Seven Coloured Compass

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


Leave a comment

Bleach: The Bount・Assault on Soul Society arc

The Bounts have entered Soul Society… what’s going to happen?! And how will they be stopped?!

Bleach season 3 logo

Name: Bleach: The Bount・Assault on Soul Society arc (season 5)

Japanese Name: ブリーチ: バウント・尸魂界強襲篇

Air Date: August 8 2006 – January 4 2007

Studio: Pierrot+

Episodes: 18

PLOT

The Bounts arrive in the Soul Society and find themselves battling two shinigami lieutenants, but the abundance of reishi in Soul Society gives the Bounts a ready source of power, rendering them formidable opponents. Meanwhile, it is discovered that Maki Ichinose, the banished shinigami helping the Bounts, has infiltrated Seireitei and has been secretly manipulating their data. What strategies will play out, and how can Ichigo and his allies stop them?

Well since seasons 4 and 5 were meant to be fillers so that Tite Kubo could come up with more material, this anime exclusive arc isn’t as strong as its predecessors. But I gotta hand it to them, they know how to make me loathe an antagonist. Jin actually grinds my nerves and he is a complete and utter BASTARD. But at the same time, I can’t help but feel sorry for him… WHAT ARE THESE CONFLICTED FEELINGS I AM HAVING?!

I’ve finished Free! so it’s about time I caught up with Bleach. I am also watching Kuroko’s Basketball 2, Diabolik Lovers, and BlazBlue: Alter Memory, so there’s a lot going on for me. A review for Brothers Conflict and Bleach season 6 is also in the works, so keep an eye out for it when they’re posted!

First Impressions

Ever since the Bounts infiltrated Soul Society, the Head Commander and First Division captian – Genryūsai Shigekuni Yamamoto – holds a meeting with all the division captains to discuss the new threat. Toshirou Hitsugaya is tasked with defeating the Bount, and all captains are ordered to kill any intruders without hesitation. The mission to hunt down the Bounts has begun. At the same time, Ichigo and friends enter Soul Society to assist in the hunt for the Bounts. Meanwhile, it is discovered by Yoruichi that Maki Ichinose – the shinigami turned traitor assisting the Bounts – manipulated Twelfth Divison captain, Mayuri into opening the gate of Soul Society. Why is a shinigami assisting the enemy? I mean, there has to be some sort of logical explanation right? Even if this was explained in the last season, I still can’t get my head around this. Maki, Jin has been manipulating you from the start! Turn back now before it’s too late… or so I’d like to say, but he needs to stop following someone else and create his own path on his own. Did I just get deep there? That’s so unlike me O_o

The Bounts were created accidentally through an experiment in Soul Society involving eternal life. The experiment went disastrously wrong which affected a large portion of souls in the cycle of rebirth, thus a mutated strain of humans with abnormal abilities was born known as Bounts. The shinigami behind the research was called Rantao and to atone for their sin, they was banished from Seireitei. I don’t know Rantao’s gender so I’m referring to them as ‘they’ etc. For those who don’t know (well I never explained this), Seireitei is where the thirteen squads and shinigami reside, and is the centre of Soul Society. So if it is dominated by the Bounts… then that is a VERY bad thing, because all the shinigami will be annihilated. Wow. That was a nice way of putting it ^^;

Rukia faces off against the Bount, Yoshi, in Rukongai. Because Rukia’s Spirit Pressure hasn’t fully recovered yet, she is at a disadvantage; especially since Yoshi has absorbed a fair dosage of souls from living humans, thus she easily overwhelms Rukia’s kido. Yoshi takes a girl hostage and demands Rukia to drop her sword, otherwise the girl will be harmed. Rukia complies and Yoshi is about to deliver the final blow until Byakuya comes to the rescue (ノ◕ヮ◕)ノ*:・゚✧. you can always count on Byakuya for an effective entrance! I often wonder if he stands by and waits for that golden opportunity because he always arrives at the perfect moment… it’s kinda… hot, in a strange sort of way (¬‿¬) *ahem* putting aside the über hotness of Byakuya, his relationship with Rukia is rather adorable. That evening after saving Rukia and tending to her injuries, Byakuya goes out to fight Jin alone. Jin taunts Byakuya saying that he is fighting to avenge Rukia however, Byakuya responds coolly that he only needs to destroy enemies of Soul Society… you lie man! You’re so doing it for Rukia! Every little action he does, there’s always a hidden meaning behind it and that’s what makes me love him all the more ゚+.(*ノωヾ*)ャン♪+゚ Byakuya, LET ME LOVE YOU BABY.

Byakuya catches RukiaI squealed so loud when this happened… BYAKUYA!! >////<

Midway Impressions

Soi Fon – captain of the second division – finds herself against one of the Bounts, Mabashi (voiced by OnoD asdfghjkl). Mabashi uses his doll, Ritz, to possess and control a person’s mind and body, so as part of Jin’s plan, Mabashi possesses the majority of shinigami in Seireitei and uses them to attack one another causing infighting amongst the shinigami. Of course Soi Fon catches onto this very quickly, and deduces that if she defeats the controller, the shinigami would return to normal. She’s so smart! Eurgh I’m so jealous (╥_╥) and she’s pretty and strong so I’m even more jealous! Soi Fon possesses a mind that allows her to think quickly in dire situations – a trait needed by all captains of the Thirteen Court Divisions. So when she is struck with a poison, she heals herself using her zanpakuto’s Shikai, Suzumebachi. Earlier on, Soi Fon left a journey’s crest on Mabashi using Suzumebachi and releasing it through the command “Jinteki Shakusetsu”. Mabashi taunts her and says she’s going to die soon, but Soi Fon acts as if she is still poisoned. When Mabashi’s guard is down, Soi Fon strikes him again on the hornet’s crest left before with Suzumebachi and he dies. Well played. Well played Soi Fon…

Mabashi and Soi FonMabashi, you’re just going to jinx yourself if you carry on mocking her…

Now it’s Mayuri turn to face off against the Bounts! Mayuri (twelfth division captain if you can’t remember) goes head to head with Sawatari – the oldest of the Bounts. Sawatari’s doll is Baura who has a whale-like appearance which Sawatari sits upon. Baura has a dimension in its stomach where anyone that is swallowed by Baura will die if they stay in him too long. So these two exchange a lot of big-headed remarks and how they overpower one another, but we all know who’s going to win in the end. I mean, it’s fairly obvious. No? *Sigh*so Mayuri uses his zanpakuto in its shikai form to paralyse Sawatari’s right arm – even if he absorbs reishi, his arm will not recover from paralysis. Sawatari and Baura withdraw but Mayuri manages to track down where they are headed. However in a fit of rage, Sawatari orders to Baura attack causing severe damage to Mayuri’s body. Angered, Mayuri releases his Bankai which emits a poison made of his own blood. In retaliation, Sawatari transfers his Spirit Pressure to Baura, however Mayuri’s Bankai critically stabs Baura. When a doll is killed, it’s owner does so as well. So Sawatari dies \(^o^)/ I never thought I’d say this, but you go Mayuri!

