Maybe many of you already know about this, but Bleach has been in the bottom 5 of Jump's ratings for a while. That's serious business.
Am I missing something or am I just that much of a weirdo? I mean, are you seriously trying to say that this arc, which is better drawn, better paced and way more interesting and refreshing than the Arrancar Arc... is getting bashed by the readers? While One Piece is currently showing one of the most boring arcs I remember (no offense here, I believe One Piece is the best of the two) and Naruto is just throwing characters around (just citing the other Big Two battle mangas, Bakuman is on a league on its own)? I'm not saying Bleach deserves number 1 (it doesn't); I'm saying this is ridiculous.
Again, what baffles me is that people apparently liked Arrancar Arc. Everybody knows that it was kind of a let down, even for a Kubo fanboy such as me, what with the snail pace and then the sudden ending and shit. So why is it that it got such good ratings? Because it sure as hell got them. It's not about Kubo's style. It's about this current arc.
Here are my thoughts regarding this matter:
No Shinigami: this is the main reason, maybe the only real one.
There's no Rukia. There's no Hitsugaya. Ichigo is not a Shinigami anymore. And sadly, this is what makes people vote. This is what explains the success of HM arc despite its glaring flaws.
Bleach thrives on fanservice. Rememeber that boring fight between Rukia and Aaroniero? Renji and Ishida vs. Szayel Aporro? That sorry excuse of a fight that was Hitsugaya vs. Harribel? They got crazy ratings, just because fan-favourite characters were in the spotlight.
What happened at the end of SS arc? After 10 chapters or so, Hitsugaya and Co. Appeared to help Ichigo out, IN SCHOOL UNIFORMS. Ratings = skyhigh. And in between we got the reveal of Isshin as a Shinigami. So there you go. Fanservice.
The other main sources of fanservice (Ishida, Isshin and Ichigo) are either wounded, missing or lacking power.
This time, Kubo tried to bring something completely new to the table, instead of relying on the same old tricks. It backfired. The feedback Kubo is receiving is that he should quit trying to be creative and just draw Rukia and Hitsugaya in cool poses.
Good thing he doesn't seem to be listening. Because IMO this arc is near flawless (Mr. Pork aside :P).
Darker art: there is even research and everything regarding this subject. Overuse of dark tone alienates readers. Kubo has used a SHIT TON of dark tone lately (Xcution base, night scenes, subspace, etc.). Bleach has never been this dark.
And while we are talking about dark...
No sense of family: a good story needs a “surrogate family” for the readers to be in (like the nakama in Bleach, the Strawhat Pirates in One Piece or Koniha Village in Naruto). This time, Ichigo is alone, doesn't trust his father and his friends are turning against him. He's even talking about murder. In his efforts of making Ichigo look vulnerable and frightened, Kubo has isolated him. And readers don't like that.
Even if it is the point of the whole arc, readers don't like that.
Specially young readers...
Decrease in Jump's reader age: This ties with fanservice. 14-year-old kids don't give a shit about character development. Nowadays, 17-year old is deemded as “too high” and age for Jump. Most of us are over our twenties and we care about plot and character development. Not kids.
Look at this page:
That's an example of showing instead of telling. Kubo likes poetry (and he's even kinda good at it, may I say) and subtle hints, he prefers to give clues to what characters are feeling. This article (READ IT IT'S AWESOME):
pretty much proves that Kubo cares about his story much more than we (like to) think. He's too subtle for his own good. While Naruto and Luffy have to scream their toughts and feelings for all to hear (or need to have them explained in detail by somebody else), Ichigo remains silent and only gives small clues.
But people prefer to go the easy way and just say that he's a “troll”. Which brings me to my next point:
Criticising Kubo has become “cool”: Come on, we all know about this. Look, I've been to a lot of forums and I can say that, in every single one of them, you're treated like a retard if you say you like Kubo's work. There's no need to point out why he sucks so much, he just does. It's funny to say so and it makes you seem intelligent. We all do that at times. Critizising feels good.
Imagine a Japanese classroom in which everybody discusses Jump. Imagine the guys who like Bleach (more than you think) constantly listening things like Titty Kubo and such. With other great mangas to choose, like Naruto, Bleach and Bakuman, a lot of them will just not vote for Bleach.
