Monday, August 7, 2017

Memories of Bleach: The Substitute Soul Reaper Arc

Quick notice before you dive into the blog today. My sister has entered the "It's Amazing Out There" Photography Contest by Weather Channel. My sister is an incredible photographer who will be going very far with her work so please go vote for her at if this doesn't work just search for "Butterfly and the Dandelion" you can vote everyday so go vote for my sister she deserves to win this!

It’s so weird to think how long ago teenager hood was for me but it felt like only yesterday where I was spending Saturday nights watching all the action animation and shows in general my brain could consume. Yeah my Saturday nights were pretty night dedicated to watching Toonami on Cartoon Network with its lineup of action cartoons and what I would soon come to learn was called “Anime”. (The Japanese word for Animation.) My first encounter with anime was with Pokemon as a little kid but really I never put a barrier between western and eastern shows, if it was good, had good animation and had a great story I was in. I’m still the same to this day I realize, I love shows from all parts of the world, each have influences from that country's’ culture leading to some great and unique stories. While I don’t watch every show that comes out of Japan there are quite a few great shows from that country that I’ve come to love, some even impacting my life such as Pokemon.

Toonami was my gateway into anything anime related that wasn’t Pokemon, although Pokemon was featured quite often on Toonami’s Saturday Night block. It’s how I got into shows like Dragon Ball, Dragon Ball Z, Zatch Bell, One Piece, Bobobo-bo Bo-bobo (Am I the only one who remembers that show? It was wacky) and even Naruto though I never really watched that show much past the original series. Toonami soon came to a sad end however. Soon after that, around 2009 I discovered another way of watching anime, Adult Swim. Yeah the part of Cartoon Network that us kids weren’t supposed to watch, I never watched the full blown adult shows (Besides Futurama and Robot Chicken, oops.) and I only ever tuned in on Saturdays where Adult Swim aired anime, similar to Toonami had done in the past. One show that really drew me in was a show by the name of Bleach. (Spoilers for Season 1 ahead!)

I’m not sure what really got me into watching this show; maybe it was friends who all loved the show at the time, general curiosity, the great artwork, or maybe Ichigo’s orange hair. I believe I did watch this show during the original season’s run years before as I’m pretty certain it aired right after Toonami ended and I have vague memories of seeing it around that time but 2009 is when I really got into the show. I’m going to be discussing the English Dubbed version and while I’ve seen bits and pieces of the subbed I’ve only watched the dub all the way through.

The basic gist of this show is Ichigo Kurosaki is a 15 year old teen who, well, can see ghosts. All kinds of spirits come into his vision and it drives him nuts. He’s been able to see spirits for years but only recently has this ability started to fully manifest itself. He lives with his wacky, goofball of a Dad, Isshin Kurosaki and his two little sisters Yuzu and Karin Kurosaki in a Japanese town of Karakura. Seems like a lot to handle especially being a budding teenager in his 2nd year of High School. Ichigo has an attitude that bites and a strong sense of justice which motivates him to teach some punks a lesson when they knock over a flower vase planted near a street light in honor of a spirit who had passed away and now lingered around that spot. (Geeze Ichigo, Chill.)

Unaware to him a girl cloaked in a black kimono, sword sheathed at her waist was lurking on the cityscape, and this girl would be introduced to us as Rukia Kuchiki, a Soul Reaper. What’s a Soul Reaper? Yeah these dudes are the ones who protect the spirits who have passed, making sure they safely travel from the world of the living to the afterlife, the Soul Society as well as exorcising Hollows, evil spirits whose soul has been consumed turning them into ravaging monsters. Her hunt for the Hallows has her rudely walk into Ichigo’s room, through the wall, because Soul Reapers can do that apparently. It was pretty rude but no one would even see her so it didn’t matter, no one except Ichigo who immediately spotted her and freaked when he saw her Katana, which are named Zanpakuto and allow for Soul Reapers to send souls to the other side and exorcise Hollows. After a incident involving a hollow and Ichigo’s family he is driven to taken on the Hollow, foolishly, Ichigo ends up receiving the power of a Soul Reaper becoming one himself.

Bleach was like most anime started as a Manga series written by Tite Kubo as his 2nd foray into Manga with Zombie Powder, a limited 4 volume series being his first. Bleach started and ended its run through Shonen Jump alongside the likes of One Piece and Naruto.

