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Bleach: Volume 6 - The Entry (Episodes 21-24)
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Bleach: Vol. 6
Guided by the mysterious talking cat Yoruichi, Ichigo and school friends Orihime, Chad and Uryu make the dangerous crossing over to the Soul Society. They land on the outskirts of the city where the Soul Reapers live. To succeed in their mission to save Rukia from execution, they must defeat the giant gatekeeper and find some way into the walled city. But it's not going to be easy!]]>
The fantasy-adventure Bleach enters a new phase as Ichigo, Chad, Ohime, Ishida, and Master Yoruichi the talking cat, pass through the interdimensional portal linking Earth to the world of the Soul Society. Although the Soul Reapers perform merciful acts, their realm is hierarchical and segregated: lost souls are consigned to rundown buildings in Rukon ("Drifting Spirit Town"), while the members of the Soul Society dwell within a guarded preserve. Ichigo, who possesses enormous spiritual power but little discipline, wants to fight everyone who crosses his path. Fortunately, the cooler and wiser Yoruichi prevails. He's well known in Rukon, and obtains help from hot-tempered pyrotechnician Kukaku. Her brother Ganju and Ichigo immediately establish a feuding friendship reminiscent of Kazuma and Ryuho in S-cry-Ed. Director Noriyuki Abe plays their comic battles against the threat to Rukia's life and the icy menace of Captain Gin Ichimaru. (Rated Teen, suitable for ages 13 and older: violence, grotesque imagery) --Charles Solomon
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But getting there isn't the least of their problems. "Bleach Volume 6: The Entry" continues our heroes' quest to rescue Rukia from a death sentence, but they run into a new set of obstacles. It's pretty divided between action, slapstick and exposition, but promises to get even better.
Ichigo and Co. narrowly make it into the Soul Society, almost losing Uryu along the way. But as soon as they try to infiltrate the Seireitei -- a walled fortress where the Soul Reapers live -- the little gang is met by Jidanbo, a building-sized Gatekeeper who has very strong opinions about manners. He also won't let them inside.
So for the first time, Ichigo gets to show off the new powers he's acquired -- but even after he defeats Jidanbo, he's confronted by a deadly Captain, the snakey Gin Ichimaru. The little gang is left sealed outside the slummy Rukon District, to plan the next move of their mini-invasion. Chad also meets up with an old friend who is living nearby.
But after a nasty run-in with some punky boar-riders, Ichigo is reluctant to go see the mysterious Kukaku Shiba, who may be able to get them into the Seireitei. Unfortunately, her brother Ganju is the guy Ichigo fought the previous night -- and even if they don't rip each other apart, Ichigo might accidentally blow up the house.
These four episodes kick off an entire arc in the Soul Society, and it's mostly composed of our heroes racing around causing general mayhem. But the sixth "Bleach" DVD is more about getting into the fortress in the first place, and finding out more about the Soul Society. Well, it's not as pleasant and peaceful as Rukia led us to believe -- in fact, it has even more weirdos than Ichigo's hometown.
As a result, the weirdos generate a lot of comedy, both physical (Ichigo almost blowing himself up in the "cannonball," Ganju skidding across a street on his face) and verbal ("So your name's Ichigo, huh? That's a pretty cute name for someone who takes himself so seriously." "MY NAME IS NOT CUTE!")
And like the episodes before it, these four have a good mixture of poignancy, action, comic slapstick, and wacky characters. Lots of Ichigo fighting powerful opponents and struggling to master new skills, as well as a wall-smashing brawl with Ganju. But there's also the sweet scene where Chad bonds with Yuichi the parakeet-boy.
This volume also introduces us to some the Shibas ("both of them nutty as a fruitcake"), who seem to have some nasty history with the Soul Reapers, and Jidanbo the honorable, kindly giant. The Soul Reapers themselves don't really do much here, except have a meeting and bicker.
"Bleach Volume 6: The Entry" is a solid little setup for the Soul Society arc, and has plenty of action, comedy and kooky characters in the meantime.