Merry Christmas to all that celebrating, and to those who don’t, happy Tuesday! I decided this year that I was going to give the wiki a very special gift. I know “I shouldn’t have,” but considering all the insanity around the world lately, a little distraction is nice. I was going to do this sooner, but life happens. Without further ado, here is my present to the wiki (drumroll)...
So basically I will be reviewing each of the Bleach movies more on a technological standpoint and as a fan. I am not really going to concentrate on the languages, because (A), my opinion of the Japanese and English are pretty much equivalent (Hell verse Blu-ray review will be coming soon), and (B) I am one of those odd individuals that likes to watch movies in every language, and I have no access at this point in time to a region B Blu-ray player, therefore I am unable to review the French, German, and Italian dubs of the Bleach movies. So in my opinion, it would be unfair for me to rate a movie on language, since I have not seen every version available (trust me I have watched 20+ dubs of The Lion King, so I take this seriously). Hey, if you live in any European territories, please pick up the Blu-rays from Kaze, and tell me how they are. Also, I am not going to be too critical on picture quality for movies 1-2, because they have only been released in the U.S. on DVD, and DVD has a far more compressed picture than Blu-ray, and I cannot play region B Blu-rays at this time. This will be broken into parts, and will be updated over the next few days. Also, the spoiler alert will be shown before each movie breakdown. Now, let's begin!
Memories of Nobody
If you don't know, here's some basic info on the film. Released in December 2006 in Japan, Bleach: Memories of Nobody is the first full-length animated film based on the Bleach Anime series. Without giving too much away the plot goes as follows. A mysterious incident has occurred in the Precipice world, in which several members of the stealth force are killed. Meanwhile in Karakura Town, Substitute Soul Reaper, Ichigo Kurosaki and Rukia Kuchiki find masses of strange, unidentifiable spirits. While attempting to deal with these strange souls, Ichigo Kurosaki and Rukia Kuchiki meet Senna, a mysterious Soul Reaper who wipes out most of them. Senna refuses to answer any questions, so Ichigo is forced to follow her while Rukia tries to find out what's going on.
Considering that this was the first theatrical release for the Bleach anime, I thought it was decent, especially considering other films based on shonen television series (Looking at you Naruto). I actually think that "most" of the Bleach movies are decent (we will get more on that later). While I don't think that Memories of Nobody is the best "Bleach" movie, overall I think out of the four it works the best as a film on its own. While "most" of the movies are decent popcorn flicks, in terms of overall writing, storytelling, music, and art, Memories of Nobody overall is a better film than the other Bleach movies.
The story is very generic, but is stable and easy enough to follow. The director of the film, Noriyuki Abe, said that his intention was to make this a film for anyone, not just Bleach fans. The sequence of Ichigo chasing the Hollow was placed there to give non-Bleach fans the basic premise of the series: A teenage boy helps fight monsters and helps the dead find peace. I found this to be a very intelligent and well-executed concept. Instead of having a long, overdrawn clip show, this scene introduces our main protagonist, tells the audience what he does, and basically tells the audience the basics of Bleach so that they can follow the film. Unfortunately, the hollows and souls never really appear again, which kind of negates the objective of the scene. The film is very different from the TV series, while the scene had good intentions, in the long-run its kind of pointless and doesn’t really add anything to the film. My biggest issue overall with the story is that the pacing is very slow, even by Bleach standards. While the pacing does pick up at the start of the second act, there are points where is story moves painfully slow, and by the end you feel like you have been watching a movie for nearly three hours, when the film (including credits) is only 90 minutes. The final battle is also very boring, and with all the build-up to that point, the conclusion is very unsatisfying. After this, it sounds like I despise this movie, well its quite the opposite. What the movies lacks in engaging story lines, it more than makes up in “heart.”