God I am so sorry for the spoiler fest! I didn’t realise I wrote that much, but I think it comes from the fact that I really dislike the Bounts, and also the character growth is quite decent plus, I saw some action which I’m content with. I think it’s also because I’m WAY into this. Bleach has officially taken over my life, and I’m not sure whether that’s a good thing or not… no serious! I’m starting to plaster my room with Bleach decorations, I’ve got loads of key-rings dangling from one key (what is the point of that anyway?), and my phone and iPod wallpapers all have something to do with Bleach. What am I doing with my life? I have this unhealthy obsession with Byakuya, Gin, Toshirou, and Grimmjow and it just won’t stop m’kay?! Don’t tell me otherwise! xD

Overall Opinion

The Bount arc has been brought to an end. Did it end on a high, or low? This season, like the previous one, wasn’t adapted from the Bleach manga as the first three seasons were, and it shows. This story line didn’t have the punch or kick that the earlier ones did. Yes, the Bount’s doll’s were fun weapons for them to wield, but the Bounts themselves weren’t really all that unique, as far as villains go. They possessed neither the creativity of the Hollows nor the personalities of the Captains. They were rather bland, and uninteresting, so they were difficult to sympathize with. I found it hard to feel sorry for them, and the only Bount who managed to gain my sympathy was Jin… and he had so much of my hatred at the start.

Added to that was the plot: a group of people invading Soul Society in order to receive something or someone. Wait a minute… isn’t this what happened in seasons two and three? The Bounts even fight the same Captains that Ichigo and friends faced in the previous two seasons. It was more than a coincidence, I’m sure. This whole season had a feeling of been-there-done-that which never really faded, and constantly repeated itself. It was nothing new or fresh. There was no spark, or excitement – except from the occasional action-packed battle. Reliving the previous three seasons wasn’t exactly what I was asking for, but it’ll have to do I guess.

Episode108StoppingMesserByakuya’s Senbonzakura Kageyoshi stopping Messer’s full power.

That’s not to say that this season was bad or worthless, it’s not. There are some exciting battles and some cool moments. The problem is that the show is just retreading old stories, but those stories were good, so you could do worse. That’s not to say this season was exceptional either. There wasn’t much in terms of development for the villains; there was plenty for Ichigo etc. but not for the Bounts. Sure there was a bit here and there for Jin Kariya and Go Koga… but what about the others? What were their reasons for joining Jin in the first place? Power? Glory? Revenge? Nothing was ever made clear for the other Bounts, so they basically sat around doing nothing unless needed. I was thinking to myself “do they even need to be there?” for the majority of this season, but I bet that’s what most people thought as well… please say I wasn’t the only one!

The soundtrack, as said for the previous season, doesn’t reach the bold, rich sound it achieves for its best scenes. Other than that, the rest of the soundtrack is still the same as always.  There is a change in opening and ending themes: the opening changes from ‘Tonight, Tonight, Tonight’ by Beat Crusaders, to ‘Rolling Star’ by Yui whilst the ending changes from ‘MOVIN!!’ by Takacha to ‘Baby It’s You’ by June. Yui’s song used for the opening had me laughing at points… because when she said “rolling” I thought she said “lolling” which I found rather amusing. But it was either the pronunciation, or just my hearing. Did anyone else notice this? Or was it just me, as usual? 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 (yes, I just copied and pasted that part from my last Bleach review, because c’mon it was technically the same).

Everybody gets at least some attention in these episodes – Byakuya’s affection for Rukia, Ichigo’s wavering determination, and the ever-manic Zaraki gets to wipe the floor (both physically and philosophically/mentally) with the whiny, hypocritical Maki Ichinose. And an extra episode at the end of the season provides flashbacks of Rukia’s first solo assignment, Renji’s promotion, and Ichigo’s ‘ordinary’ life prior to receiving the powers of a shinigami which included comforting the soul of a young girl who died in a car crash prior to the series start. Although season 5 was primarily focused on the Bounts and their objectives, the spotlight lent more towards the shinigami of Soul Society, and Uryuu Ishida. At least, that’s what I think.

SPOILER: With the defeat of the Bounts and their leader,  Ichigo, Rukia, and Renji lament on their pasts whilst they’re in the Kuchiki household. Soul Society finally recognises the existence of the Bounts, but Ichigo states that even though Jin wanted to erase the Bounts’ existence, he ironically left a stronger impression. Both Ichigo and Renji are later scolded by Byakuya for creating a ruckus with their arguing (seriously I could ship Ichigo and Renji right now). Later on when Ichigo and the others return to the Human World, a mysterious figure approaches Karakura Town thus setting the base for season 6.

The Bount arcs served as decent fillers, and I’m glad to see that things were resolved, and also the Bounts got the recognition they deserved. It was after all, Soul Society, who created them so they have to take responsibility. That’s it from me, now I better get some college work done before I panic and do it last minute ^^;

Advertisements


Leave a comment

Kuroko’s Basketball Season 2 Starting Soon!

Kuroko’s Basketball is going to bounce back onto our screens very soon!

Kuroko_Basketball_Season_2_Shonen_jpg_650x10000_q85

(Image belongs to rightful owner)

2013’s 40th Shonen Jump magazine has announced that the popular anime series will be dribbling back on October 5 (four days after my birthday… yay), and include both old and new characters.  GRANRODEO will be performing the opening theme titled ‘The Other Self’, and OLDCODEX will be handling the ending theme.

So the main question is… ARE YOU READY FOR SEASON 2?


Leave a comment

Bleach: The Bount arc

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…


Leave a comment

Bleach: Soul Society・The Rescue arc

The mission continues to save Rukia… will Ichigo actually rescue her this time?

Bleach season 3 logo

Name: Bleach: Soul Society・The Rescue arc (season 3)

Japanese Name: ブリーチ: 尸魂界・救出篇

Air Date: July 26 2005 – January 10 2006

Studio: Pierrot+

Episodes: 22

PLOT

After the unsuccessful rescue attempt which resulted in Ichigo’s rescue from Byakuya, Yoruichi promises Ichigo that she will teach him how to master the second stage of zanpakuto (Bankai) within three days. The challenge proves difficult because at the last minute, the higher-ups decide to bring forth Rukia’s execution even closer. As Rukia’s execution date dawns upon them, Ichigo and his allies are fast running out of time and will have to make their move… will they save Rukia on time? Or will she be punished for her crimes through death?

Season 2 was epic. Words can’t describe how dumbfounded I was when I watched Ichigo beat the consciousness out of Kenpachi Zaraki. That man was hench. And a sadistic battle maniac too. It was unbelievable how much Ichigo had improved in such a short amount of time… that boy can do anything when he puts his mind to it! He’s going to be one of the strongest shinigamis ever, I can feel it in my bones! When that day (or episode in this case) comes, I’ll be celebrating alongside Ichigo and crew because I will be overjoyed… how sad. I’ll just… sit in the corner where no one can see me.

My brain is overflowing with names that I’m trying to remember. Season 2 introduced a whole horde of new characters and my head is attempting to cram it all in. Man does my head hurt! I’ve never been good with names… let this be a warning to you all, if you ever plan on watching Bleach, be prepared to memorise around one hundred names. It’s like exams all over again, and that’s the last thing I want. Eurgh. WHY YOU MAKE SO MANY CHARACTERS KUBO-SAN?! But the cast of characters were praised because they were unique so… I’ll accept this for now.

First Impressions

Ishida faces off against a deadly enemy and leaves Orihime in the capable hands of the eleventh division. The twelfth division captain – Mayuri Kurotsuchi – is the Chief of Research and Development, but is also one creepy fellow. We all need at least one crazy scientist/researcher in an anime series! Mayuri has a rather twisted mind when it comes to test subjects… the methods he uses to research actually sickens me. I don’t even think he’s human… more like a monster in terms of appearance and personality. This guy is an absolute bastard and I would love the honour of killing using him as a personal punchbag. He’s an inconsiderate bastard because he kills his own comrades AND critically injures his lieutenant to the point where she’s dying. She’s dying and he doesn’t help her, even though he says she’s “not allowed to die”. Captain bastard, you do realise that she can’t live if YOU DON’T FLIPPING HELP HER. That’s it… LET ME AT HIM ( ಠ益ಠ )!! It’s difficult to refrain myself in those matters; men who injure women are scum. Ishida, you better defeat Mayuri. This is the man who killed and mutilated your grandfather all in the name of ‘research’, so this is your chance for revenge! If you win, I will love you forever man… not that I already do ❤

Ishida vs MayuriTURN HIM INTO SMITHEREENS!!!

