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 59 tankōbon volumes as of June 2013. 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 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 Soul Society—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 transfers 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 him into a Soul Reaper and allowing Ichigo 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 the 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, who tell Ichigo they want him to absorb their powers, which have become troublesome and unwanted. 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 regain his powers, only to eventually 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 triumph, with Ichigo defeating Ginjō and Byakuya fatally wounding 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 have their Bankai stolen by the Stern Ritter. Meanwhile Captain Yamamoto takes revenge on the Quincy who stole his lieutenant Sasakibe's Bankai and then immediately seeks out their leader who he identified as "Yhwach" who up till now was referred to by the other Quincy as "His Majesty". Despite using his Bankai to attempt to kill him, Yhwach surprises Yamamoto by stealing his Bankai, subsequently brutally killing Yamamoto. Ichigo then arrives to take on Yhwach and has his Bankai subsequently destroyed and origins called into question. During the aftermath of the Quincies' invasion, 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 are given a test in order to have their Zanpakutō reforged. Renji passes. Ichigo fails and is sent back to Karakura Town. After being told he is not a Soul Reaper, his father reveals that Ichigo's mother was a Quincy. Then Ichigo's zanpakuto is reforged to reveal two blades (one the manifestation of his Shinigami and Hollow powers, and the other of his Quincy powers).Whilst this is happening Kyoraku appears in front of Tatsuki, Mizuiro, and Keigo telling they will part from Ichigo Kurosaki.
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. The adaptation of theBleach anime premiered on Canada's YTV channel in the 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 began airing again on March 2, 2008,but went back on hiatus on November 21, 2009, after the airing of its 167th episode. Adult Swim is now airing new episodes at 12am on Saturday in their animated programing block Toonami. In the United Kingdom, Bleach premiered on Anime Central on September 13, 2007, with new episodes airing weekly. The English dubbed version of Bleach premiered on Animax Asia on 18 December 2009 with the first 52 episodes and season 2 premiered on 18 March 2011 this time with the original Japanese audio with English subtitles. As of January 2012, 76 DVD compilations have been released by Aniplex in Japan.Viz Media has released 32 DVD compilations of the English adaptation of the anime, along with seven season boxsets that contain the first seven 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. Episode 366, which aired March 27, 2012 was the last episode of Bleach to air on TV Tokyo.