While I would get a lot of the Manga later I started off with the Anime, during the Hueco Mundo arc with Orihime being the damsel in distress but today’s blog is focused on the beginning of Bleach, which I saw about a year later due to repeats (Trust me reruns of Bleach were not hard to come by.) and I’ve actually recently begun watching the show again thanks to Netflix. While Bleach seems to have dropped massively in popularity due to the series ending last year it’s still a big part of my teenage years and watching this show again proves it still holds up to me and I seem to love it even more.

Bleach Season 1 (Otherwise known as The Substitute Soul Reaper Story Arc in English and Agent of the Shinigami in Japan.), coupled with a pretty aesthetic and funky opening sung by Orange Range, focuses on Ichigo as he’s dragged into the Soul Reaping duties due to sucking out all of Rukia’s energy, making him the world of the living’s only defense against the Hollows. Unlike other Soul Reapers Ichigo’s Zanpakuto is MASSIVE which apparently is due to his incredibly powerful spiritual pressure. Ichigo tries to balance his High School life with his Hollow Exorcising life and sometimes it gets out of hand which is where another character comes in by the name of Kon and oh boy Kon is a piece of work. Normally when Soul Reapers leave their bodies (Which as Soul Reapers are actually spirits they use Gigais as bodies so they can move around in the human world easier, or when their powers are diminished.) they use soul candy which will act as a temporary soul that will control the gigai while the reaper is out of the body. Kon is a mod soul, a far from temporary soul that can take over bodies and enhance them for combat.

Kon tends to be a bit on the… perverted side. Yeah I probably should've mentioned this sooner this anime isn’t exactly for the younger demographic unlike Pokemon. There’s quite a bit of blood, swearing and sexual themes but it’s not that bad there’s no gore and the swearing is pretty limited. The sexual themes normally fall down to Kon who just so happens to like girls just a little too much, most of all Orihime, who I’ll talk about in a minute. Kon ends up stuffed inside of a stuffed lion which becomes iconic making Kon the mascot of the series. Kon enter’s Ichigo’s body whenever the later wants to transform.

While for the most part Ichigo and Rukia are the only soul reapers featured in the first season Ichigo has some friends that have some pretty great abilities of their own and become major parts of the story at later points.

Orihime Inoue is introduced in the second Episode as a bit of an airhead (Though her grades are one of the highest in the school.), has the strangest taste in food and spaces out quite often. Orihime has a bit of a crush on Ichigo and extremely kind and good hearted. Orihime lost her brother when she was young making her a sole orphan, her brother actually plays a major part in Episode 2 and 3 of Bleach and while I could spoil it as the series has been around for over 15 years the episodes are really emotional and worth checking out yourself if you haven’t.

Yasutora Sado known to his friends as Chad is a man of few words and you could say is made of steel. His stamina is incredible in battle and can withstand an entire steel beam falling onto his head, no lie. What he doesn’t say in words he makes up for actions and the man cares a lot about his friends and apparently animals such as a Cockatoo.

Uryu Ishida is another major character to be introduced later on in the first season and is the last surviving Quincy, humans who could channel spirit energy into arrows to destroy Hollows, though Ichigo soon learns is not the same as what he does. Uryu is usually quiet and secluded and plays off as cool around others. He acts pretty hostile towards Ichigo due to his rocky past with Soul Reapers. Oh yeah Uryu is apparently a master sewer and fixes the team’s clothing quite often.

Other characters are introduced such as Tatsuki, a childhood friend of Ichigo’s from the local dojo and Orihime’s best friend. 

Also Kisuke Urahara owner of Urahara shop, though Ichigo just calls him Mr. Hat n Clogs in the beginning. Kisuke is normally doing a lot of behind the scenes work in this show so he’s usually shrouded in mystery.

One character introduced in this show will touch your heart forever; he is the myth, the legend, the prodigy… Don Kanonji.

