Is Bleach Anime Good in 2022?

Now that the Bleach Anime return is going to happen, many are wondering: is Bleach Anime good? Should you be watching? Is Bleach worth watching in anticipation of the 1000-Year Blood War Arc slated to come in October 2022? The original run ended back in 2012 and for many this simply means it’s old news. And certainly, it may not be the hot new thing just around the corner but there’s a catch there. Bleach has a unique history which led to some strange hiatuses for both the anime and the Bleach Manga. For this reason, I believe watching the Bleach Anime could be worth your time. Let me explain why I think the Bleach Anime is good to watch even in 2022.

What is Bleach Anime?

Bleach is originally a Manga series written and drawn by Tite Kubo. In Bleach, we follow the adventures of Ichigo Kurosaki, a high school student who can see spirits for as long as he can remember. Bleach was turned into an Anime in 2004 and ran up to 2012 for a total of 366 episodes. It was originally produced by Studio Pierrot, who is also producing the current Thousand Year Blood War Arc to be released in October 2022. The original Bleach anime run was immensely popular and considered among the “Big 3” of Shounen anime of the early 2000’s along with One Piece and Naruto Shippuden. Naruto had a much longer run, only concluding in 2017 while the venerable One Piece is still running at the time of this writing. Bleach suffered a less flattering fate. After mixed receptions about the last arc aired, viewership dwindled. This caused the show to be cancelled after the conclusion of the Fullbring Arc, leaving fans who didn’t read the Manga with a wry taste in their mouths. The Manga suffered a similar fate, with Tite Kubo being forced to cut a story which (in his words) would take another decade to tell, short to just a year and then a couple of months to finish. Nevertheless, the story of Bleach wasn’t done in 2012 when the show ended. The Manga continued for several years more and the Bleach anime will return in 2022.

 

Is Bleach Anime Good? The grungy, punk art style is.

 

Bleach Anime Introduction (Non-Spoilerish)

Bleach tells the story of Kurosaki Ichigo, a 15-year-old high school student who can see and interact with ghosts. This leads him to meet Rukia, a “Shinigami” sent to protect living humans from evil creatures called Hollow. After failing to protect Ichigo’s family, Rukia is forced to pass her powers onto Ichigo and become a Shinigami himself. Together, they start dispatching the Hollows until Rukia is apprehended by her own kind and sentenced to death. Ichigo and his friends set out on an adventure to rescue Rukia.

Bleach is definitely catering to a large and young audience, being appealing to children as young as ten to young adults and new adults. Its story structure is quite linear, but with plenty of subtext and subplots. The viewer isn’t necessarily aware of what goes on behind the scenes (and what the main characters aren’t privy to). This leads to some great plot twists down the line, set up very well in advance. Kubo does a good job tying these overarching narratives together and you’ll find yourself binging arcs as you just want to find out what’s going to happen next at the end of every episode. Each Arc follows a similar pattern, in the same vein though not the same manner as Dragonball Z: a mysterious group shows up with nefarious plans, which Ichigo and friends (but mainly Ichigo) has to thwart. Often a foil group is introduced as well, additional good guys in opposition to the baddies and who, in some way, offer Ichigo a chance to grow his powers. You get a sense of Kubo’s true passion during the show, his love for creating interesting characters often stylized after punk or grunge stereotypes.

The art style sees significant improvement over the years. During the runtime of Bleach, computer power essentially doubled and you can see this technological shift in animation quality and most of all, rendering quality which went from 480p TV/DVD to 1080P HD over time. Kubo’s drawing style also has some slight but noticeable changes. When Bleach was first airing, he used a more 80’s urban Manga character style (think Akira but with bright colours everywhere). This has changed significantly to a more contemporary drawing style in 2009 and beyond.

What is good about Bleach Anime?

Here are a couple of reasons why Bleach Anime is good.

1. Lots of actions

Bleach is packed with action and never really sits still. Even if the protagonists aren’t actively fighting some new enemy, they’re fighting against the clock to get somewhere or solve some problem. You won’t be bored while watching Bleach.

2. Hero you root for

Ichigo isn’t a black-and-white personality. He’s relatable and a great friend to have. It’s easy to root for him and he has served as an example for an entire generation of young teens growing up.

3. Sinister plots

Bleach and in particular its villains are known to produce webs of intrigue and cunning plans. In many ways, the smartly designed villains in Bleach are the real plot pushers and make the story so alluring.

4. Epic villains

Be careful you don’t start rooting for the villains in Bleach. These are some of the best designs and most memorable characters you’ll come across. From tragic villains to downright manipulative sociopaths, you’ll find them all in Bleach. Some of the villains might not even be seen as traditionally “villainous”. And, some of the villains are on the side of the good guys. It’s kind of a grey area.

 

Is Bleach Anime Good? The villains are!

 

What is not so good about Bleach Anime?

We can recognise two distinct aspects of Bleach which even most staunch Bleach fans will agree on.

1. Repetitive Meta Narratives

Bleach is a Shounen and to be published, has to adhere to certain Shounen conventions. This means a rather predictable overarching, or meta-narrative if you will. Each arc is set up the same way: a mysterious happening occurs, a mysterious and nefarious group is behind it, Ichigo has to investigate, some other good-guys group is introduced as well, Ichigo gets stronger (through new-found powers through this new group) and finally Ichigo defeats the nefarious group. Rinse and repeat. In this way, the only things which change arc to arc are the characters comprising both new groups, the inciting incident and whatever McGuffin motivates either group and the new ceiling Ichigo’s power broke through. Inner-arc, the stories are quite enjoyable and can touch on rather deep topics from time to time. Another recurring theme is kidnapping, a classical damsel in distress trope.

 

2. Trash Tier Filler Arcs

You can skip all the fillers and you won’t miss a thing. Most of the fillers are mediocre and all but one saw only very limited involvement by Kubo himself. This will also cut down on the total viewing time to catch up for the new arc. The one notable exception Season 15, which is a filler arc but features some fan-favourite and long-awaited pair-ups (fights) which the viewership was denied earlier in the series. Most importantly, the great battle between Captain-Commander Yamamoto and his two direct subordinates (arguably the three most powerful characters in existence when put together). We’ve included a Bleach Season summary and a Bleach Anime filler list here.

 

Conclusion: Is Bleach Anime Good in 2022?

Bleach is still an enjoyable anime, even for the first-time viewer. If you’re waiting for the final Thousand Year Blood War Arc in October 2022, and want to watch Bleach before that, you won’t be disappointed.

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