Entering its fourth season, Bleach takes a small dip
in quality. The show is still fun, but the
that make up Season Four Part One don't
have quite the intensity that the earlier seasons did.
That's not to say the show has lost its way
or is bad, it's not. There are still some
exciting action scenes and the series expands nicely with the
introduction of a
new class of villains, the Bounts. In
any case this is a set that fans of the show will want to pick up.
Background: Ichigo Kurosaki is not your average
kid. Sure, he goes to high school like other kids his age, and he
his father out at the medical clinic that his family runs, but Ichigo
something most people can't: He can see ghosts. It isn't
freaky; it's just something that he's learned to live with.
One day he spots a girl, Rukia Kuchiki, that he assumes is a
ghost, but she isn't. She's a 'Soul Reaper', someone who helps
people pass on to the other side. In addition to that, Soul
Hollows, spirits that weren't been able to pass on and have
into monsters who feed on people's souls.
While talking to Ichigo, Rukia is attacked by a Hollow and
wounded badly. Knowing that Ichigo won't stand a chance
evil monster, she transfers some of her power to the young man.
that's what she tries to do. For some reason he absorbs all of
power. With his new-found abilities he's able to easily defeat
Hollow, but afterwards he's not able to give Rukia her powers
her powers Rukia isn't able to return home either, to the Soul
So it's up Ichigo to do her job and hunt down Hollows before they can
Over the course of the first season Ichigo discovers some of
his friends have special abilities too, like Orihime Inoue who can
six small spirits that each has a different ability and that live in
pins. Chad is a tall muscular kid Ichigo's age who looks
is meek and mild in temperament but can channel great power. Then
Ishida, a quiet studious person who is secretly the last Quincy, a race
priest who also hunt hollow and have a deep hatred of Soul Reapers.
Season Four: After the season-spanning adventure
in the Soul Society, Ichigo and company have returned back to Earth
things seem pretty normal. Everyone
still has classes to go to and they're looking forward to some nice
after the events in the preceding seasons.
The only major change is that addition of Soul Reaper Lieutenant
Abarai to the cast of characters. He's
been assigned to Earth and Ichigo announces that he's his cousin, which
him a reason to hang around.
Things don't stay quiet for long. One
evening Orihime gets a visit from her
brother, her dead brother, who summons a giant gate and pushes her
into another dimension. This starts a
series of games between a mysterious voice on the phone and Ichigo and
friends. The voice gives Ichigo
increasingly difficult tasks to do if they want to keep Orihime, and
others that are caught, from being killed.
These cat-and-mouse games last are only the preface to the
main conflict this season however. After
solving that mystery an even more dangerous menace appears: The Bounts.
These are near immortal human with special powers that live off
consuming human souls. The leader of the
Bounts has a plan that revolves around finding a Quincy.
Of course Ishida is the last of that race,
but he lost his powers while fighting in the Soul Society so he can't
himself. His friends rush to his defense
of course, but the Bounts are so powerful that even the substitute Soul
powers that Ichigo possesses may not be enough to save Ishida.
While I enjoyed this set overall, there were a couple of
things that I didn't like about it. The
cat-and-mouse games that started the season off weren't that exciting,
especially when compared to the large scale adventures they were having
last season. Having Ichigo trapped in a
maze or having to deduce which one of his friends was really an
create the same spectacle as taking on Captains of the Soul Society. It seemed like a come down immediately after
such a great adventure. The resolution
of that plot was also pretty weak and a bit disappointing.
The other thing that had me rolling my eyes were the
addition of three new characters: Lirin,
Noba, and Kurōdo. These are modsouls,
like Kon. They too are housed in cutesy
stuffed animals and while they sometimes serve a useful purpose end up
comic relief most of the time. The show
didn't really need scenes of a stuffed bird arguing with a teddy bear,
what we get this season, in spades.
Despite that the program starts to get better when the Bount
storyline develops. These villains have
a unique history and some very impressive abilities that result in some
battles. I especially enjoyed the fight
in the hospital between Ichico and company and a pair of kids who could
water. Everything in this set is uphill
These next four volumes of the series, containing 16 episodes, come in
quartet of slimline cases, which is different than the previous
releases. These four cases come in a
The set comes with the original Japanese audio track as well as an
both in stereo. I alternated between the two every episode for
couple of discs, and finally settled on the Japanese track which was
just a tad
more natural sounding. The English actors did a good job, and
breathe live into the animated characters. While the show would
enhanced by a multi-track audio option (especially during the fight
Menos Grande), the stereo audio was fine. There was a little use
the soundstage, though not as much as I was expecting.
There are optional English subtitles, though they don't translate signs
written text, which was a bit irritating at times.
This show is presented with a full frame image, which looks pretty
The colors are nice and strong and the blacks are solid. There
little banding in some scenes, and there was a bit more aliasing than I
remember in previous collections.
Otherwise the picture looks fine.
Not much of the way of extras this time around.
There's a clean opening and closing animation as well as some
art galleries. The biggest bonus is a
behind the scenes featurette that runs nearly 10 mintues.
They spend the time talking with the English
After the high standard set by the first three seasons of this show,
doesn't quite make the grade. It's still
a good set, just a bit of a letdown after the previous season. The addition of the three new modsouls wasn't
a high point of the series either.
Having said that, this set is still recommended. The show really picks up in the second half,
and the Bounts are a group of villains that are interesting as well as