Who said the afterlife was a quiet place? Based on the manga and anime series of the same name, Netflix’s new movie Bleach follows the life of Ichigo Kurosaki, a young man who can see ghosts. But when his supernatural prowess brings him into contact with a woman who is essentially a Grim Reaper, his life is changed forever. Ichigo will have to decide whether to listen to this reaper and embrace her fate or try to return to her old life, possibly risking preventing her from returning home.
bleach: pass it on or skip it?
The gist: Based on the manga of the same name by Tite Kubo, Bleach follows many familiar anime tropes. The film centers on the life of Ichigo Kurosaki (Sota Fukushi), a frowning high school student whose mother was murdered when he was just a boy. Even though he can see ghosts, Ichigo leads a fairly normal life, attending high school and having a family dinner with his father and his two younger sisters. But all that changes when he meets a reaper named Rukia (Hana Sugisaki).
As a Soul Reaper, Rukia’s job is to guide good souls to the afterlife and defeat the murderous souls of Spiteful Spirits, also known as Hollows. While in the midst of fighting a particularly difficult Hollow, Rukia loses her ability to fight and transfers her powers to Ichigo as a last resort. big mistake.
Ichigo quickly wins the initial battle, but the cost of Rukia’s decision affects them both. Because she is no longer a Soul Reaper, Rukia can no longer return to her home unless Ichigo returns her powers. and now that he has the powers from him, the untrained ichigo will continue to be targeted by hollows and other enemies until he returns them to him. Packed with killer action sequences, the film follows their forced codependency and her budding friendship as Rukia reluctantly attempts to train her student.
What movies will it remind you of?: Director Shinsuke Sato’s adaptation does a great job of capturing the anime’s balance of high-stakes action and smug comedy. But between the musical cues and the intentionally cartoony animation, Bleach feels a bit more like Scott Pilgrim vs. the world of Edgar Wright with a Marvel-style origin story for the hero. is a fun action game.
Performance Worth Watching: Anime adaptations are always difficult because anime is inherently weird. That’s why Sota Fukushi and Hana Sugisaki deserve all the praise. Fukushi fights the urge to lean towards anime-inspired intensity, turning Ichigo into a believably conflicted and surly teenager with a heart of gold. Likewise, Sugisaki’s Rukia is just as badass as his manga and anime character. Whether they’re sparring or arguing, these two actors have great chemistry together, and that chemistry sells the entire movie.
Memorable Dialogue: The highlight of the film is Rukia’s emotional speech in the last 10 minutes. but since quoting that would require spoiling a fairly predictable but emotionally solid third act twist, rukia saying “don’t fight your destiny” wins this honor. it’s not so much the line as the delivery that makes it great. his no-nonsense sternness turns the lawsuit into an unintended joke.
Best Single Take: There are a lot of great fights in bleach, but the coolest is definitely ichigo’s fight with the biggest hole in the movie: the big fisherman. watching him wreck a bus while a swordsman tries to kill him from inside the vehicle is great.
sex and skin: there really aren’t any. At one point, Rukia rubs some kind of healing ointment on Ichigo, but that’s about all the sexy. oh that and her serious sexual chemistry. you could cut that with a giant spirit-powered sword.
our opinion: there are many, many, many bad live action anime adaptations out there. bleach bucks that trend, delivering an action-packed story that never feels too dense in mythology or too cringeworthy, flaws that other adaptations revel in. instead, bleach knows it’s supposed to be a fun action movie, and it happily embraces that aesthetic.
as mentioned before, much of what makes bleach work comes from the performances of its two leads, sota fukushi’s ichigo and hana sugisaki’s rukia. the film never gets too distracted by its lore, always rushing through its exposition-laden subplots to focus on the only story that really matters, this reaper and this human’s forbidden friendship. There are several other supporting characters that manga and anime fans can obsess over, including Taichi Saotome’s ruthless Soul Reaper Lieutenant Renji, and Miyavi’s eerily calm role as one of Byakuya’s main Soul Reapers. Both Saotome and Miyavi deserve credit for channeling the creepiness of their powerful characters without diving into cartoonish territory. But the heart of this story is always in Ichigo and Rukia’s relationship, which makes what could have been a dense movie light and easy to follow.
The action sequences, special effects and costumes also deserve special praise. Simply put, bleach looks good. even ichigo’s red hair looks great. the film’s many battles look stylish, channeling the coolness that originally made this property so beloved, and its sword-fighting scenes are very enjoyable. also the cgi for the gaps is excellent. These creatures resemble what would happen if the Spirited Away face were removed from the movie screen. going in this livelier direction helps undermine some of the film’s darker moments while keeping the high stakes of these battles intact.
bleach is a movie that unapologetically knows what it is. yes, things are going to get silly, and yes, various giant monsters and crazy swordsmen will clash for ambiguous reasons. the why doesn’t matter. but the end product is a well-paced supernatural action flick that anyone can follow. fasten your seatbelt.
our call: send it safely. Bleach is an excellent and action-packed Friday night watch. but head up; There is no English version, so you will probably watch it with subtitles.
watch bleach on netflix