He’s got his father’s hair and his mother’s eyes.

10 Years Later:

So here we are at the end of Bleach. After spending most of yesterday trying (and failing) to avoid spoilers and hoping the chapter would be released quicker than expected, it’s finally arrived and it still doesn’t feel real. I can already sense waves of disappointment across the internet as fans of certain pairings cry out for the injustices committed here, or from those who are genuinely pissed that so many key details were not explained. Thankfully, I don’t have anything to complain about for the former, but as for the latter… there is plenty to discuss, but just as much to keep in mind before pointing fingers. Tite Kubo gets a lot of hate for what he does, but anyone with a lick of sense would be able to tell this wasn’t how the final chapters of Bleach were supposed to play out. But they did – we have to accept that, and hopefully you can appreciate this chapter for what it did give us.

As expected, this time around we cut back to the human world and see what everyone else is up to 10 years later. Last chapter gave us the shinigami characters, this time we have Ichigo and most of his friends. Some important faces are missing, but I’ll touch on that later. What we do see is plenty of new appearances: Ichigo has short hair, Yuzu and Karin are in their early twenties and Karin has shown some (character) development, Chad is a good-looking heavyweight boxer, and Keigo, Mizuiro, and Tatsuki look much the same. They aren’t the most important characters, but it’s good to see them one last time.

Juha’s final words on the inevitability of death.

Wrapping up Juha Bach:

Back at Soul Society we touch on the Juha Bach reiatsu situation. There were plenty of theories popping up after that final reveal last week: Was it Ichigo? Who is the new Soul King? Has Aizen activated his perfect hypnosis and fooled everyone? Is this set-up for a sequel series? As it turns out, it really was just the remnants of the Quincy King’s power popping up 10 years later. This isn’t setting up for anything new, as it’s all quickly put to bed in this chapter. We get a flashback to the moment Ichigo and Aizen defeated Juha Bach – which is much appreciated – and we finally get Juha Bach’s end game. After all this time, we suspected he just wanted to wreak havoc on the worlds, but he confirms here that his goal was to fuse all the worlds together to create one: a realm where death wouldn’t exist and there would be no need for fear.

All things considered, I think this a pretty decent explanation for Juha’s goals. I don’t think anyone could have predicted the exact details, but it makes enough sense that he would go against everything we’ve seen about reincarnation in the series and try to change everything to fit his vision. He tries to shift the blame to Ichigo for working so hard to make sure that people will still have to suffer death; the cycle goes on forever, which is either a good or bad thing depending on how you look at it. Personally, I don’t think Ichigo should feel that guilty. Starting existence from scratch could prove to a bad move in the long run, especially with someone like Juha Bach at the helm of the movement. I’d say Ichigo did the right thing.

One last tease for the Ichiruki shippers.

The Shipping War:

But who cares about the final details? Let’s talk about what really matters: Shipping! That’s right… the winners are… IchiHime and RenRuki! As someone who shipped both of them (although not to the point of obsession) from the very beginning, I’m satisfied with that outcome. A few years ago, I never would have thought these are the pairings we’d get, but it seemed obvious once we were mid-way through the final arc when the respective characters were paired together for most of their storylines. Ichigo and Orihime got to fight Juha Bach together, and Rukia and Renji had plenty of scenes throughout the war – not only that but RenRuki was practically confirmed a month or so back when he thanked Ichigo for bridging the gap between them after all those years apart. It’s sweet, and both pairings make sense to me.

Passionate IchiRuki shippers are already lashing out at Kubo for this outcome, as if they were betrayed and he went against his own story. People are free to feel that way, but those people should also remember that there has never been a romantic storyline between Ichigo and Rukia – sorry to break it to you, but there has never been confirmed feelings one way or another. What we did get was both Renji and Orihime’s one-sided love, and since no other options were developed throughout the series, it only makes sense that those are the final pairings. You can link to all the colour spreads of Ichigo and Rukia and complain that there were so many hints of their bond… but that bond wasn’t romantic. It was important for a large part of the series, but I always saw them aa friends and I’m glad that’s how it concluded. At the end of it all, we’ve got the confirmed pairings – love them or hate them, both couples are together and have children. They fucked, they presumably love each other. It’s endgame, folks.

The Death…

Unanswered Questions:

And now we come to inevitable unanswered questions, of which there are many. I was already prepared to leave off with lots of details unexplained ever since the final countdown was announced. Even if Kubo was given sufficient time to wrap up the series at his own pace, I find it hard to believe he would have answered everything – very few series manage such a feat. But when he was forced so quickly at the end, what can you expect? All those shikais and bankai reveals aren’t that big of a deal, as we got most of the important ones in the final year of publication; all the others can be left to your own imagination, so do with that what you will.

But there are plenty of concrete details that haven’t been touched upon, with the most vital one being: Who is the new Soul King? Without one, there can seemingly be no balance to the realms. We get no explanation for that, for the status of the Royal Guard, or the background information to Juha Bach. Was he really the son of the Soul King? Why did the limbs of the Soul King turn against him? What was Ichigo’s final bankai able to do at the end of it all? Where are Isshin and Ryuuken? Were Urahara, Yoruichi, Grimmjow, and Neliel all really killed by Askin? We won’t ever get answers to these things – unless we get another databook down the road – so we’ll just have to live with that.

But hey, at least we got one answer! It turns out that big announcement was not for the return of the anime or a sequel manga, but confirmation for a live action Bleach film coming out in 2018. I’m pretty sure no one wanted this, but that’s what we’re getting. I’ll check it out at the very least, but I’m still disappointed that we didn’t get something better. I would have even preferred a databook or artbook over this…

… and the Strawberry.

The New Generation:

People are going to compare this ending to Naruto, but finishing off a long-running series with the kids of the main cast has been done before Naruto and will continue to be done after. As a fan of Ichigo, Orihime, Rukia, and Renji, it feels good seeing their kids interacting in a similar fashion to how Ichigo and Rukia first met. Abarai Ichika looks cute yet if this chapter is anything to go by then she may have her father’s bullying tendencies, and Rukia doesn’t seem so concerned about changing that just yet. As for Kurosaki Kazui, he’s got his father’s hair and his mother’s eyes, and him sealing Juha at the end means he’s either the most powerful being in the series capable of immense feats (which is believable considering Ichigo can literally do everything, and Orihime has the ability to reject God’s will); he inherited some great powers and while some aren’t happy with how quickly he finished off Juha’s power in this final chapter, it is what it is.

And just like that, it ends. Ichika and Kazui introduce themselves to one another in a familiar and nostalgic fashion. Ishika is a gotei apprentice and Kazui is presumably a Substitute Shinigami like his father. Not only that, but the hilt of his blade bears a striking resemblance to Tensa Zangetsu. If anything, this feels like perfect set-up for a sequel following the adventures of these two kids. I’d be down with that, but this also feels like the true end of Bleach. It came far too soon, and many questions were left unanswered, but I’m strangely happy after this chapter. I’m not breaking down into tears like I initially expected – it’s good that we got a happy ending, and that we’ve seen the new generation of shinigami in Ichika and Kazui. My pairings worked out in the end, we got a reveal for Juha’s endgame, there was classic Bleach gags here and there, and we finished with the classic “Death and Strawberry” title.

Though this time it’s not Rukia and Ichigo it refers to, but rather Ichika and Kazui. It’s not the ending I, or many others, predicted, but it’s fitting given the circumstances. It calls back to the early greatness of Bleach and even has me a little hopeful that we could see these kids in action again someday.

That’s all I’ve got to say for this final chapter, but I’ve got plenty more to talk about below. If you wish to read my final impressions of the entire Bleach manga, then I encourage you to do so (and the my final final thoughts are at the very bottom). It’s a series close to my heart and I had a lot to say. I’d also recommend listening to the selected tracks below as you read my impressions. Hopefully it will take you back to those classic moments and it will truly feel like the end has arrived. Even as I type this up, it’s still hard to believe I won’t be able to write about Bleach next week or perhaps ever again. It’s truly saddening. But I’ve enjoyed every step of the way and hopefully my final words express clearly why I love Bleach so much. That may not be a popular opinion anymore, but I don’t care – I love it, and I’m going to miss it dearly.


Series Overview:

Where it all began.

Recommended listen: “~Asterisk~” by Orange Range

Forewarning: This is not meant to be a critical review. This is mainly my impressions – a nostalgia trip of sorts. It’s a time to look back at the fond memories I have of my favourite and most formative manga and speak honestly about why I love it so much, and why it will always have a place in my heart. If you’re expecting a breakdown of all the flaws of the series then you’re not going to find that here. This post is for the Bleach fans – whether you were once a fan or still are to this day; there were no doubt plenty of moments that you loved about this series, no matter how it has reached its conclusion.

For me, my Bleach journey began in late 2007. I was sitting behind a friend in class and I mentioned I’d started watching Death Note (dubbed, may I add), and was telling her about how I might get into anime. This girl who knew next to nothing about anime or manga then turned around and said: “Have you ever heard of Bleach?”. I said “No”, and then she told me to try it out. She hadn’t actually watched it, she said, but she knew people who had liked it and so that was her recommendation. I went home after school that day and suffice to say, I discovered my gateway anime. I loved every single episode and marathoned all of Soul Society arc within a few days. I remember staying up until ridiculous hours of the night watching on as Johnny Yong Bosch screamed Ichigo’s lines with such passion that I can still remember the English dub of the series fondly. Of course, in hindsight, watching with subtitles provided the best viewing experience, but I knew diddly squat about anime back then, and what I’d just uncovered felt like the best thing in the world.

The moment I discovered main characters can experience true defeat.

Recommended listen: “On the Precipice of Defeat”

The first 17 or so episodes of the anime were great fun. I’m sure many of us look back at them fondly; those were simpler times when every episode had a nice balance of action and humour, the characters were all likeable, and the friendship between Ichigo and Rukia solidified itself as a strong one.

But things didn’t get truly exciting until Byakuya and Renji arrived on the scene. After Ichigo had his emotional face-off with Grand Fisher, his comedic moments with Kon, and his ridiculous interactions with Don Kanoji, the appearance of the shinigami marked the moment I truly fell in love with the series – more precisely, the moment that Byakuya broke Ichigo’s zanpakutou without even moving. It was a graceful defeat, and one I can still remember to this day. Having watched and read so many anime and manga over the years, I’ve rarely experienced the sensation I felt from seeing Ichigo get utterly destroyed by Byakuya. If I never feel that sense of shock and devastation again then I can live with that, because the memory of that moment still resonates strong in the back of my brain. Other than Ichigo receiving his powers from Rukia, it has to be Bleach’s first iconic and defining moment.

Ah, Aizen…

Recommended listen: “D-tecnolife” by UVERworld

Thus began the Soul Society arc. You’d be hard pressed to find a fan who doesn’t think Soul Society is the best arc of Bleach. I would agree with that sentiment, but I’d also go a step further and say it’s one of the greatest arcs in shonen history. Even if you don’t hold Bleach in high regard, I think you’d have to be blinded by your own dislike for the series to not admit it’s up there with the best that any other classic anime/manga has to offer. To many fans, this portion of the series is what made them love Bleach so much – what made it one of the “Big 3”, and it rightfully deserved that place at the very top for all those years.

There are so many strong moments in this arc, but the most shocking was Aizen’s death. We didn’t get to see much of him, but enough to feel compassion for his efforts and be rooting for him while all this madness was going on around him. Gin being blamed for his death was so obvious that it threw us all through a loop, and even though the story of Ichigo and company coming to rescue Rukia was the main focus, this sub-plot gave us plenty of intrigue and internal drama that fleshed out the Soul Society captains and lieutenants – turning them into the characters we know and love so much today. We all have our favourites, and I’m sure many of them came from this time in the series. I know Hitsugaya was my early favourite back then… before he eventually became one of my least favourite anime/manga characters. But hey, we can all mistakes from time to time!

Ichigo and Zangetsu’s bond was always a highlight of the series.

