Category: Narrative Amendment

Narrative Amendment – Bleach (The Fullbring Arc)

Last Time On – Bleach

How odd, why would we be returning to this series once again if we’ve already had the big finale? Well, as it turns out, the final battle with Aizen didn’t mark the end of this series. Of course it didn’t, do you know how many bankai abilities are yet unrevealed? The prospect of more Bleach may have been exciting to some for this reason, the chance to see the powers that managed to remain a mystery during the war against the Arrancar. In hindsight, I’m certain there are plenty who asked themselves if it was worth it.

The arc we’re getting into now is arguably what ended up killing Bleach and ensuring that the final manga arc wouldn’t be animated. Given that fact alone, we can expect that there’s going to be a mess of problems here. Before I dive into it, though, let me outline what I would want from a continuation of this series after the defeat of Aizen. First of all, I don’t want this arc to be about Ichigo. The maturity that he displayed at the end of the last arc demonstrated an Ichigo who was willing to accept the consequence of using the final Getsuga against Aizen. If I were to put Ichigo in this next arc at all, it would be just so show how he’s transitioning back into a more normal life.

This gives us time to focus on the characters who came off as little more than afterthoughts in the Arrancar saga. Seeing as Rukia and Renji are out of the picture, this means giving some spotlight to Orihime, Ishida and Chad. How is Orihime doing after the mental conditioning she was put through in Hueco Mundo? Has Ishida taken on the role of Karakura’s protector now that Ichigo can’t? Does Chad further explore the development of his abilities and actually get to become a three-dimensional character? There’s plenty to explore between these three characters to fill up an arc and I personally would appreciate any attempt at making them actually important.

That’s really the only condition I have going into this; give Ichigo a break and let the side characters have some development. Surely such a thing can’t be so difficult to provide, so let’s see how Kubo handled this series in the aftermath of Aizen.

