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Wednesday, August 17, 2022

Bleach Retrospective and Review
Posted by Vintniv in Anime / Manga September 07, 2009 at 08:47:27 PM

I am very hesitant to say this is probably my favorite manga to read. I monitor its releases, occasionally listen to its sound track, and tend to read up on stuff might have over looked. Although I feel no real connection to the characters or villains, and frankly they could all die, respawn new ones and I would probably find it hilariously ironic. But for the sake of it, let’s look at things here. Bleach is probably only second to Naruto in terms of popularity, and if anything is Naruto’s PG-13 older brother. I say that because it’s true. Both animes follow the same general path, where it follows the manga up to a certain point, then divulges on some mindless fillers In order to let the manga develop further. They both have a few movies out for themselves, actions figures (or whatever you call them), trading cards, etc. But, I tend to overlook those things, throw them into a box and try keeping them ‘out of sight out of mind’ to concentrate on the main story line.

Bleach is also a lot like Naruto in terms of its fan base, you either love or hate it, there’s really no in between for it. Its also one of those things you can’t really just jump into like 50 chapters in and expect to know what’s going on. You see, unlike Naruto, Bleach’s chapters can last surprisingly long before they setup a new section or fight. Like currently they are on chapter 370 and about the last 150 chapters have literally taken place within the same day. Maybe not even that, probably a 3 hour time lapse from the big entrance to big evil boss dungeon to where they are now. This of course is only the second time they have done it, but it does kind of mean that you would have to have been reading from the beginning in order to get its full value.

So the basic storyline is, Ichigo is this guy in Highschool (again), but he can see ghosts. He then through a series of events becomes what’s known as a Soul Reaper (in Japanese, Shinigami). Soul reapers are those who help spirits go from death into heaven, they carry around swords to help those spirits, and use them to battle hollows, who are basically souls that have turned into monsters and go about eating other souls in order to get more powerful. There are some other characters, but they aren’t really as necessary as they are made out to be. They are really just there to balance each other out, the silent peaceful giant, the weak looking brain guy, and the medical oriented girl. All of which centered on the brightly haired center piece hero of the story.

One of the things that directs the story are the swords everyone carry around. The swords themselves have these releases where on sword basically becomes many swords, or a stronger version of the original, etc. The thing that makes this bad is how it set up that only a select group of people have this ability with their swords. If you look at Bleach’s military set up, there is a Captain, a Lieutenant, and about a hundred people below as soldiers, and only the Captain and the Lieutenant can actually release their swords. That being said, the small armies of people seen frequently are really nothing but cannon fodder with little to no value.

In theory, that is an easy thing to over look. The whole, ‘well you need powerful people to lead to less powerful.’ Indeed, but to what degree? Vice versa, the evil doers, the hollows, have the same thing; swords that release their powers. The thing is, after a while of reading what characters say or do, we understand their character, but we get bored and instead being interested in a character’s abilities or personality, we really want to see what their releases look like. So after a while those big text blocks are things that don’t matter as much. The same is for every time there’s some flashback, or side story the diverges from the main fighting, its more or less wasting time to add suspense up until the magical word is said that activates a release.

The final nail in this is how the chapters have this really annoying tendency to just abruptly drop in the middle of something great. Someone is breathing their last breathe, or out of nowhere something shows up and interrupts a fight and the chapter or episode ends. Then in the next chapter, it’s explained that the person isn’t dead, or a completely new battle starts. It’s less suspenseful as it is annoying, mostly because it happens at the end of the majority of chapters. It’s like if a pilot didn’t tell anyone that they were going to be landing and just dropped the plane 100,000 feet in the middle of passing out the peanuts. I can well say that this has happened so much that I have come to expect it at the end of every chapter, so I typically just sigh and say to myself, ‘damn it, another week…..’

If anything, Bleach is an action/fighting manga, and what it does it does extremely well. The large amount of characters, although a bit typical, nicely balance each other out and happily have a great sword related way of solving their problems. The combat is well planned; integrating magic like spells into combat and throwing around the occasional monster and bit of drama. If anything, it’s worth checking out, but those who are more interested in love and romance won’t find this one worth their time.
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