Filler ArcsAs with any manga-based anime series, Bleach needs to pad out its anime run to give Kubo a chance to create more material for the manga. A particularly bad habit, though, is that two of these arcs popped up right in the middle of the main plot rather then be integrated seamlessly as most animes would usually tend to do (this can be traced back to Turn Back The Pendulum, which did the same in the manga - and was confused for a filler arc by anime-only viewers). The characters, and by extension, the anime staff, do apologize for this, but it can still make viewing rather awkward. We've gotten a total of four filler arcs as a result, excluding the various standalone episodes. Kubo had a hand in designing the look for some of new filler characters to varying degrees, but he was never thoroughly involved in the writing or production.The Bount arc took place in between the Soul Society arc and the Arrancar arc, featuring the titular Bounts as the antagonists. The beginning of the arc was one of the strongest YuYu Hakusho allusions ever seen in Bleach; three unknown beings start a Training from Hell mini-arc before it's revealed that they're associates of the hero's mentor. Three Modsouls (Noba, Lirin and Kurodo) were created specifically by Urahara so they could be able to detect the vampiric Bounts, who have targeted Uryu Ishida. This was originally The Scrappy of the filler arcs, primarily due to the length of the arc being dragged out to fifty episodes. The Bounts themselves had a fairly interesting backstory, but they were surprisingly underdeveloped; the only ones who were fully fleshed out were Koga and Yoshino, while most of the other Bounts were straight-up villains and Kariya's exact motives and goals went all over the place (first it was For the Evulz, then it was to destroy the Seireitei for revenge, then it was to destroy everything, then it was escape the Sorting Algorithm of Evil). Certain fight scenes were cool, but most fans tended to avoid the Bounts and skip straight to the Arrancars once the anime finally caught up.The Menos Forest Mini-Arc was an arc that Kubo wasn't allowed to insert into the manga due to time constraints. En route to Las Noches, Ichigo and co. fall into a sandpit that drags them into the forest below, which is, you guessed it, filled with Hollows. There, they run across Ashido Kano, who, after saving Rukia from Hollows, spills his past. At the end, Ashido decides to stay behind so he could buy time for Rukia's crew to leave; Rukia swears that she would return, but the anime leaves his status unknown. The general fan consensus is split: some say that it should've been inserted into the main series because they liked Ashido, while others felt that it would've dragged things out more for the Hueco Mundo arc.The New Captain arc actually started during another arc, but it was notably shorter in length than the Bount arc. It had an interesting concept (parasitic pseudo-Zanpakuto and a look into the royal families that are sometimes mentioned in the canon material), but fans were more eager to see Nelliel and the other Espada fights. A newer character introduced, heiress Rurichiyo Kasumioji, was disliked by the fandom due to her Spoiled Brat tendencies, while its ultimate Big Bad was basically a rehash of Aizen. Additionally, though the fights were interesting, Narm was found in the sub-par (and often out-of-character) English dubbing, the eye-rolling dialogue and awkward placing of certain music themes. Although it was arguably better-executed than the previous arc, some fans skim over the New Captain arc and head on straight to the Arrancar again.The Zanpakuto arc took place in between another arc once again, but it was better-received than the previous two for its more likable characters, a well-executed plot reveal and a genuinely sympathetic Big Bad. Although there are fans (read: manga purists) that prefer the manga's style of storytelling, you're more likely to see fans preferring to talk about the Zanpakuto arc over the other two. The Beast Swords mini-arc that followed gave more development to certain Zanpakuto spirits, along with several ridiculously hilarious moments, but it's something of a Base Breaker. Fans disliked certain episodes, fans were more eager to return to the Arrancar, fans disliked certain Zanpakuto characters, fans disliked the titular Toju themselves; you name it. Nevertheless, it was about twelve episodes long, so once it was finished, it went back to the main story with the Arrancar.Bleach's final filler arc, the Invading Army arc, is likely the most disliked of the filler arcs, even more so than the Bounts or the Toju. It likewise started off with an interesting concept - spiritual bodies for artificial souls, time-derailing problems with the Dangai, and the identity of the direct Modsoul creator, so what was the problem this time around? At first, it was mostly over it being a rehash of previous filler arcs (and even movies) - the Shinigami get into trouble, involve Ichigo into the plot, briefly turn on Ichigo, show off abilities that were already shown before (manga or otherwise), and destroy parts of the Seireitei during their battles against their enemies; it's become formulaic now. Legit excuse, but that still isn't enough to outright revile it, so let's delve further: the main cast had been shafted ever since the New Captain arc, and they were Demoted to Extra in the manga's storyline, so fans would've preferred seeing some Badassery or importance to Ichigo's gang (sans Ichigo himself), instead of being there to show off their abilities and get defeated shortly thereafter. It focuses on Nozomi Kujo. It was cancelled in favor of a chibi Rock Lee anime.For individual character tropes, see Bleach Anime's character page.
