Bleach is a 366 episode series that includes a combination of story lines from the manga source material and stories created specifically for the anime. Unfortunately, the series ceased production while the manga was still ongoing, so the anime ends in the middle of a story arc.
Other anime series, both before and after Bleach, have utilized supernatural elements and sending souls to the afterworld. The supernatural elements are combined with drama and humor in such a way that it helps Bleach stand out from other similar anime. This series also includes engaging characters with interesting backstories, as well as an expansive world that has been meticulously developed.
Ichigo Kurosaki seems to be just like any normal 15-year-old boy in Karakura Town, except for one thing… he can see and communicate with ghosts. This is an ability that he’s had for as long as he can remember. When Ichigo was younger, he couldn’t distinguish between ghosts and living people, and this brought about tragedy in his life. One day, as he and his mother were walking home during a heavy rainstorm, Ichigo thought he saw a girl about to jump into a river and rushed over to help. His mother tried to stop him from running to the girl, who was actually a lure for a Hollow known as Grand Fisher. Ichigo’s mother was able to save him, but her life was taken by the Hollow instead. Ichigo feels guilty about what happened, but none of his family members blame him for his mother’s death.
One evening, Ichigo meets a Soul Reaper (Shinigami or god of death) named Rukia Kuchiki, who comes from a secret organization known the Soul Society. At the time of their meeting, Ichigo’s family is attacked by a Hollow, and Rukia is injured while trying to protect Ichigo. Rukia decides to transmit some of her Soul Reaper power to Ichigo so he can save his family, but he somehow ends up absorbing all of it. Now that he has this power, Ichigo takes on Rukia’s responsibility of protecting Karakura Town from Hollows. Since Ichigo harbors guilt about his mother’s death, he desires to use his new found Soul Reaper power to face Grand Fisher and avenge his mother’s death. He gets his wish to come face to face with Grand Fisher and is able to find some peace after battling with this Hollow.
Rukia is taken back to the Soul Society by two other Soul Reapers to face trial for transferring her Soul Reaper powers to a human. Ichigo, who is protective and loyal to his friends, is determined to get to the Soul Society in order to save Rukia. He undergoes training with Kisuke Urahara, who owns a shop in Karakura Town, so he can obtain his own Soul Reaper powers and learn the name of his Zanpakuto (a weapon used by a Soul Reaper).
Two of Ichigo’s friends develop spiritual awareness and are able to accompany him in his journey to rescue Rukia. Orihime Inoue has been friends with Ichigo for many years, and she has her spiritual awakening after he saves her from a Hollow that resembles her deceased older brother. Of the characters that have spiritual abilities, Orihime is the most unsure about herself, and later stories focus on how she feels inadequate in comparison to the others. Unfortunately, this sense of inadequacy sometimes leads her to act rashly and to take actions that ultimately cause more trouble for Ichigo and the others. Orihime also has a crush on Ichigo, and her feelings for him play an important role in one of the manga story lines that was included in the Bleach anime.
Yasutora “Chad” Sato discovers his ability, which strengthens and armors his right arm, when he protects one of Ichigo’s younger sisters from a Hollow. He’s one of the tallest kids in his class and looks imposing, but Chad refuses to fight unless it’s for the sake of another person. It was this philosophy that led him to protect Ichigo’s sister and to awaken his spiritual ability. Chad also stands out when compared to the other characters in Karakura Town, since he is of Japanese and Mexican heritage.
Uryu Ishida is a Quincy, which are Hollow-hunting archers who were the historical enemies of the Soul Reapers before they became nearly extinct. This, of course, makes Uryu a rival for Ichigo at the beginning of the series. Uryu also had problems with Ichigo since the two of them are polar opposites. Ichigo is short-tempered, stubborn, and impulsive. Uryu, on the other hand, is generally quiet and level-headed. But as Uryu gets to know Ichigo over time, the two of them seem to become friends and allies. They’re never close friends, but they are at least friendly enough to work with each other most of the time. Uryu accompanies Ichigo, Orihime, and Chad on the mission to rescue Rukia.
After Ichigo and his friends fight battles with various Soul Reapers and succeed in rescuing Rukia from her imprisonment in the Soul Society, Ichigo becomes a substitute Soul Reaper. But the Soul Society is betrayed by Aizen and two of the other Soul Reaper captains, who defect and launch a plan to obtain a powerful orb known as the Hogyoku. Ichigo and his friends find themselves drawn into this conflict as the Arrancar and Espada, who Aizen have under his command, begin appearing in Karakura Town.
After many hard-fought battles that ultimately see Aizen defeated, Ichigo finds that he has lost his Soul Reaper powers and his ability to see ghosts. At first, Ichigo is relieved about this, since he's always wanted to live a normal life. But after his friends are attacked, Ichigo is given the opportunity to gain his Soul Reaper powers back by a group called Xcution. While Ichigo finally had the life that he wanted, his desire to protect his friends was stronger and led him to want to regain the powers that he had lost.
Similar Anime Titles
Bleach will appeal to viewers who enjoy anime with supernatural elements. However, the mixture of drama and comedy that’s included in the series gives it the potential to appeal to other anime fans of different genres as well.
1. Ao no Exorcist (Blue Exorcist)
A boy named Rin Okumura discovers that he is the son of Satan after he is ambushed by demons. However, instead of embracing his heritage, he decides to train as an exorcist and fight alongside his brother Yukio.
A high school boy named Kazuki Muto is killed when he saves a girl from a monster. But when he wakes up in his dorm, he believes it was just a dream. It turns out it’s wasn’t a dream, and Kazuki and his sister are attacked by a monster. The girl Kazuki saved explains that he was killed by a homunculus, but she revived him by placing a Kakugane medallion in his chest to replace his heart. Kazuki creates a Buso Renkin, a weapon to attack the homunculi, and he joins the fight to defeat them.
Sumimura Yoshimori has the power to battle demons by using barriers known as kekkai. He is in charge of protecting Karasumori High School from demons, since the building has the ability to magnify the power of any demons that enter it.
High school student Sakai Yuuji dies. But just when a monster is about to consume him, he is saved by a sword-wielding girl named Shana, who hunts monsters that consume human lives. Sakai learns that he is now a “temporary replacement,” and he joins Shana in her fight against the creatures.