Anime DVD Review: One Piece Season Three Fifth Voyage

One Piece Season Three Fifth Voyage is a two-disc set that contains episodes 196-205 of the One Piece anime series. The first disc has five episodes and a commentary on Episode 196, while the second disc includes five episodes and the set’s bonus features. You can watch the episodes with either the English dub or the original Japanese audio with English subtitles. It should also be noted that in addition to watching episodes or using the “Play All” option, there is also a marathon feature, which allows you to watch all the episodes on a disc back-to-back without interruption. In the marathon feature, the opening credits only plays once, there are no next episode previews, and the ending credits are not included.

Right at the end of the previous set, Luffy and the Straw Hats fell right into the middle of the Marines’ stronghold of Navarone. When they realize where they’ve landed, Luffy and the others scatter themselves throughout the stronghold in an attempt to avoid being discovered

The episodes in this set see the various members of the crew end up in various situations, many of which include needing to have a disguise. Sanji and Luffy disguise themselves as chefs, Nami disguises as a nurse, Chopper disguises as a doctor, and Robin and Usopp disguise themselves as the same visiting inspector. Usopp is jailed, and finds himself in the same cell as Zoro, who didn’t bother to even try to put on a disguise. Luffy inadvertently reveals himself to the leader of Navarone, and the Marines hunt him and Sanji down as they try to make it to the brig to rescue Usopp and Zoro.

During this section, one of my favorite parts had to be when Chopper and Nami end up helping out a doctor who’s nervous about treating the Marines’ injuries since she’s a pediatrician and doesn’t like surgery or the sight of blood. With Chopper having medical training, he was an incredible help to this doctor. Later, after the doctor discovers they’re actually pirates, she’s still grateful to them for their help and decides to help them reunite with their friends at the Going Merry.

But after they manage to escape from Navarone, Nami discovers that the Marines took the gold they got in Skypiea. As you’d expect, Nami freaks out about it being gone and insists that they return to Navarone to retrieve it. It actually ended up being rather comical how the Going Merry manages to make it back into the stronghold without being detected by the Marines who were pursuing them as they escaped.

Unfortunately, this story arc does not conclude at the end of this set. From what I’ve seen, it appears there’s only one episode remaining in this arc; this is a little frustrating, especially since this was only a 10 episode set. It makes me wonder why they couldn’t have acquired that final episode of the arc and placed it on this set. I seem to recall that there had been a bit of a gap between this DVD set and the next one, so maybe this was as far as the Japanese licensors had licensed to FUNimation at the time this set was released? If that’s the case, then I’m more forgiving about this situation.

But I have to say that this story arc was relatively short, especially when compared to how long the Skypiea arc ran. And after making it through such a long arc, this shorter one is a nice change of pace. The humor in this arc has really helped to lighten the mood, and it’s a nice break before potentially launching into another longer story arc.

As for the DVD set itself, there are two selections for bonus features on the second disc: “Textless Songs” and “Trailers.” The “Textless Songs” feature includes “BON VOYAGE” (the opening song that appears in this set) and “Dreamship” (the ending song that appears on the set). There are also trailers for other properties that FUNimation was promoting at the time this DVD set was released.

If you’re a One Piece fan and are trying to collect the episodes on DVD, you can purchase this set for episodes 196-205. More recent DVD collections are packaging 24-25 episodes per set, and those releases would also be worth considering if you want to add One Piece to your home video library.

I wrote this review after watching a copy of One Piece Season Three Fifth Voyage that I checked out through the King County Library System.

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 DVD Review: Bleach DVD Set 13

Bleach DVD Set 13 is a three disc set that contains 12 episodes; each disc in this set includes four episodes and bonus features. The episodes on these discs can be watched either with English dialogue or with Japanese dialogue and English subtitles.

The first 10 episodes included in this set continue the story in Hueco Mundo. This includes character development for both Neliel and Nnoitra, as well as looking like the end is coming for Ichigo, Chad, Rukia, Uryu, and Renji. However, some Soul Society captains arrive to take on the Espada and help Ichigo and the others. Unfortunately, the arrival of the captains doesn’t mean these fights end easily; in fact, the battles the captains have against the Arrancar escalate and take several episodes to resolve. But before they can enjoy their victories, Aizen recaptures Orihime and launches an attack with the intent to destroy Karakura Town. In the final episode of this arc, Ichigo reaches Ulquiorra with the intent to take him on.