Human mind works that way.
There's no Kon: This is just me being silly
I could be wrong, of course. Maybe Bleach is just a bad manga.
Now I ask you guys: do you really believe Bleach is a bad manga? Do you believe it's below the likes of Toriko, Enigma, Psyren and Fairy Tail (no offense to any of those mangas, just quoting the ones that currently surpass Bleach) regarding art and characters? Do you really, honestly think it deserves to be in the bottom 5?
I thought so. Me neither.
Please share your comments and thoughts regarding this matter.
Last edited by Sky Render; July 28, 2011 at 05:17 PM.
Personally, I'm very happy with this new arch, and found the last chapter 458 fantastic and a huge surprise (no spoilers). I think that a flaw for bleach is that it's been going for so long that even though there are no real flaws to it, people are just looking to move to something new. People grow tired of things even if they are still functional. Perfect example is people jumping cell phones every month, even though there is no real new differences, just new. But I think that a strong niche of fans will still be there and be enough to keep bleach going, and let Kubo try new things, like he's been doing with this arc.
But if you absolutely twisted my arm and asked for a flaw in the arc that might push people away, the powers are so undefined now. I mean can anyone really give a good description of that butlers power. It's some kind of control over time, but not really, and now numbers are flying off his watch. And then that one weird lady who can put people in a box which does nothing for fighting, but she also has that gun thing. The shimigami swords were so much more direct and made sense. They froze or burned or manipulated weight or shadows or extended or just changed shape. There were never any swords that didn't make any sense, but when you have to read about powers that don't make any sense, it just kind of pulls you out of the moment and makes it harder to enjoy. A little more dirty boots, and a little less time tells no lies
As for undefined powers... ¿what about Kyoraku's shikai? And Shinji's? They're pretty messed up.
Kutsuzawa's Fullbring has not been completely explained, that's true. But Cross of Scaffold, Dirty Boots and Dollhouse are pretty simple and straightforward; Book of the End, we got a good look at what it does already, and Invaders Must Die is, well...
Actually, you're right. Half of them look like hax powers :P
But Bleach might also have this other flaw that i would like to coin as the Lost-fatigue. I don't have much touch with other manga, so you can correct me, but there are tons of mysteries in Bleach. And much like the tv show Lost, at first it's cool and gets you watching it, but after enough turns and unsolved mysteries you say I've had enough. You get tired of trying to track all of it and start to feel that with so much stuff, you can't have it all satisfied. We don't know anything about the soul king, the royal guard, those bodies in the espada lab, what is truly special about the shimigami badge (though that might be answered soon), what's ichigo dad up too, what's uryuu dad up too, what's urahara up too, all of the captains bankais, all the vizards bankai, if we'll even see the vizards again, who's replacing the lost three captains. He's at risk of stretching himself to thin. He already had to cut out wonderweiss fight and even yammy fight after making a big deal out of him being the toughest espada. And now we have to add execution to the equation. For some people, that's just to much. Personally, I like it, but I can get how that would get old for some people.
I, for one, have always been pleased with Bleach. Since the only other manga I read is Naruto, I can't really compare....
And after reading this:
I now love Bleach on a whole new level. Wonderful read.
What I like about this arc, and Bleach in general:
1. Oddly, enough, apparently: I love the use of darker tones, especially in the volume colors. Often times I wish that I were Kubo and I was drawing Bleach. Of course, if I were drawing (something I love doing, btw) I'd want my own story and characters and whatnot.....the point is Bleach, for me, is an inspiration. My favorite thing about Bleach is the emphasize on the characters, especially in the volume covers and such.
2. Something else I like about Bleach is the poetry in each volume; a rather minor detail since we see a poem only when a new volume comes out. But some of it sticks and is rather meaningful, like the one in volume 1: We fear that which we cannot see, something that can be applied to both the real world and to the manga, obviously.
3. Storywise, I will admit that the Arrancar arc was a long, long string of fights, and the major character development happened...in weird places, followed by all the fighting, which is probably why I can't even recall some stuff and why people, I guess, generally disliked the arc. There was:
a. Rukia and her guilt over Kaien
b. Chad getting stronger
c. Noitora, Nel and her friends
d. I'm sure there were others, I just can't think of them right now.
