Bleach 686 and The End – A Fandom’s Disappointment
8 years ago when I was 16 years old I was a Bleach fanatic. My entire teenage fandom was Bleach and it changed my life in a lot of positive ways. For instance, I met a very dear friend of mine through Bleach. My art and writing all grew because of Bleach. I am a member of this blog because Eva and I met through Bleach. In a lot of ways Bleach is my origin story: my first genuine fandom and my first love. For years I followed it religiously, though when I picked it up it was about midway through the Arrancar Arc. I loved Bleach in the arc post-golden age. I was willing to forgive the inadequate pacing and unhappy direction that it began because I loved everything it had done. The first thing I ever bought with my own money was two plush dolls of Nnoitra and Nel, and so now you know exactly what Bleach means to me.
So I wish I could say this was good. Really, I wish I could say that Bleach had been genuinely good in a long time. There was an entire year I stopped reading Bleach because it stopped being what I remembered. Soul Society was an arc where we were learning about new things and being introduced into a blind zone, an inequitable area where Ichigo could not compete and was unable to go after anyone without it nearly ending his life. Once Soul Society arc ended a new enemy with mysterious unheard of powers was introduced, and then after that another group and then another. Eventually the series ended with the ultimate ‘other group’, the third one we ever learn about comes back as the Quincy reach for their revenge. What was established as a three party story ended up in. . .5…6? The Shinigami, the Quincy, the Hollows, the Vizard, the Fullbrings, the Arrancar and eventually the Quincy resurfacing. Humans were also a group as Orihime and Chad were never quite as powerful but never quite as weak. What was once deep interest and an amazing world of mystery was, well, Ichigo is 5 things now so what is he going to be next? Well, Chad and Orihime and Uryu are unimportant so when is Ichigo getting a new powerup? Complaints we had from the Soul Society arc ended up being complaints to the end, and every new piece of information was like WELL OKAY!!!
Bleach stopped being good when we could expect the same concept from the show. Many people thought it should end at the Fullbring arc and indeed what would have been different about that ending than this one? If we were to cut out the knowledge that Ywach killed Uryu and Ichigo’s mothers or even the Quincy in general then what would be different? If Ichigo was fine just running his dad’s clinic and chilling with everyone else then why was it really so imperitive that we go through so many arcs? Bleach 686 features Ichigo doing exactly what his dad does (even though he has never seemed to show any desire to be a doctor or to do anything in the human world) with a wife (Orihime) and a son. Now, here is the thing. At one time I really cared about Ichigo ending up with the ‘right’ girl or something, but every ounce of my shipping fight died when he stopped really doing much with anyone. The last time I felt a genuine connection between Ichigo and someone else was with Ishida, and the last time I felt a connection between he and a girl was even longer. I preferred him with Rukia but by the very end I was going ‘Well now he is CLEARLY setting up RenRuki endgame’ an endgame I don’t feel is developed much. Now for Orihime, that girl has been in the game for years. Despite shipping Ichiruki I always kind of felt she was showing her love and support even though I only ever once felt Ichigo return that (in his fight with Grimmjow) whereas with Rukia he had that heartbreaking scene where he could no longer see her and it seemed to cement it for me. So the ship I was vying for didn’t win, but that’s not really why I’m let down. If anything I’m mad because it feels like every loose end was given the same treatment. Sure, Ichigo and Orihime can get married! Why didn’t they get an ending scene where he looks at her fondly and declared his love?! Seriously, Renji gave more of a serenade and I actually think his child with Rukia is adorable enough I’m willing to give it a shot.
But what the hell is, HEY ORIHIME WHERE IS OUR KID? Why didn’t the IchiHime fans get the solid, groundbreaking, absolutely happy ending they deserve? If the 5 lifetimes 5 love speech was genuine and absolutely true then why didn’t Ichigo get his chance to reciprocate those feelings? Why are we left seeing the aftermath and not the true ending? Orihime never confessed to Ichigo while he was conscious and so everything we have from them is conjecture and one sided. Hell, where is Rukia and Renji’s heartwarming ‘I wanted to belong to YOUR family back then’?! I’m angry because Kubo Tite started Bleach as a man with a plan. He ended the rain, he made poems, he showed the importance of bonds and trust- but the only person who got some closure seemed to be Uryu and Ishida’s relationship. Not even with their mom’s, they didn’t get a flashback there, but they both got to work together to kill Ywach. No one in this manga got the ending they deserved, not even the protagonist. I’m not the only one who feels this way, one of the main thoughts is that Kubo had to end Bleach before the ten years he wanted because he had such horrible ratings in the end. Fans wanted something different than they got, and Bleach suffered even more for it. Yet after the Arrancar Arc the true villains seemed to be more and more boring. Tsukushima rewrote the past repeatedly and Ywach could alter the present to reflect the future: we didn’t even see all the bankais. We don’t know who ended up where, what life is really like in soul society. What even happened to Nel? I ship NnoiNel but she couldn’t end up interacting with anyone, Grimmjow, Halibel, or anyone else even one more time?
