Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Naruto vs Bleach vs One Piece - The 3 Fallen Heroes

Written by Shiggins

Remember The Big 3? Naruto was still running with flying colours, Bleach was at the top of it's game, and One Piece was somehow becoming the best-selling manga of all time. Everything seemed bright and hopeful, with little reason to complain unless you're a whiny bitch who can't find joy in anything. And today, I'm going to remember what was once considered the trilogy that everybody should read, by making them go to war for the title of "Best of the Bunch". And trust me when I say, you'll be surprised how close the results actually are.

Look at all these happy bunnies!


Naruto: Naruto Uzumaki, the title character of the series, grew up without a family or friends due to being the host of a Nine-Tailed Fox, which seems a bit silly when you think about it. Everybody hates the person who could kill them all one day, instead of wanting to stay on his good side? Ah well, at any rate Naruto dreams of becoming the Hokage, the leader of the village, and gaining recognition by the people in return. Along the way, he goes through friendship, loss, love, rejection, and plenty of violence and bonds, while also trying to save his friend-turned-villain Sasuke Uchiha.

And he definitely suits the sexiness that is blonde.
Bleach: Ichigo Kurosaki can see ghosts, and thanks to a visit from Rukia Kuchiki, is now able to become a Shinigami and free ghosts, while also having to protect his friends from various threats, including evil Shinigami traitors, weird monster people known as Arrancar, and even an army of villains thought to be extinct.

Aaaand... Now I'm gay.
One Piece: Monkey. D Luffy wants to become King of the Pirates by finding the legendary treasure, the One Piece. Given the power of stretching his limbs like rubber after accidentally eating a magical fruit, Luffy is now ready to get a new ship, a new crew and sail as many islands as need be until he finds his goal and achieves his dream, going through governments, monsters and who knows what else.

"Oh, mesa wanna be the pirate king, okay day?"

Verdict: Naruto

What makes Naruto the standout choice for this section, besides his surprising development that the other two greatly lack, is how deep his main goals and justifications for them are. He wants to become Hokage because the village never gave him any notice, and Hokage would be the ultimate sign of acceptance by the people who neglected him. He wants to save Sasuke because of their bond, and his feelings towards that bond due to loneliness. Ichigo instantly fails in this department because he has no true goal other than the basic and generic "save my pals", which I think has only occurred in every Shounen protagonist ever. As for Luffy, his quest to become Pirate King is never really explained and when it comes down to personality, Luffy's stupidity can be far too distracting and grating to keep me invested in his quest.

Supporting Cast

Naruto: As Naruto goes through development and change, he comes across various figures that impact his life in ways too many to count, unless you got a lot of time on your hands. From teachers like Kakashi, Jiraiya and Killer Bee, to rivals and friends like Hinata, Kiba, Shikamaru and Sakura, Naruto has seen more than you can imagine. He meets other "hosts" of the giant Tailed Beasts and even comes face-to-face with a hero straight out of myth and legend. Of course, it's impossible to mention Naruto's friends without referring to Sasuke Uchiha, who leaves the village and becomes Naruto's most forward goal, which takes up a large majority of the screentime that previously mentioned characters could have used.

Don't worry. This character will always be relev... Pah!
Bleach: Funnily enough, a lot of Bleach's companions were formerly antagonists turned good by the wheels of fate. We see murdering psychopathic Shinigami like Kenpachi fight alongside sweet ordinary, big-breasted humans like Orihime. Mad scientist monsters like Kurotsuchi talk peacefully with stoic badass Byakuya, and even the swords of Bleach can be considered characters now, including Ichigo's own Zanpakuto; Zangetsu. There are tons of them to go around, from captains and monsters, to swords and stuffed animals, and almost all of them have one moment to shine. Not everybody has a moment deserving of them, but the sacrifice of plot to make room for battles does help to create a brief glimpse into the lives and morals of all the characters.

His waifus are best waifus.
One Piece: Possibly supporting the biggest roster of freaks in this article, One Piece's island tour is a great excuse to show us just as many people as possible. The supporting cast of One Piece range from gangs led by a speedo-wearing cyborg named Franky, to horrifyingly ugly train-riding mermaids, to sky scientists living on clouds, to a dude in a box with a big afro. It's impossible to list them all, but the highlights of the series are easily some of the members of the Straw Hat crew, including master pervert and chef Sanji, the cool-as-ice archaeologist (which is unnecessary for a pirate crew but whatever...) Nico Robin, and of course, Zoro. Motherfucking Zoro.

