Elliott, from Inside the Locker and Highly Suspect Reviews here, welcoming you to “Go Geaux Anime!”, OneOfUs.Net’s new Japanese anime blog. Before starting, I wanted to answer one fundamental question for you, the reader:
Why does this blog exist?
Love. Mal said it best:
“Love. You can learn all the math in the ‘Verse, but you take a boat in the air
that you don’t love, she’ll shake you off just as sure as the turning of the worlds.”
I have enjoyed animation for as long as I can remember. Some of my favorite memories are waking up early to watch Saturday Morning Cartoons, and watching them right until Soul Train came on.
Eventually, my love of animation developed into an obsession with Japanese animation otherwise known as anime. When I love something I want to let others know about it. To those who aren’t already anime fans I aim to show you how great it can be. I want to provide you a guide through the medium, and hope you, in turn, find something you end up really enjoying.
To those who are already fans I will point out what is worth your time,show you some new favorites, and remind you of some forgotten classics.
I sincerely hope you enjoy “Go Geaux Anime! ” and end up discovering a new favorite show or movie you wouldn’t have otherwise found. I hope you feel like I do right now!
Go Geaux Anime! #1:
Frequently, there are shows with an interesting premise but for one reason or another you don’t give a shot, whether it has an intimidating number of episodes, a bad reputation, or it just seems silly. This leads to it being skipped over, and you missing out on what could be a very rewarding viewing experience. To that I say:
Lets dive right in!
QUESTION: Should you give Bleach a shot?
ANSWER: Yes, BUT make sure to avoid most of the filler, and if you are not into it after the first and third seasons bail out.
Plot and Origin
Bleach is based off of a Manga of the same name, written and illustrated by Tite Kubo. It follows the story of Ichigo Kurosaki, a seemingly regular teenager as he is drawn into the world of the soul reapers, also known as Shinigami. As the story progresses, the series unfolds an ever evolving mystery surrounding Ichigo Kurosaki as he battles villains and discovers more about his powers, himself, and the world, in which he now finds himself.
Reasons To Dive In:
A Rich Mythos
Bleach has an extensive and well-developed underlying mythos. It does an excellent job of making the world feel like a real and exciting place. For example:
–Zanpaktou: Each Shinigami has a unique weapon called a Zanpaktou, which is based off of each person’s soul and can have a variety of different powers. For the most part these powers match up very well with the characterization of the different Shinigamis.
–Kido: Think of it like a supernatural martial art. There are several different types, but my favorite(s) are those based on specific incantations. One such example is Hado 91:Senju Koten Taiho.
I promise you this is not a spell to summon a rave.
–Hadou #91’s incantation: Limit of the thousands hands, respectful hands, unable to touch the darkness. Shooting hands unable to reflect the blue sky. The road that basks in light, the wind that ignited the embers, time that gathers when both are together, there is no need to be hesitant, obey my orders. Light bullets, eight bodies, nine items, book of heaven, diseased treasure, great wheel, grey fortress tower. Aim far away, scatter brightly and cleanly when fired”
The amount of thought that goes into crafting these different kidos is reminiscent of the amount of world building present in the Lord of the Rings series.
A Large and Well Conceived Supporting Cast:
Each of Bleach’s supporting cast are given an immense amount of back story and development in their own right. It is somewhat akin to Orange Is the New Black. No I am not drunk. While the show definitely has a main character, we learn the backstories of most of the supporting characters as well.
Entire episodes are spent on seemingly minor characters; telling you where they come from and their principal motivations. This may seem basic but with the amount of other characters this series boasts, it is indeed an impressive achievement. With a fully-developed supporting cast of characters each viewer will inevitably find his or her favorite and be excited when their character is featured.
An Ongoing Mystery
Throughout the entire series, there is a sense that you are not hearing the entire story; that essential parts are being withheld, not only from you the viewer, but the main characters as well. I will not say what it is here because:
But I will say the twists and explanations are deeply satisfying and make it worthwhile to re-watch certain key episodes and arcs.
Mediocre Animation Quality
While Bleach is by no means ugly, it is not breaking any new ground, visually. Due to the production schedule a lot of traditional shortcuts were taken (static backgrounds, “anime mouth” (From time to time, mouths of characters do not sync up with their speech), etc.) and it shows. It does not have the production quality of a Pixar movie, and is instead more on the level of a better than average Cartoon Network show.