As I was watching these 10 episodes, especially after the Soul Society captains joined in the fights, I felt as if these battles ran longer than they really needed to. To me, it felt like these fights were being extended in order to stretch this part of the story out longer. My favorite part of these 10 episodes was getting to see the backstory and character development for both Neliel and Nnoitra, because this helped me acquire more respect for Nel and like her more as a character. While Pesche and Dondochakka also appear in this backstory, there wasn’t enough there to improve my view of them as characters. There’s one point where these two characters are sent flying, and I nearly cheered; I hope they’re gone for good.

I was dismayed to discover that the final two episodes are a short filler arc that sees the return of Rurichiyo, a character introduced in the filler arc that appears on Bleach DVD Set 11 and most of Bleach DVD Set 12. This was ultimately a stupid story about Rurichiyo getting mad with one of her retainers because he won’t let her play kemari because of the duties she has to do; she runs off to Karakura Town to find Ichigo and the others. When Rurichiyo’s retainer finds her, it leads to a kemari match being played between some of the characters of the series. But the game is interrupted by the arrival of a Hollow.

Ugh. Right when the canon arc was about to start into another major battle featuring Ichigo, the series cuts away to a filler story that just can’t fit in where it was put. Not only that, it features characters from the previous filler arc that I really didn’t care about. As a viewer, I was annoyed that this had happened again and that these characters made a return to the series. And it didn’t help that the filler story this time was just plain stupid. After making it through the intense fights earlier in the set and seeing the setup for upcoming major plot points, it was frustrating to have the storyline interrupted in this manner. It was probably a case where the anime was catching up too much with the manga source material, but couldn’t they have come up with a better filler than this? I really hope we don’t have to see Rurichiyo again during the series.

When it comes to the DVD itself, the omake continue to be cut off from the end of the episodes and only appear as part of the “Omake” special feature that appears on each disc. I still hope this will be rectified in one of the future DVD box sets for Bleach.

The main menu on each disc in this set is also silent again. The Naruto Shippuden box sets made a similar change to their menus, but this change ended up not lasting very long. I hope this holds true for these Bleach DVD box sets. Seeing action taking place on the menu without any audio can be rather disconcerting to me as a viewer.

Each disc has Production Art, which is line art of the characters and locations that appear in these episodes. Each disc includes nine pages of art. Each disc also has a “Clean Ending” option in the bonus features; the first two discs have the first ending that appear on this set, while the third disc has the second ending.

Each disc also has omake, as well as “sneak peeks.” There are three trailers in the “sneak peeks” on each disc, and the same three appear on each one.

If you’re a Bleach fan, then you need to get a hold of this set in order to have all of the episodes of the series in your anime home video collection.

I wrote this review after watching a copy of Bleach DVD Set 13 that I checked out through the King County Library System.

Anime DVD Review: One Piece Season Three Fourth Voyage

One Piece Season Three Fourth Voyage is a two-disc set that contains episodes 183-195 of the One Piece anime series. The first disc has seven episodes, while the second disc has six episodes, a commentary on Episode 193, and the set’s bonus features. You can watch the episodes with either the English dub or the original Japanese audio with English subtitles. It should also be noted that in addition to watching episodes or using the “Play All” option, there is also a marathon feature, which allows you to watch all the episodes on a disc back-to-back without interruption. In the marathon feature, the opening credits only plays once, there are no next episode previews, and the ending credits are not included.

The set not only continues the Skypiea arc, it also concludes in this set as well. The majority of this set focuses on Eneru’s plan to destroy both Sky Island and Upper Yard. Of course, Luffy wants to stop Eneru from succeeding, and this ends up climaxing into a major fight between the two of them.

But in the middle of the battle, we get a treat as three episodes are devoted to what happened between Noland and Calgara in the past, and how Calgara and his people disappeared when the part of the island they occupied rose into the sky. I thought it was effective to include this; while we had heard a brief telling of Noland’s story earlier in the arc, it was helpful for me as a viewer to see this story with more detail. This section is brought into the story as a flashback from Wyper, so it didn’t feel like it was breaking up the arc as much as it could have.

