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Bleach was never ruined.
Many claim Bleach used to be good or original. I honestly believe these people have never seen another Shounen work. It already takes a lot of ideas from fellow supernatural fighting series Yu Yu Hakusho and Ushio And Tora, including the Mac Guffin gem in YYH's second movie. The parts that aren't "homages?"

Flaws in the plot like going nowhere, shoveling in characters, and shameless fan-whoring are all present as early as Ishida's introduction. A Menos Grande appears only to walk off. Orihime's powers themselves are pointless characters. The initial tension between Ichigo and Ishida is rather unsubtle, as being in the presence of Ichigo's massive sword gives Ishida a 6ft bowner. Ichigo is in pain until Ishida shoots off his excess energy. Really, Kubo? Why don't you just have guys smearing translucent sword-goo on oh god he did.

It continues in the Soul Society arc where every other time there are two characters, they practically scream "You can ship us! This exchange is nothing but fanfic junk food. Let's flashback to more inconsequential material just to see who else hung out with who." The arc is a long crawl as it dumps in more characters and cheap possibilities. It doesn't help that 90% of the humor goes "Casually say something absurd," "ANGRY SHOUTING!" rubbing in just how interchangeably shallow the cast is. In fact, Aizen has a power that specifically negates planning and storytelling. Not that I look for those in a fighting series.

Unfortunately Bleach isn't very good at fights. Most shounen battles have choreography and something resembling strategy, even when it's wacky like One Piece. The three times strategy has come up in Bleach, it was immediately shown to not matter. If a character keeps fighting monsters with steel-like skin they can't scratch, but has fire and ice attacks, they will never think to apply them. Instead Bleach prefers as many fights be an endless haze of clashing downward swings and cheesy flash steps until one side reveals a power of instant victory while striking an effortless pose. Or end indecisive. In its 48 volumes, good choreography has happened maybe four times.

While the pacing has worsened and it keeps re-recycling its plot, Bleach was never actually decent or creative to begin with. Luckily I always enjoyed it for how terrible it is. In that regard it is aging well.
True, but the longer a thing drags on, the more holes you can poke in it.

Show me a magic trick once, and I can be culled into amazement. Show me the same trick a dozen more times, and I notice a soft click when your foot stands on the exact same spot each time you pull the rabbit out of your hat.
comment #5675 KingZeal 8th Jan 11
That's why I suspect Bleach was your first shounen series. If you've seen others, you've been exposed to those tricks without the constant failure. At the rate Kubo was introducing characters with throwaway traits, how Orihime and Chad's backgrounds only clicked with their introduction stories, and how badly thought out and tacked on their powers were, the signs were all there. He had no further plans for them, and sure enough, they immediately faded into the background. The final nail in the coffin was Rukia turning emo after being captured, while Renji, the psycho who attacked and slashed her face, was really just a nice friend trying to scare her. That's not development or seeing a new side to them; that's turning characters OOC to fit a script you didn't have last week. Kubo didn't know his own creations.

And it was bloody hilarious. Every paper-thin excuse that went nowhere? The mountain of one-time plot devices that would never be seen again? Aizen's "brilliant" reveal that made any lazy twist possible, but passed off as genius and planned out? I cringe at intentional Bleach humor, but the serious parts have me rolling on the floor.
comment #5677 cannedfury 8th Jan 11
Yeah, guess again on the "first shounen series" crack. That's like assuming that someone who liked the Spider-man movies must have never seen a superhero movie before in their lives. If you're weary of the genre in the first place, you're going to go in cynical and bitter and start complaining about every little cliche.

Not that I enjoy defending Kubo, but there's also such a thing as creating characters and then deciding to take them in a different direction than originally intended. It's not uncommon to see characters in a series act completely differently than they did in the pilot episode.

comment #5679 KingZeal 8th Jan 11
Bleach was decent compared to most shounens, and original plots rarely matter in shounens anyways.
comment #5680 150.212.50.19 8th Jan 11
Hey, I'm giving you the benefit of the doubt. Spider-man movies are far from the worst comic book films so that's not a good example. Now if someone claims Batman And Robin was a great cinematic adaptation, I'm going to assume they just never saw any other Batman flick. And to me, Batman And Robin occupies the same position as Bleach: hilariously godawful enough to be entertaining in its own way. I don't care how dark some scenes got, Orihime getting her fairy powers was so clumsily handled, she might as well popped bat-skates out of her shoes.

Now, I'm definitely not bitter about the genre. If anything I'm tolerant of storytelling flaws so long as they deliver some okay action scenes. Bleach rarely does that. People complain about DBZ and I consider the anime mostly unwatchable, but it still had good enough, memorable maneuvers even animated Superman stole from. Nobody besides Nick Simmons is going to steal from Bleach's fights because it brings nothing new and can't leave an impression. There's rarely any sense of motion, weight, or even pose variety because it leaves so much to flash stepping. The swords only cut when the pretentiously stupid power levels say it's okay for them to hurt the other guy. No other sword-fighting series ever made its weapons so unexciting and pointless in action. That's an achievement.

And yes, other series' characters have changed, too. Even entire mangas have changed their premise since the first episode, but usually for a reason and through better execution. Temporarily emo, wangsting Rukia was obnoxious and pointless. Psycho, bloodthirsty douche Renji turning into low self esteem nice guy Renji destroys any suspension of disbelief. And they used the most ridiculous hand waves. The changes were not gradual, warranted, or even dismissible. A switch just went off in the heads of two major characters and bam, different people. I wouldn't mind seeing it happen again, though, just with better material. Like Yamamoto's personality suddenly becoming "capybara" or Ururu's premise switching to "evil bodybuilder."
comment #5681 cannedfury 8th Jan 11
It's all subjective. You think Bleach is terribad, other people like it. Just like some people love or hate Spiderman 3 with a passion. Suspension of disbelief is higher in some than others. One person's "charming quirks" is another's "overbearing flaws".

