Seven Coloured Compass

Beneath the starry sky, we'll meet once again.

Bleach: The Bount arc

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Ichigo and gang go back to their normal, everyday lives! Or so they think…

Bleach season 4 logo

Name: Bleach: The Bount arc

Japanese Name: ブリーチ: バウント篇

Air Date: January 17 2006 – August 1 2006

Studio: Pierrot+

Episodes: 28

PLOT

Ichigo and his friends return from the Soul Society to the World of the Living and try to resume their normal lives. But when strange abductions start happening, it’s up to them to solve the riddle. More Soul Reapers arrive to help uncover the truth behind a mysterious clan known as Bounts. Will these allies be strong enough to stop the Bount leader from stealing human souls and feeding his dangerous ambition?

So how’s everyone’s summer going? Mine’s been so-so, but it’s starting to get REALLY stressful now! I had results day today and I finally found out what grades I got for my GCSEs… I shat a brick when I walked into school but, I’m really chuffed with my result! I’ve also got enrolment day on the 27th for college AND I have to find myself a job because according to my mother, being highly motivated to do nothing doesn’t count unfortunately (-__-) so yeah, I have been quite busy!

First Impressions

After successfully rescuing Rukia, Ichigo and his friends go back to their ordinary everyday lives. Until one day, Renji appears at their school! Turns out he’s been assigned to Karakura town and Ichigo jokingly says Renji has been demoted aww, I’ve missed their banters! They sound like an old married couple (ノ◕ヮ◕)ノ*:・゚✧. oi you two, is there something you’re not telling us? xD god it’s so much fun to tease them, give it a try! Renji and Ichigo’s relationship kinda reminds me of Ichigo’s relationship with his dad… they’re always goofing around in some way!

Breakast with the Kurosaki'sLike father… like son?

Orihime vanishes which was caused by three unknown people (YES) and when she was taken as a hostage, she went through an ominous gate which Renji refers to as the ‘Gate of Hell’. Ichigo, Ishida, Chad and Renji attempt to locate her and try to get her back when Renji receives a call from a mysterious girl. The girl then challenges the group to play a game where if they win, she will return Orihime and if they lose, she will harm Orihime. However, things take a turn for the worse when Chad vanishes too. The perpetrators are then introduced as Noba, Kurodo and Lirin. And Lirin’s laugh is the most annoying thing I’ve heard in years. Ichigo, Renji and Ishida are left to play the game and Lirin brings them to a museum. They are caught in a room which appears to be a labyrinth going in an infinite loop; if they escape, then Orihime and Chad will be returned. After many traps and dead-ends, Renji and Ichigo get into an argument and start to go their separate ways. This is when Ishida notices a slight warp and manages to solve the problem. He stops Renji and Ichigo in their tracks and whispers the solution to them; he also asks Ichigo for his subsitute combat pass.The building is in a 9×9 square structure and to exit, you could either walk straight horizontally or vertically. Whenever they came near the exit, Lirin would stir up trouble through illusions. Yes, all the traps were illusions and all they had to do was run straight. It was that simple. Ishida then continues to explain to an unsatisfied Lirin about how he figured it out and Noba grabs him from behind. With his quick thinking, Ishida hits Noba with Ichigo’s subsitute combat pass and a small pill pops out of his mouth revealing that Noba, Kurodo and Lirin are indeed modified souls like Kon. Clever thinking my boy! How did he figure this out? Spirit Pressure. Ishida noticed that when the gate appeared, when Chad and Orihime disappeared and when they entered the museum, the Spirit Pressure felt similar to Kon’s and with deduction, the perpetrators are modified souls.

I have a feeling that I know who’s orchestrating the events happening concerning Ichigo and the modified souls. Kisuke Urahara invented modified souls so he should be the only person who has possession of them. Therefore my conclusion is that Urahara-san is testing them… I AM A GENIUS. Well, not really but at least I figured it out? I don’t know my intelligence anymore but I have noticed that I have a real soft spot for Noba. There’s something about that quiet and serious personality which attracts me, and I definitely think it’s my fetish for these types of characters \(^o^)/

Midway Impressions

The Bounts are a tribe of humans with special abilities who live eternally and began to eat the souls of human beings to gain more power; according to Urahara, they’ve been known historically as vampires. Like shinigami, they each have unique weapons known as a doll, a familiar equivalent to the shinigami zanpakuto. Like a zanpakuto, a doll is its creator’s power given physical form. However, instead of taking the form of actual weapons, dolls are mostly self-sufficient creatures when released, although they tend to be used as weapons in various ways such as a large battleaxe or a snake, as a sword and whip. Their leader – Jin Kariya – has hidden ulterior motives which appear to involve a Quincy and the linking of Hueco Mundo and the World of the Living. I’m not too sure if those are Jin’s true motives or something Soul Society assumed. In any case, the Bounts prove to be a threat and three lieutenants (Rangiku Matsumoto of the tenth division, Shuhei Hisagi of the ninth division, and Izuru Kira of the third division) are dispatched to the World of the Living and ordered to put a stop to their plans. I am keyboarding smashing as I type this because my keyboard is VERY old, and you have to press each key really hard to make them work. It is very frustrating indeed ( ಠ益ಠ )

Depressed atmosphereEnough with the dark aura… it’s spreading out here.

Maki Ichinose was a shinigami in the eleventh division until his former captain was killed by the hands of Kenpachi – now the new captain. Maki looked up to his captain and was devastated when he was killed; he couldn’t find it in his heart to follow someone who is blood-thirsty and seeks battle. Therefore he left Soul Society and travelled in the World of the Living before finding a village being attacked by a Hollow. Before he knew it, he attacked the Hollow and was about to lose… until Jin appeared and asked Maki to follow him. Since then, Maki has been with Jin and plans to avenge his captain by defeating Kenpachi. Maki is a traitor because he has sided with the Bounts. I personally don’t mind Maki, but he’s the type of character who follows and doesn’t do anything for himself. If there’s no one to lead, he’s lost and doesn’t know what to do. At least, that’s how I see it. But he is strong, so I’ll give him that!

