For as along as I can remember I never wanted to watch the big Shonen Jump anime. After having suffered through Naruto as a kid and feeling a bit flustered by the end of the first season I vowed to never sit through an anime longer than 65-ish episodes; even then that is a stretch for myself. I have long since avoided these series in favor of anime with 12-25 episode runs due to not having to suffer the feeling of lethargic investment. However my mold has cracked and I have finally decided to take it up to watch one gem in particular. An anime that I longed made punny jokes towards and have only seen in disinterested passing. Bleach is an anime that has been rife with development woes and dropped support from their primary publisher over the past few months. While the anime was successful it is an entirely incomplete experience when compared to the manga. This pos is not a review, but rather an impression on the anime series that is Bleach and my experience with the first three episodes in a run that spans 366 episodes; less if you discount the filler and infamous Bount Arc.
Please note that while this is in response to a fellow colleague and friend (Jaymes Hanson) telling me to watch this anime; it is also a response from me against my long standing grudge against Shonen Jump Anime. The first three episodes changed my outlook and you can definitely color me impressed. For an anime that aired in 2004 it has aged phenomenally well. The animation quality in terms of character engagement with the environment, to the well thought out dialogue between the characters Ichigo, Rukia and Inoue is above and beyond anything I anticipated. I personally loved how odd of a relationship that Ichigo shares with his father as the two engage in some odd form of family clash each time they see each other; brilliant. While the first few episodes are in a lack lust 480p format, I am still colored impressed nonetheless by the actual animation work from the key animators and workers below them. Everything seems to flow and run in just the right ways with little complaint on my end in terms of the art.
While the first three episodes of a long running anime are a good measure of what is to come, I have to say that Bleach does a phenomenal job at doing so in a way that feels very fresh. From the rather touching moments found in just the third episode to the rather humorous first meeting of Rukia and Ichigo, Bleach manages to impress in all regards. Episode three even had me impressed with the amount of emotional struggle that was present with just only three episodes into the actual series. If this does not scream quality then I do not know what does. I feel safe in saying that I have not watched an anime like Bleach before and that is something that feels good to say. When so many anime these days feel like cutout from anime past, Bleach fits into its very own mold. While many can draw comparisons from other anime to Bleach or from this anime to other anime, I cannot. This is in part due to my reluctance to enjoy what some consider to be a “mainstream” anime. This anime is full of surprises for me with just the first three episodes firmly under my belt.
While I am not for sure how this introduction will turn out, I can say that I am at least enjoying this anime to the point of euphoric interest. It feels new and original; while that may be a stretch in saying. I am sure it will follow familiar themes and character types along its course as most Shonen Jump anime tend to do. Also the first opening “Asterisk by Orange Range” is way to addictive and fits what I imagine Bleach’s story will evolve towards. I should also take this time to say that while I have yet to watch all of Bleach, I have enjoyed its openings with my favorite J-Rock band Scandal having performed one of its later openings. As you all know music for us can very much make or break an anime and I have to give Bleach a much longer time for the effect to settle in. With over 366 episodes to have to watch I think I will get a better understanding of what the composition represents with future episodes.
So do I like it? Yes, I do. I went into Bleach feeling reluctant and doubtful that I would enjoy and anime of this scale and renown. I have been proven wrong and I am sure that Jaymes Hanson is pleased to know that he has finally, FINALLY pulled me out from my reluctant shell to enjoy Shonen Jump anime. I look forward to the adventure I will have with this anime and I hope that it pushes me to engage with the manga series as well. Who knows I may have to have a conversation with Jaymes Hanson to actually give voice to how impressed I am with the series. I feel foolish in saying that I waited this long to get into this anime. I will be providing periodic impression of the series as I progress on my journey through Bleach.
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