Bleach is no better or worse than most shonen. It just doesn't try to rise above what it is, and Kubo has no interest in proper world-building. These are the two things that become more and more obvious through time (because, again, if you wrote the story off for being cliche and formulaic from the start, that's on you), but Bleach isn't magically worse than any other anime like...say...Inu Yasha which suffers from many of the same problems.

All in all, the review just comes across as a lot of Not Allowed To Like It ranting.
comment #5685 KingZeal 8th Jan 11 (edited by: KingZeal)
I've read through all of Bleach, and it most certainly did have most of its problems at the start. However, I disagree on it not turning worse. All the issues were present already, but what happened was a change in volume. Compare three new characters being introduced for Orihime's new powers to around 30 new characters being introduced in Soul Society, or the Asspull of Aizen's reveal to the consecutive stream of Asspulls during the Winter War.

Fight choreography did start out simple, but that's because it's the beginning of the Shounen, when very few powers have been revealed and we're just learning about the new characters. Fast forward 300 or so chapters, and the fights have somehow gotten even more simple.

There were some interesting concepts in Bleach, like empathic weapons or the whole issue of Hollow-cleansing, but they were ignored later on in favor of CLANG CLANG CLANG MOAR BLOOD!!!! CLANG.

One thing that definitely started out bad and stayed relatively the same is the artwork; Bleach is bland, has little facial variation, and its backgrounds are either a white void or a soot-stained tunnel. The character designs can be distinctive and good, but for every good one you've got some overcrowded monstrosity.
comment #5689 Scardoll 8th Jan 11
And like I said, Kubo simply sucks at world-building.

Remember how we were told Vizards have greater power than a typical captain? Yeah, it's a pity we don't get to see it matter.

Is Soul Society the one-true afterlife for everyone on the planet, or just Japan? NEVER EXPLAINED.

And if its jurisdiction goes further than just Japan, why does everyone there speak Japanese? NEVER EXPLAINED.

Why do Arrancar speak Spanish? NEVER EXPLAINED.

What the hell is Captain Komamura? NEVER EXPLAINED.

...I could go on, and on, but this is probably the biggest problem in Bleach. Fans (at least American ones) can forgive cliches, bland art, and shallow characters as long as there's an interesting concept worth exploring. But when you go nowhere with it? Yeah, that just pisses us off.
comment #5696 KingZeal 8th Jan 11
Essentially, Bleach has yet go actually go anywhere with what it has.
comment #5700 Scardoll 9th Jan 11
>King Zeal Not Allowed To Like It from someone who digs the cheese? Alright. Except what I'm saying is Not Allowed To Be Disappointed. We all sat down for a Sy Fy Channel Original Movie and we got a Sy-fy Original. I guess you could argue it's subjective and they're just charmingly quirky. But if you take them seriously, believe they have loftier goals, or compare them to typical sci-fi films, you've lost me.

Between Inu Yasha and Bleach, the one that's trying too hard to be dark, edgy, and stylish makes far more comedic fumbles. It's not magic or witchcraft, Bleach is just cool as ice that way.

>Scardoll 6 fairies, though it is still a fraction of what SS bulldozed in. I did say the pacing worsened, but didn't get to add much because of the word limit. All of Bleach's plot so far would fit in about 10 volumes if it were drawn by anybody else. Not just because of the giant, empty panels and broken up word bubbles, or even how entire chapters can be spent on posing in the middle of a fight. Ever since the Grand Fisher and Menos just kind of walked off, it set the standard for nothing really being taken care of after a conflict. The series doesn't have resolutions so much as a loose ends contests, so very little has actually happened.

Okay, 13 volumes, because they would actually draw all the things Bleach does off screen.
comment #5701 cannedfury 9th Jan 11
>King Zeal Not Allowed To Like It from someone who digs the cheese? Alright. Except what I'm saying is Not Allowed To Be Disappointed. We all sat down for a Sy Fy Channel Original Movie and we got a Sy-fy Original. I guess you could argue it's subjective and they're just charmingly quirky. But if you take them seriously, believe they have loftier goals, or compare them to typical sci-fi films, you've lost me.

Semantics. Claiming we're "Not Allowed To Be Disappointed" is no different from saying someone was never allowed to like it in the first place. Either way, it's Fan Hate. The review was hardly about the show as much as it was about all the fans who ever liked it and became disappointed. "I can't believe you ever found it good", you say, as if there are never any reasons for enjoying a story beyond the reasons you ascribe here.

And again, your response to the Inu Yasha comment is only proving what I meant by subjectivity.
comment #5702 KingZeal 9th Jan 11
Bleach being cool as ice is subjective, yes. It trying harder than Inu Yasha at being dark, edgy, and stylish? I'm going to take a gamble and say no. I do know the presence of inconsistent characterization, frequency of one-time use plot devices, meandering direction, introduction of pointless characters, etc. all from early on is definitely not subjective. To which you said whether these are indicators of flawed writing at all or "charming quirks" is subjective. At that point, you are just saying, "Well that's just you're opinion" to everything including common sense.

Sure, that's just my subjective opinion, apparently, but then so is your idea that Bleach got bad because Kubo never explained why Arrancar spoke Spanish. What some people see as a lack of "proper world-building" could in fact be "an ingenious way for the audience to share the cast's growing detachment from their senseless world, visually symbolized by their surroundings becoming empty and bleached. Therein lies the comic's central theme, where personal bonds are all that endure, and our heroes wager everything to preserve them." Or maybe it's just a flaw.

