Moving Right Along with Bleach, we continue to the first half of the Soul Society Arc – Season 2. Does it continue to build up momentum from Season 1, or does it squander it?

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
Noriaki Sugiyama as Ishida Uryuu
Shirō
Saitō as Yoruichi
Satsuki Yukino as Yoruichi
(human form)

Show Hayami as Sōsuke
Aizen
Kōki Miyata as
Hanatarō Yamada
Kōji Yusa
as Gin Ichimaru
Kentarō Itō
as Renji Abarai
Fumihiko Tachiki
as Kenpachi Zaraki
Wataru Takagi
as Ganju Shiba


Director is Noriyuki Abe
Animation by Studio Pierrot


Premise


This season marks the beginning of the “Soul Society Arc”.
Ichigo, Sado, Inoue, Ishida, along with their feline guide Yoruichi,
travel to the Soul Society to rescue Rukia from execution by the Soul
Reapers for giving her powers to Ichigo. However, schemes are in
motion amongst the Soul Reapers as well…


High Point


I was originally going to put the fight between Kenpachi and
Ichigo for this, but that’s actually a sign of a large high-point for
the season – while Season 2 is still a (noun)-of-the-week
season (in this case, Soul Reaper of the week), unlike in Season 1 we
get a great deal of character development for the various Soul
Reapers, particularly the Captains and their Lieutenants. The fight
between Kenpachi is a great example of this, as because time was
spent developing Kenpachi’s hunt for Ichigo as the strongest
swordsman of their opponents, and Ichigo being warned about Kenpachi,
when they finally met the buildup was enough to make the fight a
bigger deal than Ichigo trying to overcome an obstacle keeping him
from rescuing Rukia.


Low Point


Sado really doesn’t get an opportunity to show his own powers. He
overcomes a lot of generic, nameless Soul Reapers, but, basically,
he’s knocked out of action by the end of the season. To be fair, he
is going up against a squad captain. Also, the cast of named
important characters in this season multiplies dramatically. I tried
to, for the cast list, put only the characters who got significant
screen time and played a major role this season.
There are a lot of characters (
Byakuya Kuchiki
and
Tōshirō
Hitsugaya in particular) who have a very small role
this
season
,
who get more significant roles
next
season
.
Consequently, it’s a little tricky tracking who is whose lieutenant
(though they do a better job of giving the captains a gimmick to make
them more memorable – “blind”, “old”, “kid”,
“lazy”, “Rukia’s older brother”, “fox”,
etc.)


Nudity and Violence


The violence is at about the same level of last season, with the
difference being that as Ichigo is fighting Soul Reapers this season,
his opponents are human (or were once human, but still retain a human
form) so that may make a difference in deciding whether kids should
be watching this or not. There is some nudity this season,
particularly with Yoruichi’s transformation to her human form. Other
than that, the only other one that comes to mind is that Rangiku
Matsumoto’s uniform shows off a lot
of cleavage.


The Scores


Originality: It’s another season, still an adaptation
(though the series does step outside of the manga later), but pretty
different from Season 1. 4 out of 6


Animation: Animation quality is still spot on.
4 out of 6


Story: The story is the same level of quality as the
original, while changing up the pace, with the exception of the
political maneuvering within the Soul Society, which drags things a
little. 3 out of 6


Voice Acting: I liked the voice acting though there aren’t
any VAs I’d go hunting for in other work at the moment, though if I
came across them elsewhere I’d be pleasantly surprised – with
the sole exception of Kenpatchi’s VA, who a little research revealed
is the same VA who did Gendo Ikari in Evangelion.
4 out of 6


Emotional Response: As I
mentioned in the high point, the structure of the story here, gives a
lot of screen time to the Soul Reavers, so that we get to know them
before our heroes fight them, adding to the emotional impact of the
fights (and whether we’ve learned to hate or like the opponent of our
heroes).
4 out of 6


Production: The rest of the production is decent –
there aren’t any sound effects that are either out of place or sound
fantastic – it’s all your standard shonen stuff anyway (hilts
rattling, swords colliding when they block each other, etc.)
3 out of 6


Overall: It’s a good season. It doesn’t loose any ground
from the previous season. If you’ve seen season 1 and and liked what
you saw, you won’t be disappointed by Season 2 and if you had
reservations about Season 1, keep going until season 2 (and maybe on
through Season 3 – which I’ll get to once I’ve finished
watching it) and see how you like things from there. 4
out of 6


In total, Season 2 of Bleach receives
a 26 out of 42.