Recommended listen: “Treachery”

I think the Ichigo vs Kenpachi fight has to be one of the most memorable for many fans out there. I’ll admit, I didn’t fall in love with the battle-hungry 11th captain until later on in the series, but this was a fight to remember, and there were so many brilliant individual moments that I can remember vividly – Ichigo and Kenpachi’s clashing reiatsu, Yachiru watching from atop the skyscrapers with her pink reiatsu overflowing when a messanger arrived, Ichigo and Zangetsu’s growing bond, the beginning of Getsuga Tenshou, Kenpachi throwing off his eyepatch, and then calling it Ichigo’s victory in the end. It was epic. Epic as epic can be, and it’s no wonder Kenpachi became a fan favourite for many after this battle.

Definitely up there as one of the best shonen battles.

Recommended listen: “Number One”

This is when I insert the classic “Number One”. Out all of the Bleach soundtracks, this has to be the most iconic. “Number One” is Bleach. It’s Ichigo. It’s epic. It gives me flashbacks to the Ichigo vs Byakuya climax, to Ichigo’s hollow powers coming through, and to me sitting back years later and watching a friend react to this bloodbath. It was gloriously epic in the way any good shonen should be, and one of the many reasons that makes Soul Society so impressive. It may not be my personal favourite fight of the series (mainly because Byakuya isn’t that high on my list), but as far as memorable Bleach moments go, this is right up there at the top. Ichigo’s bankai and his Getsuga Tenshou spamming may have become repetitive in later years, but experiencing it all for the first time was immense to say the least. It’s moments like these that anyone who has watched or read Bleach can agree are the reason why we liked it at all, and I think we should remember the series for those incredible highs even if they feel so far gone.

Aizen’s betrayal is still one of the greatest plot twists I’ve ever read/watched.

Recommended listen: “Ichirin no Hana” by High and Mighty Color

Ah, Aizen. Remember when he died? Remember when he came back and slaughtered Central 46? Remember when it turned out Gin and Tousen were on his side and Hitsugaya’s attempt to take him down proved futile? Aizen’s betrayal is considered Kubo’s greatest achievement by plenty of fans, and if we’re to measure how shocking and effective that twist was, then it’s certainly number one. I was lucky enough to be unspoiled for this moment. I never saw it coming, but the trail of breadcrumbs is obvious in hindsight. When I first watched this moment in the anime – when the music was warm and Momo went in to hug her Captain Aizen – I was stunned. Thankfully there were plenty of moments in the future that would leave me just as impressed, but this up there was one of Tite Kubo’s best, and no matter what you think of Aizen’s later developments, this singular moment is pretty remarkable.

Being an Orihime fan isn’t easy.

Recommended listen: “Soundscape to Ardor”

After Soul Society came Hueco Mundo. While this arc may not be held in highest regard by some fans, it’s when Bleach was at its most popular – when it was very much part of the “Big 3” and dominated the Weekly Shonen Jump magazine along with One Piece and Naruto. This was when it was always up there, when it had a plethora of fans who were watching and reading the series weekly. Looking back at these early Arrancar chapters I can’t help but remember how much I loved Orihime’s goodbye to Ichigo. It was a scene that could have been creepy, but ended up sweet and tragic for all the right reasons. Her sacrifice was her own choice, and the moment where she talks about her “Five Lifetimes, One Love”, is one I’ll always recall.

Anyone who knows me or has read my posts over the past two years knows that I’m an Orihime fan to this day, and have always loved the Ichigo and Orihime pairing. Their interactions were loveable from the beginning, but this was when it clicked in my head that these two are destined to be with one another. Ichiruki fans will disagree, and I’ve found many dislike this scene because it’s essentially the most romantic one in all of Bleach. I do wish Orihime had more to do in the grand scheme of things, but she still remains one of the most likeable characters of the series. Rukia is great and all, but Orihime is the female lead I was always rooting for even when she received the harshest abuse of any character in the series.

The reveal no one was expecting.

Recommended listen: “Fiesta de Guerra”

If I were to pick between Ulquiorra and Grimmjow, I’d have to go for the silent badass. I’m sorry. Grimmjow has his fanbase, but there was something about that green-eyed emo that many of us were fascinated by from the moment he landed down in the human world. His many conflicts with Ichigo all proved entertaining, and the big reveal that he was only in fact the #4 Espada was a massive deal back then. I, like many, was convinced he was at the top of the crop and destined to be the final boss of the arc. As it turned out there were three (or four…) more stronger than him, which got me even more hyped for the rest of the arc. This was still in my marathoning phase, but I imagine reading or watching this weekly was painful, and hopefully in a good way.

Mayuri’s perfection speech is still, in my opinion, the greatest moment in all of Bleach.

Recommended listen: “Recollection I”

“The perfect being, huh? There is no such thing as perfect in this world. That may sound cliché, but it’s the truth. The average person admires perfection and seeks to obtain it. But, what’s the point of achieving perfection? There is none. Nothing. Not a single thing. I loathe perfection! If something is perfect, then there is nothing left. There is no room for imagination. No place left for a person to gain additional knowledge or abilities. Do you know what that means? For scientists such as ourselves, perfection only brings despair. It is our job to create things more wonderful than anything before them, but never to obtain perfection. A scientist must be a person who finds ecstasy while suffering from that antimony. In short, the moment that foolishness left your mouth and reached my ears, you had already lost. Of course, that’s assuming you are a scientist.”

This is it: my favourite part of all of Bleach. It’s so brilliant even the english dub of it is astounding. Kubo has said before that Kurotsuchi Mayuri is his favourite character, and anyone who pays attention to how much fun he has with his chapters will find that unsurprising. And anyone who knows me knows that after Orihime, Mayuri is my absolute favourite. Like many, I hated him in the Soul Society arc when he seemed like a token mad scientist, but his speech on perfection changed everything for me. It was the moment I found my favourite anime/manga character and haven’t uncovered any other that come that close. Not only does it prove that there is so much more to Mayuri’s character, but it was testament to Kubo’s writing – the one thing that people will always, always make fun of. And on plenty of occasions I would shrug off those complaints or agree with them when it comes to the weaker parts of the series.

But this moment is anything but weak. It’s the only time I’ve ever had to sit back and contemplate what was being said. This is Kubo speaking passionately about something he must believe, through a character he loves to draw, and is presented in such a chilling way that every time I think it over I can’t help but get emotional over it. While I was a fan of the series from very early on, and had it at the top of my list since the beginning, I fear if this moment didn’t exist then it would fall from my personal top spot. But thankfully this speech proved to me that there much more to Bleach than people like to believe. It may not be enough for some, but even if I didn’t enjoy Bleach as much as I did, I’m confident this moment would be enough to convince me that it was all worthwhile.

I may be reaching high with the praise here, but I speak from the heart. It’s up there as one of my top 5 scenes in any piece of fiction, and I have a feeling it will remain there for a long, long time. For as long as I remember Bleach, I will remember Kurotsuchi’s speech on perfection.

TBTP – An acclaimed mini-arc, and one of the best-selling volumes of the series.

Recommended listen: “Velonica” by Aqua Timez

I think everyone who read or watched Bleach has something positive to say about the Turn Back the Pendulum arc. While not a personal favourite for me, it’s hard to ignore all the juicy details and revelations of the past. If you’re a fan of any of the characters featured in this flashback then you likely found something worth your time. I honestly believe that very little manga do flashbacks as great as Kubo does with Bleach. So often jumping into the past can seem lazy and boring and an excuse to not explain details in the present; but the world of Bleach is interesting enough, and there are so many likeable characters, that every time we jump into the past I feel like Bleach is in top form.

I’ve been reading Bleach every week since this very chapter.

Recommended listen: “Ranbu no Melody” by SID

Chapter 324 is a pretty standard Bleach chapter: It wraps up Kira’s fight with Abirama and begins Hisagi’s with Findor. Both were pretty good fights in my opinion – with the Findor fight being one of the best animated – but this chapter is a big deal for me, and gives me so much nostalgia. It was at this point that I caught up with the anime and (stupidly) jumped straight to the latest chapter of the manga. That meant I missed out everything between Nel’s fight with Nnoitra to Kira’s with Abirama.

In hindsight, it was such an amateurish move, but I didn’t know any better and it didn’t detract from my enjoyment. In fact, it allowed me to keep up with the manga and anime weekly and discover new content through both mediums. Of course that wasn’t the best way to go about catching up with the series, but it’s what I did and this chapter will always remind me of that. It’s also for that reason that I have a positive view of the Fake Karakura Town arc when so many fans were getting turned off by the content. For me, it was all fresh and exciting and experiencing Bleach weekly like that made me a major fan. Almost eight years later and that feeling of elation never once left me.

The Espada guessing game…

Recommended listen: “Clavar La Espada”

Back in those early days of my weekly Bleach experience I was very much into the Bleach (and anime/manga) forums of the time. I don’t know if the words of my teenage self still exist online, but I spent so many hours… days… weeks with other fans who were passionate about the series, discussing every new chapter, joining fan clubs, and just doing what any loyal fanbase does. I threw myself into the fandom and it was my life for so many years. It was early days, but I remember the predictions for the order of the top 3 espada was always a fun topic. Those deathbringer numbers were always a hot topic up until the reveal in Chapter 339. It turned out how many of expected, but I admit I wanted Harribel to get the #1 spot because she was (and still is) my favourite arrancar.

The Heart.

Recommended listen: “Will Of The Heart (Orchestra String Version)”

Ah, “The Heart”. The meme, the memories, the sadness, the jokes – it’s one of Bleach’s most defining moments whether for good reasons or bad. I, for one, didn’t have any problem with how Ulquiorra was taken out, or with how those two words appeared on the page; I thought it was a powerful and fitting end to one of the best villains of the series. His transformations and many fights with Ichigo were all brilliant, and even if Orihime didn’t get to do as much as I’d like in the Hueco Mundo arc, I loved her final moments with Ulquiorra and how her bond with Ichigo was strengthened after this battle.

Make all the jokes you want about “The Heart” – honestly, I encourage you. Bleach is gone now. This is your last chance to do it while you can, and to be honest I’ll probably laugh along with you. Not because I thought it was a bad moment of the series, but because it’s a loaded one – one with so many fond memories that I almost feel like I’m back in high school again, discussing Ulquiorra’s death with my friends across the lunch table, reading the chapter in the computer labs and gawking at screen before me.

Shatter, Kurosaki Ichigo.

Recommended listen: “Stand Up Be Strong”

One of Bleach’s strengths is the art. Of course, people will complain about the lack of backgrounds, but that’s been the case since chapter 1, so pretending that was a sudden development later on down the line is ridiculous. Tite Kubo has his own style, and I can appreciate how much he developed his skills over the course of Bleach, and how his character designs are recognisable yet diverse. The double spreads are almost always impressive, even if they don’t have the same level of background detail that One Piece or Berserk might offer. Bleach does its own thing, and even during the late stages of the Fake Karakura Town arc when it started to become common to hate on Bleach, I was still loving what we were getting week-in, week-out. This above panel is one of many that I loved; it was typical Bleach, ending chapters with those ‘twists’ or cliffhangers. It had me hooked and kept me coming back week after week after week, so I’d call that a success.

After all these years, this release is still the epitome of epicness.

Recommended listen: “B13a”

Final Getsuga Tenshou may be a Deus ex Machina, but it’s still immensely badass. As lot of readers were disappointment in the conclusion of the Aizen fight in the manga but later grew to like it when it was adapted in the anime; that was one of those rare moments where the anime actually did a better job than the manga. I liked it in the source material plenty, but with the epic music blasting in the background and the confident performances by the seiyuu, it was glorious watching Ichigo overpower Aizen in a way he never saw coming. This final face off between Dangai Ichigo and God Aizen was just what I wanted, and sometimes I still go back to the tracks that played during their battle and play them on repeat. Thankfully, those songs will live on forever and I’ll be able to revisit them whenever I want to think back to the great times I had with Bleach.

