ANIME & MANGA - Review
10:00 - 31st December 2013, by David West

Bleach: Series 12, Part 1

Season 12 brings a new threat to Ichigo and the Soul Reapers in the form of Muramasa, who presents the heroes with a unique challenge. In battle, the Soul Reapers rely on the powers of their Zanpakuto, the weapons that are unique to each wielder. However Muramasa has found a way to draw the Zanpakuto away from the Reapers and to give them physical form. And he's leading them in a rebellion against their former masters.

Season 12 shows Bleach at its best. The animation has left behind the cross-hatching that was reminiscent of Tite Kubo's manga artwork for a slicker visual style. The plot is heavy on action and drama, and, better yet, Kon and his annoying chums are hardly involved at all. The scriptwriting is more focussed than in many earlier volumes, and the action scenes are no longer weighed down with endless exposition. The Zanpakuto revolt presents Ichigo and the Reapers with a hefty dilemma - if they fight against their own Zanpakuto and win, will they lose their best weapon against the Hollows? The overall tone is serious and intense, although when Rangiku and Hinamori fight their Zanpakuto, those scenes are played for laughs, which does suggest some latent sexism at work. When the guys confront their Zanpakuto, it is in deadly earnest, but with the ladies it's lightweight. Otherwise, this is a shot in the arm to an anime institution.

Great to see such a long running series still delivering the goods in its twelfth season.
SCORE: 4/5
TAGS: Bleach, Kaze, Manga
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