Bleach, The Hueco Mundo 32 – DVD Review

Review by: Faith McAdams

Publisher: VIZ Media
MSRP: $24.92 US
Running Time: 100 minutes
Genre: Action
Rating: T (Teen)
Release Date: Available Now

Meet Kon … superhero, babysitter and Hollow fighter.

When it comes to filler episodes, Bleach fans already know what to expect and while other series make filler episodes feel like unnecessary side trips, Bleach manages to make them truly enjoyable and actually memorable enough to be good distractions before the series jumps back to the main story. The same can be said about The Hueco Mundo 32 as Bleach offers four different and entertaining stories.

With a few Soul Reapers staying in the World of the Living to battle Lord Aizen’s Arrancars, how can the series not make use of these characters? So far, we’ve seen a different side to Rangiku Matsumoto in the last DVD and now we get a little more of Toshiro Hitsugaya, Ikkaku Madarame, Yumichika Ayasegawa and even the loveable Kon. Oh, and there’s a short surprise visit from another returning character who has come to the World of the Living before during a lengthy filler story arc.

The first episode finds Ichigo Kurosaki’s tomboyish sister, Karin, heading for soccer practice when she runs into a handsome mysterious kid with white hair. Despite knowing that his brother is a Soul Reaper and is currently sharing a room with Rukia Kuchiki, she’s never met any other Soul Reapers so she does not that this boy with obvious soccer skills is none other than Squad 10’s Captain, Toshiro Hitsugaya.

When Junior High school bullies refuse to give up the field even though Karin and her friends had reserved it for a certain hour, she is the only one who defiantly challenges them. As a result, the older kids issue a challenge that if they win a soccer match with them they could use the field to practice even when its their turn. If they lose, on the other hand, she and the others will be eating grass off the field. So Karin goes looking for Toshiro and tries to convince him to help them win the match. Of course, with Hollows in the area, Captain Hitsugaya might not have time to help her.

In another episode, Ichigo’s classmate, Keigo Asano, finds his sister Mizuho upset that most of the boys in her Kendo team have been soundly beaten in an ambush instigated by their rivals at Kotei Academy. Since she’s madly in love with him, she asks Ikkaku to help train the underclassmen and he takes on the challenge. Hilariously enough, he pushes the underclassmen in a brutal Soul Reaper-like training until all that is left is an eager student joining Ikkaku, Captain Hitsugaya and Rangiku in the tournament.

Meanwhile, the Research and Development department in the Soul Society wants somebody to go to the World of the Living to do a little more research on the Espadas. The only one willing to go is the young subordinate named Rin Tsubokura who is more eager to go just to taste the sweets. He is accompanied by a familiar face, Hanataro Yamada, who has just recently visited Ichigo and the others during The Bount story arc. Instead of research, however, the pair – along with Yumichika – encounter a bound spirit of a pastry chef who refuses to move on until his mother tastes one of his cakes. So all three decided to help bake a cake per the chef’ instructions to present it to his mother.

Finally, Kon decides to pay Rangiku a visit because he’s crazy about girls and big boobs only to witness a little girl falling into the river. Deciding to be a hero, Kon jumps in to save her only to find out that the girl jumped in to save her favorite stuffed animal … her only true friend. So jumping into the plush body of the girl’s toy, Kon discovers the girl’s story and comes to her aid again when a visit to her old home brings forth a dangerous Hollow.

With the exception of the first episode on the disc, the other three simply go for the laughs and succeeds … especially the episode with Ikkaku. It’s clear that Ikkaku and Mizuho are a match made in Hell and his crazy training techniques as well as his enthusiasm will not fail to make you laugh. There’s even something funny about Kon being a babysitter and protector is funny as well as watching the three pastry chefs-in-training testing out their cakes on poor Chad and Renji.

Bleach is already well-known for doing filler episodes right and, as we can see from Bleach, The Hueco Mundo 32, some of these filler can also be loads of fun to watch. Whether its watching Captain Hitsugaya playing soccer or Ikkaku leading a Kendo team, these four episodes might not have anything to do with the central story but do not fail to entertain or make you smile and that’s enough for me.

DVD REVIEW BREAKDOWN

MOVIE/EPISODES: B
In need of another soccer player that will help her take on a group of bullies hogging the soccer field, Ichigo’s sister, Karin, meets Captain Hitsugaya and tries to get him on her team. Meanwhile, Keigo Asano’s sister talks Ikkaku into training her Kendo team and ends up participating in the tournament. Then, a Soul Reaper from the Research and Development Department ends up in the World of the Living and there’s a story where Kon helps a little girl go up against a Hollow.

VIDEO QUALITY: A
Bleach looks really good on DVD so even if you’ve seen these episodes before on the web or Adult Swim you really are missing out on the crisp quality you get on DVD. On the animation side, Ikkaku’s episode is, visually speaking, pure comedy gold.

AUDIO QUALITY: A+
Those who are familiar with Bleach know that the series has some of the best opening and closing theme songs (“Daidai” performed by Chatmonchy being one of my favorites) as well as great score. The voice acting continues to be excellent as well on both the Japanese and English dub side.

EXTRAS: D
There’s not much in terms of extras but at least the disc includes some Production Art stills and the clean opening and closing tracks.

OVERALL: B
Bleach, The Hueco Mundo 32 DVD is all filler and no main story but that doesn’t mean you won’t have a blast and a laugh with the four episodes featured here. Casting the spotlight on another set of Soul Reapers, the episodes inject some lighthearted fun into their stories. Bleach fans definitely shouldn’t miss this DVD or these episodes.

Review copy provided by VIZ Media

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