Where it all could have ended.

Recommended listen: “Never Meant To Belong”

The farewell between Ichigo and Rukia could very well have been the ending of the series. It would have left many unanswered questions – yes, more than we’re currently getting – but it would have been a fitting note to end off on, and perhaps would have allowed Bleach to be remembered more fondly in the years to come. But Kubo clearly had a vision for where he’d take the series. Sadly, this would be the beginning of Bleach’s decline.

Some will say it was a decline in quality, but I don’t subscribe to that belief. At the very least it was a decline in popularity. It still remained one of the best-selling titles of Weekly Shonen Jump for many years to follow, but this marked the second point fans would have liked the series to finish – the first being Soul Society arc. But I’m glad it kept on going, and going strong despite the odds stacked against it. I was rooting for it till the bitter end (and bitter it was), and I’m proud to say I stuck with it and always remained a Bleach fan.

One of many loose threads that will never be tied up.

Recommended listen: “Mask” by Aqua Timez

Ah, the fullbring arc. I think the less I say about this, the better. And not because I thought it was terrible. Quite the contrary – I’d say it was a pretty good arc for what it was. There were parts I thought were plain filler, but I enjoyed the introductions of Riruka, Tsukishima, and Ginjou. I loved how Ichigo’s character got so much focus and it was essentially a suspense thriller. My favourite part has to be when Ichigo returns home from his training to find Tsukishima sitting on his couch and all his family and friends have been brainwashed into believing he’s a relative. It’s brutal and puts Ichigo through the ringer in a way not many shonen writers would.

I think what it comes down to is fans wanted to see their favourite characters in action. Readers would often complain that Bleach needed to go back to its roots, and that’s what Kubo did with the Lost Agent arc. Still, it marked the beginning of Bleach’s fall from grace and that’s a sad thing to talk about since it’s led to this rushed conclusion. All I’ll say is I don’t think this arc was terrible by any means – it had its highs and lows, just as any other Bleach arc after Soul Society. It was a brave direction to take the series, but perhaps not the one most fans wanted.

The Thousand Year Blood War arc kicked off with a bang.

Recommended listen: “Quincy’s Craft”

Thus came the Thousand Year Blood War, which could have ended up the greatest arc of the series if given a little more care and forward planning. That being said, it’s easy to forget how much great content we got from this arc, all the way back to the early trip to Hueco Mundo and Ichigo’s fight against Quilge to the bloodbath that was the first invasion. It seemed like shinigami were getting shot down one-by-one, which was a refreshing change from the plot armour and power-ups, but sadly not all the deaths were permanent. I still believe that Byakuya should have and was meant to die back then – you just have to read over his ‘final moments’ to see that it was essentially a wrap up of his character arc, but the backlash was fierce and for whatever reason he and Kenpachi were brought back before too long.

Yamamoto’s send-off, however, was perfectly fitting and wonderfully brutal. Sasakibe’s brief flashback prior to that face-off is one of my favourite chapters of the series, building up the head captain as this immense badass; his powers were brilliant and blew away expectations, and his fight with “Juha” was something special. If the anime were to ever return I would be most looking forward to seeing this get animated; that and all the other good stuff that the first invasion offered.

The reveal of Unohana Yachiru was truly spine tingling.

Recommended listen: “Breakthrough Even”

Unohana was always one of the characters I was most interested in. It was clear that she was a secret badass, but I don’t think any of us expected her to be Unohana Yachiru aka “The First Kenpachi”. You have forgotten we got that brilliant Kenpachi vs Kenpachi fight down underground Soul Society between the two invasions, but it’s one of the most well-drawn and paced fights in the series. The action is in your face and the outcome, while predictable, leaves a strong emotional effect.

Not only does it lead Kenpachi Zaraki to finding out his shikai (and bankai), but it marks the end of Unohana. I love this fight and I loved the revelations of her character, but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t disappointed by how little we saw of her; she was essentially the strongest shinigami in Soul Society. So strong, that, in my opinion, Kubo had no other choice but to write her out of the series by killing her off this way. If we saw her slaughtering some Sternritters I would have been eternally grateful… but she remains one of the true casualties of Bleach series.

Bleach truly did the best flashbacks arcs.

Recommended listen: “Creeping Shadows”

Another gem this final arc offered was the Everything But The Rain arc, a flashback in a similar vein to Turn Back the Pendulum. It’s impressive how much we learned from these chapters: Isshin was the captain of the 10th division and is confirmed to be a Shiba; Masaki was a quincy; Juha Bach taking away her powers are what killed her, not Grand Fisher; we saw Ishida’s mother for the first time; we got to see how exactly Aizen knew about Ichigo before he was born by his ‘White’ experiment – there was so many juicy details that are perhaps easy to forget in hindsight. Like the TBTP arc before it, everything here was top form and if it kept at that level it would have easily made the Thousand Year Blood War the best arc of the series.

Around about when I started blogging Bleach weekly on RandomC.

Recommended listen: “Senna”

The second invasion had a few very enjoyable fights, but it would be fair to say it didn’t live up to the hype generated from the first wave of attacks. The royal guard’s introduction was a highlight, but the sour fact remains that they were a huge disappointment – or at least most of them were. I started blogging the series right around the time the Ichibei vs Juha fight ended, and what a fight that was. The “first shinigami” got the treatment you’d expect, but the other four barely got a chance to reveal their abilities before being off-screened in such a offhandish way.

Still, even if the series wasn’t at its best during this period (there was essentially a dozen or so chapters that bled into one another to the point where I wouldn’t be able to tell you what happened in a specific chapter) I loved taking over from prooof and being able to express my genuine thoughts and feelings of my favourite manga. I’d like to think I was critical of it when it mattered, and didn’t have rose-tinted glasses when reading every chapter… but I never hid the fact that I was still a fan of the series, and still am as I write these final impressions. I must thank everyone who read my posts over these past 19 months. I wish it could have lasted longer, but we all knew the end was coming at some stage; though this was much sooner than any of us anticipated.

Again, flashback arcs were the best. Shame this one wasn’t longer.

Recommended listen: “Nothing Can Be Explained”

There are many highlights in my time blogging Bleach for RandomC, but I think the most underappreciated would be the Bazz-B and Haschwalth fight and the ‘Friend’ flashback that we got. You may notice that I love pretty much every flashback we get; the more we see, the better. It’s unfortunate this wasn’t double or triple the length it was because this could have transitioned into an explanation for what went down back in the original blood war against the quincies. We know that Yamamoto and the very first captains faced off against a younger Juha and his sternritter and that the quincies were defeated. If only we got to see that in these chapters…

Though I remain satisfied with what we got. That’s a recurrence with the chapters set in the Royal Palace; I’m happy with what we got, but it could have been even greater in so many instances. Some fights could have been tighter, others could have been more detailed, this flashback could have been longer, and the final battle should have gotten the time and attention it rightfully deserved. But I won’t get too negative; I still liked Bleach over the past two years – some chapters I wholly loved – but part of me wishes it was more carefully constructed and we got the best out of this material. In the end, it stopped the Thousand Year Blood War from becoming the best arc of the series, which is a shame.

The most human moment from my favourite character.

Recommended listen: “Never Meant to Belong (1st Movement)”

Okay, that’s enough negativity. As I said at the beginning of this absurdly lengthy post, this wasn’t going to be a detailed breakdown of every flaw. I’ve discussed the unfortunate turns and moments of weaker writing in the past. I know Bleach isn’t perfect as I’m sure any fan of it does. I don’t even blame those who fell out of love with the series and claim it’s not what it used to be; that’s a valid view and likely one that many hold, and a big reason why it is ending prematurely. But at the end of it all I’ll stick by my love for Bleach. Even if things didn’t go exactly as I hoped in many instances, I found enjoyment in almost every single chapter and haven’t had as much fun with any other piece of fiction. The closest would be A Song of Ice and Fire, but even then I hold Bleach nearer and dearer to my heart.

One part I think Kubo did brilliantly is the Mayuri and Pernida fight. As I mentioned before, Mayuri is one of Kubo’s favourite characters, and it’s so very obvious that he loves drawing him doing wacky things and surviving the most ridiculous onslaughts. This battle was the longest of the entire series, and I’m not surprised it went on for so long. It was clear, to me, that Kubo was having an absolute blast writing and drawing these chapters, and I had the exact same feelings when reading them. It sure does help that we share a favourite character, and that he got his most human moments in his final battle of Bleach. It was a perfect round off to his character and I couldn’t have asked for anything more. I’m sure fans of many other characters can’t say the same thing… but I suppose you have to pick your favourites wisely!

The final battle: Ichigo vs Juha Bach.

Recommended listen: “Chokkaku”

And just like that, we reached the final fight. Is it the final fight many of expected? I highly doubt that. I don’t think even Kubo predicted he’d be pushed at the very last hurdle, but that’s the reality of the situation and there’s nothing we can do but complain that it’s unfair (which it is). For that reason, however, I don’t hold Kubo responsable for how the final chapters of the series played out. When given so little time to finish a publication lasting over 15 years you can’t expect it to be wrapped up like a neat holiday gift and have it handed to us without a dent or blemish. We got the rug pulled from under our feet, and this is the final battle we were given.

Juha simply got too strong, and while it seemed there were clear plans by Kubo to make sense of this, it was rushed beyond belief that some still believe the series isn’t truly over. I still loved the final clash between Aizen and Juha and having Aizen pull off a classic twist in the final minutes. Ichigo’s bankai shattering to reveal his old shikai is a sweet nostalgia trip, even if it doesn’t make complete sense. There were hints laid beforehand that this would be the conclusion regardless, but it obviously didn’t play out with as much care as we expected. I’m at least glad that Ichigo and Orihime got to fight the final villain together, even if it didn’t work out too well for them. Ichigo getting his blade shattered over and over and over again was painful to read, but his victory at the end was still sweet to see; bittersweet perhaps, but still sweet enough that it hasn’t ruined the entire series for me. That would be a bit extreme.

But not the end it deserved…

I’m a strong believer that any piece of fiction can become great if only because of a great ending. Endings are in many ways the best part of the story, but also the toughest part. I’m willing to look over quibbles I may have if it feels emotionally right, but if I’m blown away by the final chapter of a book or the final episode of a TV show, or the final minutes of a movie then I’m likely to walk away from that book, TV show, or movie with a glowing recommendation for everyone else to experience the same. Bleach didn’t have that ending, but that doesn’t mean I wouldn’t recommend it to any anime or manga fan out there; or even to those who aren’t yet fans of the medium.

Bleach was my gateway anime, and I’m never going to forget it. It may not be the best manga I’ve ever read, but it’s sure as hell my favourite. And truthfully, I don’t think that will ever change. I’d like to think I have pretty good taste in anime and manga, but I can’t help that I have such a soft spot for this series. While others spent most of their time reading Bleach complaining about all the things they didn’t like, I managed to find enjoyment in even the ugliest of plot turns. I always believed Kubo hadn’t given up on the series, even when once-fans would claim that he must feel the same way about the series as them. I never believed that, and that’s what’s most painful about this rushed conclusion.

These final four or five chapters were not your typical Bleach chapters; they were packed with content, yes, but at what cost? It may have been good if the series was at that pace all along, but if it was then it wouldn’t be Bleach. If there were as many backgrounds as people would have liked, even when that was never a noteworthy part of the series itself, then it wouldn’t have been Bleach. If it didn’t have those familiar character designs by Kubo’s hand, then it wouldn’t be Bleach. If it didn’t end on cliffhangers or plot revelations or obvious red herrings then it wouldn’t be Bleach. It makes me laugh to say this, but all those reasons that people use to justify their dislike for Bleach are the exact same reasons why I love it so much. While I’d agree that Soul Society was the best written arc of the series, I think it was more the fans of Bleach that changed rather than Bleach itself. Kubo’s style evolved throughout these past 15 years, but it never stopped feeling true to itself. For so long, Kubo had the luxury of doing what he wanted and writing the story he felt like writing, even when it seemed like there were armies of internet troll against him. I won’t defend every decision he made or claim that there wasn’t poor moments in the series, but neither am I going to say he’s a hack writer or that he doesn’t deserve credit for creating one of the most recognisable anime/manga franchises in the modern age.

