What’s Killing Anime? Take a Look at Bleach Episode 170

Posted by Michael Pinto on Sep 12, 2010 in Animation |

Bleach Episode 170

Wanting too much of a good thing is a very American trait — we eat too much fast food, consume way too much oil to drive automobiles that are way too big and our tastes in entertainment slouch towards mental comfort food. If we like a TV show chances are that the creators will ignore their better instincts and run the show into the ground. Such was the case with Happy Days and thus the phrase “Jumping the Shark” was born. So this is clearly a uniquely American bad habit? Wrong! Anime is suffering from the very same sin of more and more of the same.

The proof? By accident I caught myself watching Adult Swim and on comes episode 170 of Bleach. At first the thought of 170 episodes of the series numbed my mind — after all how long could you keep reinventing the show? And the answer is that you can’t. Episode 170 of Bleach could have been episode 152, 93 or 71 and you would never have known the difference. Well except for one difference: The animation was of a much lower quality than when the show began.

Bleach episode 170

I then played the game in mind of wondering at what point that I got bored with Bleach. I think the exact point was when they returned from the Soul Society — at that point the series pretty much said everything that it had to say to me. And looking at episode 170 I’m surprised that the Ichigo is still in high school! So 100 episodes later nothing has changed about the show — the same characters are there, in the same high school and nothing has changed: The lack of creativity here is just depressing.

Couldn’t they have done a spin off series with a few of the characters in a new setting? Even Happy Days gave us Laverne and Shirley and yes even Joanie Loves Chachi. No that would have been too creative for the folks pumping out Bleach episodes. You’d think they’d even take a page from Marvel and do a bad crossover where a few Death Note characters get a guest part for a limited run. Or maybe they could have taken a page from Henson and done Bleach Babies where the cast is in elementary school. Or maybe they could send the Bleach crew into outer space like Josie and the Pussycats. Or maybe send them on a class trip to Hawaii where Greg wipes out while — I think you’re getting my point by now.

Bleach episode 170

It now feels like in some ways the anime industry in Japan has become even less creative than Hollywood in many ways. Of course there’s a ton of finger pointing going on — everybody from illegal downloaders to a global recession takes the blame. But that downbeat picture still doesn’t explain why 287 episodes of Bleach have been produced since 2004. This means if you’re a new anime fan and want to watch every episode that at 20 minutes per episode you’d have to watch over 95 hours of video!

For me the only cure for this is if the anime industry starts to focus on quality and originality. That’s what set anime apart in the first place in a global market. In some ways success can be a worse enemy than failure because you become a creature of habit and grow complacent — and Bleach is the poster child of this for me at the moment.

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