From my perspective, it's that there were A LOT of villians, and lot of them just.....died. Grimmjow's Fractions, Szayel (who we spent a hell of a lot of time seeing just being a creepy dude and nothing more), Zommari, Harribel and her Fractions, Barragan's Fractions....not that I'm saying they ALL should've had backstories or whatever. The point is that there were a ton of bad guys, we were only seeing a few of the good guys, and only some out of all those people really "mattered" in the end. That coupled with people wanting to see more of certain characters over others.
I, personally, love the amount of unique characters. But is it possible that that can be too much? Compare Bleach to Naruto, where for a long time, Orochimaru was the only real villian, and then Akatsuki. And Pain and Tobidara weren't "brand" new when we really got to know them. It's harder to really build on something if it spread out too much, no?
Hell, we don't even know that much about the main bad dude, Aizen. Except for that he's naturally ridiculously strong and in a league of his own, but wasn't content with what he had. Oh, and that he had amazing hair. (Tsukishima, eat your heart out)
Objectively, I can't see why anyone would say Bleach is a "bad" manga. I can see why someone would say they dislike it. In my opinion, "bad" isn't a term that should be used for creative works (like a manga) unless it's a)clear that the author/creator has no idea what they're doing or b)"bad" as in "evil" or "undesirable". Mostly because I think "bad" is kind of elementary and as an adult (and an artist), I think someone should be able to critique rather than criticize.
LMAO, I bet the reason Bleach has been falling is because of the big, blocky text on the front of each volume. I would go back to the way it was before, where it was simple and didn't distract from the character on the cover.
"Good" and "bad" are relative terms and depends on perspective. In the case of a manga, its more a matter of like vs dislike, so I agree that its not fair to say Bleach is a "bad" manga. I definitely don't think it's bad and I do enjoy it a lot. Keeping in mind that different people have different tastes in style and content, I can't speak for anyone else but I can understand why it might not be the most popular.
As a manga, it has a lot of unique ideas introduced to a "typical setting" like a group of teenagers in high-school so a certain age group that's either looking forwards to being that age or still remember what it was like being there can relate to it. It does a good job setting up conflict and expressing the emotions and reactions of the characters driving the story forward. The surprises and plot twists are also some of the most enjoyable things in Bleach specially because of the way the author sets it up to seem predictable just to have everything turned up-side-down. Even though I've read manga where every chapter seems unpredictable, I think expecting one thing and getting something completely different has a shocking yet enjoyable effect on the reader.
On the down side, I think Bleach started to go downhill when Aizen became a joke about himself. When he was first revealed to be a great mastermind and a powerful villain, I think it strengthened Bleech's potential for success giving people incentive to keep up with the story to see how everything will play out. But the end of Aizen seemed kinda anticlimactic and starting from the war, Aizen, who was supposed to be the main villain up to that point, became a character who kept making mistakes (or seemed careless on purpose) just to say something like "... oh that? yeah it happened just the way I planned. I just wanted you to think I was messing up *nervous laugh*" (okay not exactly like that but that's the joke ). Also, I agree with kulash05 that Bleach has over time built up such a long list of loose ends which I personally think the author does plan on tying up eventually (like yet to be seen bankai, 2 kids in Urahara's shop, squad zero, etc.). But the amount of time he's taking doing so is making the manga seem like it's done carelessly to some people because most people these days have a short attention span (with the instant gratification trend in society and what-not). On that note, I see a lot of people also complaining that the content in each chapter is much less than in most other manga. It's true that a picture is worth a thousand words but sometimes readers just want walls of text explaining what they're looking at .
As for the current arc, I have no complaints about it. I'd think Ichigo misses the shinigami and the vizards more than the readers do (because there was a 6 month time skip for him or something ). But I'd much like to know what happened to characters like Nel whom we probably wont hear about again which is a shame.
