Wednesday, 1 February 2012

Attack From Behind: Movie 1 Review

Hola! It's

I'm doing all the filler arcs, might as well do the movies as well. At this rate my column will be a great big anime continuity snark. And I'm perfectly fine with that. So let's dive right into this prestigious blog's very own high class

And boy, lemme tell ya, they weren't kidding with "Memories of Nobody." By far the least memorable of the movies. Movie 2 is memorable for being immoderately retarded, Movie 3 had Dark Rukia, and Movie 4 was a Madcap Adventure in Hell written by none other than Kubo himself. But before I rewatched the movie there as exactly one thing I remembered, the scene where Ichigo's lifeless body gets tossed in an ambulance while he's out killing a Hollow in his substitute shinigami form, having neglected to use Kon's pill instead of his substitute badge.

For yes, we must remember that BLEACH was still a relatively new and very hot property. The moviegoing audience needs to be reintroduced to central concepts and characters. So does that mean the main human cast, Ishida, Chad, and Orihime, will feature? Of course not, not when there's an original character of the writer's to pimp.

I feel bad for Karakura Town's mayor. All that constant, unexplainable property damage must drive him or her up the wall

Remember when defeating a Hollow was relatively difficult? Remember when there weren't a million billion of them? Remember when purifying human souls was a thing?

"You're gonna like the Soul Society, it's not scary at all." Oh Rukia, you're such a stinker.

Then we get to the plot; a bunch of strange, identical white ghosts that can't be so purified descend on Karakura, which will heretofore be referred to as Klansmen. An original character amnesiac shinigami named Senna steps right out of deviantArt to lay waste to them with her autumnal whirlwind sword release, Mirokumaru.

Admirably, Ichigo and Rukia don't immediately try to kill the strange creatures. Why they're in league with Soul Society is anyone's guess.

Senna is one of those obnoxious manic pixie dream girls, always doing way out there stuff like spazzing out in public and chasing puppies into traffic. She says she was slicing up those mysterious spirits because of "instinct." Well if her instinct is genocide first, ask questions later, then she'd actually be a perfect fit for the Gotei 13, but she betrays ignorance on what squads are.

 We also get a brief glimpse of the movie's villain, Ganryuu, who looks like this:

"Perpendicular eye scars were so last season. Diagonals are all the rage for villains these days."

From now on, Ganryuu is "Blandy Bludgeon-Chin the Not Nice." He's the main baddy leading a group called "the Dark Ones."

You've got your ethnic-looking dark skinned guy, your brainless big bruiser, your.. female one. Clichestorm complete.

Get this, all those guys belonged to the same royal house, so I guess that means they're family. They don't look anything alike, but I suppose a 1,000 years of exile in the Precipice World will do that. Why were they exiled? It was after a "takeover attempt," but I kind of would have liked to know more. Yoruichi, the head of the Shihouin house, turned traitor against Soul Society and the Central 46, and yet one can only assume her house is intact. This is Seireitei, which, (along with Captain Commander Yamamoto's supreme imperial member), boasts a million years of rigidity. Best I can figure, the only thing heinous enough to have gotten an entire royal house kicked out was rollicking Hollow fetish orgies. You can thank me for that image later.

What could the Dark Ones' sinister plans for revenge possibly be!? Is it:

a) Destroy just Seireitei
b) Destroy all of Soul Society
c) Destroy both Earth/presumably the entire cosmos AND Soul Society
d) It's been a thousand years, guys. I realize it gets pretty boring but I'd have let that little grudge go by now.

If you guessed C, then you have a keen sense of sarcasm, and are also correct. And they're going to throw in the Precipice World (between Soul Society and Earth) in to the senseless reality-carnage, no extra charge.

Though doubtless no one will miss this place.

The reason the Dark Ones didn't just interior decorate this realm is because of the immobilizing current and terrifying sweeper behemoth--it used to be a penal colony, apparently, so it makes sense for the Dark Ones to have been exiled here a 1,000 years ago. Let us not forget, however, that time in the Precipice World is 2,000 times denser than in other realms, meaning that 1,000 years elsewhere equal a whopping 2,000,000 years in the Precipice World. Now THAT is some impressive resolve.

Haha, actually, no, I guess the Dark Ones didn't chill there per se, they resided in a whole other world that's sort of connected to the Precipice World--The Valley of Screams. It's the realm where the Klansmen wander around, so you'd expect to see some creative world design, but alas, all we get is a rocky, craggy wasteland. Gee, I wonder where all the fighting is going to take place.

No spires, skyscrapers or pillars to get sliced up while characters duke it out? What bizarre nonsense world is this!?

So we find out that the villains want to "collapse" the Vally of Screams, which connects the human world and Soul Society, after an image of the human world appears in Soul Society's sky.

This is a distressing sign, but only because it might make denizens of Soul Society pine to return to Earth. Out of all the shinigami who might be sent to investigate, it is of course up to Hitsugaya and Rangiku to meet up with our protagonists and discuss goings-on.