Filler Arc Tropes
- Continuity Lockout: The New Captain and Zanpakuto Unknown Tales arcs happened in the middle of another Story Arc, completely throwing fans out of the loop first time around. The plots for both have no real placement into the plot - Ichigo uses his first Hollow mask in both, despite how he only stopped his Visored training once word got out that Orihime left to Las Noches. The Invading Army arc delayed Ichigo's powers from dissolving as quickly as it did in the manga, but he still faced problems with it dwindling faster every time he used Bankai, furthering to the lockout.
- Mistaken for Gay: Ichigo and Renji during the aforementioned "take it off" scene, apparently wrestling another man to the ground while commanding him to "take it [a disguise] off" can give your classmates the wrong idea... What makes it even Squickier is that everyone thinks they're Brothers, so god only knows what Chizuru meant by calling it "Forbidden Love".
Bleach MoviesThe Bleach series is well-known and popular enough to market four movies, all managed by Noriyuki Abe, director of the anime adaptation. Each movie features an original plotline, rather than being an adaptation of the manga's story, as well as original characters designed by the author himself. By contrast, the original author of most manga-to-anime series tends to have very little creative involvement for anime-based films.The first film was Bleach: Memories of Nobody, centering on the Ship Tease-worthy moments between Ichigo and the new girl, Senna. Its plot revolves around the activities of a group called the "Dark Ones," who were banished from the Soul Society and wish destroy both Soul Society and the World of the Living. By itself, it averages on plot and fights, though most fans tend to watch it exclusively for Senna, and there are even fans that find it as their favorite film for its simplicity, but they're in the relative minority.The second film was Bleach: The DiamondDust Rebellion, focusing on the theft of an artifact belonging to the Spirit King, the suspicions regarding Hitsugaya's unusual obsession with finding the thief and the efforts of Ichigo's gang trying to clear Hitsugaya's name, after the artifact is stolen while under his care. The main antagonist is Hitsugaya's Rival Turned Evil, Sojiro Kusaka, accompanied by his two Arrancar Bodyguard Babes - Yin and Yang. Similarly, Ichigo takes a relative backseat as the protagonist, but retains a fairly prominent role in the plot. Nearly every character with a notable Shikai or Bankai ability gets to use it by the climax of the film, taking down an army of Hollows spawned by the One-Winged Angel, while the protagonists deal with the Big Bad - a plot point that gets recycled in subsequent anime filler arcs. This was a much more controversial film amongst the fandom, particularly between those that view it as the best movie (or just better than the first), and those that hold it as both a Plot Hole-ridden mess and a money investment on Hitsugaya fans.The third film was Bleach: Fade to Black, I Call Your Name, usually just called "Fade to Black". In the film, members of the Soul Society are struck with amnesia, causing them to forget Ichigo and Rukia. When he goes to Soul Society to investigate, Ichigo discovers that Rukia has forgotten not only him, but her own identity as well, and that her adopted siblings from her pre-Shinigami years have returned to reunite with her. Beloved by the Ichigo/Rukia section of the fandom, even those that aren't fond of the pairing enjoy the film, considering it as the best one, although others do hold it as up-to-par with the first or second films. Notably, this is the second movie to use the "Heroes Battle Mooks, Protagonists Confront Big Bad" aspect, and it's similarly gotten a few attacks from other fans for it.The fourth film, Bleach: The Hell Verse, opens up with a raid by Togabito, denizens from Hell that kidnap Ichigo's younger sister, Yuzu Kurosaki. Aided by another Togabito named Kokuto, Ichigo's gang travel to Hell to rescue Yuzu from Shuren, the ringleader of the Togabito, who aims to use Ichigo's Hollow Powers to break open the Gates of Hell and release the Togabito from captivity. Despite having the most hype of the four movies, it has gotten a mixed response from both Japanese and English-Speaking fans. Unlike the last three, which focused more on Character Development, this one was more action-oriented at the cost of a few jarring instances of Character Derailment. Despite the mixed reaction to the movie, Kokuto, similar to Senna, has already been established as a fan favorite character, enough that he debuted in a game that was released before the movie came out in America. An English dub was released under the name "Bleach The Movie: Hell Verse".In March 2010, Warner Bros.. confirmed that it is in talks to create a Live-Action Adaptation of the series. Fans aren't pleased.
