Absurd Cutting Power: The zanpakutou of both Shinigami and Arrancars, and Quincy Energy Weapons, can often cut through almost anything. Such magic-born weapons have the potential to cleave through even buildings and mountains. The effectiveness usually depends on the wielder's spiritual power, meaning the ability of the weapon to cleave through anything is limited by the wielder's spiritual strength and not the weapon itself. Zanpakutou even begin existence with limitless potential but become restricted by the wielder's own limitations.
Adaptation Distillation: The musicals, which cut out most of the side characters and even some of the main characters who turn out to be utterly pivotal to the story's meta-plot, such as Uryuu.
Adaptation Dye-Job: The anime does this a lot, changing hair colours, lightening Harribel's skin tone, changing the colours of Yumichika's feathers. They also assumed that Ryuuken's hair was white due to age, despite the flashbacks they animated showing his hair was still white when he was younger. They also assumed Gin's eyes were red but, when the manga revealed they were blue, the anime changed his eye colour accordingly.
In the Substitute Soul Reaper arc, the anime pads "Memories in the Rain" with a Soul Reaper sent to check on Rukia who discovers her secret but decides not to turn her in yet because he think she might be sowing some wild oats.
Kurodo, Lirin, and Noba, three recurring characters exclusive to the anime. They showed up as minor antagonists in a filler story, but since Defeat Means Friendship, they stick around for much longer, making cameo appearances for comedy purposes in the canon storyline. They also have a tendency to dance around during the end credits.
"Karakurizer", a Sentai parody, was originally three or four between-chapter illustrations. The anime expanded this into two very, very funny episodesnote 214 and 215, FYI.
The anime goes into much more detail about the day-to-day lives of the Soul Reapers and expands on their backstories before joining the Gotei. Ikkaku's backstory is only a couple of panels in the manga but an entire filler episode in the anime.
Kubo wrote the Menos Forest mini-arc for the manga but it got cut in order to accelerate the Espada fights. It was included in full in the anime.
The relatively short fights in the Arrancar Arc are lengthened in the anime. Given the sheer number of fights involved, it certainly bought them a little time before catching up to the manga yet again.
In Grimmjow and Ichigo's first Curb-Stomp Battle, Ichigo gets his face beaten in for a lot longer than in the manga. In the manga, it lasts about two or three panels; in the anime, it lasts about ten minutes. Ten long minutes.
In the anime, the monster Allon spends an entire minute slapping his chest wound for no plot-related, or dramatic, purpose. That did not happen in the manga.
Ichigo's decision to meet X-Cution receives a full anime episode. In the manga, Ichigo realises Ryuuken subtlely decided to protect Orihime because he can't and immediately calls them for help. In the anime, a full day goes by, allowing him to fight the thugs who attacked his friends and family and meet Tsukishima, who flees from Ryuuken's sudden appearance. Ryuuken unsubtlely tells Ichigo he's incapable of protecting others right now, which prompts Ichigo to place the call.
The way he lost his mother as a child left Ichigo unable to handle being powerless to protect those in danger. Villains often use this against him, culminating in one Arc Villain's mind-bending assault on his family leading Ichigo into an Heroic BSOD. Also, Yhwach's henchman traps him in a gaol of darkness where he's forced to listen to the dying screams of Soul Society, knowing he's unable to save them.
Having made two separate vows to always protect his dead wife's sister and always uphold the law, Byakuya's left dumbfounded when Rukia's execution brings the two vows into conflict. Although he's forced to support the execution, his worst fear is eventually confirmed to be Rukia dying. As Nodt's supernatural Emotion Bomb forces Byakuya to hallucinate Rukia's melting corpse, driving him into a frenzy that almost kills him.
Alas, Poor Villain: While most villain deaths in are happy moments, there are some who are written to be tragic.
Early on there's Orihime's hollowfied brother kills himself with Ichigo's sword in a moment of lucidity.
In the Fake Karakura Town arc, Ulquiorra and Starrk. The former dies finally understanding what it means to be human while the latter dies after only fighting to protect his friends.
If Starrk is dead, there's a good chance she went with him. It's never exactly clear whose perspective the dying flashback of the two meeting as separate beings for the first time is from, if it's not from both of them.