God. That is all.
Verdict: Bleach.

As damn difficult as this subject was, I have to give it to Bleach for using the cast properly. In fact, one of Naruto's biggest flaws is how it handles the majority of it's characters, favouring the approach of forgetting about them so it can focus all on Sasuke's and Naruto's bromantic feud. While Naruto's characters are amazing, Kakashi being an utter delight in every way, they're severely underused. Naruto handles their characters like Star Wars handles Darth Maul. As for One Piece, there are far too many to count. It's amazing how many the series can handle, but this does cause a lot of them to not be nearly as full as I feel they could be. Bleach is in the middle of these two problems. The number isn't too large for you to get overwhelmed, and most of them have at least one relevant, badass or intriguing opportunity to catch your eye.


Naruto: Orochimaru, the serpent king of my life. The Akatsuki, smallest organisation of monsters and madmen this side of American politics. And the Uchiha, displaying what happens when pink-eye takes a really bad turn. All with their own backstories, plot twists, abilities and plans for the future. From religion to money, they all care about something unique to them and are probably the deepest villains on this list.

Possibly the most "boy band cover" picture I've ever seen in my life.
Bleach: Can you say "fuck ton"? Because that's how many Bleach have. A fuck ton. Several loads of armies that cause chaos each arc. First, you have the Shinigami being antagonists, then that changes to the Arrancars, then the Arrancars lose focus and are switched out for Fullbringers. And then finally, the Quincies. Massive amounts of freaks with unique powers and designs to fully demonstrate what it means to be a threat. Some can be extremely motivated and tragic, while others are just grotesque and deformed. Of course, primary villains like Aizen, Yhwach and Gin manage to take up more time than others, but you still get a good amount of time with most of them. I give a personal shout-out to my beast of a man: The unforgettable Grimmjow.

"B-B-Baka, Kurosaki!"
One Piece: With a series so long and constantly growing, you're going to have more than your fair share of villains. From recurring leaders like Blackbeard, Crocodile and Akainu, to smaller but none the less impressive baddies like Arlong and Enel, the roster that the Straw Hat pirates go up against is nothing short of scary. Once again, the designs scream Japanese and the creativity can range from "meh" to "LSD + a pint of red bull" but that's part of the fun. What's especially interesting is that they aren't all on the same side, with some coming from the government and others being free-range types that pirate or rob. It gives a far more interesting dynamic when you see antagonists literally fight each other in the middle of arcs.

Don't stare into their eyes! They'll steal your souls!
Verdict: One Piece.

Yes, believe it or not, I'm giving this prize to One Piece instead of Naruto. Why? Naruto forgot about Orochimaru. Instead, the Uchiha stole the entire show. Which is fine because I adore "Tobi" and Madara, but you can't leave out Orochimaru! He's still hanging around, doing... nothing! Yes, the next movie might fix that problem, but I'll still pout until I am satisfied! Oh and... that final Naruto villain. Just... Just naw, hen. One Piece, on the other hand, uses every villain when they should be used. The uninteresting ones tend to last a fight or two, while the ones far more worthy of your time return in the future. As for why Bleach didn't win this one, well... There are a lot of dumb ones. Yes, even One Piece ends up looking less ridiculous around some of Bleach's villains.


Naruto: Naruto's journey through the series is an emotional ride from the word "Go". Starting off with such a strong arc where Naruto goes against the mercenary Zabuza to keep a bridge from tumbling down, the manga only gets higher and higher. Naruto's ambition to be Hokage is further put at risk when his best rival/friend/broman turns "evil" so he can kill his evil brother Itachi. As time goes on, Naruto ends up the target of the organisation Akatsuki, has to learn tons of awesome techniques like the Rasengan, must learn how to control the power of the Tailed Beast inside of him, and save Sasuke from the clutches of the Dark Side of the Force. During this, we see Sasuke's own story as he goes deeper and deeper into madness, the revenge slowly consuming him into something else. Something terrifying. Will Naruto be able to save his friend and become Hokage? Or will the Akatsuki gain the power they desire and destroy the world for their own ambitions?