Bleach won the Shogakukan Manga Award in 2005 for a reason. It’s the 8th best-selling Shueisha title and the 18th best-selling manga of all time for a reason. It earned its place in the “Big 3” for a reason. Bleach was a good manga. For many it was great, and for me it was everything. Every Thursday will feel empty now without it. Years ago it would be Wednesday or Friday that I’d get up early in the morning – whether before I started school, or on the train to university, or minutes before I began my shift – and pull up the latest chapter of Bleach and enjoy it for what it was. I may have written a post of over 8k words, but that doesn’t quite capture how passionate I am about this series. I’m sure many felt like this when Naruto ended, and many more will experience this loss when One Piece eventually reaches its conclusion, but this is when I’m experiencing that pain.

I’m going to miss it, but I’m grateful that I found this series almost a decade gone by. If I discovered it under different circumstances then I don’t think if I would be as affected as I am now, but Bleach was my first true anime/manga experience and this feels like the end of a massive chapter in my life. But still… I’m not going to get bogged down by the finality of it all. I want to finish this post by saying: thank you.

Thank you to Kubo for battling your depression in your early years as a mangaka and producing one of the most successful manga of all time. Thank you to Studio Pierrot for producing the anime that got me into anime, even if your filler arcs were long and, in my opinion, worth skipping. Thank you to Weekly Shonen Jump for allowing Kubo to write the story he wanted to write for so long, even if you couldn’t fulfil that promise until the end. Thank you to all the fellow Bleach fans I’ve known over the years from my early forum days to my twitter ramblings. I’ve met some of those people in real life thanks to Bleach, and made life-long friends due to our shared passions, and that’s something that I’ll always be especially grateful for. And finally, thank you to everyone who read my posts and stuck with me even if you felt I was being too positive when Bleach wasn’t at its best. In my first post when taking over the coverage of the manga I introduced myself as unashamed Bleach fan, and over a year and a half later nothing has changed. I love this series to death and I couldn’t pretend otherwise. If you shared my passion, then I’m glad to know there are still fans of the manga still out there. And I don’t know about you, but I sure as hell had a blast. I doubt I’ll ever find that feeling of pure elation when I first discovered Bleach, but that’s perfectly fine by me.

I’ll support this series until there’s nothing left to buy. And when I’m old and grey I’d like to think I’ll look back and read over the manga that defined my youth. But to Tite Kubo I say thank you once more, and hope that you can sit back and relax and enjoy not having to adhere to your ridiculous deadline for the first time in fifteen years. But I’m sure you’ll be back before too long, because it’s clear your passion lies in your art, and I look forward to seeing what you come up with next. Just like you managed to do to me the first time around, I’m ready to fall in love with anime and manga all over again.


  1. Thank you to everyone who has been following my Bleach coverage over the past year and a half. This was easily my longest and most personal post yet. It wasn’t a perfect manga by any means, but I still love it dearly. It’s also the most blogged series on RandomC with over 640 posts dedicated to it, so this is a big moment for this site as well as the manga.

    Cheers everyone. It’s been a blast.

      1. It does feel good to have your ships win in the end, especially when for so long it seemed like it never would turn out that way! I do feel sorry for IchiRuki shippers though… but those who claim it’s ruined the series for them are taking it a little too far.

    1. I can’t say that I’m a big fan of Bleach, but it along with Naruto were the two series that got me seriously hooked on anime and manga again around the same time you did (2005ish for me). I had watched as much anime on Cartoon Network and what little played on MTV in my high school days in the early 90’s, but during college I almost completely stopped watching and reading.

      Bleach was a great series to start, and I even occasionally got my wife to watch the anime with me. I’m personally glad to see the series end, and I’m overall happy with the series. My biggest complaint with Bleach over the years is how slow the plot has moved (along with the notoriously missing backgrounds).

      Overall I felt the ending satisfied me and tied up as many loose ends as it possibly could have in the 38 or so pages over the last 2 chapters. I think Kubo did a good job even as rushed as he was.

      I will also remember it fondly as a series that got reignited my excitement about manga and anime.

    2. I’m really surprised that anyone thought Ichigo would end up with Rukia? Rukia and Renji are not humans and Ichigo and Orihime are. Of course they would end up together. Not to mention how many times over the years they dropped hints like Orihime in Ichigo’s bedroom telling him she loved him (even tho he was not awake to hear it).

      I’m hoping that some day we will get a 26 episode series to cover the final arc that will also cover all the questions and plot holes that were left.

      Finally I hope the Bleach movie is not made in Japan. Live action animes in Japan are really terrible. The actors are like high school kids or a community drama group putting them on. Even the best of them (Kimi Ni Todoke, Parasyte, and Ano Hana were 4/10 at best).

      1. Regardless, we can tell Rukia had some fondness towards Ichigo. We notice Ichika has “Ichi” on her name, like Ichigo; I am not sure what Kanji is used to spell her name, if anyone can enlighten me since it could be the same “Ichi” kanji that Ichigo uses.

      2. Ichika’s name is definitely inspired by Ichigo, though I think it’s fair to believe that both Rukia and Renji would come to that name together since we know Renji thanked Ichigo for bringing them back together to where they are now.

      3. “we know Renji thanked Ichigo for bringing them back together to where they are now.”
        I still remember how Ichigo made Renji be a “hero” to catch the falling damsel; that was a good way to ship people on Ichigo’s part.

        Anyway Samu, it has been an enjoyable ride by following your Bleach coverage over the past year and a half. Cheers, it had been a blast with you sir.

        I sort of hope we get to see Luffy’s kid soon, then he/she can get together with Kazui and Boruto. It would be a nice pattern if Luffy, with Boa Hancock, gets a daughter; an interesting team of three that could maybe appear in a Special chapter/episode in the future.

    3. Thanks Samu for your heartfelt words week after week, and in particular this one. To be honest I wouldn’t have picked up Bleach again if it weren’t for your posts 🙂

    4. Thank you for your post. You mirrored a lot of what I was feeling and I took solace in knowing I wasn’t alone. I was in college when I first found Bleach. I joined an anime fan club that aired fan subs on Thursday night. I can’t quite put into words my love for it or how strongly I felt at that time, but the feeling was so impactful that just remembering that time or hearing the opening to that first season swells my heart. It’s kinda crazy, I know. In 2006 I got to go to Japan in a study abroad program and I purchased a substitute shinigami badge keychain. It was made of thick metal and painted to resemble the item in the show.

      I’ve worn it every single day of my life.

      I will truly miss Bleach and hope there’s still a future for it, in a book or sequel series or anything.

      1. Man, that’s awesome. It’s great to hear stories from fellow fans and how important Bleach is to them. I too hope it isn’t the end, but I’ve prepared myself for the likelihood.

    5. Here’s my guess. With such ending , there are few possibilities.
      -The author is ending bleach because he no longer wants to write about it anymore. He might have other new series he’s interested in. He might occasionally write some special episodes to explain the final chapter. Though it’s going to take a long time till he finishes his vacation.
      -Same as above but the author prefers to take some vacation off and come back to start a new story centering the main hero/heroine to be the kids of ichigo/hime and arai/rukia. A new storyline that’ll further write about what’s after soul society without soul king.
      -Worse case. The author is fully exhausted and will call this the end of bleach . He will concentrate on his other works.

  2. So farewell Bleach and with it a chapter in the manga world has come to a close. Honestly I have been disappointed with this last arc, the quincies just seemed too ridiculous and made no sense most of the time.

    That said, its still sad that we didnt get the “true ending” that a series of this stature definitely desrved. But as tgis is a busineas and as many fans will attest to the drop in quality this is what we get. At the end of the day tho, i think the last 2 chapters aew really what Kubo intended for us to get but we unfortunately lost maybe around 5 chapters before it to wrap up some of the glaring lose ends.

    But we get what we get and still thankful for this series. Farewell Bleach and yey my ship sails hahahaha

    1. I do feel like the author left out a lot of stuff. I hope a movie or a special would reveal some unanswered questions like if Ichigo had regained his Quincy power. Would be nice to know the Bankai of many other people like Aizen, Shūhei, or anyone else. Not to mention what happened to the Hōgyoku is my concern since I can imagine Urahara removed it from Aizen.

      Anyway, Now it is time for fanfiction writers to use Bleach as their writing material. Here is one BTW, a well written one I read in the past; while the fanfic writer has no intentions of continuing it, I think, I hope it inspires others to make their own fanfiction, if they are unsatisfied with how Bleach ended so much then I can imagine people will try to Make their own fanfiction that satisfies them.

  3. Thank you for covering Bleach, Samu.

    This ending is such a disappointing mess. No explanation on the Soul King imprisonment, no “There must always be a lich king” ending, No Urahara, No Yoruichi, No Zero Suqad, No Ychwach’s relationship with his father (Soul King), No Flashback to the War against the Quincy.

    I know it’s impossible to handle so many plot holes, but true fans of Bleach (the ones that hang to the little details, created fandom, speculated on every single mention) deserved so much more than “couple shipping”. I read the manga for 5 years…i don’t want to imagine the disappointment i would have felt if i read it for 15…

  4. A live action Bleach…
    Either the director will adapt one of the arcs, or they’ll try to push everything into one movie, much like how the live action Fullmetal Alchemist movie will be condensing the entire manga series into the 1 movie*.

    *FMA director believes it’ll all work out.

    1. We likely won’t ever know the full details, but a mixture of constantly low table of content rankings a decisions by the higher-ups to push for a quicker finale is most likely. The volumes managed to sell around the same numbers for 3 years in a row so that doesn’t add up. We all knew it was going to end at some point, but even if we had 10 or 20 more chapters it would have felt so much more fitting.

  5. It’s kind of funny that in the future where Yhwach was gonna resurrect was prevented by Ichigo’s 5-6 year old kid.

    The manga had way too many characters, didn’t get to see some of the characters in action.

  6. https://randomc.net/image/Bleach2/Bleach%20Manga%20-%20686%20-%2004.jpg
    Daddy must be proud, to have her daughter’s cross-guard be the same shape as his eyebrows
    Anyway, I did sort of see this coming; Renji and Rukia was something expected, I can never imagine Ichigo and Rukia.

    Notably, unlike Naruto, it makes me sort of glad the author didn’t do any super random pairing. I can guess fanfic writers would happily want to pair Chad and Uryu with a girl of their choice.

    notably, Yuzu didn’t grow the same way as her sister.

    And Jesus, so the author has forgotten about Tier. Well I am somewhat sad, curious about her fate

    1. I’m sad we’ll never know what happened to Harribel either. I’ll believe she is back to the Queen of Hueco Mundo, since we know her fraccion wanted to rescue her earlier in the arc.

      1. Well I hope we will have a movie later to confirm that fact. To be frank, if a movie comes out, I hope we will get to see more of Tensa Zangetsu since I feel that manga barely scratched the surface of its abilities

  7. Despite not ever really keeping up with the anime or the manga, Bleach has always sort of been in my life as this strange yet comforting background noise. In its hayday it was all anyone seemed to talk about in High School besides Naruto and some of the other popular Hot Topic profitable series back then. Seeing it coming to an end is strangely saddening, and I just might pick it up now that the whole damn thing is out. I’d also love to see a new spin off series with the new Death and Strawberry duo. Bye Bleach! Take care and rest well! <3

  8. Okay, well, I have to admit that for a long time, I was one of those people who ended up keeping up with Bleach only out of habit. I felt the final arc wasn’t my cup of tea most of the time. I didn’t care enough to even remember the villain names, save for Ywach and a few more Quincies perhaps. (Admittedly, I’m bad with names to begin with, but hey). I wonder if it was just the weekly format, which made it feel like nothing happened every chapter, because let’s admit that some chapters simply had very little actual content and you could read even 5 of them while you were struggling to chew through a Hunter x Hunter chapter (once every two years, hue). My point is, perhaps this arc would be more enjoyable to some if marathoned and that’s why I was extremely optimistic about the supposed big announcement, hoping that I’d get to rewatch the arc in an anime format, and perhaps with even some changes and extensions towards the end, expanding on what was left of some side characters at the end and what not.