In the anime she dies first. She was controlling the wolves, and protected Stark from an attack. Kyoraku used the wind from his Bushugoma attack to separate the reishi that made up the wolves.
For all of Charlotte's Large Ham behavior, he faced his death at the hands of Yumichika quietly and even with dignity.
In Shizuku and Homura's dying moments, the viewer learns the truth about their connection with Rukia, and their being possessed while saving her.
Ishida brings hollow bait to a dispute where a tape measure would suffice. No one brings it up again after they're done solving the problems he created, except in the anime-only New Captain Amagai arc. Aizen gives it a passing mention in Chapter 397, and that's probably the last we'll ever hear of it.
Mayuri bribed Soul Reapers to avoid saving Quincies from dying so he could experiment on them in the afterlife until they died again. He also rigged Soul Reapers from his own division to be unwitting suicide bombs. No one, not even Ishida, brings this up at any point after the Soul Society arc.
Episode 287, it is even said that it is just a dream during the episode.
It happens again in the monster episode (episode 304), Once again, Ichigo mentions that it's got to be a dream.
All Love Is Unrequited: Word of God has said he has no interest in writing a romance. As a result, any romance that does get mentioned or hinted at either ends tragically or isn't pursued, not even by the one feeling the emotions.
Orihime is in love with Ichigo. However, she also has no interest in pursuing a romance with him. So, not only does he not know about her feelings, but she also has no interest in making him aware of her feelings nor does she expect to have a romance with him.
Rukia's mentor Kaien was someone she idolised. She also idolised Kaien's wife. Like Orihime, she did not seek to pursue a romance with the object of her affection.
Angels Pose: Rukia, Orihime and Rangiku strike it at the end of the 10th anime opening.
Animation Bump: In the Gotei 13 Invasion filler arc, the last part of Ichigo's fight with the final Arc Villain are almost movie quality.
The end of Hisagi's fight with Findor.
Anthropomorphic Personification: Their personality, thoughts and beliefs are built from the soul of the Soul Reaper that created them and can represent the subconscious of that Soul Reaper.
Apathy Killed the Cat: Many characters over the course of the series, usually played for laughs; Ichigo is a frequent participant.
An Arm and a Leg: This happens a lot in the midst of battles. From minor villains to main protagonists, very few have escaped experiencing this. The severed limbs commonly get healed back on in a lot of cases, if the characters haven't died.
Rescues involve five people: Five Ryouka to the Soul Society (Ichigo, Orihime, Sado, Uryuu and Yoruichi). Five invaders to Hueco Mundo (Ichigo, Uryuu, Sado, Renji and Rukia). Instigated by Urahara, Isshin and Rukia, five Soul Reapers rescue Ichigo (Byakuya, Renji, Kenpachi, Ikkaku and Hitsugaya). When the Royal Guard rescues the Gotei 13, there are five members (Ichibei, Senjumaru, Ouetsu, Kirio and Tenjirou).
The Quincies are dominated by the number 5. Their cross motif is a five-pointed cross that can appear in both pentacle and pentagram formation. There are also special attacks that utilize five Seele Schneiders to pull off. Later on, they reveal they've designated five Special War Potentials that they take very great interest in (Ichigo, Kenpachi, and Aizen are quickly confirmed, Yamamoto is quickly excluded, the remaining identities are a mystery for a long time).
Significant time periods use the number 2.
2,000 years ago Yamamoto created the modern Spiritual Arts Academy. The fandom estimates it's closer to 2,100 years ago but that Kubo is rounding to 2,000. It was also the last time Choujirou ever used bankai in public until the Vandenreich invasion.
200 years ago was the Quincy massacre, leading to a massive social change among the Soul Reapers that "softened" them and caused an unusual and prolonged period of captain turnover. It also led to the invention of powering up techniques by the Quincies such as Vollstandig.
20 years ago before the beginning of the main story, Aizen created a brand new type of hollow experiment that brought Isshin, Urahara and Ryuuken together, setting off the main storyline.
Aizen's fate. He receives a sentence of 20,000 years for his crimes.
