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Bleach Ending : Everything you need to know
The anime Bleach, stylized as BLEACH, won many hearts by the end of its 12 years long run. Yet, when it concluded in 2012, it left fans with mixed feelings.
Many felt that the anime did not get the ending that it deserved. The conclusion seemed rushed, and since the anime halted before the manga, fans could not see the ending of the manga on screen.
It is important to note that the disappointment surrounding Bleach’s ending was quite widespread. The series is one of the mainstream animes.
This means that it garnered immense popularity, not just in Japan, but at a global level. The anime stands on the same level as the likes of Naruto and Dragon Ball Z.
With such a huge fanbase, it is natural that Bleach should have gotten an ending at par with its popularity.
As prospects of a sequel become clearer, we bring to you everything that you need to know about Bleach.
What Was Bleach All About?
Bleach is a shounen anime that aired between October 5, 2004, and March 27, 2012. The anime consists of 366 episodes spread across 16 seasons.
The storyline is based on the manga of the same name by Tite Kubo. However, the anime does see quite a lot of digressions and original, self-contained story arcs that are not a part of the manga series.
Bleach is set in a universe containing supernatural elements. It introduces us to Soul Reapers, known as Shinigami, who are afterlife soldiers.
These afterlife soldiers are responsible for fighting Hollows and helping wandering spirits move on from the World of the Living to the Soul Society.
Hollows are malevolent spirits out to harm humans as well as ghosts, and it is the responsibility of Soul Reapers to contain these evil entities.
The anime follows the adventures of Ichigo Kurosaki. Ichigo is a 15-years-old high school student living in the town of Karakura. What makes him special is his ability to see spirits.
The story begins when Ichigo encounters Rukia Kuchiki, a Soul Reaper. The two meet on Rukia’s quest to hunt down a Hollow, which leads her to Ichigo’s room.
Unfortunately for the Soul Reaper, she is badly wounded while trying to protect Ichigo from the Hollow.
With no option left, Rukia transfers her powers as a Soul Reaper to Ichigo. She entrusts him with the responsibility of being her substitute until she can recover her strength.
The storyline focuses on Ichigo’s struggle to maintain his newfound responsibilities as a Soul Reaper along with his life as a high school student.
However, things take a dramatic turn when Rukia is sentenced to death by the Soul Society for transferring her powers to a human.
Without the original Soul Reaper’s guidance, Ichigo is left to harness his newfound powers on his own. Soon, he discovers other students of his high school who are also spiritually aware.
Orihime Inoue is a fellow schoolmate possessing the protection of spirits called ‘Shun Shun Rikka’. Ichigo’s best friend, Yasutora “Chad” Sado, has the strength equal to that of the Hollows contained in his right, and sometimes his left, arm.
Finally, Uryu Ishida is a ‘Quincy’, meaning that he has the ability to control spirit particles. The four teenagers unite to save Rukia from her impending death.
As they move towards completing this mission, they fight many Hollows and even end up uncovering a great conspiracy regarding the Soul Society.
How Had Bleach Ended?
The original story arc of Bleach was almost brilliant. It had all the ingredients for a compelling story. No wonder the anime garnered enough popularity to be called one of the ‘Big Three’ in the genre of shounen anime!
There were certain flaws in it, and the story arc did become slightly sluggish towards the end.
However, overall it would still be considered a masterpiece in animes, not just because of the story but also because of the character development.
The Bleach manga had two main story arcs. While the first one earned the anime its popularity, the second one only pulled it down.
Apart from these two story arcs, the anime also had smaller story arcs interwoven into it which were not a part of the original manga series.
For many viewers, Bleach ended when the antagonist Aizen was defeated. His manipulative techniques and cunning tactics had resulted in a lot of fans hailing him as the ultimate anime villain.
The events leading up to his defeat did result in the anime becoming slightly sloppy.
This was because too many characters were introduced towards the end in an attempt to build up an epic final battle. The anime also ended up showing the ultimate cliche when Ichigo’s love interest, Orihime, got kidnapped by Aizen.
Yet, Aizen’s defeat left viewers with a sense of satisfaction and completion. The end of the story arc was further complimented by the fact that Ichigo lost his powers as a Substitute Soul Reaper when he defeated Aizen.
However, writer Tite Kubo did not end the manga series at this point and hence, the anime continued. The story went on and picked up at a time period two years after the defeat of Aizen.
It introduced us to another Substitute Soul Reaper, Kugo Ginjo, as well as a new set of beings called the Fullbringers.
Yet, this story arc did not hold the same thrill that the first one had. Kugo Ginjo proved to be a weakly written villain.
His defeat by Ichigo did not provide the same level of satisfaction, despite our beloved protagonist getting back his powers of a Soul Reaper.
It was at this point that the anime ended.
Was Ending the Anime a Good Move?
By the time it reached its conclusion, Bleach had lost the interest of a considerable chunk of its fans.
The plot had started seeming overstretched and almost repetitive. Concluding the anime at the point when Ginjo was defeated was definitely a smart move.
Though the manga was still going on, the anime’s messy storyline was becoming self-destructive.
Had the anime not been concluded, it might have permanently fractured its reputation as one of the most popular shounen anime series out there.
Bleach’s fall from grace had begun around the conclusion of its first story arc itself. The author Tite Kubo had developed an excellent antagonist in the form of Aizen.
He was cunning, manipulative, ruthless, scheming, and yet managed to retain a hypnotic aura around himself. In fact, Bleach’s shining character was not the protagonist Ichigo.
