Toshiro Hitsugaya gets everywhere in Bleach. Always the one to end up helping the main character, Ichigo, out and stealing the screen time, he now takes centre stage in the second movie. Never been a fan of the small angry kid with the ice powers, so The DiamondDust Rebellion was always going to be a hard sell for me. Frosty reception and all that.
Despite the guy being the main focus of the story, it isn’t that bad. He may be a bit too serious and a touch dull for a character playing such a vital role, but the story of him running from Soul Society to track his friend down is intriguing. His mate Kusaka was meant to be dead after a battle over owning a version of the ice sword, Hyorinmaru, but that turns out not to be the case. Two of the same sword and only one person allowed to be the wielder of the powerful ice spirit, no wonder Kusaka’s a bit angry. With the power of the Ouin in his hands Kusaka has a big plan for revenge on the people who cut him down. Where does out main character Ichigo fit into all this? He seems to be the man of sense in this film with the aim of knocking some into Toshiro who is dealing with the problems of his friend and the missing Ouin himself. Not exactly the most impressive role for the lead of the series.
The story runs at a sluggish pace too, not much happens for two-thirds as things are slowly revealed, but the excellent poppy soundtrack and beautiful backgrounds keep things interesting. The backgrounds really are the highlight of the film, detailed drawings of rivers, fields, warehouses and buildings bring a real power to the film. The gloomy winter setting and the realistic backgrounds are attention grabbing and paint a bleak picture on the stories themes of dealing with pain alone. Quite ironic that the backgrounds are the best bit when the manga Bleach is notorious for not bothering with them. Maybe they’d make the manga better…
It’s a nice leisurely stroll with a bit too much talking but a compelling enough story and setting until the final third when things get crazy and the fights break out full swing. Unfortunately the final act may be crazy, but it feels completely out-of-place with the film and is easily the most tedious part. Legions of fodder enemies, a main bad guy transforming into something ridiculous, a strange evil new area which has devastating power which all make a playground for the huge cast of Bleach to all get a shot in the film and throw their special attacks out. It is tiring to watch as the whole art direction turns into generic anime evil monster world and the seeing each character get minor roles is only pleasing to the crazy fans who only read Bleach for their favourite character and the fights. We know only the main character and Toshiro will deal any major damage in this film so the other attacks are predictably dull and the sheer length of seeing all the flashy attacks is enough to close eyelids.
It’s a shame really as the final moment after the big battle is a nice way to round off the story between Toshiro and his friend Kusaka. If the movie makers concentrated on making the film they wanted to rather than having to bow down to what will sell merchandise and keep the fans happy Bleach could provide a pretty good film. Instead things start promising before falling into a pit of sleep inducing fights which the film’s plot awkwardly forces itself into. Limit the cast, spread the fights out and avoid stupid transformations and overly long explains. Bleach Movie 2 isn’t awful, just incredibly average and by the numbers. It isn’t even Hitsugaya’s fault.