Anime DVD Review: Bleach DVD Set 21

Bleach DVD Set 21 includes episodes 292-303 of the series on two DVDs. Audio options include the original Japanese audio with English subtitles and the English dub.

Bleach DVD Set 21

English Publisher: VIZ Media
Format: DVD
Release Date: June 3, 2014

Set 21 has nine episodes of the canon storyline and three filler episodes; however, one of the nine canon storyline episodes is an entire episode recounting the various battles Ichigo has had in the canon story. In addition, the subsequent episode spends roughly half of its runtime in this flashback about Ichigo as well. So in the end, there are really only seven-and-a-half episodes that truly progress the story in this set.

But a lot actually takes place in those seven-and-a-half episodes. There’s a major battle with Aizen that involves the vast majority of the characters currently on the battlefield, but Aizen manages to cut them all down. Yamamoto makes a major sacrifice during a battle, Ichigo and Gin end up battling it out, Ichigo learns something shocking about his father, Urahara and Yoruichi show up and join in the fight, and Aizen goes through a transformation. The canon material was actually the most enjoyable part of watching Bleach DVD Set 21, with the only exception being the episode-and-a-half of flashback. For the most part, it felt like the story was actually moving and wasn’t being stretched out.

Unfortunately, the canon storyline was broken up in this set to include filler material. The first time this happens is right when Urahara suddenly appears and attacks Aizen in the fake Karakura Town. Instead of continuing on with this fight, the series shifts to two filler episodes. The first filler was created to promote the fourth Bleach film, Hell Verse. The Soul Reapers are making films for a film festival to raise money to rebuild the Seireitei. It was supposed to be a light-hearted and comedic episode, but I didn’t find it to be that funny. Also, it was frustrating because there’s no way to tell where this episode could realistically fit into the series’ timeline, since many of the characters who appear in this episode are currently unconscious or are badly injured in the fight in the fake Karakura Town. This particular episode felt like a waste of time, and its inclusion frustrated me since it broke the flow of the canon storyline.

The second filler episode serves as a prologue for the Hell Verse film. I can’t really comment on how effective of a prologue it is, since I haven’t seen Hell Verse yet. However, of the three filler episodes included on this set, I’m the most forgiving of this particular one since it ties in with the Bleach film that was released at the time these episodes were being aired on Japanese television.

Bleach DVD Set 21 ends with a filler episode that’s set in the new year, and it’s split up into two stories. The first story sees some of the Soul Reapers playing a game of karuta that ends up going out of control when they start fighting with each other to get the right card. This story was meant to be humorous, but I didn’t find it to be funny; in fact, I thought it was rather stupid. In the second story, Orihime sees her friends celebrating the new year with their families and seems to be feeling alone. She runs into Rukia and Renji, and the three of them go to the Urahara Shop and join them for their celebration. This story had so much potential, especially with Orihime’s angle. Unfortunately, the story spent more time finding ways for Renji to become a “punching bag” and running the gag into the ground. I suspect that this episode aired right around New Year’s Day, but I just felt like it wasted time and kept the viewer away from the exciting canon storyline.

When it comes to the DVD set itself, the omake continue to be cut off from the end of the episodes and are collected together in the “Omake” feature that’s included on each disc. Overall, I thought the quality of the omake on this set was a little stronger than the ones I’d seen on the past couple of sets.

There’s a clean opening and clean ending included on both discs, and it’s the same opening and closing due to the fact that neither song changed over the course of these 12 episodes.

“More From VIZ Media” includes the exact same trailers that appear at the beginning of each disc when it first starts up. Even though this has been the case for the past set or two now, it still feels like somebody didn’t want to go to a lot of effort for this particular bonus feature.

If you’re a Bleach fan and want to have all the episodes of the series in your anime home video collection, then you need to get a hold of Bleach DVD Set 21. The only real drawback to this set is the fact that there are a couple of ridiculous filler episodes included. However, if you skip those two episodes and focus on the canon material and the prologue for Hell Verse, then this set will probably be a little better of a viewing experience.

