|Genre||Action, Adventure, Supernatural|
|Written by||Tite Kubo|
|Magazine||Weekly Shōnen Jump|
|Original run||August 20, 2001 – August 22, 2016|
|Anime television series|
Bleach (Japanese: ブリーチ Hepburn: Burīchi) is a Japanese manga series written and illustrated by Tite Kubo. Bleach follows the adventures of the hotheaded teenager Ichigo Kurosaki who inherits his parents destiny, after he obtains the powers of a Soul Reaper (死神 Shinigami, literally "Death God")—a death personification similar to the Grim Reaper—from another Soul Reaper, Rukia Kuchiki. His new-found powers force him to take on the duties of defending humans from evil spirits and guiding departed souls to the afterlife, and set him on journeys to various ghostly realms of existence.
Bleach was serialized in the Japanese manga magazine Weekly Shōnen Jump from August 2001 to August 2016, with its chapters collected into 74 tankōbon volumes. The series has spawned a media franchise that includes an anime television series that was produced by Studio Pierrot from 2004 to 2012, two original video animations, four animated feature films, ten rock musicals, and numerous video games, as well as many types of Bleach-related merchandise. A live-action film adaptation is scheduled for release in 2018. English-language releases of Bleach are coordinated by Viz Media, which has released several volumes of the manga each year since 2004, and published chapters of Bleach in its Shonen Jump magazine since November 2007. Viz Media secured foreign television and home video distribution rights to the Bleach anime in 2006. Cartoon Network's Adult Swim began airing dubbed episodes of Bleach in the United States that Fall, and Hulu later began to stream subtitled versions of the anime a week after each episode aired in Japan. Viz Media has also released each of the Bleach feature films in English.
Bleach received the Shogakukan Manga Award for the shōnen demographic in 2005, and is among the best-selling manga in both Japan and the United States. Bleach has sold more than 90 million copies in Japan since its publication, and continued to perform commercially despite significant downturns in both the Japanese and English manga markets. Among critics, Bleach is most commonly praised for its action scenes and art but criticized for its plot elements.
Ichigo Kurosaki is a teenager from Karakura Town who can see ghosts, a talent which lets him meet supernatural trespasser Rukia Kuchiki. Rukia is one of the Soul Reapers (死神 Shinigami), soldiers trusted with ushering the souls of the dead from the World of the Living to the Soul Society (尸魂界 (ソウル·ソサエティ), lit. "Dead Spirit World")—the afterlife realm from which she originates—and with fighting Hollows, monstrous lost souls who can harm both ghosts and humans. When she is severely wounded defending Ichigo from a Hollow she is pursuing, Rukia transfers her Spirit Pressure (霊圧 Reiatsu) to Ichigo so that he may fight in her stead while she recovers her strength. Rukia is thereby trapped in an ordinary human body, and must advise Ichigo as he balances the demands of his substitute Soul Reaper duties and attending high school. For aid in hunting the Hollows, the pair ally with a trio of other spiritually empowered teenagers: Ichigo's high school classmate Orihime Inoue, best friend Yasutora "Chad" Sado and the Quincy—humans who can fight Hollows—Uryū Ishida.
Eventually, Rukia is arrested by her Soul Reaper superiors and sentenced to death for the illegal act of transferring her powers into a human. Ichigo and friends move to rescue her, and in order to enter the Soul Society they enlist the help of ex-Soul Reaper scientist Kisuke Urahara, who enables Ichigo to access his own Soul Reaper powers. Shortly after the party's arrival in the Soul Society, conflict arises among the captains of 13 Court Squads when it seemed that captain Sōsuke Aizen is apparently murdered, which caused the Soul Reapers to begin fighting amongst themselves. It is only at the climax of the rescue and on the verge of civil war that Aizen reappears, revealed to have faked his death and arranged Rukia's execution to obtain the Hōgyoku (崩玉, lit. "Crumbling Orb")—an orb of immense power—that Kisuke planted in Rukia's human vessel. Aizen is then joined by his fellow conspirators, Gin Ichimaru and Kaname Tōsen, as they use Hollows to cover their escape into the Hollows' realm, Hueco Mundo (虚圏 (ウェコムンド), lit. "Hollow World"). From this point, Ichigo and Rukia reconciled with the Soul Reapers, who view the former as a powerful ally and designate him as an official substitute Soul Reaper.
