Fifteen-year-old Ichigo Kurosaki is a typical teen with fighting skills, two caring sisters and a special trait: he can see ghosts. However, when Ichigo and his family find themselves under attack by a huge beast, Ichigo discovers that there’s more to the supernatural world than the everyday specter. Vengeful spirits known as Hollows roam the world in search of devouring souls, and Shinigami – soul reapers – work tirelessly to defeat them and guide normal ghosts into a place called Soul Society. Ichigo valiantly fights the Hollow that threatens his sisters, but on the verge of defeat a Shinigami named Rukia gives him her powers, turning him into a Shinigami himself. Ichigo must now adjust to his new life of both vanquishing and saving souls for the sake of Soul Society.
StoryI owe a lot to anime. Through joint love of the medium, I have forged friendships and experienced more variety of storytelling that I could ever have imagined. But the day Japanese animation changed my life for good was a bright spring afternoon when I first encountered a tale about a teenage messiah exorcising the evil from our world with his great sword of justice. Many people may dismiss Tite Kubo as little more than a derivative punk, doling out sub-par shounen every week. Such heretics however, should be ignored, for Kubo offers up far more than entertainment, he gives us the gift of salvation in the form of his epic fable, Bleach. The fictitious Karakura Town runs rife with sin, with delinquents resorting to frequent acts of vandalism and bullying. While it seems that there is little hope for humanity, one orange-haired boy named Ichigo Kurosaki stands up to the immorality of the world, forcibly extracting apologies and repentance from the worst of the sinners. One day, he meets a shinigami (death god) called Rukia who reveals a hidden world of malevolent beings known as Hollows who consume innocent souls to satiate their own rampant hunger. When Ichigo finds his family under attack, Rukia lends him her power and awakens him to his true identity: the saviour of mankind. With new powers, the teen begins to fight against the hollows and purify them in order to rid the world of evil. In the midst of its awe-inspiring fights depicting Ichigo’s divine retribution upon each wrongdoer, Bleach helps to assure us of how we should live and what awaits us in the future. Soul Society offers up solid proof that there is an afterlife, while the ghosts that linger in the human world teach us not to fear taking the next step on this journey. Likewise that the series still carries on to this day after a definitive conclusion, only gives more evidence to the fact that there is something more beyond the seeming finality of death. By ending the central story yet continuing the narrative, we simple men and women can clutch onto the knowledge that our human lives are but a chapter in a novel, and our souls shall continue to endure for many years to come, defying the laws of both mortality and plausibility at every turn. There are several moralistic parables aside from the main story. While many heathens often refer to this as pointless filler, these hellions are indisputably wrong. Bleach’s side stories are integral to the series’ teachings, and guides its followers on the correct path. The cleverly scattered fables train us not to lose our tempers, but to have patience and faith that accepting the mundane or the downright terrible will ultimately make us appreciate the greatness all the more. After all, if we can endure episodes of the cast playing football for no logical reason, then we can certainly control ourselves when faced with rude individuals, bankruptcy or bereavement. Likewise odd recurring jokes give us further guidance on the path to enlightenment. For example, one of the series’ most pitiful characters is that of Kon. That this pathetic being not only lacks a physical body of his own, but also fails to succeed in any of his endeavours proves that his depravity towards the female form – and particularly their ample bosoms – is not admirable, but deplorable. From this we learn that such infatuations will only lead to our downfall and utter ruin.AnimationBleach’s divine artwork is a thing of beauty. In terms of animation, the series excels. From showers of shimmering sakura petals and billowing clouds of dust amidst a heated clash to Ichigo speeding across the screen, each slash of a zanpakutou effectively pierces our apathetic hides and enlightens us to the show’s teachings. Meanwhile, the variety of different character designs from the attractive to the downright ridiculous pertains to the diversity of society and that we should accept everyone no matter how they look. While the natural reaction to meeting someone like Kurotsuchi in a dark alley may be to run for the hills, we should look past his bizarre appearance and instead give him a great big hug. After all, he is just as deserving and in need of love as the next person.SoundWith any long series, a large number of opening and ending themes is to be expected. What I had not anticipated was that each and every one of these harmonious melodies would resound within my heart like a heavenly angelic chorus. Whoever doesn’t find their soul uplifted by the enthusiastic yell of “HEART HEART” from the show’s twenty-third ending theme, Stay Beautiful by Diggy-Mo’, must have very little humanity left in their hollow shell of a body.CharactersIchigo is a true inspiration. His single-minded motivation to uphold good, bring justice to wrongdoers and protect those he cares for shines like a guiding light for all the lost souls scrabbling about in the dark. Likewise, his mass appeal to those around him shows the strength of his leadership as well as the truth of his actions. From taming the reformed delinquent Chad and earning the respect of haughty Ishida to charming the saintly Orihime, Ichigo gathers his disciples from all walks of life and does not discriminate between anyone, instead accepting everyone’s strengths, weaknesses and abilities. As if Ichigo’s beacon of goodness were not enough, Kubo gives us another gift in the form of Orihime. This pure maiden’s heart is thrice as large as her sizeable bosom and twice as warm. Her unflappable belief that there is good in each and every being and that with a little love no soul is beyond redemption teaches us to have faith in each other no matter the situation. Perhaps, should we rule with our hearts, we might one day lead as fulfilling a life as this flame-haired goddess and stand side by side with the saviour crying “KUROSAKI-KUUUUUN!” in exaltation. On the other side of the hollow mask Kubo urges us away from the path of darkness and demonstrates what will happen should one stray from the path of the righteous. While the hollows themselves explicitly show how lingering hatred, regret and despair can consume a soul, the true danger of our sins lies with the series’ primary antagonist. With a true fallen angel leading the charge against goodness, Bleach warns us not to be seduced by power and selfish desires lest we rip an irreparable hole in the core of our very beings.OverallMore than simple entertainment, Bleach is nothing less than this generation’s holy text, and should be used as a guideline to living a wholesome, pure and righteous life. We all strive to walk the correct path, and Tite Kubo shows us the way in the most entertaining and engaging approach possible. That I can only rate such a work of true importance and purity on such a small scale is simply offensive; can one’s salvation really only be worth ten points?