What I Enjoyed

  • How it starts – It becomes very quickly apparent that Ichigo’s still going to be the main character in this arc, which isn’t a surprise in the slightest. The focus being taken away from him was an ideal rather than anything realistic. That being said, I actually really like how he’s characterized at the beginning of this arc. Ichigo has had issues in his character development several times throughout this series and when last we saw him it was refreshing to see this more mature version of him. That’s the Ichigo we get at the start here, one who is genuinely and calmly trying to transition back into a normal life. There’s a line where he talks about how, after all he’s been through, he just wants a lifetime of peace and that’s the Ichigo I want to see. We see him attempting to earn money for the sake of his future, we get some nice interactions with Tatsuki and his other mundane friends, it’s great.
    Beyond that, surprisingly enough, I think the plot hooks going into this arc are decent as well. It’s revealed to us very early on that Ginjo has his own substitute soul reaper combat pass, which immediately raises a lot of interesting questions. Our investment in this mystery makes us want to learn more about the Fullbringers and what their deal is. The hints towards Ginjo being Ichigo’s predecessor in the role leave us wondering what happened between he and the gotei 13 and his knowledge of Isshin makes it seem like he was a substitute soul reaper during the time when Isshin was a captain. Isshin is another character with a lot of unanswered questions surrounding him and the thought that we could learn more about his soul reaper days through this new character helps to solidify our want to engage in this story.
  • The Fullbring abilities – It was clear in the battle for Karakura arc that Kubo ran dry on ideas for abilities with multiple shikais being little more than the zanpakuto changing to be a different weapon. Here, it feels like he put a lot more effort into making the abilities interesting and distinct. Even the simpler abilities like Dirty Boots and Jackpot Knuckle, which for all intents and purposes are just boosts to physical ability, are made interesting through the conditions attached to them. I would argue that Jackpot Knuckle isn’t used to its full potential but the idea is there, at least.
    Book of the End is an ability that I had mixed thoughts on but I think it was utilized very well, I’ll talk more about that a bit below. Dollhouse and Invaders Must Die have a lot of overlap in that they’re both narratively used as training areas for Ichigo and I would argue that only the latter really feels necessary. Invaders Must Die can literally offer the same as Dollhouse except it masks spiritual pressure, there’s no need to steal the souls of random people and it can even be used like a hyperbolic time chamber. There’s a little more distinction between the two abilities during the final battle but on a whole I would appreciate a little bit more separation.
    Time Tells No Lies, the way I understand it, is an ability that can make just about anything happen but only after a set period of time. The more drastic the effect, the more time it takes to activate. Furthermore, there always has to be a condition which allows one to escape the effect before it happens. I think this has the potential to be a very cool ability, it sounds a little complicated but it’s simple in execution and could potentially lead to any number of scenarios. Again, it isn’t used nearly as well as it could have been, especially in the final battle when its user activates it just to give himself ‘more strength’, but the idea is there.
    Ginjo, arguably the most important new character in the arc, has the exciting ability ‘big sword which can shoot beams’. Where have we seen that one before? Well, that’s not entirely accurate, in actuality Ginjo’s ability is to steal the powers of others. He demonstrates this when he steals Ichigo’s Fullbring and it’s reiterated when we’re told that he stole the powers of multiple soul reapers. The issue is that, despite the fact that he supposedly has those abilities, he only ever uses blade beams. We know he doesn’t just get a raw power amp, he straight up uses a Getsuga Tenshou in his fight with Ichigo, so there’s no excuse. He has the potential to be so versatile and yet he’s simplified down to being the most disappointing character in the arc.
    Oh, yeah, Ichigo’s ability is also four intertwined scythes that shoots chakrams which then turns into just being a soul reaper outfit. Also not particularly creative but at least it makes sense for Ichigo, who would understandably visualize his power in such a way.
  • Tsukishima as a villain – Boy I wish that Kubo had just committed to Tsukishima being the primary antagonist because he is so much better than Ginjo in every respect. The imagery of him cutting lethal wounds into people and yet not leaving a mark is interesting and the mind-games he can play with Book of the End are amazing. We’re given ample hints as to what the ability can do in the early-mid stages of the arc when Orihime, after having been cut by him, starts to refer to him as her ‘friend’. It’s clear that this is some type of mind manipulation ability but the full potential of it doesn’t come to light until the arc’s climax when it’s revealed that everyone Ichigo holds dear has come to believe that Tsukishima is an ally.
    Book of the End being able to secure victory in a single cut is the biggest thing that had me worried with regards to it being an interesting ability. However, that threat that the ability poses ended up making the fights with Tsukishima feel more tense and in the end he loses despite applying the ability to Byakuya, proving that it isn’t completely infallible. Concepts like being able to cut into inanimate objects to retroactively set traps and learning all the abilities of a zanpakuto by inserting himself into its past make Book of the End even more fun, giving it function that doesn’t rely on that one cut.
    I can’t stress enough how good I feel the section of the story when all of the people closest to Ichigo have been affected by Book of the End is. Ichigo finally completes his Fullbring training after a drawn out, painstaking effort, restoring what he believes to be the power to protect those dear to him. Yet, when he returns to those people Tsukishima has already gotten to them. His efforts were effectively wasted as the enemy is already in full control. Given how Book of the End is activates, we know that Tsukishima could have killed all of the afflicted if he wanted to. When Ichigo understandably lashes out at Tsukishima, the afflicted friends and family turn on him like he’s attacking any one of them. After all of this, we’re told that Tsukishima’s death might not even return everyone to normal, the effects of Book of the End being possibly permanent. If that’s the case then Ichigo, at this point in the story, is truly too late. This is the most powerless Ichigo has felt in the whole series and I would say that’s a great way of making the stakes feel high even after the whole Aizen thing.
    The worst thing about Tsukishima is the fact that both his fake and true motives are nonsensical. His fake motive boils down to just being that he wants to screw over the other Fullbringers for no reason, which then transitions into him wanting Ichigo to perfect his Fullbring for no reason. The truth of the matter is that he actually just really likes Ginjo a whole lot and doesn’t actually have his own character. The reveal of Ginjo as the actual antagonist of this arc pretty much takes everything away from Tsukishima as a character, which is such a shame given how well they built him up using Book of the End. He could have been great, I just wish the arc revolving around him had the payoff it deserved.