The reviewer checked out a copy of this item through the King County Library System

Anime DVD Review: Bleach DVD Set 20

Bleach DVD Set 20 includes episodes 280-291 of the series on two DVDs. Audio options include the original Japanese audio with English subtitles and the English dub.

Bleach DVD Set 20

English Publisher: VIZ Media
Format: DVD
Release Date: March 18, 2014

Almost all of the episodes in Bleach DVD Set 20 focus on the canon storyline from the manga source material. The exception is Episode 287, which retells the events from the first 60 episodes or so; the difference is that the characters we know from Bleach have been placed into an Arabian Nights setting. This episode was created and thrown into the middle of the canon storyline to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Bleach manga, but I failed to see how this truly connected to the manga. Overall, I thought this episode was pointless and was painful to watch. Not only that, it was irritating that this was thrown into the middle of a major story arc.

Outside of this, the episodes in this set primarily focused on the battles taking place in the fake Karakura Town. The Visoreds who arrived right near the end of the previous box set team up with some of the Soul Reapers in order to take down the three remaining Espada. Of these battles, the most interesting was the one with Halibel. There’s a surprise twist as to how she is ultimately defeated, and the audience is also treated to some backstory for Halibel before she is completely defeated. While some back story was also provided for Stark, it wasn’t as interesting as Halibel’s was.

But after the Espada are defeated, there’s still Aizen, Jin, and Tosen to deal with. Jin manages to impale Hiyori, but she isn’t killed. Instead, she is slowly dying from the blood loss, with her only hope of survival being someone with healing powers to arrive and help. Hisagi and Komamura also have a battle with Tosen, which includes backstory for how Komamura and Tosen met and why Tosen joined the Soul Society. For the most part, both Komamura and Tosen had primarily been more in the background or just kind of “there” in the story, so it was nice to see these characters get some attention and development. But I had to feel bad for Komamura when Tosen activated his release form and could see. One of the first things that Tosen says to Komamura upon seeing him for the first time is that Komamura is uglier than he had imagined. That taunt had to hurt, at least a little.

Ichigo also becomes important to the action when he returns to where Renji, Chad, and Rukia had been battling with the powered-up Yammy in Hueco Mundo. Ichigo tries to go against Yammy, but he only manages to cut Yammy slightly. But Byakuya, Kenpachi, Mayuri, Nemu, Unohana, and Isane arrive, with Kenpachi more than ready to take on Yammy by himself. As soon as Kenpachi showed up, I knew we would be in for an epic battle since Kenpachi loves fighting so much and doesn’t back down.

Mayuri creates a Garganta, which is used to send Ichigo and Unohana to the fake Karakura Town. Unohana seems to think she understands why Mayuri wanted to send Ichigo to help out there after remembering something that had happened with Aizen in the past. Unfortunately, they don’t make it to the fake Karakura Town before this set ends. The stage definitely seems to be getting set up for Ichigo to be the one to save the day. I think it’s safe to say that Ichigo will pair up with Shinji to battle Aizen, but I’m not sure who would be battling against Jin. However it goes, it’s obvious that this story arc is building and is getting closer to reaching its conclusion.

When it comes to the DVD set itself, the omake continue to be cut off from the end of the episodes and are collected together in the “Omake” feature that’s included on each disc. Unfortunately, I didn’t find any of these omake to be amusing.

I was actually surprised to discover that there was no production art included in the extras on either disc in the set. This had been such a standard bonus feature in the Bleach DVD sets prior to this point.

There’s a clean opening and clean ending included on both discs, and it’s the same opening and closing due to the fact that neither song changed over the course of these 12 episodes.

“More From VIZ Media” includes the exact same trailers that appear at the beginning of each disc when it first starts up. It felt like this was done simply to make less work for putting the bonus features together.

If you’re a Bleach fan and want to have all the episodes of the series in your anime home video collection, then you need to get a hold of Bleach DVD Set 20. The only real drawback to this particular set is the fact that it includes the Arabian Nights-themed retelling of the first story arc. Fortunately, it’s just the one episode, and a viewer can easily skip it if they want to in order to continue with the canon storyline.

