With the new circuit of conventions on the East Coast comes a new batch of cosplays to plan. And what caught my eye this summer, as my girlfriend suggested was Sosuke Aizen, main antagonist of the hit shounen series (still running) Bleach from Japan. (As all anime are usually from there.) Not knowing a thing about the character I would attempt to portray, I thought, heck, let me take a stab at watching some Bleach. I had no idea what was in store for me for the next 5 weeks. With incredibly long battle scenes of at least 2-3 episodes in length, filler SEASONS and the occaisonal humorous episode, this show throws a lot at you in what I feel is a reasonably paced amount of time. And the more you watch, the more you feel for certain characters and the more you feel like talking about it all the time (I wish I had a Bleach buddy to discuss the finer things with…). With such a cult following (very similar to Naruto) Bleach has become a staple I feel any anime fan should at least tune into every once in a while.
Ichigo and Rukia. Strange love twisted relationship?
So I’m not going to delve to deeply into the story, so I’ll keep it restricted to the first couple of seasons. I already ruined one spoiler for you, so I hope it doesn’t deter you from watching at all. Ichigo Kurosaki is a typical 15 year old high schooler. Well, almost. He has the ability to see spirits that haven’t crossed over and he doesn’t really know why. But this hypersensitive awareness to the Other has caused him a bit of trouble. Which turns into a lot of trouble. That he may inevitably face for the rest of his life.
One day, while walking home from school (insert whistling skip here), Ichigo encounters something he’s never seen before. (Which, based on how often it happens in his hometown of Karakura Town, I’m surprised he hasn’t seen it before…) Rukia Kuchiki, a black robed Shinigami Soul Reaper is battling what appears to be a skull-masked monster. After a few episodes, in her weakened state, she can no longer battle and lends almost all of her power to Ichigo. In a sudden flash and transformation, Ichigo is transformed into a Soul Reaper himself and embarks on countless adventures of struggle and strife.
Due to Ichigo’s acquirement of Rukia’s powers, Rukia is taken prisoner by her brother Byakuya Kuchiki and Renji Abari, and sentenced to death. Ichigo and his friends, Orihime Inoue, Yatsutora Sado, and Uryu Ishida, must all band together and reach the Soul Society, afterworld in which the 13 Court Guard Squads reign supreme over all souls and the dealings with the Hollows. (Hollows end up being a main form of opponent of Ichigo in the first and successive seasons, just in different forms.)
Ichigo fights to save Rukia!
After coming to and entering the Soul Society’s inner chamber, known as the Seireitei, Ichigo and Co. must battle hordes of Soul Reapers, both weak and powerful. Beginning his own path to strength, it is with and against the Soul Society and the Court Guard Squads that Ichigo finds his place in such a new world. With new enemies and challenges that seem to pop up out of nowhere as the seasons go, it may seem (as Ichigo’s voice actor said reluctantly, yet happily, that the show may never end, but at least he’ll continue to get paid for it.)
An immense amount of badasses.
All-in-all, with such an expansive cast with so many characters, this show is unbelievably immense in its scope and plot. And it’s mainly due to the writing and characters behind it. Although many fans may think the show should’ve ended long ago, I’ll have to see once I get farther (I’m on episode 212.). But there needs to be a lot of credit given to the vocal cast of this show. This show, although it would be just fine subbed, may credit it’s American fan base success to Johnny Yong Bosch, voice of Ichigo Kurosaki, our hero. With his deeply troubled teen facing a whole lot of changes in life way beyond that of anyone else due to its mythical quality, Bosch adds an at times playful yet at most times serious voice to a complex character.
