If you grew up an Otaku in the 2000s, One Piece, Naruto Shippuden, and Bleach anime were all the rage. You were either a member of the Straw Hat Pirate crew, a Shinobi ready to risk it all for Konohagakure, or a devoted Shinigami in the Soul Society. Or you were a hopeless fan of all three, considering how widespread the love was for all these franchises. It wasn’t hard to find crossovers between them either. But where One Piece and Naruto Shippuden kept flourishing, the hype around Bleach had started slowing down.
People blamed the dwindling views and filler arcs for the Bleach anime ending abruptly, but I still think it’s an underrated anime. And I know that sounds funny. Bleach? Underrated? It’s only one of the most recognizable anime of all time. Hell, it was part of the Big 3 in Shonen that dominated the anime market. But I think when compared to the other shows of its time, it was dealt a bad hand. Which led to its drop in ratings and eventual rushed ending in the manga.
But now, as the new season finale for the anime that got canceled back in 2014 is upon us, fans are finally hoping for a goodbye that is worthy of something as iconic as Bleach. Titled Bleach: Thousand Year Blood War, this final arc promises a proper conclusion to all the loose ends left by the manga endings, hoping to bridge between the time skip and everything.
And secretly, I believe fans are hoping this puts a spotlight back on the franchise as a whole. Now, with how many people have jumped on board the Shonen train, there is hope that renewed hype could bring new fans to the franchise, breathing life back into it. And I, for one, definitely think Bleach deserves a second chance.
Bleach: The Perfect Fusion Of Zany Story And Gorgeous Design!
Oh boy, I already know I’m going to get heat for the next sentence but here it goes. I am not a fan of One Piece and most of it has to do with its abysmal art style. I know, I know. I don’t need to bring down one beloved franchise to build up another but hear me out.
I tried giving One Piece a shot. And, despite acknowledging that it has great story writing, I just can’t get past the art style and character design. I am a very shallow individual, and also, I was a teenager. I liked hot anime men; you can look at my devotion to Sasuke Uchiha for further reference.
My first encounter with Bleach was the first movie, Bleach: Memories Of No One. And I remember being so enamored by how good it was, with a simple plot that was executed beautifully. The way Rukia Kuchiki and Ichigo Kurosaki interacted with each other was so interesting.
And that’s exactly why I gave Bleach a try. Bleach, to me, combined the convoluted storytelling of One Piece with visuals that looked as good as Naruto Shippuden. Combine that with gorgeous fight choreography and Ichigo looking like a snacc? I was hooked.
Orange Range By Asterisk And Other Bangers:
Music plays a huge part in anime. From the opening theme song to the ending credits and the soundtrack amplifying the environment in the middle, you can’t have a good anime without it. And when I first heard Orange Range by Asterisk, the very first opening for Bleach’s anime, I knew I found something special.
It was my first time hearing a Japanese-specific opening after One Piece and Naruto getting their dubbed themes and it was so different. It was ambient and cool without being loud. It fit the more mature theme of the show while keeping it fresh. It’s still one of my most replayed tracks on Spotify.
The soundtrack for Bleach on a whole is great, and that first opening was just the tip of the iceberg.
Sōsuke Aizen: One Of The Best Shonen Villains Of All Time!
So, no article about Bleach’s hype can go by without mentioning Sōsuke Aizen, one of the best-written antagonists in Shonen history. And I fully stand by that.
Aizen was a multi-faceted villain with more than just a hollow need for power that motivated him. He was so beloved by Soul Society yet ended up betraying them still. And he did it all while being unsettlingly calm and collected.
And that cool demeanor is exactly what made him such a great foil to Ichigo. He was so caught up in what he believed was the right thing to do, that he would sacrifice multiple beings before admitting he was wrong. A villain like that was just not commonplace in Shonen yet.
Bleach anime was ahead of its time while being severely underrated. And Tite Kubo, the mangaka, deserves his accolades. But now, maybe we’ll see it rise again!