But let's look at the world-building. As early as chapter 3, Rukia says the basics of killing Hollows is sneaking up behind them to avoid seeing their face. This is never used. Hollows being purified? Stops mattering fast. Bad people Hollows go to hell? Forgotten, unless you count a very late movie. Quincies obliterate souls? Never makes a difference. Soul Society nothing like Rukia's descriptions? You could do some mental backflips to try and justify it. Does the aging, starvation, and ghost-deaths even make sense? Sure, just bring in reincarnation and other things that raise more questions. As the place where good souls go, SS is also a primitive ghetto ruled by power and violence, where you have little to no chance of meeting ghosts you knew, so they meet Chad's former parakeet.

Now, this is subjective again, but I believe there is a point where you should stop waiting for Bleach to explore its concepts. At least, if you're not in it for the comedy. It may have been when we learn Byakuya's scarves are each worth 10 mansions. Or maybe it's when it turns out Menos exist to turn right back into small, singular Hollows. Personally I think the pattern was there a little earlier.
comment #5710 cannedfury 9th Jan 11
A flaw I can immediately see with the "Bleach is obviously trying to be more stylish, dark and edgy than Inu Yasha" thing is that Inu Yasha's story contains elements which are just as dark and edgy (for example, the death of Sango's entire family and Inu Yasha's constant angsting between Kagome and Kikyo). Which one is trying to be "darker" is a pointless argument that will lead nowhere fast, so I'm not spending anymore time on that. In either case, I object to the use of "common sense" in critiquing a genre which is not very well known for paying attention to consistency or deep plot exploration because it implies that people are not allowed to like certain things. There's a similar problem in superhero comics whenever someone points out the implausbilities of the genre; for every fan who hates the idea that the US govt would allow an alien like Superman to function as a vigilante or who hates the fact that his powers are never clearly defined, there are those who love these improbabilities and see them as what defines him as an inspiring figure. Same thing with the loads of characters, one-shot plot devices, and rapid changes in characterization in Bleach. As I said before, one person's "obvious flaws" is another's "quirks".

However, my argument is not that the flaws I point out (namely, failure at world-building) are any less YMMV than the ones you pointed out. It's simply that they have dragged on too long for fans to ignore. Again, it's about Willing Suspension Of Disbelief, which has a different threshold for every person. For you, it seemed to have been when Ishida, Chad and Orihime showed up with obvious insignificance. For others, it's various other points, from Soul Society to Hueco Mundo to Fake Karakura. This is the reason why Jumping The Shark is a subjective trope—some fanbases can't completely agree on when it happened.

Point is, it's annoyingly condescending to criticize an entire fanbase for putting up with something that you, with your apparently superior tastes, didn't seem to. To be fair, though, I've made similar claims about the Spider-man movie franchise before fans seemingly turned against it after the third, but you dismissed that comparison because they're "not the worst superhero movies". That same argument works here: Bleach is hardly the worst shounen series, either.
comment #5712 KingZeal 9th Jan 11 (edited by: KingZeal)
Mass murder and angst are in many a shounen fighting series. They might even be in most shounen fighting series. (not sports, actual battle ones) Bleach, however, has a reputation among Ryona fans for going the extra mile. While the convenient undo buttons prevent anyone from actually dying, Kubo loves brushing by Women In Refrigerators tropes. As early as the fifth book, Bleach was bloodying up girls and threatening to gang rape Tatsuki before killing her. That is a line shounen rarely crosses, never mind things like forced monster impregnation and birth. Sure, Kagome had a large jewel ripped out of her off the bat, but Inuyasha shrugs off most traumatic incidents rather than milk them for shock value. Bleach is so known for its large, dramatic, drawn out reaction shots that quoting them has been a meme in Japan for most of its run. At least Kikyo is tied to Inuyasha's introduction and is nearby when he angsts; Kaien didn't exist until Rukia suddenly went into unprovoked, OOC angsting.

Besides, I already said I was taking a gamble with that statement. It's just a very, very safe gamble. If you saw Kubo Tite standing next to Rumiko Takahashi and had to guess which artist was was aiming to make a more dark, edgy, and stylish comic based entirely on appearances-not judging by covers be damned- odds are you would bet on Kubo. Even before you find out the sheer volume of cool Engrish in Bleach. Even before you learn most of Bleach's dialogue is boasting while posing. Even before you see the art styles and how Takahashi gave up on looking modern or hip ages ago. There are numerous signs to go by, and they all point to the guy in shades who calls himself "Tite." I'm going to refrain from calling it common sense because you misunderstood me the last time I used that term. Let me get to that.

You can love or hate Keyboard Cat. Being a dated meme, there are a lot of the people who liked Keyboard Cat once but are now tired of it. After watching Keyboard Cat play off enough people, they decided the meme jumped the shark and stopped caring. What they probably did not do is think, "This Keyboard Cat video ends with Keyboard Cat playing somebody off, too? I am disappointed." It would not compute, and dare I say it, lacks common sense. It has nothing to do with saying you are not allowed to like Keyboard Cat. It has nothing to do with whether a cat who plays music would actually play people off in reality. It doesn't even have to do with people's opinions on Keyboard Cat as entertainment. This is looking at a work and, judging by its track record and base concepts, having an idea of where it is headed.

In its first few volumes, Bleach firmly declared, "I will never remember anything I said and just crudely make things up as I go along." Like Superman's hazily defined powers, it is a cornerstone of the series, love it or hate it. You found it charming, but at some point decided it should be dropped and the series actually try proper world-building. It doesn't matter if at that point you could no longer suspend your disbelief and the quirk became a flaw; Silver Age Superman's powers did not suddenly gain clear-cut limits in one issue, and Bleach inevitably continued to not world-build. Wherever you believe Bleach jumped the shark, you noticed its constant rush to the ramp. It's natural to feel the series wore things out in the process of reaching its destination, but did you actually expect it to do anything else?

