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Thursday 1st January 1970


Bleach Complete Series 14 (episodes 292-316)

was £39.99
Ichigo returns from Hueco Mundo at last to battle Aizen. But in the face of Aizen's overwhelming power, Ichigo begins to lose his will to fight. The Thirteen Court Guard Squads are there to support him, and along with the Visoreds, they launch a full-scale attack. Even Head Captain Genryusai Yamamoto joins the fight, attempting to incinerate Aizen in a blazing inferno. But is anything enough to stop the Soul Society's ultimate foe?
Ichigo vs Aizen: let the showdown for the sake of the two worlds begin! Humans and Soul Reapers realize their powerlessness against the astonishing might Aizen obtained through the Hogyoku.
They once again owe their salvation to Ichigo, back from his training between worlds. More mature and more power ful, has the young man really reached a new stage of his evolution? Will he finally match for the relentless Captain Aizen?



Bleach music: Aqua Timez

Tom Smith on Aqua Timez, the band from the Bleach 6.2 soundtrack.
Many of the artists who perform the many themes of Bleach can attribute their entry to mainstream success to the famous anime series. And if not to Bleach, then to anime in general. That was until the five-strong pop squad Aqua Timez entered the scene.

YUI does Bleach for Rollingstar

Tom Smith reports on YUI, the all-caps rock chick.
It’s been suggested that Japan’s singer, song-writing guitar chick YUI is her country’s answer to Avril Lavigne. Amid an industry manufactured and micro-managed to levels that make England’s best pop efforts seem amateur in comparison, she stands out as beacon of musical delight. For teenage girls, she’s proof that you don’t need to buy into the squeaky clean, plastic smiles of sickeningly sweet J-pop to be a successful female musician; for guys she’s the girl next door, and for anime fans she’s composed and performed themes in some of the most prominent series of recent years, including Bleach and Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood.

Bleach music: SID

Tom Smith on the band behind Bleach’s 14th Opening Theme
"The song is based on the singer’s own experiences of forming a band and the hardships endured while keeping the faith for a brighter future, with lyrics just vague enough that they could easily represent the struggles of Ichigo and pals, too."

Bleach and Japanese cleaning products

Matt Kamen strangles a puppy… for science
It’s gratifying to see a generation of people so interested in hygiene – that must be why you’re lining up to buy a series called ‘Bleach’, right? If some orange haired janitor with a fancy mop (mop, magical talking death sword – whatever) excites you, hold on for these other heroes of the Japanese cupboard space!

Bleach music: Kenichi Asai

Tom Smith on ‘Mad Surfer’ Kenichi Asai
“Try ‘n boogie, guns n’ tattoo” – there’s no greater embodiment of Kenichi Asai’s work than that opening line. As the words are dragged across the bluesy, rock n’ roll riff of Mad Surfer – the Japanese rebel’s song used as the 20th closing of Bleach – it’s difficult not to imagine smoke filled bars, motorcycles or leather jacketed misfits sporting hairdos your mother wouldn’t approve of.

Bleach music: SunSet Swish

Tom Smith on the band behind Bleach’s 21st Ending Theme
SunSet Swish held their first-ever live performance on Valentine’s Day 2004, at a small venue in Osaka Prefecture’s Hirakata city. A fitting introduction to the music world for a band whose claim to fame is having quite possibly the soppiest theme in Bleach history: ‘Sakurabito’.


Bleach Music: Universe

Tom Smith on series 13’s rainbow rockers...
While the Soul Reapers form an uneasy alliance with the Visoreds in Bleach series 13 part 2, the band providing the episode’s ending theme have an uneasy alliance of their own.

One Piece Cosplay: Boa Hancock

Paul Jacques finds a Pirate Empress at the Birmingham Comic Con
"Whether I kick a kitten, tear off your ears, even slaughter innocent people, the world will never cease to forgive my actions! Why, you ask? That's right, it is because I am beautiful!"

Tezuka's 101 Dalmatians

Andrew Osmond unearths a little-known cross-over
It’s a Japanese translation by Minoru Kume of the classic British children’s book, The Hundred and One Dalmatians by Dodie Smith, with about seventy Tezuka illustrations in his characteristically cartoony style.


Jasper Sharp on how wonders will never cease
The tradition of the solitary animator continued past the establishment of an anime industry, with notable luminaries such as Yoji Kuri, Kihachiro Kawamoto and Tadanari Okamoto positioning themselves outside it and creating works that challenged what could be done with the medium, often using other media such as stop-motion and silhouette.

Dragon Ball Z: Battle of Gods (Trailer)

The first Dragon Ball movie in 17 years...
Released in the UK by Manga Entertainment.

Naruto Music: 7!!

Tom Smith on the newest numero-enchanted musicians
It may sound odd to English ears, but 7!!’s choice of pronunciation makes sense (well, a tiny bit of sense) when put into the context of where the band grew up; Okinawa. It’s an area that’s closer to Taiwan than mainland Japan, and one that’s had a heavy US military presence since the Second World War. These factors, among plenty of others, have had an affect on the cultural evolution of the islands, and one of the most evident examples can be found in local popular music scene.

Cosplay: Attack on Titan

Eleanor Trace suits up as Mikasa Ackerman from the fan-favourite series
Eleanor Trace suits up as Mikasa Ackerman from the fan-favourite series Attack on Titan
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