Anime DVD Review: Bleach DVD Set 15

Bleach DVD Set 15 is a three disc set that contains Episodes 218-229 of the Bleach anime series. Each disc in the set includes four episodes and bonus features, and the episodes can be watched with either the English dub or with the original Japanese audio with English subtitles.

Bleach DVD Set 15
English Publisher: VIZ Media
Format: DVD
Release Date: December 11, 2012

The first nine episodes in this set focus on the battle between the Soul Reapers and the Fraccions in the fake Karakura Town. Over the course of these nine episodes, we see battles that feature Yumichika, Kira, Izuru, Hisagi, Komamura, Soi Fong, Omaeda, Kyoraku, Ukitake, and Matsumoto. Matsumoto’s battle even includes a surprise appearance by a character that we haven’t seen for a while in the series.

Is it just me, or do Kubo’s designs for the Arrancar and the Fraccions make them look like the freakiest villains up to this point in the story? It almost seems like Kubo keeps challenging himself to up the ante in how freaky the villains look with each new story arc. One of the freakiest things I saw in this set was when the three female Fraccions merged their left arms into a giant, grotesque and stupid creature named Ayon.

These nine episodes feature a lot of action due to all of the battles going on, but the pacing for the overall arc in this set is slow, due to how much recap is utilized at the beginning of each episode to help stretch out this section of the story. Closer to the end, it became even worse when Ichigo suddenly starts narrating an additional recap at the beginning that goes all the way back to when he first met Rukia at the beginning of the series! With the way this recap was done, it wouldn’t be of use to anyone just starting out in the series at this point, so it felt rather pointless. It definitely felt like this was added in order to have another way to make the battle in the fake Karakura Town last longer and hopefully not catch up to the manga source material too quickly. The worst, though, was in Episode 226, when the recap runs for nearly five-and-a-half minutes! This particular arc would have been more enjoyable if it could have been animated with a more natural pacing.

Right at the end of Episode 226, the story finally returns to Hueco Mundo, where we get to see Ichigo and Ulquiorra clashing swords. As this battle is just getting started, the episode ends… but then in the preview, it’s revealed that the canon story is taking a break at this point in order to focus on filler episodes. Ugh! This is the second time the anime teased the audience with the beginning of a major battle and then switched to filler episodes. I was upset enough when this trick was used the first time, so I was rather unhappy to discover that this trick was used a second time.

This set includes a total of three filler episodes to finish it off, all of which either serve as a prologue for the story or take the viewer back in time to somewhere within the actual series continuity. Of the three filler episodes, the first one is the only one that’s truly worth anything.

The first filler episode is set on Ichigo and his classmates’ first day of high school, and we get to see what happened that day. This episode also shows that at the same time in Soul Society, Rukia receives her orders to patrol Karakura Town and Renji receives his promotion to lieutenant of the sixth division. I recognized some of what happened at the school from reading the manga, but the rest, as far as I can tell, was created for this episode. At least this filler shows the pieces falling into place for what was seen in the very first episode of the series, so it feels like it’s actually adding something to the series.

The second filler episode was definitely the worst of the three in this set. I can’t pinpoint exactly where in the series this would have been set, and it simply feels like an excuse for Bleach to be able to have the “beach episode” that a number of anime series seem to have at some point in their run. It also felt like an excuse for the animators to be able to draw many of the female characters in bathing suits in order to provide “fanservice” to the audience. When I finished this episode, it just felt like a pointless waste of time.

The final episode in the set sees Ikkaku and Yumichika being sent to Karakura Town on an assignment to catch a particular Hollow. They need to find a place to stay, and they end up being forced to stay at the home of Ichigo’s classmate, Keigo. Keigo’s older sister Mizuho is all over Ikkaku because she loves men with shaved heads, so Yumichika tries to help Ikkaku out by gluing a wig to his head. I think this was an attempt at a humorous episode, but I didn’t find it as funny as I think I was supposed to. I’ve never been much of a fan of Keigo’s older sister to begin with, so that didn’t help. And I found the overall story to be rather lame and stupid. Both this and the beach episode felt like the anime production crew was struggling to come up with story ideas for filler episodes.

When the series briefly returned to Hueco Mundo, there was one section that bothered me when it came to the animation. It’s a scene where Renji and Chad are in a fight, and both of these characters are animated in a way where it’s obvious that the animators skimped on details. They looked much less defined than usual, and it really bugged me just how noticeable this was. Either they got the C team animators in to animate these two characters, or corners had to be cut due to not having enough time to finish the episode.

Unfortunately, I have to say that Bleach DVD Set 15 wasn’t as enjoyable of a viewing experience as I had hoped it would be. The stretched out canon material, combined with overall unenjoyable filler episodes, made this set more of a chore to watch than usual for me when it comes to the Bleach DVD sets.

When it comes to the DVD itself, the omake continue to be cut off from the end of the episodes and only appear as part of the “Omake” special feature that’s included on each disc. I still hope this will be rectified in one of the future DVD box sets for Bleach. Not only that, but the main menu on each disc continues to be silent. Personally, I have a dislike for silent DVD menus.

Each disc has Production Art, which is line art of the characters that appear in these episodes. All three discs include 10 pages of Production Art on each one.

Each disc also has a “Clean Ending” option in the bonus features. All three discs have the same ending theme included on them. Each disc also has the omake that should have been included with the episodes that appear on the disc.

If you’re a Bleach fan and want to have all the episodes of the series in your anime home video collection, then you need to get a hold of this set. However, if the earlier part of the review didn’t make it clear, this set may not be a very enjoyable viewing experience.

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