"Point is, it's annoyingly condescending to criticize an entire fanbase for putting up with something that you, with your apparently superior tastes, didn't seem to." I am still "putting up with" it. I actually like it for staying the course with its writing decisions, except when the ryona gets too creepy. In that sense I always appreciated Bleach for what it always was. Technically, the people who claim the series jumped the shark are the ones who got fed up and gave up on it. It's not like I expected it to transform into a radically different series with coherent organizations and fresh concepts. Personally, about the only signs of forward thinking I noticed was having dark-skinned characters who weren't immediately offensive.
comment #5741 cannedfury 11th Jan 11
Mass murder and angst are in many a shounen fighting series. They might even be in most shounen fighting series. (not sports, actual battle ones) Bleach, however, has a reputation among Ryona fans for going the extra mile. While the convenient undo buttons prevent anyone from actually dying, Kubo loves brushing by Women In Refrigerators tropes. As early as the fifth book, Bleach was bloodying up girls and threatening to gang rape Tatsuki before killing her. That is a line shounen rarely crosses, never mind things like forced monster impregnation and birth. Sure, Kagome had a large jewel ripped out of her off the bat, but Inuyasha shrugs off most traumatic incidents rather than milk them for shock value. Bleach is so known for its large, dramatic, drawn out reaction shots that quoting them has been a meme in Japan for most of its run. At least Kikyo is tied to Inuyasha's introduction and is nearby when he angsts; Kaien didn't exist until Rukia suddenly went into unprovoked, OOC angsting.

I'm not sure how the heck we can figure Inu Yasha "shrugs off" anything when the death of Sango's family, Kikyo's feeling of betrayal and hatred toward Inu Yasha, and Inu Yasha's overwhelming guilt, et al, we were defining character traits throughout the majority of the story. Now, I'm not going to defend Rukia's "OOC angsting" (although, I'm not sure how something can be "OOC" when a character hardly has any establishment whatsoever), but Tatsuki's implied attempted gang rape is a drop in the bucket. This is, after all, Japanese culture we're referring to—hinted gang rape is a repeated theme in Fairy Tail, and even Inu Yasha had the occasional monster which seemed to treat consent as purely optional.

Besides, I already said I was taking a gamble with that statement. It's just a very, very safe gamble. If you saw Kubo Tite standing next to Rumiko Takahashi and had to guess which artist was was aiming to make a more dark, edgy, and stylish comic based entirely on appearances-not judging by covers be damned- odds are you would bet on Kubo. Even before you find out the sheer volume of cool Engrish in Bleach. Even before you learn most of Bleach's dialogue is boasting while posing. Even before you see the art styles and how Takahashi gave up on looking modern or hip ages ago. There are numerous signs to go by, and they all point to the guy in shades who calls himself "Tite." I'm going to refrain from calling it common sense because you misunderstood me the last time I used that term. Let me get to that.

You can love or hate Keyboard Cat. Being a dated meme, there are a lot of the people who liked Keyboard Cat once but are now tired of it. After watching Keyboard Cat play off enough people, they decided the meme jumped the shark and stopped caring. What they probably did not do is think, "This Keyboard Cat video ends with Keyboard Cat playing somebody off, too? I am disappointed." It would not compute, and dare I say it, lacks common sense. It has nothing to do with saying you are not allowed to like Keyboard Cat. It has nothing to do with whether a cat who plays music would actually play people off in reality. It doesn't even have to do with people's opinions on Keyboard Cat as entertainment. This is looking at a work and, judging by its track record and base concepts, having an idea of where it is headed.

Which again, can also be construed as cynicism. There is a such thing as Growing The Beard. Hell, most Bleach fans will even admit to the fact that the story didn't even really get interesting until Soul Society got introduced. Judging a work immediately because of early flaws isn't "common sense". Again, Characterization Marches On. Creators improve or break down. Hell, a show can even be (rarely) improved by Executive Meddling. Dropping a show simply because it starts out with flaws doesn't give you the right to hassle the fandom who shrugged at the flaws because they dared to see an interesting premise underneath it. It snidely insinuates that the enjoyment they got out of the premise is invalidated by the persistent flaws. Hell, it's not even like most fans would say they regret reading Bleach or that their time was wasted. Most would say that they enjoyed the show for what they got out of it, but times have simply changed.

In its first few volumes, Bleach firmly declared, "I will never remember anything I said and just crudely make things up as I go along." Like Superman's hazily defined powers, it is a cornerstone of the series, love it or hate it. You found it charming, but at some point decided it should be dropped and the series actually try proper world-building. It doesn't matter if at that point you could no longer suspend your disbelief and the quirk became a flaw; Silver Age Superman's powers did not suddenly gain clear-cut limits in one issue, and Bleach inevitably continued to not world-build. Wherever you believe Bleach jumped the shark, you noticed its constant rush to the ramp. It's natural to feel the series wore things out in the process of reaching its destination, but did you actually expect it to do anything else?

Making stuff up as they go is a shounen specialty. In fact, it's a staple in most Japanese media—they're less concerned with the how of what happens than the what. In Bleach's case, it's only a matter of volume (as another troper already stated)...volume which, again, can really only be truly verified over time. Snap judgements notwithstanding.

