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Bleach – Season Four Box Set, Part 2 (a J!-ENT Anime DVD Review)

May 12, 2010 by  



Season four of “Bleach” kicks into high gear as Ichigo and friends take on the Bounts.  Although a season that is known for more emphasis on character development, especially with the growing number of characters featured in the series, “Bleach – Season Four Box Set, Part 2” is action-packed and enjoyable!

Image courtesy of © Tite Kubo/Shueisha, TV Tokyo, Dentsu, Pierrot. All Rights Reserved.

DVD TITLE: Bleach – Season Four Box Set, Part 2

DURATION: Episodes 80-91 (300 Minutes)

DVD INFORMATION: 4:3, Bilingual Japanese & English, Subtitles: English

COMPANY: VIZ Media

RATED: 13+

Release Date: February 16, 2010

Originally created by Kubotite

Directed by Noriyuki Abe

Music by Shiro Sagisu

Character Design by Masashi Kudo

Art Director: Natsuko Suzuki, Sawako Takagi

Anime Production by TV Tokyo, Dentsu, 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

Masakazu Morita/Johnny Yong Bosch as Hollow Ichigo

Noriaki Sugiyama/Derek Stephen Prince as Ishida Uryuu

Satsuki Yukino/Wendee Lee as Shihouin Yoruichi (human form)

Shinichiro Miki/Michael Lindsay as Urahara Kisuke

Takako Honda/Jeannie Elias as Jinta Hanakari

Takayuki Sugo/Richard Epcar as Zangetsu

Yuki Matsuoka/Stephanie Sheh as Inoue Orihime

The battle against the evil Bounts grows wider and fiercer as Ichigo and friends, reinforced by a group of Soul Reapers, try to take the fight to their hideout. But the Bounts have many tricks up their sleeves, and it looks like certain defeat for Ichigo and his comrades. Uryu, who had lost his Quincy powers, is the key to the Bount leader Kariya’s plans for revenge against the Soul Society, as well as the key to his defeat. Will Uryu be able to regain his powers in time to save his friends?

“Bleach” is one of those titles, alongside “Naruto” and “Dragon Ball Z” that has managed to capture the attention of anime fans and continues to reinvent itself with new sagas and characters.  Created in 2001 by mangaka Tite Kubo, the manga has been published on Weekly Shonen Jump and the animated series has been airing on Japanese television since 2004.

The series has manged to grow its fandom worldwide, especially in the US as the series  has aired on television on the Cartoon Network and the various video games for the Nintendo Wii, Nintendo DS and the Sony PSP have also been popular among the fans as well.

The manga series revolves around teenager Ichigo Kurosaki, who has the ability to see Soul Reapers (a military group that escorts the souls of the dead) and in this case, Ichigo has seen a female Soul Reaper named Rukia Kuchiki.  One day, a hollow (a monster that was once a human soul) has come to attack and when Rukia was injured, she transferred her spirit pressure to Ichigo in order for him to fight the hollow.

The first part of the series focuses on Ichigo and Rukia’s friendship as somehow nearly all her spirit pressure had been transferred to Ichigo and stripping away her soul reaper power and thus Ichigo now has the power to take on the hollows while Rukia helps guide him through the battles with her knowledge.  As Rukia temporarily lives with Ichigo, the two together battle hollows.

The second part of the series deals with Rukia’s superiors finding out that Rukia has committed an illegal act by transferring her power to a human and the punishment is by death and featured Ichigo and friends going to the world of the Soul Society to rescue Rukia.

The third part of the series (season 4) deals with a new enemy known as the Bount, a race of humans that consume human souls to extend their lives but are also quite powerful and they also utilize dolls (like a soul reapers zanpakuto) as deadly weapons.

The Bount are led by an evil leader named Kariya who wants nothing but to enter the soul society and destroy them. and with this second part of the fourth season, Ichigo and friends along with some of the Soul Reapers to take on the Bount.

The main characters of “Bleach” are:

  • Ichigo Kurosaki – The main protagonist.  A teenager who becomes a substitute soul reaper after absorbing Rukia’s powers.  Accepting his new powers and wanting to protect everyone around him. Ichiro manages to grow in power with every battle he gets involved in.
  • Rukia Kuchiki – A Soul Reaper who transferred her spiritual power to Ichigo.
  • Orihime Inoue – A longtime classmate of Ichigo who is very caring and manages to develop her spiritual awareness and after her brother is killed by a hollow, she has managed to grow in power which is tied to a hairpin that her brother had given her.
  • Yasutora “Chad” Sado – A friend of Ichigo and very quiet.  Developed a sense of seeing hollows and eventually gaining a power of strength and a right arm that is literally a weapon to fight against hollows.
  • Uryu Ishida – A classmate of Ichigo and a descendant of a priest group that hunted hollows known as Quincy.    Earlier on, Uryu was a rival of Ichigo due to his hatred towards the Soul Reapers and eventually becomes friends with him.
  • Kon – A modsoul who’s life soul is put into a stuffed lion.  When Ichigo is a Soul Reaper, Kon takes over Ichigo’s body, so no one including Ichigo’s family knows that Ichiro is actually not there.  Mostly a comedy-driven character known for his perverseness and always complaining about something.

