Anime Film Review: Bleach the Movie: Fade to Black

Bleach the Movie: Fade to Black is the third film for the Bleach anime franchise. The film was directed by Noriyuki Abe, and it was released to Japanese theaters on December 13, 2008. VIZ Media holds the North American distribution rights for the film, and the company released it on DVD and Blu-ray on November 15, 2011. This review focuses on the DVD pressing, since that’s the version that I watched.

This film introduces a pair of mysterious siblings who wreak havoc in Soul Society. The brother has a scythe that erases memories, which he uses on Mayuri while he’s in his laboratory. Mayuri becomes so panicked and frightened that he damages a machine; this causes a massive reiatsu explosion that covers quite a bit of the Soul Society in a milky layer of reiatsu and freezes many Soul Reapers. During the chaos, the two siblings go to Rukia; the brother uses his scythe to erase her memories, and he and his sister take Rukia with them. At this point, everyone in the Soul Society appear to lose their memories of Rukia.

In the World of the Living, Ichigo briefly forgets about Rukia, but then recalls her after having a dream. Troubled by this, Ichigo and Kon go to the Soul Society to find out what’s going on. It turns out the Soul Reapers have forgotten Ichigo and believe he is the one responsible for the reiatsu explosion. Ichigo finds himself having to fight with people he thinks of as friends.

Rukia has a past with these siblings, who don’t have names. Rukia was supposed to give them names, but something happened that prevented this. And during his search for Rukia, Ichigo receives some unexpected help from Byakuya. I appreciated getting the reminder that Rukia’s older sister, Hisana, had been married to Byakuya, since this connection played an important role in this film.

Urahara actually ends up playing an important role in the story, and he actually goes to Soul Society wearing his captain’s uniform. It was cool to not only see Urahara dressed this way, but to also get to see him in action. Urahara actually participates quite a bit in one of the battles that takes place near the end of the film.

The story ultimately climaxes with Ichigo finding Rukia but being forced to fight her after the siblings possess Rukia. Without spoiling the ending, I will say that in some respects it was touching; however, the way it was played ended up coming off a little “over the top” at times.

Of course, as I’ve come to expect of these Shonen Jump films, everything is “reset to zero” at the end of it. This means that any character growth of progression that takes place here won’t be part of the story of the television anime series. Anymore, as I watch these films, I find myself wondering how exactly they’ll “reset to zero” in order to try and not cause any inconsistencies with the anime series.

Since this film focused so heavily on the Soul Society, we didn’t get to see many of the characters from the Land of the Living. Honestly, though, I didn’t see much of a reason to have included Kon in here, because I don’t think he added much to the story in the long run.

Animation-wise, it wasn’t bad, but it just wasn’t quite up to the level of the first two Bleach films. There were occasional shots in this film where some of the computer graphics were more noticeable with some of the characters’ movements because these particular movements didn’t look entirely natural.

But to be honest, Bleach the Movie: Fade to Black isn’t too bad for a Shonen Jump film. There was an interesting story being told, and it was interesting to see many of the characters act in a way you wouldn’t expect, especially when they interact with Ichigo after they’ve forgotten about him.

When VIZ Media released Bleach the Movie: Fade to Black on DVD, it was released as a single disc instead of a two-disc release. Because of this, there aren’t nearly as many bonus features for this film that the previous two films received for their DVD releases.

The first bonus feature is “Movie Trailers,” which is split into Japanese trailers and English trailers. There are a total of eight Japanese trailers included, and they all have Japanese audio without English subtitles. There are two English trailers included.

For “Production Art,” there’s 16 pages of line art of the characters and locations that appeared in the film. The final bonus feature is “More From Viz Media,” which only includes the trailer for Naruto Shippuden the Movie: Bonds that appears at the beginning of the disc when it first starts playing.

The bonus features on this release are more on the “bare bones” side, but at least getting these bonuses are better than getting nothing. I’m not going to complain about this, since it could have been a lot worse.

If you’re a fan of Bleach, I think you’ll enjoy Bleach The Movie: Fade to Black and will want to add it to your anime collection if you don’t own it already. From what I can tell, it appears that the Blu-ray has the exact same bonus features as the DVD release, so it really would come down to a matter of preference as to whether or not you’d want to own this film on DVD or Blu-ray.

I wrote this review after watching a copy of Bleach the Movie: Fade to Black that I checked out through the King County Library System.