Ichigo is now training with Yoruichi in some sort of underground bunker… where the hell do they have room for these things?! Anyway, Ichigo is training to summon his Bankai and how does he do it? He fights against his zanpakuto’s manifestation! His zanpakuto – Zangetsu – tells Ichigo that he must find the true form of the zanpakuto before he gets slain. In the bunker, there are thousands of zanpakuto but the true form is hidden amongst them so Ichigo has to come up with some sort of method to find it. Serious stuff going on, but will Ichigo be able to use Bankai within three days? There’s a lot of pressure riding on his shoulders so I can’t help but wonder… but of course he’ll do it! Stop being so pessimistic and be optimistic Jimmy!

This rescue mission is turning out to be a flunk. Chad, Ishida and Ganju have been captured and treated for their wounds. Surprised the shinigamis haven’t killed them yet? I’m not. I haven’t mentioned this but maybe I should have since this is a key point. In season 2, the captain of the fifth division – Sousuke Aizen – was brutally murdered inside the Court of Pure Souls. His lieutenant Momo Hinamori discovered his corpse (she was late for a meeting) as it was left hanging from a tower, stabbed by his own zanpakuto. Overwhelmed by shock and grief, Momo fought against fellow lieutenant Izuru Kira believing Gin was behind the murder. Both Momo and Izuru were arrested. Ichigo’s group have been accused of murdering Aizen so the shinigamis want to investigate and interrogate them. I do have my suspicions however… I have the feeling that it’s a set-up. I mean, Gin always has that smile plastered on his face when everyone else is anxious and on edge. But maybe it isn’t Gin at the same time. What if Gin was forced to play along? Hmm…

Midway Impressions

There are an awful load of plot twists in this season, I actually wonder if Pierrot+ and Tite Kubo did this on purpose. First of all, the higher-ups decided to troll us and go “hey, why not bring the execution to the next morning?” and they did just that. Now Renji is fighting against his captain, Byakuya Kuchiki?! Isn’t that like treason going against your superior? More like betrayal I guess, because Renji is going against his captain in order to save a traitor. There are so many complications and conflict for going on inside Renji, and I just want to reach out and cuddle him. I can totally relate to how he feels; he doesn’t want the most important person in his life to lose theirs. I’m actually crying watching him fight Byakuya. There’s no way he’s going to win, but I don’t want to give up hope that one day, Renji will surpass him. The fight was visually stunning and I’m sitting on the edge of my seat in suspense. With the revelation of Renji’s ability to summon Bankai, Byakuya was in a state of shock. Bet you didn’t expect that boy (¬‿¬) Byakuya turned the tide however and summoned his Bankai; defeating Renji after telling him that normally, shinigami train for ten years after being able to use Bankai. Renji is left for dead and Byakuya begins to leave… but Renji is not done yet and unleashes a surprise attack \(^o^)/

Renji and ByakuyaCaptain vs Lieutenant.

As usual, Pierrot+’s credibility goes towards the animation for it’s dynamic and elaborate battle sequences. Each and every one is unique and no two appear the same. Of course, if battles were the same and constantly repeated in a loop, it would get boring and people would lose interest. They have to be eye-catching, bold and challenging. Something that will always have me biting my nails in anxiety. And Bleach always provides that little kick I want… and shorter nails as a side dish.

It has occurred to me that many characters either fear or despise Gin Ichimaru. Rukia is a prime example. It’s easily noticeable how afraid she is of Gin because fear is distorted on her face. In episode 53, she describes Gin as “a snake slithering around her” and it’s quite obvious that he makes her uncomfortable with his presence. His presence sends her mind and heart into turmoil, and that alone seems unnatural. What is it about Gin that makes everyone around him feel at edge? He is a very mysterious man, since his almost constant smile and slitted eyes, combined with his heavy use of sarcasm and mocking politeness, make it very difficult to know his thoughts. I kinda feel pity towards the guy but at the same time, I feel unsettled about him. Maybe it’s instinct, but there’s a siren is going off in my head warning me to be wary. I have my suspicions… but on the plus side, I heard that Gin’s character was received very well in Japan. Tite Kubo remarked that Gin’s popularity, especially among women, was a great surprise to him, as he had attempted to make Gin creepy and off-putting in appearance… I plead guilty, because I like Gin too xD why do I like you so much?! (ಥ_ಥ)

Overall Opinion

The plot reaches a typical note; the hero must journey through a foreign location where he faces trials left, right and centre as well as learning new powers and become stronger to face the major villains, and ultimately pull off a heroic rescue. The main point of conflict during this story arc spins off into separate confrontations which are faced and also reveal nice backstory tidbits in the process. Naturally, there is a greater evil pulling the strings behind the scenes, but Bleach scores points for the amount of depth and intricacy of the underlying scheme that is to arise and the for the misdirection pulled off. The identity of the main antagonist comes as no surprise to those who have managed to piece together all the evidence along the way, however the others aiding the main villain comes as a shock. Even though I managed to figure out the answer, the aides to the antagonist both surprised and confused me more than the revelation of the conspirator. Bleach also gets credit for setting up plenty of dramatic moments in this season including Rukia’s rescue at the moment of her execution, and Ichigo achieving Bankai. Topping those events though was the long-awaited and simple apology in the final stages of episode 62.

The plot twists managed to keep my brain functioning, and let me tell you, you’ll really need to use your heads during this arc! It takes pure logic to solve the mysteries surrounding Soul Society’s current state. The majority of these developments arise during Rukia’s execution ritual: the mass murder of Central 46, captains turn against each other, and a conspiracy against Soul Society is revealed – the main antagonist is identified including his aides, and all three are marked as traitors. I am debating on whether I should reveal the perpetrators or not since this is a major spoiler… *whispers* I’ll give you a clue… the traitors are three captains.

What separates Bleach from other shounen series is its art design and animation. The costuming is sharp and the overall visual impression is appealing. The black and white contrasts of the kimono outfits of the shinigamis make for a sharp look, especially those in the captain uniforms. For other characters who don’t the captain uniforms, they seem dull in comparison. All zanpakuto in any forms – whether it be Shikai or Bankai – stand among the best anime sword designs and the vast creativity of their many forms, are superior to any equivalent in other shounen series. Bleach’s ability to keep its cast easily distinguishable without going to overboard deserves several more points. It stands among some of the best action series due to its dynamic and nail-biting fight sequences.

[S^M] Bleach 63 Special RAW 172Ichigo thought it would be more efficient to climb the window ledge…

Character development may have improved slightly from the precious season. Ichigo pulls out all the guns during this season; he puts his life on the line to reach an phenomenal level of spiritual power, and rescue Rukia no matter what consequences lay ahead.  introduces yet more of the ever-growing cast of soul reapers and shows off some frenetic action sequences with more blood and an array of new zanpaktos. We also see some nice characterisation of established characters such as Toshiro Hitsugaya (tenth division captain), Yoruichi and Byakuya Kuchiki. Furthermore a shocking backstory is unveiled about the eccentric handyman Kisuke Urahara and his links to Soul Society; something you’d never expect… unless you’ve read spoilers – oh, cheeky!

