File:Bleach cover 01.jpg
The first volume of Bleach, published in Japan by Shueisha on January 5, 2002
Bleach (ブリーチ Burīchi) is a Japanese manga series written and illustrated by Tite Kubo. Bleach follows the adventures of Ichigo Kurosaki 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 newfound powers force him to take on the duties of defending humans from evil spirits and guiding departed souls to the afterlife.
Bleach has been serialized in the Japanese manga anthology Weekly Shōnen Jump since August 2001, and has been collected into 58 tankōbon volumes as of December 2012. Since its publication, Bleach has spawned a media franchise that includes an animated television series that was produced by Studio Pierrot in Japan from 2004 to 2012, two original video animations, four animated feature films, seven rock musicals, and numerous video games, as well as many types of Bleach-related merchandise.
Viz Media obtained foreign television and home video distribution rights to the Bleach anime on March 15, 2006. Cartoon Network's Adult Swim began airing Bleach in the United States on September 9, 2006. Viz Media has licensed the manga for English-language publication in the United States and Canada, and has released 51 bound volumes as of November 2012 as well as published chapters of Bleach in its Shonen Jump magazine since November 2007. Viz Media released the first Bleach film, Bleach: Memories of Nobody, on DVD in North America on October 14, 2008. The second film, Bleach: The DiamondDust Rebellion, was released on September 15, 2009. The third film, Bleach: Fade to Black, was released on November 15, 2011. In addition, Hulu released subtitled versions of the anime a week after each episode aired in Japan.
Volumes of the manga have sold more than 80 million copies in Japan, and is one of the most sold manga in the United States. The anime adaptation has been similarly received; it was rated as the fourth most popular anime television series in Japan in 2006 and held a position amongst the top ten anime in the United States from 2006 to 2008. The series received the Shogakukan Manga Award for the shōnen demographic in 2005, and is among the best-selling manga issues in both Japan and the United States.

Ichigo Kurosaki
Ichigo Kurosaki is a teenager gifted with the ability to see spirits. His life is drastically changed by the sudden appearance of a Soul Reaper—one who governs the flow of souls between the human world and the afterlife—named Rukia Kuchiki, who arrives in search of a Hollow, a dangerous lost soul that absorbs energy from souls. When Rukia is severely wounded defending Ichigo from the Hollow, she attempts to transfer a part of her reiatsu (霊圧, literally, "spiritual pressure") energy to Ichigo so that he can defeat the Hollow. However, Ichigo takes almost all of her energy, transforming into a Soul Reaper and allowing him to defeat the Hollow with ease. With her powers diminished, Rukia is left stranded in the human world until she can recover her strength. In the meantime, Ichigo must take over Rukia's role as a Soul Reaper, battling Hollows and guiding souls to the afterlife realm known as the Soul Society (尸魂界 (ソウル·ソサエティ) Sōru Sosaeti).
As some time passes and Rukia has yet to return to the Soul Society, her Soul Reaper superiors learn about her whereabouts and actions and sentence her to death for performing the illegal act of transferring her powers. A confrontation due to this ends with two high ranking Soul Reapers (Shinigami) injuring Ichigo and taking Rukia to their world The Soul Society. Although he is unable to stop Rukia's departure to the Soul Society, Ichigo resolves to rescue her with the aid of several of his spiritually aware classmates, Orihime Inoue, Yasutora (Chad) Sado, and Uryū Ishida, and the ex-Soul Reapers Yoruichi Shihōin and Kisuke Urahara. Once in Soul Society, Ichigo and company battle against the elites of the Soul Reaper military and strive to reach Rukia before her execution.
It is revealed that Rukia's execution and Ichigo's rescue attempt both had been manipulated by a very high-ranking Soul Reaper, Sōsuke Aizen, who was previously believed to have been murdered, as part of a far-reaching plot to take control of the Soul Society. Aizen betrays his fellow Soul Reapers and allies himself with the strongest of the Hollows, the Espadas, whom he enhances. Aizen thus becomes the main antagonist of the series, and the Soul Reapers form an alliance with Ichigo.
At this point, Bleach chronicles the war between the Soul Reapers, the Espadas, and Aizen. After Aizen defeats the Soul Reaper captains, Ichigo undergoes intense training with his father Isshin, who turns out to be a former Soul Reaper, in order to become strong enough to battle Aizen alone. As Aizen is weakened by his battle with Ichigo, a spell that Urahara had previously hidden within him activates and seals him, thus ending the conflict and leaving the Soul Society to imprison him. As a result of using an incredibly powerful attack in order to defeat Aizen, Ichigo loses all of his Spiritual Pressure and becomes an ordinary human.
Seventeen months later, Ichigo meets "Xcution", a group of humans possessing Fullbring powers based on Hollows and want Ichigo to absorb them. Ichigo starts training to regain his Soul Reaper powers by first developing his own Fullbring following the appearance of Shūkurō Tsukishima, the former leader of Xcution who is targeting his friends. After developing his Fullbring, Ichigo is betrayed by Xcution's current leader Kūgo Ginjō, a former Substitute Soul Reaper who had his memories rewritten to act as Tsukishima's enemy and help Ichigo gain powers to steal them. With help from Soul Society, Ichigo regains his Soul Reaper powers and starts fighting Ginjō's group alongside Soul Society's forces. The Soul Society forces end victorious with Ichigo defeating Ginjō and presumably killing Tsukishima.
Following these events, a group of Quincies called the "Vandenreich" declares war on the Soul Society. Ichigo once again ventures to Hueco Mundo, which has also been invaded by the Vandenreich; at the same time, the captains in the Soul Society battle a powerful group in the Vandenreich army known as the "Stern Ritter". During the invasion, several Captains had their bankai stolen by the Stern Ritter. Meanwhile Captain Yamamoto took revenge on the Quincy who stole Sasakibe's bankai and then immediately sought out their leader who he identified as "Juha Bach" who up till now was referred to by the other Quincy as "His Majesty". Despite using his bankai to attempt to kill him, Juha surprises Yamamoto by stealing his bankai, then instantly kills him using his abilities. Ichigo then arrives to take on Juha Bach and has his bankai subsequently destroyed and origins called into question. During the aftermath, the Royal Guard arrive to take Ichigo and several of his comrades to the Spirit Palace where they begin recuperation and training for the next fight against the Vandenreich. After the recuperation, Renji and Ichigo had a test. Renji passed. Ichigo failed and was sent back to Karakura Town. After being told he is not a Soul Reaper, his father reveals that Ichigo's mother was a Quincy.

Bleach was first conceived from a desire on Tite Kubo's part to draw Shinigami 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 Tite Kubo's previous manga, Zombiepowder, but was 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 heritage. 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.
Tite 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 creative 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 are often associated with Spanish terms because the language sounded "bewitching and mellow" to him. As for Fullbringers, their Fullbring is associated with the English vocabulary when either releasing or already have released their Fullbring. Finally, 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.


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