Yhwach is heavily associated with the number nine, to the point where there's a Quincy poem made over it. He was sealed for 999 years: after 900 years, he reclaimed his heartbeat; after 90 years, he reclaimed his ability to reason; after 9 years, he reclaimed his power. And after 9 days, he's destined to "reclaim the world".
Arc Welding: The manga looks like it's split into two parts, each with its own Big Bad. However, the final arc ties together both parts and both villains. Events as diverse as the death of Ichigo's mother, Rukia's execution, Ichigo's substitute badge, Aizen's hollowfication experiments, Urahara's failure to save the Vizards, and Ryuuken's hatred of Quincies are all connected. Word of God is that the manga's end was being planned during the final stages of the Soul Society arc, but the Arrancar Arc suffered a period of Executive Meddling before he could get the story back on track.
Art Evolution: Kubo re-polishes◊ his style; the usual differences are in the eyes and chins, but some characters have undergone more dramatic changes. Ichigo's clothing, for example, has evolved considerably over the course of the story.
Artistic License – Biology: Rukia's zanpakuto power allows her to lower the temperature of her body cells to absolute zero. This renders them effectively "dead" making her immune to As Nodt's fear thorns. However, As Nodt's Vollstanding allows him to induce fear through the optical nerves of her eye to get around her power, indicating Kubo doesn't think optical nerves are cells.
Artistic Age: The main human (or equivalent) cast look at least nineteen but are actually in the 15-17 range. Ironically, Rukia looks the most like that age, but is Really 700 Years Old. What makes this even more bizarre is that Chad is explicitlyYounger Than He Looks on top of that.
"So the studio stepped in" is a meme from one of the previews in the Zanpakuto Tales filler arc, where the skit has characters asking if Kenpachi's zanpakutou will materialise. Another character comments that if it did, Soul Society would be destroyed and the show would end, prompting the first character to cynically observe the studio must have stepped in.
Also, the "Leek Spin Girl" meme has appeared as an official card in the Bleach CCG. Orihime — Leek Spin.
Anime episode 298. While Ichigo is being shanghaied into making a movie, he turns to the camera and says "I need an agent."
Anime episode 346. Riruka Dokugamine says that wearing contact lenses makes her eyes dry out as soon as she puts them in, then turns to face the camera in a close up and says "It's because my eyes are so ginormous." (a reference to the large eyes of anime characters).
As Long as It Sounds Foreign: Some of the names Kubo comes up with for characters seem to be completely made-up. One of the most notable examples is NaNaNa Nahjakoop.
Assimilation Backfire: After Urahara comes with a way to hollowify bankai, we find out that a hollowified bankai is poisonous to Quincy.
Ass Kicking Pose: Parodied/Subverted with Tatsufusa, 8th Division 3rd seat, and his Zanpakuto-flailing.
As You Know: Used often in the anime. An egregious one happens in the Invading Army arc, when a random Soul Reaper says "Ichigo Kurosaki, who has been imprisoned for being in the Dangai, has escaped!" to Ukitake and Kyoraku, who already knew why Ichigo was imprisoned.
There's a reason why some fans call him Titty Kubo. He also likes to dress up his characters in different outfits on the splash pages.
He's also got a thing for drawing closeups of people's teeth.
Author Avatar: Kuugo, with the other fullbringers representing different types of misadjusted readers. Tsukishima, the self-insert fanfic guy etcetera. Hence, "Welcome to OUR execution".
Awesome but Impractical: There are a number of impractically huge weapons in the series, such as Renji's flail, Baraggan's axe, Nnoitra's sickle and Ikkaku's Bankai. Soifon hates her Bankai because it is so impractical for her preferred combat style, being huge, heavy, noisy, flashy, unhideable, and using too much power for her to do it again too many times.
In the Gotei 13Invasion Arc, it doesn't matter how many times the Reigai are killed, they can keep being resurrected by the same science that created them in the first place.
Due to the reincarnation cycle of souls, if living humans die, there's a chance they could crop up later on in the story as ghosts. Also, due to several characters being heavily involved in highly creativescientific endeavour based on reiatsu and body experimentation, some characters that died have returned to the story as undead beings. Living humans returning as ghosts include Ginjou, Tsukishima and Giriko. Undead characters resurrected by science include Dordonni, Cirucci, Luppi and Charlotte.
