Bleach Recap #1: Substitute Soul Reaper Kurosaki Ichigo

Hello and welcome to the second installment of my series on the anime Bleach. If you missed my introduction you can find it here. You can skip it if you’re just here for the recaps and don’t care about my sappy introduction but I would appreciate it if you checked it out as well. Today we’re going to be talking about the first part of bleach, spanning the first 20 episodes of the anime.
Like any good story, we start at the beginning. The first arc of Bleach mainly covers the basics and introduces us to the cast of characters. I’ll quickly go over the story and then I’ll talk about each of the characters and their powers a little bit, because that’s the important part.

Kurosaki Ichigo and his inconveniently large sword.

Kurosaki Ichigo is a high school student with orange hair, who is able to see ghosts and spirits. He has a father who is a doctor and two younger sisters. His mother died tragically when Ichigo was still young and during this first arc it is revealed she was killed by a rather infamous Hollow; Grand Fisher.

The one who set everything in motion, Kuchiki Rukia.


Ichigo then meets Kuchiki Rukia, a soul reaper, or shinigami. Rukia is wounded and grants him substitute soul reaper powers so that Ichigo can protect his family in her stead. After this fight she stays around. The story then follows Ichigo and Rukia as they fight several Hollows. Eventually Rukia is apprehended by two soul reapers from the illustrious Soul Society. Abarai Renji and Kuchiki Byakuya. Rukia is to be retrieved and put on death row in Soul Society. This first arc ends with Rukia gone and Ichigo gravely wounded. Now it’s up to him and his friends to solve this. Speaking of his friends, let’s introduce the characters I’ve not mentioned yet.

On introduction, Ishida is this very cocky guy who hates soul reapers, but he’s actually a good guy.

Uryuu Ishida is a classmate of Ichigo and is a quincy. Early on in the story we do not learn a lot about what the quincy are, but we get a few tidbits. The quincy are a group of humans who kill hollows. They were at odds with soul reapers and were eradicated a long time ago. It seems like Ishida’s master was able to avoid this. Quincy use a bow that is created from a cross to fight hollows and kill them, whereas soul reapers purify them. Ishida is fairly arrogant and challenges Ichigo to a duel by using Hollow bait. This quickly gets out of hand and leads to the two of them fighting a Menos, which is a huge and terrifying Hollow.

Sado always worries about others before worrying about himself. He’s the definition of a Chad.

During this fight, Yasutora Sado (Chad) awakens his own powers. His arm is coated in a strange armor and he goes from being able to see a vague shape of the hollows to seeing them fully. He already has beastly strength as is demonstrated early on, but he’s a kind soul. His arm makes him even stronger. The armor looks similar to the material a Hollow’s mask is made out of, and it’ll be no surprise to hear that the power has a somewhat similar origin. Also, both Sado and the Hollows have a Spanish origin, with the Hollows coming from a place called Hueco Mundo.

Unfortunately Inoue becomes more and more annoying as the show continues and is frustratingly powerless most of the time.

Another classmate of Ichigo, Inoue Orihime, awakens to strange powers as well. Her hair ornament turns into six small fairies. The fairies each have a name and a power. Three of them make a shield that protects something and rejects everything outside of the shield. Two of them can reject things inside a shield, which amounts to healing power and rejecting damage. The final one rejects things on both sides, basically counting as an attack of sorts. It’s not really explained too well where this power exactly comes from. The fairies say it’s because Ichigo’s spirit power rubbed off on her, but in my opinion it’s one of the more wacky powers in the show. Either way, this power allows Orihime to protect her friends and defeat the Hollow that’s attacking the school.

Captain Kuchiki Byakuya and Lieutenant/Vice Captain (both names seem to be used in the subs I have) Abarai Renji.

Let’s talk about the remaining characters really quickly. Abarai Renji and Kuchiki Byakuya are both sent by the Soul Society to retrieve Rukia from the human world. Renji and Ichigo are fairly evenly matched in a fight but Byakuya is so much more powerful than the both of them that Ichigo is on the ground bleeding out before he realizes what’s going on. 
Urahara Kisuke is a local vendor who is probably more than he looks, he helps out here and there but mainly just watches as things happen. He has Soul Reaper powers as well, but isn’t shown to use them. Tessai, Ururu and Jinta are working with him at his store as well. He also has a black cat named Yoruichi, who is able to talk.

The entry into Soul Society rejects Urahara.

Urahara trains our protagonists to get ready to enter Soul Society. Where Ishida is off on his own training his quincy abilities, Ichigo is approached and healed by Urahara and his group. He’s now a normal human again. Urahara has absolutely zero chill when it comes to training and it’s rough right from the start. Sado and Orihime are approached by Yoruichi (the black cat that’s friends with Urahara) and the cat leads them to where Ishida is training. They want to help out too and improve their budding spirit powers. Ishida works better on his own though, and he has some secrets of his own. Seeing the two of them definitely motivates him though.

The squad in all its glory. The fate of Rukia is in the hands of these teenagers. I’m sure everything will go great.

And there you have it, a summary of the first 20 episodes of the Bleach anime. The gang’s all ready and powered up to travel to the Soul Society and get Rukia back. I’m sure things will go swimmingly when they arrive and there won’t be any roadblocks. But all of that is for the next installment of this post, when we’ll be talking about the next arc that follows our heroes into Soul Society. I hope this is helping you all up to speed, I’ve been having fun rewatching this show so far and I’m looking forward to the rest of it. Thanks for reading and see you all next time! Leave a like or comment if you enjoyed it.

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