Ichigo soon finds himself and his friends in escalating skirmishes with Aizen's army of humanoid Hollows, the Arrancar, as they are joined by the Vizards, Soul Reapers who were victims of Aizen's experiments in creating Soul Reaper/Hollow hybrids. The Vizards proceed to help Ichigo control his inner Hollow. When one of the Espada—Aizen's 10 most powerful Arrancars—kidnaps Orihime, Ichigo and his allies enter Hueco Mundo to invade Aizen's palace, Las Noches (虚夜宮 (ラス・ノーチェス), lit. "The Nights"). However, as Ichigo rescues Orihime, Aizen reveals her abduction was a distraction as he and his strongest warriors launch an attack on Karakura Town as part of his plan to sacrifice the souls of the living to create a key to the Soul King's Palace for his true goal: killing the Soul King who reigns over the Soul Society. When the Vizards join the remaining Soul Reapers to face their mutual enemy, Gin reveals his own agenda of assassinating Aizen. However, the latter then used the Hōgyoku to become a Hollow-like being and overpowered everyone. In the ensuing chaos, Ichigo meets his father who is a Soul Reaper and the true origin of his Soul Reaper powers. Although, Aizen reveals that he has been manipulating Ichigo's growth since birth, the latter ultimately succeeds in subduing Aizen at the cost of his powers and reverts back to a normal human.
Months later, preparing for life after high school, Ichigo is called back into action when Xcution, a gang of Fullbringers—supernaturally aware humans like Chad—manipulate him and his loved ones in a scheme to siphon his Fullbring abilities. After his Soul Society allies restore his Soul Reaper powers, learning that Xcution's leader Ginjo Kujo was his predecessor and that the substitute Soul Reapers are not fully trusted, Ichigo defeats Ginjo while resolving to continue fighting with the Soul Society.
After Ichigo regained his powers, an army of Quincies known as the Wandenreich (見えざる帝国 (ヴァンデンライヒ), lit. "Walled Empire") appear and declare their own war on the Soul Society, after enslaving the Arrancars. The group is led by Yhwach, the ancient progenitor of the Quincies who was once worshipped as a god on earth. Yhwach has returned from long hibernation and seeks to kill the Soul King like Aizen. In their first invasion, the Wandenreich killed many Soul Reapers with Head Captain Yamamoto among the deceased. Furthermore, as Uryū is recruited into the Wandenreich, Ichigo learns the origins of most of his powers were because his mother, a Quincy, was indirectly affected by Aizen's experiments. After coping with the revelation, Ichigo and his friends aid the Soul Society in fighting the Wandenreich's second invasion as Yhwach proceeds to reach the Soul King's Palace in the ensuing chaos and, eventually, slays the Soul King. It is revealed that Uryū joined the Wandenreich as a means to get close to Yhwach, who was responsible for the death of his mother among other Quincies, and joins Ichigo to fight the elite Quincies. In the final battle, Yhwach returns to the Soul Society in order to conquer it once and for all and achieves his true goal: erasing the boundaries between realms and creates a world without death. After much struggles, with the help of Uryū's father, Ichigo and Uryū ultimately defeat Yhwach. Years later, Rukia becomes the new captain of the thirteenth company and has a daughter with Renji named Ichika. Aizen, who has been returned to his prison, has a monologue in which he offers a rebuttal to Yhwach's vision of the world, saying that without fear of death courage could not exist. Ichigo and Orihime have a son named Kazui, who is training to become a Soul Reaper like him.