Inverted in anime episode 14 "Back to Back, a Fight to the Death!" Ichigo forcibly gets newfound rival Ishida to do this to stave off a legion of Hollows while at the same time trying to convince him that they are Not So Different.
The anime season "The New Captain Shusuke Amagai".
The opening title includes Ichigo and Captain Amagai back to back.
In episode 186 Rukia and Rangiku Matsumoto, who had been fighting moments earlier, end up back to back facing off against an attack by ninja mooks.
Toshiro and Rangiku at the beginning of episode 222.
Referenced in the Zanpakuto tales filler arc, with Kuchiki Byakuya and Senbonzakura.
Senbonzakura Master, I will watch your back.
Byakuya That's not necessary.
Anime episode #319. While fighting against the Reigei guarding the Senkaimon gate, Ichigo and Rukia briefly stand back to back facing them.
Badass: Who in this manga isn't? Even most of the minor characters or the most mild-mannered characters will get a brief moment to shine.
Badass Army: The Vandenreich are the most destructive one to date in Bleach, effortlessly crippling the Gotei 13 in one assault. They are led by the Stern Ritter who command the elite Soldats.
Bad Boss: The villains in general. Aizen couldn't care less about his minions if he tried, and the Vandenreich is even worse; Yhwach and Bambietta have both been shown killing subordinates just because. Averted by Starrk and Harribel, though. Also justified for Yhwach because he gains the power of every Vandenreich that dies. Killing them serves a purpose for him.
Bandage Babe: Fairly common in Bleach as it allows for Soul Reapers, including female Soul Reapers, to be stripped down at the chest without revealing anything. In Chapter 422, both Renji and Rukia are this at the same time.
Barbie Doll Anatomy: Although Bleach makes liberal use of Scenery Censor to hide the worst, it's quite clear that this trope is at work as well, especially whenever Yoruichi is stripped down.
Barefoot Poverty: Becomes a plot point during the final arc - the denizens of Soul Society's worst districts are disappearing en masse, leaving only footprints, including some shoe prints. It's revealed that people who live within Districts 50-80 are so poverty-stricken, none have been known to wear shoes for 550 years. This clues in Lieutenant Kira to the fact that the conclusion villagers killed each other is wrong and that entire villages are being slaughtered by Soul Reapers. Thanks to Kira's revelation, it's discovered that, because a huge number of hollows were annihilated by Quincies, Mayuri's men comitted mass murder to avoid a pan-dimensional disaster that could destroy entire worlds: killing spirit-dwelling villagers counter-balanced the destroyed hollows in a case of Balancing Death's Books.
Barely-There Swimwear: In the Beach Episode based on the manga omakes, the women are shopping for swimwear and Isane is mourning the fact all the cute costumes are for shorter women. Her sister Kiyone finds her a swimsuit that she can wear, the catch being that it's entirely too revealing and skimpy for Isane to even contemplate wearing it. Her captain, Unohana intervenes and takes Kiyone's side, further shocking Isane. Then she reveals the swimming costume she's going to wear and even Kiyone's jaw hits the floor. Only Isane's and Unohana's swimwear are commented on in-universe so only they fit this trope.
Battle Aura: Spiritual force is initially depicted as wind, but later in the series develops into auras. Certain high-power characters can even incapacitate weaker opponents simply by releasing their auras.
Beach Episode: Episode 228, and the omake of Volume 26, which also includes Orihime licking off the juices left from some artificially created watermelon monsters created by the 12th division.
Aizen seeks to break the physical rules separating Soul Reapers from Hollow. Much of his activity has been based on the quest to reach beyond the limits that shinigami and hollows are biologically limited by.
This is how Askin sums up Gremmy's power, who goes on to demonstrate the point in battle by Creating Life, dropping a giant asteroid on the Seireitei to destroy it, and exposing Zaraki to the "void of space".
Soifon's bankai. It's a giant stinger missile that is launched from her arm and which is designed to nuke the enemy.
