Anime, Bleach, Watch This Anime!

Revisiting Bleach: Going Round and Round in Circles

Why is it called Bleach, anyways? Is it because they need to wash all the blood out of their clothes after every fight? I don’t get it.

It still feels weird to me that the days of the Big Three are over. One Piece has survived, but it isn’t as influential as it used to be. Naruto ended and gave way to the far inferior Boruto (does anyone seriously still watch that?). Bleach ended years ago, both in anime and manga form.

Or so it seemed! Recently it was announced that the Bleach anime was coming back to animate the final arc of the series! That’s right, the two Bleach fans that are still out there! The show is finally going to get a resolution!

Not that it particularly deserves it. Cause if I can be honest: I found Bleach to be quite subpar.

Don’t get me wrong, there were plenty of things I enjoyed. The first few arcs, up to the ‘Rescue Rukia’ arc, were great! It had some solid action, great music, and some decently likable characters. Plus, the premise is super interesting and lends itself well to some decent gothic action. Also, it has some super top-tier waifus. Character designs in this series are rock-fucking solid.

Unfortunately, it suffers from all the typical Shounen problems of the time. You know the ones. Incredibly up-and-down animation, filler arcs that last for waaaay too fucking long, far too many characters, so on and so forth. Not to mention the insane power scaling that makes Dragon Ball Z look sane and the constant plot twists that make the story super convoluted.

Look, Ichigo doesn’t need to have every single type of blood in him. He doesn’t need to be a Shinigami-Quincy-Angel-Devil-Hollow-whatever-the-fuck hybrid. Believe it or not, he could just be a dude who worked hard to get strong. The audience would still care. In fact, they’d probably care more!

Ultimately though, there are two major problems with this show. Issues that are unique to it. These are the problems that keep me from truly enjoying Bleach, despite all the time I’ve poured into watching it. Because make no mistake: I did like this show. But as it went on, I liked it less and less because of these problems.

The first problem is repetitive storytelling. A basic rule of story structure is progression and variety. Each event should flow into the next. They should each be different from the last in order to keep the audience engaged. If a story boils down to character fights dude –> character goes to a new place –> character fights dude, the audience is going to get bored. Each event should have consequences on the world and its characters. Simply put, things need to change.

Bleach has a problem with this. Each arc, especially early on, feels oddly similar to the others. Plus, none of them have any far-reaching consequences that permanently change the world or characters. It feels like a dog chasing its tail. It’s not going anywhere and its not accomplishing anything.

Let’s look at the ‘Rescue Rukia’ arc, arguably the best one in the show, beat-by-beat.

  • Rukia is taken by the Shinigami to be executed
  • Ichigo and friends chase after to rescue her
  • Ichigo and friends get fucked up by the powerful enemies
  • In order to win, Ichigo undergoes some intense training with a super-powerful waifu
  • Ichigo achieves new power that sets him apart from every other member of the cast
  • They beat the bad guys and rescue Rukia

You got all that? Cool! Now, let’s look at the arc that came almost immediately after that: the ‘Rescue Orihime’ arc!

  • Orihime is kidnapped by Aizen’s forces
  • Ichigo and friends chase after to rescue her
  • Ichigo and friends get fucked up by the powerful enemies
  • In order to win, Ichigo undergoes some intense training with a super-powerful waifu
  • Ichigo achieves new power that sets him apart from every other member of the cast
  • They beat the bad guys and rescue Orihime

Can you see the problem?

The second big issue I have is the consequences. Or in this case: the lack thereof. In Bleach, it feels like nothing the characters do matters. Nothing ever changes. The closest we ever got was after ‘Rescue Rukia’, where the Shinigami started hanging out with the humans. That’s something, but it’s not enough.

“But Jonah!” I hear you shouting at your screen. “What about when Ichigo lost his powers to stop Aizen?!” To which I’ll admit, that’s almost a good point. Except for one little thing: he got those exact powers back literally one arc later! Thus making that dramatic sacrifice meaningless!

It’s not like there was never potential. With all the constant Hollow attacks of varying disastrous effects, the story could very well have some easy, compelling drama! How do the regular people react to the appearance of Hollows and Shinigami (hard to stay hidden when the bad guy is blowing up buildings and killing thousands of people)? How does this reaction affect our characters? What do they do in response to it? How do the villains make use of this public reaction? All these questions and more can be asked after any given Bleach arc!

But no. After every arc, the reset button is pressed. Everyone goes back to their normal lives without a care in the world. This makes me ask a question: why should I care about everything that just happened if none of the characters do? Why should I get invested in a story with no consequences?

Am I being too harsh? Eh, maybe. Maybe the anime resurrection will prove me wrong. The final arc might just tie everything together and make the story, repetitive as it was, worth our time and investment. I have my doubts. But I’ll be there to find out.

Because I’m an obsessive maniac and I just can’t let things go.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s