Anime Biography: Osamu Dezaki

Osamu Dezaki was born in Shinagawa, Tokyo on November 18, 1943, and he debuted as a manga artist while he was still in high school. In 1963, Dezaki joined Mushi Productions, the anime studio founded by Osamu Tezuka. In 1972, Dezaki co-founded the anime studio MADHOUSE; later, Dezaki and Akio Sugino would co-found Studio Annapuru.

Dezaki made his directorial debut in 1970, when he directed the Tomorrow’s Joe anime series; he also directed the Tomorrow’s Joe movies and the second television anime series. His credits for directing also include Ace wo Neare! (the movie, television series, and the OAV), the film Air, the first two Astro Boy series, the B.B OAV, Big X, Black Jack (the OAV and the movie), the Clannad film, Dororo, Ganba no Boken, Genji Monogatari Sennenki, the Gense Shugoshin P-hyoro Ikka OAV, Golgo 13 (the Queen Bee OAV and The Professional film), Hajime Ningen Gyatoruz, Hakugei: Legend of the Moby Dick, the Ie Naki Ko movie, In the Beginning – The Bible Stories, Jetter Mars, Jungle Kurobe, Karate Baka Ichidai, the Kasei Yakyoku OAV, several Lupin III television specials, Manga Sekai Mukashi Banashi, Nobody’s Boy – Remi, Oniisama E…, The Rose of Versailles, The Snow Queen, Space Adventure Cobra (the television series and the film), the Sword for Truth film, Takarajima, the film A Time Slip of 10000 Years: Prime Rose, two Hamtaro films, Ultraviolet: Code 044, and the film Undersea Super Train: Marine Express.

Dezaki also did storyboard work on Akado Suzunosuke, supervision on the Botchan special, screenplay and storyboard for Cobra the Animation, key animation for the Kanashimi no Belladonna film, storyboards for the Samurai Giants anime series, art for the Senya Ichiya Monogatari film, and served as the executive director for the Sohryuden – Legend of the Dragon Kings OAV.

Dezaki also did some anime work under the name of Makura Saki. He used this name on such projects as Ace wo Nerae!, Andersen Stories, Tomorrow’s Joe 2, Hazedon, Karate Baka Ichidai, three of the Lupin III television specials, New Moomin, One Pound Gospel, The Rose of Versailles, and Space Adventure Cobra. The credits under this pseudonym include storyboarding, episode directing, directing, and continuity.

In addition to his anime work, Dezaki did animation work for the Rainbow Brite series, and he also served as the animation director for The Visionaries and as a director for Bionic Six and Mighty Orbots.

Sadly, Osamu Dezaki passed away on April 17, 2011 at the age of 67 due to lung cancer. He is survived by his brother, Satoshi Dezaki, who is also a director.

References

“Anime Director Osamu Dezaki Passes Away.” Anime News Network. April 17, 2011. http://www.animenewsnetwork.com/news/2011-04-17/anime-director-osamu-dezaki-passes-away

“Osamu Dezaki.” Anime News Network. http://www.animenewsnetwork.com/encyclopedia/people.php?id=65

Rio: Rainbow Gate Is Now on Hulu

The Fandom Post is reporting that all thirteen episodes, along with a bonus episode of the Rio: Rainbow Gate anime series are now available for streaming on Hulu.

Hulu Plus subscribers can watch the series in high-definition on their TV, mobile devices, and computer.

Sentai Filmworks Licenses Brynhildr in the Darkness

Sentai Filmworks has announced that the company has acquired the license for the Brynhildr in the Darkness television anime series.

The company says that it will be releasing the series through select digital outlets “soon” with a home video release to follow.

SHIROBAKO: Episode 2 – “Arupin is Here!”

SHIROBAKO starts out with five friends in a high school animation club producing an animation to screen at their school cultural fair. Aoi, Ema, Shizuka, Misa, and Midori swear that they’ll eventually reunite in Tokyo and make another anime together. The story then jumps ahead in time two-and-a-half years, where Aoi is working as a production assistant at Musashino Animation, a company that’s in the process of working on an anime titled, Exodus. Ema is also at Musashina Animation; she’s just getting her foot in the door as an animator. In Episode Two, we learn that Shizuka is a newbie voice actress at Akaoni Production.

Episode Two opens with Aoi finding Misato collapsed on the floor from a fever after helping out to get the third episode of Exodus ready on time. After Aoi helps her out, she gets Ryosuke to help finish up the animation on the fourth episode. So far, it seems like everything’s going to work out okay.

