Bleach's original manga series ran from 2001 to 2016 in Shonen Jump, as one of the "big three" of its generation. Many manga fans might agree, though, that Bleach went out with a whimper rather than a bang. The final story arc alienated some fans, and readership declined. Worse yet, the ending was rushed and unsatisfying in the eyes of many readers.

The Bleach anime series, meanwhile, hasn't yet reached that point. It went off the air in 2012, but now, the new Bleach anime will return with the Thousand-Year Blood War story arc. This is an opportunity to reinvent or simply flesh out the original Bleach manga's ending and conclude the story in true style.


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Bleach's Problematic Original Ending

bleach manga

Towards the end of Bleach,  Mr. Kubo's health was declining due to stress and illness, and he was having trouble continuing his tale. Thus, the lengthy Thousand-Year Blood War arc came to an abrupt end when Ichigo and Uryu Ishida defeated Yhwach once and for all, leaving countless loose ends in the process. However, the manga only had two more chapters after that, and many loose threads were either tied up briefly or not at all. Grimmjow's and Nelliel's fates were left unknown, for example, and the final chapter jumped forward a handful of years to show Ichigo and Orihime married as a happy family, including their young son Kazui. Uryu and Chad made brief cameos, as did Rukia and Renji, but little else is known of their fates.

Some fans might have objected to the Ichigo/Orihime pairing given the strong chemistry between Ichigo and Rukia, but the real issue is that readers spent over 600 chapters getting to know these characters, and their lives were defined mostly by combat and adventures. Now they finally have peace, and readers get to know very little of what their peacetime lives are like. No one ever saw Ichigo and Orihime declare their love for one another, and Rukia was only briefly shown becoming squad 13's official Captain, with nothing known of her leadership skills. Chad's budding career as a professional fighter is only hinted at, and no one could see Uryu mend ties with his father Ryuken and begin his own career in medicine. It's all left to the imagination, and that is hardly satisfying.

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What The Bleach Anime Can Do

Bleach 2004 Anime

The returning Bleach anime has plenty of material to work with from the original manga, but it also has some room to innovate and fill in some awkward gaps near the end. The bulk of the Thousand-Year Blood War story arc is fully fleshed out already, but near the end, the gaps appear, and that's where the new anime can take over. The final fight with Yhwach can be extended somewhat, and the consequences of Yhwach's final defeat can be shown in greater detail. There must be more to the Wandenreich's fall than just Yhwach falling in battle.

More importantly, the new Bleach anime can bridge the gap between Yhwach's defeat and the epilogue scenes from the manga, and doing so won't necessarily take a long time. No story needs to tie loose ends for all of its characters, especially numerous minor characters such as Tier Halibel or Nelliel. But the new anime can devote one or two episodes, at most, to exploring Ichigo's post-war life and how he formalized his romantic relationship with Orihime. The same can also be done for major characters such as Uryu, Rukia, Chad, Renji, and even Kisuke Urahara and Yoruichi Shihoin.

These are the characters the readers and viewers are heavily invested in, and anyone would want to see Uryu and his father fixing their relationship and looking to the future with optimism. These scenes could depict Uryu's formal retirement from Quincy life, and his new perspective on the world as a medical student. The new Bleach anime can also detail Rukia's rise to Captaincy within the Soul Society, and show the Soul Reapers building bridges with the world of the living. After all, the new Bleach one-shot clearly shows a new generation of Soul Reapers who love mortal lifestyles and trends, including smartphones and gyaru fashion, and the final few episodes of the new Bleach anime can set all that up, among many other things.

The story of Bleach absolutely did not end with the final blow to Yhwach -- there needs to be more falling action, and the new anime can provide all that and more. Bleach fans have come too far for anything less.

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