"Point is, it's annoyingly condescending to criticize an entire fanbase for putting up with something that you, with your apparently superior tastes, didn't seem to." I am still "putting up with" it. I actually like it for staying the course with its writing decisions, except when the ryona gets too creepy. In that sense I always appreciated Bleach for what it always was. Technically, the people who claim the series jumped the shark are the ones who got fed up and gave up on it. It's not like I expected it to transform into a radically different series with coherent organizations and fresh concepts. Personally, about the only signs of forward thinking I noticed was having dark-skinned characters who weren't immediately offensive.

Again, this creates even more of an impression that your review is just Fan Hate. You, for whatever reason, claim to be watching the show in question, but the bulk of your complaint seems directed toward fans who think its quality has declined. In most cases, one would think that someone would make the "it's not as bad as it sounds" argument, but instead, you're stating "it is as bad as it sounds and you were a fool for believing otherwise".

Keep in mind that I'm not saying you are wrong in stating that Bleach has always had problems. I just take offense to this insinuation that everybody who didn't cynically snub the story from the very beginning is somehow misguided.
comment #5759 KingZeal 11th Jan 11
I can't argue any more. I don't know how you mixed that much optimism for one series with so much cynicism for shounen and Japan in general, but I can't follow that. However much you think I insulted Bleach fans, chances are you just insulted that countries' creators worse. I will say you mixed up physical trauma with the emotional kind, but if you see it all as that frightening a bucket, something tells me I'm not the one who's weary of the genre.
comment #5761 cannedfury 12th Jan 11
It's not an insult; it's a cultural writing style. Japanese stories tend not to focus on explaining every nuance much in the same way that their acting is more grandiose. At the same time, they see the western habit of trying to explain how every story contrivance works tiresome and the reserved western style of acting as dull and stiff. One isn't necessarily better than the other, but there are times when these things stand out. For example, Keanu Reeve's acting is frequently called out for being TOO stiff in the same way many manga stories are called out for introducing something and never explaining it.

Also, stating that rape is part of Japanese's writing culture is...hardly insulting. They have RAPE sections in porn stores. Hell, I'm not even judging—they can like whatever stories they like. They're just stories.

Genre conventions are what they are. Tropes Are Not Bad and all.

And that aside, physical trauma and emotional trauma are two different forms of the same thing. Emotional abuse, after all, can often be just as heinous as physical abuse. Especially when it comes to family members being slaughtered and people whom you love suddenly trying to kill you.
comment #5768 KingZeal 12th Jan 11 (edited by: KingZeal)
I honestly don't understand what cannedfury means when he talks about Ryona. I think Bleach's approach to fights involving female characters (that is, treating them much like fights involving male ones) makes much more sense than the Beauty Is Never Tarnished approach.

And the gang rape point is just silly. As King Zeal pointed out, plenty of other shonen series will have a character implicitly threatened with gang rape at some point. In fact, the same is true of many Western series.
comment #5802 silver2195 13th Jan 11 (edited by: silver2195)
Semantics. Saying "Japan is all about rape and you shouldn't be surprised it's in their children's entertainment" is no different from me claiming you should adjust your expectations based on a different track record. Whatever your stance on the trait is, you are saying it is definitely present at its core and expecting a different result is misguided. I heard somewhere that was offensive. There is an area where things like wording does make a world of difference, though.

A sleezeball threateningly leering over a Damsel In Distress is one of the most common setups for a hero to stop even outside Japan. Whatever the thug is implying, actually beating up the victim and telling them, "I am going to make a whole school rape you, humiliate you, and then murder you," makes all the difference between G and R-rated material. Sort of like how Disney's Hunchback was okay for kids because Frollo did not word his motivation as "That hot bitch makes me want to fuck her so bad, I'm going to snuff her."

Just using the word "rape" is part of the line most shounen won't cross regardless of how much the local porn industry throws it around. As you said, Fairy Tail only hinted at it, and it runs in a raunchier anthology aimed at an older audience than Shounen Jump and most other bricks. The series is already a tad shady for how closely it mimics a popular competitor beyond simple influence, but that's a different matter. There will always be exploitive outliers looking for shock value and other quick fixes to get attention, but by saying an outlier is typical, you proved nothing but your own cynicism in the entire genre's standards. There's a chance most of it tries harder than you think.
comment #5815 cannedfury 13th Jan 11
I didn't say anything about the content of rape being expected, and you're simply changing the subject there. You mentioned rape as proof that Bleach was trying to be "darker" than Inu Yasha, which I simply refuted by saying that such a point is like saying Spider-man is darker than Bleach people people actually die. Both plot devices are fairly common, even in light-hearted works. I wasn't saying anything about you being surprised about it—it's simply a fact that's a common element of Japanese media. There's nothing "cynical" about it, because that would imply that I'm saying it's wrong, and I'm not.

And I'm sorry, what? Fairy Tail has two specific occasions where a character attempts to brainwash the female lead so that he can seduce her. One of which she is fully aware during, and understandably horrified. Great Teacher Onizuka has a dim-witted, near-suicidal girl meet up with a bunch of sleezy porno directors whom she thinks are going to sell her into the adult entertainment industry (they weren't, but she was completely convinced of it).

Which of these examples are "more darker than thou"? Who the fuck knows and who the fuck cares? As I've been saying from the beginning, it's all subjective. You aren't fond it? Cool, bro. Doesn't make the rest of us who aren't that bothered by it any less invalidated by sticking around to watch after.
comment #5816 KingZeal 13th Jan 11 (edited by: KingZeal)
I'm honestly baffled because I don't even remember anyone threatening to rape Tatsuki (it was probably not in the anime version, I suppose). A minor point: Jojos Bizarre Adventure has some villains who are rapists, and a successful gang-rape occurs offscreen in the Full Metal Alchemist Anime. And Yu Yu Hakusho had an attempted gang rape. And it might have come up once in Hunter X Hunter too.

