Looking to satisfy your Bleach cravings without having to dive into the current plotline? Need a shorter storyline for casual viewing over the spring break? Bleach DVD set sixteen is here for you. The DVD set kicks off a fascinating story arc where the nature of the Zanpakuto is explored.
This arc delves into some serious metaphysical questions like: is it actually possible to transfer a part of your soul into an inanimate object? What happens if that part of your soul decides it doesn’t want to hang out with you anymore? If you defeat that part of your soul, does it return to you or just disappear? Was Voldemort really—wait, wrong series.
In any case, these opening episodes wrestle with some very essential questions concerning whether or not a Soul Reaper actually has full control over his/her Zanpakuto—and perhaps more important to consider, if it’s even ethical or fair to subjugate them like that.
Philosophical questioning aside, it’s important to note that the episodes of this season of Bleach are anime originals and not based on the manga. If you’re actually watching the DVDs in order, Aizen, Ulquiorra, and the other Espadas are out the picture for now—although if it’s any consolation, the bad guy in this tale looks similar to Ulquiorra (minus the black emo tear tracks).
The basic gist of the story is this: a man named Muramasa starts liberating the Zanpakuto of our favorite Soul Reapers by “calling out to their basic instincts”—this can mean anything from tugging at their inner desire to be stronger to unleashing their homicidal tendencies. Why exactly Muramasa does this is a mystery that slowly unfolds throughout the season.
As the Zanpakuto turn on their masters, the Soul Reapers are forced to rethink their usual battle strategies—certain shinigami resort to using kido, despite never showing much of an aptitude for it in the past. Other shinigami trade off and fight against each other’s Zanpakuto, with the hope that the different fighting style will be enough to throw them off.
Seeing the Soul Reapers face off against a reflections of themselves is entertaining. And you also get some extra backstory on Captain Hitsugaya in this arc, which includes some glimpses of his life before he became a captain and Soul Reaper.
You should definitely check out this season for the art and animation. The art is pretty impressive, particularly with the design of the Zanpakuto, which range from gorgeous to ingenious.
Up until this point, Ichigo’s sword Zangetsu was one of the most humanoid-looking Zanpakuto we had seen, and for good reason—as the main character’s sword, it’s important that we’re able to connect with him on some level. And it is admittedly easier to relate to something that looks like a human man rather than, say, a giant hairy baboon with a snake for a tail.
In this arc though all of the other Zanpakuto get their own anthropomorphic treatments that generally make them easier to identify with—with the exception of Mayuri’s Ashisogi Jizo, who still looks creepy as a wide-eyed, yellow-skinned infant-butterfly...thing. (Unless of course your favorite character is actually Mayuri—which I have never heard of, but hey, first time for everything.)
Trying to match the Zanpakuto with their owners is pretty fun for the first few episodes: there are clues in the way they dress and act. Some are immediately obvious while others may take you by surprise.
The animation, especially during the fight scenes, is fast and seamless, and the vivid colors look amazing on the Zanpakuto characters. The animation of the opening credits sequence is also nothing short of brilliant this season. I dare you to watch it and not get addicted to both the song and the art style.
This is a great arc for those interested in the inner workings of the Zanpakuto. And the character designs are intriguing, to say the least. Even though the episodes are anime originals, they still make for compelling viewing. Good stuff!
English & Japanese 2.0 Audio / English Subtitles
Episodes: 230 - 242
Bleach DVD Set 16 is available here!
Bleach © Tite Kubo/Shueisha, TV TOKYO, dentsu, Pierrot
by Gretchen Smail