    Lo and behold, we’re getting a live action Bleach movie. What a joke, honestly. Literally anything and everything would be better than that, such movies simply don’t appeal to me at all, not to mention that most of the time, they, well, suck. Seriously, some additional side chapters ala Assassination Classroom (you won’t even give us that much, Jump?) would be pretty awesome, but nah, it’s a live action announcement. Do they really think it’s gonna be successful?

    Anyways, as for the finale, I… was actually really happy upon reaching the final page. Not because it was the end, but because of how surprisingly satisfying this chapter felt. I enjoyed last week’s Soul Society finale as well, but this chapter took the cake, and no, it’s not because of the pairings in any way, I honestly don’t care about shipping in Bleach and I believed Kubo didn’t either, but hey, given the circumstances, that was a way to creat an ending that will appeal to some fans. And oh my god, Ichigo’s son is such a cutiepie! I wanna hug him.

    Seriously though, the rush is so upsetting… If anyone thinks and fully blames Kubo for how rushed the final few chapters were, they clearly have no idea about how Jump or these magazines in general work. I won’t believe for even a second that this is all Kubo and this is hwo he wanted it to end. Soooo many characters were forgotten in the epilogue. Sup with Kira? Isshin? Ryuuken? Did Urahara die? Hallibel? Nel? Grimmjow? How come Soul Society didn’t crumble with the apparent death of the Soul King? What -was- Soul King anyways? Is Aizen his replacement perhaps? Like, where was he even sitting, didn’t look like prison to me? Bunch of questions I could come up with. Hopefully, we’ll learn the answer one day, perhaps through a databook or something of sorts.

    I have to say that I have more -feels- about Bleach ending than I did with Naruto. To be honest, for me, Naruto had a much greater fall as far as my enjoyment of the series and its characters go, even though it was my first anime and manga that I started as an 11 years old kid. Or maybe 12. Around that time. I’m 21 years old now and all I can do is to look back on how these two series introduced me into sort of a different world. How they allowed to meet me a lot of awesome people, some of whom I’m still talking to today, becoming my best friend(s) even. Hurr hurr friendship on the internet. In any case, I will miss Bleach. It had a great effect on the direction of my life and it was also a huge part of it. Perhaps it got worse, bad even, but I truly believe that I can look back and say that I’m glad I stuck around.

    Thanks for the reviews, Samu. It’s kinda sad, but it feels like you’re like the last real fan of Bleach left in the English speaking communities. Soooo much whining everywhere these days. :/

  9. Bleach up until the end of the Rukia execution arc was a great manga, then it was in full decline. Plain and simple Bleach got cancelled and it shows. I really won’t miss it much because it really had no place to go storywise and has very little resemblance to the early manga most people were so fond of. Good riddance!

  10. I’m really hoping we get some extra chapters catching up on things. The ending was far too abrupt for my taste but still decently satisfying all things considered.

    And with that, both of the manga I grew up on are finished. Time to catch up on some others I’ve been neglecting.

    1. I think extra chapters are unlikely, but you never know. I’m sure Kubo would love to return to Bleach even if it was one-off side chapters, but I’m not sure he’ll get the oppertunity to do so. I’d love that, if only to wrap up some of the unexplained details.

  11. This was a great post SAMU. That said, I’m not going to judge the ending, but look back to this manga and enjoyed the time when I was work, bored out of my mind and took 5 minutes to sneak away to read the latest chapter. Each time wishing that next week would come sooner so I could read the next chapter. Thank Kubo for a great 15 years. Time to pick up a new Shounen Jump title to read

    1. I appreciate that, and agree that it’s best to remember Bleach for what greatness it provided. Pretending it isn’t a formative and influential manga in its era would be ridiculous. It’s good to remember the moments that made it so memorable.

  12. Thanks a lot for the awesome final post and a beautiful send off to the series.

    I didn’t get into anime through Bleach and only started reading more recently but have nonetheless enjoyed my time with. I can honestly say that this has been one of the most fun manga I have ever read and even if it didn’t always make sense, I still enjoyed the heck out it. I can proudly say that I’m a fan of Bleach and always will be so you’re not alone there.

    As for the final chapter , it wasn’t the best but I’m pretty happy with what we got (especially the ships) and it felt good as a conclusion to this epic journey.

    Farewell Bleach for now and hopefully may we meet again in the Future.

  13. Glad it’s over. And I’ll say it: the Fullbring arc was my second favorite. It had the atmosphere of that very first arc that made Bleach great and gave it it’s identity. While the SS is the most famous and most loved by the fans, it was too typical, too generic, too Dragonball Z. Whereas that first arc was DragonBall. It was full of life, attitude and personality. The Fullbring arc brought that back, but alas the shounen masses did not treat it kindly. Just like the anime, I would’ve been happy if the series had ended right after that.

    1. Yup, I don’t think the Fullbring arc was all that bad either. But it’s a tricky thing to discuss even among die-hard fans as so little agree with that sentiment. I’m there with you, though!

  14. Thank you for this nostalgia trip.
    Bleach was not my first Anime or Manga but one of my most favoured. If someone asked me One Piece, Bleach or Naruto, it was always Bleach for me. Over the years it got harder and took a lot more explaining to justify my position but I don’t regrett my choice.
    I loved Bleach and will probably proudly remmember how fun it was.
    I stated mid 2007 in my summer holidays and marathoned the first 66 Episodes in 3 days and watched 11 Epispodes a day (and I remember my father shouting at me to go out).

    The End was rushed and didn’t drive me to tears like I expected, but this post did. It reminded me of all the years and epic moments Bleach had to offer and the hole it will leave me with next week.

    I know I didn’t post comments to your reviews but I read all Bleach related ones.
    And with that I want to thank you, that you reviewed the chapter as a fellow fan of the series to this day.

    Thank You.

  15. Someone explains to me how Soul Society works again please. How can they reproduce and create life?! when they are technically dead?!? AND IN THE END WHERE IS YACHIRU??? DID KUBO JUST ENTIRELY FORGET ABOUT HER?!?

    1. Well, Ichigo’s Father. How was he? Also an Shinigami, but yes. Her Mother was an Pure Breed Quincy. But for these two, perhaps they done it the “Human” way with her Bodies in the Human World. How knows

  16. Glad I’m nowhere near as invested in the series as I was years back cuz the ending was meh and my ships weren’t end game. Still disappointed all around but not as much as I could possibly be lol

    Disappointments aside the series did bring me a lot of fun. It’ll be interesting to see where Kubo goes from here. Will he be like Kishimoto and end up doing a new gen follow up or give us something completely new. Guess we’ll find out soon enough!

  17. As far as ending that had to be illustrated within JUMP’s requirements, I feel Kubo did a reasonable if imperfect job. We got to see the lives of some of the main characters at least which is better than had the manga ended 2-3 chapters ago.

    That said part of me thinks Ichigo’s story should have wrapped up with defeating Aizen, bidding fairwell to Rukia and going back to regular life. The tease here of his son and Rukia’s daughter having spiritual powers could have been a great way to continue the manga after giving Kubo a year off, therefore allowing him to recharge his batteries and get some solid characters/ideas hashed out.

    That said, at least Kubo can take a break for a little while now (as long as he hasn’t spent all his income on records). Hopefully in a year or so he’ll be back with a new (and perhaps shorter) series, or some interesting one-shots. I’m still hopeful to see him take on a music/band series as I think that will suit him well (and let him serialise it in a monthly magazine to give him the luxury of more time to put together some amazing looking manga).

    Farewell Bleach, farewell Ichigo and friends!

  18. Thank you, Samu, for covering the series and giving us this nostalgia trip, even if I pretty much disagree with half you wrote (the other half, of course, is about the Soul Society arc).

    Fans changing as an excuse over noticing Bleach’s decline in writing quality? Turn Back the Pendulum not a personal favourite but calling the Fullbring arc “pretty good”? Not falling immediately in love with Kenpachi? Ulquiorra over Grimmjow? Orihime over Rukia? Tsk, tsk XD

    But I understand. In my case, the endless reruns of Dragon Ball Z on TV were my gateway into anime, and I’ll remain a fan until death, even if in hindsight I realize it was not as good as I thought. Bleach was my third gateway (the second one was Naruto) and although I became severely dissapointed with it during the Arrancar Arc (a disappointment that only left for Turn Back the Pendulum), my memories of Soul Society were so great it remained my guilty masochistic pleasure. Until now.

    Goodbye, Bleach. You’ll be missed.

  19. I hope Kubo continues doing manga. Ideally, I’d love for him to be on art and someone else on writing duty. I feel like he eventually became overwhelmed by his own creation, hence the dip in quality and all the plot threads left dangling (not just at the end, but throughout the series). It would be truly sad to not have more manga illustrated by Kubo. Hell, his art is what kept me from dropping this years ago, and has been immensely influential on my drawing style.

    That being said, it’s hard to believe this is over. I’ve been following this series since high school (I’m 25 now), so it’s weird to see it end. I’m not sad, nor am I angry, but more… disappointed. Not in the ending itself, but the circumstances around that were out of Kubo’s control. Maybe he’ll go the Yusuke Murata route (Eyeshield 21, now doing One-Punch Man) and go to a webcomic format, allowing him more freedom and control.

    Still, I’m glad I stuck with Bleach until the end. It was incredibly formative for me as well, and I’ll always love it, flaws and all. Thanks for covering this for so long, Thursdays won’t be the same without it!

    1. I’m fairly confident Kubo will continue to make manga for a long time. And I think many want to see him handling the art of a series while someone else writes it, but I’m happy with whatever. I imagine he’ll do another action series, but I wouldn’t mind a SOL or romance manga instead, especially if his early Bleach chapters are anything to go by.

      Whatever he does, I hope it works out for him. Whether it’s in WSJ or not, weekly on monthly, I’ll read it.

  20. In my opinion, this series has been a mess for years now and I’d even say I was still reading it out of pride not to lose to it at this point…It’s still kind of sad to see the series that really got me into anime(even though I droped the anime during the first fillers to read the manga) and that really meant a lot to me back then, end. It was a big part of my highschool life and seeing the first couple of pictures of the series overview really do bring back a lot of good memories.

    1. I’m glad you remembered the good memories. That’s what I was hoping it would achieve, even for those who fell out of love with Bleach and no longer consider themselves fans.

  21. Goodbye Bleach. You’ve had your ups and downs, but you deserved conclusion, just a shame you never got it. At least not properly.

    Problem really I have with the live action movie is that it may be super low budget. I can’t help but think at how laughably bad the Corpse Party movies were.

    Oh well. I didn’t have my hopes set high regarding this announcement. But the disappointment is there none the less.

  22. Seeya later Bleach. TBH I was hella dissapointed at the end pairings, but hey, they’re growing on me. I loved the kids – very cute. All in all, an ok ending.

    Skins Thhunderbomb
  23. Well then, that was……something. Can’t believe a series this old left so much hanging. Hindsight is 20/20 and all but if the Hueco Muendo and Fullbring arcs didn’t waste so much time it could have been truly finished. Still never got over how the original core cast became more and more useless as the series progressed. It’s been like a decade since Chad won a fight. Oh well it still gave me many years of enjoyment.

  24. Bleach was one of the first anime I started watching in subtitles, so in ways, it does hold a unique love/hate relationship in my heart. I absolutely loved the Soul Society arc, and the musicals are my favorite adaptions from it. The OST for the anime is also fantastic and holds some of my favorite openings and endings to this date. But after the Soul Society arc and half way through Huenco Mundo, it sort of just dawned on me that Bleach was losing what I thought made it great. I completely lost interest shortly after Rukia vs the Kaien look-a-like (personally, my favorite battle in Bleach).