Bleach definitely trumps other shounen series when it comes to sound and music. Its themes have different sounds to them, one leaning towards electronic instruments, which makes it sound heavier and slightly darker/edgier tone that works well with the intense fight sequences Bleach has to offer. Its trademark goofy theme also allows the mood to change with a click of your fingers. BGM mostly remains the same throughout this season so no major changes have been made. The only changes in sound are the opening and ending themes around episode 52. ‘Ichirin no Hana’ by High and Mighty Color provides a hard rock upgrade while ‘Life’ by YUI is more wistful and replaces the cheerful ‘Happy People’.

Bleach: Soul Society・The Rescue is the turning point for the entire series – everything has been built up to this point, and everything that occurs in the future will be because of this. Ultimately Bleach works despite its flaws because it provides plenty of backstory, just enough story and characterisation and the occasional humourous outbursts. Season 3 ends on the perfect note of giving a satisfying finale to the Rescue story arc, while at the same time, laying down the foundation for future arcs.


Leave a comment

Bleach: Soul Society・The Sneak Entry arc

Ichigo is going against the clock in a race to save Rukia… will he accomplish his mission?!

Bleach season 2 logo

Name: Bleach: Soul Society・The Sneak Entry arc (season 2)

Japanese Name: ブリーチ: 尸魂界・潜入篇

Air Date: March 1 2005 – July 19 2005

Studio: Pierrot+

Episodes: 21

PLOT

After the events of the first season, shinigami – Rukia Kuchiki – is sentenced to death in Soul Society after performing the illegal act of transferring her powers to Ichigo Kurosaki. In order to save Rukia from her impending death, Ichigo trains to regain his shinigami powers and rallies his friends. Thus begins a perilous journey into Soul Society. There will be difficulties and many strong enemies to overcome, but nonetheless, that will not stop Ichigo and crew from their mission!

Moving on to season 2! I’m honestly glad I got Ixion Saga DT out of the way… I was THAT close to actually jumping into the series and beating the crap out of Kon. He was probably the most annoying protagonist I’d ever seen, hands down. Even more annoying than Tamaki from Hiiro no Kakera! Who would have thought?! Imagine Tamaki, and then times that by ten… then you’d end up with Kon. I also had enough with the amount of testicle jokes this series had… I don’t even know how I managed to cope. Sexual innuendos are not my thing, so the likely answer would be EREC-SAMA’S PRESENCE!

First Impressions

Ichigo has regained his lost shinigami powers whilst Chad, Ishida and Orihime have trained. All that training with Urahara certainly paid off then! Together, they shall rescue Rukia from her fate! But first off, they have to fight the captain of the third division, Gin Ichimaru. Gin has white hair and his eyes are shut like slits… it’s kinda scary plus he strolls around with that creepy smile on his face. You know that one that screams SADIST. He looks exactly like Hazama from BlazBlue except with white hair… oh my days… the face, the hair, they’re uncannily alike. Sadist, masochistic or whatever Gin is, I don’t know. What I do know is that he looks insanely powerful, and his strength is unimaginable since he’s a captain. Don’t beat up Ichigo too much, m’okay? He is my main comic relief so I kinda do need him… speaking of Ichigo, he’s gotten even funnier than I thought he was. Did you change the way you do things or… ? Actually, if you put him together with Ishida… these two are a comedy duo. They’re so synchronized with their way of thinking, even though they can’t stand each other; it’s hilarious that I’m almost crying. Ah, Ichigo~ I do love you.

Entering Soul SocietyEntering Soul Society… let the mission begin!

I feel so pitiful for Rukia and Byakuya. They’re siblings and yet Byakuya can’t do anything to save his sister from execution, without going against the higher-ups of Soul Society. That would be treason! It doesn’t help that Rukia turned herself in to protect Ichigo… honey, I know you want him to live a normal life but he can’t because he followed you into Soul Society so he can save you! He wants you to be there, standing next to him (ಥ_ಥ)sorry, I’m sounding rather soppy now so I’ll just stop. In all honesty, I could hug these two right now; Byakuya is my baby and Rukia, I just plain love her! WHY DID YOU HAVE TO BE SO CRUEL FATE?! WHY DID YOU HAVE TO DO THIS TO THEM?! My tears won’t stop but I know Ichigo will save her in time! Ganbarou, Ichigo!

Orihime is still managing to wind me up. I’m ripping my hair out just watching her ( ಠ益ಠ ) she has these cool spiritual powers (summoning these pixie-like beings who defend, heal or attack enemies) and yet she’s still dependent on people to save her. At this point, the one who saves her most is Ishida (yes, I’m counting) and man, does he have some tricks up his sleeve. Independent training sure pays off; Ishida proves that.

Lieutenant Renji Abarai. He reminds me of Ichigo so much. They don’t bear much resemblance to each other but somehow, I can’t help but see it that way. Renji is a lieutenant of the sixth division, therefore he is Byakuya’s subordinate since the latter is the captain of that respective squad. Well, Renji and Rukia have a bit of history together, however that hasn’t been explained yet… I want to know how these two are connected. I think these two may have been childhood friends or something along those lines, but I am only presuming this as I haven’t read the manga yet. And we all know that I can’t afford to buy every single volume… as much as I want to start reading Bleach, my purse is weeping. I spent all my money on buying a lovely pair of flip-flops from UGG. Nice. My solution? Start reading scans on mangareader or other sites! Back to my original point, Renji is a character I want to see more in the series. He’s only been introduced recently but he intrigues me the most. I wonder why… he’s cocky and arrogant, yet he’s admirable for his determination to save Rukia. That’s it. It’s official, you are by far my favourite Renji.

Midway Impressions

How do these producers think up all these title screens? Oh creative minds, I worship your mighty brains! Each and every episode title screen is unique and of course, differentiate from each other so no two are the same. It’s clever and must have taken a lot of considerable time and effort to come up with new ideas. I’ve never really noticed this until now *facepalms* god Jimmy, you can be quite the idiot sometimes. You really can be. But I guess that’s what my friends love about me… I’m the fool of the group xD *ahem* so yeah, the producers and animators are really imaginative to come up with so many! They had to do this for over three hundred episodes… did they never have artists block?!

Studio Pierrot are whipping out the big guns now, huh? Lieutenants and captains are being introduced one after the other, and prove to be obstacles for Ichigo and crew as time runs out. Rukia’s execution date has been drawn closer and Ichigo needs to pick up the pace, otherwise it’s bye-bye Rukia! I know they’re going to make it in time, but the suspense keeps on building and I’m just a ball of nerves now. GAH, I CAN’T TAKE IT ANY MORE! On the plus side, Izuru Kira makes his appearance! Izuru Kira is the lieutenant of the third division captain, Gin Ichimaru. I’ve been looking forward to seeing you, Kira-kun~ why do you like this loner character Jimmy? Hoho, I shall let you in on a secret my friends… he’s voiced by Takahiro Sakurai. Yes! The man behind so many wonderful characters in our lives such as Yamato Kurosawa and Luka Crosszeria! I am happy. Very happy.

Izuru Kira vs MomoLieutenant vs. Lieutenant… Izuru Kira vs. Momo Hinamori.

