Before we delve any deeper into this conversation, let me be clear though, I only re-watch the first few arcs. These episodes are the ones that hooked me to the series many years back when everyone refers Bleach as one of the Big Three shounen series.
I had followed Bleach beyond that until I stopped at some point. Since 2015 is coming to an end and in the spirit of reflecting, I decided I wanted to remember why I liked Bleach in the first place. Excuses, I know.
I won’t lie. Much of what I feel about liking Bleach is the eagerness to see different Shinigami unleashed the hidden powers of their Zanpakutou. The moment it is revealed that the swords these Shinigami are holding have more than what meet the eyes, I began waiting to see the different Shikai forms. Most excitingly, I love it when they roared “Bankai!”.
I dare say this is the single one most important factor what drove me to marathon Bleach on those late nights many years ago. And I guess I wanted to feel that excitement again.
Believe it or not, Bleach started with strong storytelling. In my humble opinion, the events unfolded in a way that is surprising and thrilling. I’ve forgotten many events that had happened in Soul Society Arc and watching it again, I thought the story is well constructed and thought-out. It’s not just all about actions.
The first time I watched the series, I was caught by surprise when Aizen was revealed as the ultimate villain. He was painted as a kind and thoughtful character at the beginning and even thought to be dead. It was his manipulative skills that constructed the chaos that fell on Seireitei. In what was thought to be a “rescuing Rukia” plot, it turned out to be something much deeper than that.
Being the viewer that I was about a decade ago, I never suspected Aizen to be the antagonist. Of course now that I’m re-watching Soul Society arc, that element of surprised is much reduced. There are things that I’ve forgotten and re-watching Bleach still retains some of its element of surprise.
Unlike One Piece and Naruto, the other two big names Bleach often mentioned alongside years ago, Bleach is staged in a much relatable world known as Karakura Town.
Kurosaki Ichigo is a high school student. Much of his daily activities are similar to ours. He has to answer to his parent, classes to attend, etc. And yet he is caught up in this fighting-hollow-saving-Rukia mess. While in series like Naruto and One Piece, the characters are set in a far-fetched, dreamlike adventures that make it much less relatable.
And the OP and ED songs tend to paint the “cool kids” picture of the cast, with each of them wearing fashionable clothes, putting on headphones, etc. That’s my definition of “cool kids”. Yours may be different.
I guess what I’m trying to say in this point is merely because I thought Bleach is a pretty cool series back then and wanted to find if I still find it cool.
I think that pretty sums up why I wanted to re-watch Bleach. I wanted to remember what drew me to the series in the first place, rather that remembering why I hate the series years after.