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|Average Rating: 1.50|
Sarah scored this with 7/10. Disagree?
The position of Captain of the Third Court Guard Squad has been vacant since Gin Ichimaru turned traitor and left the Soul Society to follow Sōsuke Aizen. So when the name of Shūsuke Amagai is revealed as the new captain, all the members – and especially Lieutenant Izuru Kira (who has been acting captain) are understandably resistant (or, in Izuru’s case, more than a little apprehensive) as to what kind of man has been appointed to command them. By the time that Captain Amagai arrives, with a bespectacled stranger whom he introduces as his Third Seat, Makoto Kibune, the squad are determined to find out exactly what kind of men they are.
Meanwhile, in the world of the living, Ichigo and Rukia are mystified by the sudden appearance of three individuals – a young girl and two retainers – who have fled the Soul Society and are trying to conceal their identities, even to the point of moving in next door to the Kurosawa household and attending high school. The imperious young girl declares that she is a princess – but takes a liking to Ichigo when he refuses to be impressed by her high and mighty airs, much to the horror of her two faithful retainers Kenryū and Enryū. It appears that Princess Rurichiyo is heiress to the prestigious Kasumiōji Clan but her life is in danger because of the machinations of her guardian Gyokaku Kumoi, and sure enough, vicious assassins soon appear in Karakura Town to attack Rurichiyo. So it’s Ichigo and friends to the rescue to defend the princess! Yet there’s more (ah, there’s always more) behind the threat to the princess’s life than even Kenryū and Enryū have anticipated. The appearance of a band of four assassins, wielding bakōtō, lethal weapons that draw on the wielder’s life force to increase their powers, means that Ichigo, Rukia, Chad and Uryū have to go all out to try to protect the little princess.
Whoa! A filler arc – and it’s good?! Can this really be Bleach? Well, yes, it is – and, Season 9 has proved thus far to be a pleasant surprise. First of all because the show has been well-constructed on the script front, resulting in a much more involving experience for the viewer (as long as you can take it on trust that this particular arc somehow happens before the abduction of Orihime and the resulting unpleasantness depicted in Seasons 7 and 8.) Then there’s the superior character design and animation, both of which utilize the good examples displayed in the first three films. There are almost none of those dreaded ‘oops, we ran out of money’ animation moments which have dogged earlier seasons (and every other long-running shounen series out there.) The fights are exciting to watch and don’t fall back on repetitive sequences. So, it’s nice to be a little spoiled by Studio Pierrot after too many earlier disappointing filler episodes.
The chic new discs look good and the menus are easy to use; the only extras, however are clean Opening and Ending sequences. One little treat from all the previous Bleach episodes is missing: there’s no ‘Illustrated Guide to Soul Reapers;’ each episode concludes with the final credits*. Annoyingly (for some, I guess) the narrator’s résumé of what happened previously, still occurs at the beginning of each episode. (There’s also a new eyecatch.) The eighth Opening is ‘CHU-BURA’ by Kelun and accompanies a fun sequence that starts with a cloudburst of trainers as Ichigo and friends race barefoot along the seashore through the incoming tide. Ending (#15) is ‘Orange’ by Lil’B, the catchy ska-based song briefly previewed in Part 2 of Season Eight, and for me, at any rate, one of the better ending songs.
The usual casts reprise their roles with élan in the original Japanese and the sparky English duband both Reiko Takagi and Eden Riegel make Rurichiyo a sympathetic, complex figure, not just a ‘spoiled brat’ (check out the tea party scene which reminded me just a little - and in a good way - of Sakura and Tomoya in ‘Cardcaptor Sakura.’)
The first part of Season 9 is genuinely entertaining, whilst remaining true to the spirit of Bleach. It’s lively, it’s exciting – yet it’s still Bleach. Recommended, especially if you, like me, were beginning to flag during some of the more predictable battles of the Arrancar arc. Why not give it a try - even if you're allergic to filler?
*Stop Press! It seems that these omake were left out because Kazé used the TV episodes (which had been shorn of extraneous material) for these discs - the alternative was, apparently, a delayed release.
Screenshots (click to pop out)
|Score:||7 out of 10|
|Date Published:||Sun, 1 Jul 2012|
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