Friday, July 11, 2014

Bleach Anime Review

Bleach Week – Bleach Anime Review
Written by: ClayDragon

“We stand in awe of that which cannot be seen.”

I like Bleach. If you haven’t noticed that by now, then you must be either brand new or very unobservant. In fact, Bleach was the first anime series I watched that made me think that I could enjoy other series. It wasn’t the first series I watched (that honour goes to Death Note), but before Bleach I always had the feeling that the series that I had watched before were special cases, and that most anime shows wouldn’t interest me. So, in honour of the anime that really got me into anime, and to celebrate the final day of Bleach Week, I decided to do a review of the Bleach anime.

Hold on to your hats.

To be honest, the Bleach anime seems to be forgotten when it comes to discussions about anime adaptations. People tend to focus on the bad anime series (like the Naruto anime – see here for more on that), or the good anime series, like Death Note. But for some reason, Bleach gets pushed to the sidelines when it doesn’t really deserve it. To clarify, I’m only going to be talking about the anime adaptation of the series, and not the series itself (I’ll save that for when the manga’s finished).

How could anyone forget about this?

Firstly, the question to be asked is ‘does the anime faithfully follow the manga?. To which the answer is yes, it does. There are a few alterations here and there, but for the most part it is a very faithful adaptation. It even goes above and beyond by filling in the backstory of some characters, which either didn’t appear in the manga or was only briefly alluded to. Speaking of faithful adapting, I suppose I’d better get the dreaded question out of the way: what about the filler?

"Filler, you say? Let me tell you about the filler...."

Surprisingly, the Bleach filler isn’t all that bad, although it is badly-placed, as most filler occurs in the middle of canon arcs, which completely destroys the pacing. In fact, on my first time watching the show I got halfway through a filler arc before even realising that it was non-canon. Admittedly, I haven’t watched all of the filler – I’ve only seen three filler arcs – but from what I’ve seen it wasn’t bad. It’s certainly a damn sight better than Naruto filler, which seems to be some form of unending torture designed to make you question if life is worth living.

"More...Naruto filler?"

The animation itself is pretty good, and the series always seems bright and vibrant as a result. It had an annoying habit of cranking up the brightness during the first arc whenever a spiritual presence appeared, but thankfully that disappeared when the Soul Society arc started. The fights are fluid, and there are hardly any animation errors. The animation is a bit bad at the start, but again, by the time the Soul Society arc starts all of the problems have been ironed out.

Turn down the brightness, it's burning my eyes!

The soundtrack is also a high point. There’s a wide range of music used in the series, so you don’t feel as if you’re listening to the same background music over and over again. The style of music changes often as well – most of the soundtrack used during the Arrancar arc sounds Spanish or Mexican, with a couple of songs also having some ominous chanting.

Your ordinary epic music isn't enough for Ulquiorra. He demands super-epic music.

My personal favourites include Quincy’s Craft (mostly used whenever Uryu does something awesome), Invasion (which plays during a few Espada fights), and the oddly-titled but still brilliant B13A. Of course, the song that’s most prominent in the show is ‘Number One’, which has so many remixes and variations that it’s hard to keep track of them all. Not all tracks are big, epic pieces though – there are a number of softer, slower tracks that play during the lighter moments of the series, the best of which is probably ‘Soundscape to Ardor’.

Music to dance to.

On the subject of music, Bleach’s openings are all good too. I think it’s the only long-running show I’ve seen that doesn’t have one bad opening. Some are worse than others, sure, but none of them are what you’d call ‘bad’. Out of all the openings, the second, seventh and thirteenth openings are probably my favourites (D – Tecnolife, After Dark, and Ranbu no Melody if you’re interested), although there are plenty other good ones. On the other hand, the endings are somewhat lackluster, with only one or two really standing out. The 25th ending is one of those, as is the final one.

Whoever had the idea to include this section in the final opening, you just earned yourself a cookie.

The voice acting is well-done too, for the most part. As a general rule, during the canon episodes the voices will be perfect, but during filler then it would seem as if the voice actors just didn’t care, as the character’s voices just sound flat and emotionless. However, special mention must be made for Michael Lindsay, Patrick Seitz and Kyle Hebert (the voices of Urahara, Isshin and Aizen, respectively) as they both consistently perform very well, and every line they say can’t fail to make you smile (or, in the case of Aizen, send shivers down your spine).

Two of the best characters to ever grace the series. And Tessai.

The worst part of the Bleach anime is the fact that it ended rather abruptly after the Fullbring arc. Whilst this is understandable (the Fullbring arc was quite polarising, so many viewers lost interest), it does mean that it’s looking increasingly unlikely that the Thousand-Year Blood War arc will be animated. It’s a shame, as the current manga arc is one of the best Bleach story arcs, and is a serious contender for my favourite manga arc, full stop. The end of the Fullbring arc is nice though, as the animators took the time to put a proper ending in, in the form of a short epilogue showing what the Soul Reapers get up to after the arc, which is equal parts funny and heartwarming.

