So it's rather odd that the last few Saturdays I had caught new-to-me episodes of Bleach on Toonami at Cartoon Network. While I didn't have specifics about what was going on, you can figure out a lot, because all the battles are prefaced by long soliloquies. As are the battles themselves, for that matter. This time I came in somewhere around Episode #360 -- and next thing I know, tonight is Episode #366 and the end of the series.
No, really. The end of a seemingly endless anime series. I'm pretty sure I saw all of the first 150-180 episodes and then big chunks of the next 200. Even stranger for me, I did catch Episode #1 and therefore was able to follow Ichigo Kurosaki's origin story from the start.
And I caught the end only 2½ years after it aired in Japan.
There are also four movies. I had planned on seeing the first one at a special showing at Celebration North one time, but they failed to get the film and canceled the one-night showing. If they rescheduled it, I never found out or was unable to attend. Can't remember.
It's easy to dismiss Bleach as Yet Another Japanese Anime which features battles between people and creatures with superpowers. Dragonball Z was always amping up the powers of the bad guys and so we had endless threats, endless training to meet these threats and near defeats before rolling everything up.
But Bleach DID feature a lot of talking. There was a lot of history, politics and competitiveness between the various units of these Soul Reapers. And betrayals. Ishigo was a Substitute Soul Reaper -- a human with access to powers that the Land of the Dead possessed, but he came from the Land of the Living.
The Soul Reapers were a mixed lot, from foot soldiers to lieutenants to the thirteen captains. A military structure, plus experience and rock solid confidence as one ascends the pyramidal org structure. This also results in a massive cast of both friend and foes. And that, I think, it what really separated Bleach for me from other anime. Such a huge cast who were all distinct in appearance, attitude, capabilities, etc.
This also may be the first anime I saw where between the first and last episodes there was actually a resolution, a closure -- an ending. So many of the anime series I had access to on TechTV and Cartoon Network had incomprehensible ends, when I actually got to see the ending at all.
So I guess Ishigo Kurosaki ends up going back to being a third-year high school student... (grin)
And doesn't get the girl? (double-grin)