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Bleach Season Eight #2 PDF Print E-mail
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R2 DVD Reviews
Monday, 14 May 2012 00:00
Time for another visit to Hueco Mundo, where the battle to free Orihime from the clutches of Aizen and his army of arrancar continues. And, despite a few setbacks, it all seems to be going to plan for Ichigo and friends...

Choose your battle: we have Rukia taking on Aaroneiro, although she's having issues accepting that, despite the person she sees before her, this isn't Kaien she's fighting against; Renji and Ishida versus Szayelaporro, whose cockiness at being able to prevent Renji from using his bankai eventually proves to be his undoing; Ichigo versus first Ulquiorra and then Grimmjow, proving that he's twice the man that the rest of the gang are; and even Orihime getting in on the act, as jealousy over her sudden important to Aizen prompts a rather unpleasant reaction from some of the female arrancar. Oh, and there are a few comedy sidetrips as the arrancar that have aligned themselves with Ichigo and his group have a little fun along the way.

Which pretty much tells you all you need to know about this volume. The plot is described neatly in two words ("rescue Orihime"), and the battles leading up to that goal make up the entire eight episodes in this set. Great if you enjoy the battles, less so if you're looking for something more. Each episode will primarily focus on one of the confrontations mentioned above, with the focus switching from episode to episode until they're all finally resolved, and while there are the usual flirtations with humiliating defeat for the good guys, in typical shounen fashion there's always the remarkable comeback just waiting around the corner. The fights also aren't quite as "epic" in scale as some of the other fighting arcs that Bleach has given us over the past few years, too, with the element of "surprise" in them more often coming in the form of remarkable comebacks from almost certain death to help the bad guys stretch things out for another round than anything else - this volume may well set the record for cases where death clearly wasn't final, and that's a pet hate of mine.

As for anything resembling story... There are a number of flashback scenes dropped into the middle of most of the battles, dealing mainly with Rukia and Renji and with the origins of some of the arrancar. These don't go into a hell of a lot of detail, but do break up the fight sequences into more appetising bite-sized chunks, so they were welcome on that level. What we don't get is any of the "big picture" - Aizen himself barely features, and there's nothing more explained about his ultimate aim of taking Orihime in the first place. It's just left that he's Being Bad - reason enough for the gang to come and give his minions a kicking, but not exactly satisfying for those of us that like a bit more on the plot front.

With all that said, while this volume doesn't really do anything that's different from the first half of this season, I did get a bit more enjoyment out of watching it - don't know if that was down to something in the series or me just being in more of the "right sort of mood" for watching it, but whatever it was it made a difference. Bleach can be a lot better than this, when it puts its mind to it, but it can also be a lot worse, so there's reason to be thankful. Glad the arc appears to be over, though, and hopefully now we can move on to more interesting things for a while.

Rating - **