And now, I’ve officially rounded out my experience with the Holy Shonen Trinity. Again, just as it was NARUTO #1, I feel like I’ve missed a few episodes of back-story, even though this is supposed to be the pilot.
The whole premise of a teenager who can see ghosts and intervene in their affairs is already a solid enough premise for a show (hell, that was pretty much the first arc of BLEACH’s “spiritual predecessor,” YU YU HAKUSHO, wasn’t it?). The fact that it’s treated so matter-of-factly, as if it were just incidental to Ichigo being a normal 15-year-old, is a little… strange? It’s as if the show’s taking for granted that the audience is already familiar with most of its premises. Even the Hollows don’t get that great of explanation.
Again, coming at this with no attachments or nostalgia for what BLEACH is (or what it was), I have to conclude that a shonen series must hit two perquisites from the starting gate to be a juggernaut success. It has to immediately get to the cool stuff, even if doing that is jarring, and it must immediately earn sympathy points for the hero. This is demonstrated quite succinctly in Ichigo’s introduction. What’s he doing when we meet for the first time? He’s beating the shit out of some dumbasses who just disrespected a little ghost girl’s street side memorial. BAM! There you go.
Maybe another requirement is comic relief - - even if it feels shoehorned . Viewing BLEACH from the outside, it really looked like the most dour of the HST. So grim as to be humorless, even. As such, seeing chibi slapstick in this episode was totally unexpected. It doesn't work for me - - it never really works for me - - but I'm not the target audience, am I?
Lastly, I’m quite amused that my observation about the Soul Society essentially being the afterlife version of the Green Lantern Corps continues to fit, even at the very beginning. Rukia getting wounded right after dropping into Ichigo’s life, and her more-or-less promoting him to be a Soul Reaper on the field, is pretty much exactly what happens between Abin Sur and Hal Jordan in the standard GREEN LANTERN origin story. Perhaps these requirements aren't specific to shonen series' success then? Perhaps they're even more archetypal?
This is my take, anyway. I'm sure we've got plenty of mega-fans in the community - - what's your take? What did this show do right from the beginning? What's the secret of BLEACH's success?
Watch, "The Day I Became a Shinigami" and decide for yourself.
About the Author
|Tom Pinchuk’s a writer and personality with a large number of comics, videos and features like this to his credit. Visit his website - - tompinchuk.com - - and follow his Twitter: @tompinchuk|