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Bleach Season 7 #1 PDF Print E-mail
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R2 DVD Reviews
Wednesday, 16 November 2011 00:00
BleachBleach is back, but noticeably without Ichigo and co for a sizeable chunk of the set. They're off doing training, and we've seen quite enough of that already since the Vizored arrived. Instead, there's filler - and a rather badly thought out coup attempt amongst the Arrancar...

There are eleven episodes in this set - numbers 132-142 - and the first four of those are unashamed filler. Now I know that filler has most fans of Bleach and other Shounen Jump shows ready to pull their hair out, buy as stated before I don't really mind filler eps - especially when, as here, the preceding arc has been all fighting and not much else. So with Ichigo's sister Karin; Asano & his kookie sister; Kon; and two new arrivals from the Soul Society all getting the screentime to have a little fun, you'll get no complaints from me. The stories on offer range from the heartwarming to the comic, and with each one also featuring a Hollow to defeat there's still some action to keep the adrenaline junkies going, too. Not too bad of a start, then.

Episode 136, though, sees us get back to the Arrancar, when Patros and his two subordinates steal the Orb of Distortion, the first step in their plan to overthrow Aizen, who they're unwilling to continue taking orders from Aizen - working for a Soul Reaper really doesn't appeal to them. It's Patros' plan to use the Orb of Distortion to take control of the world of the living, but since he doesn't actually know how to make use of the Orb, he pays a visit to someone who does - Urahara. Meanwhile, Ulquiorra seems to have spotted some potential in Orihime that no-one else has and, seeing her as a danger to the Arrancar plans, takes steps to get her out of the picture...

The Arrancar arc for me has so far been one long passage of Meh. I don't particularly like Aizen as a villain, and the general attitude of the other Arrancar annoys me no end. Patros' efforts to overthrow Aizen play to both those issues - he's a arrogant S.O.B., with little in the way of redeeming features, so why should I care who wins the 'war' between him and Aizen? And when Aizen of course pulls a plan out of nowhere, once again, to thwart Patros' plans, it's some completely unsurprising that I didn't really see the point of the whole sideshow. Which curiously, the Soul Society characters in-show also comment on. Nice to know I'm not alone on that front.

Also disappointing is the almost complete absence of the Vizored from this set. They've been built up over recent episodes into this huge grey area, neither friend nor foe to Ichigo, and some of them are genuinely curious characters that I'd like to see more of, but across the set we get maybe five minutes total of them. That feels like a wasted opportunity to me, and a damned shame at that.

But there is good stuff here, too, mainly in the form of Orihime's 'abduction' by Ulquiorra. She goes with him by her own choice, a decision made to protect her friends, but the scenes where she's saying goodbye to the world around her, on the assumption that she's not going to see it again ("goodbye, halcyon days...") is surprisingly emotional and powerful stuff by Bleach standards, particularly when she gets around to Ichigo. If it wasn't clear before exactly how she felt about him, it is now. It's not the sort of scene I would usually expect from this series, but now that it's shown itself capable of doing emotion (other than RAAAAGE I Must Get Stronger!!), damnit, I want it to do more. Chances of that happening? Probably zero.

But a change is as good as a rest, they say, and that little change in how Orihime is presented goes a long way to making this volume of Bleach a more appealing prospect than it would otherwise have been. Add in a decent amount of fighting (not my favourite aspect of the series, but ultimately what most people are watching it for) and some half-decent filler episodes, and the overall packing is above average, by the show's usual standards. Of course, anyone who's stuck with a series for over 130 episodes isn't likely to still be making up their mind about it, so recommending buy / don't buy seems a bit pointless. For what it's worth, though, worth seeing.

Rating - ***