Incidentally, while Fairy Tail has more sexual content than a Shonen Jump series would, the fight scenes are less violent (very little High Pressure Blood, for example). It's not so much looser censorship standards as different ones.
comment #5834 silver2195 14th Jan 11
King Zeal- First of all, answer these two questions. They are not rhetorical. Did anybody in Fairy Tail actually say they were going to have a school's worth of people gang rape someone and then murder them in no small words, yes or no? And is that a common threat in shounen without hiding behind implications? You made it clear you believe I am somehow misguided for thinking otherwise, so yes, I am taking the time to point out you're making an awful similar "offensive" claim. me"It's simply a fact that's a common element of Bleach." you"No, it is perfectly logical to expect it wouldn't go there. I am offended by you implying I should know better, you cynical, ranting, annoying, condescending, I-have-superior-tastes person. Who the fuck cares about your opinions in a review." Except I'm not as judgmental or rude.

One difference between our approach is I'm not reaching for the most skewed examples I can find. GTO is another outlier you're trying to pass off as normal for the genre. You could claim it had typical shounen classroom problems and solutions, like handing dim students to corrupt idol producers with a horrifying AV career scare and gag vibrator along the way... but that is a very selective view. Violence Jack had amputee sex slaves getting raped on-screen by dogs (not that we're judging because that sort of thing is perfectly accepted in Japanese culture) but it's not exactly common fare, either. Especially for shounen. I am surprised you didn't think of mentioning the character who was actually gang-raped in GTO, though. It could be some things are so uncommon, people do not even associate them with the genre that way.

silver2195 - A lot of the violence and some dialogue related to them is censored in anime. Let me see if tags work the same way here... Remember to scroll down. Pretending this is an objective comparison, Fairy Tail threatened mind control, slavery, branding, and implied rape. It ultimately performs creepy disarming through a high cut dress. Bleach threatened worse rape and murder, performed actual mind control and slavery with more horrifying awareness, shot people up with what looks about as bad as branding, has blood, vomit, torn clothes, and a minor panty shot on the side. The scene also goes on considerably longer in Bleach. Based on opinion as it is, I can't help feeling Bleach is more brutal and gratuitous in its contents.

Now, the FMA rape and Togashi in general are great counter-examples. I am going to have to call them part of the exception that proves the rule, though. The FMA gang rape and pregnancy was so uncommon, it didn't even happen in the source material. In fact, the anime strayed so far, they made a whole other TV series not too long afterward. That is very uncommon, infamous levels of straying in tone, content, and characterization. Togashi's another good one, but even Jump has basically said he's overly dark and edgy by censoring his violence right on their pages. This is subjective on the editors' part, too, but being liberal with violence, they are a good measure to go by. Togashi touched the limit in what you're allowed to do in shounen (along with taking breaks), and he's a guy Kubo draws from.
comment #5852 cannedfury 15th Jan 11
King Zeal- First of all, answer these two questions. They are not rhetorical. Did anybody in Fairy Tail actually say they were going to have a school's worth of people gang rape someone and then murder them in no small words, yes or no? And is that a common threat in shounen without hiding behind implications? You made it clear you believe I am somehow misguided for thinking otherwise, so yes, I am taking the time to point out you're making an awful similar "offensive" claim. me"It's simply a fact that's a common element of Bleach." you"No, it is perfectly logical to expect it wouldn't go there. I am offended by you implying I should know better, you cynical, ranting, annoying, condescending, I-have-superior-tastes person. Who the fuck cares about your opinions in a review." Except I'm not as judgmental or rude.

One difference between our approach is I'm not reaching for the most skewed examples I can find. GTO is another outlier you're trying to pass off as normal for the genre. You could claim it had typical shounen classroom problems and solutions, like handing dim students to corrupt idol producers with a horrifying AV career scare and gag vibrator along the way... but that is a very selective view. Violence Jack had amputee sex slaves getting raped on-screen by dogs (not that we're judging because that sort of thing is perfectly accepted in Japanese culture) but it's not exactly common fare, either. Especially for shounen. I am surprised you didn't think of mentioning the character who was actually gang-raped in GTO, though. It could be some things are so uncommon, people do not even associate them with the genre that way.

As much as I dislike the implications that "if the rape threat didn't involve GANG rape and threat of death then it wasn't hardcore enough" implications, the answer is no. None of that happened. You got me there. Still doesn't mean Bleach was trying to be any more "extra special dark" than any other shounen series, though. And as silent mentioned, I'm starting to get fuzzy on the actual scene in question now, because that scene you just described doesn't seem familiar at all. Perhaps a few links are in order?

And anyway, I'm not going to continue debating with you whether or not attempted rape is common in shounen or anime in general. We have an entire Attempted Rape trope page with quite a few shounen examples.

Also, about the FMA example: Yes actual rape is uncommon in anime, but you didn't mention actual rape. You mentioned attempted/threat of rape. They are two different things entirely.
comment #5855 KingZeal 15th Jan 11
You have read Bleach's comic, right? Here's a scanlation. Intentionally or not, it tones down "all the boys in the school" to just "school boys." I don't know how the official translation handles it, so you may consider flipping through volume 5 the next time you are at a bookstore. For comparison, here's the episode which tones down all the... everything.

The Attempted Rape page barely scratches the surface on other genres. (Full Movie Review has it as a category with over 300 examples for films alone, and it is borderline impossible to check how many times comic book heroes have stopped them on meaner streets) Merely implying the threat is indeed common practice in Shounen and pretty much everywhere else including Pepe Le Pew. The difference is, whatever the intent, Kubo did actually up the ante considerably even for his genre. But let's leave that topic behind because I'm tired of sounding like Dr. Light.