The reviewer checked out a copy of this item through the King County Library System

Anime DVD Review: Bleach DVD Set 18

Bleach DVD Set 18 includes episodes 256-267 of the series on two DVDs. Audio options include the original Japanese audio with English subtitles and the English dub.

Bleach DVD Set 18

English Publisher: VIZ Media
Format: DVD
Release Date: September 10, 2013

The first 10 episodes in Set 18 continue the Zanpakuto: The Alternate Tale story arc, and these episodes show what happens after the fall of Muramasa. The final two episodes in the set finally return to canon material from the Bleach manga.

The first 10 episodes introduce the Sword Beasts, which are the zanpakuto of Soul Reapers who have died. The zanpakuto didn’t die with their respective Soul Reapers, so they are lost and start going on rampages. These episodes see the Soul Reapers and their zanpakuto in their materialized human form taking on these various Sword Beasts. Each of these episodes is a stand-alone story; while there were one or two stories in this filler arc that were interesting, the vast majority of them were rather stupid.

The final episode of the Zanpakuto: The Alternate Tale made it clear through various dialogue cues that the episode would end with everything resetting to zero. The fact that a super Sword Beast that absorbs the spiritual energies of other zanpakuto and causing them to turn back into swords also helped cement the idea of this being the final filler episode in this set. The frustrating thing about this episode is that the zanpakuto talk about this super Sword Beast like they’ve known all about him for a while, yet this episode was the first time this particular Sword Beast was mentioned or referenced.

And while it was great to finally return to canon material in this set, the first of these two episodes was simply a recap of the various battles that had taken place between the previous filler arc and the Zanpakuto: The Alternate Tale arc. And the final episode in the set does a short recap of the very end of the previous canon episode before finally progressing the story arc forward. So while I was grateful to finally return to the canon storyline, I was also disappointed at just how little that story progressed before Set 18 came to an end.

When it comes to the DVD set itself, the omake are still being cut off from the end of the episodes and only appear as part of the “Omake” feature that’s included on each disc. The omake on this set were rather mixed when it came to how humorous they were. Some were amusing, while others just seemed to fall flat.

Each disc also has Production Art as a bonus feature, which include either eight or nine pages. Most of the production art is line art of the characters that appear in these episodes, with a few pages that also included occasional color art.

Each disc also has a “Clean Ending” option in the bonus features. The first disc includes the textless version of the first ending theme that appears on Set 18, while the second disc includes textless versions for both ending themes that appear on that disc.

If you’re a Bleach fan and want to have all the episodes of the series in your anime home video collection, then you need to get a hold of this set. Unfortunately, it’s still primarily filled with filler material and only includes a couple of canon story episodes that don’t progress the main storyline very much. But if you want to have all of the episodes that feature canon material, then you need to get a hold of Bleach DVD Set 18.

The reviewer checked out a copy of this item through the King County Library System

Anime Blu-ray Review: Ranma 1/2 Set 5

Originally written for WatchPlayRead.com

Ranma 1/2 Set 5 includes episodes 93-115 of the series in their original Japanese airing order. Surprisingly, all of the episodes in this set appear in the exact same order that these episodes appeared on VIZ Media’s original DVD releases. This release also uses the original Japanese title cards for the episodes instead of the ones that were created for the English dub. Audio options include the original Japanese audio with English subtitles and the English dub.

Ranma 1/2 Set 5

English Publisher: VIZ Media
Format: Blu-ray
Release Date: March 3, 2015

Ranma 1/2 Set 5 consists primarily of filler episodes and the stranger canon storylines from the original manga. This includes episodes that focus on Martial Arts Tea Ceremony, Martial Arts Dining, Martial Arts Shogi, and Martial Arts Calligraphy. To me, the best episodes in the set are the ones that introduce Gosunkugi, reveal that the principal of Furinkan High School is really the Kuno siblings’ father, and Kodachi being reunited with her long-last father. While there were occasional filler episodes that were somewhat amusing, such as Ranma temporarily becoming Nabiki’s fiancé, the vast majority are either painful to watch or just did nothing for me. Of the five Ranma 1/2 sets that have been released up to this point, Set 5 has the weakest episodes.