    I’m just glad my OTP (Renji/Rukia) actually ended up being canon. I wasn’t expecting it, and was completely surprised when I found out.

    I do have to thank Tite Kubo for providing some good memories. I met one of my best friends through Bleach. I wish it could have gotten the proper send off it should have received. No manga should be forced to rush to conclusion.

    1. I’ll always remember the friends I made (from across the world) through Bleach. Feels good to think there’s actual proof of how important it is to me in the form of lifelong friendships.

  25. Bleach marked an era for me. Not my first anime or manga, but if it is one of the two stories that mark my start into the world of anime and manga on the internet.

    First, I’ll leave it clear that I was born in January 1990. In my childhood (90’s and around 2003) only watch anime on television and movies. Around 2005 (15 years), not sure, I started to increase my use of the Internet for homework or schoolwork. I don’t explored much of the internet for fun. But it is in 2008 (18 years), after I passed difficult things in my first experience studying university, I started a web design course. In that course I learned to explore further in the Internet.

    Bleach was my first anime I saw on youtube, the first series I follow and looking for episodes. Then I found pages that load subtitled episodes, and search for the manga. Really the first anime in which I plunged into the world of anime and manga online.

    The second anime mark for me 2008 was “The Tower of Druaga, The Aegis of Uruk”. I first found a picture, I followed and found Kurogane’s blog, I got the name and look in google. I found two things, youtube videos and the website of Random Curiosity.

    Think about the first time I saw an episode of bleach, reminds me of that year, my first search by the tower of Druaga, and consequently I found randomc. My official start looking anime, learning about anime and manga, working hard on my English (it was not bad, but not enough to read properly) and improvement in my use of internet and computer.

    Random curiosity since 2008 has been part of my favorite websites. This was my starting point when searching and learning about animes. I was always pending reviews for season, publication of animes I watching, and know that I didn’t see. Today is one of the websites I visit almost every day.

    For me, Bleach is a great story. I felt excitement, fun, I laughed, was impatient with the next chapter, both manga and anime. I had fun with everything including filling, movies, etc.

    I like Bleach completely, with its successes and its failures. No sleeve is perfect. I think TiteKubo always had trouble with that lot of characters, backgrounds and powers. He always had problems with explanations, when he should give them, the amount and the way to do it.

    It is a pity that bleach will not end his final arc as well as it should be. I guess some things can not be avoided. Bleach lost many readers like to stay and this is the result.
    I hope some extra volume to explain the loose ends, and the fate of the missing characters.

    It’s a whole mixture of feelings. I will miss the manga and wait for a new chapter. It gives me nostalgia remember the time I’ve seen the anime and manga. I am happy to see a conclusion and know how it ended. I am very happy to have met bleach and I hope to watch again the anime and read manga again.

    Finally, I am a fan of couple of ichigo and orihime, and the relationship of renji and rukia. I am very happy to know they had childrens, there can be no better end to know that your favorite characters could find happiness.

  26. I’m sad Tite Kubo never touched Hell ever again… He presented it as one of the most ominous, secret realms in this universe, where even specialized shinigami can only withstand Hell…

  27. I love Bleach. I enjoyed it all except the ending. I didnt expect it to end so abruptly. Ichigo swings his sword and bam he’d dead then cut to 10 years later…like wtf? My biggest upset is that they didnt explain anything like whos the soul king, what happened to zero squad, What happend to Urahara, Yoruichi, Komamura??? Also, the Kenpachi and Yachiru bankai thing made no sense…way too much left unknown. Also, can anyone tell me if they will make the final arc into an anime?

  28. I think if Bleach had been able to end at the Aizen arc or build towards an ending from the Aizen arc (because Soul King), as when Kubo wanted to end the series.

    I also think Kubo up until that point had a plan he was working with, and then of course was asked to make it longer and didn’t really know what to go with from there. I don’t think he really had a plan or much of a plan after Aizen. Not saying he didn’t have things he could work with, obviously he did, as we got to this point, but frankly that’s how things end up being wrecked.

    Also, what’s up with mangas getting either axed too quickly for various reasons or being asked to draw it out until you need to axe it because isn’t popular? I don’t see how you are helping anyone really. You axe a series too quickly or way before it should end, you get what happens with a series like Negima where you are just like “it ended HOW? WHY?” and are in literal disbelief as the story has much to tell. You extend things too long and you get what happens with Bleach where you are literally “I’m really only reading this because I’m a fan” and not for the enjoyment but for the what the hell will the author do next to extend this further.

    In either case, you damage your brand as a whole (publisher) and the time it takes to damage something, it takes thrice as long to fix. Still, I’m not solely saying the author gets a get out of jail card. As a writer, in those situations, you should always know how to build an escape vehicle for your plot to end up to where you need it to be. Which is also why I don’t think Kubo knew exactly where he was going after the Aizen arc. Nothing really seems to have an out clause, which would allow Kubo to get to the finale.

    Either way, thanks for covering this Samu. If it wasn’t for you doing so, I wouldn’t’ve known Bleach was coming to an end and I would’ve missed on it as it happened. And I wouldn’t have the perspective I do right now. Which is that it still is a good manga, marred by mistakes made as publisher/editor/writer. So thanks.

    Dorian S.
  29. I’m not sure I could say much about Bleach because I dropped the reading after the start of the Juha Bach arc.
    However, I guess I will miss Bleach as much I did for Naruto. Despite the decline, it would still be the “Big 3” manga of 2000s. It deserved a more satisfying finale, but it’s too bad that there were some kind of circumstances that didn’t allow that to happen.

  30. Another favourite just ended. “The Heart” is probably still the best in my mind. How Ichigo were put into his lowest point & felt tremendous fear were worth watching with those epic actions of fight with Ulquiorra. You’re right, most of the flashbacks were written beautifully. Oh. And those poems Kubo wrote, they are priceless.

    L G
  31. “And just like that, it ends.” while reading those words was the moment I fell in tears. Thanks for the emotional trip. Ichihime was my very first ship but this end feels bittersweet. Lots of questions without answers. I have a hole in my heart with this farewell.

    BUT Kazui is such an angel! I can live with that beautifull eyes shining towards the future.

    Thanks Samu!!!

  32. 🙂 And my ship is canon,

    In all seriousness, I stopped following the manga long ago, and it looks like it was for good reason. I was really into the anime anyway, which arguably had MORE problems, but that’s for another story. The whole franchise was with me through my developing life after school ended, and up to now. It even influenced my work and art online.

    Farewell, you memorable and life-changing manga. And may your anime get a continuation sometime in the future. …without filler!

  33. As you said Samu-san it pains me to see this beloved series end because to me as well was one the Anime/Manga that defined my youth, I´ve been reading this manga since I was 15 years old! And now it has ended, it feels me with joy to see the story completed but at the same time I feel sad because this ending was not what such an pic story deserved ( even tough I loved to see Ichigo and Orihime Married!) nowhere near close.

      1. I wonder which series will big enough to pull us in like this one has done, create a fandom that follows a story for more than 15 years is no easy feat! A true testament of how epic Bleach truly is! I think I´m going read the manga all over again from the begining now that it´s over, it will be a great experience .

  34. Although the Quincy arc was sort of a mess and unexpectedly rushed (I had the same question concerning whom would replace the soul king, which I think is the biggest plot hole in the arc), nevertheless I still enjoyed Bleach, as an anime and as a manga. I don’t really have much to say since I think a lot of us enjoyed Bleach, minus for a few awkward moments we had to plow through, but I will say the manga had one of the most memorable villains, Aizen, who was intelligent, intense, and exciting when he eventually fought against Ichigo. Especially that scene when he yells at Urahara about the Soul King, you could really feel the emotion and power coming from Aizen and that’s what made him one of my favorite villains in the manga. To reiterate, Bleach wasn’t perfect but it definitely had some good moments and it left a meaningful impression onto many readers and fans alike.

  35. Kubo’s story telling is not great indeed. However, there is no doubt that Kubo is one of the most poetic mangaka in the industry. For instance, “Turn Back the Pendulum” & “Everything But The Rain” flashbacks have the most poetic moments in Bleach. I have lost count of how many times I read these 2 flashbacks and I am still enjoying every bit of it.

    1. Definitely agree there. I can’t remember who, but another reviewer pointed out recently that even if Kubo isn’t the most consistent writer, you can tell that he’s trying to make something that is at least thoughtful and philosophical. Mayuri’s perfection speech is the finest example of that, I’d say. It feels like a moment where Kubo had something he felt like saying it, and it came through in that character.

      Also him being poetic is very true. If only because of the volume poems he maintained until the very end. Some of them provided genuine insight into the character on the cover, so it was always good to hear words directly from their POV.

  36. Entertaining read. Thank you.

    I myself lost the thread of Bleach sometime in Hueco Mundo, and never quite managed to pick it back up again. But I love your retrospective. Your love for the material shines in every word, and it helps recapture some of the nostalgia and love I once had for this series. I still have a bookmark labeled Chapter 229, and perhaps someday I’ll be in the right mood to go back and power through it.

    1. Thanks for reading! And I’d encourage you to give the rest of the manga a shot at some point. For what it’s worth, Bleach is easier to enjoy when marathoned rather than read weekly.

  37. Im happy. I mean superbleepin happy. Yeah i wish they could have fleshed out the ending more but i really never thought id get to see renjis happy ending (kids cute bythe way) And certiantly never thought ichigo would ever get something even remotly resembling a sex drive. I did have to skip a lot of filler (ughh the pain) and yeah sometimes things get ridiculous but come on, onepeice is still going strong. Im probably gonna do it over again. Maybe im shallow but i got more than i thought i would, i still love many characters, and i feel like the loose ends will be tidied up one way or another eventually. Im kinda excited. Also, i loveed ur sum up. NOTHINGS perfect (still im pretty damn happy)

  38. All of these whole years of bleach and it ends just like that ..so disappointed..

    As a ichiruki fan I feel betrayed .. At least I can imagine that in these 10 years..Rukia has rejected ichigo & got married to Renji first, seeing their daughter to be older…then Ichigo had no choice but to marry orihime as she will die to do that… even the anime ending was way better XD

    Bye Bye Bleach I had fun the past 10 years..

    1. There wasn’t many non-spoiler images (that looked good enough for the headline image) that could have been used. It made sense to just start with the first image that pops up in the chapter. It was hard to be completely spoiler-free with this one.

  39. Hello,
    I’m Matthew from Poland.
    I have some questions about the ending of BLEACH.

    1. Why the last chapter is named DEATH & STRAWBERRY?

    Is “Strawberry” meaning the kid of Rukia and Renji?
    Is “Death” meaning the death of JUHA or is about Kazui – the kid of Ichigo and Orihime?
    If the DEATH means Kazui Kurosaki – why it must be the word DEATH? Does he kill JUHA or does he absorb his power to ressurect in some future new JUHA and kills Ichigo in his happy momments?

    2. How the fuck RENJI and RUKIA can have kids??!! THEY ARE SOULS RIGHT?!! Souls can’t have any kids!! ONLY HUMAN CAN FUCK AND MAKE KIDS! So please explain this to me.

    3. What was this special annoucment in last chapter? Because I can’t find it any words..

    Best Regards,

    1. 1. It’s a call-back to the very first chapter of the manga, also called “Death & Strawberry”. As Vivace pointed out, “Ichigo” means “strawberry” in Japanese, and “death” is obviously about the shinigami (a name that means “god/spirit of death”).

      2. Although seemingly not as easily as living humans, spirits can and do have children. It’s the reason there are noble houses in Soul Society to begin with.*

      3. The announcement was that there will be a live-action film of Bleach.

      *SUDDEN REALIZATION: Given that Rukia is officially a member of the Kuchiki line, and Byakuya doesn’t seem to have plans to get married again, shouldn’t Ichika have been born in the Kuchiki family?

