Bleach (manga)

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Bleach (ブリーチ) is a manga and anime series by Tite Kubo (久保 帯人 Kubo Taito), mangaka of Zombie Powder. It is currently at 20 volumes in length (as of December 2005), and new chapters are featured weekly in the Weekly Shonen Jump magazine. The total number of chapters as of this writing is 210.

It follows the life of Ichigo Kurosaki, a 15 year old high school student with the ability to see ghosts. A female shinigami (死神, lit. god of death), or Soul Reaper in the English manga, named Rukia Kuchiki runs into him one day while searching for a Hollow (an evil spirit). During an ensuing confrontation with the spirit, she is wounded and forced to transfer almost all of her powers into Ichigo. Thus the adventures of Ichigo and Rukia Kuchiki begin, and together they search out Hollows and perform soul burials, cleansing the spirits and sending them to Soul Society.

The early parts of the story focus mainly on the relationships between the characters, rather than the actual occupation of the shinigami. However, as events unfold, the story begins to delve more deeply into the world of these gods of death on the "other side," Soul Society.

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Contents

Introduction

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Ichigo Kurosaki

Ichigo, a rough-and-tumble teenager, has always been able to see ghosts. The story begins with the sudden appearance of an oddly-dressed stranger in Ichigo's bedroom who seems surprised that he can see her at all. This stranger is Rukia Kuchiki. a shinigami. Their resulting conversation is interrupted by the appearance of a hollow, an evil spirit. When she is severely wounded, Rukia decides to transfer half of her powers to Ichigo, giving him the opportunity to face the hollow on an equal footing. Ichigo defeats it with a single sword-strike.

The next day, Rukia turns up in Ichigo's classroom as a transfer student. Much to his surprise, she is now apparently a normal human. It turns out that the strength of Ichigo's spirit caused him to fully absorb her powers rather than taking half, leaving her trapped in a gigai – an artificial human body. While she recovers her abilities, Ichigo must take over her job, watching over the region and battling hollows in her stead.

Characters

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Races

There are two distinct 'races' revealed in Bleach thus far - humans and spirits. The humans are mostly ordinary like real-life humans, and cannot see or sense spirits in any way. However, some humans, such as the Quincy, have the power to not only sense but also fight on equal footing with spirits.

Spirits have a form composed of reishi (ectoplasm), which has an anatomy similar to an ordinary flesh body, including organs and blood. However, this form seems to encompass all of a spirit's being. In other words, there is no distinction between soul and body.

The most notable human and spirit 'types' in Bleach are listed below.

Plus

A plus (called a whole in the official English version of the manga) is the disembodied spirit of a person who has died. A plus has a spiritual body composed of reishi that resembles its former material body at the time of death. From the chest hangs the Chain of Destiny (因果の鎖 inga no kusari). This chain ties the soul to something in the world that keeps them there. In the case of a human soul removed from their body that isn't dead, this chain is tied to their body, and if it breaks in this state, they die. If the chain of a spirit tied to an object is broken, the chain begins to corrode. If the corrosion is completed before a shinigami can perform a soul burial on the soul, the plus descends into a hollow, unless they have shinigami powers and are able to call them forth.

Pluses are sent to Soul Society by the shinigami in a ritual called soul burial (魂葬 konsō).

It is supposed that a spirit, after dying in Soul Society, is then reborn into the human world as a new human. This provides the two worlds, the spirit and the material world, with the balance that the Quincy are said to destroy.

Shinigami

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Shinigami (known as Death Gods in the English Version) in Bleach are psychopomps. They are made up of spiritual matter and cannot be seen or detected in any way by normal humans. Their archrivals are the hollows.

The shinigami mainly use soul slayers (zanpakutō) and demon arts (kidō), to fight.

Some shinigami acquired hollow powers using illegal methods; these are known as Vizards.

Quincy

Template:Mainarticle The Quincy were a tribe of spiritually aware humans who fought against the hollows in the past, using bows composed of spiritual energy to slay them. The Quincy are now nearly extinct due to extermination by the shinigami about 200 years before the main storyline.

As opposed to shinigami, who operate using their inner spiritual energy, Quincy absorb energy from their surroundings. Also as opposed to the shinigami, Quincy actually kill hollows, rather than cleanse their spirits.

Hollow

Template:Mainarticle The hollows are the main antagonists of Bleach. They are evil spirits who reside in Hueco Mundo. Like shinigami, hollows are made of spiritual matter, cannot be detected by ordinary humans, and use their internal spiritual power to fight.

All hollows wear masks, except a handful of powerful ones who have been able to take it off. These hollows are called arrancar.

Locales

Human world

The human world of Bleach is modern Japan, specifically a neighborhood known as Karakura. In this world, Ichigo attends school, fights hollows, and tries to avoid rumours that he is Rukia's boyfriend. Places of note are the high school, the Urahara Shop, the cemetery, and Ichigo and Orihime's homes.

Spirit world

Template:Mainarticle The Spirit World, or Soul Society, corresponds to heaven in human belief systems. It consists of a giant walled city in the center, known as the Sereitei, and 80 districts outside of it. The districts outside of the Sereitei are known as the Rukongai and are the place where non-shinigami and non-nobles live. The district number of the Rukongai also gives a measure of how bad it is. District 1 is peaceful and lawful, while District 80 is filled with criminals and has poor conditions.

Hueco Mundo

Hueco Mundo is the area between the human world and Soul Society. Literally meaning "Hollow World" (in Spanish), it is of course where hollows reside when not in the human world or Soul Society, and where they are nigh undetectable.

Crossing between worlds

It is known that shinigami and hollows alike can come and go between the two worlds as they please. Shinigami can cross from the Soul Society to the human world by way of a passage seemingly unlocked by their zanpakutō. However, to safely cross over, they must be accompanied by a Hell Butterfly. Hollows can cross over to both Soul Society and the human world by opening a rift in space, although they don't usually dare enter Soul Society.

Hell

Little is known about hell as of yet. It is known that hell is the destination for those who commited acts too evil during their lives as mortals to be allowed into Soul Society. If the incident with Shrieker is any indication, when a hollow whose mortal soul is too wicked to enter Soul Society and has had its mask split by a zanpakutō, the gates of hell will appear (giant doors with a skeleton holding on to each, with chains sealing them shut) and begin to open, and a giant spiritual being with a knife will spear the wicked spirit and drag it down into hell while laughing when they are confronted by a Shinigami as a spirit.

Media information

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This manga is being translated into English by VIZ Media, although several scanlation groups release earlier unofficial English translations.

As with many other popular manga series, an animated version is currently in production. The "Bleach" animated TV series is broadcast at 7:30pm on Tuesdays on TV Tokyo and affiliated stations in Japan; the first episode aired on October 5 2004, replacing F-Zero: Falcon Densetsu (F-Zero GP Legend), although until episode 54, the air time was 6:30pm. Studio Pierrot is doing the animation work. Several fansub groups are subbing this series as well and distributing it over the Internet. There are a total of 62 episodes and one omake (TV special) episode so far. The series has no plan to stop as of yet.

Episode Arcs

  1. The Acting Shinigami (1~20)
  2. Infiltration (21~40)
  3. Rescue (41~63)
  4. The Material World (64-?)

External links

Official sites

Encyclopedia entries

Fan sites

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