Ya, odds are it's either the lack of shinigami's or the use of his panels. With his panels it feels as if sometimes he just stretches out some scenes to much when he can just get to the point. I wouldn't blame people being turned off by reading a chapter and feeling that they only moved one step forward. Though I do have to say his chapters really do feel like they need more pages. I wouldn't be surprised if he already had a good chunk of the story drawn and is adamant about keeping it the same. His popularity prolly came from listening to the fans like keeping Momo alive and how I would guess the overalls fights and battle roster for the winter war were based on popularity.
Saying that though I guess Nanao isn't very popular though I do ponder as to what she was doing, you would think that she would've stayed at her captains side I wonder why she was left out of the fight. Logically speaking why would Momo come to the fight one who had be injured severely and a person who had served under Aizen yet leave Nanao out, that does seem kinda of odd.
Though back on topic I do hope everything works out for Tite, it would be a pity if his story was cut short because he's actually depicting the personality of how Ichigo should be acting. He's lost his powers so he feels helpless, he likes to protect his friends but now he lacks said power. Even though any enemy threat should be gone he stills feel uneasy. In a sense his need to regain his powers is almost like accepting drugs, he went into it and now he's spiraling out of control cause the reason for his powers is now gone. It has been very psychological but overall I think the readers should be more respectful for the plot. Sadly thought the rating do speak as if the only reason they enjoy it is for the fanservice when there is an interesting story behind all that.
I think, what makes Toriko fun to read is how extravagent and feel good it is, also the odd powers. Right now Bleach is depicting a very depressed and uneasy personality of Ichigo, if I had to say one thing I just realized what Toriko/Naruto/Lufffy all have in common are their carefree I can get through anything that should make me feel depressed. Heck Luffy lost someone close yet one year later he's back in action and doesn't really seem to be lamenting over it, granted to be honest I haven't been able to read this arc it just feels boring and to wordy for whatever he's trying to do there but ya. As for naruto I feel it has a nice pace of depicting a war but at the same time portraying the ones under control as those who still have their honor and wish to not be used. It also keeps with naruto staying positive and wanting to do his best to save the day instead of being down in the dirty over it which is how Ichigo is.
Overall maybe the real reason for the slump is because Ichigo is a shell of his former self, they don't like the fact that he use to act like sucha badass but now he's acting that a weakling. In terms of how the "audience" wants him to act I would imagine it would be like this. "Even without my powers I"ll still kick your ass" This is something Luffy/Naruto would most likely do, if Naruto had no more chakra left he would push ahead and then most likely turn into the tailed beast with his chakra to take down his foe. Luffy would just use his carefree attitude to get through any situation. As for Toriko it seems like he would burn into his own muscles to give him the calories he needs to do his moves.
Ichigo use to have this in the form of his hollow self but now that both his shinigami and hollow side is gone and he was nothing more then a human, he really has nothing to fall back on. Now he has fullbring though unlike his previous power this is his human body he's using which made him focus on having an appearance that would act more like an armor. Granted with how Ginjo pierced it, it didn't seem to be strong enough which is a pity.
But ya, you know maybe that really is the reason it's dropped in the ratings, Ichigo use to have that carefree attitude of saying "I'll defeat him no matter what" now he's like "What am I gonna do everyone is turning against me! Who's my ally who do I trust, at least I have Ginjo still wait, now I have no one I"m hopeless and alone. What was the point of even obtaining these powers if those I want to protect don't even udnerstand me or worse yet try to fight me in order to protect the one causing all this."
He has a lot of psychological damage going on with him to be honest I would like it if he does actually turn back intoa shinigami then it would be nice if this new handicap he has developed causes him to act a little less reckless and more concerned about the overall course of his actions and motive of what he does. Or something like that I kinda think like it would be cheap if he becomes a shinigami and automatically becomes a badass again, it would make more sense if his healing process was more gradual.
To end it on a funny note I'm going to say this. Next chapter we see the words "Bankai" and the world around ichigo shatters, we then see Aizen with his blade inside Ichigo as his shinigami outfit fades away. <_< His friends are on the ground bleeding out and even Urahara is slain on the floor. Then he explains how his bankai can basically create an imaginary world of his choosing and he chose this whole outcome in order to bring him to a breaking point in which he was vulnerable enough to absorb into himself. <_< Ya this would never happen but imagine if it actually did, I mean honestly what reason did Aizen have to never use his blade on ichigo it just doesn't make any sense. You would think a man of his determination would put everyone under his influence so that he would have the upper hand. But ya get a good laugh out of this unlikely theory figured it would be amusing to end the post with this lol.
