The Nihon Review - Anime Reviews & Editorials


Title: Bleach
Genre: Action
Company: Studio Pierrot/Studio Kelmadick
Format: 366 episodes
Dates: 5 Oct 2004 – 27 Mar 2012

Synopsis: Kurosaki Ichigo, a young highschool student, has had the peculiar ability to see ghosts since childhood. One day, his house is attacked by a malevolent spirit, known as a “Hollow.” He’s saved by Kuchiki Rukia, a Death God sent to kill the Hollow and protect the living. Rukia fails to defeat the Hollow, and instead places her hopes on Ichigo, to whom she transfers her powers. After defeating the beast, Ichigo is saddled with the responsibility of protecting his town from evil spirits with Rukia as her mentor.

The Highlights
Plot: As convoluted and weak as one can possibly imagine.
Characters: Too numerous to receive any noticeable development.
Action: Brainless, devoid of strategy, and rife with stock-footage.
Filler: Constitutes nearly a full third of the series.
Stereotypes: You won’t have to look hard to find every single one multiple times.

Sometimes, when a person likes a show and thinks it showed real promise, he will slog through it even as it progressively lowers the bar over an absurdly long run. I’ve done this with Bleach all the while hoping that the series might improve in one way or another. Perhaps the director has a stroke and retires giving a better director a shot. Maybe the writer has a mid-life crisis, takes a few days off, and comes back with a newfound talent. I have slogged through the latter 300 episodes of Bleach sincerely wishing  something like this would happen. Spoiler alert: It only gets worse.

The most obvious issue is the filler; it makes up a good third of the show, meaning there’s roughly 50-60 hours of filler to suffer through while waiting for something important to happen. A lot of series have filler episodes here and there, but having entire filler arcs is just nonsense. The plot isn’t even that intriguing in the first place. It starts out generic and only goes downhill from there, pausing for a moment from time to time to consider the stars. The show goes a similar road to Dragonball Z where the end comes into sight for a second until the goal post moves six to seven times. That’s alright to do once for a twist, but changing the villain and goal with the frequency that a painter changes the color of his brush is ridiculous. This show almost would have made more sense if it were episodic and never had any presumably foreseeable ending at any point. Alas, Tite Kubo couldn’t decide if he wanted write a tween novel or a monster-of-the-week anime, so he settled in a peculiar spot between the two.

Nothing else about the show is particularly remarkable, and for that matter, most aspects aren’t even what one might call passable. One part of the series that isn’t aggressively terrible is the animation. It’s not bad, per se, but it is a bit stiff and remarkably bland. As seems to be a trend with shows that have mediocre animation, the fight scenes are infested with stock footage, and it really grates the nerves after a while. The characters participating in said fight scenes range from bland to irritating, as are all the other characters, and none of them get any development. It seems Tite Kubo‘s solution to being remarkably inept at writing good characters is to simply write an absurd number of them, which really isn’t much of a solution at all. Almost every character in this show adheres to one strict stereotype or another, and the utter lack of originality is not impressive.

I could go on for days about the use of deus ex machina, about the awful soundtrack, the cheesiness, or the sheer blandness, but at this point it’ll be like beating a dead horse. If you’re not already convinced that this show is a waste of 180 hours of your life that you can never regain, then there’s nothing I could have said to help you. Watch ten, fifteen, maybe even twenty vastly superior anime instead; it will take you the same amount of time.

The Rating: 3

Reviewed by: CNile

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