Bleach – The Hell Verse (Review)

Bleach: The Hell Verse tells the tale of the kidnap of Ichigo’s sister Yuzu by hell’s sinners, bringing her with them into the underworld. Her release is on the condition that Ichigo frees them from the chains which bind them to hell, or she’ll join them for good…

I’d go straight off and say it: You don’t necessarily need to make time for this if you don’t want to – you’re not missing much. The 4th Bleach movie is a bit of a disappointment, so you wouldn’t see much of praise within my review. Read on if you do wish to know why not to watch it; and if you already have, you might just agree with me. 😀

The gates of hell. Pops open ever so often to suck air for its denizens.

What’s new in this film that goes un-featured in the manga series is Tite Kubo’s intepretation of hell. So you could be excused for watching it just to see hell from the vision of the author. It’s a pretty morbid place, where sinners get sent to suffer for their actions, get eaten by its guardians, respawn and get eaten again.

How the world will look after the 3rd Impact. Oh wait.

It’s mentioned that the denizens of hell are given the power to fight (none of which you actually get to see), and given that you can’t die in hell (you get a rebirth of sorts from lava), you’ll just keep on fighting and get eaten, until you lose your will to fight, then you either become one with the image above, or a remnant of your former self running from the guardians forever.

You can't ever escape hell. Unless you come to the human world with your face covered.

Plot holes (and major spoilers):

My biggest peeve with the movie. One moment you tell the audience something, the next moment you throw a Deus Ex Machina or the like and those ‘laws’ mysteriously vanish. You could call it plot armor, but it actually goes beyond that. The two most glaring ones are listed below.

Hell's gate and chains cannot be severed, except by chain cutter/gate bomber over here.

1. You can’t escape hell, but you can leave anytime you want to bring people from the human world to join you in hell as long as you have your identities concealed.

2. You become a permanent resident of hell once you’ve been chained to it, unless someone comes along to cut those chains loose, or you hang around in the human world long enough for them to mysteriously disappear (and hence returning you to the land of the living).

Quite simply, if you’re an affiliate of Ichigo’s (or Ichigo himself), these laws do not apply. In lieu of 1 and 2, the purpose of the gates of hell almost seems to only prevent the guardians of hell from entering the human world (as was what happened after it got blown open).

You would loan your power to a fella going around messing up your world?

While it is nice seeing Ichigo back in a form we’ll unlikely see for a while to come, as well as being outfitted with a new costume and being all god-like, you’ll probably tire (or are already tired) of those one-hit-KO single slashes after seeing them being used so often.

For an attack to actually work, it's better to have one than many.

Conclusion

In making the movie, they forgot an important thing that made Bleach great – its cast of characters with their diverse and flashy skills and abilities. Unlike the previous movies where most of the captains had air time, here the focus is largely on Ichigo, meaning you won’t be seeing most of the fan-favorites save for a cameo line or two.

What’s also missed is the battle choreography, where from what was once a splendid furry of attacks being exchanged you get instead a turn-based bombardment of skills from either side as well as that rather pathetic beam spamming from Ichigo’s final hollow form.

I’m know I’m pretty harsh with my review, because I’ve seen the previous movies and enjoyed them so much more, but I’m sure fans would easily be able find something to like about it. If you take it as a 3 episode long filler to the series, I’m pretty sure your perception would be much more positive. 😀

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6 thoughts on “Bleach – The Hell Verse (Review)

    1. You know what they say – if you’re protecting something or someone, your skills increase tenfold
      …or you gain skills you never know you had. XD

  1. Wow, I’m late to the game to watch this movie… and really both of you have awesome points.

    So I took an afternoon to sit down and watch it, and boy am I disappointed at the movie. Ton-kun, you’ve mostly put my frustrations into words, and that’s a really great review, not even as harsh as I would’ve made it if I could put the suckiness into words.

    The one thing that this movie really really upsets me is the fact that there’s not a solid good “takeaway theme”. I mean, typically it feels like Bleach has a good theme… usually the idea of “selflessness”. This movie not only trumps it all, but does it till the very end. It’s all about “I want to escape hell”, “i want to save my sisters”, “I want to go back to hell” (makes me think of the Matrix movie where Neo goes back for Morpheus who risked his life to let him escape… but I digress).

    All the characters have the “I want to do this so I’m doing this” thing going. And the fact that in other movies, there’s sort of a troup discussion on what should be done (yes yes Ichigo always goes off and does things his own way, but usually with some support from his friends). With Sado out of the equation, and Inoue doing her normal “please come back to me” deal, Ishida/Rukia/Renji trapped in Hell, basically Ichigo’s whole support network is down. So Ichigo goes to hell, and we all know that’s what the enemy wants, and we also know he’s going to go down there and tear things up.

    All the bad guys are fairly boring with the same thing going. Everyone wants to be free (think Matrix agents again). Everyone has their own twisted form of reality that they cling to. It gets old quick.

    The one thing that kept me “somewhat” on edge was that Kokuto character. He’s at least got some type of a story going… even if it’s a fragmented one. We know from the first couple’a fighting scenes that you need a mask on if you’re outside of hell, yet he doesn’t have a mask on. His story about killing all his sister’s murderers is at least believable. And in a way, from the onset of Ichigo going into hell, we all know he’s evil, but hope deep down inside that by befriending Ichigo he’ll be touched and become a changed man. There is no regret to the evil that the villians have done, even all the way up till the end. So, all that anticipation that the “pre-set” villians are going to change their ways… never gets materialized. So disappointed 😦

    In all the 3 movies before, whenever the character dies at the end, we feel a bit of compassion towards them. All the villians were trying to accomplish some type of twisted “good” or “justice” in their own way. In ‘Memories of Nobody’, Senna, although not a villian goes and dies trying to save the world. In ‘DiamondDust Rebellion’, Kusaka is trying to bring justice to Soul Society for killing him just because he had the same zanpakto. In ‘Fade to Black’ the two hollow were just trying to keep Rukia to themselves because Soul Society took her away from them. In this movie, all we have is “I kidnapped your sisters because I want to be free”. I could see people shedding a tear during the final moments of the movies before… but who would feel sorry for a villian as selfish as Kokuto?

