Review: Bleach Series 16 Part 1

Release Date
Kaze, Manga Entertainment
Language / Subtitles
English, Japanese / English
Run Time
300 Minutes

Bleach enters its final arc! It’s been a whole year since Ichigo lost his Soul Reaper powers, forced to return to normal teenage life, how will he come to terms with his lack of power? Is there any way to regain them and the ability to protect his family and friends? We find out in this, the final arc of Bleach from Kaze and Manga Entertainment.

Ichigo has spent the past year without his Soul Reaper powers, watching friends and family alike pick up the slack in his absence. Not quite content with his new, but slow, lifestyle, all ultimately change when Uryuu ends up hospitalised at the hands of an unknown attacker. With Chad off the grid, Ichigo starts to feel his lack of ability and accepts an offer from the mysterious Kugo Ginjo, after refusing the first time, to join the group Xcution in the hopes of regaining his powers!

While this may be the final arc in the anime it’s far from the end in the original manga, which is still ongoing in Weekly Shonen Jump. Given Bleach’s worldwide popularity a continuation of the anime is highly likely, although there are currently no plans to do so as of yet. ‘The Lost Agent’ story arc felt like a massive low-point in the manga after the epic showdown with Aizen, coming off as a manga version of filler, but here in anime form, it’s quite the welcome addition. We are treated to some old faces that we haven’t seen since very early in the series and it’s back to a normal high-school setting, if only for a couple of episodes.

One of Bleach’s long-running problems is that with each new story arc, a wave of new characters are introduced and with each subsequent story arc great effort is made to keep these character’s relevant, and this is not always to the benefit of the story. Thankfully, in this arc, that is not the case, leaving you free to focus entirely on its new characters and enjoy the story without being overwhelmed by forced character interaction.

The animation quality seems to have been amped up now that we’re back to the main story, facial features are fully defined and are not only limited to a select few characters. The dubbing feels better all-around compared to previous seasons, mainly due to the smaller cast, which has allowed for a much better product overall both visually and in audio. All Japanese girl band Scandal handle the opening theme with their awesome song ‘Harukaze’, and the ending theme, ‘Re:pray’ by Aimer, is equally fantastic.

Textless opening and textless ending animation are included, as standard, and, continuing the trend from the previous release, we see one trailer per disc before arriving at the main menu. Titles included as trailers are Berserk: Golden Age Arc 1 and two instances of Wolf Children.

Bleach enters its final arc and we’re treated to some old faces, plus a manageable amount of new ones. Slow and steady seems to be the approach this time around and it’s certainly a benefit to the story; after the previous arc aimed to force in as many characters as possible, it’s a welcome break to actually enjoy the slowly unfolding story, taking in every detail. The animation quality has been amped up and overall this series has been a much more enjoyable experience.