In the anime filler Sword Fiend arc, Hanatarou's materialized Zanpakuto, Hisagomaru, unfolds a BFG from the hidden compartment in his chest after absorbing enough pain energy. He, a one or two foot tall Bic-logo looking robot uses a BFG the size of a bus.
Ururu's missile launcher is three times as big as she is.
BFS: As Byakuya once observes, releasing the power of the Zanpakutou means unleashing a weapon that defies rationality, so many of the weapons are unnaturally sized. Ichigo's huge, oversized blade is one of the milder examples, with one of the stand-out examples being Ikkaku's Bankai, commented on in-universe as, and therefore presenting the trope image for, an Impossibly Cool Weapon due to its irrationally huge size.
Sosuke Aizen is behind almost everything that's happened in this manga. Even in the final arc where he's technically still in prison, it turns out he's somehow involved in events and he's even manipulated Yhwach after only a few moments of contact. How and why he's involved, however, takes time for the arc to reveal.
In the final arc, Yhwach, The Emperor of the Vandenreich, is revealed to be involved in almost everything Aizen isn't. This includes the existence of the Quincies, the Great Off Screen War with the Soul Reapers and the formation of the Vandenreich. He also caused the deaths of Yamamoto, Ichigo's mother and Uryuu's mother.
Hollows of Menos class and higher shrink down and get less monstrous-looking as they get stronger; the ultimate hollow class Vasto Lorde are basically humans with masks. Also, Aizen unlocks the power of hollows by removing their mask and the change in power is shown by them becoming more human-like.
The Espada's releases are an example of this as one goes up by number until you reach the top 3. Yammy, Aaroniero, Szayel, and Zommari (10th through 7th respectively) are outright monstrous, but they get progressively smaller and arguably less scary. 6th through 3rd Espadas Grimmjow, Nnoitra, Ulquiorra, and Harribel (whose release gives her a much more stripperific outfit and changes her sword into a BFS, but that's it.) are animal based. Number 2 Baraggan defies the pattern by becoming a skeleton with a flaming fur coat, and 1st Espada Starrk gets it back on track with an eyepatch and a change of clothes. And a pair of really cool guns...only for the pattern to once again be defied by Yammy, as he's Espada #0 as well.
Ichigo's sword. It started out as a positively enormouskatana-thing that grew as his power did. However, it was all volume, no density. When he underwent Training from Hell and learned to release his shikai, it settled into a single shape: like a giant, black cleaver. His Bankai form further reduces in size to a black daito (Japanese long sword that is slightly larger than a katana). It also concentrates his power and increases his speed immensely. This is reflected in the way his sword's spirit looks. Zangetsu is a Cool Old Guy. Tensa Zangetsu is a bishonen.
Bittersweet Ending: The end of the Zanpakutou Arc and it's tail-end mini-arc, the Beast Swords Arc.
The layout (or at least the corridors) of Las Noches (or at least Szayel's section) can apparently be magically changed from a control room. It wasn't even mentioned that Las Noches is the size of a small country.
Las Noches has nothing on the Seireitei, which is labyrinthine for the sake of confusing invaders.
Black and Gray Morality: Despite being guardians of the afterlife, the Soul Reapers are far from saints. Several times over, it's pointed out how a number of the Captains can be ruthless, arrogant, manipulative, psychotic, homicidal and/or morally-ambiguous at any given scene. At best, they are guilty of negligence in not making the lives of their charges easier (we're lookin' at you Unohana, who used to be worse as Yachiru Unohana, being the worst criminal of Soul Society even surpassing Aizen). One of the few things that helps their hero cred is that their adversaries are the cannibalistic Hollows and that the former Big Bad (a Soul Reaper himself) was a MASSIVE prick. They also merrily employ a certain Mengele-esque Mad Doctor who is guilty of partial genocide, extremely extensive torture, and other crimes against humanity for the sake of science, something the leadership does not prevent.
Blind Obedience: The Gotei 13 is supposed to carry out the will of the Central 46 without question. Not even the captains have the power to question the Central 46's decisions. Going against the decisions of the Central 46 is treason and even questioning their orders is forbidden. This is why Aizen chose to masquerade as the Central 46 to order Rukia's execution. This is also why Yamamoto was so angry with Ukitake and Kyouraku's treason. This is also the reason Byakuya gave Ichigo in response to the latter's question about why he was willing to support his sister's execution, although it was eventually revealed that this wasn't the full truth behind Byakuya's behaviour. Kyouraku's first act as captain-commander is to begin changing this attitude.