Overall, I have to say I like how this story reached its climax, and I loved with Luffy did to bring the battle to a close. Unfortunately, we later see that Eneru is still around, so there’s the potential for him to somehow return later on in the series. And Robin makes an interesting discovery that ties in with her dream of finding and deciphering Rio Poneglyph.

The ending of the arc was rather satisfying, and I think this was probably the best way to conclude it. The set ends on a bit of a cliffhanger, though, since the Going Merry is just discovered when it returns to our world by landing in the middle of a Marine base. I’m looking forward to watching the next set in order to find out how they’re going to get themselves out of this predicament.

While I liked the Skypiea arc, it ended up running throughout the episodes that made up the first four DVD sets for the third season, which comes out of 48 episodes. There were one or two fights that I thought could have been tightened up somewhat; however, with One Piece being a shonen series, the various fights that took place in the arc would be done in a way take a while to help lengthen the story out. I should at least be happy that there weren’t any filler episodes thrown into the middle of arc and disrupting the story! So in that respect, perhaps having a 48 episode arc isn’t as bad as it could have been.

As for the DVD set itself, there are two selections for bonus features on the second disc: “Textless Songs” and “Trailers.” The “Textless Songs” feature includes “BON VOYAGE” (the opening song that appears in this set) and “Moon and Sun” (the ending song that appears on the set). There are also trailers for other properties that FUNimation was promoting at the time this DVD set was released.

If you’re a One Piece fan and are trying to collect the episodes on DVD, you can purchase this set for episodes 183-195. More recent DVD collections are packaging 24-25 episodes per set, and those releases would also be worth considering if you want to add One Piece to your home video library.

I wrote this review after watching a copy of One Piece Season Three Fourth Voyage that I checked out through the King County Library System.

Anime DVD Review: Bleach DVD Set 12

Bleach DVD Set 12 is a three disc set that contains 14 episodes. The first disc in the set includes four episodes and bonus features, which the other two discs include five episodes and bonus features. The episodes on these discs can be watched either with English dialogue or with Japanese dialogue and English subtitles.

The first 10 episodes in this set focus on the “filler” arc that focuses on Shusuke Amagi and Rurichiyo Kasumioji. In these episodes, Rurichiyo reveals that she knew that Kumoi has been trying to assassinate her. She escapes into Soul Society with the intention of participating in her marriage to Shu in order to keep Kumoi in line. But when Ichigo, Rukia, Kenryu and Enryu crash the ceremony, they discover the Rurichiyo at the wedding is an imposter. But before they can prove anything, the four of them become wanted by Soul Society and are being pursued by Soi Fong. Ichigo and Rukia befriend Shu, and he convinces them to take him as a hostage in order to escape and search for the real Rurichiyo.

Meanwhile, Kira voices his suspicions about Kibune to Amagai; Amagai is skeptical, but he tells Kira to continue observing Kibune. This leads to Kira finding an imprisoned Rurichiyo and being attacked by both assassins and Kibune himself. But in the end, Kibune is consumed by the power of his bakoto. But before this arc comes to an end, there’s a surprising twist that involves Amagai and leads into an epic battle between him and Ichigo. Although I have to say that near the end of the battle, I was feeling as if Amagai was becoming way overpowered simply to extend the story out a little longer.

Phew! I’m glad that this arc finally ended. I have to admit that I didn’t care for it for the most part, especially since I never really came to care about Rurichiyo as a character. For the majority of the arc I found her to be rather annoying. But on the upside, I was glad to see the Amagai’s running gag of not being able to drink alcohol disappeared in this set; I never found the gag to be funny and it overstayed its welcome on Bleach DVD Set 11. But when all is said and done, this will probably end up being a more forgettable filler arc than the Bount filler arc had been.

The final four episodes in the set return to the canon storyline. When the first episode of the canon arc started, I was dismayed to discover that there was no explanation for how we returned to this spot from the filler. However, I discovered that the omake at the end of episode 189 focused on the fact that the series was returning to the canon storyline; unfortunately, since the omake now only appear as a bonus feature, this really hurt the transition between episodes 189 and 190.

Episode 190 was almost exclusively a recap episode in order to remind the audience what had happened to lead up to the point where the canon arc ended before jumping into the filler. The beginning of episode 191 also has some recap, but this episode starts to move the story forward. Between episodes 191 and 193, there’s a focus on the battle with Szayel Aporro as well as on the battle between Ichigo and Nnoitra. During Ichigo’s battle, Nel ends up revealing a secret: that she’s the former Third Espada and that she can return to an adult form.