The answer to all of my questions surrounding Renji are finally answered in episode 32! Renji and Rukia first met in the same district when they were young. Rukia saved Renji and his friends from being captured by an angry salesman (they stole his water LOL). From then onwards, Renji and Rukia became very close friends. One day, they meet a shinigami from their district and the idea of becoming shinigamis was planted in their minds. When all their other friends passed away, both decided to enroll at the Soul Society academy. Renji was intelligent and did exceptionally well. Rukia on the other hand received a request from the Kuchiki clan; they wanted to adopt her, graduate her from the academy immediately and place her in the thirteen squads. Thinking that would be what’s best for Rukia, Renji regretfully told her to accept the proposal as she would be able to live a better life. My heart feels like it’s been torn and my heartstrings have been pulled constantly throughout this episode. This overwhelming pain in my chest is one of sadness and I can’t help but tear up when I hear his past. When it concerns Rukia, Renji almost loses himself; he even begs Ichigo to save her. He cares for her so much that he begs his enemy to rescue her. That’s deep love… MY FEELINGS HAVE BEEN PLAYED WITH 。・゜・(ノД`)・゜・。

Overall Opinion

Things have really started to pick up in season 2 as it excels in everything which made the first season so great! Ichigo Kurosaki and his friends have infiltrated Soul Society with the intent of rescuing Rukia Kuchiki. After the events of the previous season, Rukia is held captive by her fellow shinigami and is condemned to die. Her crime – transferring her shinigami powers to Ichigo, thus betraying the rules of Soul Society. Unable to let his friend die at the hands of the higher-ups, Ichigo, Orihime, Chad, Ishida and Yoruichi stop at nothing to save their comrade.

For those who are action-loving anime junkies, then Bleach is the series for you. Bleach is a character driven shounen anime, constantly growing in popularity. If you have watched the first season, it should be easy to notice that the second installment to the Bleach universe is more action-packed and intense compared to its predecessor. The fighting scenes are breathtakingly amazing and I was often lost for words or too astonished to comprehend what happened. Sometimes it was difficult for me to comprehend because of the logic behind each and every move; how does Ichigo manage to survive a fatal wound etc. Ichigo defies all odds and manages to be victorious for the majority of battles. He overcomes the obstacles obstructing him and defeats even some of the most well known shinigami in Soul Society. Character development for Ichigo is by far the best… probably because this season was more focused on him than others!

Once again, the animation is still the same high-standard as it was from the previous season. Sill as visually appealing as ever, Bleach continues to grasp my attention and interest in every way possible. The unique Pierrot style is what makes Bleach look as beautiful as it does and my highest praise goes towards the battle sequences. Like its predecessor towards the end of the season, the battle sequences in season two were just as elaborate and dynamic, if not perhaps slightly more. With battles involving Ichigo, the battles clearly demonstrate his growing strength in spirit power and resolve as well as boasting the abilities of the squad leaders. These abilities were unique and animated beautifully so one would not be confused for the other, for example, Byakuya’s zanpakuto’s first form: shikai.

Watch thisWhat’s the bet that Ganju will actually get that into the wall? xD

SPOILER: After his fight with the eleventh division captain – Kenpachi Zaraki – Ichigo’s life is saved by Yoruichi. At the same time, Ganju and Hanatarou (a member of the fourth division) arrive at the location where Rukia is held. Ganju discovers Rukia was the shinigami who murdered his brother Kaien Shiba, and becomes infuriated. Byakuya Kuchiki (Rukia’s adoptive brother), captain of the sixth division appears and Ganju decides to fight him. As Ichigo awakens, Yoruichi reveals that she is actually a woman. Afterwards, Yoruichi shows Ichigo a device that allowed her to fly, and Ichigo uses it to go save Ganju and Hanataro. Meanwhile, Byakuya easily defeats Ganju with his shikai, but is then stopped by the thirteenth division captain, Jushiro Ukitake. Ichigo arrives and fights Byakuya. Before Byakuya can activate his shikai, Yoruichi stops him.

Throughout this season, many of the secondary and tertiary characters we grew to love in the first season did not appear as much in this sequel. Characters such as the grouchy teddy bear Kon, tomboy Tatsuki, Ichigo’s outgoing father and schemer Kisuke Urahara don’t get much screen time at all. In fact, most of the season focuses on Ichigo, Ganju and a bunch of new shinigami. Even primary characters like Chad, Orihime and Ishida aren’t seen as much compared to season 1 so this time round, the limelight is rather limited for them though they do deserve it. Personally, I wasn’t bothered by this at all (though I wish I saw more of Ishida) mainly because I was distracted by the great action, story and suspense as well as the fact that Orihime wasn’t present most of the time. But for those who are fans of these characters, you may not enjoy this season as much as the last one. Their lack of appearances may make you cry.

The soundtrack for season 2 remains the same as season 1, however there is the exception of a new opening theme and two ending themes. Japanese rock band and one of my all time favourites, UVERworld, perform the opening ‘D-Technolife’ and is definitely something I wouldn’t regret having on my iPod. The meaningful lyrics can be related to, the composition is pretty much top-notch and goes hand in hand with the opening animated sequence.

Bleach is a series that needs to be watched by all anime fans. The action and suspense of season 2 will keep you on the edge of your seat and biting your fingernails (not literally, but you know what I mean). The characters really begins to grow on you and ultimately makes Bleach a series you will want to see through to the end. Bleach: Soul Society・The Sneak Entry is where the story really begins to get good and there are no signs of it losing momentum within the next few seasons. I can’t wait to move onto season 3!


Leave a comment

Bleach: Agent of the Shinigami arc

The introduction to the Bleach universe begins now…

Bleach logo season 1

Name: Bleach: Agent of the Shinigami arc (season 1)

Japanese Name: ブリーチ: 死神代行篇

Air Date: October 5 2004 – February 22 2005

Studio: Pierrot+

Episodes: 20

PLOT

15-year-old Ichigo Kurosaki is not your everyday high school student. He has from as far he can remember always had the ability to see ghosts and spirits. A fateful day arrives as Ichigo encounters the shinigami Rukia Kuchiki, who saves him and his family from a Hollow at the cost of injuring herself. During this encounter, with Rukia unable to defeat the Hollow she transfers her shinigami powers into Ichigo. In the aftermath, unable to continue with her job, Rukia allows Ichigo to take on the role of a shinigami in her place as they together defeat the Hollows plaguing Ichigo’s town.

PHEW! Exams are finally over! Yesterday marked the end of five years at secondary school and it has been an incredible journey filled with plenty of ups and downs. But I’m extremely grateful for the many friends I have made during those long years. They have been with me through this perilous journey and were always the ones who picked me off my feet to push me forward. They made me who I am today. So as the curtains are drawn to a close on secondary school life, preparations for college are underway. Phase four of my life begins in September!

After exams, I fell into a bit of a slump and I frankly had no idea what to watch next. I gave up on Mobile Suit Gundam SEED because I wasn’t motivated enough, plus the amount of depth it goes into put me off… and then I remembered that I always wanted to watch Bleach. It just suddenly occurred to me as if it were the most natural thing in the world. So here I am, watching the first season. And I absolutely love it!

Bleach had a long-running history; it spanned 366 episodes from 2004 until 2012, had four successful movies and the manga is still ongoing. It is one of the most popular shounen series in Japan and worldwide… honestly, I’m not surprised at all. Not at all. The attention Bleach has garnered over the last few years has been increasing and it’s easy to see why. The pure, shounen action. I have to thank my friend for introducing me to Bleach because I had no idea what it was. I thought it was the stuff you use to clean (^_^;) feel free to beat me up.

