Warning: This editorial contains major spoilers for Bleach.
I’ve been following Bleach for a long time. I first picked it up back when the anime was airing on Toonami and I’ve followed both the anime and the manga ever since. With the manga having just ended, I’d like to look at how it went from one of the most popular shonen franchises of it’s time to having the anime get cancelled and the manga rushed to an ending. I won’t give much of a plot summary since I’m assuming everyone reading this is at least somewhat familiar with Bleach (it would also take way too long), but I will go through each arc and look at what worked, what didn’t and how it changed over time.
The topic of fanservice comes up pretty frequently in discussions about anime, and for good reason. Every season has at least one show that obviously just exists as a vehicle for fanservice, and even anime that doesn’t prioritize it sometimes has fanservice. Some people like it and some people hate it, so the question I’m looking at here is whether fanservice is inherently a bad thing.
Considering it’s popularity, it’s not surprising that Sword Art Online got a second season. The first season was easily the most popular anime of 2012 and given the number of novels that hadn’t yet been adapted, it was obvious that a second season would happen eventually. What’s more surprising is how different SAO II is compared to season 1. Season 1 was mainly action driven, while season 2 balances that with more plot and character development. This method doesn’t always work, but it clearly shows how Kawahara began to improve as a writer after the Fairy Dance arc of season 1.