In reality, the characters (not so much the villains) are the saving grace of this film. The characters and their development is really what makes Memories of Nobody stand out from many shonen anime films. Memories of Nobody to me is not so much an action-film, but a drama. While there is drama in Bleach, Memories of Nobody is a nice change of pace from the normal “Hollywood style” action scenes of Bleach. In fact, the slower and more casual moments are my favorite parts of the film. Senna, is one of the most beautiful “anime-only” characters that I have seen. It is almost impossible not to fall in love with her over the course of the film. Yes, she does get a little “bratty” at times, but her kindness, humor, and humanity overshadow that. Senna is a very human character, and you really do feel for her. Senna could have been very Mary-Sue-ish, but she is very self-reliant and sacrifices herself to save everyone. When Senna “dies,” you legitimately become heart broken. I don’t think anyone cannot sniffle just a bit when Senna starts to fade away. Even though you’ve only interacted with this character for a little over an hour, you feel like you’ve known her forever, and when she sacrifices herself, you’re devastated. Ichigo is also very strong with the film, yeah he does act super shonen generic hero at times, but again the drama scenes are the strongest aspects of this film. Ichigo goes through all this trouble to save Senna, and even after all that, he still couldn’t save her. This is one of the few times Ichigo actually fails and isn’t the big hero, and you feel bad for him, but at the same time it reminds everyone that Ichigo is human and is not perfect all the time. The Soul Reapers appear so briefly, that they are there only for fan service and are not developed beyond that, and the villains are very generic and one-dimensional.
The music in the film is absolutely breath taking, and its a real shame that some of the most beautiful tracks (example: Into the Fire) are not utilized in the TV series more. I love the very operatic score, and it really enhances the breath taking scenery of Karakura Town. In my opinion, its one of Shiro Sagisu’s best.
The animation itself is... okay. Its not by any means horrible, but its nothing to write home about either. The animation looks more suited for a direct-to-video release than for a full-length theatrical animated feature. I wonder if it was the first time animating in a 16:9 aspect ratio for many of the young animators working on Bleach at the time (at this point the TV series was still animated in a 4:3 aspect ratio). The animation does improve greatly in the last 15 minutes of the movie though. The backgrounds more than makeup for the somewhat lackluster character designs and animation. The backgrounds, especially those in Karakura Town, are complete eye candy. When you look at the Karakura Town arial shots, it looks like Japan, and they are just so visually pleasing. It is a virtual field trip for the eyes, and I wish that the characters followed this art style more.
Overall, Memories of Nobody is a very enjoyable film, and I still enjoy it after multiple viewings. Is Memories of Nobody a great Shakespearian or Hugoistic piece of work…no, but the film still does have very heartwarming moments, and does something different from the TV series, that makes it more than worthy for a viewing.
(This concludes part one, part two will be added later) -- 18:52, December 25, 2012 (UTC)
We are back for part 2 in our 4 part series. Today we're tackling
In case you have not seen the film here's a bit of basic info. Released in December 2007, Bleach: The DiamondDust Rebellion is the second full-length animated featured based on the Bleach anime series. Without giving much away here is the basic premise of the movie. Squad 10 is overseeing the transport of a mysterious royal artifact known as the Ōin. Suddenly the royal transport team is ambushed by two mysterious arrancar girls and Captain Toshirō Hitsugaya and the rest of squad 10 attempt to intervene. Hitsugaya goes after one of the arrancars and he is attacked by a masked man. The captain goes after the man and abandons his post. He is marked as a traitor and it's up to Ichigo and his friends to clear Toshirō's name before its too late.
While Memories of Nobody focused on drama, it's sequel does the exact polar opposite. The DiamondDust Rebellion is a high octane action flick with summer blockbuster style action scenes that satisfies even the most critical anime fan. To me Diamonddust Rebellion tries to be a better film than its predecessor, but in the end it just falls short. Not to say that the film is bad, but I definitely believe it is extremely overrated.