First Impressions

There’s a lot of terminology that I’m not familiar with since I haven’t read the manga yet. I want to, and then I remember how many volumes there are. FIFTY EIGHT. I can’t afford all that! Plus my shelves are overflowing with manga, so my parents are banning me from buying anymore *pouts* I mean that’s not fair. I pay for all of them myself, no thanks to them. I think the only word I understand is shinigami! Enough about me, I shall enlighten all those who have never watched/read Bleach and have magically stumble across this post:

Soul Society – the afterlife realm where all souls go; in other words, it’s like heaven.

Shinigami – the Japanese word for Death God or soul reaper. They take away souls and bring them to their rightful place (Soul Society).

Hollows – formerly human spirits that were not sent to Soul Society in due time after death. This makes them lose their sense of being and gives them a craving for human souls. Their main characteristics are a white mask completely covering their face and a hole near their heart.

Zanpakuto – this is a shinigami’s Soul Slayer (a weapon which reflects aspects of their soul and personality).

Ichigo Kurosaki is the main protagonist of the series. He’s quite agitated most of the time but he is a kind older brother – as he should be! He’s really reliable and always keeps to his promises but he’s also a bit straightforward. That being said, I wouldn’t mind having Ichigo as an older brother… he can protect me whenever someone picks on me (¬‿¬) that’s a nice thought. When Ichigo recieves shinigami powers from Rukia, he nearly consumes all of it, making him an exceptionally strong shinigami (he hasn’t even received training!). He is very passionate about justice which is shown clearly in episode 5 when he discovers the Hollow’s past crimes (the one that he’s currently fighting). These Hollows are very cruel… and rather disturbing too…

Ichigo KurosakiErm… Ichigo? Are you sure that’s yours?

Rukia is the shinigami who gave Ichigo her powers. She kinda resembles me in some ways, instantly making her one of my favourite characters. She’s level-headed and balances out Ichigo’s recklessness so she has some sort of influence over him. Rukia is actually a cool character and she’s ironically funny; she enrolls at Ichigo’s school and sort of gives him hell! But the one character who REALLY gets on my nerves is Orihime Inoue. I bet she’s the damsel in distress character of the cast… I detest those types. I really detest them.

Midway Impressions

I think it’s become a running gag that Rukia demonstrates or explains complicated things by drawing diagrams… bad ones at that. In fact, the drawings are so bad that even Ichigo is ashamed of them! Making the slightest comment is rewarded with a punch or kick… I love this girl xD I think she deserves the reward for most awesome female! Rukia is such an amazing character though; she’s unfazed by things the majority of the time and when she does get anxious, she’s also calm about it. We are so similar. She may just be my long lost twin… moving on, she really is the perfect deuteragonist for Ichigo. They compliment each other – Ichigo being brash and impulsive while Rukia is calm and collected; the perfect combination!

A new character has been introduced to join the cast! Uryuu Ishida is a classmate of Ichigo’s and also has a high spiritual power – he can see ghosts and spirits. However he is not a soul reaper… he’s a ‘Quincy’. I know it sounds confusing and you may be thinking “what the hell does that mean?!” so I shall make things easier by explaining. Quincies are a clan of humans who are descended from Ywhach (no idea what this is?) who are spiritually aware of the blood running through them, and are able to re-shape spiritual particles into various types of bow and arrows, swords or explosives to defeat Hollows. They were considerably more successful than soul reapers however, they were unable to purify the Hollows unlike soul reapers. Quincies completely destroy the soul and thus create an imbalance between the life and death that would threaten to destroy the world. As a last resort to prevent further imbalance, the soul reapers exterminated most of the Quincies with only a few remaining were allowed to live, hence Uryuu’s hostility and bitterness towards Ichigo.

Uryuu IshidaYou always know you have a pervert when their glasses shine…

I’m not overly fond of the selected theme songs for the opening and ending; the opening I’m not too bothered with, but the ending… I better shut up before I complain too much. I don’t know really, it doesn’t click with my tastes. But what annoys me even more is the fact that it’s STUCK IN MY HEAD. I’m actually walking around the house humming it (-__-) not really the ideal way to spend my afternoons. However, the selected music has a distinctive taste and is rather unique.

Overall Opinion

Bleach is a popular shounen manga written and drawn by Tite Kubo. It is now a worldwide phenomenon alongside other titles such as Naruto, One Piece etc. and is loved by many anime fans for its fast paced action, humorous characters and epic battles. It’s easy to see why Bleach has garnered so much attention and popularity over the last couple of years.

The plot isn’t entirely original. Take a boy in his mid-teens, bestow supernatural abilities upon him and send him off to fight big and mighty monsters. This happens for the majority of episodes through hack and slash methods; sprinkling a bit of comedy here and there for good measure. Boring much? Yeah, it tends to get tedious but that’s when things start to pick up. Introduce the protagonist to potential allies (in the form of classmates) with Hollow exterminating capabilities and voilà! It doesn’t stop there though. The real challenge kicks in, and man does it literally kick. Soul Society infiltrate the human world to stir things up and suddenly, Ichigo embarks on a mission to rescue Rukia. This where most of the action is and it’s left up until the last few episodes; which is the right way to approach this. It hits you full on with the adrenaline pumping battles and that is very effective. The beginning introduces everything while the climax gets serious. Absolute perfection. The fact is, Ichigo is no longer fighting minor Hollows a few blocks away from his house… oh no, he’s facing trained warriors who could kill him with only few friends as allies, in the underworld! This is the real deal.

Byakuya KuchikiOoo… I like you VERY much (ノ◕ヮ◕)ノ*:・゚✧.

Seems pretty basic, but Bleach manages to set itself apart from other shounen series through its wide variety of characters which could not exist anywhere else. Imagine your usual stereotypes and throw in a few strange traits to give them that extra edge: this is what makes them special and easily recognisable. Ichigo isn’t just an excitable and brash lad – he’s a hero with a smart mouth. Rukia’s equally strong personality compliments that and together, these two exchange some of the most snarkiest dialogues in the show. Ichigo’s allies are just as intriguing: Ishida is cool in everything ranging from his attacks to his demeanour, Orihime discovers her abilities through accessories and Chad proves that the only thing bigger than his muscles is his compassion. I’m not one to forget the supporting characters who help the protagonists on their missions; you have the stuffed toy sidekick Kon, the eccentric shop-keeper Urahara, the thirteen squad leaders of Soul Society, Ichigo’s contrasting sisters and the wonderful example of modern parenting, Ichigo’s dad. All of these characters intertwine to make one of the best casts I’ve ever seen.

Studio Pierrot (or Pierrot+ by me) makes Bleach a visually appealing show with a bold, mainstream style which would make anyone appreciate it. It becomes apparent when the animation picks up, just like the story itself. It takes until the later episodes to notice the transition the animation makes; the fight scenes become more elaborate and dynamic while the second opening sequence is a flurry of shots. The animation is done in a way so that you can tell exactly what is happening, and who’s doing what. If someone swings their sword, then you know who did it – the storytelling is very clear. There are still plenty of shounen clichés like speedlines, special effects and time-dilated multi-episode fights, but the look of the show is one that can’t be reproduced easily. How could one forget the amusing logos on Ichigo’s t-shirts, Rukia’s single bang over her face, Ishida’s rectangular glasses, Orihime’s hair clips (and large bosom), Chad’s scraggly features, Urahara’s green and white striped hat, Renji’s visor that looks like a sleeping mask etc. Studio Pierrot has clearly done the manga justice.