Bleach was first conceived from Tite Kubo's desire to draw a Shinigami (Soul Reaper) in a kimono, which formed the basis for the design of the Soul Reapers in the series and the conception of Rukia Kuchiki. The original story concept was submitted to Weekly Shōnen Jump shortly after the cancellation of Kubo's previous manga, Zombiepowder, but was at first rejected. Manga artist Akira Toriyama saw the story and wrote a letter of encouragement to Kubo. Bleach was accepted for publication a short time later in 2001, and was initially intended to be a shorter series, with a maximum serialization length of five years. Early plans for the story did not include the hierarchical structure of the Soul Society, but did include some characters and elements that were not introduced into the plot until the Arrancar arc, such as Ichigo's Soul Reaper parentage. The series was originally meant to be named "Black" due to the color of the Soul Reapers' clothes, but Kubo thought the title was too generic. He later tried the name of "White," but came to like "Bleach" more for its association with the color white and that he did not find it too obvious. In the series' eighteenth volume, Kubo commented that both chapters 150 and 151 were the first consecutive pair of colored chapters to have been published in the Weekly Shonen Jump. This brought happiness to the author.
Kubo has cited influences for elements of Bleach ranging from other manga series to music, foreign language, architecture, and film. He attributes his interest in drawing the supernatural and monsters to Shigeru Mizuki's GeGeGe no Kitaro and Bleach's focus on interesting weaponry and battle scenes to Masami Kurumada's Saint Seiya, manga that Kubo enjoyed as a boy. The action style and storytelling found in Bleach are inspired by cinema, though Kubo has not revealed any specific movie as being an influence for fight scenes. When pressed, he told interviewers that he liked Snatch but did not use it as a model. Kubo has also stated that he wishes to make Bleach an experience that can only be found by reading manga, and dismissed ideas of creating any live-action film adaptations of the series. Bleach's fight choreography is instead constructed with the aid of rock music, which the author listens to while imagining the fights in order to give him a sense of pacing for the panel cuts and change of angles through the scenes. Kubo prefers to draw realistic injuries in order to render the fight more impactful, by making the readers feel the pain the characters are feeling. Bleach's fight scenes are often broken up with brief gags, which the author inserts when he grows bored during the illustration process.
Bleach's plotting process is focused around character design. When writing plotlines or having difficulties generating new material, Kubo begins by thinking of new characters, often en masse, and rereading previous volumes of Bleach. Kubo has said that he likes creating characters that have outward appearances that do not match their true nature—an element that can be found in many Bleach characters—as he is "attracted to people with that seeming contradiction" and finds an "urge to draw people like that" when he works. The terminology used in Bleach has a variety of inspirations, with each category of characters bearing a different linguistic theme. Many of the names for swords and spells used by Soul Reapers were inspired by ancient Japanese literature. Hollows and Arrancars use Spanish terms. Fullbringers use English vocabulary, with names referencing rock music, and finally, both Quincy and Bounts draw on the German language. This multilingual terminology, along with the variety in apparent character ethnicities, emphasizes the international nature of the Bleach settings.
Religious and cultural
Von Feigenblatt describes Bleach as being culturally and religiously aware. Bleach's plot incorporates the traditional Japanese belief of spirits coexisting with humans and their nature, good or evil, depends on the circumstances. An example is Orihime's backstory: she was raised from the age of three by her brother Sora, and prayed for his soul's peace after he died in a car accident. As time went on, she prayed less and Sora became jealous and turned into a Hollow and attacked Orihime. Drazen says this is a reminder to the audience to not abandon the old ways or risk the spirits taking offense and causing problems in the world. Bleach also incorporates Shinto themes of purification of "evil spirits through charms, scrolls, incantations, and other rituals." The manga also draws upon Christianity and Caribbean Santería. Spanish terms are prevalent throughout the realm of Hueco Mundo, meaning "hollow world", and its officers are the Espada, literally "sword" in Spanish. Kubo says he chose the terms because they sounded "bewitching and mellow" to him.
Both Quincy and Bounts have been known to associate with the German language, making Kubo's world of characters diverse in race and language as well. Von Feigenblatt notes that the Quincy "are clearly inspired by the Roman Catholic Christian Orders of Knighthood such as the Sovereign Military Order of Malta and the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre whose influence is shown in terms of the uniform worn by the Quincy as well as by the symbolism of the cross." Many of the names for swords and spells used by Soul Reapers were inspired by ancient Japanese literature. Christopher A. Born regards Bleach as transmitting Confucian values.
