For those of you who may be unfamiliar with the long-running manga and anime series Bleach, here’s a quick recap: Ichigo Kurosaki, who can see spirits, gets caught up in a battle between the Soul Reaper Rukia Kuchiki and a Hollow, or lost soul. The Soul Reapers of the Soul Society track these spirits down before they can harm the living world. In the course of the battle Rukia is wounded, so breaks the Society’s rules and transfers most of her spiritual power, or reiatsu, to Ichigo, in order for him to continue her fight. This sets up most of the series, wherein Ichigo is drawn further and further into the Soul Society’s world and their battles.
This beginning of the series comes into play once again in the third Bleach movie: Fade to Black. It opens with a mysterious attack in the lab of Soul Reaper scientist Mayuri Kurotsuchi, which ends up with him losing his memory and damaging his machine. This releases a flood of stored reiatsu, which takes on the appearance of a river of serpents and soon threatens the entire headquarters of the Soul Society. The villains then continue with their search for Rukia, and we soon learn they were her childhood friends. They want everything back the way it was when they were kids and they now have the power to make Rukia forget most of her more recent history with a sweep of their magic scythe – as well as the power to make everyone else forget Rukia ever existed.
Enter Ichigo, back in the mortal world, who also has forgotten Rukia until he has a dream about her. Maybe because of their history, he soon finds himself as the only one who can actually remember her. This sets Ichigo against the whole Soul Society as he goes to rescue her, as through Rukia they have forgotten Ichigo as well. And as every Bleach fan knows, that’s a huge cast of characters who don’t trust the stranger who wears their garb.
Needless to say, Ichigo eventually succeeds, making everything go back to normal. Which, in a nutshell, is my chief complaint about movies based on existing anime shows. Most often they are written by a writer other than the series creator – in this case Natsuko Takahashi instead of Tite Kubo – and have to be written in such a manner that nothing can upset the (often convoluted) plotline of the main series. This is fine for many shows, and practically a staple when resetting the status quo for many United States series. But anime companies often make movies like this one that are ancillary to the series itself, and it always makes me think they are just out to make more money with a hot property, rather than really serving the needs of the fans or storyline.
That being said, many Bleach fans will most likely love Fade to Black. The quality of the animation in these movies always is notched a bit higher and Fade to Black is no exception, showing some truly epic battles and flashy special effects. Nearly every character that has appeared in the series takes part, especially in the final battle. Fans of Renji Abarai, Kisuke Urahara, Kenpachi Zaraki, and of course the animated plushie lion Kon, will enjoy the roles their favorites play.
Like the rest of the series, Bleach: Fade to Black is perfectly suitable for the young adult shelves. There are a few moments of blood, but nothing more extreme than what is found in the series itself. If your library has a big Bleach following, then it would be a good purchase, but it could be skipped if the anime or manga aren’t as popular in your area.
Bleach: Fade to Black
Viz Media, 2011
directed by Noriyuki Abe
90 minutes, Number of Discs: 1
Company Age Rating: T (13+)
Related to: Bleach by Tite Kubo