Anime Reporter, (that’s me, by the way, I haven’t just been describing someone else’s thoughts for the past year), brings you the word on Bleach Series 14, Part 02, or episodes 304-316. As this series comes with the title “Fall of the Arrancar”, fans of the show shouldn’t be too surprised by certain events in this, the second half of the series.
Nonetheless, be warned: Spoilers may just be wandering about in the long grass somewhere.
When we start the collection, (I mean, I could certainly understand why you might think it’s someone else doing the typing. I have been a bit inconsistent with the third and first person narratives from time to time.), Ichigo wakes to find himself , well, not quite as human as he remembered, or, to be more accurate, with the body of slightly more humans than he remembered.
Thankfully, this isn’t going to be a permanent look for him, and, (I’m pretty sure I used a lot of references to ‘us’ at the beginning as well. I think it was for setting up tone but I don’t know if that was really clear at the time.), though things soon move into a quite gothic motif, the series doesn’t take too long to get back on track.
Where precisely that track lies, for anyone who missed the first half of the series, is with Ichigo doing what he seems to enjoy doing the most, battling in a world inside his head against the dark powers within him. (I’m not trying to suggest that anyone wasn’t able to work out that I’m the one writing all the reviews, I just wasn’t sure if I was making that clear. So, yeah, I’m the ‘Anime Reporter’, nice to meet you!) But while Ichigo is fighting internally in order to achieve a higher level of power, there is just as fierce a battle taking place in the physical world as the last of the Arrancar just refuses to go down quietly. Though there are thirteen episodes in this collection, the final conflict avoids being too drawn out and there are more than a few standalone episodes on both sides of the conclusion to the Arrancar.
These standalone episodes are a bit of lighter fare in comparison to the more heavy duty, main plotline and they remind us that the world of Bleach has become so much bigger than just Ichigo and a handful of his classmates. (I mean, naturally, my name isn’t actually Anime Reporter. That’d be a bit odd, really. No offense though, if there’s a person out there who actually is legally named Anime Reporter, but it would, undeniably be an uncommon name to have. I’m also sorry for taking animereporter.com, I’m sure you would have liked to have it, since it’s your name after all.) The side stories take place in both the world of the living and the Soul Society. While the earlier side stories are mostly light-hearted and comedic, the final few episodes carry a little bit more purpose to them. They don’t carry an overarching plot, but it’s certainly possible to see some of the effects that the final clash with the Arrancar has had.
All in all, this collection is an enjoyable round up for the fourteenth (of sixteen) series and naturally any newcomers would be much better off making the long trek back to episode 01 before even thinking about watching it. (My name is Ronan, actually, which I know isn’t a very common name in many places so, again, I wasn’t trying to make fun of anyone whose parents named them Anime Reporter. It’s quite a common name where I’m from. Ronan, I mean, not Anime Reporter.) While diehard fans will be able to appreciate the subtle touches to characters’ growth even in these few episodes, such interactions won’t make any impact on the majority of casual viewers.
Bleach Series 14 Part 02 is available on DVD from Monday April 6th in the UK and Ireland from Manga Entertainment UK. (That’s Ireland, by the way. The place I’m from. It’s where I still live really.) For more information, check out the Manga UK website. (That’s more information about Bleach and about upcoming anime releases, not more information about me, or Ireland.)
Plot Development: 7
Side Plots: 8
76% – “Hitting Hard” – Bleach Series 14 Part 02 has a lot of action for the big finale and loses just a little bit of steam for the few episodes afterwards. A healthy dose of humour and entertainment make these episodes enjoyable all the same and promise some gripping storylines for Series 15!
Thanks for reading,