Bleach Series 15 Part 2 gathers together episodes 330 to 342 for the climax of the Gotei 13 Invading Army arc, and while a marked improvement over the first half, there’s still so much padding, packed with flashbacks and reams of exposition. This is shounen after all.
For all its faults, Bleach is still a strikingly cool show with great characters and a soundtrack almost second to none, but the plot is really dragging its knuckles. The latest addition to the gang, the green haired, testy Nozomi, realises the full extent of her power and her fighting style is a unique addition to the action sequences. But it’s her back and forth with Kon that make for surprisingly tender scenes and stand out moment. It spins the character plates while Kon, strangely enough, ends up dominating the entirety of the series.
In amongst the narrative revelations, long running gags wearing thin at well over the 300 episode mark and the drawn out exposition, is a series about friendship verses solitude. The show persists with clear cut examples of both, but fascinating antagonist Kagerōza Inaba proves more complex than a simple stand in for solitude. While he fends off his inevitable comeuppance, there is room for moments of drama and moving subplots.
Episode 335, Hiding in the Dangai? Another Ichigo?!, is the most visually adventurous, while 341, Invading Army Arc, Final Conclusion!, is the highlight of the entire arc. The series closer, Thank You, isn’t without merit, and its bittersweet conclusion invites the viewer for the final series. Series 15 proves that Bleach still had a few interesting ideas in its penultimate outing. The essence might have been there, beneath all the padding, but it takes a lot of work on the viewer’s part to get the same thrill those first few series gave.
Special Features: Opening animation / Ending animation
INFO: BLEACH SERIES 15 PART 2 / CERT: 15 / DIRECTOR: NORIYUKI ABE / SCREENPLAY: MASASHI SOGO / STARRING: JOHNNY YONG BOSCH, STEPHANIE SHEH, DEREK STEPHEN PRINCE / RELEASE DATE: JUNE 29TH