Back in September 2016 I wrote a pair of brief posts (found here and here) about an anime I used to watch called Bleach. For those that didn’t read those posts the TL;DR summary of them is that after a few years of being away from the show I rewatched some episodes from Bleach’s early seasons and then reflected on how my time watching Bleach came to an end at a fitting place with the conclusion of the final fight between the protagonist Ichigo and super bad guy Aizen. In my personal canon this was where the Bleach anime ended.
Because I’ve not had a cable TV subscription in years I had figured that I’d never be going back to Bleach, but that all changed last month. A friend of mine let me use his Hulu account and among the myriad number of TV shows available on it were the seasons of Bleach for the two story arcs that came after where I had stopped watching. Part of me was interested in burning through those final seasons but another part of me was apprehensive. As I said before, my time with Bleach ended at a good spot in the story, so I wasn’t sure if I wanted to jump back into it and take the risk of being disappointed by these newer episodes. Also, one of my personal pet peeves is TV shows that don’t know when to end, and Bleach had already been unnecessary dragged out by the time it finally reached Ichigo’s climatic showdown with Aizen, so it didn’t sit well with me that the show continued for another two story arcs afterwards.
In the end, however, I chose to give those final seasons a chance. Thankfully Bleach’s format makes it very easy to binge-watch, as each episode is effectively only about 20 to 22 minutes long since the commercial break in the middle of the episode is gone and you can skip over the opening and ending themes. Even if with my job and various responsibilities I was able to burn through the new episodes in under a week. Both the subtitled and dubbed versions of each episode were available and although I’m sure the anime purists will say that you should always watch the subtitled version of anime I opted for the dubbed version of Bleach since that’s what I had watched in the past. That said, once I finished binging the newer episodes I did check out the subtitled versions of two older episodes just to see what the Japanese voiceover was like.
My final verdict on these remaining seasons of Bleach is that they are hit-and-miss. Without spoiling anything, I’ll say that there are some interesting moments and more of the fight scenes that we all love, but there’s also plenty of the filler material and other issues that have plagued the show for a long time now. The first of the two story arcs can probably be completely skipped, except for maybe the final episode, which could work on its own as an epilogue to the show’s main storyline that concluded with Ichigo’s fight against Aizen. In contrast, the second story arc is consequential to the overall plot, but its ending wasn’t overly satisfying. Did I feel like I had wasted my time in watching the episodes of these two additional story arcs? No, but if someone else was in a situation similar to the one I was in prior to watching them I’d tell them that they weren’t missing out on too much.
Having consumed these newer episodes I guess I’m back to where I was a few years ago in being “done” with the Bleach anime. From what I’ve read online, the Bleach manga continues on past where the anime currently has stopped but it’s been years since any new TV episodes have been released so it seems likely that the Bleach anime isn’t coming back. I’m honestly ok with this. Bleach was an enjoyable show and I’m sure I’ll rewatch an old episode every once in a long while, but I don’t feel the need for the anime to keep going any further than it already has. The anime had a good run, even if it was overly long, and now it’s time for Bleach to rest.