SPOILER: Rukia faces the death penalty for transferring her shinigami powers to Ichigo. Her death sentence has been moved forward and she only has twenty five days left. Ichigo has his powers stripped from him but is determined to save Rukia, thus he trains with Urahara to gain his powers back. During the second stage of his training, Ichigo’s soul is cut from his body and thrown into a pit. He must reclaim his shinigami powers within three days, otherwise he is at risk of becoming a Hollow. In the pit, Ichigo emerges with his shinigami uniform on and a Hollow mask. He breaks off the mask and continues on to the final stage: to fight Urahara. After discovering the name of his zanpakuto, it tranforms into a more powerful version and he defeats Urahara. Ichigo, Chad, Ishida and Orihime then progress through a portal to Soul Society to rescue Rukia.

The unique characters and look of Bleach guarantee that it will, at the very least, rise above the muddle of shounen series and carry on with its own unique vision of the afterlife. There are many plots where Death Gods can be vanquished and spirit worlds to be conquered or explore, but there is only one Ichigo Kurosaki, there is only one Soul Society and there is only one entertaining series that will massively amuse you to no end. If you want a real, adrenaline pumping series with an extraordinary cast of characters, then Bleach is the series for you. I loved it thoroughly and I’m sure that many others will join me with my sudden love of Bleach!

I highly recommend the subbed version rather than the dubbed. Why? Because I think anime should be watched in the language they are originally intended to be. In this case, Japanese. Plus the original seiyuus did an amazing job voicing the characters, I mean most of them are pretty big names in the industry… so watch it with Japanese audio! Not that I have anything against the English dub…


Leave a comment

Quickie: Kuroko’s Basketball season 2 date changed!

Previously in our otaku happy-go-lucky lives, I told you guys that the release date for season 2 of Kuroko’s Basketball was set for September… bad news, they’ve changed it to a month later which is now October.

This is according to the Weekly Shounen Jump so I assume that this information is more reliable than the one I gave you before. But an extra month of waiting? An extra month of waiting for those monstrous slam dunks, epic passes and all sorts? Boo!

I’m sure we can live with that though. I mean, I’m pretty sure I’m capable of dealing with it… ARE YOU KIDDING ME?! I’ll be crying myself to sleep tonight!

See you!

Yeah, see you… in five months time!


Leave a comment

Quickie: Kuroko’s Basketball season 2 release date revealed!

While the terrorist is threatening those connected to the manga and anime, there’s still good news for fans of the popular series Kuroko’s Basketball. According to the May/June issue of The Tsukuru magazine, the second season of the sport series will premiere in September. So by my counting, that’s about five months or so away until we can see the Seirin team don their awesome new uniforms and take on the competition like we’ve never seen before!

After season 1 ended, I’ve been waiting very patiently for news of a second season premiere date and finally I’ve got it! Well, I for one know that this will be one of my most anticipated series for the fall season!

If you haven’t watched Kuroko’s Basketball yet, DO IT NOW. If we all support the series, then hopefully this will show the guy who’s been making these ridiculous threats that no matter how hard he tries, it ain’t going to stop people from liking the series. What is there to hate? Just the fact that these guys are insanely good at basketball or something? I am honestly confused about what could be hated in Kuroko’s Basketball. Nothing comes to mind.

All we can do now is to wait for season 2 and then hope for some good ratings. That’ll show the guy.


Leave a comment

Quickie: New Kuroko’s Basketball uniforms revealed!

We all know that there’s been a lot of hype after Kuroko’s Basketball was given the thumbs up for a second season with a scheduled release this year, so it’s natural that around this time the studio behind the hit series would casually show the art for season 2. And this time, it involves new uniforms. Take a peek!

New Kuroko's Basketball uniforms

The image comes from Monday’s issue of Shuseisa’s Shonen Jump. Pretty neat uniforms huh? So the picture shows our two lead characters – Tetsuya Kuroko and Taiga Kagami – showing off their new uniforms whilst bumping up their bromance a bit. I’ve only caught on with this yaoi thing that’s going around with some fans, so this image could possibly send their imaginations wild. Maybe frying their brains in the process.

All I know is, we’re in for a pretty awesome second season. I honestly can’t wait to see those monstrous dunks that Aomine does so well and the epic shots that Midorima never fails to get in. Plus with Kuroko discovering his new basketball and Kagami getting stronger by the minute, I can’t wait to see what style they’ll pull off. It’s going to be one of the anticipated series of 2013, I just know it!

Oh and about the guy who’s been threatening the mangaka? No news on whether the police have caught him. I’m pretty damn sure that he ain’t a fan of these new uniforms though, that’s for certain.


Leave a comment

Kuroko’s Basketball

“This is my basketball!”

Kuroko's Basketball logo

Name: Kuroko’s Basketball

Japanese Name: 黒子のバスケ

Air Date: April 8 2012 – September 22 2012

Studio: Production I.G

Episodes: 25

PLOT

The Teiko Middle School Basketball Team. The class that produced three perfect seasons in a row with five once in a generation players called ‘The Generation of Miracles’. There was another player who all of them respected…a legendary sixth player. An up and coming power player -Taiga Kagami – is just back from America. When he comes to Seirin High School, he meets the super ordinary boy, Tetsuya Kuroko. Kagami is shocked to find that Kuroko isn’t good at basketball, in fact he’s bad! And he’s so plain that he’s impossible to see. But Kuroko’s plainness lets him pass the ball around without the other team noticing him, and he’s none other than the sixth member of the Generation of Miracles. Kuroko makes a pact with Kagami to defeat the other members of the Generation of Miracles who have all played basketball at other schools. A battle of light (Kagami) and shadow (Kuroko) begins!

First post of 2013! How exciting! Did you all have a good Christmas? Mine was so-so… but I don’t particularly want to remember what happened. Eurgh, just thinking about it send shivers up my spine! The amount of singing and dancing and piano playing… OH THE HORROR OF IT ALL! I’ve been traumatised by Christmas, the best holiday of all; what have I done to deserve this Santa?

Ok, I know I’ve been delaying Campione! for a while now and I promise that I’ll get round to it soon. I’ve always wanted to watch Kuroko’s Basketball though and I kinda grew impatient so I decided to watch it despite my conscience telling me not to. Oh well, lets play some sports guys!

First Impressions

Tetsuya Kuroko is the phantom sixth player of the Generation of Miracles. He always appears when you least expect it and you barely see him at all when he does. I’m glad I’m not the only one who’s like that! My friends call me the shadow girl because I pop out of nowhere so me and Kuroko are the same… we’re superhuman (^.^) I love this ability because I can sneak up on people and scare the living daylights out of them. Mwuhahaha xD Kuroko is also quite blunt with his words towards Kagami but he’s always right. Gosh, me and Kuroko are really similar… it’s kinda creepy.

I never realised how much Kagami-kun eats. He has about ten to fifteen burgers on his tray whenever he’s at the fast food place O_o where does he put all of it? It’s like he’s got a black hole for a stomach! However his skills are superb and he has a chance against the Generation of Miracles. Kagami has determination and is very passionate about basketball; his ambition is to defeat the Generation of Miracles and become the best player in Japan. Good luck Kagami, I’m rooting for you \(^o^)/

Taiga KagamiBow down before my awesome power! xD

After two episodes, one of the members of the Generation of Miracles is introduced. His name is Ryouta Kise. He is well known as being able to copy a player’s moves precisely and was known as the rookie of the Generation of Miracles since he started playing basketball in his second year of middle school. He plays for his current high school, Kaijo. He works as a model in his spare time so he’s always mobbed by girls. I agree with them though, he is very good looking o(*゚▽゚*)o I think he has a slight obsession over Kuroko but it’s rather adorable in it’s own way. He’s such a cutie when he dotes on Kuroko and how he calls him ‘Kurokocchi’ (*´ω`*) why are you so darn cute?! Kise is definitely one of my favourite characters, mainly because I fangirl whenever he does something that is super adorable or whenever he appears in general. I really do love him.