Blood from the Mouth: To excess. Getting stabbed in the shoulder really shouldn't make you cough up blood.
Bloodier and Gorier: The Thousand Year Blood War arc has really ramped up the violence by comparison to the earlier arcs, ranging from Zaraki and Unohana fighting with the flesh peeling off, Opie absorbing Ayon into him, Yamamoto burning Driscoll all the way to the bone, or Byakuiya imaging a picture of Rukia's face melting.
Blue Blood: Aristocrats vs. commoners are an important theme in the story.
Most of Soul Society has a feudal level of technology and political organization, including being dominated by a hereditary landed ruling class. The nobility (which lives almost exclusively in Seireitei) is made up of families with a proven ability to breed new spiritually gifted souls — as opposed to the commoners in Rukongai who are mostly ordinary souls recently arrived from the World of the Living. There is also a major/minor noble distinction, with Seireitei politics dominated by the Four Great Houses, of which we have met the Kuchikis and the Shihouins. The Shibas used to be of equal stature but were exiled to the Rukongai. As a result, the majority of Gotei 13 Soul Reapers are at least minor nobility, although in recent times the proportion of gifted commoners from the Rukongai has been increasing.
The Quincy clan has a de facto nobility based on blood "purity". "Pure-blooded" families like the Ishidas command the loyalty of "mixed-blooded" families like the Katagiris and traditionally the two groups do not intermarry.
Luppi thinks he's taken down Hitsugaya in one strike and doesn't follow through. Lampshaded by Hitsugaya when he points out that all it did was give him all the time in the world to set up an attack that could curb-stomp Luppi. Luppi was also mocked by his peers upon returning to Hueco Mundo for having been defeated so completely.
Barragan suffers from this at the end of his fight, despite being untouchable to his opponents. Hacchi realises that if Barragan's power is as dangerous as Barragan claims, then Barragan himself would be vulnerable to it. He uses kidou to expose Barragan to his own power and, sure enough, Barragan quickly dies.
Aizen, who is usually very savvy, manages to get two of his own.
He's so focused on defeating the power of the strongest offensive zanpakutou in Soul Society history that he fails to think of what will happen when it's removed from the picture. He takes out Yamamoto's zanpakutou very quickly, but Yamamoto points out that Soul Reapers aren't helpless without their zanpakutou and proceeds to prove it. Aizen fails to achieve his objective of killing Yamamoto and admits he underestimated the old man.
Aizen sets up an elaborate method of ensuring Ichigo can train for a power upgrade before they fight. He was hoping Ichigo would achieve a level of power strong enough for Aizen to reach a new level of power. Unfortunately for Aizen, he completely underestimated Ichigo's growth potential and ended up being curbstomped.
Bowdlerize: The anime is rather infamous for toning down some of the violence or nudity. Sometimes, it makes sense, like Harribel's girls and their arms turning into Ayon. At others, it clearly doesn't hold up to par. See trope page for full list.
Bunnies for Cuteness: Rukia has a soul candy dispenser with a cute bunny face on it. When Ichigo learns that Rukia was trying to get that one for him when she got Kon (who came in a duck-faced dispenser), He calls her on the cuteness and, in a sort of nervous anger, she responds that she likes bunnies.
Bunny-Ears Lawyer: The members of the Royal Guard are quite...colourful. Even Shinji found their self-created, full fanfare arrival eccentric. It's a miracle anyone would ever allow patients near Kirinji given how bizarre his healing practices actually are, and the others are as bizarre as he is.
Both Aizen's penultimate form and the Soul King's appearance also portray butterfly themes.
By the Power of Grayskull!: Releasing bankai includes stating the command 'Bankai' to activate the transformation, which is completed when the Soul Reaper announces the name of the bankai's released form. Soul Reapers who do not possess bankai must also speak a verbal command to activate their shikai (bankai-possessing Soul Reapers can choose to skip it, although most don't). Arrancar Resurreccion count too as they always transform.