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Bleach 04: The Substitute

Score: 90%
Rating: Not Rated
Publisher: Viz Media
Region: 1
Media: DVD/1
Running Time: 100 Mins.
Genre: Anime/Action
Audio: English/ Japanese


  • Clean Ending
  • Production Art

Bleach 04: The Substitute contains Episodes 13 - 16 of the series, continuing the first story arc and laying the groundwork for the second major arc, The Sneaky Entry. The next four episodes find Ichigo and Rukia in very different mindsets; as Ichigo becomes more comfortable and confident in his role as a Soul Reaper, Rukia becomes a wanted criminal for spending too much time in the human world without permission.

Episode 13 takes place during Ichigo and Ishida's hollow-hunting contest, though most of the episode's focus is on Orihime. While cleaning up the mess left by Ichigo and Ishida at school, a Hollow attacks Orihime and her friends. During the attack, Orihime develops her own spirit power, the Shun Shun Rikki, when her hairpins transform into five fairies. After the fight, Kisuke offers to help Orihime and Chad develop their powers.

Episode 14 finds Ichigo and Ishida in a bad spot. The bait Ishida used to summon the Hollows for the contest is more potent than he anticipated, forcing the two rivals to team up in order to destroy the hundreds of Hollows who have shown up. Things go from bad to worse when a giant Hollow, called a Menos Grande, appears. During the fight, Ichigo taps into his full spirit potential, though the strain of the powers is too much, causing Ishida to spring into action and help him.

Episode 15 is a stand-alone episode focusing on the misadventures of Kon, the stuffed lion. Tired of being mistreated by Ichigo, Kon decides to run away in search of Orihime, the only person Kon thinks will properly take care of him. Unfortunately, he finds misfortune wherever he goes. At the same time, Rukia decides to run away rather than endanger Ichigo when the Soul Society's hunters come looking for her.

Episode 16 is the first major step towards the Sneak Entry arc. A hunter named Renji, who is also a Soul Reaper, finds Rukia and captures her. Ichigo attempts to rescue Rukia only to have Renji trigger his initial release ability and overpower Ichigo.

As with the previous installments, Bleach 04 continues the series' strong character development. Though Ichigo still remains at the center of the series, he takes a step back, placing the spotlight on Orihime and Rukia. Most of the attention goes to developing Orihime's character. Though most of the world still sees her as a chesty, naive cutie with an odd appetite, she grows more confident and gains a broader view of the world around her. Orihime does, however, become the target of a few adult-oriented jokes as both Kon and one of her female classmates develop certain... uhm, fixations.

The rivalry between Ichigo and Ishida also benefits from added depth. Though Ichigo is still a brash hothead, he comes off as the cooler head during the competition. He also reveals, much to the dismay of Ishida and Rukia, why he is so reckless with his powers.

The same extras as the previous volumes are featured in the fourth. Both English and Japanese voicetracks are available, as are English subtitles. A "Clean" version of the ending credits (just pictures and music, no words) and Production Sketches, which are great for budding artists, round out the features.

Also included in the package are Collector's Stickers showcasing the title cards of each episode and the cover art.

For fans, Bleach 04: The Substitute is another must buy. Newcomers should probably look into checking out previous volumes before jumping into the fourth.

-Starscream, GameVortex Communications
AKA Ricky Tucker

Anime Naruto: Uncut Box Set 3 Anime MAR: 1 Gateway to MAR

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