I’m sure every Bleach fan has had a love-hate relationship with the anime because of its long run. The majority of the hate, of course, comes from the long and tired filler arcs stuffed into the show when the anime catches up with the manga. While the length of the show is starting to annoy me I can’t help but continue to watch and be excited by the latest episodes. The main reason: The formula has never changed.
From the start of the show we were always treated with new powers and foreshadowing at what will be coming long time down the road. Those two elements have kept the show alive and popular for years now. Back during the first season what we knew of Soul Society were the stories that Rukia told Ichigo. But in the next arc the world that Rukia only described briefly slowly gets revealed as the heroes slowly creep their way into the fortress and start to fight the Shinigami. Each new Shinigami fight brought new powers and a new interesting dynamic to the way the combat of Bleach works.
Unfortunately the discovery aspect of Bleach is mostly gone. During Hueco Mundo the feelings of suspense due to the interesting battles was still there but each fight felt like a pale shadow of one already done earlier in the show. The feeling of uncovering the universe was gone because Hueco Mundo was painfully uninteresting compared to the rich world and characters of Soul Society.
Now that we are entering what should be the final arc, the battle with Aizen, I was hoping for a speedy end with a few cool fights. But instead of that I’m starting to see some part of the original Bleach returning. The arrival of the Vizzard, not a spoiler since it was established way over a year ago that they were on their way, has seen the unifying of story elements left scattered throughout the after-soul society Bleach. As all these elements fall into place I realize exactly what happened to Bleach: Tite Kubo dreamed too big.
Looking at the size of the story he created with the number of characters it is amazing he was able to pull off anything as satisfying as he did. But he did bring everything together, very much like he did at the end of the Soul Society arc; he just did it in such a large way that the audience became completely lost in minor fight after minor fight and became unable to see the bigger picture of the Bleach story.
But now what all of these side plots, character relationships, and final hidden powers of the Shinigami captains are being revealed and coming to satisfying climaxes I have to say the time it took to get to this point was worth it. The filler wasn’t, but I am willing to ignore that aspect of the show for now. The length of time used to tell the story aids even the smallest of events in order to make them appear spectacular and without them those rushes of excitement when a villain reveals a new, more powerful, attack would be lost.
Were many of those small, minor fights needed for this effect? No, they were mostly a waste of time which is why I say that the weakness of the post-soul society Bleach comes from Kubo’s failing to keep the audience focused on the bigger picture. He set up plots and characters masterfully and then ignored them in order to pad the series.
The effect of the return of the Vizard and clashing of all the build up to this point would have definitely gone for nothing if Kubo didn’t take the time to set all the pieces into place. But Kudo needs to be more discerning when plotting out the story. Everything that has happened for far this season has been well worth the wait, but there is no reason why the audience was forced to wait for a satisfying resolution to these story arcs.
I look forward to the end of the Bleach anime. I’m still too stubborn to switch to the manga. Unfortunately, it seems I’ll be waiting a long time for either of them to come to their ends as Kudo doesn’t show any signs of stopping despite having Aizen take the battlefield over fifty episodes ago, not including filler! Ah well, I guess Bleach will guarantee a half hour of dumb fun every week for the next few years.
What do you say? Is the current arc in Bleach satisfying? Have you given up on Bleach altogether or just switched to the manga? I’d like to hear your opinions in the comments.