....Uuuuuuuuuuugh. Fuck you, Studio Peirrot.
Bleach: After agreeing to take a Shinigami's power so he can defend his family, Ichigo Kurosaki ends up fighting undead spirits for a while, until he has to go into the world of Shinigami to stop the execution of his friend Rukia Kuchiki, while also uncovering an evil conspiracy. Once this conspiracy is revealed, Ichigo will travel to another location and fight more enemies to save his friends and defeat the main villain. Then Ichigo will go through some fairly odd training so he can return for another arc and go to a new place so he can save his friend from a new villain... So basically, it's mostly battles, flashbacks, battles, some surprisingly enjoyable quiet moments and battles.

Tite Kubo when he is asked to use fucking logic.
One Piece: Monkey D. Luffy wants to become the Pirate King, so he gets a ship and instantly begins finding a crew so he can search the seas and find the legendary and mysterious treasure; The One Piece. On the way, he goes to island after island, finding clue after clue, and all the while somehow able to never stop smiling that dumbass grin he always does. During his travels, he ends up gathering a bounty due to achieving great feats of piracy and heroism, causing both the government and lawbreakers to take an interest in him. As the story goes on, more and more characters are introduced, discoveries are made, other locations are revealed, and Luffy just keeps on looking.

"When danger reared it's ugly head
He bravely turned his tail and fled,
Yes, brave Sir Luffy turned about
And gallantly he chickened out!"
Verdict: Naruto.

Easy win here, actually. Bleach rarely tends to care about story, especially in the latter half, instead wishing to rely on the substance within the spectacle. It would rather have some great fight scenes and character moments, instead of focus on what the overall and shockingly weak story is, which in this case is nothing more than "Fight until we win!". As for One Piece, it could go on forever. And that's fine. It doesn't automatically make the story bad, but I like a good concise structure. I like having a beginning, a middle and enjoying a satisfying conclusion. A series like One Piece might not end for another ten years, or even more. That's just exhausting. There is no closure anytime soon, and I don't even know when or how they'll decide to just suddenly finish it, but with Naruto, you always felt they were coming to an ending. You knew who they had to deal with, what they had to do, and how far away they were to accomplish these. Whether or not you liked Chapter 700 is irrelevant here, because Naruto was always doing the one thing the two Shounens have refused to do: Build to a climax.


Naruto: With the power of Jutsu, anything is possible! Just flick your hands in some various ways, focus your inner power known as Chakra (which totally isn't Ki or Chi...), and fire away with flames, water, shadows, transformations and even puppet mastery! Surprisingly though, the action does manage to involve a large amount of strategy. Shikamaru is the best example of this, as his battles are filled to the brim with tactics and ideas that are well thought-out and managed. Kakashi, Orochimaru and even Naruto at times manage to use their brain to come up with clever ideas that work within the rules written by the manga genre. In fact, the action's only weakness is an over-reliance on the Sharingan eyes of the Uchiha, but even that can be great because of the Genjutsu and copy abilities used.

It's like erotic art for psychopaths!
Bleach: With the power of swords, anything is possible! Yes, every character in this series has a sword and no, I'm not even joking. Some swords are daggers, some swords are scythes, some swords are giant mutant babies but in the end, they are swords. Admittedly, the swordfighting is a lot of fun actually. The series takes full advantage of the concept of "manga characters can transform" and rolls with it. Some characters can activate various stages of their sword to gain different abilities, while others actually fuse with the swords to become entirely different people. This creates a fun game actually as you try to guess what the next weird thing you see will be, and it rarely disappoints. I think my personal favourite might be the glory of Ulquiorra fusing with his weapon... Emo-tistically gorgeous.

Yes, I know it's a massive scythe-thing... but it's in Bleach so that makes it a sword now.
One Piece: With the power of fruit, anything is possible! All you need these days to gain ultimate strength and power is eat a random magical fruit with a weird name, and you can do a specific magic! The only price is that you can't swim in water anymore. Although considering the fact you can literally summon lava, or break mountains, or become utter rubber depending on which fruit you ate, I doubt anybody gives a damn. And yes, the powers get weird but in a strange way, it's almost endearing to the franchise. I've seen characters use bubbles to make people slippery, or turn into a violent giraffe or even... No, the giraffe thing is still the weirdest shit out there. It's dumb, but mostly dependable.

Verdict: Naruto.

