Episodes : 366
Genres : Superpowers, Action, Adventure, Supernatural
Languages : Japanese (with subtitles), English (dubbed)
OK now sing along with me, “When there’s something strange in the neighbourhood, who you gonna call, Ghost….,” wait a minute this is not America but Japan so we can’t call them. I know let’s just call the Shinigami.
So, who are these Shinigami you might ask. Well they are soul reapers that help usher lost souls still lingering in the real world into Soul Society if they were good people or to Hell if there were bad. But that’s just the lucky ones whom the Shinigami get before they linger too long and get too attached. If that happens then they turn into Hollows, monsters that feed of souls.
Ichigo Kurosaki is a normal high schooler who just happens to see ghosts and have bright orange hair (maybe seeing ghosts is a side effect). His entire world changes one day when he meets Rukia Kuchiki a Shinigami. After she gets injured trying to save his family from a Hollow attack she offers him the power to save his sisters. All he has to do is take her blade through his heart (I admit I was salivating waiting for the outcome). After doing as she told him he gained the powers of a Shinigami with his own huge sword that he used to defeat the Hollow and save his family.
Thereafter he took the place of Rukia cleaning up the Hollows as she struggled to recover fully from passing her powers to him. Rukia had spent more time than she was supposed to in the real world and two Shinigami’s were sent to bring her back. This lead to a confrontation between Ichigo and the two which lead to Ichigo being swiftly dealt with and stripped of his powers in a brutal fashion.
And just like that after the first 20 episodes I was hooked. The next 40 episodes were the most intense in the series for me. We got to watch as Ichigo got his own Shinigami powers with the help of Kisuke Urahara, a former Shinigami. From there with the help of a few of his school friends they planned to break into Soul Society to rescue Rukia. The best episodes involved Ichigo’s battles with the different ranking officers. The battle hungry Zaraki Kenpachi (only dude I know that can pull off an eye patch), captain of the 11th division, hunting Ichigo to have a battle to the death has to be the most intense battle of the series.
Second to that would be his battle with Byakuya Kuchiki after he learns to unleash his Banki (the swords second and most powerful release). During the battle Ichigo loses control to a suppressed and slightly forbidden power and when he regains control vows never to let it happen again. It manifested in the form of a mask that vastly improved his power but he never fully trusted it and whenever he lost consciousness it took over (and just like that I became a binge watcher).
And learning who the real villain is was epic to say the least. How he manipulated events to achieve his ultimate goal was terrifyingly perfect. The antagonist (still gives me the shivers when I see him in action) is a brilliant villain, methodical, cold and calculating. And with a powerful Zanpakuto (the swords the Shinigami carried) that had the ability to completely hypnotize people had him controlling things to perfection.
In between the main storyline there were filler arcs. These filler arcs while entertaining in a way took too much away from the main plot line. It became mundane until the story picked up again. Sure, some of the fights there were more than adequate but it still had the intrigue missing from them.
When they got back to the main plot and finding out what the series main antagonist had been up to was captivating. He created the Arrancar, who were modified Hollows, to use as he pleased. He was methodical and kept his underlings in check by forcing them into submission. While this was happening Ichigo was learning to control and enhance his own powers. He comes to terms with his suppressed power and learns how to utilize it in battle.
During these skirmishes in the lead up to the final showdown, Ichigo faced his toughest fight and ended up getting a beating from Ulquioor Cifer. He kills Ichigo (yes, I did shed a tear when it happened) and in the process unleashed the side to Ichigo that he tried to suppress. In this instance Ichigo became a Hollow. Somehow Ichigo clawed his way back to take control but the devastation left behind by the Hollow in him was immense.
The final showdown begins with the battle between the Soul Society Shinigami and the Arrancar army. The fights between the normal Shinigami and Arrancar was a good build up but it was the fights between the Shinigami Captains and the strongest Arrancar, called the Espada, that enthralled me to no end. As for Ichigo, he fought the man who set all these events into action. At the end of it all Ichigo sacrificed his Shinigami powers to defeat him and stop the threat.
The final arc before the anime was cancelled detailed life after that battle and how Ichigo tried to lead a normal life. This arc was used to give back Ichigo his Shinigami powers.
This leads into the final arc which can be found through the manga. It has a healthy plot and helps fill in some important blanks. The best parts of the final arc for me was seeing the Shinigami Captains unleashing their Banki’s.
Bleach is the anime that got me deeply entrenched in the anime culture and made me look for other anime series to immerse myself in. I came for the action and sword fights but stayed for the story, cast and amazing musical score that accompanied this series. It had its highs and lows, but all in all it was a memorable journey that still has me coming back from time to time.
Till next time, I hope you enjoy watching Bleach as much as I did.