Bleach Series 15 Part 2 is the latest instalment of the Bleach franchise from Kaze and Manga Entertainment. The Invading Army Arc, while filler, lends itself well to the struggle that Ichigo has been facing since his battle with Sōsuke Aizen. With this release, the penultimate story arc comes to a close and the final arc is just around the corner.
The Reigai conflict continues with everyone recovering from their hard-fought battles; Nozomi is set on regaining her Soul Reaper powers. In a chance meeting with a hollow, Nozomi, in an effort to protect Kon, regains her soul reaper power. Under the looming threat of battle, Nozomi is determined to remember the name and power of her Zanpakuto; only then can she be an asset and not something to protect in battle. With Zanpakuto in hand, she eventually joins the battle; while trying to protect Captain Yamamoto from Kagerōza Inaba her Zanpakuto breaks, allowing Kagerōza to capture her. During Nozomi’s capture, Kagerōza reveals a shocking secret, that he and Nozomi are created from the same spirit energy of another Soul Reaper.
With Ichigo having lost his spiritual powers, he and Urahara come up with a plan to attempt regaining his powers, although this means returning to the precipice world. They then head into Seireitei to locate Kagerōza’s laboratory and to try and rescue Nozomi. Having regained a portion of his powers, Ichigo’s soul reaper and hollow sides become unbalanced; his hollow side ends up going out of control. Then ensues a series of drawn-out battles between the 13 Court Guard Squads and their imposter Reigai; pacing here becomes an issue as the series seems to just grind to a halt. What were once dream match-ups, quickly become tiresome and then annoying, as they continue through most of the release right up until the end. Story progression is interesting, but only for a select few characters at a time; the conspiracy-driven plot of part one is now replaced with overwhelming battle sequences with very little room for the story.
A central theme throughout this story arc is the fading of Ichigo’s powers, due to his previous battle with Sōsuke Aizen; this theme is essential to the upcoming story arc which is the continuation of the manga’s original story. It’s important that they have approached this story arc in this way, as it provides some relation to the original storyline.
Visually not a whole lot different from the previous outing, the Kon Theatre shorts at the end of each episode suffer in places but overall a solid effort for a DVD-only offering. The opening video for this arc stays the same, using the same epic song, Blue by ViViD; the ending. however. has changed and shows Bleach from its inception until the current arc, accompanied by the song Haruka Kanata by UNLIMITS.
The series includes both English and the original Japanese, as per usual, although it becomes painfully clear in this release how awkward the English dub can get with huge amounts of Japanese move names. It also suffers from some over-pronunciation, with Kon’s name becoming “Cone”, with each repetition of the name stretching it beyond recognition and making for rather laughter-inducing fare.
Textless opening and textless ending animation are included, as standard, and each disc comes with a different trailer that is played before the menu. Titles included as trailers are Tenkai Knights, Wolf Children and Journey to Agartha: Children Who Chase Lost Voices.
While there are no major differences production-wise, the second half of this story arc quickly descended into drawn-out battles with very little else. I praise the writers of this arc for focusing on Ichigo’s fading power, a central theme in this release, as it leads directly on from the previous arc and into the next. If nothing else, we got to see more of Kon, Ichigo’s out of control hollow form and Urahaha in the mix; well, actually, two Urahaha’s!