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).
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?
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.
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.
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’.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
ClayDragon is currently studying Physics at university, and is constantly bewildered by it. The main method of contacting him is his Gmail account at firstname.lastname@example.org. 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...