Well, these episodes finally turn Nel into an important character; prior to this point, she was simply annoying. However, I don’t think there’s anything that can help Pesche, and Dondochakka improve as characters. I honestly believe that Kubo created them to serve as comic relief for this particular story arc, but I don’t find either character to be funny. Instead, they’re simply annoying and I wish they’d go away.

The twist with Nel was interesting, and it gives Ichigo an ally that can help him fight against the Espada. Outside of this development, though, not a whole lot truly happened to move this story arc along in the final four episodes that were included in this set.

After making it through 22 episodes of a filler arc, I’m happy and relieved to see this set finally return to the canon storyline from the Bleach manga. About the only good thing about thing about the filler arc is the fact that I didn’t have to put up with Pesche and Dondochakka for a little while.

When it comes to the DVD set itself, the omake continue to be cut off from the end of the episodes and only appear as part of the “Omake” special feature that appears on each disc. I still hope this will be rectified in one of the future DVD box sets for Bleach.

The main menu on each disc in this set is also silent again. The Naruto Shippuden box sets made a similar change to their menus, but this change ended up not lasting very long. I hope this holds true for these Bleach DVD box sets. Seeing action taking place on the menu without any audio can be rather disconcerting to me as a viewer.

Each disc has Production Art, which is line art of the characters and locations that appear in these episodes. The first disc has 11 pages of art, the second disc has 12 pages, and the third disc has 11 pages. Each disc also has a “Clean Ending” option in the bonus features.

Each disc also has omake, as well as “sneak peeks.” There are three trailers in the “sneak peeks” on each disc, and the same three appear on each one.

If you’re a Bleach fan, then you need to get a hold of this set in order to have all of the episodes of the series in your anime home video collection.

I wrote this review after watching a copy of Bleach DVD Set 12 that I checked out through the King County Library System.

Anime DVD Review: Bleach DVD Set 11

Bleach DVD Set 11 is a three disc set that contains 12 episodes. All three discs in the set include four episodes and bonus features. The episodes on these discs can be watched either with English dialogue or with Japanese dialogue and English subtitles.

This set begins a “filler arc” for the series. Unfortunately, the point where they placed this filler breaks up the Arrancar arc, and this arc doesn’t seem to fit into where it was placed. This arc makes it seem like that Ichigo and the others have left Hueco Mundo, but from what I’ve seen online, it appears that when this arc is over, they’re all back in Hueco Mundo again. Since this filler arc continues into Set 12, I’m curious to find out how they explain that Ichigo and the others have returned and appear to be at the spots where they were at the end of Set 10.

This arc introduces Shusuke Amagai, who is appointed by the Thirteen Court Guard Squads as the new captain for the third division. Amagai appoints Makoto Kibune as his third seat; when I first saw Kibune, I had this feeling that he wasn’t trustworthy. An episode later in the set proved my suspicions to be right.

When Amagai and Kibune first arrive at the third division, they’re not well-received by most of the division’s members. Izuru Kira, the lieutenant for third division, asks Matsumoto for some advice, and she suggests holding a welcoming party. At the party, it’s revealed that Amagai has a low tolerance for alcohol and collapses after one sip. Unfortunately, Amagai’s low tolerance for alcohol becomes a running gag throughout the episodes in this set; it’s a running gag that got old for me really fast.

In the episodes in this set that focus on Amagai and Kibune, Kira comes to learn what Kibune is really like and comes to dislike him. Unfortunately, Kira can’t say anything to Amagai about it, and Kira takes it upon himself to keep an eye on Kibune.

Meanwhile a young princess of Soul Society nobility named Rurichiyo Kasumioji, along with her Soul Reaper assistants Kenryu and Enryu, come to Karakura Town. When Rurichiyo wanders the town alone, there’s an abnormal amount of Hollow sightings; these sightings get the attention of Ichigo and Rukia. Ichigo is able to take down the Hollows with his bankai, which impresses Kenryu and Enryu. The next day, the princess and her assistants move into a house adjacent to Ichigo’s, and they become students at his school.

