Bleach, Season Five Box Set – DVD Review

Review by: Eduardo Zacarias

Publisher: VIZ Media
MSRP: $49.95 US
Running Time: 450 minutes
Genre: Action
Rating: T (Teen)
Release Date: Available Now

As the Bounts make their assault on the Seireitei, the real Soul Reaper smack down begins.

Bleach is one of those rare anime series that makes even a really long filler story arc a bearable if not occasionally seriously enjoyable one as well. Why it took two box sets to get to its finale is beyond me but Bleach totally made the Bount story arc work as it ends this saga on a high note before going back to business for the next season. Yeah, you really have to hand it to the writers and animators that make us even love Bleach’s filler episodes.

Season Five ends the Bount story arc that began in the fourth season as it introduced us to a different kind of villains called the Bounts. Led by a determined Bount named Jin Kariya, the Bounts made their mark in Karakura Town and even had the Soul Society send a few Soul Reapers to lend Ichigo Kurosaki a hand. However, Kariya and his followers have managed to gain entrance into the Soul Society itself by using Uruyu Ishida’s Quincy power.

So in the beginning of this fifth season, Kariya and his followers enter the Soul Society on their mission to destroy the Seireitei and all the Soul Reapers that had condemned the Bounts to a life of suffering. All over the Seireitei the Soul Reapers are on alert as Head Captain Yamamoto places Squad 10 Captain Toshiro Hitsugaya in command of heading the security force that will deal with the intruders.

Little do the Soul Reapers know that Ichigo has returned to the Soul Society as well along with his friends and his collection of Mod Souls that will help him locate the Bounts’ whereabouts. They seek a base of operations and find it in the form of Kukaku and Ganju’s unusual home as they decide to split up and find the Bounts before they carry out their plan.

What happens, of course, is each group – be it Ichigo’s group or the Soul Reapers – end up going one-on-one with a Bount. Rukia Kuchiki, for instance, runs into the female Bount Yoshi, only to find herself fighting for survival seeing as her powers are still limited to a few attacks. The battle nearly kills Rukia if it were not for the surprising appearance of a Soul Reaper that you wouldn’t expect jumping in to save Rukia. Not too far away, however, a troubling development arises when Kariya and Koga enter the slums to recruit followers who have always resented the Soul Reapers.

Meanwhile, an angry Captain Byakuya Kuchiki encounters Kariya and battles the Bount in an impressive display of skill and power as the two powerful forces prove that they might be evenly matched. Ichigo joins the battle as well but a bombshell is dropped soon after Kariya and Byakuya leave the battlefield. A woman dressed like a Soul Reaper arrives and she just so happens to look exactly like Yoshino. How could it be since Yoshino is dead?

As it turns out, the woman is a scientist named Rantao that Yoruichi has identified as the creator of the Bounts. Even Uryu, who is still upset over the death of Yoshino, finds Rantao’s resemblance to the dead Bount as something significant. As it turns out, though, Rantao used herself in creating a Bount and in creating them she ended up an exile and her creations erased from the files in the Department of Research & Development. Hence the fact that all the other Soul Reapers know very little about them.

In the meantime, the Bounts manage to slip through the defense that Captain Hitsugaya had set up and thus failing to protect his men, the Rukon District and the gate to the Seireitei itself. It is Captain Mayuri Kurotsuchi who discovers how the ex-Soul Reaper Ichonose entered the Soul Society so freely and the fact that they tricked him into giving Uryu a trinket that would temporarily awaken his Quincy powers.

With the Bounts inside the Sereitei, though, the real battle begins as Soul Reapers clash with Bounts. In one battle, Soi Fon goes up against Mabashi who thinks he has the drop on her in one of the more exciting battles. In another battle, Captain Zaraki shows up to fight Ichinose. Not too far away, Captain Mayuri runs into the elderly-looking Bount named Sawatari. I won’t get into what happens but the fights are intense and the loser of each battle ends up dead.

Oh but the best parts come towards the end as Kariya reveals he is after a special artifact known as the Jokai Crest and with it he has the means to destroy the Soul Society itself. So driven by his need for revenge that he even turns on his most trusted friend. In the end, Ichigo ends up fighting Kariya in a last showdown. The fifth season has everything you can ask for in a season of Bleach including plenty of great fights, genuinely funny moments and – in the case of Kariya – villains with a true purpose.

Season Five of Bleach is a worthy finale to the Bount story arc and doesn’t disappoint in the very least when it comes to the battles and the enemy’s real motivation. Sure, it was a lengthy tale but when Bleach gets to the finale it never fails to deliver a high-energy and occasionally even compelling finish worthy of Tite Kubo’s work. Bleach fans definitely need this among their collection.

DVD REVIEW BREAKDOWN

MOVIE/EPISODES: B+
With Jin Kariya and his remaining Bount followers managing to enter the Soul Society, all Soul Reapers in the Seireitei go on alert to stop the intruders. Meanwhile, Ichigo and his friends arrive as well to lend a hand as they – as well as the Soul Reapers – face off against the Bounts in a final battle as they discover Kariya’s true intentions.

VIDEO QUALITY: A
The battles against the Bounts have been amazing when they were in the world of the living but, in the Soul Society with the rest of the Soul Reapers, the Bount battles become even more spectacular. A collection of episodes where Captains Byakuya Kuchiki, Soi Fon and Mayuri Kurotsuchi show their stuff off against the enemy is reason enough to love this fifth season.

AUDIO QUALITY: A+
Once again, the voice acting is top notch no matter your preference and the score is still downright exciting. The opening songs like “Rolling Star” and “Tonight Tonight Tonight” are yet another pair of awesome tunes you can add to the list of amazing Bleach theme songs. On a side note, the closing theme song “Baby, It’s You” by Jun is just one of many Bleach songs played often in this office

EXTRAS: B
Each disc comes complete with Production Art as well as clean opening and closing theme songs but the fourth disc comes with an interactive guide to the 13 Court Guard Squads by listing each Captain and their Lieutenants. This is for anyone who always wanted to know each Captain and Lieutenant’s stats as well as the name of their Zanpakuto.

OVERALL: B+
The finale to the Bount saga makes the Season Five Box Set of Bleach a spectacular end that has all the right stuff that made us Bleach fans in the first place. Bringing the fight to the Soul Society means we get to see many of our favorite Soul Reaper characters join the battle and thus making this an exciting and fitting close to a lengthy story arc.

Review copy provided by VIZ Media

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