Again, not too much of a complication here. One Piece is very standard with the action, sometimes dragging it on for far too long, while Bleach tends to enjoy a good Deus ex Machina here and there. (I mean, more-so than most series do.) Naruto's action scenes, while sometimes a tad too long, have brilliant strategies. I appreciate a fight more when they won by using the rules of the series to their advantage and coming up with a plan. I don't appreciate a "Oh I can win now because I just happened to have this in my pocket" trick. Bleach is the far bigger culprit of that crime, even though it does usually do a beautiful job committing the sin.


Naruto: Shockingly little actually. The latter half got a lot darker so less jokes were made, although we still had the occasional golden moment from Gai or Jiraiya, but the best jokes were clearly in Part 1. As much as I hate to admit it, I don't remember a lot of jokes other than Gai's determination or... the Sexy Jutsu.

Fanservice + Comedy = Permission granted.
Bleach: Out of the three here, this series has the best funny faces. Bleach tends to focus on some comedy in-between the dramatic battles, with only the more ridiculous villains tending to gain some sort of comedic value. Charlotte Cuulhorne's fight is especially hilarious at first, although quickly takes a serious turn. Bleach does this quite a lot actually, juggling the tones of serious and comedy with... mixed results.

Let me check... Yep, permission granted here too.
One Piece: All jokes, almost all the time. Except for the more serious moments like war obviously, One Piece has Luffy, Sanji and Brook providing the most comedy scenarios. Sometimes, a joke makes it into the battle, but comedy is usually left alone until it's over. I personally don't find Luffy that funny, but I do remember surprisingly enjoying the moments Nico Robin provided, like squeezing balls or refusing to join in on Franky's new super robot combination.

.....Fine, permission granted. Damn you all!
Verdict: One Piece

Humour is subjective, but I'm not judging the quality of the jokes here. I'm looking at how they are used, and when. And surprisingly, One Piece tends to be the most consistent with comedy. If you don't find One Piece that funny, no worries there. However, Bleach and Naruto both end up going massive lengths of time without cracking a joke, then suddenly erupt with a good joke or visual gag here or there. One Piece always focuses on the funny, even when doing a massive action scene. In the war for example, characters die and monsters are shown and yet, Buggy the Clown is there being... Buggy the Clown!

Art & Design

Naruto: Round and clear, Naruto is probably the most basic of the trio when it come to art style. Nothing innovative or hugely unique, but it's very good. You rarely get lost or confused within the pages, and almost all the designs and clothing are heavily inspired by Asian culture. While there are a few yawn-inducing designs, such as the Shinobi army looking like a generic army of red, green and black, Naruto always make up for it with the characters and their abilities. For example, Hashirama's character design isn't wonderful, but when you see how he uses his wood powers and how it just looks... What a treat.

Bleach: Easily the sharpest one here, Bleach tends to use symbolism from other cultures, although of course it mostly sticks to Asian. Extremely clear due to such sharp imagery and very recognisable, Bleach's only real flaw is the kookiness of some designs. Most of the designs, especially the transformations, are fairly fun and unique, but recently it's been quite... dumb. Horrifying chicken/bird monstrosities, a guy who looks exactly like Thor and of course, Pernida.

One Piece: Fucking weird. One Piece goes with cartoon logic and uses that logic to take full advantage of both the environment and the characters. At times, this can work brilliantly, like with Doflamingo or Gekko Moriah. At other times, it comes across as ugly and just too ridiculous to want to care. One Piece also favours the large breasts and impossibly thin hips, resulting in some weird lamp-shaped creations that are supposedly the females of this world. Criticise Fairy Tail all you want, but at least they keep breasts mostly realistic. (By anime standards I mean).

Oh yeah, sure. But Fairy Tail are the "bad ones"... Tsk.
Verdict: Bleach

Due to the clarity and sharpness, Bleach is the most identifiable and readable of the three. Naruto is clearly influenced heavily by series such as Dragon Ball, and that's not a bad thing whatsoever, but it shows and results in Naruto not feeling entirely distinctive. Not bad, but nothing memorable. As for One Piece, the pages tend to be a clusterfuck of too many details, resulting in a difficult mess. The series didn't use to have this problem, but it does now and I'd be surprised to see people defend it really. There are probably a few pages or images that come off as clear, but I haven't seen that many. And even if there are, that doesn't excuse how they ruined my beloved Brook...

Final Verdict

Naruto: 3

Bleach: 2

One Piece: 2

Surprisingly close actually. I ended up battling with myself over and over again, but in the end there could be only one winner. One Piece might be the best-selling manga and Bleach might have had a golden arc long ago, but it's Naruto that deserves the title of champion this day. Believe it!