Synopsis Bleach tells of story of fifteen-year-old Ichigo Kurosaki, a High-school student who possesses the ability to interact with the dead. This power leads him to encounter Rukia Kuchiki, a Shinigami sent to the living world with the task of eliminating evil spirits known as Hollows. After an unfortunate twist of events, Rukia is left obligated to lend her powers to Ichigo, but Ichigo unwillingly steal all of her energy. Now a substitute Shinigami, Ichigo must follow the customs of a Reaper, including the businesses of hunting down Hollows and aiding lost spirits. Story (6/10) A few years back, the eternal prowl for a good Shounen brought me back to my Anime to Watch Stickies note, and I found myself pausing my cursor upon Bleach. Bleach was a series that had been posted upon that note for perhaps eight months. I thought “what the hell? Maybe all those Youtube comments were right, and it can be compared to other not-so-hidden gems that the Shounen genre has been known to dish out.” As such, I downloaded the first three episodes and sat back, hoping that Bleach would be deserving of all the hype surrounding it. Now, here’s the moment to say that I like the genre of Shounen. From ancient classics like Dragonball, to more recent works such as Soul Eater, I don’t just like it; I downright love it! I don’t care if it’s mainstream, or if the animation is riddled with twitchy-flaws or even if the main character has hair that spikes up all the way to freaking Saturn! I truly adore Shounen anime. Considering this fact, one might believe that I actually like Bleach. Well, I don't. Bleach is a romp of a Shounen, with limitless power-ups, busty female characters, and even a white-masked monster or two. Hidden among an overabundance of these archetypes, there is a truly interesting story of friendship and sacrifice. If only Bleach focused on this area more, and cast aside its dated centers as a plot-story. Unfortunately, through tumultuous filler and un-strategic battle sequences, it remains an obtuse insult to the genre it tries so desperately to personify. The saddest thing is, Bleach might have actually worked for me, had it been the first Shounen I ever watched. Regrettably, it wasn’t, and I couldn’t help but glare at the constant plot twists ripped straight out of the bare bones of other well-known adventure stories. The interactions Bleach offers up could have been so much better, and for that, I was disappointed. For example, in the moment when Ichigo first notices that Rukia is the new member of his class, he emits words that are so reminiscent of dialogue in Shaman King, that it is almost sickening. Another discussion set that confused me presents itself in episode 2, and concludes in episode 3. Rukia tells Ichigo that even Shinigami don’t know what it is that Hollows want, yet in the next episode, she states without any hesitation that Hollows are after souls. This one plot hole brought my respect for the show down to sub-Arctic levels. Even in its best moments, Bleach’s story is an incomparable farrago of uneven twists and random leaps. Animation (6/10) Sadly, Bleach doesn’t even have animation rooting on its side. It’s okay I suppose; fairly average for a Shounen, and certainly nothing to rave about. Shaky frame movement and still-shots of characters bombarding other characters with super-charged attacks cripple the battle scenes. Still, along with many of Shounen series, Bleach’s animation has its moments, especially in the midst of important spectacles of battle. The color quality of Bleach is something to be appreciated. They remain fairly consistent throughout, although I didn’t enjoy the scratchy shadows that appear occasionally beneath people’s chins. They are unrealistic and downright ugly in my opinion, but I do realize this addition was simply taken out of the manga, and that it is just a variant of artistic styles. Sound (6/10) The sound quality of Bleach is nothing exceptional either. The first opening is quite enjoyable I’ll have to say, considering that it is by Orange Range. The