Revisiting Bleach as a Series: Three Years Later

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To all still here on the forum, it's been some significant time that's passed since the manga has finally finished (August 2016) and I thought it'd be fun to take a look back on it now that we've all grown as people, digested the information we know and accepted things for as they are given information that's come out about Kubo/WSJ, and analyze it now that we've all likely indulged in other mangas and series as well. This is essentially just a bunch of questions to stimulate conversation and to fill out:


1. What are your thoughts on Bleach as a series nowadays?


2. What things in Bleach aged well for you?


3. What things about Bleach have NOT aged well for you over time (that you dislike upon reminiscing)?


4. If you were to re-read the series, what kind of things would you look for upon re-reading it?


5. What three moments stand out to you now that a significant amount of time has passed?


6. What is a part of Bleach you wish you could have done differently?
 
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1. What are your thoughts on Bleach as a series nowadays?
Ans: Nowadays, it feels like a relic of past. There is not much Bleach content coming aside from the novels and the mobile game. I initially followed the games, but then quit it mainly because I am not really a big fan of that genre of gaming.

About the current thoughts, I feel like there is not really an alternative series that could replace it in a true way. The ideas could be similar(w.r.t. afterlife or seeing ghosts), but in terms of characterization and the interaction among characterization, it is still somewhat refreshing.

The fun part which makes me smile about it is how some characters were really goofy, and did silly things even some of the serious characters. So if it were to be equated with a real life, Bleach kind of feels like how teen years are. Those years feel silly and goofy, but they have their own charm.


2. What things in Bleach aged well for you?
I think the characters and some backgrounds. Places like Wahrwelt, Las Noches, Seireitei, Royal Realm, Human World(in Fullbring arc). Many people think Bleach is not really known for its backgrounds and I think Kubo himself said that he doesn't too much focus on the backgrounds so that reader would focus on characters' action(something like that), but for me, the themes have stuck with me.

I have completely forgotten many backgrounds from many other series, but somehow Bleach backgrounds and themes are still stuck in mind mainly because each world has its own pinnacle of its area. Las Noches for example was a pinnacle area of Hueco Mundo. And there were characters which were related to those pinnacle areas and some characters would want to overthrow and take charge. This created a sense of regime-change or in essence a change of system associated with the worlds. In other words, trying to change the status-quo.

The characters which tried to impact something within the series aged well for me. Characters which were underrated or which tried to do something beyond their capacities and tried to make a mark within the series are remembered.

3. What things about Bleach have NOT aged well for you over time (that you dislike upon reminiscing)?
Some waste of panels which served no purpose than to give readers some comedy. Of course some of the comedy made sense, but most of it was a waste of space and it could be used for story progression or some explanation of different pending things.

Another thing which has not aged well is some of Kubo's favourite characters getting more space repeatedly throughout the series. Most of that moments are forgotten in my mind , but I know they existed. Like giving Hitsugaya too much time or Mayuri. Surprisingly, those overused spaces for spotlights of that bias aged quickly for me.

4. If you were to re-read the series, what kind of things would you look for upon re-reading it?
If I were to re-read the series, I don't know because I would not re-read it from A to Z. But hypothetically, I would want to re-read some human world scenes, some characters interactions, and some fight scenes...

So to give an answer with reference to the question it would be:
---> Character-centric scenes. I might follow a certain character and try to read with reference to that character.
OR
---> Background/Theme-centric. I would follow a certain area and try to read what happened with reference to it.


5. What three moments stand out to you now that a significant amount of time has passed?
This is difficult, but I can't really rank them. It really depends on mood. Sometimes certain moments feel bland but on another day, those bland moments appear to be a bit refreshing.


6. What is a part of Bleach you wish you could have done differently?
In three words: "The Final Battle" w.r.t. Yhwach. I would extend the battle and would try to reach it to its full potential or its pinnacle than to prematurely spoil it.
 
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for me the final battle was very bad and ichigo need a new evolution not a simple shikai killing juhabach and the pairings at the end ichigo must be end with rukia not orihime
 
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1. What are your thoughts on Bleach as a series nowadays?

I still love it as a series, though not one that I would recommend to people. Part of the Bleach experience was the rabid fandom at the time, the weekly build up and hype, the discussion that made characters really come alive. I think if someone were to read it today it simply wouldn't mean as much to them as it does to us. And I feel like if someone were to start watching the anime or reading the manga, it'd probably be the kind of series they just don't really end up finishing.