My fondness for Noba has increased tenfold! How could one person be so cool, and yet so cute at the same time?! When Noba is in his gigai (human body), his attire is like a ninja’s and has a mask which covers up most of his face with the exception of his eyes – which are a beautiful aqua colour. What really made me go “aww!~” is that when he gets shy and flustered, he zips up his mask to hide his embarrassment (๑´ლ`๑) ain’t he a little cutie pie? He’s just so precious that I can’t ignore him! Noba darling, you really are too presh so don’t hide behind your mask! Imagine if I saw him actually blushing… I would die internally and cry a river out of happiness… *sings ‘Cry Me a River’ at the top of my voice*

Noba and RangikuOMG NOBA YOU ARE TOO PRESH.

Overall Opinion

Season 4, alongside season 5, are filler arcs intended to give Tite Kubo more time to publish more material for the manga. Of course with every arc, new characters are introduced; the first half focuses on a group of modified souls whilst the second focuses on the predominant antagonists – the Bounts.

Let’s talk about the first half; it was messed up and presented a badly portrayed, typical villainy game of cat-and-mouse. It didn’t help that one of them had the most annoying laugh ever. That really set of the fumes. What really shone though, was Ishida’s intelligence and his ability to piece together the answers in a short amount of time. I praise that. But there wasn’t much action, and mostly focused on the banter between the mod souls, and Ichigo’s decreasing confidence eventually leading to a short lived depression. The second half was considerably weaker than the first; we finally get to see the Bounts in action and discover Jin’s true objective and the Bounts’ origins (the two are related). But for me, it still felt as if it wasn’t enough which is strange.

What really lacks here in season 4, is the sense of excitement which characterises pretty much the entire series. Though the battles often try to be creative and flashy, they tend to slack and seems as though they’re just going through the motions. Bleach is a series that primarily focuses on on-on-one battles or several combatants simultaneously going head-to-head, and its minimal familiarity with how to stage battles shows in the (sometimes) weak fight choreography. This is not a constant problem, to be sure; the fight Chad, Rangiku, Noba, and Ururu have against Sawatari actually displays a level of teamwork, coordination, and use of skill rather than just relying on raw power to plow through the opposition. Season 4 didn’t have the intensity the earlier seasons had. That’s not to say the show has lost its way or it’s gotten bad, it’s not.  There are still some exciting action scenes and the series expands nicely with the introduction of the Bounts. This race has so much history, and it’s amazing how much backstory was included for this season… I’m in awe.

So much for the main storyline. As ever with Bleach, though, there are little diversions along the way – further training for Ichigo who loses his confidence, courtesy of Urahara; a strange little sideline with Ganju and Hanataro spending some time in the World of the Living, working in a convenience store; and a few other distractions that provide little comedy breaks. These are generally a good thing, as they get away from the relentless macho posing and exposition that’s a rather annoying feature of pretty much every shounen series – Bleach would be a lot less enjoyable and entertaining without them. When Bleach puts its mind to it, it can produce some really good stories that go beyond just fighting and give you characters – even on the fringes – that you can connect to and stories that have a real sense of going there.

Season 4 represents one of the series’ artistic does not help matters. Bleach has always had at least a bit of trouble with consistency in its character designs, but here the rendering quality fluctuates widely, resulting in an unusually high number of poorly-drawn scenes. Rangiku Matsumoto is a particular example, as the animators and artists don’t seem to know how to handle her when she makes combat moves. Animation is an irregular mix of cuts and complex moves and certainly is not consistently good enough to cover for other artistic flaws. In English, not as good as previous seasons.

The soundtrack turns in a typical quality effort, though it never quite reaches the bold, rich sound it achieves for the best scenes. The Bount-specific themes, with their ominously-whispered words, set a good mood for the content but lack the dramatic punch of heavier themes used in other arcs.  Other than that, the soundtrack still sounds the same… or is it just me? The opening song ‘Tonight, Tonight, Tonight’ by Beat Crusaders which is used throughout this season, is another solid rock number for the series and one of my favourite openings alongside UVERworld’s ‘D-TecnoLife’. The ending song changes from ‘Hanabi’ by Ikimonogakari to ‘MOVIN!!’ by Takacha starting from episode 87 – which is arguably an upgrade.

SPOILER: Ishida is needed by the Bounts to open a gate which allows them to travel to Soul Society – since he is the last Quincy. In the end, Ishida opens the gate and when Jin thanks him, Ishida replies that it wasn’t for the Bounts; he simply wants to finish things in Soul Society.

Baka!“Kono BAKA!!!” is what I imagined for a caption…

Obviously season 4 would have its merits alongside the previous seasons. The end segments, the ‘Illustrated Guide to Soul Reapers’, are a riot and they’re so funny that when I watch episodes late at night, I accidentally laugh too loud and give away the hint that I’m still awake xD but the downsides outweigh the ups. Bleach: The Bount was indeed a worthy filler season, but the Bounts aren’t exactly very good ‘bad guys’ however, they are decent plot devices to help develop the characters further. Hopefully I will see some well-deserved action in season 5… I really am craving for it. For all Bleach fans, season 4 is a must watch even if it steers of from the original works by Kube-san. I know I’ve said this many times (and I’ll probably start counting), but even though this season is not as great as the previous ones, it is still good for character development and backstories – maybe there’s too many of them…

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