Manga Review: Bleach

Right, time to review Bleach, or the series that I gave an award to for its stubborn refusal to die.

As such, I will try to make this review very short, so it will be an amusing contrast to the series as a whole.

Plot: Bleach is about a boy named Ichigo who gains the powers of a death god from a shinigami named Rukia. He then goes on to fight evil spirits called Hollows.

Spoiler plot: Rukia gets kidnapped, and the next 100 or so chapters are spent going to the shinigami realm and rescuing her. Turns out she was going to be executed, but it was in an attempt to gain some sort of super powerful weapon.

The next bit (still spoiler) of plot is where Ichigo goes to the hollow realm and attempts to kill Aizen, the defector from the previous arc, as Aizen wants to destroy the shinigami realm. Several hundred chapters of that (not a joke)  and Ichigo manages to defeat Aizen through the use of a power he learned just a couple chapters before that and loses his power as the effect of his attack/transformation.

Still spoiling the story here. Ichigo somehow regains some memory of his time as a shinigami and a bit of his powers, and some group of people take him in and train his powers back into him.

Bleach is really long, it drags out every fight, and even a fight scene consists of a lot of standing around talking, or explaining to an enemy precisely WHY they fell into a trap. Neither of those things is a good idea.

I actually liked Bleach a little bit. Yeah, it dragged out everything to the limit of human patience, which causes the story to have a VERY slow progression. But when it actually moves, it is interesting and it does engage the reader or viewer.

My beef with Bleach is it gets no respect. Ichigo has that ‘incident’, and it would have been perfect to end the story there as a tale of self sacrifice to save everything. Stories like that have been done a lot, but there was enough interest and attachment to the characters by that point that it would have been a better example of the altruistic story.

It was even written to seem like it was ending the story. I was sitting there thinking ‘It was a bit long, but the ending more than makes up for it. Wait a second, there are more chapters. Uh-oh.’

And that is the thing-it takes a lot of integrity as a creator to be able to give a story a dignified end. And if you do give it a dignified end, it rather ruins the effect of it to continue the story from exactly that point. All those lessons, all that character development, all gone. In the end, nothing was learned, and nothing lost stayed lost.

Bleach would have been better off if it had resumed the story at a later point in Ichigo’s life, say him as an adult, he dies, goes to shinigami realm. They remember him, train him as a shinigami, he slowly regains his abilities and fights hollows and such.

That would have been a more dignified way to resume the story of Bleach, but it wasn’t afforded any dignity. It was put to rest, then the body was immediately dug up and strings tied to its limbs to give it some semblance of life.

Score: 2/5 not good

Pros: cool weapons, cool fight scenes, cool plot, cool characters. It’s fun to read, fun to watch.

Cons: drags out the story a lot of the time. story can’t remain dead-it loses all dignity and respect for the characters it built up, and all those moral lessons (altruism) lose their impact as the story basically turns around and says ‘nevermind’ to teaching anything of potential value.

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2 thoughts on “Manga Review: Bleach

  1. While share your joy and pain for Bleach, I don’t share your reasons. At least I don’t completely share your reasons. While Ichigo’s big moment did seem like a good place to stop, I don’t believe the mangaka ever intended or most of the audience ever believed it would or could end there. There are still too many unanswered questions and dangling carrots for it not to feel incomplete.

    That said, when compared to other (I think more capable) shounen battle manga, it really feels lacking. For too long the background art has felt sparse, the battles usually lacking in a clear conveyance of action and the pacing at times has felt atrocious. Mix that in with the anime’s already heavy reliance on filler and you can see why I haven’t touched that in over a year.

    I’d like to think Kubo may have gotten better with this newest arc, but I don’t think we’ll be able to fully judge how much of this series’ potential has been tapped or squandered until it ends. IF they let it end.

  2. The character developments are really good. Especially Ichigo’s, which everyone else overlooked. He first came off as a fighting brat but as the series progresses we can see he is clearly thinking a lot, analyzing a lot, and is growing more calm and matured. At first he seemed like a brainless brat that rushes off to protect someone he barely knows but he has more to it than that. He admits to himself when gaining control over his hollow side that he fights in instinct, not to protect as he claimed. He is a very interesting character..

    Well for me watching anime is to watch how the characters grow, but many only focuses on the story, its like if the main character is switched out nothing will change at all, the anime is still there and like it. The characters that gave off an “irreplacable” feel are really worthy of being the main in an anime. That’s what I feel and I think this enough can make up for the dragging fight scenes haha.

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