Bleach may be dormant now, but it was once a tremendous deal. As a high school student, Saturday was the day to play video games to my heart’s content. One day, I decided to see what was on TV after gaming into the night, and came across Bleach on Adult Swim. The episode was almost over and some dude with a sick black robe, sword and orange hair was panting heavily. A cat-like guy in white and blue was standing opposite him.
From the top of a tower, a girl screamed desperately, “Don’t die Ichigo!” At this point I was 100% immersed for the final moments of the episode. The cat dude plunges after Ichigo, but Ichigo catches his hand effortlessly, looks at him slyly, and proceeds to slash him down the middle of his chest. End of episode. I immediately prompted the TV guide and took a mental note of the TV show’s name. I went on to watch all 366 episodes online, oblivious of the existence of filler in anime.
Bleach is an excellent anime for several reasons I’m able to recall retrospectively. They are as follows:
Ichigo is a badass who doesn’t take bull from anyone, even from his own wacky father. He is also selfless, not caring if he must put his well-being on the line for his sisters or his friends. He was the antithesis of the introverted, wary person I was back in high school, which likely had a hand in making him even more appealing from my point of view. He is not cocky, but strong-willed and outwardly unfazed by any opposing force, at least when they are first introduced. He can also pretty quirky himself, making him a great main character.
The first episode of Bleach handles both Ichigo’s regular life and transition into a soul reaper extremely well. You are given development for Ichigo, some shine for his friends and family, and just enough time with his shinigami powers. That sweet image of Ichigo staring down a hollow just as he gets his powers is burned into my brain. The presentation of it all is excellent.
The premise of a teenager getting involved with an echelon of formidable soul reapers (spirits who take on a human form presiding over spirits transitioning from the real world to the afterlife) is a crazy concept. It gets even more interesting when Ichigo’s friends begin to exhibit unique powers of their own. Each soul reaper has their own unique abilities and personalities; the amount of detail present in fleshing out the Bleach universe is borderline unreal.
Ichigo’s training is a highlight of the show. He is put through hell to bring forth the power he needs to accomplish his goals early in the series. This man takes a beating and does not have any extraordinary healing powers to get him right back into the fray. He must overcome the pain to get things done, which viewers can and will most definitely relate to.
Kisuke, Tatsuki, Hollow Ichigo, Zangetsu, Byakuya, etc. Each of these characters traits are great, be it having Ichigo’s back, being calm in the tense situations, insanity, or stoicism, you are bound to get attached to a character in Bleach. And boy, are there a lot of them.
Like many popular shonen, the protagonist must overcome overwhelming odds to achieve his/her desired result. The way Bleach executes this aspect is commendable. Ichigo will go through periods of getting his head kicked in, only to survive his encounter and come back refreshed and more confident than ever. His friends Uryu, Chad, and to some extent Orihime are given time ample time to shine. Chad’s fight with Captain Kyoraku in the Soul Society has stuck with me as well as Uryu’s fight with Mayuri. In terms of a constant stream of action, there is not much else that can compete with Bleach.
Ichigo’s theme and the theme titled “Morning Remembrance” encompass the two main moods of anime, triumph and sadness. Both tracks combine to nail it, making the viewer feel appropriate emotions for maximum impact.
Ichigo facing a foe way outside of his league, insane power-ups, plot twists, team-ups, Bleach does it all. There are many moments that are awesome, unsettling, or a combination of both which define the series. I will not go into detail of exact moments here, but I recommend giving Bleach a watch and treating yourself to them if you haven’t already.
Where does Bleach rank in your favorite anime of all-time? What got you into anime and manga? Let me know in the comments!
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