Fans adored the complex character development of Aizen more than anything. Yet, his perfection as an antagonist might also be one of the reasons behind the anime’s progressive sloppiness towards the conclusion of its first story arc.
The protagonist’s love interest had to be saved and the bad guy had to be defeated. Unfortunately, the author only saw one way to achieve this goal.
It was to introduce characters after characters in order to strengthen the numbers of those in favor of Ichigo.
These characters had little to no development and hence their introduction, actions, and deaths did not create much impact on viewers.
The ending of the first story arc was an amalgam of excessive fight scenes which were unable to create much impact. Yet, the initial development of the plot had been quite likable.
It softened the negative impact of this shaky ending and the overall plot left a sense of satisfaction among viewers.
However, with the beginning of the second story arc, the anime really lost its purpose. There were many loopholes that fans identified that made the plot hollow.
After all, why would Ginjo lay such an elaborate plan of having his own mind-altered, when he could simply do the same to Ichigo? There was also the fact that the Soul Society did not bother to check up on the hero that saved them for over two years.
Yet, when they needed him again, they were quick to provide him with the powers that he had sacrificed at the end of the first story arc.
The problem of insufficient character development further intensified in the second story arc. Gradually, this problem spread from the newer and relatively insignificant characters to even the main characters.
Gijo lacked the complexity that had made fans love Aizen. Why did he overcomplicate things and made an elaborate plan to accomplish his mission?
Simply because being able to achieve his goals in a straightforward manner was too boring!
As the series progressed, Bleach capitalized on all the insignificant portions and ignored the ones which had immense potential. It was discovered that Ichigo’s love interest, Orihime, possessed the ability to heal people by reversing the time in an isolated space.
Her low self-esteem and confidence weakened this ability, but there was so much potential to let her grow and master it. She might even have come to possess the impossible power of bringing people back from the dead.
Yet, Bleach ignored such developments of significant interest and focused on interpolations that failed to catch fan interests.
The self-completing story arcs that were not a part of the manga but were added to the anime could not improve its quality.
Overall, it was a very wise decision to end Bleach before the plot deteriorated too much.
Online Reactions for Bleach Ending
Online reactions tell a lot. We can decide by it that if there would be a sequel or not. We can also see how much fans liked the ending. Let's discuss everything in detail.
The above image is a screenshot of the trend for bleach ending. What do you see? You may have observed that there is a pick during august 2016.
Why is it like that? Some of you might have guessed. It's because during that period manga for bleach had its ending. After that people's interest in it has been declining and trailing to the channel of 2 to 11 percent of its peak value.
You will have a better understanding of why people have been losing their interest if you know how fans reacted to its ending.
Search in US and UK
People are searching a lot about bleach ending since 2015. Globally around 11k people search about it per month.
Bleach ending is most popular in the US. Around 8k people monthly search about bleach ending in the US. This number is quite good compared to other animes ending. But still, its ending was not satisfying due to the rush in character developments.
In Uk, it is second most popular after the US. Around 1k people monthly search about bleach ending in the UK. I know there is no comparison between 8k and 1k. Still, it is quite popular in the UK like this.
What Were Fan Reactions to Bleach’s Ending?
Fans did not take Bleach’s ending very well. The anime had secured a very dear position in the hearts of many.
After all, fans had followed Ichigo’s journey for a period of 12 long years. It was quite natural to feel almost outraged at the disappointing ending that Bleach received.
Following is the screenshot of an answer written by a fan of the anime on the question-and-answer platform, Quora. The disappointment of the fan is quite evident through his answer
Despite being disappointed over Bleach’s ending, many fans preferred it over having the anime continue with a bad storyline.
The anime had childhood nostalgia attached to it for many. It is quite natural for one to not want to see the ruin of a series so close to their heart.
For the fans who wanted to see the storyline continue, the manga did go on beyond the anime. That is what brings us to the scope of the anime receiving a sequel.
Will There Be a Sequel to Bleach?
As reiterated several times so far, the Bleach manga outlived the anime. As a result, the manga has a third story arc that fans never got to see as a part of the series.
This is the storyline of the Thousand Years Blood War where we see an interesting development in the dynamics of the friendships Ichigo shared.
Unfortunately, this third story arc did not receive good responses when it had been released as a part of the manga. The same problems of a rushed storyline with insufficient character development persisted throughout it.
Many reasons were speculated for the steady deterioration of the manga’s quality. Some believed that the magazine Shonen Jump in which the manga was serialized kept pushing author Tite for more content.
This could have been one of the reasons for the forced continuation of the plot. Another possible reason could be Tite’s deteriorating health over the years, which might have affected his work.
Whatever may be the reason, Bleach’s third story arc did not do the manga justice. Yet, announcements have been made of the anime getting a sequel in 2021 depicting this third story arc.
Another interesting development is that Tite Kubo’s one-shot manga called ‘Burn The Witch’ will also be getting an anime adaptation in 2021.
Set in the same universe as Bleach, the manga follows the story of a group of Soul Reapers which took place 12 years after the Thousand Years Blood War.
How Will The Possible Sequels Turn Out?
The situation for Bleach’s third story arc is not the best. The manga had not faired well and fans were quite disappointed with it.
However, the anime makers might still be able to revive the series. For that, they should be willing to make certain changes or additions to the storyline. Hopefully, these changes and additions will help the anime rather than harm it.
Regarding the anime adaption of Burn The Witch, fans can only hope that it allows them to thoroughly savor the enjoyment of watching the Bleach universe, instead of leaving a bitter taste in their mouths.