Bleach: Hell Verse is the latest and fourth movie adaptation, following our characters on yet another epic journey, this time through the gates of Hell and back.
Ichigo and his friends come face to face, fighting against a few of Hell’s prisoners who have the ultimate goal of escaping the clutches of hell.
In the world of Bleach, once a person passes on from their life, it is intended that their soul journeys on to the place we know as Soul Society. Then there are those souls who don’t manage to make that journey, instead they find themselves stuck in a state of despair, with unfinished business; staying in the human world for too long can certainly spell bad news for these souls, sadly being consumed by their hate and unfinished business, eventually becoming hollows. It is a Shinigami’s job (also known as a Soul Reaper) to either cleanse or defeat - helping the wandering spirits cross over. Then there are those souls who committed such unforgivable and violent acts during their lifetime, that are claimed by the gates of Hell as their newest resident. Imagine a place full of the worst of the worst and the kind of security required in order to contain these dangerously cruel souls. A place where a soul that has been claimed by the gate cannot actually die, instead they are tortured and when their soul dies, it rises only to experience the same suffering again, and again.
This animated treat for any Bleach fan opens with Ichigo’s epic fight (whilst in Hollow form) against Ulquiorra. Giving us a rough idea as to when this movie takes place. Then returns to the present day, when all seems relatively normal in Karakura town, that is until several destructive incidents begin occurring, marking the beginning of what is to come.
In this tale, some of the residents of Hell, referred to as ‘Sinners’ (because they sinned during their life), have escaped to the world of the living in order to attempt to kidnap Ichigo’s sisters with the intention of using them as leverage. Their ultimate goal is to make Ichigo help them leave Hell for good, by breaking the chains that bind them to this hellish place, with the destruction of the Gates of Hell. In their attempt to kidnap Ichigo’s sister, another of Hell’s Sinners appears, appearing to help Ichigo and his friends to fight and stop the attempted kidnap. But what kind of movie would it be if it was that easy to save the day? This is only the beginning (as always), and the Sinners still manage to acquire a bargaining chip (or so they think). And as per usual, things aren’t always as simple as they seem, and this particular Sinner has his own motives.
Bleach: Hell Verse is a good addition to the Bleach story, that takes place after the battle with Ulquiorra, which we witness at the very beginning on the film. After all, it was Ichigo’s battle with Ulquiorra that brought his powers to the attention of these Sinners, hoping his amazing spirit power and hollow abilities may just be the key to freeing them from the chains that bind. Literally. And whilst the sinners think they have the perfect plan, executing it with only minor success, it’s enough to get Ichigo to follow them into the depths of Hell.
Ichigo will always try to do what he feels is right, so this leverage won’t work with Ichigo. After all, he will do what he can to save those he cares for, or save the world (which seems to happen on a regular basis) but he won’t purposely endanger others in the process. He will never bargain with someone, instead he always seems to find another way.
We soon learn that now and again good and evil must join forces in order to defeat the villains, or in this case, Hell may just lend a much needed helping hand. After all it is in their best interests not to let their Sinners escape.
However, It could also work as a standalone film and be watched by someone who hasn’t been previously introduced to the world of Bleach.
Bleach: Hell Verse is out now on Blu-ray and DVD from Manga Entertainment
Review by Samantha Buttigieg