Other Name: ブリーチ / Burīchi
Genres: Adventure fiction, Occult Fiction
Authors: Tite Kubo
Year: August 7, 2001
Bleach is a Japanese shōnen 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.
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, 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 powers 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 enlist the help of ex-Soul Reaper scientist Kisuke Urahara, who also enables Ichigo to access his own Soul Reaper powers, to enter Soul Society and rescue Rukia. Shortly after the party’s arrival in the Soul Society, conflict arises among the captains of the 13 Court Squads when the captain of the fifth company, Sōsuke Aizen, is apparently murdered, which causes the Soul Reapers to begin fighting amongst themselves. However, as Ichigo is almost successful in rescuing Rukia, and Soul Society is on the verge of civil war, Aizen reappears and reveals his intention to obtain the Hōgyoku (崩玉, lit. “Crumbling Orb”)—an orb of immense power—that Kisuke planted in Rukia’s human vessel by faking his death and arranging Rukia’s execution. Aizen is accompanied by his fellow conspirators, Gin Ichimaru and Kaname Tōsen who are the third and ninth company’s captains, 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”). Afterwards, Ichigo and Rukia reconcile 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. 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. However, as Ichigo rescues Orihime, Aizen reveals her abduction was a distraction as he launches an attack on Karakura Town in order to sacrifice the souls of the living and create a key to the Soul King’s Palace so he can kill 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 uses the Hōgyoku to become a Hollow-like being and overpower everyone. Ichigo ultimately succeeds in subduing Aizen at the cost of his powers and reverts 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. “Invisible 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 seeks to kill the Soul King and rid the world of the fear of death. In their first invasion, the Wandenreich kill many Soul Reapers including the head-captain. Uryū joins the Wandenreich as a means to get close to Yhwach, who was responsible for the death of his mother among other Quincies. Later on, Ichigo and his friends aid the Soul Society in fighting the Wandenreich’s second invasion, but Yhwach proceeds to slay the Soul King. In the final battle, Yhwach returns to the Soul Society to conquer it, but with the help of Uryū’s father, Ichigo and Uryū defeat the Quincy leader.
Years later, Rukia becomes the new captain of the thirteenth company and has a daughter, an apprentice Soul Reaper named Ichika, with her childhood friend Renji Abarai. Meanwhile, Ichigo and Orihime have a son named Kazui, who is also training to become a Soul Reaper.