  40. I stopped reading Bleach weekly sometime after the first Quincy invasion in this last arc, so I haven’t really read most of your posts. However, I saw your post several weeks ago for the final countdown, which got me to go back and catch up on the manga, and I’ve followed the posts since. I enjoyed marathoning through most of what I had missed, though I’m pretty sure I would have enjoyed it less if I had still been reading weekly by how slow some chapters were. It’s unfortunate that this ending was rushed as hell, but overall, I’ll still look fondly on the days I spent reading and discussing Bleach with my friends.

    This post clearly showed how you feel about this series, and while I might not agree with all of those feelings, I do appreciate the passion. Also, I don’t usually go out and find soundtracks, so it was nice to hear (and add to playlists) some iconic songs that I haven’t heard in such a long time. As far as pairings, this always seemed like the logical end; Ichigo and Rukia always seemed more like BFFs to me. If/when Kubo starts working on a new manga, I’ll be right there with you, Samu.

    1. I think it’s more of a matter of when rather than if Kubo does return to manga. I can’t imagine he’ll give up with the end of Bleach. He’s still fairly young in the manga world as well. Whatever it is, I’m sure it will have a large initial following at the very least!

  41. It’s not the ending most wanted, but I think this arc was for the majority of it quite good. But I wonder if any of the Sternritter survived. Nel implied that Askin was alive that she was going to safe him, but then we don’t know what happened to her either. I think the trio of Liltotto, Giselle and Bazz-B probably survived and got healed by Orihime. They couldn’t be targetted by the second Auswahlen afaik. At the least Giselle and Bambietta should be alive, since they are zombies with their lives bound to each other and Giselle is very hard to impossible to kill. There is also Lille, who already lost his powers and should also be immune. We never found out happened to his fight with Kira, did we?

    I’m assuming that they and Urahara and co. are all alive. A databook would probably reveal that. Same thing happened with Halibel if I remember correctly.

  42. Since there wasn’t a soundtrack for the last section of the review I decided to listen to Houkiboshi as I finished reading your post, which to this day I still consider to be my favorite anime ending of all time. It was sweet, fun, but most of all it achieved a feat no other anime has ever done; completely brand new ending animations every week for 13 straight weeks?? It’s unheard of! It was so much fun waiting every week anticipating which of the Gotei 13 squad will be featured next and I remember after all 13 endings were out I went back and watched them over and over again. Ah the memories~

    Thanks for the nostalgic ride through this post Samu! The soundtracks definitely took me back to all the great memories I had with Bleach and reminded me of the amazing characters, stories, art, and moments it offered.
    Thanks Tite Kubo and can’t wait to read your next story!

    On a side note it’s not clear but I like to think Ichigo became a doctor and took over the clinic. Because if he has for some reason that makes me feel proud, because Ichigo’s always been a character who was smart and studious and it’s nice to see him making something out of it.

  43. I’m sooooo glad this manga ended. I loved this manga when it came out and then it went downhill and I HATED it with a passion. Also, this ending was so rushed as hell it sucked. Also, Ichigo as a father does not compute with me. Naruto, yes I can see it, BUT NOT ICHIGO. So many questions are still left dangling its frustrating.

  44. I began following Bleach when I was 15 years old and a first year student in high school, the same age and grade as Ichigo and have been following it since then. In a lot of ways, Ichigo was always kinda my spirit animal so to speak, and I always felt attached to his character.

    While Bleach has certainly not been perfect, it still one of those series that I’ll still remain attached to and look at fondly even to this day.

    It’s sad to see it go, and I wish that the ending could’ve been more fleshed out, but I’m still satisfied nonetheless.

    Congratulations on 15 years worth of success Kubo!

    I wish you the best of luck in your next series!

  45. Also Samu, to add on to your thoughts on Mayuri, I think I can understand why Mayuri is his favorite character as well as Kubo’s views on the problem with perfection:


    While Mayuri is referring to scientists like himself, I believe that in a way that Kubo, through Mayuri’s words, was referring to mangaka like himself.

    He’s admitting to the readers that Bleach is not perfect and that he himself is not a perfect mangaka, but that that’s the beauty of writing and drawing manga in itself: the strive to work hard and keep improving your craft over and over again constantly brings excitement for all mangaka.

    If mangaka like himself somehow attained the impossible skill of crafting the perfect manga with the perfect story, art, characters, etc., then they would lose all excitement and joy for writing manga as there would be nothing more they could aspire to create.

    I finally understand and appreciate Mayuri and Kubo’s words now.

    1. That’s a good interpretation, and not one I considered. It would certainly make sense if Kubo seeing himself in Mayuri’s beliefs is why he loves him so much, though I imagine his cooky personality and man outlandish designs make him fun to draw. It’s glad he was my favourite character, because Kubo wrote Mayuri into many situation he didn’t have to without them feeling like fanservice (like with Hitsugaya), because his passion for the character shone through the pages. Or at least it did for me.

  46. Sometimes, I wonder if Bleach was intended to end after the Arrancar arc. I don’t mean that it would have been better to end after the Arrancar arc (though I believe so), but rather that Kubo intended it to end there.

    There were some ridiculous points (my biggest one being that after taking hundreds of years to improve their strength, a couple months is enough for Captains to universally reach newer and greater heights), but overall, it was still pretty solid.

    Everything was more or less wrapped up, if not a sunshine and rainbows ending.

    But then maybe Jump forced Kubo to continue. I am reminded of Bakuman, when one of the characters gambles for the right to end any one series of his choice, and it turns out to be his own. I sometimes think Kubo tanked everything just to accomplish the same.

    I know publishers can force a series to end prematurely, but can they force the author to continue indefinitely?

  47. Samu, you say Bleach is what it is because of the slow pacing etc. I dont agree here. I read Bleach in the beginning, and in the beginning it was humorous, with things actually happening.

    After a while it became “character 1 character 2 character 475621”, “Power Up 1, Power Up 2, Power Up 475621”. You could even work out a formula for the fights: A (evil) is better than B (good), then B > A, then A>B, then B>A. It was ALWAYS the same. And like I said: there was no story anymore, only fights fights fights and the introduction of the 1935674393. character. I wont even mention that the connection to “death” was completely lost and Shinigami suddenly were only people from another dimension.

    It didnt remain Bleach. I liked the series, back then. The Soul Society Arc was good, because suddenly the whole world expanded and you were confronted with a huge society consisting of powerful characters. It made sense that the characters were so overwhelming in number. But it should have stopped then. Instead we get the equal number again, and again, and again…With ridiculous attributes to make them stand out, only to be forgotten later on…How are you supposed to care about that many characters? It’s like Bleach became a completely different “story”.

    And I know this might not be fair because I dont have the background information, but “LAZY” is the word that came up when I read this in the end – lazy in the planning ahead of the story, lazy in the background illustration, lazy in the number of panels…He should have inverted his creativity into the story instead of character designs and power-ups.

    1. There’s not much point in me getting into detail of why I agree or disagree with your points here and now, but I just want to touch on your comment on the backgrounds and number of panels. I’m sorry, but that never would have changed. That’s Kubo’s style. You may see it as laziness, but Kubo simply doesn’t value the importance of background art in every panel – he’s answered the question before and says he wants people to concentrate on the characters and what they are expressing. His art improved and evolved over the years, but he was never an artist like Oda who did small but packed panels, or focused on cramming in as many backgrounds as possible.

      It’s fine if you didn’t enjoy how the fights or story panned out, but when people become background art connoisseurs the moment Bleach or Tite Kubo comes into the conversation, I can’t help but sigh. I don’t know many people who would consider a manga great because it has good background artwork. It may be a neat bonus, but it’s hardly important in deciding the quality of a title.

      At the end of the day, you may think it’s an issue, but Kubo clearly doesn’t, and it ain’t gonna change, just like Oda is still going to use sameface for his female characters.

  48. You are very condescending with the mangaka, it is impossible to conceive that the end of the manga is goo and now I remember why I had stopped reading this blog, the lack of criteria of the editors to evaluate an anime or manga is terrible.

    Uoy Ckuf
    1. I ain’t gonna apologise for being honest about my liking for Bleach. You may think it’s impossible to conceive that the end of this manga is good, but your view on the series isn’t objective and proven correct. I’m sorry you didn’t like Bleach enough to consider the possibility that others still do, but you’ll just have to accept that fact.

      Also, what criteria are you referring to? I don’t have an Honours Degree in Anime Blogging, if that’s what you’re implying.

  49. While i’m not feeling as emotional as when i read Naruto’s final chapters (it was my top fav shonen series), still Bleach did mean a lot to me, the first few chapter/episodes where indeed very interesting and stylish to catch my attention, the humor was good and the action was exciting, story wise i’d say the plot isn’t really reason to watch Bleach (or any shoenen for the matter) but i’ll have to say that the Soul Society plot was indeed excellent and one of the best plots/arcs in both Bleach and shonen (and has one of my most fav anime songs, NUMBER ONE .. gets my blood bumping whenever i hear it, so much passion and energy there.

    So yeah shonen could have good plots (i’m watching Ushio to Tora now and i find it to be a more plot focused shonen) but most of the time it’s the characters that are the focus (IMO most shonen are character driven), their designs, their abilities, their relations (shipping, you know) .. and that’s where Bleach shines through and through, to the very end Kubo really did a fantastic job handling a humongous cast of characters that are all diverse in terms of design and personalities (as well as powers and abilities), and for someone who likes to design characters like myself this is a titanic task that very few actually truly and fully appreciate.

    As for my fav character, i like Ichigo at the start of the show because he was a bit different from typical bratty shonen hero, he was quite mature and composed, but sadly that left him little room to grow (unlike say Naruto who started bratty and annoying and ended up being a bad ass, personality wise), I liked Rukia for a lot of reasons but was annoyed she never fully achieved her potential until much later in the series, her friendship and antics with Ichigo (and her drawings) were always endearing, but neither of them are my fav character, the one i found most peculiar and interesting was in fact Kurotsuchi Mayuri, even from the time he was an antagonist fighting Ishida i was taken by his bizarre attitude and abilities, but when the soul society shinigami stopped being antagonists and became part of the main cast that’s when he got even more interesting, you think a guy like this would never be on the good guys side, but somehow Kubo did it, he solidified his status as my fav Bleach character when he gave that speech about perfection and the entire fight prior to it (even how he won in a very ironic and cruel way that fits his personality so well), from a character designer standpoint Kurotsuchi Mayuri is the most creative and consistent characters in Bleach, yes he doesn’t change much, what happens is that more of him is revealed to us bit by bit specially during the final arc and his fight during it but he was very interesting from the get go.

    Finally i have to say that i can’t help but feel a bit cheated by the ending but not enough to feel really bad about it, Bleach did mean a lot to me even if i kinda moved past it now and grew more appreciating for the more mature and complex animes out there, it impacted me both as an artist and as an anime fan, i guess we are seeing an end of an era and a start of a new one (oh, here comes the big sentimental talk), out of the big three only one is left (Obviously One Piece) and i don’t think we will be seeing any BIG three any time soon (or ever again), for a manga to last 15 years it is indeed something, but it no longer fits with the pace and economy of this generation (damn, i feel old now XD), personally i’m also done with +100 ep anime or +50 vol manga, my ideal size now is a 50 ep anime or a manga that’s around the 12-30 Vol. mark, it’s ideal for my free time and may taste now (which changed a lot since i started watching Bleach back then), so let’s hope the new era of manga and anime was as interesting as the previous one.

  50. While I, like some others, think that the series went downhill after the soul society arc, and that you can’t call this ending good just because it’s “obvious” that this isn’t how Kubo intended to end the series — your overview of Bleach reminded me why I got hooked on the series and continued reading the chapters weekly. Thank you, Samu, for reviewing Bleach for the last so many chapters.

