Let's Read Bleach aka is it really past its prime?
Interestingly enough, the approximate point at which you stopped was around the time I got started in Bleach, hearing about it in Shonen Jump and seeing some of the dubbed episodes (at the time, they'd dubbed through Renji's fight with Byakuya, before taking a hiatus). I agree with your analysis, and acknowledge that Bleach is past its prime, but I'm still interested in seeing how it ends, partly since it doesn't take that long to read each chapter (someone claimed to be able to do so in about 30 seconds when discussing how little content was in each one).
""Although Bleach is primarily famous for being a battle shounen not dissimilar to the likes of Bleach and Naruto," Eeeeer, maybe you should Edit that? I agree with what you said about Kon, I actually complained about that once to a friend of mine who is a huge fan of this manga.
This is an interesting departure from many liveblogs, which do running commentary on the series. That's understandable, since Bleach is too long for you to do anything like that, and you seem to be doing it well so far. I agree that Ichigo seems smarter for the most part than most Idiot Heroes, and I believe that most of his poor decisions are those he makes on an impulse (typically when he's angry and/or pressed for time). I agree that Kon had a great deal of potential as a serious character, which was wasted by making him the comic relief. Of course, part of it is related to how his job is to keep Ichigo's body away from danger, which means that he's gone for most battle scenes and can't actively contribute much to the plot (for example, he hangs out with Rukia and Isshin during the fight with Grand Fisher). What seinen manga inspired Metastacia's threat against Tatsuki?
@Valiona: I wasn't implying that Metastacia's threat was inspired by any manga in particular. It's just very common for seinen manga to have sexual violence be a part of the narrative, especially where villains are concerned (see Berserk, Zetman, Wolf Guy, Eden: It's an Endless World, etc).
wehrmacht Ah, I see. I thought that you had a specific Seinen manga in mind, and so misread it. You're right that it does seem reminiscent of Berserk and other series like it.
You can definitely see how the story changed in the Soul Society Arc. I also liked it, and think it was something of a step up from what came before it, upping the stakes. For all the faults of it and what came after it, I think that the decision to graduate from Monster of the Week was a good move. Supposedly, Kubo said at one point that whenever he gets Writer's Block, he solves it by making more characters. In any case, I have to wonder when exactly Kubo made the change; perhaps it was around the time it was revealed that Aizen's letter suggested that Hitsugaya was the killer (although it is also possible that Gin could have forged it). Ichigo's bond with Zangetsu was interesting, and it would have been nice to see some of the other Soul Reapers' bonds with their zanpakutos. Byakuya is one of my favorite Bleach antagonists, and I consider the fight between him and Ichigo to be the best in the series. I also liked the fight between Soifon and Yoruichi, particularly the revelation of the former's history with the latter, which could have been expanded on more. Whether Orihime is "more consistently useful" than Chad is debatable. She gets to Ichigo after his fight with Byakuya has concluded, and can't do much other than heal him. She does save Uryu and Aramaki from the exploding 12th Division members, but Uryu was the one who noticed the trap. In the end, she doesn't have all that much noticeable impact on the mission, and she'd probably have gotten captured before long if she'd landed on her own.
Orihime's arc doing such an about-face all of a sudden is also something I've wondered is attributable to Executive Meddling.
Ulquiorra had a backstory given in a databook, where it details how his life was as a Hollow and why he acts like he does in the manga. Harribel even had her backstory in the anime. Yet, why did it have to come to that? To supplemental material for backstories of two major antagonists? Exactly.
When is it said that Harribel is a Vasto Lorde? The only time in which the Arrancars' class of Menos Grande was explicitly mentioned was in Grimmjow's flashbacks, in which he and his companions (his future Fraccion) were described as Adjuchas (in something of a consistency error). I completely agree about Orihime. I was hoping that Ichigo having a hole blasted in him by Ulquiorra would inspire her to do something, and I was SEVERELY disappointed when this did not happen. I do, however, find that I enjoy Ichigo vs. Ulquiorra significantly more when I stop thinking about that part and Ichigo's subsequent powerup. It also seems a bit like an Aborted Arc, without even the chance to have her come to a realization of how she can help Ichigo without fighting. A similar complaint can be said about Ichigo and his role (or lack thereof) in Aizen's plans. The most I can gather is that he, as a Visored, is similar to what Aizen wants to become, but that seems to largely be swept aside. I was also disappointed to hear that the Hogyoku apparently only created one Arrancar- Wonderweiss, which seems to diminish the importance of Aizen's plan, which had set the Soul Society arc into motion. On the other hand, I'm somewhat more favorable toward the use of the Gotei 13 (I particularly liked Kenpachi vs. Nnoitora, Yamamoto vs. Aion and Wonderweiss, Hisagi vs. Findor and both of Soifon's fights). However, I agreed with some of your complaints (I didn't think Starrk should have died from Kyoraku's Shikai attack). Of course, I do also find it annoying that Ichigo's group gets sidelined. Chad and Uryu won one fight each over the course of the entire arc. There's also the lack of character development overall, which is definitely the darker side of a series with Loads and Loads of Characters. I'm interested in your thoughts on the Fullbring arc, particularly seeing you elaborate on why it might not be the low point of Bleach.