Hey Urahara, remember how everything in canon is your damn fault? Maybe don't grin your head off while you're explaining how fucked everything is.

Urahara reveals all: the Klansmen (or "Blanks," but I like my name better) are human souls that never made it to Soul Society after purification, whereupon they find themselves in the Valley of Screams, robbed of their memories. These memories are all trapped within a mysterious "Memory Rosary," or Shinenju, and since the villains are harnessing the Klansmen's power like Strom Thurmond on Election Day, they've got to find the Memory Rosary and release the Klansmen's memories before the Valley of Screams can contract too much and smash the human world and Soul Society into each other.

Man, I'd live in Hueco Mundo or Hell--sure, they suck, but at least their very existence isn't under jeopardy half the time like Earth or Soul Society.

Also, are you telling me that there have been so many souls that got lost on the way to Soul Society that they form their own freakin' dimension, and yet Soul Society has never done anything to rectify the buggy soul transfer? Later on, the good guy shinigami are even actively killing them! So there's no way to cure them, or what? THAT'S YOUR FUCKING JOBS!

Anyway, as you probably guessed, the Memory Rosary is none other than Senna. She's a flighty ditz because her brain is a confused jumble of other people's memories. She keeps getting flashes of herself as the subject in contradictory memories, which is a fairly creative idea, but is sadly only really played solely for original character angst. Actually, that does make her easier to empathize with, but it ultimately doesn't balance out her more irritating demeanor.

Back to the story at hand, Senna decides to walk tightrope at the mall while in her fully visible gigai.

Hey Senna, maybe if you fall on your head from that height, you'll gain your real memories back!

Sadly, when she does fall on her head she just disappears in a flurry of autumn leaves, and reappears elsewhere, playing it off as a magic trick. Ichigo finally gets her to sit still by treating her to a sandwich, and grills her on the Klansmen and the Memory Rosary. When asked if he has any clue what the Memory Rosary looks like:

 I'll give you this one, movie. I'll give you this one.

The parts where Ichigo is a goofball are basically the only scenes from the movie I enjoyed. Another nice little gag occurs shortly thereafter when Ichigo chastises her for "forgetting" to pay for a new hair ribbon, but then forgets to pay the check. (Ichigo takes her to the shop and buys it for her.)

Later, her random flashes of memories lead her to a graveyard where she believes her family to be interred, where our baddies finally appear.

Ichigo gleans that Senna's still got memories of her past life despite shinigami apparently not knowing of their past lives. This raises a question: How was it that the little boy's spirit that had inhabited the cockatiel Chad befriended--Yuuichi--was able to remember his past life? His adoptive "family" in the Rukongai also seemed to remember their past lives. It's not like people become shinigami immediately upon entering Soul Society, they're initially normal souls that train up to be shinigami... unless they're born of shinigami, like in the royal houses, I guess? (Byakuya had a mom and dad with a grave in Soul Society.) How do you differentiate between souls in Soul Society that are born of other souls, and souls that have past lives? This is confusing and makes no sense. Someone tweet Kubo.

Anyway, the next bit has Ichigo and Senna frittering away an afternoon with a little boy soul in pursuit of his father (because souls-to-be-rescued apparently don't come in any variety apart from "crying little kid"). They eventually find young Tomoya's dad (they died in a car crash), and the two souls just sort of beam up after thanking her. I thought they needed purification for that?

"Excuse me, but why is that young man acting as though he's carrying someone on piggyback? Is it a new Don Kan'onji sketch? Oh, I do love his show!"

A bunch of captains and vices then appear to tell Senna there's no record of her existence and that she must be the Memory Rosary due to her weird mismatched memories. Furthermore, Blandy is after her so he can use the Memory Rosary to enact his despicable destruction scheme. Therefore, they'll have to take Senna into custody. Ichigo, having presumably bonded enough with Senna to care about her, objects to this--Senna has thoughts and feelings, too! Hey Ichigo, maybe in addition to the whole "saving reality" thing, taking Senna into custody could actually benefit her. You know, with like therapy and rehabilitation. She can't stay a clueless little kid forever, especially not while wielding a weapon of mass spiritual destruction.

Ichigo's stance of defiance becomes a nonissue when the baddies launch their ferocious kidnapping assault. Movie antagonists are meant to be one-off matchup fodder for the captains; they are fan pandering, with no character arcs or distinct personalities whatsoever. Movie 3 will be better about this, but for now it's just CAPTAINS GO CRAZY fanservice. In their defense, they have to include the captains somehow, and fans would be disappointed if they didn't engage in any actual fighting, but that doesn't mean they can't make the villains more interesting. The proper method is to make each villain a foil in some aspect to the good guy they're matched up against, but that isn't the case here, which definitely detracts from the movie and makes it less memorable.