Kubo likes creating characters who have outward appearances that do not match their true nature.
The character Orihime is a complex character who has been both praised and criticized for her appearances. Her role has developed from a "big-breasted bimbo" throughout the story, but the way in which she uses her power has been deemed as stereotypical.
Rukia was initially set to be the protagonist of the series, but the early development of her character resulted in it being changed. Kubo drew Rukia based on his concepts of a Shinigami and wanted her to have an appropriate Shinigami-sounding name. Kubo's choice of the name is deliberate, eventually decided upon the last name "Kuchiki" (朽木, lit. "rotten wood") and chose her first name based on the Latin name for cosmos, which in Latin means "light". Kubo sees her as "a ray of light for Ichigo." Michelle Ruff, Rukia's English voice actress, found Rukia to be a "survivor", due to how lonely she initially was and how she has been developed through the anime series as she had to start trusting people. Melissa Harper notes that Rukia is not a stereotypical shōnen heroine, noting Rukia's loss of her powers and subsequent dependence on Ichigo were "a great source of both drama and comedy in the show." Carlos Alexandre noted that she is "less of a foil to Ichigo and more like the other side of the same coin".
The chapters of the Bleach manga are written and illustrated by Tite Kubo. In Japan, they were published in Shueisha's Weekly Shōnen Jump from August 20, 2001, to August 22, 2016. Since Bleach's premiere, over 686 chapters have been released in Japan. Most chapter names are written in English and have katakana above them to indicate how they are read in Japanese, similar to the usage of furigana ruby characters with advanced kanji characters. The total count of published Bleach chapters and the number on the highest-numbered chapter do not match. This is because, in addition to the positive numbered chapters, some chapters are published with a negative or fractional chapter number. These "negative" chapters are side stories that involve events that precede the main plot of the series.
The individual chapters of Bleach were collected in tankōbon volumes several times per year. Each volume collects around 9 chapters of the story, along with extra content such as sketches, character trivia, and a poem offering insight into the character featured on the volume cover. The first Bleach volume was released on January 5, 2002, and the final 74 volume on November 4, 2016. Shueisha published the first 21 volumes compiled into six omnibus collections under the name Resurrected Souls to celebrate the tenth anniversary of the Bleach series. The first collection Bleach: Resurrected Souls 1 was released on August 22, 2011; the last collection was published on January 23, 2012.
North American licensor Viz Media has been serializing the individual chapters in Shonen Jump in North America since November 2007. 69 volumes were released. The first volume on English was released on June 1, 2004. On August 5, 2008, the company released a hardcover "collector's edition" of the first volume that came with a dust jacket, followed by a box set that was released on September 2, 2008, containing the first 21 volumes, a poster, and a booklet about the series. Viz Media started a re-release of the series under the label of "3-in-1 Edition" on June 7, 2011; Nineteen volumes were released.
Viz Media released digital forms of the first 16 volumes in English on June 17, 2011. 67 digital volumes were published. On September 21, 2012, Shueisha released 45 digital volumes in Japanese e-book stores. 73 digital volumes have been released. Digital editions of the series have been re-released as a set of 10 volumes on April 26, 2013; six sets were released.
The Bleach anime series aired in Japan on TV Tokyo's Tuesday 6pm timeslot from October 5, 2004, to March 27, 2012, excluding holidays. The series was directed by Noriyuki Abe, and produced by TV Tokyo, Dentsu and Studio Pierrot.
Viz Media obtained the foreign television, home video and merchandising rights to the Bleach anime from TV Tokyo Corporation and Shueisha, on March 15, 2006. Viz Media has later licensed its individual Bleach merchandising rights to several different companies.