What Needs Changed

  • Fullbringer power bloating – A small point to kick things off but I feel like the Fullbringers and Ginjo have no business being as strong as they are. We’re reminded several times throughout the arc that these guys are just humans and yet the likes of Ishida, who was capable of fighting some of the weaker Espada, can’t do anything against a casual Tsukishima and Ginjo. Things like Shishigawara, who is noted to be the physically least impressive of the Fullbringers, being able to fist-fight with Ikkaku without being demolished instantly only adds further to this problem. The timeskip soul reapers should have no problems dealing with these regular humans with weird powers and most of them don’t but I feel it’s still worth bringing up. I know they have to be on this level for there to be proper conflict but this particular thing I struggle to suspend my disbelief for.
  • Orihime, Chad & Ishida – For those who have read my previous amendment posts for this series, it should come as no surprise to see these three showing up here. It’s become clear at this point that Kubo isn’t spectacular at writing these friend characters, missing a lot of opportunities to make them feel significant throughout the series. Ishida I’ve already mentioned, he gets effortlessly demolished early on in the arc and then doesn’t allow Orihime to heal him because if he did then he could tell Ichigo that Ginjo is an asshole. Despite being the de facto protector of Karakura after Ichigo lost his powers, he does absolutely nothing in this arc.
    Orihime’s characterization isn’t awful but I can’t help but feel like she and Ichigo’s relationship should have developed somewhat during the timeskip. You’d think that after the events of Hueco Mundo that maybe they’d have bonded more, become an actual couple maybe. Ichigo could have helped her to get over the mental stress she went through during her time in Las Noches and through that they could have ended up getting together. Doesn’t sound unreasonable to me.
    Despite this arc literally being about the type of power Chad has, he somehow manages to still take a backseat to Ichigo. Unlike Orihime, his characterization is awful as instead of supporting Ichigo in his attempts at leading a normal life he instead says that Ichigo has been pathetic after losing his powers. No exaggeration, the first scene he shows up in this arc he gets brought to the Fullbringers’ base and then essentially ignored for the entire time. What’s most sad is that later on in the arc he and Orihime actually start to display some long-needed development in their abilities but it doesn’t matter because they’ve already been affected by Book of the End at that point. They get so close and yet end up with the short straws yet again.
  • Ichigo – Ichigo’s characterization throughout this arc is, I would say, incredibly inconsistent. The mature version of him we get at the start is great but as things develop he devolves back into being hot-headed and impatient in what feel like out-of-character outbursts. I would have preferred to see an Ichigo who takes a more calm and measured approach to things rather than this child who will go ballistic if certain information reaches his ears. There’s a point around the middle of this arc where he just randomly suspects Urahara of being against him based on actually nothing at all. His breakdown near the end when he has his Fullbring stolen makes sense but his other emotional outbursts feel forced and unwarranted. Kubo ended up falling back to the old Ichigo and that just ain’t gonna cut it here.
  • The premise – While I said that the initial plot hooks that were introduced in this arc are actually quite strong, the overall premise of the arc suffers a lot in terms of originality. When we get to the point of Ichigo choosing to go to the Fullbringers and awaken his own Fullbring, it pretty much just feels like a rehash of when he went to learn about his Hollowfication from the Visored. When most of the arc is taken up by what is essentially Visored 2.0, it becomes very difficult to actually get invested.
  • Fullbring mechanics – For an ability that’s only realistically going to be relevant within the bounds of this one arc, they made Fullbrings far too overcomplicated. So, first of all, we get introduced to this concept that all things have souls. Not just living beings, inanimate objects have souls as well. Fullbringers have the ability to manipulate these souls to do a variety of things, mostly just things which help with their mobility. Fullbrings are objects that are closely tied to the Fullbringer, whose souls they’ve fully comprehended and thus can bring out the full power of.
    This is already a problem for multiple reasons, the most prominent of which being this ‘everything has a soul’ idea. Bleach already has this thing called reishi, which is a component of the soul that can be found wherever it’s convenient. I don’t see why Fullbring abilities couldn’t also just be reishi-based, adding another thing that’s similar but not quite the same just muddies things up. It feels like they tried to give Fullbrings a similar vibe to zanpakuto by giving the objects souls but zanpakuto were the extension of the wielder’s soul, they weren’t their own exclusive entities. Chad, the most prominent Fullbringer in the series, also doesn’t have to rely on an object to use his ability. He does own an object that could have very easily been used as his Fullbring but instead they handwave it by saying that his own skin is what he uses. It becomes pretty clear that this whole Fullbring thing wasn’t planned from the start.
    That’s far from all, though. Fullbringers have their powers because they had parents who were attacked by Hollows before their birth. Somehow these parents survived and retained the essence of the Hollow which attacked them, allowing their child to have powers. So, to review, being born of a parent who was attacked by a Hollow allows you to manipulate the souls in objects and also to bring out the potential in very special objects to manifest your own unique ability. It just feels completely random, like Kubo couldn’t come up with a proper explanation for Fullbringers so he just strung words together and hoped it would be fine. Why do the children gain the powers instead of the people who were attacked? Why does remnant Hollow influence allow them to manipulate souls? We’ll never know.