This is a tragic moment.. so must not laugh at Luffy's face... Must... Not... HA!

Shiggins:[Admin]   .
Born under the stars of the Dark Gods, Shiggins owns the power of the Great Eye and is utterly magnificent in his omniscience. If you dare to discover more about someone as great as him, then go ahead. And to all my friends and family members, YOU are wrong and I should be disappointed! Not the other way round!,. You can find out about him or ask him stuff on or go to his tumblr page


  1. I can usually argue with these articles but I find myself unable to argue a single point there. Expect maybe the villians. I think that should have went to Naruto too because it has the deepest villians. You always know why they are doing what they are doing. They are Shinobi just like the 'good guys' but they made other choices. The Akatsuki have to be the greatest group of assembled villians I've ever seen in any medium and one of the greatest assembled groups of characters in all. But I do get why the point was given to One Piece. Kishimoto kinda lost the thread to the end and the best Anime baddie of all, Orochimaru kinda got lost when he should have been right up there at the end no matter what side he was on.

    In terms of the drawing style, anyone who knows me will know how picky I am about my Anime drawing style or Anime in general. I never actually realised it before but Naruto is a drawing style I am more prone to tolerating than liking but the story, characters and dialogue are so good that it makes you think you are seeing something more impressive than what you are. Anyone who disagrees, look at Naruto fight scenes again with the sound turned off and tell me if it is as explosive as you remember (in fact sometimes the fight moves go so fast you can barely see them at all). The answer is no because the writer and his characters are using their brains rather than explosions. Which in my books is far more impressive. Much like the Texas Chainsaw Massacre in the horror genre, what you are feeling creates something more powerful than what you are seeing and your brain starts to trick your eyes. With the exception of a few fights like Naruto/Pain (and even then it is not that visually impressive if you look at anime as a whole), Naruto's battles are really free of massive artwork. We love them because the powers are interesting and the characters are interesting and the dialogue is interesting and sometimes even then backgrounds (Sasuke vs Naruto round 1) are interesting. As important as drawing style is to me when choosing my anime I'm starting to think I need to loosen up because the more I think about it the more I realise I make exceptions for this rule.

    I love Ouran High School Host Club and Hetalia even though they are not visually inspired and are kind of rounded because they are hilarious and have great characters.

    This article covers all basis. I have no trouble agreeing with it because Naruto is my favourite. That doesn't nessecarily mean it's the best but this article makes a good case for it.

    1. Ah, sorry it took me so long to answer these! Life and stuff...

      Anyway, thank you so much for your feedback. Yes, the villains are probably the most controversial ones here as I do love Pain, Obito, Itachi, Madara and Orochimaru. A lot. It's just the management of Kaguya and both Madara and Orochimaru's endings that shook them off the spot. Also, One Piece has surprisingly good villains. Buggy the Clown makes me laugh hard, while Blackbeard, Rob Lucci and more are so deliciously evil that I can't stop reading them. I don't even care for One Piece that much and I like them!

      To be fair, I'm more talking about the manga than the anime here. I find Studio Pierrot's drawing skills lackluster and nearly insulting at times, with the fight against Pain being a perfect example. And... I have nothing else to say. The rest of your comment is basically perfect.

      I do suggest you try branching out with your anime, since being picky can be hazardous to your anime-health. Try Hunter X Hunter 2011, or maybe something small like Blood Blockade Battlefront. Explore your animexaulity!

  2. I honestly go with One Piece as the best though you made a good points. With protagonist I agree with you that Naruto is the best though near the end of Shippuden Kishimoto dumbed down the character.

    With supporting cast, I would go with One Piece. You hit the nail on the head in addressing Naruto's mishandling of its supporting cast. I think Bleach handles its cast much worse than One Piece. Many are extraneous and there are long stretches of time where the main cast isn't seen. At least in One Piece we see what multiple people are doing. Kubo has a problem with having symbolism as character development and barely building up to anything. A prime example of this would be Nanao Ise, a character who was in the background for the entire manga. We barely knew anything about her and her powers come across as a convenient asspull if you're not familiar with Japanese folklore. Let's go earlier than that with Sasakibe, a very minor character who had all of these revelations about his character shown after he had died. Or the utterly pointless character battles during Fake Karakura Town. Yes Oda's cast is bigger, but he handles them better because he doesn't try to shove all these character revelations in one arc with barely any buildup. In the final arc he decides to give backstory to Unohana, Nemu, Komamura, etc. Much of which wasn't well handled. Unohana and Ukitake had interesting stuff revealed, but then basically died right after(the former was an ultimately pointless power up for Kenpachi and the latter was a pointess sacrifice). Komamura hasn't been seen since. Those are just the tip of the iceberg.