Bleach premiered in Canada on YTV, as part of their Bionix programming block, on September 8, 2006. Cartoon Network's Adult Swim began airing Bleach in the United States the following evening. Adult Swim stopped broadcasting new episodes of the English adaptation on October 13, 2007, after airing the first 52 episodes of the series. It was replaced with another Viz Media series, Death Note, to provide Studiopolis more time to dub additional episodes of Bleach. The series resumed on March 2, 2008, but went back on hiatus on November 21, 2009, after the airing of its 167th episode. Adult Swim would continue to air new episodes as part of the revived Toonami block, with the final episode airing on Saturday November 1, 2014, at 12am.
In the United Kingdom, Bleach premiered on Anime Central on September 13, 2007, with new episodes airing weekly. In 2013, the Sony Movie Channel began broadcasting Bleach as part of their 'Late Night Anime' block, which runs concurrently with the Animax pay-per-view service, and continues to do so. The English dubbed version of Bleach premiered on Animax Asia on December 18, 2009, with the first 52 episodes.
88 DVD compilations were released by Aniplex in Japan. Viz Media has released 32 DVD compilations of the English adaptation of the anime, along with twenty-one boxsets that contain fourteen seasons of the anime. On July 29, 2009, Aniplex released a "TV Animation Bleach 5th Anniversary Box" that includes 15 DVDs and three bonus discs. On November 24, 2010, Aniplex released a special edition of the DVD, "2004 & 2005 Bleach Jump Anime Tour", which contains two OVAs—Memories in the Rain and The Sealed Sword Frenzy.
Composed and produced by Shirō Sagisu, numerous CD soundtracks have been released for the Bleach anime series and movies by Sony Music Entertainment Japan. Bleach Original Soundtrack 1 was released on May 18, 2005, which contains 25 tracks, including the first opening and ending themes in their original television lengths. Bleach Original Soundtrack 2 followed on August 2, 2006, with an additional 23 instrumental tracks. Bleach Original Soundtrack 3 later followed on November 5, 2008, with 27 instrumental tracks. Bleach Original Soundtrack 4 was released on December 16, 2009, with 30 instrumental tracks. For the 5th anniversary of the series, Aniplex released Bleach 5th Anniversary Box set which contains CD with rare and unreleased tracks. Bleach: Memories of Nobody Original Soundtrack was released with 25 tracks from the Bleach: Memories of Nobody film. Bleach: The DiamondDust Rebellion Original Soundtrack was also released for the Bleach: The DiamondDust Rebellion film, with 29 tracks from the movie, followed by Bleach: Fade to Black Original Soundtrack for the Bleach: Fade to Black film, with 29 tracks, followed by Bleach: Hell Verse Original Soundtrack for the Bleach: Hell Verse film, with 21 tracks. Aniplex released Bleach The Best box set, which contains CD and DVD with 12 of the opening and ending themes from the series in their full length versions and few extras, later followed by Bleach The Best Instrumental/Jam-set Groove, which contains eight instrumental tracks. The separated CD under the label, Bleach The Best which contains 12 tracks, was released in December 2008. The next release, Bleach Best Tunes, contains 14 more opening and ending themes. Bleach The Berry Best box set, which contains CD with 13 tracks, bonus DVD and few extras, was released for the 10th anniversary of the series. On April 25, 2012, Aniplex released Bleach Best Trax box set, which include musical CD, bonus DVD with the complete opening and ending theme videos and few extras.
Five Radio DJCD Bleach 'B' Station season CD sets, have been released in Japan. Drama CDs have been produced for the series as well, featuring the original voice actors from the anime; these drama CDs have only been included as part of the DVD releases.
The labels Bleach Beat Collections and Bleach Breathless Collections are sets of CDs published by Sony Music featuring recordings by the original Japanese voice actors that provide a look at the personalities of the characters they play, as well as the voice actors themselves. The first CD was released on June 22, 2005; 29 volumes all together were released.Aniplex introduced two Bleach concept albums. The first, Bleach Concept Covers, was released on December 15, 2010, and the second one, Bleach Concept Covers 2, was released on December 14, 2011.
