So, after just over 7 years, (of which I’ve been following it for just under 3 of those years) Bleach has finally drawn to a close, and in such a spectacularly bad fashion! Actually, it wasn’t awful, it was just really anticlimactic, definitely not the kind of epic finale I’d envisioned when I first started Bleach all them years ago. I definitely consider myself among those fans who think they should have rounded things off after Aizen’s defeat. But, enough of that- I’m sure there’s plenty of bitching about the finale across the net right now so, instead I thought I’d say goodbye to Bleach in my own way: by listing some of the things it did well, the things I’ll miss the most now that it’s over.
OK, perhaps my first reason as to why Bleach was enjoyable is more of a personal one but, I’m sure it’s one shared by many as I know for I fact I’m not alone in using one of the ‘Big 3’ to ease myself into anime. Bleach was one of my first ever shows, (my 15th, I think) and, as with all the other shows I started ‘back in the day’ I look back on starting it with a certain fondness and I’m sure, in a few years, I’ll look back on finishing it with equal fondness, conveniently forgetting all of the strife it has caused me. You see, when you spend so much time watching a show, you begin to attach sentimental value to it, even if it has caused you a lot of unnecessary pain over the years.
Another aspect of Bleach that made it enjoyable was actually how funny it was, this was brought about by a combination of things: firstly, how eccentric some of its characters were and how bizarrely out of context said characters acted in certain situations, e.g. how laidback Urahara was throughout the entire series, even when fighting enemies and how gay Soi Fon was for Yoruichi, (can you blame her?) secondly, its ability to never take itself too seriously. Bleach dedicated many episodes to sheer silliness, some of these episodes being more enjoyable than others. One of the more enjoyable ‘silly episodes’ was the episode the Shinigami Women’s Association, (and a few tag-alongs) went to the beach- not only was there, (inevitable) tentacle grope-age and characters acting out-of-character, this episode also marked the birth of the ingenious invention ‘boob buckets’. Whilst utterly ridiculous, I quite enjoyed episodes like these; they provided a refreshing break from the usual shounen-y angst. And whilst people often complain about these filler episodes interrupting the main storyline, that’s actually a source of humour in and of itself- there’s just something inherently funny about the high-octane, super-powered canon plotline being interrupted to air an episode where they all go to the beach, or play football. No show trolls its viewers quite like Bleach!
Something else I’ll miss now that I’m no longer watching Bleach is its OST. Now, Bleach was pro at cracking out amazing OPs, 4 of which, (Asterisk, Rolling Star, Velonica and Change) are proud contenders on my list of favourite OPs. The only other shows to have had such a high success-rate in terms of the number of openings it has and the number of openings I like are the Zetsubou-sensei shows. But, it’s not just the OP themes I loved, (which are, admittedly, awesome through a combination of both amazing songs and amazing visuals) but, the BGM. Nothing captures the precariousness of a situation quite like a whole bunch of overly-entusiastic violins, nothing says “I’m awesome” quite like having your own personal soul singer strike up every-time you turn a situation around on its head and nothing quite captures the badness of a situation quite like a Gregorian chant consisting of nothing but “Eeeviiil”. Yes, much like everything else in Bleach, the BGM was silly and over-the-top but, boy was it ever adept at capturing the energy of a scene!
But, I’ll miss how kickass Bleach could be at times even more so. I’ve always said, when Bleach was bad, it was awful but, when it was good, it was freakin’ insane! The Soul Society arc is still one of the most exciting things I’ve experienced whilst watching anime- so much to lose in terms of what would’ve happened if Ichigo and co. had failed, so many new characters introduced, so many amazing fights, one helluva plot-twist… I was in a permanent state of near-euphoria all throughout that arc, and to this date, I’ve never experienced anything quite like it! But, that wasn’t the only time Bleach has given me ‘The Rush’. Ichigo vs. Ulquiorra, wow. Episode 272 was so exciting, so thrill-inducing; I watched it twice that day, consecutively! Then there was that time the Vizards appeared out of nowhere to take on Aizen, Gin, Kaname and the remaining Espada the summer of ’10. I was so excited, were I elderly, I may have weed myself a little. I don’t know about you guys but, I’m already mourning the loss of the consistent highs Bleach gave me!
However, what I’m gonna miss the most about Bleach isn’t its OST, how funny it was or how kickass it was but, it’s zany cast of characters, which I loved on a number of different levels. I loved the sheer number of characters- it meant there was, literally, a character to suit every taste, the number of strong, female characters there were, (something which is always refreshing to find in any anime, let alone a Shounen Jump adaptation, where subservient girls are the norm) of which the suspicion that Kubo is a bit of a feminist was born and the relationships between many of the characters. I loved how tsundere Rukia and Ichigo and Shinji and Hiyori were for each other- they both made excellent comedy duos, Soi Fon’s big lesbian crush on Yoruichi and how Yoruichi used that to her advantage, again, very funny, the obvious chemistry between Yoruichi and Urahara, (it’s love, I swear) who I had a whale of a time shipping and the strange partnership of Kenpachi and Yachiru to name but a few of my favourite relationships. But, perhaps most of all I loved Bleach’s villains. Bleach knew how to create an excellent villain! Whilst terrifying at first, over time each of the Espada were given a dash of humanity, (it was later revealed they each represented an aspect of death, which would explain this) making them seem so much less evil and actually manipulating me into feeling pity towards them, especially Ulquiorra who I had a bit of a soft spot for! Nevertheless, Aizen was the crowning villain, not just because of his strength but, because of his personality. Almost until the end he had no aspect of humanity whatsoever- he was apathetic, rarely showing emotion, he felt nothing for discarding his ‘allies’ and possessed a knowledge that made him seem practically omniscient, making him impossible to relate to, on any level. You couldn’t help but despise, and admire him for being such a magnificent bastard, at the same time. Yes, Bleach’s characters were something else…
Oh Bleach, it’s been quite a ride. Sure, at times you were spectacularly shit but, there was plenty you did do right too! So, let’s not remember you for your poor finale, tendency to troll or even your filler, let’s remember you for the things you did do well, the things I’ve rambled far too long about in this post. Maybe we’ll see you around sometime but, if not, sayonara~!