first ending on the other hand is an awful English-Japanese hybrid track that I didn’t even bother learning the title of. The underlining sounds are strange and fake; like that moment in a show when someone’s neck is grasped and a weird rubbery-crunching sound emits itself. Now that I think about it, there were quite a few of those scenes in Bleach as well. The voice acting is... well, it's okay. Nothing truly stands out, but I can't recall any moments where it was absolutely terrible and unbelievable either. One thing that bothered me in the English dub was the fact that practically every Shinigami in the Soul Society is voiced by either the same man or the same woman, depending of course on whether the characters in question are male or female. The background music isn’t wonderful or terrible. Unlike Fairy Tail or Naruto, there aren’t any songs that caused me to think; “Now that’s Bleach music.” Tracks sort of fade into the backgrounds, but don’t heighten the effects whatsoever. There is one song that I’ll never, ever forget. It flares up any time Ichigo whips out his sword, and it goes something like this... “If you wan’na see some action...” Ugh... I can only speak for myself here, but I literally cringe with terror whenever I hear that song. I can’t decide whether it goes too much, or not at all!!! Characters (5/10) Right away, we are introduced to Ichigo Kurosaki, our tough, street brawling, loud-mouthed protagonist. The first few minutes give us an insight into his life at home, and his interpersonal interactions with random citizens who inadvertently stumble into the alleyway where a child once died. Let’s just say that Ichigo should seriously consider getting counseling to help him quell his anger towards strangers. Of course, this leads me to Ichigo’s main personality trait, his “fake” outward disposition. After his mother died, Ichigo just had to become depressed, and had to blame himself, and had to grow cold and emotion-ridden. Now, with a character like this, I’d love to say that our hero pulls it off and manages to accent it with a little originality, but he really doesn’t. On the contrary, he spews angry words, disrespects his elders and secretly mopes, just like any InuYasha and Sasuke-like character would do. Ichigo is an angry person who hides an inner immaturity (sound like every teenaged boy you know?) Well that’s because Ichigo is your every-day teenaged boy, even coupled with his so-called tragic past. The other characters are simply present to fill in gaps when Ichigo isn’t showing off some epic new power up. Other than Ichigo and Rukia, there’s Orihime, the disproportionate ditz, Uriyu Ishida, the composed soul survivor of the Quincy clan and Chad, Ichigo’s silent follower. There’s just something unbelievable about Bleach’s cast; something that causes them to come off as fake and overdone. Needless to say they aren’t bad, but I can’t connect to them either. They are cold and distant, like glaciers in the far north that cannot be stroked by the sun, or even by something as potent as Global Warming. I want to like them; I want to feel for them, but even in the most trying of situations, they just flop there and screech things like “Ichigo! Save us!” or “Save Rukia!” Overall (5.8/10) Although it is often placed with Naruto and One Piece, the three really can’t be compared because the former two belong to a completely different category; one comprised of well thought out plots and bold characters. Bleach is far from bad, but in all honesty, the distinct lacks of foreshadowing and originality that it presents, make it pale next to One Piece and Naruto. Even in the best of scenes, when plot elements come crashing together, I am left with a feeling of unwelcome familiarity. I’d absolutely love to say that in instances like this, Bleach was just being Bleach. However it wasn’t, it was being bad-Shounen. Still, Bleach works very well with what it has been given; an okay story, middle-of-the-road characters, and a world partially plagiarized straight out of Yu-Yu Hakusho.