The premise for DDR is way more interesting for sure. Unlike MON, DDR attempts to connect the movies storyline and make in somewhat relevant to what’s going on in the manga (i.e. Ōin and the Ōken (although with recent developments we know the Ōken isn't an external artifact) and with that numerous possibilities are possible with the new characters, terms, and can create unique story lines right? Wrong! Especially considering that Pierrot clearly emphasized that the movies and non-connected filler take place in an alternative universe, where similar events have occurred, but a different outcomes has occurred (officially in episode 168 of the anime) (i.e. filler that does not try to embed itself in the main anime story line like the Amagai arc), which means they can pretty much do anything they want without disturbing canon. The main issue I have with DDR is that you have visoreds, arrancar, espada, Chad and Uryū’s new abilities, explanation of Orihime’s powers and this movie takes no risks at all. Instead we get a fan-service cliche bonanza. While I like a little fan service here and there, there comes a point where you need to draw a line in the sand. I loath fan service that is there just for the sake of being there with no real benefit to the plot. I like my fan service to be meaningful, not just a quick grab for my wallet. I think its pathetic cheap, and after seeing Pierrot starting to lean away from blatant fan service with MON, needless to say, I was very disappointed when I saw this movie. Not only was it blatant fan service, it wasn't even that great fan-service. In my opinion, this was a big step backwards from MON. Even though this movie is clearly catered to a certain kind of Bleach fan, you still could have had fan service to satisfy all fans and even non-fans. The finale also felt more like a final boss level rather than a finale for a film. While it isn't horrible, its not really that good either.
Other than the blatant fan service, the film does have its moments. Hitsugaya and Kusaka’s backstory was well-thought out and very plausible in the Bleach universe (even now considering what we are beginning to learn in the manga) and it was very emotional. The one thing I really like about the story is they actually made Hitsugaya into a likable character with depth. Instead of being Byakuya Jr., his coldness is understandable, and you actually feel sorry for him and want him to succeed. For the most part, I like the character of Kusaka. I think he’s a great villain and his anger and hatred are understandable. As stated in the movie, Hitsugaya became everything Kusaka hoped for, before his life was cut short. In other words, you’re best friend pretty much succeeds at every you wanted to do, but you die and not only that you’re best friend didn’t even want to become a Soul Reaper. Its more than understandable that Kusaka would be furious and Hitsugaya and Soul Society. Kusaka is a great villain throughout 80% of the movie, but during the last 20% he becomes a really cartoony villain and when he becomes the ice dragon and begins spurting out cheesy insults, I just cannot take him seriously and he pretty much looses all credibility for me. Also, everyone is so illogical in this movie, especially Ichigo. I actually become concerned for Ichigo, because throughout most of the movie he acts like he has suffered severe head trauma. He seriously could not tell they were arrancar. Even if its in an alternative universe, Ichigo in this universe obviously has had contact with the visoreds and some arrancar, so why can't he be sure if they are arrancar. Everyone just acts very illogical and its just really off-putting.The ice dragon is just so unitimidating and the design is just very bland and unoriginal. Now, if he became like Metastacia Kaien…but with Ice and Dragon…ness, I think we would be singing a different tune. The designs of Ying and Yang are very unoriginal, and character design wise, the designs are very boring. The one thing that I LITERALLY HATE THE MOST about this movie, is the fact that everything looks so desaturated. Look if you want the gray vibe to match Hitsugaya and his aguish, that’s fine, but it doesn't need to be like that in ALMOST EVERY SCENE. I MEAN COME ON! I know there is dramatic lighting, BUT THIS IS RIDICULES! It is so distracting and it makes this movie look so UGLY, which is a shame because the animation is very good throughout and at points is very beautiful.
The music is very good, but I feel a lot of the tracks are overused (especially in the anime series itself). The music is good, but just not as good as MON’s score.
Overall, DiamondDust Rebellion is still a very decent film, and I personally find it most enjoyable to watch during a late summer’s night. While it stays closer to the feel of the TV series, the film isn’t really that deep either. It's a fun 90-minute romp that is a must see for any Bleach fan.