This Blu-ray release includes remastered high definition video straight from the Japanese Blu-ray masters. Overall, the Blu-ray remastering looks decent on this set, although I did see an occasional scene that looked grainy or looked washed out. It’s possible that the Blu-ray masters VIZ received from Japan had these same issues, so I’m not blaming VIZ for the occasional visual defects on this set. However, I do have to hold VIZ accountable for the couple of subtitle errors that I saw while watching this set with the original Japanese audio with English subtitles.

When it comes to the bonus features, there are a total of five that appear on Ranma 1/2 Set 5. The first is “We Love Ranma Part 5 – We Love Collecting,” which runs for about nine minutes. It includes interviews with cosplayers, voice actors, superfans, and anime industry professionals talking about the various Ranma 1/2 items that they’ve collected. Once again, this feature places more emphasis on the cosplayers, who I don’t know and don’t really care about, over the industry professionals and superfans. Overall, I’ve been rather disappointed in the “We Love Ranma” interviews that have appeared on these sets.

“Next Episode Previews” is a continuous piece that includes all of the next episode previews that aired with the episodes that appear on Ranma 1/2 Set 5. I don’t understand why this feature is included, since the previews are already included at the end of each episode.

The “Clean Opening” includes a textless version of the opening that appears on each episode in Ranma 1/2 Set 5, and “Clean Ending” includes a textless version of the closing that appears on each episode. Trailers are also included as a bonus feature.

This Blu-ray edition also comes with a 32-page booklet. The booklet opens with a “What Happened Thus Far” write-up that summarizes what happened in the episodes that appeared on the previous Ranma 1/2 set. The majority of the booklet provides a brief summary and screen shot for each episode, as well as production credits for the original release of the series and the credits for those involved with this Blu-ray release. The booklet has glossy pages that look nice, but are a little slippery for holding when you’re reading through it. It’s still a nice booklet, though, and I’m glad to see that it was included. The set also came with an art card with a picture of Ukyo that was used as the cover picture for the Ranma 1/2 Random Rhapsody DVD box set.

The box that the Blu-ray case, booklet, and art card come in is very sturdy and looks nice. The back of the box that gives a description of the product is actually something you take off of the box after you unwrap it.

While the episodes included in Ranma 1/2 Set 5 may not be the strongest in the series, I would still recommend this set to fans of the franchise. This is the best way to get Ranma 1/2 in high definition on Blu-ray without having to pay an arm and leg to try to import the Japanese Blu-rays.

Anime Blu-ray/DVD Combo Review: Dragon Ball Z: Battle of Gods

The Dragon Ball Z: Battle of Gods Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack comes with two DVDs and one Blu-ray Disc, and both formats include the theatrical version of the film, the uncut version with 20 minutes of additional footage, and bonus features. Audio options include the original Japanese audio with English subtitles and the English dub. It should also be noted that alternate versions of the opening and ending theme songs are used on this release, due to the Japanese licensor not making the original versions available. On the Blu-ray Disc, the film is presented in 1080p High Definition 16X9 (HD Native).

Dragon Ball Z: Battle of Gods

Publisher: FUNimation Entertainment
Format: Blu-ray/DVD Combo
Release Date: October 7, 2014

I saw Dragon Ball Z: Battle of Gods during its theatrical run in Summer 2014 with the English dub. So when I watched the film on this Blu-ray/DVD Combo release, I was able to see it with the original Japanese audio and English subtitles. It was interesting to discover that the new villain’s name in the Japanese version is Beers instead of Beerus (which is the name he was given in the English dub).

When I watched the film on this release, it was the uncut version with 20 minutes of additional footage. The footage that was missing includes a roughly two-minute recap of both Dragon Ball and Dragon Ball Z, a couple of scenes of Mister Satan getting drunk, and a scene with Beers challenging Oolong to a game of rock-paper-scissors. I have to say that for the most part, these additional scenes didn’t really add anything to the film with the exception of the recap. After seeing both versions, I have to say that overall, the theatrical version was a tighter presentation of the story.