His work being Darker And Edgier is entirely up to opinion, but I will say Kubo averts Beauty Is Never Tarnished to the point where Beauty Exists To Be Tarnished Repeatedly With Reckless Abandon. Not just because Bleach is a rare shounen manga that lets women fight and loves The Worf Effect, but because their main role still tends to be being victims to move the plot. In his previous work, Zombie Powder, Elwood gets his motivation by having his sister shot dead in front of him. Gamma is only hinted as having a dead girl as his motivation, but by then you have things like girls whose power is being stabbed by knives and enjoying it. Until they all get shot dead. He once made a one-shot with a tortured and destroyed android girl, but I can't prove that one exists unless I run into scans.

Bleach kicks things right off with 3 mostly-dead girls and one messily eaten one in its first chapter. The main difference is everybody can be quickly patched up to be reused later, which ends up being most of Rukia's purpose. While it is true that guys get splattered about as much, rather than struggle with heroic resolve, the girls are more often helpless and manhandled to give other characters something to react to. Or [[http://www.mangareader.net/94-683-5/bleach/chapter-229.html just because]]. It may not last as long as things like Szayel's torture but it can be pretty visceral. Whether "Tite" is trying to be hardcore may be an eternal mystery, though I can see why the Ryona fans like his work.
comment #5906 cannedfury 16th Jan 11
It's also common for shounens to give most of the spotlight to the males.
comment #5907 150.212.50.119 16th Jan 11
I'm actually starting to see cannedfury's point. The scene with Numb Chandelier was really toned down in the anime, and there do seem to be a lot of scenes were female characters are on the receiving end of a No Holds Barred Beatdown. Then again, there are also scenes where the female characters demonstrate the same kind of Heroic Resolve as the male ones (Orihime during the aforementioned Numb Chandelier scene, Rukia when fighting Aaroniero, Lillynette when fighting Ukitake) and there are also scenes where male characters lose in a manner that makes them look helpless (the flashback of Tatsuki beating the crap out of Ichigo, Chad's truly embarrassing loss to Di Roy (right before Di Roy is easily defeated by a female character))
comment #5922 silver2195 17th Jan 11
Precisely my point. What you're saying is this: 1) Kubo's writing is hackneyed 2) This is obvious from the beginning. 3) Fans have no right of feeling "betrayed" or disappointed in the drop in quality and/or abundance of fumbled concepts.

So here's what I'm saying: I'm not arguing that #1 isn't true. It's true that the "rape" threat was tacked on and really served little purpose aside from drama. It's true that he uses women as plot devices in order to motivate male characters. It's true that he abandons concepts on a whim and introduces characters with no real plan. This is all true. So, I'm not arguing #1 with you at all. Hell, I'll even give you #2.

The problem is #3. Try and throw my argument back in my face about me being "cynical" about Japanese writing and shounen all you want, but the key difference is that your entire review and every reply up until this point has roughly been an attempt to insult the entire fanbase. I compared this to the entire superhero genre: it has major problems that even extreme fans of the genre will always admit to. Cracked.com has written article after article on the implausibility of many of the genre's conventions—but there's a difference in acknowledging flaws and pointing them out and then claiming people have no right to complain with other things they don't like. It doesn't matter how many flaws, how much hackneyed writing, or how many unfortunate undertones you can spot in the first few volume of Bleach—it doesn't invalidate fan's choices to like it. As silver has been stating, the arguments you're making aren't really something that readers have to give a shit about if they don't want to. Once again: your "flaws" are another person's "quirks".

comment #5925 KingZeal 17th Jan 11
silver2195 - It is true that in the immense cast, some guys get it, too (Chad pretty much exists for making the Shinigami look cooler than him). Though even in the case of Di Roy, they like to damper Rukia's victories by having her opponents be very specially prepared, weaker ones. When she one-shot him, it made me wonder if she escaped victimhood until Di Roy's buddies went, "Who cares about that guy, he's like the weakest Arrancar ever." They then go have real fight scenes. She later defeats Runaganga, the only Hollow with an elemental weakness in the entire series. Unless Aaroniero's aversion to sunlight counts, but he's her next opponent anyway. It's not enough he's the weakest Espada or even the least careful badguy, he takes the trouble to explain he's the only Espada who's the weakest kind of Menos.

The TV series' first episode improved Rukia's impression a lot just by adding a random Hollow to kill, rather than being taken down by the very first monster. Like Chad, getting KO'd as fast and often as possible is basically her charm at this point, so I'm hoping they don't change it. I'm not sure I would call Lillynette a case of heroic resolve, though, since it was played as immaturity against someone trying not to hurt her. Soifon did show it, but I think that's why she and Yoruichi don't get to appear much.

King Zeal - You make it sound like Cracked.com doesn't mercilessly keep mocking certain series and not-so-subtly their audience. I apologize for not being as professional in contesting my opinion, but neither the word limit nor its popularity let me phrase it like "This idea has been backed up by legions of the books' fans, prompting others of the female persuasion to attempt to forcibly remove their extra X chromosome." Nobody has to give a shit that Cracked.com has a love/hate relationship with Twilight, either. It is just another teen romance novel full of shared tropes, after all. I will take note to stay more impersonal in the future, though.
comment #5952 cannedfury 18th Jan 11
Either you completely missed my point in its entirety or you're bringing Twilight into the conversation to try and Strawman.

Yes, Cracked mocks Twilight. So? Can you explain how that has ANYTHING to do with what I said?