Ichigo soon learns that Rurichiyo is the target of an assassination plot being spearheaded by Gyokaku Kumoi, one of the caretakers serving her clan; this is his way of trying to take over the clan. Rukia pressures Ichigo to protect Rurichiyo. It gets to the point where Kumoi sends a group of assassins to kill not only Rurichiyo, but to go after Ichigo and his friends as well.

Near the end of the set, there’s an episode where Ichigo is battling with one of the assassins, and Ichigo ends up in a different dimension. Here, Ichigo relives the guilt he felt because he couldn’t protect his mother. Getting to see little Ichigo and some of the things he did as a kid were adorable in this episode. The assassin tries to have an image of Ichigo’s mother kill him, but Ichigo manages to break out of that dimension by making peace with his mother. This was definitely an emotional episode, and for me, this was probably the best episode in this set.

Unfortunately, I have to say that overall, I’m not really enjoying this filler arc. The princess and her Soul Reaper assistants aren’t doing anything for me. Amagami’s running gag is annoying rather than amusing, and I overall haven’t really cared about either story that’s been part of this arc. I should mention that by the end of the set, the audience learns that there’s a common link tying these two stories together: Kibune. I’m not going to say how Kibune ties in with the princess’ story at this point, though. I suspect his connection will be elaborated on in Set 12.

When it comes to the DVD set itself, the omake continue to be cut off from the end of the episodes and only appear as part of the “Omake” special feature that appears on each disc. I still hope this will be rectified in one of the future DVD box sets for Bleach.

I should also mention that the main menu on each disc is absolutely silent. VIZ Media did the same thing with some of the Naruto Shippuden box sets; fortunately, the silent menus didn’t last very long. Hopefully this will also hold true for the Bleach DVD box sets.

Each disc has Production Art, which is line art of the characters and locations that appear in these episodes. The first disc has 9 pages of art, the second disc has 7 pages, and the third disc has 10 pages. Each disc also has a “Clean Ending” option in the bonus features.

Each disc also has omake, the exact same “sneak peeks” appear on all three discs, and the “More From Viz” feature on each disc has the same six pages of advertisements for VIZ Media’s manga releases.

If you’re a Bleach fan, then you need to get a hold of this set in order to have all of the episodes of the series in your anime home video collection.

I wrote this review after watching a copy of Bleach DVD Set 11 that I checked out through the King County Library System.

Anime Film Review: Bleach the Movie 2: The DiamondDust Rebellion

Bleach the Movie 2: The DiamondDust Rebellion is the second film for the Bleach anime franchise. The film was directed by Noriyuki Abe, and it was released to Japanese theaters on December 22, 2007. VIZ Media holds the North American distribution rights for the film, and the company released it as a two-disc set on September 8, 2009.

The film has a strong focus on Toshiro Hitsugaya, the captain of the 10th Division. His division is sent to escort an artifact that’s known as the Ouin; unfortunately, it’s stolen during its transport from Soul Society by a masked an unidentified Soul Reaper who is escorted my two mysterious Arrancar. During the attack, Hitsugaya gets into a confrontation with the masked Soul Reaper and appears to recognize him. During the battle, Hitsugaya abandons his post to pursue the masked Soul Reaper. The Soul Society accuses Hitsugaya of treason and orders his immediate capture; in addition, his squad is put under house arrest.

While Ichigo is out on patrol as a Soul Reaper, he accidentally finds Soi Fon conducting an investigation of the transport site; she tells Ichigo what’s going on before she leaves. After Soi Fon’s departure, Uryu meets up with Ichigo, and the two of them find Toshiro. When Hitsugaya awakens in Ichigo’s house, he abandons his Captain’s Robe. Ichigo finds Hitsugaya as he’s trying to sneak out, but the two are interrupted by the arrival of the two Arrancar. Hitsugaya makes his escape while Ichigo battles the Arrancar.

Hitsugaya discovers that the masked Soul Reaper has a connection to his past, and the connection they share leads up to the climax of the film. And the ultimate theme of this film has to do with what can happen when you have a problem that you’re unable to share with anyone; this theme comes through in what Hitsugaya does and in his connection with the masked Soul Reaper.

Before I comment on the movie itself, I wanted to talk about the title. After watching the film, my husband and I both wondered where the title, “The DiamondDust Rebellion” came from. My husband’s best guess is that “DiamondDust” refers to snow; however, he admitted that he had to do some mental gymnastics to come up with even that.