But then, during the sound design process, Seiichi Kinoshita, the director, becomes dissatisfied with the design of Arupin. He starts throwing out a bunch of changes based on his vision of her, which includes adding in elements that didn’t exist previously. There’s a lot of resistance, since it would require redoing the key-frame animation for an entire scene; the series has already fallen behind due to the issues with the third episode, so having to re-do an entire scene from scratch for the fourth episode isn’t an appealing option. Aoi suggests calling a meeting to decide how this will be handled. As a viewer, I could just feel the sense of tension as this portion of the episode played out.

After seeing how Seiichi wanted to make such drastic changes to the characters when they’re four episodes into production, it made me wonder if this happens more regularly than we think it does. It would certainly explain how some series I’ve seen change direction suddenly for no readily apparent reason. By the end of the episode, the production staff decides to go with the director’s idea in the end; but I’m seriously afraid it’s going to lead to their series becoming a trainwreck.

Also touched upon briefly in this episode is Ema and how she and Aoi don’t really run into each other much at work. It’s in large part to them being in different areas of the production, but it’s also due to the fact that Aoi is now busy trying to oversee the production of both the fourth episode and the ninth episode. I hope that Aoi doesn’t become so overwhelmed and overworked that she collapses from a fever as well! This could also potentially become an important plot point as the series continues.

Episode Two didn’t focus on Aoi and her connections with her friends very much; at most, we only got brief glimpses or brief scenes with Ema and Shizuka. But with the story that’s being told in this episode, putting more of a focus on that aspect really wouldn’t have worked. We’ve now seen that three of them are in the business, and I hope that we’ll eventually get to see where Misa and Midori ended up.

SHIROBAKO still seems to have a lot of potential at the end of Episode Two, and I hope that this potential continues to manifest itself as the series continues.

Toonami to Begin Airing InuYasha: The Final Act on November 15, 2014

Toonami has announced that it will begin airing the InuYasha: The Final Act television anime series on November 15, 2014 at 2:00 a.m. EST. The Toonami staff says that they will edit the show to a TV-MA rating, and that they do not anticipate making many edits.

Toonami has also stated that they cannot air all 10 episodes of Hellsing Ultimate as previously planned. The staff apologized and said that fans would have to “finish the story where you can find it.”

Toonami’s lineup on November 1, 2014 will be:

11:30 p.m.: Attack on Titan (finale)
12:00 a.m.: Bleach (finale)
12:30 a.m.: Naruto Shippuden
01:00 a.m.: One Piece
01:30 a.m.: Gurren Lagann
02:00 a.m.: Hellsing Ultimate
02:00 a.m.: Dragon Ball Z: Cooler’s Revenge (bonus hour of anime due to Daylight Savings Time ending)
03:00 a.m.: Space Dandy
03:30 a.m.: Cowboy Bebop
04:00 a.m.: Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood
04:30 a.m.: Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex 2nd GIG
05:00 a.m.: Big O
05:30 a.m.: Samurai Jack

Toonami’s lineup on November 8, 2014 will be:

11:30 p.m.: Attack on Titan (rerun)
12:00 a.m.: Dragon Ball Z Kai (premiere)
12:30 a.m.: Naruto Shippuden
01:00 a.m.: One Piece
01:30 a.m.: Gurren Lagann
02:00 a.m.: Hellsing Ultimate (finale)
03:00 a.m.: Space Dandy
03:30 a.m.: Cowboy Bebop
04:00 a.m.: Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood
04:30 a.m.: Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex 2nd GIG
05:00 a.m.: Big O
05:30 a.m.: Samurai Jack

New York Times Manga Best Seller List: October 12-18, 2014

Here are the top ten selling manga in the United States for the week of October 12-18, 2014, according to the New York Times.

1. Vampire Knight Volume 19 by Matsuri Hino
2. Naruto Volume 67 by Masashi Kishimoto
3. Fairy Tail Volume 42 by Hiro Mashima
4. Attack on Titan Volume 1 by Hajime Isayama
5. Kamisama Kiss Volume 16 by Julietta Suzuki
6. Food Wars! Volume 2 by Yuto Tsukuda and Shun Saeki
7. Happy Marriage?! Volume 8 by Maki Enjoji
8. Maximum Ride Volume 8 by by James Patterson and NaRae Lee
9. Unofficial Hatsune Mix by KEI
10. Attack on Titan Volume 2 by Hajime Isayama