    By the way, one last fun note, when a Fullbring fully releases for the first time it unleashes a big destructive wave of energy that can destroy the Fullbringer if left unmitigated. That’s a thing they sure tossed in at the end when Ichigo completed his Fullbring. Super necessary.
  • The Fullbringers’ plan – The Fullbringers have two plans; the fake plan that gets beaten into us for 90% of the arc and the real one that gets rushed out after it’s revealed that they’re actually bad guys. Both of these plans are completely nonsensical, so let’s begin with the fake. The fake plan revolves around this idea that the Fullbringers unanimously don’t want their abilities but to get rid of them they need to pour their powers into a substitute soul reaper who has lost their soul reaper abilities. This sounds hilariously specific but I am not joking, it’s so shoddily put together just to get the plot rolling.
    The issue is that we’re never really given any real reason why the Fullbringers would want rid of their powers. The powers may have originated from the influence of a Hollow but it’s not like they have any bodily mutations or anything that make them stand out. There’s nothing stopping them from just never activating their Fullbring and yet this is the plot they try and deceive us with.
    In this false narrative, Tsukishima was formerly the leader of the Fullbringers and killed the previous substitute soul reaper they were going to use after a sudden and unexplained change of heart. It is then theorized that, despite the fact that it would be of no loss to him, that he is attempting to keep Ichigo away from the Fullbringers. Not only does this not track in the slightest but it doesn’t really fit in with what Book of the End can do. To reiterate, Tsukishima’s ability allows him to insert himself into the past of whatever he cuts. He can replace certain people in the minds of his targets and condition them to believe that he is who he wants them to think he is. Except, here he somehow manages to make Ginjo and the other Fullbringers believe that he killed the previous substitute soul reaper even though Ginjo is the other substitute soul reaper. Tsukishima also apparently completely changes Ginjo’s personality just by being his enemy. It just doesn’t really make sense.
    It is, to an extent, the point that this story doesn’t really piece together though. In truth, the Fullbringers don’t want to lose their abilities at all. They only targeted Ichigo because they knew he was a strong boy and wanted the sweet power amp they could get from stealing his abilities. It’s questionable how the power amp they get is so potent but Ichigo has always had a lot of spiritual pressure so let’s just handwave that. What’s more mind-boggling is what they want this power for and it’s never really touched upon. We get some vague backstory about how society has put down each of the Fullbringers in some way and now they want to rise to the top. It isn’t explored at all since it’s all shoved in at the end so we never really get a clear idea of what the deal with the Fullbringers was.
  • The Ginjo twist – No, this isn’t some fun dance move that the series introduced, this is referring to the point when it’s revealed that Ginjo was actually the main villain of this arc. This twist ruins the Fullbringers completely because, in an instant, we just have to accept that the characters that we’ve been learning about for the entire arc are different characters completely now. Surprise, you actually don’t know anything about them, hope you weren’t planning on connecting with them or anything. Everything that was built up is just ruined because Kubo felt the need to throw this in as a twist. Oh and since this happens right at the end of the arc, don’t plan on actually learning what these characters are like. You’ll get single-image flashbacks and be expected to work from there.
    Not only is this the case but simultaneous to this reveal is the point when Ginjo steals Ichigo’s Fullbring. The power he’s been working up to this whole arc, gone. It makes the whole arc up to this point feel like a waste, everything that’s been worked towards just tossed to the wayside. All just for the little bit of shock value that comes from this guy actually being an asshole the whole time. To make matters worse, at the very end we get some talk from the Fullbringers about how Ichigo saved Ginjo by killing him. If they knew he was crazy then why did they keep unconditionally supporting him? Maybe I would understand if the plot gave actually any time to exploring the bonds between these characters but no, this twist was more important than all that.
    Ginjo isn’t even a good villain! His motive for turning on the gotei 13 was because the combat pass he was given lets them monitor him and control his spiritual pressure. I have no idea what controlling his spiritual pressure would actually allow them to do, it’s not like that would alter his decisions and movements. With the way Ginjo describes how it effects Ichigo, it almost sounds like the gotei 13 help him to balance his spiritual pressure while in human form. I would imagine that to be a good thing. Them wanting to keep watch isn’t weird at all either, why wouldn’t they want to keep an eye on the sub who has been trusted with the actual superpowers they’re allowed to have?
    Every normal soul reaper has to go through years of training before they’re combat ready. A sub, on the other hand, can just pop up randomly out of nowhere and potentially cause uncontrolled damage to the world around them. They could potentially be as dangerous as a Hollow if not worse. Despite that, these subs are being trusted to act as soul reapers instead of being dealt with in a more brutal manner. Ginjo then claims that the gotei 13 abandoned Ichigo and left him to die even though they literally just banded together to restore his powers. It’s just a mess, Ginjo’s motive doesn’t last at all under any kind of scrutiny.

