Anime Reporter tests its steel once more, taking on Part 2 of Bleach Season 12: Zanpakuto: The Alternate Tale (episodes 242 – 253).
For anyone unfamiliar with the Bleach anime series or manga, (and any such people should be thoroughly ashamed), there is a brief overview of the series and part 1 of this fantastic story arc in our earlier review; here http://animereporter.com/2014/02/21/bleach-s12-part1/
For Part 2 of the Zanpakuto arc, the story continues directly from where it left off with the majority of the Soul Reapers taking the fight to Muramasa and their own former partners and greatest weapons; the Zanpakuto. As with the previous half of the arc, much of the action and story revolves around the collected member of the various Soul Reaper teams, rather than on the series protagonist himself, Ichigo Kurosaki (voiced by Tiger & Bunny’s Masakazu Morita in Japanese, and Blue Exorcist’s Johnny Tong Bosch in English), though Ichigo’s role does naturally grow as the plot develops. Conversely, the supporting cast expands to include more of the series regulars and quickly takes on the familiar format of each episode moving between several simultaneous battles. These battles do little to move the plot forward, with a few exceptions, and can make the narrative for a few of the later episodes in the collection drag somewhat unnecessarily. That said, the battles are suitably imaginative and intense for the series there is rarely a dull moment.
The plot eventually develops and the cause of the Zanpakuto uprising is shown to go back much further in the Soul Society’s history than anyone had guessed. As Muramasa’s plan is revealed to be much more sinister and intricate than could have been guessed, the battle splits to two different grounds; one battle waged against the Zanpakuto in the Soul Society and Ichigo and his allies fighting not only Muramasa, but also his original Soul Reaper, Koga, once upon a time a dangerously powerful Reaper who singlehandedly had the entire Soul Society quaking in their socks and sandals.
The plot is well developed, though moments of exposition and back-story feel somewhat lumped together as the arc nears its climax, while character development is largely reserved for the emerging foes, leaving the protagonists standing relatively still after their growth within the previous instalment.
The animation, and in particular the battle sequences, are as sharp and fast paced as ever. Characters are rendered as distinct and original in their appearance (and equally so in the design of their personalities) while powers and weapons are invariably both eye-catching and a pleasure to watch.
The cast, both in English and Japanese perform admirably as ever to the extent that, despite the obvious plot motivations for conflict, it really does feel as if every character had their own purpose, their own reasons not just for fighting, but for the manner in which they fight. While action may be the more obvious appeal of the series, Bleach has managed to maintain powerful emotional and character driven moments after more than two hundred episodes. The final episodes bring leave the arc almost complete, with just a couple of details to finish off, while also leaving the viewer with great anticipation for episodes to come.
Bleach Season 12 Part Two is available on DVD and Bluray from Manga Entertainment.
For more information, check out the Manga UK Twitter page: https://twitter.com/MangaUK
Or the official Bleach Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Bleach-official-pages/163711416982261
82% Top Notch Anime!
Once again Bleach manages deliver a stellar collection overflowing with action, suspense and more than a little intrigue, moving the Zanpakuto arc towards its conclusion.