Story & Overview
The Bleach universe has many different races - ranging from humans to talking foxes - but the most frequently explained race is called the Soul Reaper. Soul Reapers are post-mortem human beings that live in a place called the Soul Society, a land similar to Feudal Japan where souls embark after death. Soul Reapers are typically ignorant to human history and culture as they were born anew upon entering the Soul Society. They wield swords that can greatly increase their physical abilites, however only a few elite are capable of reaching this level of greater power. These superior Soul Reapers govern squads of lesser comrads that have titles like ‘Captain’ ‘Vice Captain’ ‘Third-Seat’ ‘Fourth-Seat’ and so on. Soul Reaper squads are identified using a number system starting at one and increasing from there.
Bleach begins with the introduction of a high school student named Ichigo Kurosaki, a 15 year old boy renowned for his rare, orange hair. The setting takes place in what seems to be a fully developed, 21st century suburb in which Ichigo lives a normal life. Accompanying him are his two sisters, a multitude of friends, and his father. Ichigo's mother, whom he greatly adored, was killed when he was only a child. The event radically changed his personality, mainly because he blamed himself for her death.
One day a Soul Reaper named Rukia Kuchiki appears in Ichigo's bedroom looking for an evil spirit (Hollow) that might be in the area. The two talk, and we later find that the nearby evil spirits are looking for Ichigo in order to consume his soul. They were drawn to him for his abnormally large cache of spirit energy, a cache greater than any human's before him.
After fighting and eliminating the spirit, Ichigo goes on to become a substitute Soul Reaper due to accidentally absorbing most of Rukia's Soul Reaper powers. Forced to fight by his side, Rukia stays in the world of the living for longer than expected, in time coming to know Ichigo as a person. She and Ichigo provide temporary spiritual protection for the city, until one day Rukia is mysteriously taken back to the Soul Society by two superior Soul Reapers. Ichigo and his most trusted friends set out to rescue her, thus beginning a long journey into the unknown.
Soul Reapers can be seen as a mix between Samurai's and Grim Reapers (or Death Gods) that try to maintain a healthy balance of spiritual beings by protecting them from evil forces; at least in theory. Most Soul Reapers have feelings and a personality like humans, but they can still be brutal and careless for anything unrelated to the bloody massacre of their enemies. Soul Reapers have no god, but instead believe that they are governed by an unseen King of ancient times. High on the list of those who hate the Soul Reapers are corrupted souls of deceased men and women known as Hollows: souls who haven’t gone to the Underworld, but instead linger on to hunt living and non-living souls.
Hollows exist for one reason and one reason only: to consume souls. They are motivated by fear, and act purely on vicious instinct, because a lack of eating souls would comence in their slow degeneration and entrance into the oblivion they themselves have created. They’ll change and evolve with time, eventually compressing into each other and merging into a Skyscraper mass of mindless violence. Some of these Hollows have former souls of intense power containing fragments of sanity, which in time evolve and become the Elite of the Hollow caste. The Elite return to human porportions and become the most formidable forces in the Bleach Universe.
The story eventually reveals two different types of Hollow/Soul Reaper hybrids: Soul Reapers who’ve gained some powers of the Hollow, and vice-versa. Both have ties to the organizations they were previously a part of, but Soul Reapers will not accept members to their order who have been ‘Tainted’, and Hollows who wield Soul Reaper weapons are so over-powerful they avoid all control.
Anime & Manga
Nearly 200 episodes of Bleach Anime and Over 300 issues of Manga have been made. All greatly popular, and star a bounty of interesting characters. This Anime is currently being dubbed into English, and translated Books of Manga are sold in many different countries. Anime is composed of the stories in the Manga produced for weekly Televsion broadcast and the Manga is a weekly comicbook of a dozen pages or so in black and white in Shonen Jump Magazine.
Original Animated Videos are produced outside the Bleach Continuity, but can usually be fit into the timeline at one point or another. They are not shown on Television, unlike the Anime, and cost fans a sum to purchase and watch on DVD. In some cases OAV’s can continue the plot of an Anime recently cancelled, but in most cases they function as supplementary additions to the main Anime that include a condensed version of the most popular attacks and characters drawn in a higher level of quality. Current OAV’s for Bleach include the following:
Bleach Movies are made for the big screen, and carry a high production value. This can be generally described as an Entire new story arc compressed into about two hours. Although Bleach movies do not come from the Manga directly, the plot is usually very strong. Current Bleach Movies are included below:
- Bleach: Memories of Nobody
- Bleach: The Diamond Dust Rebellion
- Bleach: Fade to Black, I Call Your Name
- Bleach: Hell Verse
- Bleach (live-action film)
Toys, Dolls, Key chains, clothes, books, art, cards, CD’s from the show’s soundtrack, CD cases for the show soundtrack, necklaces… even things like a paperweight can all be found with Bleach logos. As it is immensely popular it offers a seemingly endless amount of things to sell to its prospective fan base.