The Rewrite

It’s clear enough that this is another part of the story that’s going to need some pretty major changes. The Fullbringers are handled awfully and Fullbrings as a power are an overcomplicated mess given their short time in the spotlight. The actual meaty parts of the story like Ginjo’s time as the first substitute soul reaper and the potential connection to Isshin when he was a captain aren’t explored in the slightest. Chad, the character this arc couldn’t be more relevant to, is tossed completely to the sidelines. There are a thousand ways this arc could have been handled better but let’s try and boil those possibilities down to one.

I want to start by calling back to my amendment post covering the Arrancar arc wherein I proposed that Ishida should develop a Fullbring to bring him back into relevancy while maintaining the consequence of him losing his Quincy powers. In that same arc would be when I first introduce the Fullbringers, putting them on the radar before bringing them into the spotlight here. At this point in the story, the mechanics of Fullbrings would already be explained. I personally would make them similar to Quincy powers in the sense that they’re based around the manipulation of reishi, it would only make sense seeing as Quincies and Fullbringers both fill the same ‘humans with powers’ criteria.

To separate the two, I would want to add some special conditions to the manifestation of a Fullbring. First would be exposure to/being wounded by spiritual entities such as soul reapers or Hollows. I feel like it’s a bit odd to have it so that when a parent is attacked by a Hollow it’s the child who gets the abilities so we’re going to make this a more direct case of attunement. Second would be a moment of trauma or high emotions. This would be the trigger to first activate one’s Fullbring, one which the user would be constantly reminded of every time they used their powers. Making Fullbrings like the manifestations of traumas ceaselessly hanging over the users would make it a lot more understandable if a Fullbringer didn’t want their powers any more. It opens the way for that potential plot thread in a way that can be empathised with as well as creating the opportunity to give every Fullbring a story with some real impact.

With that premise already prior set, we already have a reason to want to learn about the other Fullbringers. That being said, I don’t think it would be an awful idea to start this arc out with Ginjo’s story. After all, it’s not much of a jump to go from the story of one substitute soul reaper to another. I would want to see at least up to the point when he denounces the gotei 13 and abandons his duties as a sub. Along the way let us see some sweet Isshin lore, it’s sorely missing as things stand. Showing us how he meets a young Tsukishima would raise some intrigue when that same boy shows up as an antagonist later on, we’d be sowing some good seeds here.

Ginjo’s point of view shouldn’t be one held by some kind of crazy person. As we’ve learned in the past, soul society has its fair share of injustices so there should be no shortage of reasons as to why Ginjo might have turned against them. Here’s an idea, what if the gotei 13 saw the Fullbringers as a threat to the balance in a similar manner as the Quincies. Due to that, they order Ginjo to go out and slaughter whatever Fullbringers he can find, spurring his defection from the soul society. With Ishida being a Fullbringer in this version of the story, this plot point could allow the two of them to connect despite the differences in their overall goals.

Ishida and Chad should absolutely be the main characters in this arc. With Ichigo attempting to live a normal life, Chad has taken it upon himself to truly fulfil the promise he made all that time ago. Ichigo protected everyone and now Chad wants to give his all to pay his friend back by giving him the life of peace he deserves. Ishida, on the other hand, joins the Fullbringers in hopes of finding a new identity for himself away from the Quincy legacy he can no longer be a part of. Maybe Orihime visits the Fullbringer base every once in a while but her focus would be more on the side of normality, with Ichigo. No point in drawing it out, I’m willing to say that Orihime and Ichigo are a pairing at this point.

