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|Average Rating: 8.20|
Sarah scored this with 9/10. Disagree?
Bleach Season 3 Part 02 Episodes 54-63
'Taking On the Afterlife, One Soul At a Time'
As episode 54 begins, it looks as if all Ichigo’s efforts will have been for nothing. Rukia’s execution has been brought forward and the captains of the Soul Society are assembling beneath the Sokyoku to see justice done. But a revolution is about to break out. pitting Soul Reaper against Soul Reaper, as the darkness simmering at the heart of the ancient organization begins to seep out...
The climax of these episodes is the epic confrontation between Ichigo and the terrifyingly self-controlled Byakuya Kuchiki, Rukia’s cold-hearted brother, who puts family honour so far above his personal feelings as to appear a complete monster. Their last encounter ended badly for Ichigo. The nail-biting questions underlying this encounter are: has Ichigo managed to achieve bankai, the technique he needs to? And, even if he has (in a neat way to up the suspense, we are kept in the dark) will it be enough to defeat Byakuya’s immense spiritual pressure and mastery?
These episodes at last reveal exactly what has been going on behind closed doors in the Soul Society. There is bitter betrayal here, treachery, and heartbreak, all leavened by ‘Bleach’s’ trademark off-the-wall humour – and even if Tite Kubo concludes this story arc in the traditional shonen way by setting up an even greater confrontation to come, most of the issues raised in Seasons 2 and 3 are resolved very satisfactorily. And how many shonen anime series can one say that about? (‘Fess up, ‘Naruto’ and ‘One Piece,’ you know what I’m referring to, don’t you?)
In converting this series into an anime, director Noriyuki Abe and his team did just about everything right. They preserved Tite Kubo’s striking character designs, they deftly juggled the many storylines and protagonists (no mean feat, that!) they presented us with dazzling duels, stylishly orchestrated, and, even if there were a few times in Season 1 when the Soul Reaper v.Hollows set-up didn’t always convince, by the time Tite Kubo introduced the Zanpakuto mythos and sent Ichigo to the Soul Society in search of Rukia, the story came vividly to life. In Ichigo Kurosaki, Tite Kubo has created a likeable, believable hero. He’s not perfect. (Neither do I believe that he’s fifteen. Fifteen going on twenty-one, maybe…) But he has that dogged, determined shonen vibe, tempered by a dry sense of humour that’s just right for carrying a series of this ambition. Amongst the captains and lieutenants, you’re bound to find your own particular favourites, whether it’s the pneumatically well-endowed Rangiku, or moody young Captain Hitsugaya, or consumptive Captain Ukitake… so many to choose from.
‘Bleach’ the manga has sometimes been criticized as a triumph of style over substance. That may be so to a certain extent, but the creative team have managed to preserve all that’s good in Tite Kubo’s original work while not losing sight of what lies beneath the surface. It always looks good! As a bonus, we get to know more about Soi Fon and her relationship with Yoruichi and at last learn something of Byakuya’s true feelings toward his adopted sister, Rukia. Rather than holding up the action, these revealing moments are woven seamlessly into the drama, making us care about characters who could, in less experienced hands, have stayed mere stereotypes.
Viz Media have done a polished job in producing the English version of ‘Bleach;’ the voice actors are an experienced team and produce some memorable characterizations that stand up well to the Japanese originals: as well as Johnny Yong Bosch’s convincing portrayal of Ichigo, particularly effective are Jamieson Price (Diethard in ‘Code Geass’) as Chad, David Lodge (Jiraiya in ‘Naruto’) as barking mad Kenpachi Zaraki, and the wonderful Wendee Lee as Yoruichi.
Just a few of the things I love about ‘Bleach’: its visual style; its breathtaking élan; its humour; its atmospheric electronic score by Shirou Sagisu (yes, it’s repetitive, but meaningfully so)… By now, you’re getting the picture: I’m a fan.
A nail-biting, satisfying conclusion, packed with swashbuckling duels. There are some truly startling revelations to be found in these episodes. The dramatic tension is handled extremely well, so that once you’ve started watching, you’ll not want to stop until you reach the end of the set.
Screenshots (click to pop out)
|Score:||9 out of 10|
|Date Published:||Mon, 25 Jan 2010|