I designed my ratings flowchart to give a + to long-running shounen anime that had fallen from grace. I gladly gave it to Naruto, but it’s with a
heavy apathetic heart that I can’t do the same for Bleach. Despite horribly jumping the shark, the majority of Naruto was good. Bleach didn’t even come close.
Bleach had one good arc. You could say it’s like Rurouni Kenshin in that regard, but Kenshin was fillerized to hell. Ok, Bleach was too. The point is that the Bleach manga was much worse for much longer.
The introductory arc was mediocre. The Soul Society arc was excellent. The Hueco Mundo arc was uninspired. The Fullbring arc lacked a sense of importance. The Quincy arc was mailed-in.
What did Bleach do wrong?
- Repeating the Soul Society formula for both Hueco Mundo and the Quincies
- Too much time spent on minor fights
- Power level inconsistency
- Too many annoying characters/character interactions
What did Bleach do right?
- A fair number of quotable lines
- A main character who wasn’t annoying or effeminate
- A large cast of characters
- Cool character design
- Good music
Here I was going to link to a pretty good video that got into the artistic issues behind the decline of Bleach, but TV Tokyo was a bitch and threw an unjustified copyright claim at it before I finished writing this post. Basically, Tite Kubo was annoyed with his editors, hated the busy manga artist lifestyle, and stopped trying. I have no reason to believe any of it wasn’t true.
Final Grade: ~
With the end of Bleach, the only manga I’m still reading in English are Akame ga Kill, Attack on Titan, and Hajime no Ippo. They’ll probably end in that order. Aside from these three, I’ll probably never read manga in English again.
Edit: I forgot about Hunter x Hunter. So did its author.