I want to make a point of saying that the Fullbringers in this version of the story wouldn’t be under the effects of Book of the End. Not initially, anyways. We should get to see these characters for who they actually are rather than having their true personalities saved for the last ten minutes of the arc. It will help us connect to them more and make the arc actually feel worth watching. That does leave a major question though; what would conflict in this arc be in this case?

Given how much I like Tsukishima as a villain, I’m leaning towards actually making him the villain. Sounds crazy, right? His ability is perfectly crafted for the role and I would want to utilize that properly. Since Book of the End is a lot of what makes this character, I’m thinking I would lean into that as hard as possible. Perhaps Tsukishima is the one who wants to rise to the top of society and it just so happens he has the perfect power to do so. He can get anywhere, control anyone, thanks to the power of his Fullbring. What he foresees is a world where everyone considers him a king, a god, the one who stands atop all others. Before all that, though, he seeks the approval of the man who matters most to him. The one who saved his life all those years ago; Kugo Ginjo.

Ginjo’s own goal, and by extension the overall goal of the Fullbringers, would be a plot to bring down soul society. Ginjo can’t live in a world where they choose who lives and dies for some arbitrary sense of balance. In his mind, they have no right to play judge, jury and executioner as they currently do. In Tsukishima’s mind, the two goals are similar, with Ginjo wanting to stand atop soul society while he wants to be atop the pinnacle of the mundane world. Given that, he doesn’t understand why Ginjo rejects his vision. He thinks that perhaps Ginjo will understand if he hears the opinion echoed by another substitute soul reaper. His warped mentality leads him to targeting Ichigo, creating the central conflict of the arc.

A majority of the arc would be centred around Chad and Ishida attempting to prevent Tsukishima’s influence from reaching Ichigo. Through his cunning, Tsukishima would one-by-one find openings to take control of the various Fullbringers, leading up to a final conflict where only Chad, Ishida and Ginjo are still unafflicted. Ginjo and Ishida face down the other Fullbringers while Chad becomes the last line of defence between Tsukishima, an affected Orihime and Ichigo. Ginjo and Ishida struggle in their battle due to their inferior number and it seems that defeat is inevitable even if they’re individually stronger than the rest. Ginjo, enraged, screams out that this manipulation is exactly what turned him against soul society. Ishida tells him to calm down and that soul society is changed but that only makes him the object of Ginjo’s desperation. Ginjo turns his blade on Ishida, absorbing the former Quincy’s powers in hopes of becoming strong enough to defeat the other Fullbringers.

Ishida is left wounded and powerless on the floor while Ginjo, full of tears and regrets, has to give his all against the very people he himself saved over the past years. However, before the battle can reach its conclusion, another figure appears on the battlefield. One Jugram Haschwalth, here to extend to Ishida an invitation from ‘the king’, claiming that ‘the other’ has already accepted. Not in a position to say no, Ishida ends up being taken away by the figure. As the confusion settles, the Fullbringers snap back to normal as Chad finishes his fight with Tsukishima. Despite the odds, Chad wins the fight and frees everyone from Book of the End. However, as he goes to check on Ichigo, he finds his friend gone, opening the way for the next arc.

Reflection

I went into this arc with a very negative attitude, I’m fully willing to admit that I expected to be disappointed. I was honestly surprised at the beginning when the pieces of a potentially good story were put down but, unsurprisingly, the ball was very quickly dropped. The pacing was painfully slow as the plot had to continually dance around the fake backstories and motivations while telling us the unfortunately true and overcomplicated mechanics of Fullbrings. So much time spent not learning about characters because everything substantial about them was saved to the very end when we had the least time to actually process the information we were given.

Tsukishima, one of the best things about this arc, was completely ruined as he was forced to take a backseat to a fundamentally much worse villain. It’s both disappointing and impressive when a story manages to retcon one of the few things it did right. It’s no wonder why this arc would be blamed for causing the downfall of Bleach because so much of it is just an utter waste of time. By the end of it, a majority of the story is just dead space which leaves the people who did engage with it wondering why they bothered. That being said, while this may have been the downfall of Bleach, it isn’t the end of Bleach. The manga ensures that we still have a little bit to go and, with the plotline that was made solely to get Ichigo his powers back out of the way, maybe we can find some enjoyment in the final sprint.