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Old 11-16-2008, 02:56 PM
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Default Bleach Season Two Box Set DVD Review

This, as they say, is more like it. Watching Bleach four episodes at a time, on the individual monthly DVD releases, is kind of like eating a 75-cent bag of pretzels or chips or whatever salty snack. The second you're done, you're fishing in your pockets for the change to go get another one. 21 episodes, on the other hand, like the 21 episodes served up on this box set, are enough to leave you full for a while.

These episodes hit the ground running, literally – episode 21 kicks off with Ichigo Kurosaki and company high-tailing it through the spiritual barrier between their world and Soul Society, looking to rescue Rukia Kuchiki after her sudden abduction at the end of the last set. The story slows down for a little while after that to introduce all the new setting's new characters, but it's a relatively brief respite before the fighting starts.

When it's running through all those introductions, this storyline is a lot of fun. There's Jidanbo, the world's biggest organ-grinder's monkey, and it's hard not to fall for Kukaku Shiba, the team's first guide to Soul Society, especially when she goes ahead and shoots the whole crew out of her gigantic wall-clearing cannon. Rukon Shiba and his pig-riding gangsters provide some excellent comic relief early on, which is a commodity these discs are otherwise dangerously short of.

As the set goes on, the Soul Society plotline starts to lose some steam. For one thing, our heroes all take off in different directions, which has its advantages and disadvantages. With the main cast all in one place, the plot can only move along so many threads at once, but it's a lot of fun to watch them bounce off each other. Later, when the crew splits up, all that character interaction goes away.

For another thing, a familiar pattern starts to develop, especially along Ichigo's branch of the story. He trains, and he fights, and he trains some more…and then he gears up to go and fight again. True, this is what Shonen Jump heroes have done since time out of mind, but one man's venerable tradition is another's tired clich?, and even when you can gobble up episodes half a dozen at a time if you feel like it, the plot still takes a while in getting to wherever it's going.

It's a little unnerving to consider that by the time this box set is over, we're still only at the halfway point of the Soul Society arc as a whole. At the end of the second season, while Ichigo may have made it through Renji Abarai and Kenpachi Zaraki – and those are top-notch scraps, make no mistake – they still leave a whole 'nother season worth of fighting, training, and more fighting before the story comes to some kind of conclusion. The beginning of a certain murder mystery introduces a welcome subplot, but it only provides so much respite from the otherwise steady rhythm of Ichigo's progress. It's a drastic change from the first season, which introduced all the key characters through self-contained episodes and a few short multi-episode arcs.

If you liked the way Bleach was structured and paced in those early movements, prepare for disappointment, because it's never going to be that way again. If long, epic storylines like this one are your thing, though, box sets like this one are certainly the way to enjoy them. Season two doesn't end anywhere near the end of the Soul Society saga, but it does end up at a fairly satisfying stopping place, which is more than can be said for most of the individual volumes that make it up. The price is definitely right as well – if you can wait a little while for your big Bleach fix, your wallet will certainly thank you.
Presentation and Video
Bleach is presented on these five discs, as it ever is, in a traditional 4:3 television aspect ratio, and for the most part it looks quite good. All the bright colors stand out like they should, and all that Soul Reaper black provides a sharp contrast. You'll probably be able to see some evident compression artifacts on these discs, though, mainly patches of tiling when there's something moving over areas of lighter background color. It's not too obvious, but it'll stick out a bit if you're paying close attention.

7 out of 10

Languages and Audio
The English and Japanese audio tracks are both presented in stereo as per usual, and if you listen through a pair of headphones or some well-positioned speakers, you can hear some clever bits of mixing between the channels – especially when, say, Ganju's horde of wild boars is charging in whatever direction. Viz's English dub is as good as it's always been, even with a flood of new characters joining the series. David Lodge makes Kenpachi Zaraki sound good and gravelly, while Kyle Hebert is particularly good in a deceptively small role as Sousuke Aizen (although the less said about that the better, at this point).

For the most part, the English subtitle script is very well-edited, and even quick dialogue exchanges come across just fine in the subbed version. There are a few nagging flaws, though – for instance, as several folks have noted, the subtitles tend to flub up how the other characters address Chad. If you listen to the Japanese dialogue closely, Ichigo is actually the only one who calls him by the nickname, while everyone else uses his given name, "Sado." The sub script, however, has everyone calling him "Chad" regardless. It's a little thing, but it grates a bit once the ear starts to pick up on it.

7 out of 10

Packaging and Extras
This is a very well-packaged box set. Unlike the Naruto uncut season sets, which use a more unwieldy gatefold design, the Bleach seasons come in a compact package with several stiff plastic "pages." Each page holds a disc, with painted artwork of different characters on the opposite side, and a slipcase holds the whole works together.

Besides the discs, the package includes a fold-out poster of Ichigo and a couple of stickers as part of the Shonen Jump 40th anniversary sweepstakes (although you could just stick them up somewhere instead of turning them in with a contest entry if you felt like it). Meanwhile, on the discs themselves, the set includes the following extras:

  • "Behind the Scenes of Bleach"
  • Clean ending
  • Production art
It's not a heck of a lot for a five-disc set (and you'd think they could toss in some clean opening credits as well for convenience's sake, even if we did already get those on the first season set). The production art galleries are pretty sharp, though – there's a different one on each disc, and they all have some interesting concept designs for characters that appear as the season goes on.

5 out of 10

The Bottom Line
It helps to be aware going in that Bleach shifts gears dramatically in its second season. (This review has probably made you painfully aware of the fact by now.) For some viewers, the slow pace and stretched-out story structure are going to be deal-breakers. If the series does something different here, though, at least it does it well – Ichigo's battle with Kenpachi may take three or four episodes to completely resolve, for instance, but at least it comes to a conclusion that's apocalyptic enough to justify all the buildup. This is as good as Shonen Jump anime gets these days.
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Old 11-16-2008, 04:53 PM
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it used to be awsome quality when i first favorited it.
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Old 01-08-2009, 05:10 AM
mancream mancream is offline
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Omg wow!!!!!!!
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Old 09-05-2009, 07:10 AM
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quite good.

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Old 01-29-2011, 11:12 AM
larsenhaze larsenhaze is offline
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At the end of the first season of Bleach, the series has covered much ground, but always full of action. Fighting in the program really take off around episode eighteen and Ichigo's weapon suddenly becomes even more powerful. Chlorine is highly recommended and the first season in general, is only the beginning of the adventure.
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Old 01-31-2011, 03:02 PM
mathewparse mathewparse is offline
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In the end, Bleach works, despite its flaws, it offers support for both the flash is enough story and characterization and occasional bursts of humor. It has a certain style and support for the music, which can give the viewer the time the most annoying features.
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Old 11-18-2011, 03:34 PM
bradhongan bradhongan is offline
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Beginning of a murder mystery subplot introduces a welcome, but it only gives respite although the pace of progress Ichigo if not constant. This is a drastic change of the first season that introduces all the main characters through self-contained episodes and some short multi-episode arcs.
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