Seeing as there are so many characters, I can’t really give credit to all those who lends their great voices to the show. So, for starters, Derek Stephen Prince is owed some credit for his snarky, unabashed portrayal of Uryu Ishida, the
I enjoy this fan pic. (Uryu Ishida)
last of the Quincies. And, although he may not speak much, Jamieson Price gives a greatly underappreciated voice as Yatsutora Sado, the deeply softspoken Hispanic wonder. Gin Ichimaru, voiced by Doug Erholtz, is another voice that stood out to me with its snake-like charm and venomous words as another worthy opponent. Karen Strassman gave a semi-heartbreaking performance as Momo Hinamori, the lieutenant of Sosuke Aizen (voiced by Kyle Herbert), a woman in love with duty and the will to follow. Byakuya Kuchiki is amazingly voiced by a badass, Dan Woren. His I-don’t-give-a-shit attitude really shines through with that heart of gold underneath with
Byakuya Kuchiki, how fantastic
Woren’s voice. David Lodge, a voice actor I’m not that familiar with, adds a new voice I haven’t heard before with the grave undertones of Kenpachi Zaraki. And last but certainly not least comes Liam O’Brien. His amazingly recognizable voice lends itself perfectly to the soft spoken Jushiro Ukitake. And that’s only to name a few. After a while, characters voices become synonymous with the character portrayed on screen in perfect sychronization.
Now, the animation is the good and bad thing about this show. As it progresses, through the past few years, it has gotten better. It’s never been completely terrible, but I admire and try to find anime that have a more fluid style to their action scenes. This show has improved, but I find there are more stationary shots dealing with dialogue and explosions than actual fluid swordfights. Although a part of this show deals with powers and sword attacks not in the short term, there is an element of strategy among the characters I can admire.
Something to look forward to in Bleach.
Apart from being in the top 10 longest running anime, it would be nice to see this show concluded in a way that won’t have been conceived out of a sense of pressure due to its length. I would rather have a harmonious ending with all the seasons fitting together in what becomes a well planned final battle between the characters that matter. Also, I wouldn’t mind if some of the main good guys perished every once in a while, it seems like (with most anime of this style) that no main characters ever die. It might add an element of drama not before captured in this show. Just a thought.
So this is one of the best anime I’ve watched. Ever. I mean hands down ever. I think this should be a mandatory requirement for all anime fans to watch. In one sitting. I had to load episodes from the internet, but I loaded them 1o at a time and would site for 3 hours watching al 10. This show blew my mind. It has the most intricate plot with twists and turns. It’s one of those pieces of art that you watch and you have to choose a side. (Clearly there’s only one side to choose in this anime.) But it’s harder than that. It’s about morality.
Light vs. L. Who will win?
Ethics. The worth/cost of a life. And whether or not it is just to take a life in the pursuit of justice and goodness. And if humankind can itself be gods.
So this anime is about Light Yagami (Brad Swaile). One day this 17 year old student, top of his class, suave, genius prodigy finds this notebook. And in it are instructions. If a name is written in this book with the persons face in mind, that person will die of a heart attack in 40 seconds. If a cause of death is established in those 40 seconds and the
Light Yagami. God of the New World.
details written in 6 minutes and 40 seconds, then the person will die that way if the means of that death can be accomplished. This is basically disregarded by Light as some ridiculous joke. Until he tries it. Then Light is thrust into a world of possibilities no one before could possibly imagine. And, using this Death Note, Light will become the God of the New World.
There is some baggage that comes with the Death Note. A Death Note can only be found by a human on Earth if it is dropped by a Shinigami. These quite strange, queer, funny creatures come from “limbo” as best I can figure. Their world is dissolving and Ryuuke
Ryuuke. He likes apples.
(Brian Drummond) has grown tired of the days of gambling bones and sleeping. He hungers for intrigue and excitement, and nobody better than Light can give that to him. Light’s attitude towards the power to kill brings surprising results. Light only kills criminals. Ryuuke follows him around, unseen by humans other than Light, for only humans who have touched the notebook can see Shinigamis. And it is Ryuuke’s duty to remain on earth with Light until it is his time to leave Light upon his death.
