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BLEACH Is Part of the Big Three Regardless of What Haters May Feel

Ichigo is arriving to remind people why he is a badass

Bleach is returning this year and has come to remind everyone why it is part of the “Big Three” of manga. The anime adaptation of the last arc of the manga, “Thousand-Year Blood War,” will be coming out in October of 2022, wrapping up the storyline in an anime format and serving as the first continuation of Bleach since the anime ended in 2012.

The Big Three is a term that was coined in order to describe, at the time, the longest and most successful shonen mangas running: One Piece, Naruto, and Bleach. While the first two are still ongoing—Naruto with its spinoff series and One Piece just rolling along—Bleach ended on a low note, which has caused some to retroactively try to pretend Bleach wasn’t, at its peak, absolute fire, ignoring its impact, the length of its run, and rushing to replace it with other series.

Running in Shonen Jump from August 2001 to August 2016, mangaka Tite Kubo’s work introduced us to Kurosaki Ichigo, a high school student with the ability to see ghosts who ends up gaining the power of a shinigami—Kuchiki Rukia. What started off as an episodic monster slaying story turned into a major epic about humans versus the powers of death.

The Soul Society arc, in which Ichigo and others in his hero team squad have to go into the realm of the spirits of the dead to rescue Rukia, is one of the best runs of a series. The fights between characters were epic. The twists and emotional payoffs, as the series progressed, were excellent, and if the series had ended there, it probably would have the same reverence that Demon Slayer has now.

But Tite Kubo, like many successful mangakas, was pushed into making a longer story, coming up with more and more characters, plots, and side-quests that dragged the series out.

Executive meddling and wanting to milk a successful story literally ran Bleach into the ground, because—shocker—artists need to rest. Tite Kubo’s art style grew fantastically, and he has created some of the best-looking male characters in the business, but ten years of running towards an unknown ending is a lot.

Kubo has stated that the Thousand-Year Blood War anime, which will complete the adaptation of his work, will feature new content and elements of the story that were previously left out of his manga due to his illness.

While it may have ended first out of its companions, when you look at shows like Jujutsu Kaisen, which are currently running and intensely popular, Bleach‘s impact is clearly there. The fight scenes are still highly regarded, and the fandom still passionately debates every aspect of the series (Team IchiRuki over here.)

Plus, when everyone was picking their favorite of the three, I picked Bleach, and I would love to see my fourteen-year-old self be pleased by their choice once again.

(image: TV Tokyo)

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Princess (she/her-bisexual) is a Brooklyn born Megan Fox truther, who loves Sailor Moon, mythology, and diversity within sci-fi/fantasy. Still lives in Brooklyn with her over 500 Pokémon that she has Eevee trained into a mighty army. Team Zutara forever.