There are four animated feature films based on the Bleach series, all of which are directed by Noriyuki Abe, director of the Bleach anime series. The films were released annually each December starting in 2006, though none were released in 2009. Each movie features an original plotline along with original characters designed by Tite Kubo, which is contrary to the normal practice for anime-based films, as the original author usually has little creative involvement.
The first film, Bleach: Memories of Nobody, was released in Japan on December 16, 2006, and had a limited release in American theaters in June 2008. The movie is centered around the activities of the "Dark Ones," who were banished from the Soul Society and are subsequently trying to destroy both the Soul Society and the World of the Living. Memories of Nobody was released in North America on Region 1 DVD by Viz Media on October 14, 2008.
The second film, Bleach: The DiamondDust Rebellion, was released to Japanese theaters on December 22, 2007. Its plot focuses on 10th Division captain Tōshirō Hitsugaya's efforts to clear his name after an artifact belonging to Soul Society's king is stolen while under his care. The DiamondDust Rebellion was released in North America on Region 1 DVD by Viz Media on September 8, 2009.
The third film, Bleach: Fade to Black, was released in Japan on December 13, 2008. In the film, members of Soul Society are struck with amnesia, caused by a parasitic Hollow that erases the memories of its victims. The people in those memories forget the victim as well, resulting in everyone losing their memories of Rukia and subsequentially of Ichigo. When he goes to the Soul Society to investigate, Ichigo is hunted as an intruder and the perpetrator of a great disaster and also discovers that Rukia has not only forgotten him, but has forgotten her own identity as well. The film was released on Region 2 DVD on September 30, 2009. The English Dub release of Fade to Black was released on Region 1 DVD and Blu-ray by Viz Media on November 15, 2011.
The fourth movie, Bleach: Hell Verse, was released in Japan on December 4, 2010. In the film, Ichigo is heading into the Gates of Hell, which is where souls and Hollows who had committed evil during their lives as humans are sent. Denizens of Hell, aware of the power of Ichigo's inner Hollow, desire to draw out that power and free themselves from Hell and so they lure Ichigo into the realm by kidnapping his sisters. Tite Kubo did oversee the production of the film. The dubbed version was released on Region 1 DVD and Blu-ray by Viz Media on December 4, 2012.
In March 2010, Warner Bros. confirmed that it is in talks to create a live-action movie adaptation of the series. Peter Segal and Michael Ewing have been lined up to produce the movie. In 2012, Dan Mazeau was added as a screenwriter for the project, and Masi Oka joined as producer. In 2016, after the series ended, a live-action Japanese adaptation of the series was announced. Bleach, which will be produced by Warner Bros. Japan, directed by Shinsuke Sato and starring Sōta Fukushi as Ichigo Kurosaki, is scheduled for release in Japan in Summer 2018.
Bleach has been adapted into a series of rock musicals, jointly produced by Studio Pierrot and Nelke Planning. There have been five musicals produced which covered portions of the Substitute and Soul Society arcs, as well as five additional performances known as "Live Bankai Shows" and "Rock Musical Bleach Shinsei", which did not follow the Bleach plotline. The initial performance run of the Bleach musical was from August 17–28, 2005, at the Space Zero Tokyo center in Shinjuku.
The musicals are directed by Takuya Hiramitsu, with script adaptation by Naoshi Okumura and music composed by playwright Shoichi Tama. The songs are completely original and not taken from the anime soundtrack. Key actors in the series include Tatsuya Isaka, who plays Ichigo Kurosaki, Miki Satō, who plays Rukia Kuchiki, and Eiji Moriyama, who plays Renji Abarai.
Trading card game
Two collectible card games (CCG) based on the Bleach series have been produced, one in the Japanese market and a different one in North America. Bleach Soul Card Battle, produced by Bandai, was introduced in Japan in 2004. Twenty named sets were released for the series. After Bleach Soul Card Battle, Bandai introduced three more series. Bleach The Card Gum, which contains 14 sets, was released in early September 2007. The next series, Bleach Clear Collection, which contains six sets, was released in July 2008. The last series, Bleach Clear Soul Plate, which consists of three sets, was published in December 2009.