At the beginning of the film, Beers is awakened after a 39-year slumber by Whis, who informs Beers that Freeza was defeated by a Saiyan. Beers explains he wanted to be awakened in 39 years because the Oracle Fish foretold that a mighty opponent, a Super Saiyan God, would appear before him. He decides that the best way to track down this opponent is to talk to the Saiyan who defeated Freeza.

While Goku is training on King Kai’s planet, Beers and Whis suddenly appear. Goku has no idea what a Super Saiyan God is, but he accepts Beers’ challenge for a battle; but even at Super Saiyan 3, Goku is easily defeated. Disappointed with this battle, Beers decides to go to Earth in search of another Saiyan who might have information on the Super Saiyan God.

A big birthday celebration is being held for Bulma at Capsule Corp., and most of the rest of the movie takes place here. Vegeta receives word from King Kai about Beers arriving and is warned that if Beers gets into a bad mood, he’ll destroy the Earth. Beers and Whis arrive and find Vegeta, and Bulma invites them to join the party. There’s a hilarious scene of Vegeta swallowing his pride and doing a song and dance routine in order to placate Beers; to me, this was probably one of the most memorable portions of the movie, outside of the epic battles.

The party also includes a section where Emperor Pilaf, Mai, and Shu play an important part. They were accidentally shrunk back down to children, and their attempt to swipe the Dragon Balls is thwarted by Trunks. There’s a rather humorous bit here when Trunks has Mai pretend to be his girlfriend.

But the fun and games come to an end when Majin Buu refuses to give Beers any pudding and eats it all in front of him. An angered Beers declares that he’s going to destroy the Earth. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, the Earth is now in danger all because of… pudding. The conflict ultimately escalates to a climax that includes a battle between Goku and Beers.

This is my second time watching Dragon Ball Z: Battle of Gods, but I can still safely say that this is one of the best Dragon Ball Z films that I have seen. What I really appreciated seeing was the humorous aspect that was so prevalent in the first Dragon Ball anime series being used to great effect here. When Dragon Ball ended and Dragon Ball Z started, the whimsical humor of the first series all but disappeared, and Dragon Ball Z ended up taking itself way too seriously.

Beers and Whis are interesting antagonists. Not only were they strong and evil, but they also had a comical side to them; that comical aspect was missing from the majority of the villains of Dragon Ball Z, with the main exception being the original form of Majin Buu. But even with the humor, there’s still the action and fighting aspect that fans of Dragon Ball Z have come to expect from the franchise.

Overall, I enjoyed Dragon Ball Z: Battle of Gods. It definitely has a lot of re-watch potential; of all of the Dragon Ball Z films, this is the one I’d most likely watch multiple times.

There are five extras included on this release. The first is labeled, “Behind the Scenes: Battle of Voice Actors.” This runs for almost 10 minutes, and it’s got the “picture-in-picture” concept going on. This basically shows the second major fight between Goku and Beers, with footage of the voice actors performing their roles in a bottom corner of the screen while the scene is playing. To be honest, I was disappointed in this feature. From the title, I had assumed it was going to be something completely different and more interesting than what we got.

The next bonus feature is “The Voices of Dragon Ball Z: Unveiled,” and this runs for almost 20 minutes. While it does include some of the “picture-in-picture” effect that was seen in the previous feature, it also includes footage of the various actors in the recording studio introducing themselves, recording lines, or just goofing off and having fun. The lines that are being recorded are from scenes that take place at Bulma’s birthday party. I definitely enjoyed this feature more than the first one, and it’s interesting to see the voice actors recording their lines and the characters’ voices coming out of their mouths. In some cases, the voice actors look nothing like I imagined them from the voices that I know them for in Dragon Ball Z.

There’s a textless version of the ending theme. This is actually kind of nice, because the viewer is able to focus on the effect of flipping through manga pages and not be distracted by the credit text. The “U.S. Trailer” is almost two minutes long, and it promotes the home video release of Dragon Ball Z: Battle of Gods. Trailers for other releases that FUNimation was promoting at the time this film was released on home video are also included as a bonus feature.