Okay laugh with me now… WAHAHA. Episode 10 of Bleach I can say is my favorite Episode of season 1 hands down. While it would probably be labeled as filler (Which is prominent in the show albeit I don’t really mind filler in this show) this show was hilariously awesome. Don Kan’oji is a country wide famous supernatural TV host who takes on ghosts and inspires his viewers while doing so. Usually his shows are performed live and his latest is taking place in Karakura Town. Ichigo’s classmates are all getting into the spirit of things, even Rukia as they imitate Don’s trademark laugh while crossing their arms over their chest.

With Ichigo’s family heading to the event Ichigo feels obligated to go despite not really caring for supernatural shows. To his surprise Don actually can see ghosts and has a little bit of spiritual power, which he believes he’s using for good. Don becomes a recurring character throughout the series and for good reason, the man is the best. I’m not sure why I love his character, maybe it’s that goofy get up he wears but he’s definitely a favorite character from this season.

Overall while Bleach Season One isn’t the season I began watching the show with it’s definitely one of my favorite story arcs out of the show. Bleach is an action packed thrill ride with awesome characters and an overarching storyline that really kicks into action at the end of the first arc. This first arc really seems to focus on friendship, family and resolve as Ichigo finds his own that pushes him to keep fighting for over 15 years until the Manga’s end last August. I will say the feel of the show changes just a little after this arc and a lot of the next arc is featured within the soul society but I’ll be diving into that arc on a future blog. This show might have a bit of blood (sometimes excessive) it doesn’t include gore so I recommend if you’re already an anime fan in your teenage years to check this show out. The show isn’t afraid to have fun, though I notice most animes I’ve watched have included comedy to balance out the action. 

Oh yeah this show does incorporate some elements from Japan's culture which is nice and you won't find many characters if any that doesn't have more traditional Japanese names, so better get practicing on those pronunciations. Speaking of that I have to admit that Bleach has helped me understand Japanese word and name structures a bit more.

While it’s not up on the pedestal with the likes of One Piece, Naruto and Dragonball Z anymore it still stands out in history as a memorable powerhouse in anime. Got access to Netflix? Then you can stream the first three seasons of Bleach right now via Netflix!

For those more interested in Manga Bleach has a manga, in which the anime was based on. For the most part the events are the same; spare the filler arcs such as Bount Arc. I actually got into reading the manga not so long after the getting into the show so really the manga was like a compliment to the arc I was currently watching, which was the Hueco Mundo Arc/Arrancar Arc. The manga seems to have a few more details then the anime includes but for the most part it’s a panel by panel transition. I would recommend checking out the manga as well as the show. I actually got a hold of the first 25 chapters of the manga through this 3-in-1 book I got a few years back. There’s actually more 3-in-1 books out there of Bleach that I might actually look into getting.

You can buy this and more 3-in-1 books on Amazon for $15.00 USD. It's a LOT cheaper then buying the individual volumes.

So yeah with great artwork, awesome characters, a overarching lore with each character having a quite a bit of depth albeit some of it still unknown and Don Kanoji I recommend you check out this series if you haven't already and if you have, well I don't really have to convince you, do I?

For now however that brings us to the end of the blog for today, expect more Bleach blogs including one on a Bleach video game in the near future, I have a long history with this show and it’s been one show to really impact me during my teenage years and even today with watching the show again.

Wait I think I forgot something, something that involves two needles and some yarn. This is the free knitting pattern feature! Today I’m featuring from Bernat the Bernat Baby Blanket “Shadow Cable Baby Blanket #741”.

Now before you gasp, this pattern actually isn’t as hard as it looks and when you accomplish this it’ll be a wonderful snug blanket for your kids, younger siblings or whoever is in need of a soft snug blanket for the upcoming winter season. (Trust me; it’s best to start now.) I’ve used Bernat Yarn on a blanket already with my very first knitting project, the blanket I knitted my younger brother last Christmas.

It says you need Bernat Softee Baby Super Bulky so this will definitely be a blanket for the harsh cold winter. You also need US 11 – 8.0 MM size needles. You’ll be cable knitting to the forward and back within this pattern leaving a cool v shape cable running up the blanket. You can read more by checking out the full pattern here:

This was ZAK Entertainment


Oh wait I’m too early for that, not on that Arc of Bleach yet.

See you on Wednesday!

[Photo Credits: Bleach Wiki, Shonen Jump, Viz Media, TV Tokyo, Tite Kubo and Bernat Yarn.]

No comments:

Post a Comment