Bleach, The Arrancar 31 – DVD Review

Review by: Kiki Van De Kamp

Publisher: VIZ Media
MSRP: $24.92 US
Running Time: 125 minutes
Genre: Action
Rating: T (Teen)
Release Date: Available Now

As everyone begins to train for the upcoming war, Rangiku takes center stage … finally.

In a series that has run as long as Bleach has and contains a lineup of dozens of colorful characters, there is rarely room to really get to know a secondary character or even give them a spotlight for too long. While Orihime Inou has had her various moments to shine throughout this series, the 31st DVD of Bleach’s The Arrancar arc finally gives another Soul Reaper her moment and thus making for a fun filler story arc in true Bleach tradition.

First, however, the main story continues with Episode 127 as Ichigo and his friends in the World of the Living are preparing for another assault on Karakura Town by Lord Sosuke Aizen’s Arrancar forces. With Ichigo joining his new Visored companions in yet more training, the Soul Society is busy preparing to back them up with all squads on alert. Just about the only one who feels left out is Orihime Inou who watches from the sidelines.

As Orihime walks out of the secret training grounds of Ichigo’s new friends, she finds Yoruichi waiting for her with news that Uruhara wants to see her. She goes right away only to see Chad training vigorously with Renji Abarai. Unfortunately, he didn’t call her over to invite her to the training sessions but rather makes it very loud and clear that she should sit out the upcoming battle against the Arrancars. With her only means of attack, Tsubaki, broken, she would pretty much be useless. Chad does come to her defense telling her Uruhara that she has healing abilities but then again the Soul Society has that covered.

While she understands what Uruhara is saying, Orihime finds herself brokenhearted. She really does want to be a help to her friends. Fortunately, Orihime finds two people who give her hope and the first one happens to be Rukia who doesn’t see eye-to-eye with Uruhara’s advice. The second comes in the form of Ichigo’s new sparring partner, Hiyori, who takes her to meet Hachi … a Visored with powerful healing abilities. With a return of her most powerful weapon and Rukia’s offer, Orihime isn’t quite out of the game.

In the meantime, two members of Squad 10 led by Captain Toshiro Hitsugaya and two members of Squad 11, find themselves adapting to life in the World of the Living. While Ikkaku and Yumichika are staying with Ichigo’s classmate, Keigo Asano, Squad Lieutenant Rangiku Matsumoto is staying with Orihime. In yet another filler story arc, Rangiku finds herself going on an awesome shopping spree until a strange whistle sound is heard and orders that a Hollow has appeared in Karakura Town puts Rangiku in the area. What she discovers is a strange Hollow trying to devour the soul of a boy who flatly refuses help from her.

You see, the boy’s name is Shota Toyokawa and he’s looking for somebody so he is definitely not prepared to move on until he finds said person. In an interesting twist of events, Rangiku takes the role of protector and her insistence in helping Shota is strangely maternal. For a character who has come off as merely a lazy flirt, we get to see Rangiku in a new light that fleshes her out a little more (no pun intended since she loves to show off her, um, plentiful bounty). Long having been just a fan service character, Rangiku taking the spotlight to solve the mystery behind Shota, the strange little girl and the strange Hollow that might turn out to be some king of Arrancar that Aizen is testing is just plain awesome.

Like most Bleach filler story arcs, Rangiku and Shota’s story is a good one that might lack the meaty substance of the main story but still manages to be entertaining nonetheless. As I mentioned, there are some interesting twist of events when a little girl is introduced and we get to see the Soul Society’s Research and Development Department at work as they try to investigate the mystery behind the “Arrancar” and its many clones. Why are they after Shota and what is his connection to the little girl? These are questions that will be answered in the next DVD set.

The main story takes a break after an eventful incident that occurs to Orihime who wants to aid her friends in the upcoming battle but Bleach, 31, will be better remembered for Rangiku’s moment to finally shine. Sure, it’s a filler story but one of the many things we love about Bleach is the fact that even secondary characters get a chance to let their story be seen. This is one you will definitely want to see.

DVD REVIEW BREAKDOWN

MOVIE/EPISODES: B+
As everyone in the World of the Living as well as the Soul Society begins to train to face off against Aizen’s Arrancars, Orihime gets some bad news from Uruhara himself. However, an interesting turn of events gives her hope. Meanwhile, Rangiku comes to save the soul of a boy who is connected to a new kind of Arrancar.

VIDEO QUALITY: A
The video quality remains consistently the same and that’s a very good thing seeing as Bleach looks the best on DVD. The animation in the series has always been true to Tite Kubo’s character designs but more so in this new season.

AUDIO QUALITY: A+
Thanks to some talented voice actors for both the original Japanese language track and the English dub, the performances are still top notch. The score remains the same and that’s no complaint and we absolutely cannot get enough of the opening theme song “Alones” from Aqua Timez. Count this as yet another awesome opening track for this series.

EXTRAS: D
There’s a Production Art feature with a few sketches for the episodes including what the new Arrancar design. There are a few trailers as well but nothing else in this set.

OVERALL: B+
There’s just one episode here that pushes The Arrancar story arc forward but the filler episodes about Rangiku is surprisingly fun to watch and thus making Bleach, 31 a worthwhile five episodes you definitely should check out. 

Review copy provided by VIZ Media

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