Now on to the film itself. Just like many other films based on Shonen Jump properties, the movie introduces characters and concepts that aren’t in the manga. Because these characters and concepts aren’t canon in the manga, the film has to end with “resetting the counter to zero” (i.e. having to have an ending that writes out the new characters and nullify any effects that the new concepts brought to the film).

Even though the masked Soul Reaper, Sojiro Kusaka, is a new character, his appearance brings about some character development for Hitsugaya. From what I’ve read, Tite Kubo created a one-shot manga about Hitsugaya’s backstory that was published prior to the film’s release in order to promote the film; unfortunately, it turns out the character of Sojiro didn’t appear in the one-shot. So Hitsugaya’s backstory ends up being canon while Sojiro’s existence does not. Personally, I liked having Hitsugaya being the focus of the film because he’s one of my favorite Soul Reapers.

I thought the story in The DiamondDust Rebellion was rather solid. Also, the animation looked rather impressive; while it may not have been quite as good as the animation that appeared in Bleach the Movie: Memories of Nobody, the animation in this film still looks better than the animation that appears in the television series.

The DVD release of the film includes a booklet, which appears to be a reproduction of the booklet that would have been handed out at Japanese theaters to moviegoers; however, this booklet had been translated into English. This booklet includes a summary of the film, stills from the movie, interviews and statements from some of the Japanese voice actors, Tite Kubo, and the screenwriter. The lyrics for the ending theme, a bio of the band that performs it, and brief statements from the band members are included. At the back of the booklet are credits and information on some of the terms, characters, and worldviews that appear in the film. This is a very well-done booklet, and it’s very informative. This is definitely worth getting this DVD release for, especially if you’re a fan of Bleach.

When it comes to VIZ Media’s DVD release, the first disc contains the actual film, and menu option labeled as, “Previews.” The “Previews” menu has options for “Trailers” and “Manga.” “Trailers” includes four minutes worth of trailers, while “Manga” four pages of advertisements for manga released by VIZ Media.

All of the actual bonus features are included on the second DVD in the set. The first is the “Making Bleach the Movie 2” featurette, which is comprised of five different sections; altogether, the five sections have a total runtime of roughly 37-and-a-half minutes. For this featurette, you can either watch it in one continuous piece, or choose which section of it you want to watch. All five sections have Japanese audio with English subtitles.

“At Studio Pierrot With the Director and Character Designer,” which has an interview with Noriyuki Abe and Masashi Kudoh; they talk a lot about the character of Sojiro Kusaka, and why they chose Hitsugaya to be the focus of the film.

“The T2 Studio – Photography and FX” interviews a couple of guys who talks about the animation and some of the themes and effects that were used in the film. “At Studio Wyeth With Background Artists” has two people talking about their feelings regarding the film and its themes before they talk about the actual backgrounds.

“Composing the Score with Shirou Sagisu” has Sagisu talking about the theme of the music in the film, writing and recording the music, the type of music used in the film, and he even touches on Ichigo’s music themes in Bleach. “Interview with Sambomaster” has the members of the band talk about being chosen to have a song of theirs chosen for a Shonen Jump film, they talk about growing up and reading Jump comics, as well as what they like in the film.

Overall, this featurette was pretty good for what it is. In fact, I would have to say that it was probably a little better than the two featurettes that appeared on the DVD release for Bleach the Movie: Memories of Nobody.

There’s a “Production Art Gallery” that includes 36 pages of line art of the characters and locations. The last extra is “Original Japanese Promos,” which runs for five minutes and includes five promos. The first, third, fourth, and fifth promos have Japanese audio and no subtitles. The second promo, which has a lot of exclusive animation in it, has Japanese audio and includes English subtitles. I was so grateful that VIZ included the English subtitles on this particular promo, because I wouldn’t have understood what was being said or what exactly was going on. Of the five promos, I would have to say that the second one was definitely the best one.

If you’re a fan of Bleach, I think you’ll enjoy Bleach The Movie 2: The DiamondDust Rebellion and will want to add it to your anime collection if you don’t own it already. This release is especially worth it for Bleach fans to get a hold of the booklet that’s included.

I wrote this review after watching a copy of Bleach the Movie 2: The DiamondDust Rebellion that my husband and I purchased.