I wasn't comparing your review, specifically, to Cracked.com or saying that your review is somehow inferior because it isn't Cracked. Where you got that from, I have no clue. The point I was making, which somehow got lost in communication, is that it is quite possible for a fan to enjoy something, see flaws in it worth mocking, and continue to be a fan. Bleach has had problems from the beginning—you are not wrong in asserting that. What you ARE wrong in asserting, however, is that it "was never ruined". That point is subjective, because it assumes everyone values it the same way you did.

And really, we have an entire topic on Sexism In Anime over at the forums, not to mention a Bleach topic which you can bring your points up in. Maybe there you can explain why Bleach deserves this special ire you seem to bestow upon it for "trying to be darker" or being more sexist than the average shonen (or, hell, the average COMIC, period). It's getting redundant here.
comment #5960 KingZeal 20th Jan 11 (edited by: KingZeal)
Let me expand on Cracked's approach and its relevance, then. Cracked writes articles on the implausibility of comic book and movie conventions, but they usually have to reach across several different titles for recurring examples. When a single example takes it further, it becomes fair game for an entire topic. Let's say, Starscream being an glaring liability since day one. Much like what I'm digging at in Bleach, whether you see it as bad writing or a charming quirk, and whether you feel his antics eventually jumped a sharkticon (sorry), the point presented is that the trait was always present in him and the series from the start. But then something magical happens where nobody claims the article is Fan Hate. At least not enough that my ADD could spot.

Even when singling out a beloved series, nobody leaped down Cracked's... throat, claiming it was a grave insult to every fan who shared Megatron's optimism for Starscream's usefulness. Nobody even mistook the writer's I-am-so-superior-at-assessing-employees attitude as telling them they were never allowed to like the characters or the ham-fisted writing. Even as he said Starscream should not have been tolerated, it was understood the writer was just pointing out an extra source of humor that was present since the beginning of the series. All the fans who believe Starscream is one of the universe's greatest badasses did not declare cartoon beef stain or claim Cracked was somehow denying their right to enjoy the show. Sort of like how you're the only one who's actually claimed that against my review so far.

Speaking of miscommunication and missing the point, when I was responding to the presence of rape in silver2195's valid example, you butted in to declare I was wrong to go there. Not only was it perfectly within your declaration that "rape is part of Japanese's writing culture," I wasn't even talking to you yet you tried to make it sound personal. When I dared discuss something you weren't, like where Kubo stands on Beauty Is Never Tarnished, you naturally told me to take it somewhere else despite it being relevant to his writing consistency. That was kind of self-centered. "As silver has been stating, the arguments you're making aren't really something that readers have to give a shit about if they don't want to." I don't see any troper besides you pushing that case. Possibly because it's well understood opinions will exist in a reviews section, and backing them up is just part of the process. You sure love cramming yours in other peoples' mouths, though, which is a little too much misplaced zeal.
comment #5974 cannedfury 20th Jan 11
Please. Your initial response about the attempted rape was in direct reply to something I said. Whether you were speaking to me or not, I was within bounds to respond. And I'm otherwise going to ignore every jab you made at my expense, because it's obvious we both think the other's a loud-mouth ass, so let's just agree on the fact that feeling seems mutual. However, I see no point in saying "no other troper has said X" when there's been—at most—about five of us who've commented. Five is hardly a large enough size for a "no one else" argument. Which is why I suggested you bring this up in the forums. Since you seem to think my arguments are sounding rather personal, why not increase the number of participants? In fact, last I checked the Bleach thread, they were having a discussion on this very review.

Now, about the Starscream analogy—show me where the Cracked article where the writer says something directly insulting to the fandom like, "I suspect Bleach was your first shounen series. If you've seen others, you've been exposed to those tricks without the constant failure." That was the first thing you ever said to me, in response to my claiming that liking Bleach was akin to enjoying a magic trick that you know is fake, and it pretty much set the tone for everything you said afterwards. Everything I've said afterwards has been to the effect of "we know it's not the best writing, but it's within our bounds to like it and be dissatisfied with later chapters".
comment #5996 KingZeal 21st Jan 11 (edited by: KingZeal)
I thought the point of this review was "Bleach was never ruined, because it never promised to be anything to begin with", so disappointing is, theoretically, off the picture. Now with these longer-than-easter posts about gang rape or fan hating I don't even know where the fuck are you going. So all I'm gonna say it's... this review's title... hmm... yeah... could work.
comment #8601 xanderglz 13th Jul 11
I wish I had some popcorn before reading all this, it's hilarious.
comment #10876 VeryMelon 17th Oct 11
^ Touche
comment #10877 marcellX 17th Oct 11
I have to say its hit or miss with me for each chapter, but yeah, there are just so many numerous things unexplained that it is a bit grating at times.
comment #11763 qtjinla15 5th Dec 11
If this is how it is, why not just start a topic or something?
comment #12317 qtjinla15 14th Jan 12
"Making stuff up as they go is a shounen specialty. In fact, it's a staple in most Japanese media—they're less concerned with the how of what happens than the what."

But having it planned out in advance is never a bad thing, though, unless giving the specific impression that this is all made up as they go along (like in Tank Girl comics) is the point. Sure, I'm more concerned with how a story is told than if it makes sense, but saying "It's how they do things" doesn't actually defend it at all.
comment #17955 MichaelKatsuro 2nd Feb 13
I don't see any more making stuff up as say almost every long running television series like sitcoms, soap operas, dramas, etc. Usually there's a plan but it's broad enough to implement new things as it goes along.
comment #17957 marcellX 2nd Feb 13
Wow, was this whole discussion a long argument on Shonen, gang rape, and bad comic book adaptations?
comment #17973 T448Eight 3rd Feb 13
In order to post comments, you need to Get Known
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