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Bleach Uncut Box Set, Vol. 3: The Rescue
VIZ // Unrated // July 7, 2009
List Price: $69.98 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
There are several anime shows that are just fun to watch. They might not be as deep or as dramatic as the some of the biggest anime titles, but they are the shows where you pop in a DVD, hit 'play', and the next thing you know you've sat through 4 or 5 episodes and are yearning for the next one. Bleach is one of those fun, light shows, and fans of the action series will want to pick up Bleach Season Three: The Rescue. In this collection of 22 episodes, Ichigo and his friends continue their storming of the Soul Society in order to rescue Rukia who is scheduled for execution. With some exciting battles along with a fair amount of character development this set is another winner.
Background: Ichigo Kurosaki is not your average kid. Sure, he goes to high school like other kids his age, and he helps his father out at the medical clinic that his family runs, but Ichigo can do something most people can't: He can see ghosts. It isn't scary or 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 dead people pass on to the other side. In addition to that, Soul Reapers fight Hollows, spirits that weren't been able to pass on and have subsequently turned 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 against the evil monster, she transfers some of her power to the young man. At least that's what she tries to do. For some reason he absorbs all of her power. With his new-found abilities he's able to easily defeat the Hollow, but afterwards he's not able to give Rukia her powers back. Without her powers Rukia isn't able to return home either, to the Soul Society. So it's up Ichigo to do her job and hunt down Hollows before they can hunt anyone.
Over the course of the first season Ichigo discovers some of his friends have special abilities too, like Orihime Inoue who can summon forth six small spirits that each has a different ability and that live in her hair pins.
Season Two centers around what happens to Rukia. When she gave her powers to Ichigo, Rukia was actually breaking the law. Eventually other Soul Reapers show up and take her back to the Soul Society where she is sentenced to be executed. Ichigo and his friends aren't about to take that lying down, and so they find a way to cross over and invade the Society.
Season Three: Things weren't looking good at the end of season two, with most of Ichigo's group ending up captured and/or wounded. But not everyone in the Soul Society agrees with the decision to execute Rukia, and with there are questions about why the sentence keeps being pushed forward. Some parties speculate that there is something else going on behind the scenes and that Rukia is just a pawn in a much bigger game.
Among the main supporting characters, Ishida goes through the most drastic changes in this season. He encounters Makizō Aramaki, the captain of Division Eleven who uses a unique poison to paralyze the young
Instead of risking capture, Ishida takes off his sanrei glove, an act that greatly increases his powers, but at a terrible cost: after the battle is finished Ishida will no longer have the powers of a
The treatment of Rukia has also caused the Soul Society to fracture. Among the 13 divisions of soldiers that guard the city, several start to fight each other. Tensions that have been buried for over a century come to a boil and the various guards taking sides. Even if Rukia is rescued, the Soul Reapers may never be the same.
This was another fun season. It was filled with exciting fights, some very interesting abilities that keeps the show fresh, and a good dollop of humor. This is a show aimed at younger boys and so there are a lot of fancy battles, but these are broken up by episodes that focus on a character's background or programs that leave the main narrative to look at what's happening someplace else. These never feel like fillers, just the opposite they often advance the plot more than the main sequence episodes, and they work to flesh out the Bleach Universe.
I won't give away the ending, but suffice to say that this season does wrap up this story line in a most satisfactory way. The last 4 or 5 episodes are the best in the season and answer most of the questions that viewers will have. They could have easily dragged this story line on a lot longer, but I'm really glad that they wrapped it up. It's nice to close a plot every once in a while.
These next five volumes of the series, containing 22 episodes, come in a nice 'book' style case with a page for each DVD. The book itself is housed in an attractive slipcase. Inside the front cover is a pocket that contains two picture postcards.
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.
Each of these five discs comes with a series of production sketches and a clean opening or closing. The final DVD also has a featurette, Kon's U.S. Tour. For this the creators had a guy dress up in a Kon outfit and attend the previews of the first Bleach movie in
This was the best season of Bleach so far. The characters really came into their own, the action was fun, and the story was excellent. If you enjoy shonen anime, this set is a must-buy. Highly recommended.