Snap Discussion is the weekly round table discussion on a topic relating to Japanese pop culture as selected by the almighty Snapodile. Each week the SnapThirty team will weigh in with their thoughts on that week’s topic all with the hopes of providing some interesting and perhaps even conflicting view points on the matter at hand. This week’s topic is Until The Last Sword is Drawn – How Will Bleach End?
For this topic we each looked a long hard look at one of Shonen Jump’s biggest franchise hits which has long overstayed its welcome. That said, Bleach is set to conclude on the 22nd of August, closing the page on one of the longest running and most popular manga series in history Here are some of our own personal thoughts on how Tite Kubo should wrap things up on Bleach.
For years I have slowly but surely fallen out of love with Bleach, a series I once held pretty near and dear to my heart. Heck, I still hold the first 50 episodes or so in high esteem, they were great. Unfortunately the longer Bleach has gone on, the more it has been drawn out, the more editorial interference has clearly damaged the story, the more I grew to hate something I once loved. Sure it was always a Yu Yu Hakusho copy cat with swords instead of spirit energy but Bleach was distinct enough that I didn’t care if it ultimately followed the same narrative beats.
Rather interestingly the more the series got drawn out, the more it drew plot points from Yu Yu Hakusho and with that in mind I believe I have the mother of all theories for how Bleach will end.
Much like Yu Yu Hakusho the final arc of Bleach has revolved around our protagonist discovering that he is actually had blood of the enemy race running through his veins. Yusuke discovered his ancestor was a demon and as such he had demon blood running through him, Ichigo however discovered that he is actually part quincy, the perennial nemesis of the soul reapers. So where does it go from there?
Well if Bleach is going to be anything like Yu Yu Haksuho’s ending, Ichigo will engage in a battle with the quincy leader with the fate of multiple worlds at stake, out of nowhere the battle will be cut short because the manga is suddenly going to end. Ichigo mysteriously disappears for quite some time and all the other characters accept that he may just be gone. We will then time skip into the future and one by one catch up with each notable character and see what they are up to, then we will have Ichigo triumphantly return and kiss the love of his life on the beach, finally returning from the brink of who knows where and regaining the peaceful life he once had before all this mess began. Oh and the human world would like become aware of the spiritual world’s existence and stuff.
To be entirely honest I wouldn’t be surprised if Kubo goes for a direct rip of the Yu Yu Hakusho ending, only time will tell if he will complete the holy trinity and completely remake Yu Yu Hakusho with swords. However if they really want to come full circle with things, and the entire world becoming aware of spiritual beings, end with Ichigo saying “My name is Ichigo Kurosaki, 25 years old, and I’m no longer the only one who can see ghosts.” Echoing his original line in the first chapter. That said, it will probably just be the same as Yu Yu Hakusho, like every arc in Bleach.
There’s something to be said about a story with a symmetrical ending. The ending of a story is about as hard to write as the beginning, but I love this idea that a character, after going through so much, has to end their adventure at a similar place to where they started. I find that the most charming tales end as they began, and I would love to see Bleach end this way. As a long-running series, a lot has happened between it’s beginning and it’s creeping end, but one thing has remained; Aizen still needs to be stopped. As far as I can tell, there is no other, more powerful, antagonist that has taken the place of Aizen, and I speculate that Bleach will end with an explosive confrontation between said antagonist and our believably-powered hero. Ichigo, having not attained an ability great enough to defeat Aizen, will train with his Father, unlocking within him a technique so devastating that it will, after destroying his opponent…render him without his other-worldly talents. Aizen will be thwarted by this, and Ichigo will go back to living the normal life of an angsty teen. The end.
What’s that? Oh, no, no, no, we must be reading a different Manga. You’re saying that what I’ve just described has already happened? Right, okay, but now Bleach is finished…right? It’s not!? B-b-but that was a perfect ending! The story had come full circle! Excuse me?! Now he’s fighting the Quincies?! Aren’t they all extinct…apart from Ishida and his Father? Ichigo is ALSO a Quincy?! Oh…oh no, this isn’t right, this isn’t right at all! Well, damn, I still need to write my prediction of how the series is going to end! Not good, not good at all. Okay, hold on, let me start again: After defeating Aizen, Ichigo peels himself from the pages of Shueisha’s Weekly Shonen Jump and escapes into a volume of the Dragon Ball Z Manga. There, he searches for the chapter wherein which Trunks travels to the past using his highly-advanced time-travelling machine. Ichigo steals said machine, and powers it using a combination of every single ability he has been given over the years: Soul Reaper, Vizard, Quincy, Half-Ghost, etc. Travelling back further in time, he appears in front of a young Tite Kubo and compels him to completely abandon what would be his hit Manga series Bleach, to instead focus on developing his much more interesting Manga concept; Zombie Powder.
You want Ichigo to end his story as a hero? Have him destroy his own Manga. That’s literally the only way. You’re welcome.
Remember how Fry ends up becoming his own grandpa in Futurama? Well Bleach could pull off something like that WHILST taking itself seriously, except instead of being his own grandpa what if Ichigo, through time travel and dimension shifts, somehow pulls an epic Homer and becomes his own damn god. That’s right, Ichigo becoming his own god, and if anyone can pull that angle off it’s Bleach. Besides… Kubo basically told continuity to kiss his ass a long time ago so why the hell not?
