I remember when I was first introduced to Bleach. It was just before I entered the university, a time when all I breathed were Naruto and Samurai X. I had heard great reviews about it and was really eager to start watching it. So badly, that I went through great lengths to watch it. I didn’t have a laptop then, so I’d always go to my friend, Tope, who had many episodes of the anime and use his laptop to convert about 20 episodes of Bleach per day to watch on my Nokia 2700 classic then. Note that this was shortly before the Blackberry era, and I have to say, I enjoyed the life out of Bleach.
Bleach has everything that you’d expect from a fantasy anime that runs for that long, especially since it was part of the “Big 3” alongside Naruto and One Piece. But in retrospect, there were many things wrong with Bleach. Things that actually reduces the quality of the overall story in my eyes.
Poor Character Development
Bleach had a lot of characters as one would expect, but due to the fact that almost all the characters (team Ichigo and the various squads of the Soul Society) had to feature in all the arcs, there were too many characters that didn’t develop at all or had too rushed a development, it ended up not amounting to anything at all. For example, Sado, Ishida, Inoue, Captain Komamura, Vice-Captain Hisagi, Madarame, and many more characters, all had too little character developments that saw them never defeat any opponent worthy of being remembered. There were also characters who never grew or amounted to anything. The same way they were at the beginning was how they were at the end of Bleach, which in retrospect, is quite sad.
Ichigo’s Strange Power Upgrades
First of all, I agree that Ichigo didn’t choose to have the responsibility of being a Soul Reaper, it was more or less something he had to do to save those important to him. However, there were problems with the main character of the series. To start with, how is it possible for Ichigo to defeat Kenpachi with just his Shikai, and ‘defeat’ Byakuya with just his Bankai (I put defeat in quotes because I feel Byakuya allowed him win so that he could save Rukia), and then lose to almost every other opponent he fought after that. Defeating Kenpachi with just a Shikai alone was good until we saw how truly powerful Kenpachi really was after that fight, same with Byakuya.
Then there is the problem of Ichigo using plot devices to win every battle. He first meets his opponent and loses the first fight, then goes back to get a new power or power upgrade to defeat that opponent. You would think that after that, he’ll be powerful enough to use his new found technique to win, but he loses against the next opponent and then gets a new power to defeat him. It was the same with his fight against Renji, Byakuya, Aizen, Grimmjow, Ulquiorra, Ywach, and even filler episodes as well. It really brings to mind the question of “is Ichigo actually strong without main-character plot device?”
The Weak Captain Commander
His arc and fight were actually short, but with all the experience at his disposal, he lost his fights in very amateur ways. His fight against Aizen and the fake Ywach ended in very disgraceful ways for someone who everyone thought was the strongest in the series. Compared to what you’d expect from a leader, he mostly stood behind to watch the battles unfold around him and he never got involved until it was almost too late. And his involvement was always cut short by the fact that he didn’t fight like an experienced commander, considering the fact that the people he really beat were lackeys. He never defeated any “big boss”.
Characters Dying For No Reason
Coming back to the plot device, all of a sudden, we were told that Unohana was the former Kenpachi and Zaraki had to defeat her to finally know the name of his Zanpaktou and release his Shikai, just so he could defeat the threats. It was really strange because it was just like Unohana died for no reason. we never got to see her fight until she fought Zaraki, and after that, she was lost forever.
Also, Ukitake sacrificed his life to keep the balance after Ywach killed “The King”, and we never got to see his Bankai, which I admit is a personal beef because I really looked forward to seeing the Bankais of Kyoraku, Ukitake, and Yamamoto, which were rumoured to be able to break soul society. Well, I saw two out of three, that’s something.
All I can say about Ywach is, how can someone who sees the future and every possible combination be outdone by Aizen’s Kyoka Suigetsu? How didn’t he see that? The possibility of Aizen using his illusion technique would have been obvious for someone who could see everything that will happen in the future. Is Kyoka Suigetsu that strong to alter precognitive abilities?
Those are the major things I noticed that were wrong with Bleach. However, it doesn’t remove anything from the fact that Tite Kubo’s Bleach is still one of the most interesting animes out there.