...How is Hiyori doing that?

In a similar vein, the anime produced a number of short mini-episodes called omakes, which was basically just an excuse to take the serious characters and put them in hilarious situations. Other times, the omakes would be used to educate the viewer about something that had happened in the preceding episode, like the Arrancar Encyclopaedia segments (hosted by Gin Ichimaru). The thing is that some of the sillier ones are actually canon, as one of the omakes that played during the final battle with Aizen dealt with Kon being kidnapped by Squad 12. After that, Kon was never seen again…until the most recent manga arc, where he met up with Ichigo after escaping from Squad 12.

What I want to know is what happened to him in between.

Overall, the Bleach anime is really good. In fact, I’d even go so far as to say that the anime adaptation of Bleach is better than the anime adaptation of Naruto. Sure, there are some slight issues, like the fact that there will be no anime version of the current manga arc, and the oddly-placed filler, but apart from those two problems the anime hits all the right notes. If you’ve read the Bleach manga, I’d highly recommend giving the anime a shot. If you’ve never even read Bleach before, then I’d still recommend the anime. You might be pleasantly surprised.

"Please enjoy the anime....or else."

Good Things:          It’s a faithful adaptation.

                                The animation is bright and colourful.

                                The soundtrack, voice acting and openings are all awesome.

                                The filler is decent (by filler standards, anyway).

                                Funny omakes lend a touch of humour to otherwise serious episodes.

Bad Things:           The sudden ending (and subsequent lack of an animated Blood War arc).

                                Badly-placed filler arcs.
The Verdict:   

And that’s it for Bleach Week. I have to admit, I had fun doing it – and judging from the comments I received, you lot had fun reading it. In fact, I’m probably going to continue doing articles and reviews and suchlike as well as my weekly manga reviews (although not to the extent of doing one every day – I think that would kill me). There’s talk of doing more themed weeks in the future for series like Naruto and Fairy Tail, but I’m not sure when they’ll get done. For now though, thanks for your comments and support, and as always, thanks for reading!

Normal service will be resumed.

Like I said - hardly any animation errors.

ClayDragon is currently studying Physics at university, and is constantly bewildered by it. The main method of contacting him is his Gmail account at The alternative is his Skype account at kyleroulston1993, but he doesn’t use it that much. When not playing games or reading, he can be found with his head in his hands whilst trying in vain to understand quantum physics. Dawn of the Final Day: 24 Hours Remain...


  1. Perfect review!

    Bleach anime really is good, thought, it's not as good as Yu Yu Hakusho was, which had zero filler.

    But overral, Bleach anime faaar better than Naruto Shippuuden. 7.5/10 for me. ;)

    1. Thanks a lot!

      I haven't actually seen YuYu Hakusho. I know it has a number of similarities to Bleach, but I've never got around to watching it.

      I was wondering whether to give Bleach a 7.5 or an 8, but when I compared it to the Naruto anime I felt that it was worth an extra half-point :)

  2. The thing about the Bleach anime is that it is probably an improvement over the actual source material. Which is a total shame on Kubo, since he apparently wants Bleach to be something only capable of "experiencing" through manga.(See his Wikipedia page for that crap).
    I mean, come on, the anime actually has backgrounds! I think I saw a comparison where the anime gave a crap to add the corridor behind Tsukishima.
    I haven't watched much of the anime, but I like the comedy moments at the, maybe, end of the episode? Like those Shinigami Illustrated Guide thing. I'll have that over Kubo's nonsense pretentious poems about the moon or whatever.
    The anime even poked fun of the ridiculous attack-from-behinds in the Zommari fight.
    Sometimes I think Bleach should have remained a monster of the week series, shifting focus between different captains and others. Then Kubo could spend all those chapters with actual reason to focus on random shinigami.
    I'm sure the pacing was pretty okay in the anime comparatively right?

    1. I would say that the Bleach anime is an improvement over the manga, but then again I haven't seen any series in which the manga is actually better.
      The problem is that Kubo imagines that every fight takes place with a white background, and then draws the fight as he imagines it, so some of the backgrounds probably get lost during that transition.
      Yeah, the Shinigami Guide Omakes are one of the better things about the anime, although some omakes are based around small doodles that Kubo does at the end of every chapter. And as far as I know, there's only one poem per manga volume, so they don't bother me that much.
      I don't know if Bleach would have worked as a Monster of the Week series, as it's really the story arcs which drive the plot, and without an overall storyline I think the series would be weaker as a result.
      The pacing is pretty much the same, the fights go by faster, but the inconveniently-placed filler throws the pacing off to some extent.