Next time, we hit Bleach: Fade to Black. -- 06:22, December 29, 2012 (UTC)
Fade to Black
In case you are FORTUNATE enough to have never seen or heard of this film, sorry my hormones are off the wall, so now I must ruin your life. Here is the overview of the film and the “plot” (and I am using those quotations with emphasis) of the film. Bleach: Fade to Black was released in December 2008 and is the third full-length Bleach “adventure.” Unfortunately, this film is also the Bleach film celebrating 40 years of Weekly Shonen Jump Magazine and can also be counted as the 5th anniversary film for the animated series. The “story” is that two mysterious twins attack Mayuri and take a vial-like object and throw Soul Society into chaos and “destroy” Rukia’s memories and take her captive. Everyone forgets Rukia, except for Ichigo and Kon. Now it’s up to Ichigo and Kon to save Rukia and Soul Society before it’s too late.
So what did I think of the movie? Well…
Sorry, I had to cool down there! I am not going to be some angry Internet creature, so here is the actual unbiased review. Now, don't get me wrong I love Ichigo and Rukia with a passion. In my opinion, they are one of the great dynamic duos, like Batman and Robin, the Grim Reaper and Hector Con Carne (look it up kids), and Ethel and Lucy (ask your parents) I am a full-blown Ichiruki supporter…just not in that way. People fail to understand that Ichigo and Rukia’s relationship is so special, that having them as romantic intrests would be too cliché, and take away from that bond. As Tite Kubo states, they are "more than friends, less than lovers." Which is why I was so excited for this film to come out. When it finally arrived on DVD…saying that I was disappointed would be the understatement of the freaking century. I expected to get an epic adventure featuring two of my favorite Bleach characters, but in reality what we got was a combination of the plot of the Soul Society arc and Diamonddust Rebellion in a gaping hole of despair and s**t. Also, we got thisChrist! And I thought "Kurosaki-Kun" was annoying! Anyway, I am going to educate the Bleach fandom why this is a terrible film, regardless of which group you ship, this film is an insult to the Bleach fandom and anyone who truly thinks this film represents Bleach should be ashamed of themselves. Despite this film catering to a certain aspect of the fandom, that aspect honestly does not bother me. Like I said, I like Ichiruki, just not as a romantic couple. The one aspect of this film that disturbs me is for a film focused on the complicated relationship of Ichigo and Rukia, they only have about FIVE MINUTES OF SCREENTIME TOGETHER. You know if you actually have a character mention another character 53 TIMES, I expect them to ACTUALLY interact with one another. Another thing is yeah Ichigo, Renji and Byakuya have deep relationships with Rukia, but apparently Chad, Uryū and Orihime don't count. Last time I checked, they also risked their lives to save Rukia, so at the very least shouldn't they have a cameo. Plus, Orihime and Rukia started a very great friendship, shouldn't she have been looking for her friend too? One of the big downfalls of this movie is that it focuses way too much on the Ichigo and Rukia relationship and blantanly ignores other relationships. I think if this movie was focused more on all the people Rukia has touched (like the marketing department suggested), this film would have been MUCH more bearable. One of the strongest themes in Bleach is friendship, so in my opinion the film would have been much better if all of Rukia's friends went looking for her.
I also hate and I do mean HATE the way the characters are portrayed in the film. Just because they had their memories of Rukia erased, it doesn't mean they can act like
Thank you Little Jack! Anyway…The characters are so OOC is ridiculous! I mean the not remembering Ichigo aspect I can buy, but I don't recall that short-term memory loss makes you act like an Geez enough Kid! Speaking of characters, let's talk about the villains of the movie. First, this interview has been brought to you by the letter "H," you will be seeing it a lot in this review. I Hate these characters immensely. First of all I can't stand Aya Hirano, but that is a conversation for another day. I really can't stand these characters because they don't have any actual "character to them" and their revenge and revival plot is almost exactly line for line the same as Kusaka's. At least with Kusaka I could relate to him, but these characters I can't relate to at all.
Okay, I am going to try to say (twitch) some (twitch) nice things about the film (twitch). Although there are a few sloppy scenes, the art and animation is big step up from Diamonddust Rebellion. My only real complaint is that I wished they reanimated more of the flashback scenes, instead of just upscaling scenes from the anime, mainly because of the huge contrast in the art style.
