Much better than its predecessor and a must-see for Bleach fans.
I'm a huge fan of the Bleach manga and a moderate fan of the TV series (except the filler sagas). This review assumes that people are familiar with the Bleach manga and/ or TV series.
Today I watched the English dubbed versions of both "The Diamond Dust Rebellion" (TDDR) and "Memories of Nobody" (MoN). I have already posted a review of MoN and the reason for that is a lot of reviewers seemed to be letting their Bleach fandom prevent them from actually thinking for themselves and accurately reviewing the movie. People were blindly giving 9/10 or even 10/10 to a film that would be unlikely to score 5/10 from any critic. When I came to watch TDDR I was desperately hoping they had recognised their previous errors and put a bit more effort in this time around.
As luck would have it, they did.
The biggest improvement over the first film is the screen writing. The plot has far more depth and is actually interesting. Where the first hour of MoN nearly put me to sleep, TDDR is actually entertaining outside of the fight scenes. The plot isn't perfect by any means, but it's definitely good enough to stop me complaining about it. Sure the dialogue is still pretty cheesy, but anyone who watches shows like Bleach will tell you that you have to take it with a pinch of salt.
Also TDDR is a lot more polished than MoN in terms of attention to detail. All the little bits and pieces that make a movie seem more realistic were really lacking in MoN. This is difficult to explain without using an example from the movie, so for once I'm going to use one (but avoid plot information).
When Renji needs to speak to Rangiku the chance passing of Shunsui means he and his lieutenant Nanao are then present during their conversation. While the important conversation goes on between Renji and Rangiku (the focal point for the viewer), Shunsui sits silently on the step beside them with his hat in his lap (he rarely removes his hat, even when fighting). He has done this out of respect because one of the characters is in a sort of mourning period. When important information is divulged during the conversation Shunsui begins absent mindedly twirling his hat around in his lap, his expression unchanging. This shows that he is thinking about what he just heard and formulating a plan, however he still looks like Captain Cool - Shunsui in a nut shell. My point here is that although Shunsui is not the focal point of the scene details have been added to make him seem more natural, even though most people won't notice (although this particular example is more obvious than most, hence why I can remember it lol). This is important because the more natural a scene is the easier it is for you to place yourself in that scene and become absorbed by the story.
Another thing that sets TDDR apart from its predecessor is the way they have integrated the popular "minor" characters into the story. In MoN it was obvious that it was very high priority to make sure all the most popular characters were featured in the movie to make sure the fans were happy, however because the script was so half-baked they ended up throwing them on screen with almost no explanation and it all seemed a bit silly. In TDDR they've still managed to feature all of the popular characters, they've made their appearances seem like a natural progression of the story, and yet they have done this without actually having to weave them into the main plot in any great detail (look at Kenpachi's entrance in MoN, then look at his entrance in TDDR, for example).
The voice acting in the English dub of TDDR is top notch.
Right. Now to the bad points.
There are two major problems with this movie as far as I'm concerned, the first and most important of which being the animation. Maybe I'm just imagining things, but slightly more care seems to have been taken with the animation and drawing just for the fight scenes, but even so they are still well below par for animated films. This shows that the people behind TDDR were still not prepared to expand their market beyond existing Bleach fans, which is a pity because this movie was good enough to do it.
The second problem is the music. At times the music in Bleach is so cheesy it makes me cringe. I can't believe no one has walked into the board room and said "Hey guys, has anyone realised how stupid it is to use a song with penetrating, high pitched vocals as a background track for fight scenes? Not only does it detract from the action and fail in its role as background music, but the song we're using sounds like a bad '80s electro-pop track that never made it out of the garage. Maybe we should hire a sound guy or something?"
Regardless The Diamond Dust Rebellion is worth watching even if you're not an existing fan of the series, although I would recommend watching the first one or two episodes as the movies take a lot for granted.
I've given it 7/10 but you can add an extra 2 points to that if you're a fan of the series.
A very poor film in it's own right. For fans of the show only.
Just quickly I think it's relevant to say that I'm a huge fan of the Bleach manga and a moderate fan of the TV series (except the filler sagas). This review assumes that people are familiar with the Bleach manga and/ or TV series. I would advise against watching this movie if you're not.
You know the great thing about making a movie follow up to a TV series or movie that is already popular? You can put in a fairly minimal amount of effort and still be guaranteed to make at least a decent amount of money, so long as you've conducted enough market research to give the fans of the original what they want. I watched the TV series until half way through the bount saga, then stopped and started reading the manga because the series had become slow moving and unimaginative. I subsequently found out that the bount saga wasn't part of the manga (a "filler" saga) and was made to make money rather than for the sake of art. Memories of Nobody is basically the same thing; a 90 minute filler episode.
Memories of Nobody is not a complete waste of space though. The voice acting (in the English dubbed version which I'm reviewing) is quite frankly excellent. The plot - while inferior to Tite Kubo's masterpiece - is better than what you'd get from a lot of action movies and fits with the tone of the TV series without clashing with it.
And what about the characters? Joining Ichigo and Rukia is a third main character - a mysterious young girl named Senna. (Mysterious young girls in anime?!? No way!!)
Senna is a hyperactive demi-loli who runs around giggling and annoying Ichigo. She is given a sob story background to try to force an emotional attachment from the viewers, but unfortunately that's about as far as the character development goes and so she's very one dimensional. This means the character really isn't believable, which means we don't get the emotional attachment, which means we fail to care.
All the most popular characters from the series make appearances which should make the fans happy, but they haven't gone to the effort of properly integrating them into the main story and so they just end up feeling like cameo appearances (you're guaranteed to make money so long as you give the fans what they want, remember?)
The movie could have (should have) built upon the series by riding it's strengths while providing better quality animation and getting rid of the super-cheesy music, but the animation quality hasn't noticeably improved and they've kept the same cheesy music from the series. It has its good points and bad points, but all the bad points easily outweigh the good ones. For example: It's a Bleach movie! YAY! The animation is TV series quality! BOO! It's got Kenpachi in it! YAY! The main character is about as deep as a puddle! BOO! Etc.
Basically Memories of Nobody only ever aspired to provide a pleasant experience for the existing Bleach fans and because of this it was never going to be a great movie in it's own right. Even for fans of the show this is definitely "rent before you buy" material.