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Pre-Soul Society: A Promising Shonen Series
I decided to do this review in two parts because it would be more accurate to judge the series pre- and post- Soul Society.

The characters are well-developed, with each getting a short arc in the first part of the series, and each bringing out different sides of Ichigo’s personality. Even minor characters have interesting personalities and backstories. Ichigo’s development is especially interesting, as he comes to understand what it means to be a Soul Reaper over time, and his own reason for fighting.

The Soul Reapers are interesting antagonists with a variety of personalities and motivations. While many try to prevent Ichigo from stopping Rukia’s execution, others oppose it, others don’t care and still others are more concerned with other issues that eventually prove to be relevant to the execution. Byakuya is an excellent example, as while he appears wholly devoted to the law, he is inwardly conflicted. Kenpachi serves well as a terrifyingly powerful enemy and later as a surprisingly useful ally of convenience. The revelation of who is responsible for Rukia being sentenced to death is quite surprising and effectively helps resolve unaswerd questions.

The fights are often intense, but unfortunately, Ichigo has few abilities beyond sword slashes and occasional energy blasts, limiting the strategies he can perform. Despite this, the battles are well choreographed and include a variety of foes, keeping things interesting.

There are some flaws to the story. Ichigo’s friends do relatively little that impacts the mission in the Seireitei, as they mostly end up separated from him and struggling to meet with him. The anime removes a fair amount of material from the manga, especially scenes hinting that Orihime is developing feelings for Ichigo, and some of the new scenes, particularly those in Episodes 8 and 9, cause plot holes. However, it tends to be somewhat quicker-paced than the manga, and often covers as many as three chapters per episode.

The manga has a surprisingly good amount of bonus content, like sketches between chapters providing background information, or showing what other characters are doing, as well as flashback chapters that reveal more about characters.

This series is quite good. The manga is better than the anime, but the anime is still good at putting the fight scenes into motion.
Bleach has fallen into the same hole as Naruto. The plot doesn't move forward fast enough. They're is too much explaining, and they've been in Hueco Mundo forever. Even Dragon Ball Z moved faster than this manga. It has hundreds of episodes, which only speaks to the fact that it is crammed with filler episodes, and the fights are 10-20 episodes long. It just speaks to the crime of a manga that is too long, the only thing worse is a manga that's too short. Bleach begins great, and the writer has talent don't get me wrong. I suppose the first manga you write teaches you those things though. But trust me, he needs to resolve the story soon, and decide if Ichigo hooks up with Rukia or Inoue. Otherwise he'll have as many Bleach characters as there are Pokemon, too many.
comment #1522 67.164.194.112 22nd Dec 09
You have some fair points, but this review was mainly about the series through the Soul Society arc (see my other review for some of what you were discussing).

I think Kubo is rapidly moving toward a resolution (perhaps even speeding it up to achieve it); there are only three fighters apart from the Big Bad left, and it's possible the fights for each of those three will be no more than 3-5 chapters each. Even if the Big Bad gets a 13-chapter fight like Ulquiorra did, that's still around half a year's worth of material left.

Romance seems to be another matter, and it still seems as though Ichigo is completely oblivious to Orihime's feelings and views her in no higher regard than he did with Rukia. Now that he's left for Karakura without saying anything to her, it's less likely that we'll get satisfactory resolution there.
comment #1527 Rampulus 23rd Dec 09
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