I would recommend that fans of Dragon Ball Z add Dragon Ball Z: Battle of Gods to their anime home video library. For fans that have the ability to watch Blu-rays, I would recommend picking up the Blu-ray/DVD Combo.

Anime DVD Review: Naruto Shippuden Set 21

Originally written for WatchPlayRead.com

Naruto Shippuden Set 21 includes episodes 258-270 of the series on two DVDs. Audio options include the original Japanese audio with English subtitles and the English dub.

Naruto Shippuden Set 21

Publisher: VIZ Media
Format: DVD
Release Date: January 20, 2015

Nauto Uzumaki, the star of the series, has gone through incredible growth since the beginning of the Naruto franchise. At this point, he’s gone from being the boy with the Nine-Tailed Fox demon sealed inside him who was shunned by his village to a young man who became a hero after saving his village when it was attacked by Pain from the Akatsuki. Naruto is currently hidden away, training with Killer Bee in order to learn how to control the Nine-Tailed Fox’s chakra, while the rest of the ninja world is gearing up for the Fourth Great Ninja War.

But before we get to see what’s going on with Naruto’s training or the war, the viewer must first sit through three episodes of a four episode 10th anniversary special, which recaps roughly 90 episodes of the first Naruto series. It seems that the point of this special is to emphasize the rivalry between Naruto and Sasuke, but it feels disconnected from the current story arc. Unfortunately, all this special does is to reuse footage from the original episodes and adds nothing new, which makes it feel pointless. Not only that, the flow of the narrative was choppy due to how awkwardly time skips were handled. For a 10th anniversary special, this was very disappointing. It felt more like a way to kill time to allow Masashi Kishimoto to get a little further ahead in the manga before continuing the canon storyline in the anime.

Luckily, the remaining 10 episodes in the set return the viewer to material that progresses the storyline. At first, it looks like the Allied Shinobi Forces are going to fall apart due to grudges that the various villages have against each other. But Gaara delivers a powerful speech and brings the forces together. As a viewer, I think I was just as moved by Gaara’s speech as the characters were.

As the forces mobilize toward the enemy, they discover that Kabuto has used a Reanimation Jutsu to bring many dead shinobi back from the dead and force them to fight for him. In addition, an army of White Zetsu is unleashed to support the Undead Army. As the Undead Army is deployed and encounters the Allied Shiboi Forces, the matchups cause reunions of former friends and former enemies to continue their battles from the past.

Of the reunions that we see in Naruto Shippuden Set 21, the most touching is when Sai comes face-to-face with Shin, his “brother” from The Foundation who had died. While we received backstory on Sai when he first introduced in the early episodes of Naruto Shippuden, this encounter with Shin allows the audience to see how different Sai was when he was younger and how he became the unemotional young man that we’ve seen up to this point. But the most important thing to come out of this reunion is Sai finally allowing himself to show his first real emotions since he was first introduced in the series.

In this set, Kankuro is able to have a rematch with Sasori, and Kakashi and Sakura get to see Zabuza and Haku again. I thought it was interesting to see that while Sasori was more than willing to fight Kankuro, Zabuza and Haku were only attacking their opponents because they had no control over their actions. We get to see flashbacks of Kakashi and Team 7 from the Land of Waves arc, but instead of simply reusing the original footage, a decision was made to reanimate the scenes. Personally I didn’t think the new animation worked very well, and I would have preferred to simply see the original footage.

Outside of the first three episodes, Naruto doesn’t appear much in Naruto Shippuden Set 21. He gets one episode that’s devoted to his training with Killer Bee, and there were occasional times where we might see him briefly before returning to the action taking place in the war. Hopefully we’ll see more of Naruto’s story mixed in with the war material in future episodes of the series.

When it comes to the DVD set itself, there were only three bonus features. First are “clean” versions of the opening and both of the endings that appeared on the episodes in this set.  There are three versions of the clean opening and endings: a version without any text, a version with English subtitles, and a version with Romaji subtitles. There are also English credits, along with trailers for other properties that VIZ Media was promoting at the time this set was released.

