The anime bleach is about a human(Ichigo) who finds himself living the life of a substitute soul reaper.
In the world of bleach, there is a world that exists next to earth. This world is called the soul society. Soul society is where people who have been deemed as worthy go when they die and is the shows equivalent of heaven.
Soul reapers -----
However, some people who live in the soul society decide to train as "Soul reapers". Soul reapers protect the earth and can pass souls into the Soul society . When people on earth die, they become spirits who either immediately go to soul society or wander the earth as a spirit if they refuse to go.
Quincys, like Soul reapers see Hollows as enemies. They shoot arrows which are made from spiritual energy. However, these are really the only things about Quincys which we are told about in series 1.
Hollows are creatures which come from a place called "Hueco Mundo". They go to earth through rifts with the sole aim of eating people/spirits who have high spiritual energy as doing so satisfies their cravings.
Spirits who are rejected from the soul society slowly start to become hollows if they are not eaten by other hollows before this happens.
Spiritual Energy -----
Spiritual energy is ones inner energy. Some people are born with tremendous amounts of it and these people tend to harbor some sort of non human-like power and have the ability to see Soul reapers. Spirits in the Soul society are no different.
Now that I have gone over the basics I can talk about the story.
Series 1 Summary (CONTAINS SPOILERS) -----
The main character, Ichigo is relaxing on his bed when a Soul reaper, Rukia enters his room. She is amazed when he claims that he can see her. At this time, Rukia is chasing a Hollow who is right in front of Ichigo's house. They hear a crash and Rukia rushes to the street to fight the Hollow. Rukia is defeated and tells Ichigo that the only way to save his family is to become a Soul reaper. Ichigo agrees to this and Rukia shares a portion of her power with Ichigo which awakens Ichigo's power. Ichigo defeats the Hollow and begins his life as a soul reaper.
Rukia loses a large amount of her spiritual energy which meant that she could no longer use her Soul reaper power. She was still tasked with defeated Hollows in Ichigos town therefore she told Ichigo that he would have to defeat them.
Ichigo and Rukia spend numerous episodes fighting Hollows. Along the way they meet Ishida who is a Quincy. At first, Ichigo and Ishida see each other at enemies but soon begin battling hollows together.
until her brother (Byakuya) and her friend (Renji) show up and ask her to come back to the Soul society. She refuses and they turn against her. Ichigo steps in to fight them and after defeating Renji, is quickly taken out by Byakuya. Rukia is then taken to the Soul society where she is to be executed for sharing her powers with a human.
Ichigo, who loses his spiritual pressure when he is defeated by Byakuya meets a Kisuke Urahara who claims that he can help him regain his soul reaper powers. Ichigo undergoes intense training in order to do so.
Once he regains his spiritual energy, Ichigo prepares to go to the Soul society to rescue Rukia.
The anime explores the bonds between friends. Ichigo was willing to go through so much in order to get a chance to save Rukia.
The anime is always tense. You never know when Ichigo is about to unleash an extraordinary amount of spiritual energy.
Bleach can be rather slow paced. Often it seems that not a lot has happened in the 20 minutes or so you've spent watching an episode.
Ichigo can be annoyingly cocky. This almost deterred me from taking the anime any further than series 1.
The price of series 1 is fair in my opinion. Series 1 contains 20 episodes which is roughly 6 hours and 40 minutes so the price of £8.52 is relatively low.
Overall, the anime is relatively good. It's worth a watch but don't get overly excited about it or it'll disappoint you.
Bleach was the second Anime series I ever watched (Fullmetal Alchemist being the first), and it was a major factor that resulted in me becoming addicted to Anime, or Japanese Animation, for those that aren't familiar with the genre. It's beautifully drawn, the animation runs smoothly, not looking choppy like some older series', and the voice actors are brilliant - for both the Japanese and English dubbed version (it's rare to find good English dubs!). Instead of trying to explain the general opening/plot, I'll simply copy the synopsis from Viz Media's official site. Then I'll talk about this box set specifically.
"Ichigo Kurosaki is an ordinary 15-year-old boy who happens to be able to see ghosts. His fate takes an extraordinary turn when he meets Rukia Kuchiki, a Soul Reaper who shows up at Ichigo's house on the trail of a Hollow, a malevolent lost soul. Drawn to Ichigo's high level of spiritual energy, the Hollow attacks Ichigo and his family, and Rukia steps in to help, but is injured and unable to fight. As a last resort Rukia decides to transfer a part of her Soul Reaper powers to Ichigo...
Ichigo, now a full-fledged Soul Reaper, and Rukia, minus her powers, join together to face the challenges that lie ahead."
I won't go into any more detail, because if you are looking at buying the DVD, you are likely already familiar with the series. So I won't repeat any more of what you already know! This particular box set contains the first 20 episodes, over 5 discs, with 4 episodes on each disc. Every episode can be watched in Japanese, with or without English subtitles, or in English. The box is relatively large, but looks very nice, as do the covers for each disc/volume! Each episode lasts roughly 23 minutes, which isn't a huge amount of time, but the time is used pretty well. Story wise, this box set is only really an introduction to the characters and the 'Bleach' world, the main plot becomes more clear (and becomes very gripping) at about episode 10+.
Directors: Noriyuki Abe
Format: Box set, PAL
Language: English, Japanese
Region: Can be bought in both Region 1 or Region 2 formats.
Number of discs: 5 (4 episodes on each disc)
Classification: Age 15+
Studio: Anchor Bay
DVD Release Date: 5 May 2008
Run Time: 455 minutes
Price: This box set can be found for £10-15 on Amazon/Play.com, which works out at about 50-75p per episode, which is a good deal in my opinion!
There is one drawback to this series, and that is the number of 'filler episodes', i.e. episodes that don't follow the manga, and are added in to extend the series. There aren't many of these episodes in the first 3 series' box sets however, which is nice!
Overall, I honestly couldn't recommend this series enough. Both to newcomers to the Anime world, and people who already like Anime/Manga, especially those who like the sci-fi genre! It's definitely a series worth having in your collection. :)