Tite Kubo's hit manga series Bleach launched in 2001 in Japan, and it soon became one of Shonen Jump's "big three" alongside Eiichiro Oda's One Piece and Masashi Kishimoto's Naruto. The series concluded in 2016 and still has an incomplete anime series to its name. However, while Bleach's future looks bright, its past doesn't.
Fans might have mixed feelings about Bleach's anime adaptation, which launched in 2004. Older fans may have nostalgic feelings for this anime, and could even be pining for a modern reboot with cutting-edge animation techniques and other revisions. However, by this point, it may be too late, and the current shonen landscape might not welcome such a reboot.
The Current State Of The Bleach Franchise
Although the Bleach manga concluded with volume 74, the overall franchise is still going strong to this day, and fans can get into Bleach in one of several different ways. They can read the manga series, watch the anime or both, and they can also watch the short but well-regarded Burn the Witch tie-in series currently streaming on Crunchyroll. In addition, the manga's final story arc, the Thousand-Year Blood War, will soon be animated for the first time in 2022 -- something fans have been waiting years to see. A total Bleach reboot might not have any room to grow in the middle of all this.
One challenge facing a potential Bleach reboot is how fans already have several options for getting into the franchise, and a reboot might be one too many. The current anime does have its issues, such as dated animation techniques and substantial amounts of filler, but at least it can transition smoothly into the upcoming new story arc to create a single, linear experience. If the Bleach anime got rebooted, it would have two beginnings and one end, which could be confusing.
Moreover, the reboot anime would be a few hundred episodes behind where it needs to be for the TYBW arc, creating a serious disconnect between the hypothetical reboot series and the brand-new TYBW arc -- this is a long series, after all, even if all filler material was cut. For the foreseeable future, there is no good time to launch a Bleach reboot, even if there was enough investment and fan support to back it up.
The Ever-Evolving State Of Shonen Manga & Anime
Another issue facing a potential Bleach reboot is that even with modern animation and high-def visuals, Bleach is simply too old to be brought back from the beginning. Of course, One Piece is even older and is still running, but it was grandfathered in from a previous era and has unstoppable momentum backing it up. Bleach has its own army of fans, but these fans are also used to more modern shonen titles, and a rebooted Bleach might not compare well to these.
Bleach and its peers helped create the mold for modern shonen, along with even older classics like Dragon Ball and Yu Yu Hakusho, and by now, it's somewhat obsolete. Contemporary shonen titles have borrowed what made Bleach-era series great and refined them, adding creative new twists to create the modern shonen landscape. For example, Jujutsu Kaisen, which draws clear inspiration from Bleach, tells a story of similar quality, but with a tighter and more stylish narrative, and this has paid off. The series' manga is selling incredibly well, after all. Similarly, Demon Slayer is a fantasy monster hunter series that redefined the concept of an empathetic hero who hates violence and death. These series are like Bleach 2.0, and if their "father" returned, Bleach would feel comparatively primitive and dated in terms of content and narrative, even with a fresh coat of paint.
The story of Bleach undoubtedly helped shape modern shonen, for which fans can be grateful. However, a reboot would simply be too lengthy and too dated to bother with, even if an animation studio got a blank check for it. For the most part, Bleach must take a step back and allow its spiritual successors to run the show instead. Not even a shiny reboot can completely make something old feel new again, although the upcoming TYBW anime can at least be grandfathered in and finish what the original anime started.