People are fighting over ships, disregarding each other, or even thanking Kubo for what Bleach did. But can I give it any of those things? Yes, Kubo Tite wrote an amazing manga that changed my life. But he screwed it up. He wrote half of a great manga and he wrecked the other half. He didn’t even do the winning sides justice: he didn’t even give my sweet baby Ichigo the proper closure. Where are Isshin and Ryuken’s smoking and crying over their wives? Where is Ichigo crying for his mother and Orihime comforting him, telling him she loved him and will be by his side for good? Where is Uryu’s happiness and his finality “This was for you, Mother.” and RYUUKEN BEING PROUD OVER IT! So yes, I am grateful to Kubo for creating Bleach. But I am not happy he made the ending of his amazing manga into what it is. I’m happy some people get to be excited over it: I’m sure if IchiRuki was canon even in the watered out way it is I might be somewhat happier. But . . . really? Would I be? Never hearing Ichigo say he loves his wife, kiss her, or hold her? Never knowing just how perfectly happy things are without exposition, not expression, to show it? I don’t know. I mean, the only thing that I can say would’ve changed my opinion of the ending is if Noitra came back to life and made out with Nel. Look, some people never change and I’m that person. I’m not shouting my crazy conspiracy theories anymore I’m just saying the ending of this manga needed more kissing. Or at least a real movie! What the hell, Naruto got a movie to fall back in love with Hinata and she already confessed to him in person! Everyone got an awful ending.
I have to say this and it pains me: Naruto ended better than Bleach. I had a lot of issues with Naruto and it was definitely my least favorite of the big three. Why don’t women do more, I don’t like the art style, I like Bleach’s powers more. But.. . well, Kishimoto ended up making a better manga. Bleach ended in a very unsatisfying way. Kubo Tite let me down. If he had written the manga the way he did until the end of the Karakura Town arc that would have been fine. . .but what is Keigo even doing?! And don’t get me started on fucking.. . Rukia. . . WHERE WAS HER AMAZING FINAL BANKAI BATTLE? WHY WAS SHE MARGINALIZED? SHE WAS THE DEATHBERRY AND NOW HER VAGINA SOMEHOW PRODUCES THE MAGIC OF DEATHBERRY? Where was the ultimate show of their friendship? Dead, apparently. Even if you don’t ship Ichiruki those two are connected at the hip and to see them kind of. ..talk to each other more than anyone but get a virtually meaningless ending sucks too. Everything sucks. Everything!
That being said, I will now talk about what I liked. What a fucking precious button cupcake this little shit Ichigo has is. I seriously want to smother him with love and kisses. And what happened to Karin, oh my GOD! And Renji and Rukia’s kid, wow. If they get together when they’re older. . .does…does that mean EVERY ship won? Well no, but Chad. Chad is the real star.
HOLY FUCKING SHIT. CHAD. CAN I BE YOUR WIFE NOW? plz. Chad. HE IS OLD ENOUGH TO MARRY ME AND I AM INTERESTED CHAD PLEASE RSVP IMMEDIATELY. Uryu is a doctor but I demand he have a sexy wife. I’m serious. I want an update to this chapter where he has literally the hottest wife in the series. GO. THERE IS NO TIME TO WASTE KUBO, IT WILL ALL BE FIXED WITH A HOT WIFE AND CHAD MARRYING ME. And sadly, that’s about it. There is so much more to discuss with the series and my feelings but honestly, I can only do it by answering questions. Feel free to comment and further discuss this topic. Even though I am happy to expand the truth is pretty much this: I don’t think Bleach 686 is the ending any fan deserved.
But guys there is one last thing. The true loser of this comic, the true loser of the entire story. I am sorry, but the ultimate loser is. . .
Ichigo’s fucking hairline.
Bleach Ending: Disappointment