    With villains I agree with your choice, Bleach barely gives any development to their bloated villain cast. It would be a tie between One Piece and Naruto, but Naruto gave barely any duces to interesting villains like Kakuzu and Sasori. Not only he that but the main villains were awful. Obito is one of the most unintentionally unsympathetic villains I have ever witnessed, Masada was basically Aizen, and Kaguya, the final villain, barely had any personality and was stunningly incompetent.

    With Art, it would be a tie mostly. Bleach has the best character the design, though I like One Piece's wacky diversity. One piece has good background, Naruto the best action. Naruto wins in the fight departments too. Humor would go to One Piece. With story, I don't really feel I should answer what with only one being completed, but considering how Naruto practically imploded past the Pain Arc I can't good conscious recommend Naruto's story. If there one category I would add it would be setting and world building if it isn't already under story.

    1. Maybe but even when Naruto is dumbed down, he's still more engaging than many other protagonists. At least, to me.

      Your point about supporting cast is a very good one actually, and one I did hugely consider. Nanao Ise is a huge example of everything that is wrong with Bleach right now, BUT... It's still easier to keep track of. The series has hugely slow pacing and drags everything out which is probably the major reason it takes so long to see characters. One Piece has some good characters, but it's the number that gets to me. I just dislike the size of One Piece so much, and this comes especially strong with the supporting cast. Also... Bleach has Urahara, Yoruichi, Rukia, Hitsugaya and many more. It's a far sexi.. I mean engaging cast than most of One Piece's. Zoro is still a God though.

      Kakazu and Sasori are interesting picks actually, although I personally felt like we got the most mileage we could have out of them. I know Sasori and Diedara are hugely popular, but I myself never understood exactly why. I like them, just not as much as others. Personal preference. Madara and Aizen are very different in a lot of ways, but I think they are probably the best example of a "modern anime villain". Like how the most major villains of the past were massive muscled behemoths, today's are manipulative transforming assholes. And... I liked Obito...

      Art goes to Bleach for me easily, but I do see why someone would love One Piece's diversity. I don't agree, but I understand.

      Naruto gets action because it's the smartest. One Piece gets humour because it's the most consistent. Story goes to Naruto because One Piece has spent years not really building to anything, while Naruto went to it right away. Even if One Piece ended on an amazing note, Naruto still wins because of the lead-up. One Piece just fannies about for fun, which is fine for a while. But not THIS long! Whether or not you liked post-Pain story, you can't deny it was still always going forward. That's the advantage Naruto has here.

      World building and setting... That's a good one actually and I probably have to say Naruto. Again, this relates to One Piece's size. So much is going on and it's so utterly chaotic and confusing and unfocused. Naruto has a large setting too, but it's far clearer. 5 villages, wars in the past, history about Hashirama and Madara etc. I'm not 100% sure, since Kaguya seemed hellbent on fucking up the past as much as possible so she was suddenly relevant to the story, but I do probably need to go Naruto here again.

      And thanks for such a healthy comment!

  3. It's not hard for me at all. I can't stand One Piece & think Naruto started crapping the bed at some point. So even if I did agree with most of the criticisms of Bleach, which I don't, I still think it wins by default.

    Don't get me wrong, I read the article, & you made a good case. I suppose I can concede that Naruto at its best was better than Bleach at its best, but I think that really misses the forest for the trees. While I can agree that Naruto HAD the deepest protagonist, story, & started losing it after Pain. In fact, a lot of people would say it lost it much earlier. Ultimately, if the question is "which IS the best of the bunch," I need to be convinced that it's STILL the best of the bunch.

    Granted, people say the same thing about Bleach & Aizen, but that's not how I see it, how I see it is a series not being given a chance for reasons that don't really make sense. For example, nobody said that Dragonball Z couldn't go on without Freeza, or Yu Yu Hakusho without Toguro. It's always been the norm for shonen action series to usher in a new plot arc with a new villain, so I don't know why that's suddenly considered an unforgivable sin by so many when it comes to Bleach.