Guest Author - Lesley Aeschliman
Bleach the Movie: Memories of Nobody is the first film for the Bleach anime franchise. The film was directed by Noriyuki Abe, and it was released to Japanese theaters on December 16, 2006. Viz Media holds the North American distribution rights for the film. Viz gave it a limited theatrical release from June 11-12, 2008, and then released the film as a two-disc DVD set.
The film opens with a plus soul of a young girl being pursued by a Hollow. Ichigo and Rukia come to the rescue by destroying the Hollow and sending the plus soul to Soul Society. After this, they feel an unusual spiritual pressure, and they head off to investigate. The pair find unusual spirits there, which they try to figure out how to handle. Suddenly, an unknown female Soul Reaper arrives and eliminates the spirits. They learn her name is Senna, but she seems to have no memory of how she became a Soul Reaper. Rukia returns to Soul Society to look into the situation.
Meanwhile, an unusual event is happening in Soul Society, which is bridging the World of the Living with Soul Society. Urahara explains that a dimension between these two worlds, which is called the Valley of Screams, has expanded enough to join them. It turns out that the spirits Ichigo and Rukia encountered are called Blanks, which are souls without memories that were lost in the Valley of Screams. The memories of the Blanks combine to form a singular entity called the Shinenju. Ichigo is given the task of finding the Shinenju. Ichigo's mission, along with the storyline with Senna, come together to bring the film to its conclusion.
When it comes to the film, it falls into some traps that the films for shonen properties tend to fall into. The biggest is the fact that concepts that were not in the anime series are introduced in the film and are never referenced again. In the case of this film, this would be the concepts of the Blanks and the Valley of Screams. Also, there were a couple of spots in the story where I was able to predict a plot point before it was revealed. But even with all of that, I still thought the story was an interesting one to pursue, even if it's not a "canon story" for either the manga or the anime series.
I also have to give some serious props to the designers and animators who worked on this film. Bleach the Movie: Memories of Nobody has some of the best animation that I have personally seen for the franchise.
When it comes to Viz Media's DVD release, the first disc contains the actual film and a menu option labeled as "Extras." If you choose to watch the extras, it launches into 12 minutes worth of trailers. Also, it should noted that there is an English Actor Commentary for the film, which can be accessed through the Set-Up menu.
All of the actual bonus features are included on the second DVD in the set. The first is "Viz Featurette: A View Inside," which is a roughly 23 minute documentary that includes interviews with some of the American voice actors and production staff, along with the manga editor at Viz. In addition, there's also a quick tour of the Viz offices and footage of some of the dub actors' recording sessions. I always enjoy behind-the-scenes documentaries, because it allows the viewers to see what goes into making the anime that they're watching. This documentary did not disappoint.
Next is "Japanese Production Interviews," which is about 10 minutes long and has interviews with Noriyuki Abe, a character designer, and a producer. This feature has Japanese audio with English subtitles, which is what I prefer over having a translation of what's being said being narrated by someone in English.
There are also sections labeled as "Line Art" and "Storyboards." There are 26 pages of line art of the characters and locations in the film; the first few pages are labeled as being sketches that were done by Tite Kubo, the creator of the Bleach manga. There are 20 pages of storyboards, which seem to be for scenes very early in the film.
There are several trailers for the film included. There is one US theatrical trailer, and the remaining six trailers are from Japan. Unfortunately, the Japanese trailers don't have English subtitles to provide translations for the audio. For most of the trailers this isn't a problem; however, the final trailer runs for about seven minutes. While a good portion of this trailer is a recap of the first three seasons of Bleach (which I have already seen and knew the context of what was happening), it still would have been helpful to have English subtitles.
If you're a fan of Bleach, I think you'll enjoy Bleach The Movie: Memories of Nobody and will want to add it to your anime collection if you don't own it already.
I wrote this review after watching a copy of this DVD that my husband and I purchased.