I also enjoy this arc very much,and I think that what you said is the main reason for Bleach falling in the ranks :,and again I'll quote you :Originally Posted by Airget.I totally agree with you there,"normal" readers are used to have protagonists of the manga with a carefree,badass atitude,they like to see them thinking they can always win despite the odds,and this is your typical protagonist of a typical long-run manga(OP/Naruto/etc).Originally Posted by Airget
Bleach is now giving the readers another perspective on a protagonist,it's showing that protagonists too are human and even more they too can suffer psychologically,this arc is more like a real life situation if I were to stretch it,and also the "normal"readers want battle over battle,action over action with little story left to say so Kubo is making a bold move by changing the typical face of a protagonist,it's so original and so outstanding that it made me see the flaws of other mangas,Kubo's showing a protagonist with no friends and no one to trust,a dark and gruesome truth,with a lot of psychological battle and subtle hints,and the "normal"readers don't enjoy this,they don't want to work their brains over these things,they just want to see Ichigo fighting everyone and winning,since they are used to seeing this and since this action has become a standard everywhere(in movies/music/etc) not only in mangas.
>>Decrease in Jump's reader age: This ties with fanservice. 14-year-old kids don't give a shit about character development. Nowadays, 17-year old is deemded as “too high” and age for Jump. Most of us are over our twenties and we care about plot and character development. Not kids.
so true. Maybe it's people older than 20's are ranking the Jump's.
Sometimes (most of the time), i find bleach chapters excruciatingly slow and boring.
and for me - "this is the main reason, maybe the only real one".
Yes, I do think Bleach is currently worse than Toriko and Fairy Tail (I haven't read the other two you mentioned). I certainly don't bash Bleach because it's "cool" to do so. I really did enjoy the Fake Karakura Town arc, even if the ending sucked. It's certainly not a terrible manga by any means, since I still bother to read it, but it's fallen to the very bottom out of all the manga I enjoy.
My current list is roughly, in order:
1) Mahou Sensei Negi & One Piece (closely tied)
3) Hayate no Gotoku
4) Toriko & Fairy Tail
Does not include complete series (FMA would be above Naruto, close to OP and MSN, and there's likely others I'm not bothering to remember).
I mentioned this reason in Underscore's review, and I'll repeat it here; Tsukishima's power is even more broken than Kyouka Suigetsu. One cut gives you an instant, willing slave who thinks you're the greatest person alive. It's power is so great and mind screwy that I just can't care that much anymore.
You might retort that Madara's powers from Naruto, Lifemaker's powers from MSN, and Hades' powers from Fairy Tail are just as broken as Tsukishima's. I can't argue that point, but that brings us to another problem.
The scale of the conflict.
Madara is waging a worldwide war to capture all the Tailed Beasts and control the entire world. The Lifemaker is plotting the destruction of the entire magical world. Hades is trying to capture the most evil and powerful mage in history to bring about a world of magic, and is in the process of attempting to totally exterminate Fairy Tail. Even Aizen had his whole God complex going on, and was planning on destroying Ichigo's hometown in the process.
These guys used there insanely broken powers to do grand things. Tsukishima....not so much. All we've seen right now is pathetic, small scale squabbling among friends. Hardly fitting for the epic tale Bleach used to be. If Tsukishima starts to show a little more ambition befitting his powers, I might start caring more.
Luffy and his crew are on a world-wide adventure to become the Pirate King, and have already declared war on the entire World Government. Toriko is searching for an ingredient called GOD. These stories have epic, grand scales (even if Toriko's is a little bit ridiculous, that's why it's fun!).
Hayate doesn't have that scale. It never had that scale because it didn't need it. Hayate started off as a goofy, nonsense manga, and that's the only way it needs to be.
Bleach did have that epic scale, but with Aizen's defeat it lost it. It's now right back to the beginning, and is a much emptier and boring story for it.
