Anime Reporter tunes in for Bleach Series 13 (or season 14 for some), Part 01 (episodes 266-278). Series 13, also known as the Fall of the Arrancar (to tear in Spanish) arc takes place directly after Series 11, skipping over the events of Series 12. Series 12 (reviewed here, here and here, respectively) was known as Zanpakuto, the Alternate Tale and with good reason. Existing somewhere in the canonical world of anime films, Series 12 has no impact on the rest of the series and was simply used to buy enough time for Series 13 to be finished.
Fans of Series 11 will recall that the Arrancar are a form of hollow spirit which have managed to remove their masks and attain powers somewhere along the lines of Soul Reapers. The series starts with an abrupt recap episode, filling viewers in on the conclusion to Series 11 and reminding us all that Orihime has been taken captive by the Arrancar and that Ichigo is well on his way to try to save her while the majority of the Soul Reapers are fighting in a duplicate of a city from the mortal world against the Espada (sword), the top fighters of the Arrancar.
That pretty neatly sums up the story, with just a little bit of exposition at the beginning and end, the rest of the thirteen episodes are mainly comprised of exhaustingly escalating fight scenes. Not that these are bad; if there’s one thing that Bleach as a series excels at, it’s filling a fight to bursting point with tension, surprises and last second comebacks. The fights themselves are intense and great to watch, it’s just a little tiring to watch so many episodes comprised entirely of standoffs and battles between different characters.
Ichigo, as the star, undergoes a little more character growth than some of the others, but it is Orihime that stands out. Not in a great way, either.
When she was originally introduced to the series, Orihime was a positive, upbeat ray of sunshine and she developed powers which made her a capable and versatile fighter. Now, nearly three hundred episodes into the series, Orihime has been reduced to a standard damsel in distress who stands on the sidelines and cries in a variety of shadow effects as the other characters fight for her. Treated as little more than a trophy for the two warring sides to fight over, she might as well be a piece of furniture in the background for all that she really contributes to scenes.
The battles between the Soul Reapers and the Espada are engaging enough, but with virtually no new plot developments, these fights tend to drag a bit too long and episodes may not hold viewers’ interest for very long.
Bleach has always excelled in its action scenes, but Part 2 is in desperate need of some plot if Series 13 will prove to be worth watching as a whole.
Bleach Series 13 Part 1 is currently available in the UK and Ireland on DVD from Manga Entertainment UK and Part 2 will be available from 9th June 2014. For more information, check out the Manga UK Facebook page and the Manga UK Twitter.
Character Development: 4
Plot Development: 5
65% “A Little Rusty”– Bleach put its own storyline on hiatus for an entire season and its joints seem to be a little stiff. Hopefully it’s limbered up nicely with Part 1 and things might just get moving a bit faster with part 2.