Alright, this weekend I’ll be starting off one of the biggest Shonen Anime to be released stateside in the past few years that don’t involve knucklehead ninja – Bleach. I’m not going to do a “Complete Bleach” thing this time – the show is still running and and not all of the currently released seasons have been released in the US yet.

Cast, Crew, and Other Info


Fumiko Orikasa as Rukia Kuchiki
Masakazu Morita as Ichigo Kurosaki
Hiroki Yasumoto as Sado Yasutora
Yuki Matsuoka as Inoue Orihime
Mitsuaki Madono as Kon
Noriaki Sugiyama as Ishida Uryuu
Junko Noda as Tatsuki Arisawa
Toshiyuki Morikawa as Kurosaki Isshin
Rie Kugimiya as Kurosaki Karin
Tomoe Sakuragawa as Kurosaki Yuzu


Premise


Ichigo Kurosaki is a semi-ordinary high school student, who can see spirits and does what he can to try and put them to rest. One evening he sees a Soul Reaper or Shinigami fighting a Hollow – as the fight endangers Ichigo’s family, the Soul Reaper, Rukia, tries to give Ichigo some of her powers – instead giving him all of her powers. Ichigo now has to substitute for Rukia in her duties of hunting down Hollows while her powers recover. Note: Season 1 in Japan is known as the Agent of the Shinigami arc, and was released by Viz in the US, and ends right before Ichigo, Sado, Inoue and Uryuu enter the soul society at the end of episode 20. On Hulu, they mark Season 1 as ending on episode 25, after 5 episodes in the Soul Society – I am going with Japanese structuring for this review, as there are significant cast changes with the start of Season 2.


High Point


The Hollow Hunting Contest between Ichigo and Uryuu. Both because we get some pretty good fights in there (and the introduction of the Menos Grande is a very impressive moment) but also because that gets us the introduction of the of the Shun Shun Rikka – some of my favorite supporting characters in the show.


Low Point


This season really is a Monster Of The Episode show. It’s very episodic, and every episode stands alone. There’s character development, but with a few exceptions you could miss an episode or two and still be able to follow things fairly easily.


Nudity and Violence


There is a lot of blood in the fight scenes, but no gore. The violence is over the top, with people taking a cut to the chest or arm, spurting gallons of blood, and being able to recover after some tough-guy dialog and continuing to fight.


The Scores


Originality: For a shonen series, it’s fairly original – there have been “Ordinary High School Students Develop Cool Powers And Fight Demons” series before, but the way this series is set up is different. I’m docking it a point on general principle because it’s a manga adaptation, but the the thought is still there. 4 out of 6


Animation: The animation is fairly good – but with the use of computers in animation these days (with exceptions), for various purposes I’m seeing a lot more series with good animation – which actually puts more of the weight of the writing and acting to carry the series. 5 out of 6


Story: The story is okay. It’s main purpose is to introduce us to our various characters, who we’ll be spending the rest of the series with, and build a rapport with the protagonists so they don’t have to deal with doing it in later seasons (which – getting a little ahead of myself- become more episodic). 3 out of 6


Voice Acting: The Japanese voice acting is fairly good, and Yuki Matsuoka won an award for her performance in the series. 3 out of 6


Emotional Response: The emotional response is fairly meh, with a few of the main character development episodes, and the last few episodes of the season. 3 out of 6


Production: As far as the overall production values go, the sound design is well done – nothing outstanding but what they do sounds good. 3 out of 6


Overall: It’s a good start to the series. If you like shonen action series you could do worse (much worse) than Bleach. 5 out of 6


In total, Season 1 of Bleach receives a 26 out of 42.

EDIT: I mis-calculated the score. I’d like to thank Minneyar for spotting the slip-up.