We get to the 100th episode, and beyond, in Bleach - Season 5: The Assault from Viz. This collection has Ichigo and his allies traveling to the Soul Society once more to protect it from the Bounts, being of incredible power who are plotting to destroy the Sereitei. The storyline is wrapped up in this collection and not a moment too soon.
I usually include a section on the background of an anime series, but since this is covering the end of the fourth season, I assume everyone who is reading this pretty much knows who Ichigo is, what a Soul Reaper does, and just who and what the Soul Society is. If not, check out my reviews of the earlier seasons here.
This collection: In the first part of season four we were introduced to the Bounts, near immortal humans with special powers that live off of consuming human souls. That season revolved around the leader of the Bounts, Kariya, plot to capture a
Even after travelling to the Soul Society however, Kariya and the Bounts need to get into the inner fortress, the Sereitei, where all of the leaders of the Society reside. To achieve this end they head towards the most crime-ridden area of the Society, Rukongai. They recruit the lower class citizens and use them to help open the giant gates of the Sereitei, promising equality for all after the Society falls. Of course they double cross these poor wretches, abandoning them after they've entered the fortress, thanks in part to a diversion that destroys several buildings.
The 13 squads fan out to capture the intruders, but the Bounts are not that easily conquered. Each one of them can easily take on a whole squad, and they're even a match for a squad captain. It turns out that the Soul Society is permeated with energy that the Bounts can tap at will to heal themselves, making them virtually invincible.
The Bounts split up, dividing the defending forces. While his comrades are fighting the Captains, Kariya has a chance to accomplish his real mission: to obtain a Bount crest, the Jōkaishō. With this powerful item, Kariya has the power to destroy the whole Sereitei, and that's exactly what he plans to do if Ichigo can't stop him.
This season, like the previous one, wasn't adapted from the Bleach manga as the first three seasons were, and it shows. This story line didn't have the punch that the earlier ones did. Yes, the Bount's doll's were fun weapons for them to wield, but the Bounts themselves weren't really all that unique, as far as villains go. They possessed neither the creativity of the Hollows nor the personalities of the Captains.
Added to that was the plot: a group of people invading the Soul Society in order to get something. Isn't that pretty much what happened in seasons two and three? The Bounts even fight the same Captains that Ichigo and company did a couple of seasons back. This whole season had a feeling of been-there-done-that which never really faded.
That's not to say that this season was bad or worthless, it's not. There are some exciting battles and some cool moments. The problem is that the show is just retreading old stories, but those stories were good, so you could do worse.
These next four volumes of the series, containing the episodes 92-109 come in four slimline cases. These in turn are housed in a slipcase.
The set comes with the original Japanese audio track as well as an English dub, both in stereo. I alternated between the two every episode for the first 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 managed to breathe live into the animated characters. While the show would have been enhanced by a multi-track audio option (especially during the fight with the Menos Grande), the stereo audio was fine. There was a little use made of the soundstage, though not as much as I was expecting.
There are optional English subtitles, though they don't translate signs or written text, which was a bit irritating at times.
This show is presented with a full frame image, which looks pretty good. The colors are nice and strong and the blacks are solid. There was a 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 production art galleries. The biggest bonus is an Interactive Squad Roster which allows viewers to select a squad from the Soul Society and then read a page on the Captain and Lieutenant of that squad.
While this season doesn't hit the highs of the first three years of the show, it's still a lot of fun. Aside from a feeling of déjà vu, the season had some fun battles and wrapped up the whole Bount story line in a nice way. Recommendation.