And finally, for my top 2 stories, they are both very well planned out and many intricate details are well researched, and the whole story is beautifully woven together like a tapestry. Kubo has admitted to basically drawing by the seat of his pants for a lot of weeks, and it really shows; Bleach is badly stitched together like a patchwork quilt. He admitted that he didn't think of Aizen as his final villain until after he was already dead, and he entered into the Arrancar arc with absolutely no clue how it would end.
Kubo makes good characters, but a shitty story.
Last edited by Jiggy-Ninja; August 01, 2011 at 12:32 PM.
Last edited by Vengeance; August 02, 2011 at 12:55 AM.
No, Bleach is not bad...it's a different reason. It is so low rated case atm its anticlimatic...Just think about it...~20 chapters ago it was a massive "final fight" with uber powers and uber villians and all top rated characters take a part in it (Issin,Urahara,Aizen,Hitsu,Gin etc.) and then BAM story ends and it's start from 0 point...slow...powerless....without creepy villian pullin the strings....no more characters loved by fans...only boring and slow development...In terms of bleach,building a pace is always a matter of years (for what One Piece can do in month,Bleach need almots half of a year.) And FOR NOW, yes it is not that interesting as OP and Naruto(i dunno why people complain,atm Naruto is the best of "big three").
And if i remember the time i start reading "Bleach"...it was a bit boring too...till the moment Byakuya came and pwnt Ichigo.I gues it is gonna be the same way,until the "main arc" is startet Bleach gonna be low rated.
I love the SS arc... Then he made that awfull HM arc (very very boring)... And then that infinite KC arc (infinite and boring battles)...I was really disappointed about these 2 arcs. He even finished them with lots of thing unresolved... And now, as you said, no more shinigami... Think about it... It's like naruto without ninjas or one piece without pirates... And ichigo is horrible now (maybe if his fullbring was a kimono, i would read it XD). Yeah, one piece and naruto are way better, even if op is becoming a little boring now (and you can't compare bleach with psyren... psyren is better )
I agree with you about the fanservice part. Right now Naruto is my favorite of the big three, simply because of all the fanservice (I would never have thought something like Itachi/Nagato vs. Naruto/Killerbee could happen, but it did and I am grateful to Kishi for it), even though Bleach has been first lately a lot. It's improved markedly from the Arrancar Saga which I personally thought was a big flop. I've been lurking around on the Bleach Chapter Discussions for the last couple of months and most people agree with me that this arc is way better in quality than the previous.
But like your examples support, the real readers of Shounen Jump (and by that I mean the ones that buy the magazines, aka the source of income for Jump) have the opposite view to many of us on Mangahelpers and other forums. Plot and character development, to the younger teen audience, will always be inferior to brainless fights and blatant fanservice.
Not to say that fanservice is inherently bad (in fact I've been saying the opposite in other topics), but IMO the other big contributing factor is the audience. Kubo's current arc appeals to, like you said, the older readers. But that does very little to attract the younger readers who like the Arrancar saga. For the better part of the past decade now, Bleach has appealed to the younger readers. It's been enough time for a devoted fanbase to solidify around Bleach. But what Kubo is doing now with the (relatively) sudden change in tone is alienating those readers. It's true that it's making us in the forums respect his work more, but what does that matter to Jump? We're people who read Bleach from Mangastream and other such sites -- online, for free. Our opinion doesn't matter to Jump, because our opinion doesn't equate to money for them. The readers in Japan, the younger readers, do. And their opinions will matter more than ours.
With the latest chapter (no spoilers), hopefully this'll be the start of a change back to the more mainstream, meaning the fanbase will support Bleach again. But hopefully Kubo will also remember what he's done with this arc, and go back with the new storytelling skills that he's developed. I'm actually hoping that Kubo will pursue other projects when he's done with Bleach, because he's shown with this arc that he can do better than just a brainless, "mainstream" battle manga.
I'm alright with you guys reiterating over and over that the young age of Jump readers is certainly a factor in the low rankings.. But in terms of fanservice and battles etc, how do you explain the good rankings that something like Bakuman achieves? I mean I guess Bakuman has battles in its own way, but it's pretty non mainstream yet still seems to entice readers and get a hold of pretty good rankings.
Maybe this is just an exception?