The music in this is also phenomenal, but like Diamonddust Rebellion, I think some of the songs are overused even outside the film. The Pray That You Understand Me suites (especially the FX version) are my favorite musical pieces in the film, and I wished it was used more in the anime.
The sum everything up, this movie is just generally unlikable. The characters are so unlikeable, even fan favorites are painful to watch. We were promised a great 90 minute adventure, but all we got was an over glorified $2,000,000 clip show. The thing that disturbs me the most though is that this movie was in the top-10 at box office for five weeks and grossed $6,032,296. This film more than likely cost about 1-2 million dollars to make (I could not find the exact budget, I got the numbers from comparing other anime film budgets), if that's the case, then the movie made almost three times its production value back, making it a success. Oh Japan, you used to be awesome, but you've become too western now. Making a butt-ton of money from crappy movies is Hollywood's job, don't take away our mojo. I think this movie is an insult Bleach fans, anime fans, film fans, and ESPECIALLY Ichiruki fans, and doesn't represent Bleach at all!
Wow, we need to get rid of all this negative energy. All right then! Next time we finish this puppy up with Bleach: Hell Verse. -- 04:24, January 6, 2013 (UTC)
Bleach: Hell Verse
If you don't know, here's some basic info on the film. Released in December 2010 in Japan, Bleach: Hell Verse is the forth and final full-length animated film based on the Bleach Anime series. Without giving too much away the plot goes as follows. Strange masked men, who call themselves Togabito or Sinners, appear and start causing trouble for Ichigo and his friends. Eventually it is revealed that the intent of these men was to kidnap Ichigo's sisters in order to force Ichigo to concede to their demands. Suddenly another mysterious man comes to help Ichigo, but unfortunately, the men still ending kidnapping Ichigo's sister, Yuzu, and the men return to Hell. The masked man, who introduces himself as Kokutō, agrees to help Ichigo rescue his sister from Hell before its too late.
In my opinion, this is. The "Bleach" film that looks the most like a proper full length animated feature. The animation and art is beautiful to look at, and hey if you should buy at least one anime Blu-ray, this is the one to buy. This film was clearly intended for HD, so in my opinion, you can't really appreciate this film art and sounds-wise without Blu-ray. I'm not going to go to into the Blu-ray, because. That's a discussion for another day. Going back to the animation, there really is not one bad frame of animation throughout this entire movie. Everything is fluid, from the clothing to the hair, everything looks fantastic in this movie...except for some of the cgi. There are some good compositing, like having pictures of real clouds becoming the atmosphere of Hell, then you have other moments...like the Gates of Hell. This really surprised me. Bleach generally has good CG work (or at least you can't easily tell its CG), but it is so apparent it's a 3D model, and you can tell even more so on Blu-ray. Since the Gates of Hell in the TV show looked fantastic, I figured a higher budget project would look even better, but alas I was wrong. It's not the model itself thats bad, but I feel it should of had a better texture map on it.
The story is pretty good in my opinion, is it the best...no, but considering the last full-length venture, the story is a HUGE step-up. I really liked how the story kept its focus on Ichigo (Pierrot actually remembered that Ichigo is the main protagonist). In my opinion the story moves pretty quickly, but still takes time to have great emotional moments. My only real complaint story wise, is while Kokutō being the villain was a good twist, I really wished that he could have been redeemed in the end. Shuren was a waste of time, and it would have been better if Kokutō and Shuren worked together (ala Aizen Gin), and if Kokutō realized his sins and would be able to pass on and be with his sister. To me that would have been much more emotionally satisfying. The music is also fantastic, and I think it's one of Shiro Sagisu's best. My only complaint would be the rehash of older osts really seem out of place, and there were other tracks that would have been much better suited for the film.
Overall, Bleach: Hell Verse is a very enjoyable film, that has a little something for everyone, which is why it is my favorite. Yes, it has its flaws, but there are a lot of good moments that make me overlook that.
Well, it's been fun guys, I hope to do a Blu-ray review of Hell Verse soon, so until next time! -- 04:50, January 22, 2013 (UTC)