Review by: Ai Kano
Publisher: VIZ Media
MSRP: $49.98 US
Running Time: 400 minutes
Rating: T (Teen)
Release Date: Available Now
Now this is how you do filler episodes.
There were times when I hated filler episodes in my favorite series such as Naruto where the filler story arcs would run way too long and occasionally not adding anything worthwhile to the series. Interestingly enough, this is not so with Bleach as the series enters a new storyline not in the manga yet still good enough to do justice to the series. Part 1 of Bleach’s Season Four Box Set has Ichigo and friends going up against a new kind of threat and, surprisingly enough, this is actually a good way to begin Season Four.
Ichigo, Orihime, Chad and Uryu had entered the Soul Society to rescue their friend Rukia Kuchiki only to find themselves involved in something a lot bigger involving a traitor working against the Soul Reapers. The battle was monumental and, in the end, the outsiders find themselves heroes and Ichigo is given the official title of Substitute Soul Reaper by high-ranking Captains. Heading back to the world of the living with Yoruichi, the four Karakura Town students are back in school and returning to a life of normalcy … that is until Orihime’s dead brother shows up at her door.
It doesn’t take long for Ichigo and the others to realize that something is not right in the world of the living and Orihime turns up missing. Then they’re informed by a giggling little girl that they must play a most dangerous game in order for them to see Orihime again. Chasing the several clues the unknown assailants leave them, Ichigo, Chad and Uryu are clearly being tested but – in the end – this game turns out to be something completely unexpected.
Meanwhile, the Soul Society is on alert when a man is drained of his very soul in Karakura Town. The Squad Captains begin their investigation as Soi Fon is dispatched to meet with Yoruichi. Soi Fon isn’t the only one in the world of the living as Renji Abarai arrives as backup for Ichigo during their little game to save Orihime. Yoruichi and Soi Fon, however, are the ones that discover the identities of the beings that are attacking the living. They’re a race known as Bounts, humans that have gained immortality and live by draining human souls much like a vampire.
With the Bount problem as top priority, Uruhara offers three new Mod Souls (Lirin, Noba and Kurodo) for Ichigo, Chad and Orihime. All three are placed into stuffed animals like Kon was but, most importantly, they were designed to locate Bounts. It is Chad and Orihime who run across a powerful male Bount while Ichigo faces off against a female Bount. The problem is that these Bounts have a secret weapon of their own … Dolls that come to life and have their own distinct power. Fortunately for Ichigo, help comes in the form of none other than Rukia!
While the Bounts battle Ichigo and the others, they sense a Quincy among them and target Uryu despite the fact that he lost his Quincy abilities during Rukia’s rescue. It’s great to see Uryu get a lot more attention in this series as he is not only targeted by two Bounts that use water but also comes to connect with the female Bount named Yoshino. From her we learn how she came to be a Bount but also learn the identity of the leader of their little group … a man named Kariya who has a plan that will have him going up against the Soul Society.
When Uryu and Yoshino are captured by the Bounts, Ichigo launches a rescue with all his friends only to learn that he just doesn’t have what it takes to take on Kariya and even more so when they learn that an ex-Soul Reaper named Maki Ichinose is backing him up. As Yoshino decides to take down Kariya, the battle that is waged doesn’t end they way she expected it to end as the leader of the Bounts pulls off part one of his plans to grow more powerful.
The good news is that The Bount story arc doesn’t skip on all the elements we love about the series as well as a number of fun extras such as the little look into the life of Soul Reapers that is much like the funny extras between chapters. It’s also great to see Rukia by Ichigo’s side again and even better when she goes all girly at the sight of the rabbit Mod Soul. Speaking of the Mod Souls, the trio is actually likeable and it’s certainly great to see that we’ll be seeing more of them in the future. There are two other recognizable characters that show up in Part 1 as well in the world of the living.
The Box Set for Part 1 of Season Four of Bleach is surprisingly entertaining for a filler story arc and that’s high praise right there. With enemies that aren’t just slapped together to make the storyline interesting, there’s certainly a lot to love if you’re a dedicated or even casual Bleach fan. This is just proof that Bleach is a series that earns its hype.
DVD REVIEW BREAKDOWN
Having rescued Rukia in the Soul Society, Ichigo and his friends return to the world of the living where they find themselves going up against a new threat called the Bounts. Even with new allies, the enemy threatens the world of the living as well as one of their own who takes a personal interest in a Bount.
VIDEO QUALITY: A
Bleach is definitely the kind of show you should definitely see on DVD and thankfully VIZ Media does a great job of bring us the best picture quality.
AUDIO QUALITY: A+
The cast, whether we’re talking about the original Japanese voices or the English dub, is still on the top of their game. The opening and closing songs are actually wonderfully memorable such as “My Pace” by Sun Set Swish or “Tonight Tonight Tonight” by Beat Crusaders.
The trailers are the same for each of the four DVDs but the best feature comes in the form of the cast interview with Julie Ann Taylor (who voices Lirin), Dorothy Fahn (who voices Yoshino) and Sam Regal (as the voice of Ichinose) that’s actually worthwhile to watch if you’re interested in voice acting. There’s also production art and a clean ending theme song.
Seldom do filler episodes make for smashing entertainment that’s as good as the main story arcs of a long running series like this one but Bleach definitely makes it work. Part 1 of the Bount story arc of Season Four of Bleach is actually loads of fun to watch. While it isn’t as involving as the main storylines, this box set will not fail to show Bleach fans a good time.