    Let us know what other series/manga/anime you’re going to pick up to fill the void! Keep up the good work :p

  51. I never watched Bleach past the Hueco Mundo part where they moved to a timeskip, then I skipped ahead and read a few chapters about Ichigo turning into a vizard and recognizing his hollow self, then forgot it due to scanlator wars. I’m usually the person who complains about everything I disliked in a work, although those complaints are a means of remembering those works instead of an actual critique of the work. The more I like a thing, the more I rail against it in an effort to remember it. The good parts are kept sacred, unwritten, never uttered. Despite all that, I really enjoyed your fluffy retrospective. It reminded me of the good things of the works and life events I hold dear, although their unviolable sacredness dimmed a bit. So… thank you? For reminding me that a work need not be remembered by its flaws, and can be appreciated lovingly as a whole without feeling cheesy and forced. This is the only article about Bleach I’ve ever read, and likely will ever read. Thanks for making it memorable.

  52. hey so a little about me i’ve never been big on the forum scene i usually just read my weekly manga as a form of entertainment/time killing, really makes me feel like im part of another world its a nice getaway in my mind, and as another world closes ill be upset, even if the manga supposedly fell of to some to me the world still lived it just changed, this post was a great means of closure for the world as its been going on for so long its hard to remember the key arcs / scenes, very grateful that you put this together grateful there are more committed fans out there to give us a boost i had more feels reading this post than the last chapter which is okay because one series of feels > one chapter of feels.

    alex r
  53. The best guy to end the review for the manga series here at RC. It’s also my favourite too. Screw Naruto, One Piece and everything else. Kubo’s art was my imagination when I was 14.

    Almost everything written by Samu has been in my mind, including the unanswered (seriously, The Soul King), the news (last arc Anime plz), and the nostalgia. Sadly this had to end, so after taking this long to mull about it, I’ve came here to post for this manga the last time.

    Kubo-sensei, you have delivered. Now I hope I get to see your new works soon.
    (Even though secretly I want Zombie Powder to continue haha)

  54. Bleach was the show that got me into anime, way back when it was still relatively new in 2005, like Samu I became heavily involved in the bleach fan environment helping mod some of the early sites. the first few arcs of both the anime and the manga were just fantastic, you can go back and read them now and they have the perfect way of building up the main character, fleshing out some side ones and then making sure there was always something in the way (Ichigo getting beaten by Byakuya and everyone being outfoxed by Aizen). The end of the Huecho Mundo arc was for me where I started to waver in my support, as happens in Shonen series the lead gets too powerful and new enemies and events feel like mcguffins, the plot moved away from the plotlines we fell in love with as it became more about the endless battles, which became protracted at points. The less said about the last few arcs the better, good characters were wasted, while others were given an abundance of screen time, and as mentioned in the end nothing was explained. It’s been a wild ride Bleach, but at least we can put you to bed now.

    I was massively for IchiRuki, so I am disappointed with the ending although I will give you that it was obvious where Kubo was taking the couplings after the last 2 arcs. For your review, you may wish to focus less on that justification of being an IchiHime – it’s almost like gloating as there are several sentences on it, although I’ll give you it is very shonen for a one sided love to win through (which is kinda creepy when you think what that is promoting). The best end would have been with no couplings and a proper ending rather than the farce we got. Ce la Vie, let’s hope they treat our other beloved titles better.

  55. For better or worse, this is still easily my favorite of the Big Three. Back when I was still new to manga and anime, I was trying to look for more unknown ones, trying not to get in with the popular ones. However, as time progressed, I decided to give each of them a chance. Lo and behold, the first one that ever caught my attention was Bleach. Followed by Naruto and One Piece. Yes it has flaws, but it still holds a personal place in my favorites.

    I already mentioned this on an earlier post, but it’s worth repeating. What made Bleach especially interesting was that its characters focused less on friendship and camaraderie, and more on duty and sacrifice. They were willing to wound their friends and themselves to get the job done. They’re soldiers who do their job, and try their hardest to not allow their emotions to get the best of them. If an ally turns against them, they will not hesitate to fight back. This manga’s main theme was not friendship, it was sacrifice.

    They either give everything, or they lose everything.

  56. I stopped liking the story since long ago. A lots of parts didn’t make sense at all.
    I am just glad it finished since i am one of those people who hate unfinished stories.

  57. Thank you Samu. As a long lost fan of Bleach, I really enjoyed reading this post. I even read Unohana’s story in Bleack wikia, because of this post.

    Yet, I was a bit confused about one thing: Orihime or Mayuri?

  58. Thanks for covering Bleach. Proof and Samu are pretty much the only reason why I know how that series is ending.

    Sadly, I am greatly disappointed with how this series turned out and wish it ended much, MUCH earlier.

    But it’s more than that – of course it’s more than that. I got into Naruto and Bleach around the same time. These series were so fresh back then and were teaming with potential… but I really like Kubo’s art, so there was a time when I actually liked Bleach more… but that time has passed a long time ago. Now, I can’t even easily think of Bleach fondly because everything about it is so drenched in disappointment (disappointment that Rukia pretty much disappeared from the story line, disappointment we had all these horrible and boring bad guys that showed up for no good reasons, disappointment that the story simply didn’t flow)… Naruto strayed too in terms of story line but it all came back together in a way that most fans can actually be happy about in the end. But not Bleach, no, no it just went to the crapper and never recovered…

    In any case, to me, Bleach will always be he first 20 books – those are the only ones I keep on the bookshelf even though I have bought more afterwards out of wishful thinking that the series will get better (I stopped though after around book 40). I think I will burn the rest that I have kept at my parents’ home out of frustration one of these days.

  59. Hey Samu,

    Read every week and this final post brought tears to my eyes. The ending was something I did not like but looking back on it, it is growing on me.

    The saddest part of the ending is Aizen and his monologue on death. He states that death is necessary for people to move forward with “courage” but we all know he’s immortal. Forever alone, in muken, the darkest pit of hell, impaled in that god-forsaken awful chair, that’s his tragic end.

    But in juxtaposition to that completely tragic ending, we have the appearance of Yhwach, who appears in the happiest moment of Ichigo’s life 10 years later. Yhwach was trying to kill Kazui, it was not Kazui killing Yhwach. To take away Ichigo’s family would have been the biggest punishment. Yhwach chose this moment to invade to confirm that this is the happiest moment in time for everyone. That’s what makes me like this chapter. The good and the bad intersecting.

    A fan.

    1. Another one I made cry? I’ll call that a success. And I have to say, your take on the events of the final chapter make a lot of sense. Even with all the missing details still present this does make for a fitting conclusion. I think whatever would have happened with the final fight, these two chapters would have been much the same.

  60. I have to admit I hadn’t read any of your reviews until this one. I really enjoyed it all. It made me so nostalgic since Bleach was my first anime/manga experience too. I feel you. Thank you for writing with that passion and make me remember why I love Bleach so much.

  61. i think most bandwagon bleach fans such as myself fell off during the awful filler arcs. hopefully the anime picks up again without the fillers and the production company doesn’t pull a naruto on the fans.

    1. Maybe we’ll get very lucky (luckier than we deserve) and when/if the anime is picked up again (without filler) it will have great ratings. Good enough that the animators will want to expand the story, and they’ll will bring in Kubo to do the “true” ending for Bleach that he always envisioned. I don’t think it will be too different from what we got, but I hope so of the loose ends could be wrapped up.

  62. Wow. Just wow.

    That is by far one of my favorites articles ever. It´s written with so much heart and passion and you created an awesome nostalgia trip for me!

    Bleach was also my gateway series after a sought after an anime that was pretty much the same as One Piece but with big swords, greater beings and more fighting. That´s when my ride began in 2012.
    It had by far the best beginning out of all shounen ever imho. Good pacing, it was dark as hell and the MC wasn´t your typical comic relief-ish character. I also have to agree when it comes to the best arc – soul society. The twist with aizen and all those memorable new characters, fight scenes and defeats. It was truly a blast! I remember all those great moments you mentioned, though i were to pick a personal favorite it would be the first ichigo vs aizen moment when the latter just destroyed our main after all this epic set-up (i mean he fought several divison leaders at once just before this epic encounter, didn´t he?).

    *shortens the following text passages bc they were long af*

    What i still cannot understand to this date is why BLEACH got so unpopular during Hueco Mundo/Karakura. Imo these two aren´t really that far away from the god-tierness that was the SS arc. I agree though – Aizen´s defeat would have marked a near perfect grandé finale! (well, apart from the unanswered questions, that is)
    …aaaand that´s what i actually thought. At that time i was still a newbie to this hobby and wouldn´t even know that there is a manga or that there was another arc in the anime. So i took an unintentional break from BLEACH, even though i loved it (lol).
    When i finally got back on track (damn, was i shocked when i found out there is more!) i full agree with your thoughts. The fullbringer might not quite be up there, but it´s definitely not bad. The final arc could have been the best of the best – until they decided to fck kubo up (not only WSJ and popularity decline; He really got immense amounts of hate through twitter! That´s why he left years ago, a pity). In an interview from 2012/2013 (idk anymore) he said that he wanted to continue Bleach for about ten years from then. TEN years. Not 4/5. That´s (what i believe at least) why all those fights between secondary characters in the last arc dragged on for so long. He took his time, slow pacing was always his style (the anime could then adapt it with very neat pacing). That´s why this rushed ending feels so freaking anticlimactic…

    Anyways, Bleach will always be my favorite show. It´s the best fighting-shounen(!) with the best OST, best visuals, best characters (in a sense of “rememberable/interesting”), best setting (well, deathgods > pirates/ninjas tbh) and – of course for me (god, i luv´em!) – the absolute best fights imho!

    I´d love to discuss and talk about some points right now, but unfortunately i´m out of words after reading your work (and also terrible at writing in general btw).

    Thank you very much, both kubo-sensei and you, Samu!
    (btw what do you think of ishida? I mean, he is glasses-kun, just like your avatar^^)

    1. Thank you for all the kind words! I’m glad you enjoyed reading my article as much as I enjoyed writing it. It seems we share many fond and familiar memories with Bleach – it’s good to hear that there’s still real fans out there even after all these years.

      As for Ishida, I always liked him but never loved him. Simply because that stoic character archetype isn’t my favourite. He made for a good foe for Ichigo in the beginning of the series, but he never made it into my favourite list.

  63. This is not what I expected. The ending like this has broken my heart. I really wants ichigo and rookia pairing. But it’s good. I am also broken because bleach has ended. This is such a emotional moment for me. I have seen every moment of bleach. The ending feels me like something very precious is going very far from me. Another heart breaking thing is naruto is also at the ending…. Both of the series are very close to me……….hope u will come back again…….and make me smile.

  64. Well well….gotta admit bleach was an anime i used to watch when it was aired on TV in my country and boy does it bring back memories….after having a bit of flashback on the soul society arc i suddenly wanted to see what was happening in Bleach after that and i got back to watching all of it including Fullbring arc. Was so sad it eneded but about a year or so ago i found out the manga was going on with its final arc and just felt like i wanted to know every last bit of the story. It felt kinda good and kinda dissapointing when it was close to the end. Many things remain unanswered and will probably stay so till the end of time but man….i have to admit Kubo made a hell of a job keeping the fans with him to the very end of it. Will take the ending as it is, will hope for some spinoff of bleach and praise its genious creator for the rest of my life. Also, i will keep my bleach medalion around my neck for a very long time just ’cause i love that hollow ichigo face^^.
    BTW:Big up Samu for the article, couldn’t disagree with anything you wrote there.

  65. I haven’t been reading Bleach for sometime, and I’m so shocked to know that it already ended!

    To be honest, I was hoping for an IchiRuki ending but after reading your post…I’m willing to admit that you have a point…Still, I can’t help but hope that it didn’t turn out that way.

    I’ll probably re-read this someday. By then, maybe, I’ll be able to understand how the story became this way.

    Thanks for writing this Bleach finale. When most of us gave up, you endured, Samu!


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