I still think it does a lot of things well, and will compare scenes of it to other modern manga, but there's no way I put it at the top of my list in terms of "overall best". In my own mind it is because of bias, but I acknowledge that my attachment to it goes beyond just looking at it objectively.

2. What things in Bleach aged well for you?

A lot of the imagery aged well. Kubo's emphasis on drawing enormous, pretty, panels still stands up over time. And I know on multiple times I've said to friends, "here let me show you something cool" when it comes to connecting something I've seen to something Bleach has already done. The character designs have aged relatively well, since so many of them really ARE unique or iconic, and so I think Kubo's character design is still top tier in the industry.

3. What things about Bleach have NOT aged well for you over time (that you dislike upon reminiscing)?

The battles. Battles were great for a while, but given the percentage of the story just ended up being battles I think Kubo made a mistake on where he put his emphasis. Not enough time on the character interactions, or behind the scenes, or social interactions, and much more was just a "Battle of the Week" style. It's for that reason I think the Hueco Mondo arc is nigh unwatchable. It just ends up being a lot of standing around, and stationary frames, and really slow pacing, because the transition from big pretty panels to actually animating it wasn't effective. The anime feels incredibly dated and formulaic, and not something I think many anime fans would look back on and say "yeah that's a good thing about it."

4. If you were to re-read the series, what kind of things would you look for upon re-reading it?

Facial expressions. Entirely. This was one of those things where when I was first reading Bleach, I'd focus more on the text, but not enough on the small panels of character movement/expression. It wasn't until reading the final arc that I realized Kubo doesnt write speech bubbles or thought bubbles, he displays it on their faces and body language. And I wish I could read some of the earlier bits of the series through that perspective so I could better understand some of them.

5. What three moments stand out to you now that a significant amount of time has passed?

I could honestly make this its own thread. If I had to think of "Top 3" moments though.... Off the top of my head the Hitsugaya stabbing Momo reveal (Ichigo's "WHAT ARE YOU DOING" moment), the Dangai Ichigo arrival moment, and honestly just the colletion of "Bankai" reveals in the Final Arc. Although the Final Arc underwhelmed, my goodness when I think of some of the Bankai reveals I think the majority of them are INCREDIBLY hype and high moments for not only the characters but for the series (Shunsui's, Komamura's, Yamamoto's, Kenpachi's, Hitsugaya's, etc). Just genuinely fun and wonderfully drawn moments.

6. What is a part of Bleach you wish you could have done differently?

Adding an additional final arc. One of my biggest pet peeves with Bleach is that it is just so "arc" centric with very little overarching storytelling. I've realized now that the storyline was never Kubo's largest emphasis or priority. But I genuinely was hoping for a Soul King arc, following up the Quincy invasion, that would not only tie together Aizen's initial rebellion, but give more exposition to Ywach's motivations, why the "Balancer's Justice" was so thematic, and this whole hype of the "The Soul King has eyes for Ichigo" sort of thing. That lack of start to finish plotline is INCREDIBLY rare, if not nonexistent, in most mediums both Eastern and Western, so I think I tend to be unfulfilled because narratively it's just SO weak and uncreative.
 
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1. What are your thoughts on Bleach as a series nowadays?
One of the most iconic anime of all time and one of the better battle shonen manga that there is.
I was kinda mad the way the series ended, but on hindsight the series could've ended before Yhwach reshaped the Soul Palace, because of Kubo's bad health. We wouldn't even have gotten epic stuff like Shunsui's Bankai or adult Hitsugaya.


2. What things in Bleach aged well for you?
The presentation and art. A lot of people hated the big panels and close eye shots, shots of footsteps etc. but to me it was an unique style and when reading more chapters at once it felt like watching the anime. I think in terms of style and presentation Bleach is one of the best. Jojo stands at top of them all in that department though.

The timing of comedy became much better as well.

3. What things about Bleach have NOT aged well for you over time (that you dislike upon reminiscing)?
Generic repeating characters like the Bambi squad/Harribel's Fracciones, Thunderwitch/Riruka or Pepe.


4. If you were to re-read the series, what kind of things would you look for upon re-reading it?

I only watched the anime, so I would probably try to notice the differences. I heard the first arc has big differences.

