Review: Bleach: The Diamond Dust Rebellion (2007)

Bleach has been a very successful TV series in Japan, breaking out of its shonen mold to appeal to a much wider audience.  So wide, in fact, that the series has spawned several feature films.  Diamond Dust Rebellion (DDR), the second of these features, is better than the first, but the creators still don’t seem to get what actually makes Bleach enjoyable and they ended up making little more than a cash-in here.

For those who might not know, Bleach is the story of a high school student named Ichigo who is accidentally imbued with the powers of a spiritual warrior, Rukia, who spends her time battling Hollows – spiritual monsters who are often formed from the detritus of a life after it has ended.  Rukia, a Soul Reaper and member of an elite sect known as the Soul Society, has a mission on our plane of existence to keep the Hollows at bay.

For my money, the core of Bleach is the balance between Ichigo and Rukia.  When events stray far from that see-saw, as they did in the series when Rukia was held captive for an entire season, things go awry and the series becomes boring and predictable.  I enjoy seeing Ichigo wrestle with his home life in the real world and his new challenges in the spiritual plane.  DDR has none of this.

Almost the entire film takes place amongst the SS members and both Rukia and Ichigo are marginalized over the course of this story making this seem more like a spinoff than a Bleach movie.  A Soul Society artifact has been stolen and no one knows who did it or why, blah blah blah.  It’s not that it’s a bad plot per se, but it just isn’t a Bleach plot worthy of a feature.  I imagine the writers were trying to produce something that wasn’t directly tied to the TV show timeline, but in the process they ended up making a Soul Society movie.  I must confess, though – I never made it past season two of the show so maybe this is what the show is like now.  If so, that’s very sad.  I mean, seriously – who cares about these SS members?  We care about Ichigo because he’s one of us!  He’s our window into that world and without him, that world isn’t nearly as compelling.

The animation here is bland and the characters don’t even look like they do on the show.  I thought Rukia was rendered even more poorly than the rest.   I  get it when a TV show cuts corners, but on a playing field that includes Sword of the Stranger and the Evangelion reboot, the bar has been set pretty high for animated features in Japan.

The DVD transfer I saw was crap and there was obviously no one at Viz Media who cared about this release, so why should you or I?  Not recommended.

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