Bleach – Season 5: The Bount Assault on Soul Society arc

Bleach – Season 5: The Bount Assault on Soul Society arc

The Bounts begin their attack on Soul Society, the abundance of spiritual power in the environment giving them a ready source of power and making them formidable opponents for the Soul Reapers as they can continue to heal their wounds.

Genryūsai Shigekuni Yamamoto, Head Commander and First Division captain, holds a meeting with all the squad captains to discuss a strategy to combat this new threat. Toshirou Hitsugaya, captain of squad 8, is tasked with defeating the Bounts, and all captains are ordered to kill any intruders without hesitation. At the same time, Ichigo and friends enter Soul Society to assist in the hunt for the Bounts. Whilst Ichigo and friends set out to tackle the Bounts, it becomes known that Maki Ichinose, an ex-shinigami from squad 11 now helping the Bounts, has been using his powers to secretly infiltrate Seireitei and manipulate their data files. Which side will be successful? And at what cost?

This is a second filler arc produced in order to give Tite Kubo to produce more material. This season continues and finished the story of the Bounts and their vendetta against Soul Society. As with the previous season, this isn’t really Bleach at its strongest.

This storyline wasn’t an adaptation of the manga and, unfortunately, it shows. Even though things have been kicked up a notch since season 4, the whole thing still lacks that dramatic tension we had from the earlier arcs. Though the Bounts were an interesting concept and their individual powers and their ‘dolls’ took some fascinating turns, they aren’t particularly unique. I drew too many similarities between them and the Soul Reapers. They lacked the ‘scare factor’ of the Hollows and seemed more like watered-down versions of the shinigami captains. As individual characters themselves, they were uninteresting. Even when we saw some retrospective accounts from the Bounts’ point of view and what they suffered, I still couldn’t sympathise with them very much. I couldn’t even really identify with the head Bount, Jin, even though he was portrayed in a different light towards the end of this season.

The plot of this season was also a bit samey. Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: a group of people with special powers charge into Soul Society in order to retrieve something. That’s right – you have. Very recently, in fact. The Bounts even fight the same selection of shinigami captains that Ichigo and chums did a few seasons back. This has to be more than just a coincidence – it shows very little imagination. I suspect that the anime was loath to introduce other captains and their special powers for fear of compromising any new character introductions in the future when the story line goes back to the manga.

The whole of season five had a sort of recycled and repetitive feel to me. There was nothing new going on here, nothing I could really get into besides a constant fight-and-grind between two opposing groups who had already shown be the extend of their powers. Even some of the more high-powered intense battling scenes lost their edge because no one was bringing anything new to the table. Same characters, same powers, same taunts. Yawn.

I’m not saying that this season was a waste of time, but it is the weakest Bleach arc to-date. There are plenty of battles and exciting special effects, it just felt like retreading old ground. Good old ground, but it was never going to be as engrossing as the first time you watched it. In overall Bleach terms, it also lacked in villain character development. There was plenty for the core group, as usual, but they seemed to lose interest in fleshing out the Bounts towards the end, so can the audience be blamed if they lost interest too? We don’t hear stories for the vast majority of Bounts – how they met Jin Kariya, what there motivation is for attacking Soul Society, or the reason behind their powers. There were so many areas that could have been explored. I became convinced that some of the lesser Bounts’ contribution to the story was to just pad out a couple of episodes.

The soundtrack, like season 4, was okay. Just okay, though. The opening theme is changed from Beat Crusaders’ ‘Tonight, Tonight, Tonight’ to ‘Rolling Star’ by Yui and June’s ‘Baby It’s You’ replaces ‘MOVIN!!’ by Takacha. The songs are sufficient, but don’t quite reach the high level of quality I’ve come to expect from Bleach‘s music selection.

On the plus side, we do see a great deal of some of the supporting characters. We see glimpses of Byakuya’s brotherly affection for Rukia, Ichigo regaining his drive and conviction and some very satisfying scenes involving Kenpachi Zaraki and his no-mercy approach to the Bounts. An extra episode right at the end gives some story elaboration to a few minor areas such as Rukia’s first solo assignment, Renji’s promotion, and Ichigo’s life prior to receiving shinigami powers.

At first I was interested in the Bount arcs but, I have to be honest, I was relieved when they ended. I am now looking forward to getting back on track with the original Bleach storyline. I am sure the quality will jump back up to its normal level.