Bleach the Movie: Memories of Nobody (VIZ Video, T)

bleachmovie-header.jpgYet for all that the movie is still an entertaining experience, with lots of action, humor, fanservice, a huge cast of characters, and some philosophical heft.




Movies don’t have to make sense to be enjoyable. The Big Sleep is Exhibit A in this category: even the author of the original novel, Raymond Chandler, wasn’t sure who killed the Sternwood’s chauffeur. More tellingly, that lacuna hadn’t particularly troubled him until Humphrey Bogart raised the question. Bleach the Movie: Memories of Nobody, although not exactly a classic in the sense of Howard Hawks’ 1946 film, is Exhibit B: I enjoyed watching the DVD although frequently I had no idea what was going on.

Let me state up front that I’m no expert when it comes to the Bleach franchise: maybe fans of the manga and anime would find the film totally comprehensible. But it seems to me that while manga and anime are serial products, a film should be a self-contained entity which does not require knowledge of previous stories, and on that score Bleach the Movie falls short.

Click for a larger image.Yet for all that the movie is still an entertaining experience, with lots of action, humor, fanservice, a huge cast of characters, and some philosophical heft. It also has moments of real poignancy, and the characters develop and mature over the course of the story. The art is vivid and expressive and the music is an interesting blend of classical along with the usual electronic pop songs.

Trying to explain the plot recalls Anna Russell’s comment on the plot of Wagner’s Ring cycle: "I’m not making this up, you know!" The main characters are Ichigo Kurosaki, a teenage boy who’s just as pretty as he is impetuous, and the more mature and refreshingly sarcastic Rukia Kuchiki. Ichigo and Rukia are Soul Reapers, whose job is to help souls get to the Soul Society (afterlife) without being eaten by the Hollows, a scary group of souls with unresolved issues. Lately large numbers of strange white spirits known as Blanks have started to appear on earth, followed by a pert schoolgirl named Senna who thinks she’s also a Soul Reaper, but in fact is the repository of the memories of the Blanks. The Dark Ones capture Senna, and Ichigo enters the Valley of Screams (usual home of the Blanks) to rescue her. And so it goes, but never mind, it’s basically a battle of good and evil and of the wish for souls to reach their final resting place.

The packaging of Bleach the Movie is outstanding. The two-DVD set comes in a trifold cardboard digipack with a clear plastic slipcase, and includes a full-color 28-page booklet which provides some of the background missing from the film as well as extensive credits. If you aren’t familiar with the series, I recommend reading the booklet before watching the movie. The movie comes with English and Japanese soundtracks, English subtitles, and an English commentary track which is definitely worth a listen. The best extra on the second DVD is a behind the scenes video which lives up to its name by taking you into the VIZ studios to see how the Japanese versions of the movie, anime and manga are transformed into their English versions. Other extras include subtitled interviews with people who worked on the Japanese production, a collection of line art and storyboards, the U.S. theatrical trailer, and six Japanese trailers.

Bleach the Movie is rated T for ages 13 and older, mainly for violence. | Sarah Boslaugh


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