Common and Embarrassing Anime Tropes
Bleach contains some of the more common and embarrassing anime tropes. These are the types of things that make exposing the general public to anime difficult. For instance Bleach woefully features:
According to Wikipedia, Fan Service is: A term originating from anime and manga fandom for material in a series which is intentionally added to please the audience. It is about “servicing” the fan – giving the fans “exactly what they want”. Fan service usually refers to “gratuitous titillation”, but can also refer to intertextual references to other series.
Fan service in Bleach takes the form of female characters wearing overly revealing outfits for no other reason than to draw in viewers. For example there is the character of Matsumoto, a vice captain and ostensibly one of the most powerful characters in Bleach’s universe. She is put in outfits like this on a regular basis:
Now, while Bleach has no where near the level of fan service as Highschool of the Dead, it is still something you should be aware of before you start watching.
Now I am not a prude, far from it, but I am an adult. The problem with fan service is that not only does it objectify women, which of course is bad, it makes it harder for the average fan to take the show seriously. It makes it harder for me to stay invested in the show, until it gets back to the story.
–Unrequited and Unaddressed Romance (spoilers!)
Ichigo has a childhood friend , Orihimie, with whom he is very close. Throughout the series it is hinted at that there may be mutual romantic interest, but it is never explored. I don’t think Bleach should have been a romance series , but it should been explored. By not addressing it, it left me and a lot of viewers hanging. Imagine if on The Office the whole Jim and Pam storyline was never addressed, but constantly hinted at. That is what we have here.
–By the Power of Grayskull!
To access the power of their zanpakutou, each shinigami, normally utters a certain phrase and strikes a certain pose. This occurring a few times is fine and actually quite enjoyable, but it starts getting laborious the 20th time. You are left wondering, like during Power Rangers, why their opponent doesn’t just attack while they are powering up. These power-ups only take about 10 seconds on average so they are not the long sessions that populate DBZ, but there are a bunch of them.
Again, these power-ups aren’t all bad, but they are just done so much that they make the overall product seem silly at times.
Too Much Filler
Bleach has some engaging and tight story arcs, it also has a lot of episodes which are essentially meaningless to the plot.
Instead of moving the main story line along, the filler , generally, consisted of bad to mediocre side stories. So instead of getting even more great content, the viewers were left with subpar stories to hold us over until we could get back to the main narrative that we really wanted more of.
The good news for new viewers is that you can look at my watching guide below and avoid most if not all of the filler! Lucky You!
Where to Watch:
Hulu – Free with ads (all 366 episodes) – http://www.hulu.com/bleach
CrunchyRoll – No ads 6.95 a month – http://www.crunchyroll.com/bleach Episodes 266 and on are free with ads
Litmus Test – A few episodes you can watch to try it out.
Episodes 1-5;8;38-39;56-57 (Note there are spoilers in episodes 38-39 and 56-57)
A Movable Feast – What to Watch to Make Sure You Will Enjoy it
Bleach Season 1: Agent of Shinigami Arc – Episodes 1-20
Bleach Season 3: Soul Society: The Rescue – Episodes 42-63
Hitting on All Cylinders – What to Watch once you know you like it.
Bleach Season 2: Sneak Entry Arc – Episodes 21-41
Bleach Season 6: Arrancar: The Arrival Arc – Episodes 110-131
Bleach Season 7: Arrancar: The Hueco Mundo Sneak Entry arc Episodes 132- 151
Bleach Season 8: Arrancar: The Fierce Fight arc – Episodes 152-167
Bleach Season 10: Arrancar vs. Shinigami arc – Episodes 190-205
Bleach Season 11: The Past – Episodes 206-212
Bleach Season 12: Arrancar: Decisive Battle of Karakura arc – Episodes 213-229
Bleach Season 14: Arrancar: Downfall arc – End of the Main Storyline – Episodes 266-316
Worth A Look – What to watch once you finished the main storyline.
Bleach Season 16:Lost Agent Arc: Episodes 343-366
Bleach movies 1-3
Gotta Catch Em ALL – For those who want to see everything.
Go back and watch the seasons not listed above and read the associated manga. There are various video games based on Bleach you can check out as well.
Well Done Fan Art and Cosplay
Agree? Disagree? Let me know in the comments! Till then I’m out!