Unfortunately, the bonus features on Naruto Shippuden Set 21 are rather lacking when compared to previous Naruto Shippuden releases. Set 21 didn’t include any production art or storyboards, which had always been a feature previously. I don’t know if this is due to the Japanese rights holders not sending these materials to VIZ Media, or if the company chose not to include those features on this release.

Even with the three filler episodes and the relative lack of bonus features, Naruto Shippuden Set 21 is still a “must get” for Naruto fans who want to own the entire franchise in their anime home video collection. The canon material included on this release more than makes up for the filler, especially the backstories and the ninja from the series’ history that the audience has never seen before now.

Anime DVD Review: Bleach DVD Set 16

Bleach DVD Set 16 includes episodes 230-242 of the series on three DVDs. Audio options include the original Japanese audio with English subtitles and the English dub.

Bleach DVD Set 16

English Publisher: VIZ Media
Format: DVD
Release Date: March 12, 2013

Set 16 starts into the arc referred to as Zanpakuto: The Alternate Tale, which consists of anime exclusive material. Unfortunately, the canon storyline was stopped just as another battle between Ichigo and Ulquiorra begins in Hueco Mundo in order to include this filler arc that runs for 36 episodes.

This particular arc sees the zanpakuto, the Soul Reapers’ swords, assuming human form and declaring war against their wielders. They are led by a mysterious man named Muramasa, who is a former zanpakuto. Unfortunately, I have a hard time buying this particular story, especially when the Soul Reapers and the zanpakuto seem to not recognize each other. Early on in the series, when Ichigo met Zangetsu in his human form, it seemed like meeting the human form of the sword was a rather common thing for Soul Reapers to experience. If the Soul Reapers and the swords in their human form had met previously, how come they don’t recognize each other now? I’m willing to give a pass to Toshiro and his zanpakuto, though, since it was blatantly stated that when his sword became human, he had lost his memory. Ichigo and Zangetsu didn’t have this issue, which also seems to contradict what the other Soul Reapers were experiencing.

But with the zanpakuto taking on human form and going on a rampage in the Soul Society, chaos ensues. Genryusai is captured and sealed away, Byakuya disappears, and there’s quite a bit of damage. Rukia manages to escape to the World of the Living, where she finds Ichigo. After learning that Byakuya has disappeared, a wounded Rukia returns to the Soul Society. Ichigo goes after her, and finds himself embroiled in the war with the zanpakuto.

There are several battles that take place throughout these episodes where some of the Soul Reapers find themselves going up against their own zanpakuto. They discover that if a Soul Reaper can defeat their zanpakuto in battle, the sword will return to its master. At most, only two or three of the Soul Reapers manage to regain their zanpakuto before the end of this box set.

Filler story arcs aren’t always bad, but this one runs way too long. Not only that, I have a hard time caring about what’s going on due to the fact that the writer(s) for this filler seemed to completely ignore a fact that was established in the canon material. To me, this is a sign of lazy writing. I also think this is insulting to the audience to expect them to forget such a major detail from the manga.

When it comes to the DVD set itself, the omake are still cut off from the end of the episodes and only appear as part of the “Omake” feature that’s included on each disc. Unfortunately, the omake included in this set really weren’t that funny or amusing; in fact, these were probably the weakest omake I’ve seen for Bleach up to this point. And the main menu on each disc continues to be silent, which I find to be rather annoying because of my dislike for silent DVD menus.

Each disc includes Production Art, which range from 11-14 pages on each disc. Most of the production art is line art of the characters that appear in these episodes; however, there is some color art that’s been mixed in with the regular line art.

Each disc also includes a “Clean Ending” option in the bonus features. All three discs include the same ending theme, since the same theme appeared on each episode included in this set.

If you’re a Bleach fan and want to have all the episodes of the series in your anime home video collection, then you need to get a hold of this set. Unfortunately, it’s filled with episodes from a filler arc that may not be very enjoyable, so keep this in mind if you decide to purchase a copy of Bleach DVD Set 16.

The reviewer checked out a copy of this item through the King County Library System