Bleach TCG was introduced in the United States by Score Entertainment in May 2007, but ceased publication April 2009, just before the planned launch of its seventh expansion, Bleach Infiltration. This cancellation was attributed to the ongoing recession, which has heavily affected TCG sales. Designed by Aik Tongtharadol, the TCG is a two-player game in which each player starts with at least 61 cards: a "Guardian" card, a 60-card "main deck," and an optional 20-card "side deck." A player loses if his or her power, as dictated by the Guardian card, is reduced to zero, or if he or she is unable to draw or discard a card from his or her deck. The cards for the game have been released in named sets with each set released in three formats: a 72-card pre-constructed box set containing a starter deck and two booster packs, a 10-card booster pack, and a 12-pack booster box. Six named sets were released.
A number of video games have been created featuring characters from the Bleach series, primarily though not exclusively fighting games. The first video game to be released from the Bleach series was Bleach: Heat the Soul, which debuted on March 24, 2005, for the Sony PlayStation Portable. Currently, the majority of the games have only been released in Japan, though Sega has localized the first three Nintendo DS games and the first Wii game for North America. So far, all dedicated Bleach games released for Sony's consoles have been developed and published by SCEI, whereas the games for Nintendo consoles are developed and published by Sega, and the Nintendo DS games are developed by Treasure Co. Ltd.. Two mobile games had also been released in 2014 and 2016 for the series, which are available for iOS and Android.
Tite Kubo and Makoto Matsubara have co-authored three novelizations of the Bleach series, which were published by Shueisha under its Shounen Jump Books label. The first volume, Bleach - Letters From The Other Side: The Death and The Strawberry, was published on December 15, 2004, and re-released as Bleach - Letters From The Other Side: The Death and The Strawberry - New Edition on November 4, 2009. The second, Bleach: The Honey Dish Rhapsody, was published on November 30, 2006. The third, Bleach: The Death Save The Strawberry, was published on September 4, 2012. Two novelizations of the Bleach series, have been co-authored by Narita Ryohgo. The first volume, Bleach: Spirits Are Forever With You, and the second, Bleach: Spirits Are Forever With You 2, were published on June 4, 2012. After the series ended in 2016, a couple of epilogue novels were released by Shueisha. The first novel, Bleach: WE DO knot ALWAYS LOVE YOU, is written by the writer of Bleach: The Death Save The Strawberry and was published on December 27, 2016. The second, Bleach: Can't Fear Your Own World, is a serialized novel written by the writer of Bleach: Spirits Are Forever With You series. The chapters are released bi-weekly from April 28, 2017.
Shueisha published four novelizations based on the Bleach movies. The first volume, Bleach: Memories of Nobody, was published on December 18, 2006. The second, Bleach: The DiamondDust Rebellion, Another Hyōrinmaru, was published on December 22, 2007. The third, Bleach: Fade to Black, I Call Your Name, was published on December 15, 2008. The fourth volume, Bleach: Hell Chapter, was published on December 6, 2010.
The first Bleach artbook, All Colour But The Black, has been released in Japan, the United States, and Europe. The artbook compiles a selection of color spreads from the first 19 volumes of the series, as well as some original art and author commentary. The second artbook, Bleach Official Bootleg: KaraBuri+ (BLEACH OFFICIAL BOOTLEG カラブリ プラス), was released on August 3, 2007. In addition to character guides and articles on other fictional aspects of the series, it compiles the various short comics, Tedious Everyday Tales Colorful Bleach (徒然日常絵詞 カラフル ブリーチ Tsuredure Nichijou Ekotoba Karafuru Buriichi), that were published in V Jump. The omake-style panels are similar to those included in the main series, but reveal more of the daily lives of characters. Color Bleach+: Bleach Official Bootleg was released in English by Viz Media on August 10, 2010.