INFAMY IS STILL FAME Bleach is one of those series which took the world by storm, kept building up while oozing with style, before eventually realizing that it had no idea what to do next, began walking in circles as slow as possible so it can drag on for 5 years, before eventually ending incomplete. It is undermining the quality of shounens, it’s full of plot holes and inconsistencies, yet also managed to become one of the most popular anime in existence. Why is that? PRETTY COLORS & NICE SOUNDS The most shallow and yet largest of reasons is because it looked nice, had a funky soundtrack, was filled with style, artistic overtones, occult atmosphere, and exciting battles. All that, assuming your brain can block out the snail slow pacing, and how it always plays out like two 12 year olds measuring their dicks while insulting each other. And need I point out how conveniently everybody is accidentally pitted against dark counterparts of himself that have the exact same style of personality and way of fighting? Coloring and artwork improved in later seasons, but at the same time the aesthetics which made the initial episodes so great, almost disappeared. Along with the animation; after a point on they just stand still and use a few frames that repeat a hundred times, like this is the second coming of Dragon Ball. What could have been blood-boiling battles, end up being nothing more than macho-talking, always ending with cop-out power ups. It’s ironic how the main battle song has lyrics such as “If you want to get some action, you need be the center of attraction.” The action moves like a snail, relying solely on the fandom’s blinded fanboys to keep going. When expectations are very low, fanboyism is enough to please 90% of the target audience. Yes, it’s that easy. If it wasn’t, there wouldn’t be endless cosplays and fanfics made out of this show, just because the characters look cool and sexy, and it wouldn’t have an average score of over 8/10 in every major database for over 5 years. OTHER PROS Another reason is the sheer amount of characters, weapons, and fighting modes. Every character was a distinctive stereotype, had a custom sword with various stages of power and different abilities. There is no way you won’t find someone you like in this huge crowd. It had a cool premise that was making it seem deep and mature. Dealing with death, the afterlife, psychological fears, scars of the past, and a mysterious plan set in motion by nefarious masterminds. Who wouldn’t be interested in following such a story and revealing its secrets, while constantly getting introspection to its characters? It was also the counterforce to the Naruto fandom. Not everyone liked that super popular show about emo kids constantly crying in a corner. Some wanted pro-active characters, full of cocky one-liners and arrogant smirks. Bleach was what they needed, a rivaling shitty shonen to balance the fame of another shitty shonen. NO PLANNING Despite all these positives, it fell apart after 60 episodes because Kubo had no idea of how to continue the story. So, he did the usual trick that works since the days of Dragon Ball. Introducing more characters, rehashing the exact same plot, constantly throwing around power ups that mean nothing after a few episodes, gradually making less sense, having less consistency, shallower characters, fillers which are thrown in without giving a damn about continuity, and yet somehow manage to be better written than the canon story. I can turn a blind eye to a few minor hiccups here and there but not to the point I need to have my brain imploding as if it was hit by Kenshiro. You just can’t turn a blind eye to the thousands of continuity errors and dull scenes without gorging your own eye sockets. RULE OF COOL NOT There are those who defend the show as nothing more than a guilty pleasure, thus there is no reason to complain about plot holes or bad writing. And yet not even they can deny how much more thought and planning was put into the early episodes. The ghosts were presented as people who died with a grudge, the characters had to face the shadows of their past, and there was some cute school romance in the air. Such elements degraded to faceless monsters defined by their superpower, males that are just bravado and transforming swords, and females that are trophies for males to rescue, and excuses for fan service. Oh, and not to forget to mention how everyone with a tragic past eventually becomes a comic relief. - Ichigo the angsty teenager, degraded from a sympathetic youth who was simply trying to protect his friends and family, to an imba warrior that only cares about saving chicks, and keeps getting his ass kicked, yet wins all the time with ass-pulling power-ups. - Butchy fighter Rukia, degraded from a dynamic woman with a tragic past, to a frail damsel in distress that needs to be saved every ten days. - Love rival Orihime, degraded from a sad and innocent girl, to a bimbo with huge boobs who repeats KUROSAKI-KUN every ten seconds. - Everybody is less interesting that a berserker secondary freak with bells glued on his hair, and sole purpose to cut thing just for the heck of it. - Aizen was hyped as an unbeatable villain with an ingenious masterplan that is kept secret for hundreds of episodes. Kubo was stalling the final showdown by constantly introducing more characters, just so they can waste time in meaningless battles. And then has Aizen getting defeated very fast with a shitty power up that is meant to take away the protagonist’s powers forever, only to have them returning with an asspull, and never explaining what the hell was Aizen’s plan. Well excuse me, this is not guilty pleasure. It’s a test to see how much insult a person’s intelligence can tolerate before dropping your stupid show. JUST STOP It is not simply the constant plot holes and asspulls that make Bleach so bad, it’s also Kubo not finish it, because he makes money out of this shit. He just introduces more characters, contradicts anything he said before, repeats the exact same plot, and gets paid for it. Anything he keeps a secret from the viewer and makes him speculate what it could possibly mean; always ends up being complete bull shit, since he never thinks what he will do next, until he actually draws it. - Why is everybody flying out of nowhere? - How are Bankais rare, if everybody has one?- How can you outrun a ray of light by seeing it hitting you once? - Why is the blind black dude betraying everybody?- Why didn’t the story end after Aizen got defeated and Ichigo lost his powers?- What was Aizen’s plan? - Why are the Quincy still alive when they are supposed to be dead? IN CONCLUSION Bleach is the youngest of the so called Big Three, and also the first to fall apart in just a little bit over a year. For a title that was hailed as the anti-Naruto, it got discontinued and replaced by a zero budget Naruto spin-off. Oh the burn! It’s almost as ironic as when Sega began making Sonic the Hedgehog games for Nintendo. But who ever notices such things, if you get a shallow asshole with a big sword, smirking and saying how big his cock is? It is a fine series to waste your synaptic functions upon, while trying to spot the troll of the week, but it ends nowhere near as good as it began, and doesn’t stand a ghost of a chance before other shonen like Hunter X Hunter or Full Metal Alchemist.
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