BLEACH didn’t get to it as quickly as NARUTO did, perhaps, but both series really don’t waste much time before thrusting their characters into high-tension predicaments. This isn’t just some simple case of saving the girl or beating the bad guy. Ichigo has to pass judgment on one of his old friends - - a kid who didn’t start off bad, but now must be destroyed - - and he do something he really doesn’t want to do. There’s a rapidly ticking clock, and the threat of living hell looms at all times.
Disregarding whatever I’ve heard about where BLEACH goes, down the line, I’ll credit the show for making its stakes count immediately. There’s no “it gets good at episode #17.” The meat’s on the plate, right now, and we’re chewing right into it. Hearts are broken. Lives could be ruined. And our hero has to make a hard decision that doesn’t have a clear right or wrong answer.
Fitting this into another context, it’s interesting to compare BLEACH with other action anime’s that deal with the afterlife in one way or another. I still can’t help but see some pattern in DEATH NOTE, GANTZ, SOUL EATER and, hell, even DRAGON BALL, where death is treated more like some other, arbitrary location, as opposed to a plane humans either ascend or descend to.
BLEACH is another series that tosses the distinctly-Japanese term ‘shinigami’ around, of course; but it seems to veer closer to more gothic J-horror like THE RING or THE GRUDGE. Such stories always struck me as metaphoric illustrations of the notion that “hell is other people.” That is, a damaged person will dwell on the past, and force friends or family to relive it, over and over, instead of moving on - - just like how a ghost will literally dwell on some past injustice that is no longer relevant.
This show doesn’t have Ichigo deal with that dilemma as a surrogate psychiatrist (like MUSHI-SHI was wont to do), but the Hollow’s very childish grievance with his sister does still seem to boil down to a petty, talk show squabble.
There’s… not enough room here to get into this subject adequately. Hopefully, you can see what I’m getting at, though?
Watch "The Older Brother's Wish, the Younger Sister's Wish" and decide for yourself, then read my comments about the previous episode.
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|