sister.  Showcasing as much action as possible and even integrating an emotional, tragic scene, longtime “Bleach” writers Masahiro Okubo and Natsuko Takahashi are really taking the characters, especially Ichigo Kurosaki into unknown territory and experimenting with situations that are not seen in the manga and also the anime series.

But that is the beauty of anime films, they tend to be standalone stories independent of the series and for the most part, “Bleach the Movie 4: Hell Verse” was entertaining, action-packed and enjoyable.

As for the Blu-ray release, picture quality and lossless audio quality was fantastic and that is another plus for animated films versus its TV counterpart and that’s better production value, better picture quality and in this case, a wonderful, immersive lossless soundtrack.  Special features are sparse, but they have always been like that for “Bleach”.

Overall, if you are a “Bleach” fan or an anime fan looking for an action-based film on Blu-ray, you don’t have to be a longtime viewer of “Bleach” to understand this film, you just have to be a fan of action anime.  And if that is the case, you’ll definitely enjoy “Bleach the Movie 4: Hell Verse”.






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