Just recently Weekly Shonen Jump announced that Bleach was entering its final story arc. I don’t think it is too uncommon a sentiment even among fans of the series that this is a good thing. Bleach has already lasted over 50 volumes and has wandered around enough in the plot that wrapping everything up would be for the best. I assume that the sales have dipped low enough for Shonen Jump editors to want to end the series but it still does well enough that they will let it have a graceful exit from the magazine. That might not be the case but it is the most likely scenario.
That aside, Narutaki and I have a few thoughts on the manga now that it is going into its final act.
No one could possibly be sad that Bleach is finally wrapping up. And I’m saying that as someone who really enjoyed it, for a time, and would like to see an ending. But we aren’t here to complain about the past missteps . . . totally. Instead, we want to frame it as what can be done right for this final arc.
Dear Tite Kubo. I have one simple piece of advice. STOP INTRODUCING NEW MINOR CHARACTERS. Your cast is bloated as it is. You can add in new villains. I have no problem with that. It is merely part of the shonen fighting formula. The thing is those characters leave the picture after a certain period in time. They get defeated and you move on.
But no more minor heroes. They just stick around to become dangling plot lines. You had all the characters from Karakura Town. Then you tripled the cast with Soul Society. Each arc after that has even added more allies but refused to tie up any previous plot lines. Does anyone even remember that Tatsuki Arisawa had a plot line? Can anyone remember half the plot lines with the various Shinigami and Visards?
This should be the time to start wrapping things up as you close shop and not adding new threads.
I know that Eiichiro Oda has a similarly large cast and in the same magazine no less. But the main difference is when they leave an island in One Piece you get a feeling of closure on the characters in that arc. Their lives go on but you feel like you are ready to move on to the next plot point with a feeling of satisfaction. You could come back to these characters but you don’t HAVE to.
I have never gotten that feeling from any part of Bleach. This is your chance to make things right and give the series a solid ending. But you have to start breaking your bad habits now.
Dear Tite Kudo. Please reveal that Urahara has been the true villain of the series all along.
I honestly want to believe that Kubo has had a plan from the very beginning and that plan includes Urahara. His role in the first arc is great, unclear, surprising, and down right shady in the end. That first arc is good, has a nice pace, and has forethought.
Urahara is in the series just enough to make my big baddie ending possible while also not having to shoehorn too many things in order to make it work. His past is partially revealed but he rarely gives explanations or apologies. Urahara is mysterious (no Bankai revealed yet, lots of experiments) and very intelligent with a wider skill set that would obviously make him formidable as a last boss.
Kubo has gotten off track with the series, probably because he couldn’t have predicted its popularity, but I do believe he knew what he was doing at the start. Now that we have gotten around to wrapping it up I believe he can get back to his story and I hope that story is Urahara related.
Despite my complaining I still read Bleach as I find it entertaining if a bit sloppy. I am glad that it got the room to tie things up. Far too often series are just given a brief notice that there time is up and have to scramble to put some cap on the storyline that is totally unfulfilling.
No one wants a Shaman King ending.
I look forward to seeing how Tite Kubo ends the series with the time he is given and look forward to seeing what he does next. With one series completed I am curious to see what he can create with a full series under his belt.
My problem is that I tend to skim Bleach when I do read it. It is tedious to read a series that you can easily see is being stretched to its limit, at least it is for me. Bleach started well and I now hope that it can end well.