Or maybe we can pull off an epic reveal where the most irrelevant character becomes the mastermind behind it all, it would go something like:
Chad: “It’s me, Ichigo!”
Ichigo: “Aww soofabitch!”
Chad:”It was me alll along, Ichigo!”
And Luke, that’s how you make Chad relevant again.
I had another idea involving Vince Vaughn but I think I’ve outstayed my welcome.
Oh Bleach, my poor sweet baby Bleach. Of the big three shonen series that have comprised the last few yea…decades, Bleach stood above Naruto and One Piece for me. With an art style I preferred and a selection of cool characters, I was really into it until it ended…you know, the first time. When it was supposed to end. Ichgio beat Aizen, the world was saved and our hero was forced to forgo his powers, the very thing which made him special and began the whole series in the first place. It was sad, it was final, it was an inversion of the beginning right down to the words Ichigo spoke. A simple utterance of his name and the powers he possessed…or once did possess. And yet this particularly real ending is not technically and ending…since the manga did not end. Oh no, it kept going, kept going through a spontaneous explanation of characters long forgotten by plot (lookin’ at you Chad and Orihime) followed by a random twist, the introduction of a pantheon of new deities (each dumber looking than the last) and the revival of a race that completely undermines on of the defining characterisitcs of a main cast member (Ishida the Last Quincy, meet the entirety of the Quincy race). But enough about what has happened, let us look forward (much like the new character who can see through time for some reason) and ponder how this still-confusingly named series will end.
Well, with two or so weeks to come, I can’t see too much happening when it comes to the topic of twists. Instead, I expect a rather banal conclusion…and that saddens me to no end. Ichigo shall strike down the villain, save the worlds that rest on his shoulders and be home before dinner…which his sisters probably cooked. Remember them? Wouldn’t blame you if you didn’t, they’ve done nothing for, well, ever. Rukia and Renji will probably pair off because that was a plot point once that randomly reappeared, Orihime will probably still not say anything to Ichigo regarding her feelings and Chad will most likely walk of into the sunset and nobody will notice that he left. Is that cruel? Yep, but Bleach has been far crueller to Chad than I ever could. As far as Soul Society goes, I really don’t think it matters. Kyoraku will chill as per usual, Byakuya still won’t be dead even though he definitely should’ve died chapters ago, Hitsugaya will scream at Matsumoto, Matsumoto will still not do her work…look, what I’m getting at there is that I don’t think anything will change. Despite all of the opportunities it could’ve embraced, this final arc of Bleach has not done so…at all. Now, it is still my belief that executive meddling is what forced this once popular series to live on as a mismatched, misguided husk of what it once was, but that can only console one so far before they realise that the reason does not erase what has happened. Is it sad? Yes. Do I wish Bleach had received the send off it deserved for all of its years in the top tier of shonen? Absolutely. But in this oddly serious paragraph, all I can say is that Bleach shall end and it won’t turn any heads doing so.
Now, since I don’t want to leave everyone feeling sad, myself included, let us talk about how I would want Bleach to end. Short answer; explosively. Ichigo stand before Gol D. Roger, who has revealed Ywach as an alias, having hidden away after his supposed death. Revealing that the One Piece exists in Soul Society, a monologue occurs wherein we learn that, amazingly, Ichigo himself is the One Piece. Shocking twist! Not only that, but it explains how Ichigo possesses literally every power that exists within Bleach. Literary win! Understandably startled, our orange haired protagonist immediately slices Gol (and, like, 42 mountains) in half with a Super Ultra Mega Getsuga Tenshowstopper and wins everything forever. Oh, it’s also totally cool that he killed Gol because it turns out that Gol was actually an evil clone of the true Pirate King from another dimension, in reality named Black Gol D. Roger. Also he could time travel and fly. Then, with harmony restored to the land, Orihime suddenly becomes a useful and well written character and details the numerous awesome battles she underwent off-page, before telling Ichigo that she thinks he’s neat and the two should totally go for a coffee sometime, you know, get to know each other and stuff. Chad is also there, revealing that he will become a construction worker because he lifted an I-Beam once in episode 3 or something and nostalgically remembers when that made him seem tough and cool. Renji and Rukia totally hook up because they’ve been friendzoning each other for 80 or so years and Byakuya looks on knowingly before exploding into cherry blossoms because reasons. Then everybody releases their Bankai because everybody is so damn curious about what they are and Ukitake looks on with all of the Espada as Force Ghosts. Urahara does something pervy, Yoruichi kicks someone and for once in the goddamn series, Momo has a good time and doesn’t get scarred emotionally or physically. Truly, a happy ending.
Now, with all of this in mind, why don’t you join me fellow Bleachers as I sit on the metaphorical edge of my equally metaphorical seat (I’m standing right now) as I wait to see which of my two versions of the future come true. That being said, with multiverse theory in mind, both of my predictions will be, have been and are true, we just have to make sure that our particular timeline skews in the direction of fun, because I don’t want to have to put in all kind of work building some kind of machine to jump across timelines if we end up with the crappy ending. I mean where do you even find a DeLorean nowadays? And do they even make manga almanacs? What the hell am I even talking about at this point? I don’t know. Do you? Somebody tell me. And somebody please show me how this darn series ends, I’m looking at you inevitable passing of time, stop holding out on me you jerk…BLEACH!
How do you think Bleach will end? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below. Next week’s topic is ‘You’ve Got The Music In You – Anime’s Greatest Songs‘.