It’s no secret that Bleach and I have a tumultuous relationship, one minute I regard it in the same disgust as I do a sticky, smelly, stroppy infant, the next, I am deeply in love with it. Right now I’ve entered into a, doubtless brief, period of infatuation with the show; this is largely to do with the fact that Ichigo’s really being put through the wringer right now. I mean, he’s in some seriously deep shit! To the average reader, it may seem as though I dislike Ichigo but, they couldn’t be more wrong, I actually think he’s a great character! So, why do I revel in his misfortunes to the extent I do?
Ichigo is a brilliant protagonist in that I can imagine a lot of younger boys regard him as something of a hero- he’s smart, popular, attractive, (even when you take his hair into consideration) and almost unreasonably strong, right from the very first episode. If I were a guy, I’d kill to be like Ichigo. But, from my more critical point of view, he’s almost too perfect. As he started off with all of these desirable characteristics, his character hasn’t been given much room to develop and it’s all too easy to forget that he’s not immortal and has limitations. So, when he’s faced with a seemingly undefeatable opponent and is, subsequently, roughed up a bit, it’s incredibly satisfying as we’re reminded of the above fact. I find Ichigo’s at his most endearing when he’s near death.
And the obvious consequence of being reminded that Ichigo, too, can die is that the show immediately becomes more exciting to watch! I have found that there is a positive correlation between the amount of peril Ichigo is in and my adrenaline levels whilst watching the show. I mean, I’m not an idiot, I know the show’s not about to kill of its protagonist, at least, not until the final episode, (something I still don’t see happening- Bleach doesn’t have the balls to kill off a character that isn’t a villain) but, a particularly sticky situation still generates tension in that you have no idea how Ichigo’s gonna get out of it this time ‘round. For example, there was a recent episode in which Ichigo and his sister, Yuzu, was attacked by a Hollow, a Hollow which he couldn’t even see, let alone fight, and it was delicious! It highlighted just how powerless Ichigo was to protect those he cared about without his powers, something which he’d taken for granted throughout the previous 300-odd episodes, ramming up the tension to the max, making the show a lot more thrilling, overall.
But, perhaps the most sadistic reason I enjoy seeing Ichigo in trouble is that, it’s pretty darn funny! Sometimes nothing’s funnier than watching a reasonably self-assured character being taken out of their comfort zone, this definitely applies here! And think of me what you will but, there was something incredibly amusing about the fact that before he started training with Ginjo to activate Fullbring, Orihime was of more use than him! Yeah, Orihime, the girl who spent roughly 60 episodes, (excluding filler) doing jack but being slapped about by Aizen’s hoes. Hmm, maybe I shouldn’t be so mean to Orihime- I quite like her too!