Ghostbusters with Class
A group of spiritually gifted kids are ready to take on whatever anyone throws at them, and they'll look good doing it too.
Kurosaki Ichigo sees dead people. He's been seeing them ever since he was little, but at the age of fifteen, he sees a particularly nasty dead person called a Hollow. Formerly unhappy ghosts, Hollows are corrupted souls that are unable to find peace, attacking people with powerful spirit energy, like Ichigo. But that's nothing to worry about. The death god Kuchiki Rukia is there to save the day and slice all of those nasty Hollows to oblivion. That was the plan, at least. During the battle, Rukia is seriously wounded, leaving Ichigo to take on Rukia's power and become a death god himself in order to defeat the Hollow.
From then on, Ichigo is charged with the task of protecting those around him from the constant threat of a Hollow attack. Equipped with his huge spirit sword, called a zanpakutou, Ichigo's power surprises everyone that he encounters, but most of all, he stuns Rukia, who knows a mere human being shouldn't be capable of doing what Ichigo has been doing. And while Ichigo runs around town cutting up ghosts, Rukia is stuck in a fake body with little power, resorting to sleeping in Ichigo's closet and posing as his classmate.
The more time that Ichigo spends as a death god, the more that Rukia teaches him. But she fails to mention is that transferring power like she did is a capital offence in the Soul Society, punishable by death. When the time comes to face the consequences of their actions, what will Ichigo and Rukia decide to do?
It's hard to be objective with a series like this, because every second of Bleach oozes coolness. The opening and ending songs are excellent, fights are action packed, and every character is loveable. The animation in Bleach is smooth, and there is little to no flashbacks and recycling of scenes. Even the frame at the beginning of each episode that shows off the title is different every time. Details like that raise Bleach up from typical action anime to series worth its viewing time.
Details don't only show up on the production end. The character design in Bleach is on par with the overwhelming cast of Naruto. Everyone not only is distinct, but also has a very large personality. Ichigo's father, for example, has a very minor part in the anime, but he's loveable from the instant you meet him. He's loud, crazy, and gets into fist fights with his son over supper. More importantly, the angst of his wife's loss is not an overbearing component of his character.
It's a good thing that the rest of the cast is crazy too, because a hero like Ichigo always needs an army of sidekicks. Rukia is his first in command, being knowledgeable of everything to do with Hollows and the Soul Society. Even though her predictions are almost always wrong, when it comes to fundamental information, her illustrative sketches are second to none.
But since Rukia is stuck in her fake body, Ichigo needs someone else to provide brawn. In steps Sado Yasutora, or 'Chad', a very strong, very big young man who hardly notices when I-beams fall on his head. His strength is only paralleled by his desire to protect and do no harm. Inoue Orihime is added to the team when her dead brother turns into a Hollow and is defeated by Ichigo. Her own powers surface and she decides to join in on the fight, with magical hair clips that turn into a small bug army at her command.
There are some people who don't buy into the whole 'Death Gods are here to save the world' thing so easily. Ishida Uryuu is the last in a long line of human Hollow slayers, and his introduction to Ichigo includes the words, "I hate you."
When Ichigo fights, his soul has to leave his body, but that means his body is left unprotected. This is where Kon comes in. Kon is a fighting spirit, manufactured by the Soul Society to battle Hollows, but he lives in a pill and only activates when someone eats him. Since sitting in a capsule all day is boring, Ichigo keeps him in a stuffed lion when he's not needed. It's better than nothing, but being a toy doesn't get you a lot of ladies.
Then we have the characters that may not be kicking ass, but they still command a lot of presence in the show. Orihime has a fanclub, Ichigo has his family and two loser friends, and Rukia has connections with an odd shopkeeper and a talking cat.
With a group that doesn't hesitate to kick each other out windows when annoyed, producing a serious anime would be difficult, so Bleach doesn't even try to bother. There are a few moments of sentimentality, and the morals associated with death are touched upon, but Bleach is all about the action. The idea here is to get stronger in order to protect better. And unlike other series where characters start singing "Oh woe is me!" when they suddenly come into a great deal of power, the kids in Bleach take their responsibility well and never see their strengths as weaknesses. While watching this anime, it's hard not to be under the impression that everyone's there just to have fun, and as a result it's entertaining for us too.
Bleach the anime deserves its popularity. It has something for everyone: the supernatural, comedy, action and a little bit of romance, all tied together with excellent animation and a very enthusiastic sounding bunch of voice actors. I don't tend to follow or have any interest in voice actors, but the cast of Bleach stood out for me. Even for someone who can't speak the language, the way Rukia talks like a man in front of Ichigo and gives everyone else a highly artificial girly act is both obvious and funny. Subtitles are hardly needed when characters are so expressive. The script of Bleach is well paced as well. There are no serious ruts in the dialogue, and tense moments are broken up well with an antic or two. Bleach is a solid anime that's easy to enjoy and appreciate, and its premise is unique enough that veterans of the fandom won't be shaking their heads at a worn out concept.