- Continuity Lockout: A major issue with the films are their supposed placement within the timeline.
- The first seems to fit fairly well between the Bount and Arrancar arcs, but Rukia's involvement in the first five minutes puts a wrench on that theory.
- The second film seems to take place during the Arrancar arc, since it has two Arrancars in it, but Ichigo uses his Visored mask in it, whereas he was still training with Shinji over it in the real series, and only left once Orihime went to Las Noches.
- The third movie suffers the same deal: Ichigo uses his Hollow mask within the first five minutes, but there's no references to Arrancars or Visoreds within it, but there's a shot it could be after the whole deal with Aizen. Problem with that is how Ichigo ends up changing his Hollow mask in the final part of the Hueco Mundo arc.
- The fourth film features the second mask and his second Hollow form, but Ichigo losing his Visored powers in-series destroys all other thoughts about it and the other films.
- Darker and Edgier: The fourth movie, The Hell Verse is noticeably darker than the other three, canon characters are killed and STAY DEAD... for a small period of time. The film contains close ups of Uryu and Renji's decaying corpses which are hung from a tree, a close up of a dead Yuzu's face, Kokuto's grotesque scar, and of course, it takes place in HELL.
- Late-Arrival Spoiler: Crosses over with It Was His Sled. Played Bleach: Soul Resurrección? Okay, when you watch The Hell Verse for the first time, try to act surprised when you find out Kokuto is evil.
- Lost in Translation: The fourth movie, Jigoku-Hen, is the first movie to have a Japanese title as opposed to an English one. Jigoku-Hen has two translations, "Hell Chapter" and "The Hell Verse". Although The Hell Verse is more grammatically correct, Hell Chapter seems to be the preferred translation. But don't ask a group of fans which title was the correct one until official merchandise has confirmed that "The Hell Verse" is the correct translation.
- Sorting Algorithm of Evil: We'll go in order.
- Ganryu Ryodoji and the Dark Ones are fairly typical Filler Villains, who put up a good fight against the seated officers and caused quite a bit of damage, but were ultimately defeated with little difficulty by the Shinigami.
- On his own, Sojiro Kusaka managed to catch Kyoraku off-guard and incapacitate him for a good portion of the second movie, while fighting toe-to-toe against Hitsugaya and Kurosaki in his One-Winged Angel form. Ying and Yan were fairly good fighters, who held off Shunko-Yoruichi, Shunko-Soifon, Shikai-Ichigo, Rukia and Shikai-Hitsugaya without too many problems, though a Getsuga Tensho from Shikai-Ichigo repelled a their combo-attack. Their defeat against Bankai-Ichigo was off-screen, however, and they were only able to fight against Yoruichi because of regeneration from their One Winged Angels.
- Homura and Shizuku released a Giant Mook (and Mook-Spawn) that took on the Shinigami captains, while they themselves fused with Rukia to fight Bankai-Ichigo to a standstill. Both Dark Rukia and the Giant Mook were defeated without inflicting too much damage to their opponents.