Seven databooks have also been released about the series. The first two, Bleach: Official Character Book SOULs. and Bleach: Official Animation Book VIBEs., were released on February 3, 2006. Bleach: Official Character Book SOULs. was later released in English by Viz Media on November 18, 2008. The third book, Bleach: Official Character Book 2: MASKED, was released on August 4, 2010. This book covers details about characters that appear 100 years prior to the story, such as former captains and lieutenants, along with the Arrancars and Visoreds. It should be noted that while it was released on the same day as volume 46, Back From Blind, the book only covers material up to volume 37, Beauty Is So Solitary. The English version was released by Viz Media on March 6, 2012. A fourth book Bleach: Official Invitation Book The Hell Verse, was published on December 4, 2010. This book was released to promote Bleach movie:Hell Verse and it contains character sketches, promotional posters and the one-off Hell manga special. A fifth book Bleach: Official Character Book 3: UNMASKED, was released on June 3, 2011, the same day as the volume 50 of the series. However it only covers material up to volume 48, God is Dead. On June 4, 2012, a sixth book has been released under the name Bleach: The Rebooted Souls. This free booklet has been distributed with Bleach manga volume 55, with the aim to provide information to readers about upcoming manga's final arc, The Thousand-Year Blood War. The seventh book, BLEACH 13 BLADEs., was released on August 4, 2015 and focused solely on the Soul Reapers and the 13 Court Squads.
Shueisha published a special book Bleach: JCCover Postcard Book MAILs., which was released on December 4, 2013. It features cover pages as postcards up to volume 60 with poems on the back.
Bleach has sold over 87 million copies in Japan, making it one of the best-selling series from Weekly Shōnen Jump. In 2005, Bleach was awarded the Shogakukan Manga Award in the shōnen category. During 2008, volume 34 of the manga sold 874,153 copies in Japan, becoming the 12th best-seller comics from the year. Volumes 33 and 35 have also ranked 17 and 18, respectively. In total the manga has sold 3,161,825 copies in Japan during 2008, becoming the year's 5th best selling series. In the first half from 2009, Bleach ranked as the 2nd best-selling manga in Japan, having sold 3.5 million copies. Having sold 927,610 copies, Volume 36 ranked 7th. Volume 37 was 8th with 907,714 sold copies, and volume 38 at 10th with 822,238 copies.
North American sales of the manga have also been high, with all volumes having sold over 1.2 million copies. Volume 16 placing in the top 10 graphic novel sales in December 2006 and volume 17 being the best-selling manga volume for the month of February 2007. In a 2010 interview, Gonzalo Ferreyra, Vice President of Sales and Marketing for Viz, listed Bleach as one of six Viz titles that continue to exceed expectations in spite of the harshening manga market. The English version of the manga was nominated for the "best manga" and "best theme" awards at the 2006 and 2007 American Anime Awards, but did not win either category.
Deb Aoki from About.com considered the series as the Best Continuing Shōnen Manga of 2007, along with Eyeshield 21, praising the "compelling stories, dazzling action sequences and great character development". She also placed the title on her list of "Top 10 Shōnen Manga Must-Reads". The artwork and the character designs received positive response by IGN's A.E. Sparrow. He also commented on the series' ability to handle multiple minor character plotlines at the same time, which he considered a point of appeal, in response to fans' claims about a "lack of a story" in Bleach. Leroy Douresseaux from ComicBookBin agreed with Sparrow in the number of storylines, but also praised the fighting scenes finding them comparable to the ones of popular films. On the other hand, Mania reviewer Jarred Pine criticized the series as being plagued with stereotypes from the genre. He felt it was a rough start for the series with unimpressive battles, overused gags, and a bad introduction for central character Ichigo that causes him to come across "as a frowning punk" whose one good trait is his desire to protect. Despite this, Pine notes that he loves the series, particularly its quirky, lovable characters. Jason Thompson said he was no longer able to take Bleach seriously after it introduced villains Ulquiorra and Yammy in a scene precisely mirroring Vegeta and Nappa's arrival in Dragon Ball Z, but acknowledged it was likely intended as a deliberate homage. He also said Kubo was able to avoid the worst artistic failings typical in series which indulge in superpowered combat, but that the battle scenes were still sometimes difficult to follow.
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