And from there the show picks up. Light soon becomes Kira (the Japanese pronunciation of Killer. Stereotypical right?) and creates a following. But the justice system won’t stand for that shit. They’re gonna put a stop to him right? So L(Alessandro Juliani), the greatest investigator/crime solver in the world, better than the Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew combined, will do just that. And the chase begins. From here, the twists and mind games that’re played throughout the show display the amazing mind behind Tsugumi Ohba, creator of the manga.
I love Light Yagami. Thank you Brad Swaile.
Let me just say that my explanation/review of this anime comes nowhere near doing it justice. Although this anime was picked up by a Canadian company for dubbing, this doesn’t detract from the quality. Canadian voice actors are just as good as American voice actors. Case in point: Light Yagami’s voice actor, Brad Swaile. This guy must rock the mike when he’s recording. His manical laughs, his brilliantly intelligent air about him, it all fits the character. To a tee. Forget watching the subbed version, this guy brings this show home himself. Also of notable mention is Alessandro Juliani, the voice of L. Although his noises when interacting with food may seem off-putting, it enhances the strangeness that is L. L’s character is quirky and cold, intelligent and funny, but, to me, altogether annoying. And that’s why I chose the side of Light. Okay, not just because of the voice acting. To put my own opinion out there, Light’s sense of justice and genius mind are completely superior to L. In every way. Besides that, yes, L is respectable. But altogether inferior. But that’s where the dichotomy of the show comes from. And that’s why I enjoy the battle of the minds so much.
Also of notable mention in the voice acting department is Brian Drummond, the voice of Ryuuke. All these Shinigami have sort of a grating, holier than thou, tone of voice to them and Ryuuke is no exception. Although he may play the part of jester, Brian Drummond brings an almost threatening aura to Ryuuke that makes him seem capable of anything being a God of Death. Chris Britton also gives a great performance as Soichiro Yagami, Light’s father. (I’m not gonna go into details about him, you must watch!) The grave, business air of Soichiro is what gives a respectable dignity to himself. Chris Britton’s caring and
Soichiro Yagami. Badass Dad.
intelligent voice lends itself to the character and really helps to envision a father worried for his family. Vincent Tong gets my honorable mention as Touta Matsuda, the goofy, caring, blundering police investigator of the Kira case. (This is inevitably what develops from Light’s mass killings of criminals.) He cares about the case, but he’s young at heart and this comes through strong and clear from Vincent Tong’s performance, making him an endearing character.
Teru Mikami. You'll see...
Another boss character from Death Note with a great voice actor is Kirby Morrow as Teru Mikami. (Now I can’t go into detail about this character, but look out for him!) Kirby does a great job of a devotional character willing to do whatever it takes for justice. Take that explanation as you like it. This show’s also great because there’s a culture crossover with Americans involved as well. And this shows itself in Raye Penber, voiced by Michael Adamhwaite. Adamthwaite (although a minor character) gives a great performance being an English speaking actor doing a English speaking character (not having watched the subbed, I don’t know exactly how this crossover works) and is quite the interesting character with a humble background.
But enough about voice actors. I could go on for far too long. The art is great too. It’s subtle dark colors mixed with flickering lights and dark corners gives it that seedy underbelly, nobody is who they say they are, investigation feel. This show is dark. I mean, come on, it’s about death. Characters are messed up in this show. But it’s all about the intelligence, it’s about the wording, and, most importantly, it’s all
Oh, did I mention there are live action movies?
about the deductions. The Shinigami, although otherworldly, become believable in this setting that seems it could never happen. I was never surprised or in disbelief by this anime, because it makes the impossible, possible. And that’s where the magic comes from.
So watch this show. Please check it out. It’s well worth its weight in gold. This show sets the bar unbelievably high for anime, and I think could make the jump into pop culture. Or, I wish it would. Love it, love it, love it. 11 out of 10. (Because I can.)
Oh, and this anime has one amazing intro. Check it (if you’re a metal fan).