High profile live action anime adaptations have often felt like a cash grab, with studios and creators using the name as an advert more than an actual movie (Dragon Ball, Attack on Titan, Ghost in the Shell). Whitewashing, copious edits to the story and characters are just some problems that have plagued these adaptations.
Bleach fans will breathe a sigh of relief knowing that this is a respectable adaption of the classic shounen anime and manga. Bleach would have joined the ranks of Death Note trilogy and the Ruruoni Kenshin (Samurai X) trilogy if not for a messy third act that fully brings the movie’s tone from refreshing to tired.
Bleach starts fantastically. Quick and succinct introductions to characters allow both Bleach veterans and newcomers to stay in the story, and prevent the age-old problem of people asking, “What is that?” The visual style is distinctive and gorgeous, allowing the firm to forge an identity separate from its source material.
Unlike some anime films where the only goal seemed to be callbacks and easter eggs *cough* Fullmetal Alchemist *cough*, Bleach actually adapts the story to a movie format. Even anime watchers and manga readers will have something new to see.
The CGI effects were also brilliant for a movie with such a tight budget. The Hollows were menacing and felt like actual monsters. Plus, the fight choreography and action was directed well. Ichigo’s huge sword actually felt like a tool more than a cumbersome hazard, and the swordplay between characters was genuinely awesome.
What fell flat? Personally, the Soul Reapers were poorly cast and adapted. Instead of sympathetic characters bound by duty and honour, they became caricatured cutthroats. The movie’s conclusion is also a let-down as compared to the rest of the movie.
All in all, even with the problems in the latter third of the movie, Bleach could put up a fight for one of the best anime live-action adaption.
(Does that say more about Bleach or more about other live-action adaptations?) The movie is enjoyable by both fans and newcomers and should prove to be an entertaining addition to anybody’s Netflix list.