    I think you touched well on one of the big holes… what’s with this magic teleportation deal that Renji pulled? If hell and the human world are supposed to be separated by the gate, how are all these sinners getting into the human world? How are they staying there long enough for a fight? As a Bleach fan, I’m generally ok and will let most plot holes slip by, but it almost appears as if the sinners are free to begin with. Even with chains they can roam the human world.

    Lastly, I was somewhat disappointed that the little intro anime episode that played before for the movie was released didn’t even feature a section in the real movie. I was looking forward to seeing Shuren pull out a can of whoopass on the dead Espada from earlier fights. I was looking forward to seeing Rukia battle it out with that masked villian in an epic battle where Ichigo saves the day. Nope, nothing. So sad.

    I do think you hit on one good point about the captain-spamming. What makes the the past movies so compelling is that those are characters we know and love. We’re faimilar with them, and in effect, know a bit of backstory that helps us “learn more” about the character. With ‘DiamondDust Rebellion’ we learn more about some of the weird rules of Soul Society. We learn a bit about Toshiro’s past as it relates to how he made a pact with Hozukimaru. With ‘Fade to Black’ we learn some of Rukia’s background in Rukongai. We learn a bit more about Kurotsuchi’s weird abilities. We learn a bit more about Byakuya’s wife that looked like Rukia. What made the past movies so engaging is that we wanted to learn more about these things. With the hell villians which there was no attachment, we could care less. Yes, Ichigo wants to be a good brother, but beyond that, fans gain nothing in terms of more character development.

    1. Woo~! And you’ve delivered the final nail in the coffin for this sorry excuse of a wasted animation budget. 😀

      Thanks for taking the time to comment.

      There’s a reason why Bleach had to end prematurely. It’s because the (ex-)fans have had enough of the same thing in different settings. XD

      I haven’t watched a single episode of the anime series since maybe the 60th, so I do look forward to seeing the captains in action, similar in vein to watching the pokemon movies while completely ignoring the series, if just for nostalgia’s sake. 🙂

      You were right with not feeling any kind of empathy for the antagonists in the movie as compared with the previous movie villains. There’s no connection, and I was half-cursing when they returned to…eh…existence…after initially being pulverized.

      At the end of the lengthy filler, you’d just go: “It’s finally over.”
      (And not in a good way too.) ^_^

  2. I did think the movie was subpar compared to a few of the others, but I don’t think you hit any of the reasons for why that is the case, at least not directly–some of them you may have skirted in other points.

    Criticisms:

    1. This is Hell. Its function is to punish Sinners. Ergo, all Deus Ex Machina to that effect are de facto justified. It makes no sense, from Kubo’s concept of Hell, that it would torture a little girl just because some of the villains insist that will be the case.

    2. One of your points is “lack of Captainspam”? Really? That’s what the entire latest filler arc is about, and it gets OLD. I’d like to see a movie with an actual plot once in a while, and it really detracts from it if we have to see every named attack. On the other hand, it was nice to see Uryu do something for a change.

    3. The “Full Hollow” has been established to have Reitsu similar to Butterflaizen, who is established to be able to destroy normally invincible things. It makes perfect sense that the Hollow could cut the chains, at least in the sense that it was foreshadowed.

    Now, for my list of the movie’s faults:

    1. The characters introduced are bad. With few exceptions, they have cliche powers, little in the way of motivation or personality, and don’t seem to be a legitimate threat.

    2. The pacing is bad. Ichigo pretty much just charges from one level of Hell to the next in the space of minutes. In the finale, he charges through every level in the time it takes for half a remix of Number One to play. It’s ridiculous how easy this is. This movie would be worlds better if it just had another half an hour to flesh things out.

    3. It lacks a cohesive plot. Since the movie pretty much has its own expanded universe, the world-building for Hell shouldn’t be as bad as it is. It’s hinted how the Sinners manage to get into the real world, but never outright explained, something Kubo is normally really good at. Likewise, there are some questions about Hell that are never really answered, and a lot of people watched this movie just to know what the Bleach Hell is like. Some of these may be answered in the aforementioned EU, but I wouldn’t know.

    So, at the end of the day, I’d say that it was a mediocre film, but not “bad” per se. Having flaws doesn’t make it unwatchable. Diamond Dust Rebellion is full of plot holes, but it has a great villain. My point is not “the movie is bad” so much as “I’d prefer a better, canon story.”

    1. If there was a ‘like’ button for comments I’d push yours. XD
      I didn’t get the captain-spam effect because I’d long given up on the anime series. Lol. But yes, you pretty much said it, hell does feel like a pretty tiny place. 😛

      After reading what you’ve written, it struck me what REALLY didn’t sit with me in this film: That being there’s not one thing to really like about it. The old Bleach movies had something each that I could use to recommend to others. For a lack of plot, you might have great action sequences; for a lack of good new characters, you might instead have a good musical score.

      I guess we might’ve liked it better if it was the FIRST Bleach movie we’ve seen. Too bad it’s the 4th. Yet, I COULD see how they could make a movie even more mediocre than this one: A Live Action adaptation (which I pray never sees daylight). XD

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