Since he was given an estimate of about an hour left until worlds collide, Yamamoto orders a kidou cannon to be fired at the Valley of Screams, which will result in tons of collateral damage, but they don't have time to consider other options--it just so happens that the Valley of Screams can't be accessed except through a portal in the human world. Ichigo, on the other hand, is determined to save Senna--whom Blandy is using to gather all the Klansmen (who are naturally drawn to "memories") together so the Valley of Screams shrinks down--and so Ichigo, recalling that Senna said she liked heights because they made her feel less confused, and that she claimed her past life's old house was by the river, takes a ride on the Ferris Wheel Senna had wanted to ride on earlier and discovers the portal in the middle of the river. But then, even after getting told he's on his own, most everyone that matters shows up and follows him into the portal anyway.

Without further ado, the fights:

If you can think of any quips, please throw me a bone here

As you can see, none of the fights were engaging or had any tension. The good guys creamed them without breaking a solitary sweat bead. Well, okay, one thing I can make fun of: Renji's fight. Look at him beaming, he must love non-canon fights, they're the only ones he can win. I like how his matchup antagonist freaked:

From the wiki, under his article's quotes section:
  • "What the Hell?" (the only words he spoke.)
Oh, and Byakuya's "cool" stinger: "As you pass into the next life, feel honored that you perished by my Bankai." So is the afterlife for shinigami just as mysterious as the afterlife for us? Also fuck you Byakuya.
And now we come to the final fight, which, as always, is Ichigo's domain.

I like how Blandy heatedly asks why Ichigo would save Senna, calling her "the useless remains of what USED to be alive!"... when saving Senna means saving two entire worlds. I see you've always got your priorities straight, Blandy.

Anyway, Ichigo pwns him because of HEART. Wheeee false tension.

Wrap up time:
All of Seireitei celebrates as an entire realm (the Valley of Screams) vanishes. All those lost souls, obliterated, but it's okay because ???

But then... the crisis isn't averted just yet, because GRAVITY is pulling Earth and Soul Society together now. What is this, metaphysical gravity? Does spirit matter have mass? I suppose it does, since it's, you know, called "matter." But then in what way is it spirit, really? I concede that spiritual power can exert force on physical objects, but giving Soul Society its own planetary gravitational field sort of makes it a planet like any other, doesn't it?

Senna heroically sacrifices herself to stop the collision, and then Ichigo carries he dying body back to the graveyard and comforts her by lying that it's her name on the tombstone, making her believe that the memory of a family life in Karakura was one true memory.

Senna's existence is wiped from history and they lose their memories of her as the Valley of Screams fades away. Ichigo sobs softly and the credits roll. Pretty depressing, but after the credits, we get a scene where Ichigo catches Senna's ribbon in the wind, and a hyper genki girl who looks just like her dashes past...

This was... not good. There's a reason I didn't remember having watched any of this shit. It's not bad enough to be enjoyable in its own right, like Movie 2 is. The "memories" thing was the only interesting aspect of the story, and it was wasted entirely on informing Senna's character. The plot was original character-centric, which would have been more tolerable if Senna weren't so annoying and didn't gobble up so much screentime. This was basically her movie, so your opinion probably hinges on whether or not you like her, but there's other shit that's just plain bad. The villains left no impression, and their revenge plot was ridiculously disproportionate. Moreover, they were dispatched extremely easily. Orihime, Chad, and Ishida get brief cameos, but no plot participation, which is terrible for a first movie.

A lot of the movie consisted of long stretches of no tension, especially the first act. It is kind of nice to see Ichigo out and about as a regular teenager, but that's not really movie material. If you're going to do cinema, do cinema.

Animation-wise, there's nothing all that spectacular, and there are whole segments towards the beginning (when Ichigo is killing the Hollow and when he's forced to chase Senna around a mall) where groups of people in the background are static and motionless for uncomfortably long periods. Though they did splurge for the kidou cannon:

"As Captain Commander, I ordered you Kidou Corps nitwits to model the Cannon's blast on my biweekly ejaculation ritual! What is this pitiful display, my sweet FIREWORKS aren't even this dull during foreplay."

"We're sorry, Commander, but we allocated those design funds on making sure the laser's initial shape looked like two or more winged tigers converging."

"Hrmm. I'll admit you miscreants did a good job on that score, at least. But was the phoenix shape really necessary not even a second later?"

"'Phoenix'? What phoenix? Hiroshi, was that you!?"

"Never mind. Just make sure that next time it can destroy all of time and space in every dimension at once, or else I'll go flaccid."

Overall, I think the movie's mostly just boring, but as always I encourage you to form your own opinions. Comment away. (It's available in full on YouTube if you care to watch.)


  1. Just wanted to say, for the record, that I love your sarcasm.

    I'm an avid Bleach fan, but all of the inconsistencies and weird Bleach-isms that you point out always leave me nodding in agreement.

    Keep it up, k?

  2. was senna annoying? I didn't think so..and I don't feel
    that way after this review. It was the best one out of
    all 4 for me and that says a lot.

  3. shut up dude, bleach have some dissapointments, but are still great series, one of the best. P.S This movie was good and very touching