Well, today I picked up the third DVD of Bleach.
This series, like Van Dread, had hype around it that had been fairly off-putting, I'd gotten the impression that it was a Naruto clone and mainly a fight show...neither of which is my cup of tea.
In fact, it is a clever and engaging superhero show, which I did not really expect.
Ichigo Kurosaki would be a normal Japanese high-school student were it not for two things, he is of mixed race and has his late mothers blond hair...which served to get him beaten up throughout his childhood, but has contributed to his being extremely good at fisticuffs...oh and he sees dead people.Like the one behind him in the picture....
Yes Ichigo can see spirits, ghosts, and as he soon discovers other things that exist on the astral plane.
He lives with his 2 sisters and rather stressed out father who runs a small private medical practice. (Dad has not adjusted well to Moms death and although he is a good doctor, and basically decent sort, he is a holy terror of bizarre behavior around the house) Although a bit hotheaded, Ichigo is a remarkably decent fellow with a strong sense of ethics. In fact he is one of the more likable heroes of recent years.
Kurosaki Yuzu is one of his younger sisters.With her light colored hair and sunny demeanor, she seems to take after their late mother. She tries hard to fill in for Mom. She cooks, she cleans, and is generally domestic. She very much hopes someday to be able to see ghosts too....which she thinks would be the "coolest thing!"
Kurosaki Karin Yuzu's fraternal twin sister looks, and acts utterly different. She is fairly dour, in part because she CAN see ghosts....but she says is in denial about it...the whole thing seriously creeps her out. she wants to be normal...but thanks to circumstances, is basically a goth in spite of herself.
Kuchiki Rukia A "shinigami" currently assigned to Japan (shinigami translates as Death God...but in the
English dub it is translated , perhaps wisely, as "soul reaper" ).
She is part of an astral order that deals with problems of the spirit realm. Specifically, she helps the spirits of the dead move onto the next level, (a place called the "soul society") and fights monsters ( "hollows" ) on the astral plane that feed upon the spirits of the dead....and occasionally the living. (Note that although the soul reapers exist in another dimension/plane or whatever...they do most of their work amongst us, but in spirit form...and thus invisible to most people).
Rukia is extremely competent, professional, and dedicated.(Top of her class, all that).
She also claims to be very old and, at the beginning of the show, has the powers of a minor god. Although she does most of her work on earth in spirit form, she has the ability to interact with humans by channeling her spirit into a human looking body she keeps stashed for emergencies in her area of responsibility. (But what is the likelihood that she'd EVER have to do that? )
Rukia is really impressive and likable character. Brave, as well as practical, she is able to think on her feet and adapt to the most dangerous...and ignominious....situations.
Chad A soft spoken giant on the rare occasions he chooses to speak at all, Chad is a classmate of Ichigo...and one of a handful of people Ichigo genuinely admires. He has unbelievable physical strength. However, out of
fear of killing someone (likely well founded...he can break concrete and bend steel) he never fights back...against humans. He is remarkably tough though, as well as idealistic, and physically brave to a fault. Chad chooses to speak so little, that he has a reputation for being a bit "slow". It is a reputation quite undeserved.
Other characters are revealed as the show progresses, but their explanation involves spoilers...
...such as this, which is simply the most awesomest bird EVER!
Of course explaining superhero origins is usually going to involve episode one spoilers...
...with that in mind...
The origin and set up in episode one is as follows.
While pursuing a "hollow" Rukia, the Soul Reaper decides to take a shortcut through Ichigo's room. As she doesn't look like a spirit he decks her thinking she's a burglar. Shocked that he can see her in the spirit plane...and connect, she ties him up (power of minor god...remember) but then must engage what is an uncommonly formidable hollow. Said monstrosity is, in fact, attempting to eat Ichigo and his sisters...presumably attracted by their spectral vision powers.
Unfortunately, the fight does not go well, in part because Ichigo breaks free and attempts to fight the monster, which is far out of his league. In protecting him, Rukia is gravely wounded. Unable to fight, she offers to transfer some of her power to him via a Magical McGuffin spell...so he might have a chance at killing the horror bearing down on them. He accepts, vanquishes the beast (largely by catching it by surprise) and all should be well...
Unfortunately, the spell was botched, he now has ALL of her powers and no real idea how to use them beyond fisticuffs. She has all the arcane combat knowledge in the world....but no powers and thus no ability to get back to her plane of origin.Without her powers she must transfer to her emergency backup body...which we later learn is not a top of the line model as she never really expected to use it.
Ichigo must now fill her role in Japan until whenever, if ever, she gets her powers back. Only she has any knowledge of what our hero must face, and she also has the ability to detect nearby monsters and souls in need of cleansing...thus she naturally enrolls in his school to be near him at all times.
...at which point, things proceed to get complicated.....
The story is moving along well and the characters are quite engaging. I'm watching the dub mostly and the voice acting is above par. In particular former Power Ranger Johnny Yong Bosch who was so good as Vash in Trigun is very believable as Ichigo, and Michelle Ruff pulls off the stoic Rukia quite well.
The first 2 DVD's were quite good and I'm really liking it thus far.
At DVD2 It's 5 out of 6 bricks. :)
Update: fixed some really embarrassing syntax errors and made the post flow a bit better. After watching DVD3, Bleach is still holding steady at 5 Bricks.