Now that all of the episodes of Season 3 are out on DVD, does Season 3 successfully wrap up the Soul Society Arc, or does it not succeed in that regard?

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
Masaaki Tsukada as Shigekuni Yamamoto-Genryūsai
Tomoko Kawakami as Soi Fon
Kōji Yusa as Gin Ichimaru
Kentarō Itō as Renji Abarai
Aya Hisakawa as Retsu Unohana
Ryōtarō Okiayu as Byakya Kuchiki
Romi Paku as Tōshirō Hitsugaya
Toshiyuki Morikawa as Kaname Tōsen
(And there are a more Soul Reapers Captains & Lieutentants with speaking parts that I forgot to give credit to. If there’s anyone you think I forgot who needs crediting, post ’em in the comments please.)

Directed by Noriyuki Abe
Animation by Studio Pierrot

Premise

Bringing the “Soul Society Arc” to a conclusion, our heroes have entered the Soul Society, and their most well protected stronghold, now to save Rukia. Oh, and there’s that whole matter of who killed Captain Aizen.

High Points

With most of the Soul Society set up last season, we get a lot of really good fights this season, with various interesting fighting styles, as well as the introduction of Bankai.

Bleach has really good training sequences. Far superior to anything in most other Shonen series I’ve seen. It helps that the training sequences have their own little bit of dramatic tension to add in the suspense (Ichigo having to escape the pit before becoming a hollow in Season 1, needing to learn the name of his zanpakutō
in Season 2, and learning Bankai in season 3. Dragonball Z in particular (another Shonen Jump manga) had this problem with it’s training scenes.

The reveal that Aizen is a not only alive, but a villian is one heck of a twist, and even though I knew Aizen was a villain (someone spoiled it for me), it was still very well executed.

Low Point

Spoiler guarded for your protection: Captain Aizen’s plan is a total Xanatos Gambit. It’s not a roulette, because he’s got contingencies in place in case someone doesn’t act according to plan, but everyone does, and he says as such (which is the usual sign of a Xanatos Gambit). Towards the end of his big explanation of the plan I have to admit that I had started rolling my eyes at how over the top this was becoming.

For the moment, I’m classifying Momo (Aizen’s Lieutenant) as being currently in the Fridge.

I was rather annoyed about Rukia’s decision to stay behind. It didn’t quite make everything Ichigo and company had done be for nothing (they did save her), but I did think it was somewhat anti-climactic. They have to bring her back next season though – she’s one of the more core characters in the show.

Nudity and Violence

Again, we’ve got you usual high-pressure blood spray here (just about everyone who fights in this show should get on some serious blood pressure medication). There’s a little bit of female nudity as well.

The Scores

Originality: Again, it’s a sequel to an adaptation. 3 out of 6

Animation: The animation quality still is very good, particularly with the fights in this season (Byakya’s Bankai kicks things up a notch in particular.) 5 out of 6

Story: The story is very nicely done, and the focus shift of the plot to the Soul Reapers was done very well, and the splits amongst them were fairly logical. 4
out of 6

Voice Acting: Voice acting is just as good as last season.
3 out of 6

Emotional Response: While the big twist had been spoiled for me before hand, the way that a certain character’s scheming was putting other characters through the wringer was very well done, and I felt kind of bad for those characters, even though, as of much of last season, they were the bad guys. 3 out of 6

Production: Still very good quality sound design, production and animation. 4 out of 6

Overall: Overall, this was a very satisfying climax to the Soul Society arc. 5 out of 6

In total, Season 3 of Bleach receives a 27 out of 42.