Here is a basic spoilerless summary of each episode included on the three DVD’s of “Bleach – Season Four Box Set, Part 2“:

DISC 1:

  • EPISODE 80 – Urahara and Renji investigate the Bount mansion.
  • EPISODE 81 – Soifon’s second division takes on the bitto.
  • EPISODE 82 – The Bounts consume the power of the bitto and each have new powers.
  • EPISODE 83 – The Bount Dalk remembers a young man named Cain who he once mentored.  Ichigo vs. Dalk.

DISC 2:

  • EPISODE 84 – Izuru Kira vs. Dalk
  • EPISODE 85 – Is it possible… Rukia vs. Orihime?
  • EPISODE 86 – Rangiku helps Chad, Ururu and Noba in taking on the Bount Sawatari and his doll Baura.
  • EPISODE 87 – The Saitama team finds a rally racer named Sakamoto to take on Project D.

DISC 3:

  • EPISODE 88 – The Soul Reapers vs. the Bount Ugaki and his doll Gessell.
  • EPISODE 89 – A rematch! Ishida vs. Nemu!
  • EPISODE 90 – Ichigo and Renji search for Kariya.
  • EPISODE 91 – Ichigo vs. Kariya

VIDEO:

If there is one thing that I’ve always enjoyed about “Bleach” is that for a TV series that is cranked out in Japan, the TV series features a good amount of detail in the background art.  The series tends to really showcase quite a bit of locations and thus, not always reusing scenes.

Also, the character designs, despite not always being detailed, is shown great care by character designer Masashi Kudo who definitely respects the original illustrations of Tite Kubo. Some closeups are really well done and there is a good amount of focus on the actual animation during the battle sequences.

For a TV series, especially knowing how in Japan, many of these studios tend to crank them out because they have other deadlines taking on other series, “Bleach” especially for season 4, continues to look very good.

As for picture quality, of course on DVD, you are going to see some banding and edge enhancement but for the most part, picture quality is very good.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Bleach” is presented in stereo English and Japanese.  Both dialogue tracks are clear and understandable.  For those with a modern receiver may want to set their setting to stereo on all channels for a more immersive soundtrack.

Subtitles are in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Bleach – Season Four Box Set, Part 2” comes with the following special features:

DISC 1:

  • Production Art – Using your remote, you can cycle through “Bleach” production art.
  • Manga Preview – A short preview of “Bleach” on manga.
  • Clean Ending – The clean ending theme.
  • Sneak Peek – Sneek peak of VIZ related anime series on DVD.

DISC 2:

  • Production Art – Using your remote, you can cycle through “Bleach” production art.
  • Manga Preview – A short preview of “Bleach” on manga.
  • Clean Ending – The clean ending theme.
  • Sneak Peek – Sneek peak of VIZ related anime series on DVD.

DISC 3:

  • Bonus: Behind the Scenes of Bleach – (10:32) Interviews with a few of the voice actors from “Bleach”: Troy Baker (Kariya), Sam Regal (Ichinose), Spike Spencer (Hanataro), Richard Epcar (Koga).  Footage of the voice talent recording their dialogue and discussion about the anime fan community and how respectful they are to fans.
  • Production Art – Using your remote, you can cycle through “Bleach” production art.
  • Manga Preview – A short preview of “Bleach” on manga.
  • Clean Ending – The clean ending theme.
  • Sneak Peek – Sneek peak of VIZ related anime series on DVD.

Like many people who were hooked on the Cartoon Network Saturday night block with “Naruto” and other Shonen Jump-related anime series, “Bleach” was almost like a Saturday night ritual.  And it was not just anime fans as I remember watching an NFL radio interview with a football player from the Dallas Cowboys who even said it was his Saturday night before a big game.

The series delivered when it came to action and cool characters and season 1-3 were quite explosive and exciting to watch.  But when the fourth season came and The Bount storyline came into play, although the action was still there, it was almost a step back compared to the “us against the world” (or us against the Soul Reapers) storyline that made “Bleach” so exciting to watch.

I looked at this fourth season more of episodes that would introduce more characters and establish these characters through storylines that are geared towards character development.  For the modified souls, we get to see the three mod souls Kurodo, Noba and Lirin in action but the series would also introduce more storylines featuring various characters of the Soul Society who would help Ichigo and friends take on the Bount but more or less prepare viewers for the fifth season in which Bleach would once kick the series into high gear as they take on the powerful Arancar.

“Bleach – Season Four Box Set, Part 2” concludes The Bount storyline as we see Ichigo and friends with some help of the Soul Reaper lieutenants taking on the remaining and concluding with the final battle between Ichigo and Kariya.

The series is quite banal as though the battles take place, so far, “Bleach” hasn’t been a series in which we see any major deaths to the main team.  Now that I think about, although the series does tease the viewer that there will be a loss of life when it comes to Ichigo and his friends, it never happens (although it happens to people that the characters may know – ie. a relative, a teacher or loved one).

And I suppose in comparison to another Shonen Jump series such as “Dragon Ball Z” which did feature a good number of deaths and rebirth, the series used death as a way to shock the viewer.  But I understand that the series is for the most part a show targeted towards a younger demographic in Japan and as I think about it, death to main characters on anime shows are not as prevalent today as it was 15-25 years ago.

If anything, I do enjoy the series and I enjoy the many characters featured in “Bleach”.  Season four may not be as exciting and adrenaline pumping as season 2-3 but it does have its fair share of battles and is quite important in establishing the characters who will play a major part in season 5.

Overall, if you are a big fan of “Bleach” and have been collecting the uncut volumes, then you will definitely want to have “Bleach – Season Four Box Set, Part 2” in your collection.

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