Midway Impressions

I’m really enjoying this series! It’s so good that I can’t stop watching it! What’s good about this series is that I enjoy all sorts of sports and basketball is one of them. I’m learning a lot about the rules of the game, what positions there are and how difficult the game really is. Also for the LOL moments, they never fail to make me laugh xD now I want to play some basketball… anyone willing to go against me (^^) sorry, I got a bit competitive there didn’t I? I really like sports though since I’ve been involved with all sorts of teams since I was young. This ranges from football to athletics. Anything will do as long as I get the chance to compete and win!

Wow. This anime has some serious stuff going on! Seirin High School are playing in the Inter-High Basketball tournament and they reach the finals pitting them against one of the three kings of Tokyo, Shutoku High School. It’s going to be even more difficult this year though because Shutoku has obtained one of the Generation of Miracles, Shintarou Midorima; he’s known as the far distance shooter of the Generation of Miracles because he can score from anywhere on the court. Midorima’s star sign is Cancer; he believes in horoscopes and always carries a lucky item. He also tapes his fingers on his dominant hand when he’s not playing basketball…slight obsession there? He may seem cold and heartless but I like him. I like him a lot. He’s also voiced by Daisuke Ono o(^▽^)o Midorima is a serious character, I think the glasses do that but it makes him look sexy…athletic with a hint of sexiness, now that says something! Also because he follows everything his horoscope tells him to do. He takes things literally. Back to the point, Seirin defeat Shutoku by one point thanks to Kuroko and Kagami so now they progress to the championship league! Hurrah! I was really happy that they won but Midorima wasn’t because he lost, does someone need a hug? He can be so childish sometimes that I find it cute…

Shintarou MidorimaNothing says sexy like a pair of glasses…

Around episode 13, another member of the Generation of Miracles makes his appearance; Daiki Aomine. He’s known as the ace of the Generation of Miracles. Best thing about this guy? Junichi Suwabe is his seiyuu! So far, three members of the Generation of Miracles have been introduced: Ryouta Kise, Shintarou Midorima and Daiki Aomine. Two more left! Aomine was really close friends with Kuroko in middle school because Aomine was Kuroko’s light. They were an amazing team together and they seemed to be the closest out of the Generation of Miracles. Aomine may appear rude, cocky and arrogant but he’s kinda grown on me ヽ(*´ー`*)ノ that’s some badass attitude right there.

Overall Opinion

I heard that Kuroko’s Basketball has gotten a lot of criticism because it seems unrealistic. Being an avid sports fan, I can understand the criticism as this anime has a lot of monstrous dunks, blocks and flashy passes; the stuff you usually see in highlights. There’s also the shounen elements with the special powers of the Generation of Miracles members and other things such as the ‘martial arts’ Seiho use. Oddly enough, I’m fine with all that. Why? Because it makes it very interesting. As a fan, it’d be great to see the teams run plays but you can’t expect the average viewer to understand what’s going on. Plus, trying to explain this and other technical terms would eat up screen time and bore a lot of people.

Kuroko’s Basketball is great to watch because of these elements. Watching Kagami slam dunk the ball or Kuroko making a flashy pass is far more exciting than watching a player hit an open jumpshot from good ball movement. If you wanted a realistic basketball match, you’d watch it on a sports channel. What Kuroko’s Basketball excels at doing is showing how exciting basketball can be to a mainstream audience. I haven’t been disappointed by any episodes as they always left a goofy grin on my face from the thrilling games, hilarious antics of characters or the cliffhangers at the end of each episode. Many viewers are not basketball fans, but they still love this anime. This is great because it’s garnering interest for basketball in people that would have never noticed the sport if it weren’t for this anime. This is especially true in Japan, where basketball is nowhere near as popular as sports such as baseball or football.

Daiki Aomine & Ryouta KiseAomine and Kise…the final showdown.

SPOILER: Aomine and Kise go head to head and the match gets more and more intense. Just when all hope is lost for Kaijo, Kise surprises the crowd by perfectly mimicking Aomine’s hard to copy technique. They’re both evenly matched however Aomine’s team emerges victorious by the time the match finishes.

As for the anime itself, it captures your attention with epic scenes, likeable characters and funny comedy. Kuroko’s sudden appearances that startle everyone is a running gag, opponents with nicknames like ‘Papa’ and Kagami’s English “THIS IS JAPANESE LUNCH TIME RUSH!” keeps things interesting. The story is your classic sports anime, with the Seiren basketball team aiming for the top. However, if you’re expecting an athletic and hot-headed doof who excels in the sport…well, that’s the deuteragonist Kagami. Kuroko is the protagonist here and he’s an unconventional lead for a sports anime. He’s terrible at almost every aspect of basketball except passing and stealing. Together, he and Kagami form a spectacular duo. The other characters aren’t explored too much and I was afraid the other Seiren members would just become background images but slowly each have been introduced with their own unique skills. The only other characters that the anime really delves into are the members of the Generation of Miracles, who are all distinguished by their special abilities and urm…colourful hair, Kuroko included. Here is where the shounen aspect of the show is most visible, with the members displaying everything from behind the backboard shots to full court shooting range. They’re the equivalent of boss characters you see in other shounen anime as Kuroko, Kagami and the Seiren team must find a way to overcome them.

The art and animation were really good however, the animation isn’t as consistently fluid as I liked. The movement of players shooting or passing the ball sometimes feels too rigid or unnatural, as if they didn’t draw enough frames – with the exception of Daiki’s ridiculous ball skills. It compensates for this by having a lot of slow motion and close up shots of dunks, blocks and steals which really help create an atmosphere of excitement and making this anime so thrilling. It is definitely one of the best sports anime out there, which is what makes it so appealing to everyone no matter who they are.

For the most part, the music consists of guitar heavy tracks that come in whenever something notable happens such as opponents being surprised by one of Kuroko’s invisible passes. The opening and ending feature rock songs that keep the same adrenaline pumping feel the anime has. The one thing that really annoyed me was how each episode starts off with the narrator introducing the Generation of Miracles story. It can be easily remembered after the first few episodes but past that there’s no point since viewers would already be familiar with the story. It also wasted time which could of been used to get straight into the action.

Kuroko’s Basketball is an entertaining anime to watch, even if you don’t like basketball. The thrilling games will capture your interest and many can relate to the story of going for the top and exceeding expectations, as the underdog Seiren team does time to time. Don’t go into Kuroko’s Basketball expecting expertly executed plays like the real deal. Go into it expecting a thrilling game of dunks, blocks, crazy passes, a lot of (O.O) faces and competitive trash talking. Watch for the passionate and overly determined characters, comedy and special abilities we love in shounen anime. It doesn’t portray basketball too realistically, but realism in this case would only drag a fun anime like this down.

Recently there have been threatening letters and mysterious substances sent to the mangaka and companies in relation with Kuroko’s Basketball which has unfortunately lead to many events being cancelled. Now this isn’t fair because so many people love this series, and it’s disappointing to see one person ruining it for everyone. We will not stand for this! That is why I request that every otaku support this series by watching it. This one person can’t stop us from enjoying the thrills this series radiates. Whoever’s doing this is sick and to be honest nothing will stop Kuroko’s Basketball from being popular with it’s fans because a second season has already been green-lit. You read it here first, more Kuroko’s Basketball is on the way!

Go forth my minions! Watch Kuroko’s Basketball for the greater good!