5. What three moments stand out to you now that a significant amount of time has passed?
There are to many hype and holy shit moments in the series. My top 3 would probably be:
1. Aizen plot twist
2. Dangai Ichigo arriving
3. Zangetsu being Yhwach in Masaki's backstory

6. What is a part of Bleach you wish you could have done differently?
Ofcourse the last 10 chapters or so. It needed at least 50 chapters to reach a good conclusion, but we all know the reason.

Other than that less stupid moments like Ukitake getting stabbed by Wonderweiss despite being one of the strongest captains. Or Shinji getting taken out by Bambi in a stupid way.
 
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1. What are your thoughts on Bleach as a series nowadays?

It is my favourite manga/anime. There is no series of this kind that comes even close. In spite of some aspects I am not fond of I will always be a big fan. I don't think this will ever change.

Especially when looking at the last arc I am left with bittersweet feelings. Because of Tite Kubo's health problems, it is obvious that it has been cut severely. We were left with a skeleton of a story and a focus on Tite Kubo's favourite characters. Aspects that should have had much more attention were paying the price. I can imagine, if Tite Kubo would have been able to tell his story in full and with plenty of time, Bleach would be even more of a remarkable story than it already is.


2. What things in Bleach aged well for you?

First of all the artwork. I also like Tite Kubo's early Bleach art but in time it grew more and more impressive. I like life like art and especially facial expressions as well as body language. I am amazed how Tite Kubo can tell so much with his art sometimes - moments when words would even dilute the impact of the image. Sometimes an image can indeed say more than a lot of words. When I read Bleach, when I watch certain moments I can immerse myself into the imagery which can be a powerful experience.

What I also love about Bleach is the world building. Bleach can be enjoyed as a good adventure series but when you look deeper under the surface, it is very complex and thought provoking. Even today, I sometimes find new aspects to think about. I developed deep emotional connections with several characters. What happens to them matters to me, a lot.

At times Tite Kubo plays with art, adding abstract elements and sometimes he also plays with language. It is fun and it is interesting. I haven't seen this in any other manga or anime.


3. What things about Bleach have NOT aged well for you over time (that you dislike upon reminiscing)?

Looking back I can see a mixed picture. Frankly, a Bleach without Kon and especially without the Quincy girl group would have been better. Ichigo treated them like a joke and didn't take them seriously - and I don't blame him at all. Instead I would have preferred it to have a strong female Quincy, meaning Haschwalth's partner, as a main character in that arc, someone not only me but also Ichigo could respect, someone who would be a serious oppent but with the potential to become a friend.

I admit it, this is also the Uryuu Ishida fan in me speaking, but what I found frustrating throughout the series is that he was never allowed to fight at Ichigo's side on Ichigo's level and was only allowed to shine as a fighter and fighting character when Ichigo was not able to see it. It mainly happened on the dome but also when fighting Ginjou, when Uryuu only got in the way because he was struggling with his health. I don't think Uryuu would have been allowed back to the world of the living with his powers but I think he also lost them because he was not allowed to outshine Ichigo. HE has to save Rukia and the most important fights are his.

In the last arc, only Orihime trusted Uryuu. The Soul Society was invaded by Quincies and nobody was thinking, we could get intelligence from the Ishidas. And on the last colour spread Uryuu is sitting alone among his friends. Sad.

I think I understand the ending of Bleach in spite of so much missing but what bothered me more is Aizen in this part. I miss the necessary background, not so much the "how" but the "why". Having this mass murderer suddenly playing good guy, it didn't sit well with me.

I agree with the observations about the Winter War. It has some really good parts but the formula "let's have a collection of A vs. B battles so that everyone has something to do and to show" is not a pattern I like. As I keep saying, if Aizen's whole group would have attacked as one force and obliterated the posts, he would have won easily. But no, everybody waited in line until it is his or her turn.


4. If you were to re-read the series, what kind of things would you look for upon re-reading it?

Also today, I am focusing on my favourite parts of Bleach. This is the Soul Society arc and especially Uryuu vs. Mayuri. I love the dome story. I also like the last arc very much and just skip most parts with the femritters.


5. What three moments stand out to you now that a significant amount of time has passed?

Aizen's betrayal, Uryuu vs. Mayuri, Yamamoto vs. Yhwach


6. What is a part of Bleach you wish you could have done differently?

Maybe this is a reason why there is no new anime so far because I believe that the last arc would need to be rewritten and extended in many places. I also think that Bleach needs a proper aftermath. This war must have consequences. I want to see them.
 
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