The previous Bleach release left a lot to be desired so you wouldn’t be blamed for thinking things could only get better, and if you like Bleach battles then you will certainly find them in this first volume of series 8, however you are fairly unlikely to find anything else of value.
If you are familiar with Bleach then you will be well aware that it sometimes likes to draw things out, as is often the nature with these types of series, and that is what this phase of Bleach episodes are going through right now. Now that Ichigo, Chad and Uryu along with Rukia and Renji have made their way into Las Noches, stronghold of the Espada, they immediately stumble upon a fork in their path (I’m sure you can see where this is going). Each person takes a different path and soon stumbles across the first wave of Espada, starting with some of the lowest ranked ones. It is at this point that the repetitiveness sets in as each battle follows an identical formula with the exception of one of the confrontations.
Each of the battles is spread over two and a bit episodes and comprise every episode in this release. The only confrontation that is mildly compelling is between Rukia and Aaroniero Arruruerie who has taken on the identity of a friend from her past, unfortunately this battle is left hanging as it starts to get interesting and won’t be touched upon again until the next volume. In all honesty the battles could have been more interesting if they did not follow the exact same structure. There is also the fact that Pesche and Dondochakka have tagged along into each battle and end up as nothing more than irritating filler to drag out the conflicts, I’m not sure if they are supposed to be funny but I failed to find them very entertaining. For a series aimed at an older teen audience a lot of the series comedy seems very childish these days.
It’s not that Bleach is a bad series but it does suffer from poor pacing at times and it’s a shame that this is one of those times. If it wasn’t for the recaps at the start of each episode it is possible to forget exactly why the characters are in their current situation and nothing is even mentioned of Orihime until the final episode on this volume. I dare say that you could probably get away with just watching the last episode (159) here and not really miss anything very important.