For years BLEACH has been an anime that has endured the test of time with American audiences. Debuting on Adult Swim in 2006, BLEACH has endured on TV for the last 7 years, becoming one of, if not THE longest running anime on America television. Basically serving as this generations Dragonball Z as a gateway to anime along with Naruto; but with the good must also come that bad. For it’s 8 year run on Japanese TV & 12+ year manga run, BLEACH has slowly but surely dipped in quality over the years. With it’s abundance of anime filler episodes and haphazard manga pacing, but that’s a story for another time.
BLEACH tells the story of a young boy named Ichigo Kurosaki. He and his family have the ability to see ghosts in the quiet city of Karakura Town. One night he meets a girl named Rukia Kuchiki; a Soul Reaper from a mysterious realm called the Soul Society. When he and his family are attacked by a monster known as a Hollow, Rukia transfers her powers to Ichigo allowing him to become a Soul Reaper and save his family.
Throughout his adventures as a Soul Reaper, Ichigo has cross swords with his fellow soul reapers, vampires, denizens of hell, evolved Hollows, and as this set demonstrates, his own sword.
Taking a break from the main storyline going on at the time (basically about a Soul Reaper goes AWOL and starts an army of evolved Hollows with Soul Reaper powers in order to rule all of creation, but who wants to follow THAT story?) this set throws us into the second part of the “Zanpakuto: The Alternate Tale” arc. Zanpakuto (for those who don’t watch BLEACH) are the Soul Reapers swords, each one has a name and a different ability. Got it? Ok good, moving on.
Long story short a rouge Zanpakuto named Muramasa (Jamieson Pierce) has “awakened” the Zanpakuto of the 13 Court Guard Squads (basically the Soul Society’s police force) and turns them on their masters, and as usual it is up to Ichigo (Johnny Yong Bosch) and company to save the day once again.
If I haven’t already stated before this a FILLER arc. Basically for long running shows based off of manga like Bleach, filler is usually created by anime studios in order to allow the mangaka (Manga writer) to write more chapters of the manga to be adpated. Some shows (Fairy Tail, DBZ, some cases One Piece) have at most 5 episode filler arcs sprinkled in to connect the major arcs, but other shows (BLEACH & Naruto) have entire SEASONS of filler. Now while Naruto’s filler may expand storylines and give worthy character devlopment, BLEACH’S filler take place in a completely different time and place than the main story, resulting in the audience becoming completely disconnected with the main show; but I’m getting off topic again.
As stated before, since this set contains filler there really isn’t any development for any of the main cast, as this only serves to give us a look at their zanpakuto; which to be fair is a pretty decent idea. The zanpakuto are always with the Soul Reapers as their main weapon and it was stated early on that they are sentient to some degree (mostly by being a manifestation of their wielders desires), but with the exception of Ichigo’s Zangetsu (Richard Epcar) & Renji Abarai’s (Wally Wingert) Zabimaru, we don’t see the spirit’s manifest themselves.
While some of the Zanpakuto have the same personality as their wielders: Ikkau Madarame’s (Vic Mignogna) Hozukimaru (Also Vic Mignogna) & Yumichika Ayasegawa’s (Brian Beacock) Fuji Kujaku (Sam Reigel) among others; some are radically different which leads to a few decent moments of dialogue between master and sword.
The plot however is pretty basic and Muramasa is a pretty boring antagonist. The animation itself tends to slip up at times but that’s par for the course with filler and the action scenes are decent enough. As for the voice acting, as usual it stays strong since the VA’s here have had more that enough experience at catching their character’s personalities, even when some of them are pulling double duty; or in the case of Vic Mignogna (Ikkaku, Hozukimaru, & Senbonzakura) & Michelle Ruff (Rukia, Tobiume, & Zabimaru (Snake)) triple duty. The music is also decent as BLEACH has always had a somewhat solid soundtrack (thier openings and endings have always been some of my favorite in anime).
Set 17 contains episodes 243-255 so that’s about 13 episodes of BLEACH spread across 3 discs and for a 44$ price tag that’s not too bad. The extra’s themselves are typical anime fair; textless openings and endings, a few trailers, and something that I always liked about Viz’s BLEACH, dubbed omake.
Omake are basically little odds and ends that are in the manga, nothing really important just little comedy bits that feature some side characters, mostly taking place at the end of the anime credits. While most other companies keep omake in the original japanese format, Viz has always dubbed the omakes in BLEACH which is pretty nice.
While not a particularly GOOD set of episodes, the filler does have a somewhat interesting premise that would have been a nice watch if executed better. Casual BLEACH watchers will most likely be turned off by this set but i’m pretty sure hardcore BLEACH fans (like I used to be) will buy it for completions sake.