The second half of the fifteenth season of this long-running demon-busting shows finds Ichigo and his fellow soul reapers very much on the back foot. They’re trying to protect mystery girl Nozomi from the clutches of evil genius Kagerosa, but it’s tough going as they square up against a whole load of super-powered soul reaper doppelgangers and end up repeatedly getting knocked on their kimono-clad asses for their pains. Meanwhile, eager to be of help, Nozomi discovers that she too has dormant powers and is determined to awaken them.
It’s all pretty edge-of-the-seat stuff then, barring one or two blemishes. For starters, Kagerosa, who has the ability to absorb and mimic his enemies’ powers a la Sylar in Heroes, is so indestructible it’s easy to get a bit fed up as he lays waste to the good guys time and again. Then there’s a whole lot of noise and arm-waving from cuddly toy Kon, who never shuts up except when someone is stamping on his face. Also, when will Ichigo and his pals learn to work as a team and follow orders? You can’t help feeling sorry for Head Captain Yamamoto, who could probably sort out the whole thing himself if the others didn’t keep on getting in his way.
Such minor grumbles aside, there’s plenty to enjoy in this latest box set, with some decent banter and no end of furious dust-ups across the rooftops and green spaces of Ichigo’s home town. A big cast of supporting characters get to show their moves, and there are some particularly enjoyable scenes with stripy-hatted Kisuke, the cunning strategist who forms a counter-plan to put Kagerosa in his place. As for the animation, it can be a little ragged in some of the quieter scenes, but when it comes to the set-piece throwdowns, expect to be treated to an array of sizzling fireballs, energy beams and mushroom clouds. Ichigo might be having trouble with his energy levels recently, but the series as a whole still packs a spirited punch. 7/10