Welcome to this week’s article of The Good, Bad, and What The?, where we took a good, long look at characters in movies, video games, anime, and books and put them on the judgement table to see if they are worthy to be in their respective stories. I strongly believe that well developed characters are more important than anything else in a good story, so I always judge them hard. At the end of every character’s evaluation I will give them one of four ratings: Good for those characters that are developed and deserve their place in the story, Bad for those characters that have no place being made or interacting with anyone else in the story, What The for the characters I just can’t figure out, and then the characters who are dull as dishwasher will get the rating of Sack of Potatoes. Today on the judgement table: Ichigo Kurosaki, the main character of “Bleach.”
“Bleach” is a very popular shonen style anime in the vein of other anime like “Naruto” or “DBZ.” Ichigo Kurosaki is a young high school student who has the odd ability to see ghosts. He lives with his father and two sisters trying to be as normal as possible. His one sister Karin also has the ability to see ghosts. Randomly during the night, a Soul Reaper or Shinigami named Rukia enters his bedroom. Most humans cannot see Shinigami, as they are dead themselves. Shinigami are the soldiers of an undead realm called the soul society. The job of a Shinigami is to fight evil spirits called hollows and send spirits who are wondering to the soul society so that they may have a proper afterlife there. After Rukia and Ichigo were attacked by a hollow and Rukia became injured, Ichigo was left to save them. Rukia gave her Shinigami powers to Ichigo and he quickly defeated the hollow. From this moment on, Ichigo goes on many journeys battling powerful hollows and super hollows known as arrancar.
In the first three seasons of the show, Ichigo is trying to save Rukia from execution. Giving a human Shinigami powers is strictly forbidden in the Soul Society. With this treason, Rukia is up to be eradicated from the after life. Ichigo doesn’t agree with such harsh punishment and as such, battles with many very powerful Shinigami captains in an effort to save Rukia. Ichigo also has a problem with the fact that Rukia’s step brother Byakuya is the one carrying out the execution. Ichigo is a man who very much about family love and helping your friends. He will break any rules and fight any enemies to protect his friends or family. He is a character you very easily start to like because he is all about helping others and fighting for what he believes in to the very end. It is also very quickly apparent that Ichigo will only stop his mission when he stops breathing. His resolve is much like that of Goku. This is a pretty common character design for main characters of Shonen anime. Although it is used a lot, you can’t help but really like these characters and their initial attitudes. Another aspect to Ichigo that is apparent in these early seasons is Ichigo’s power. He is very clearly an extremely strong Shinigami, which shocks many of the Shinigami captains, as Ichigo is what called a Substitute Soul Reaper (Shinigami). Strangely enough, Rukia is being executed because she gave up her Shinigami powers to a human. Seeing as how they have the name “Substitute Soul Reaper” just for this situation, then clearly it has happened before. So why is it a big deal now? I don’t really know, because the show doesn’t really explain that small loop hole. But back to Ichigo. He is unbelievably strong and defeats several Shinigami captains and lieutenants. This early in the show, it really makes you wonder how a regular human being could have so much power. Later in the show, it is revealed that Ichigo’s dad was a Shinigami and as such, Ichigo himself is part Shinigami. This is where much of the power comes from. This sort of mysterious background behind his character adds a nice bit of flavor to his persona. Ichigo’s past and family relations are steadily fed to you throughout the course of the show. This is a great tactic, as it freshen ups Ichigo’s character every once and awhile. This removes some of the sameness you would get otherwise from such a long show.
Ichigo is also a character who you can’t help to love watch fight. He doesn’t have a lot of formal teaching or proper training in his powers. He very much learns as he goes and figures out whatever it takes to win his battles. He sometimes comes up with a plan, but others times he rams through things head on, and he never quits. He isn’t the smartest character, often running into fights he has almost no chance of winning. Even so, you can’t help but really cheer on his stupidity. He the main characte,r after all so he is gonna find a way out of things and, hey, it makes for some great fight scenes. Of course as this is a shonen anime, it has the usual “whip a victory out of nowhere” nonsense for a lot of big fights. That is inevitable. With Ichigo, for some reason you just like to cheer on a bit more than the others. Something about his character makes you just really enjoy his resolve and perseverance. He also isn’t totally immune, he does loses fights and fail at times. Often his failures get picked up by his friends to come in and share in the awesome.
Ichigo is also a character who will often work with his friends. He doesn’t do everything on his own. He usually tells them to stay back so they don’t get hurt, but often they will interject anyway. Once Ichigo smartens up, he leans on them and uses their strengths. Ichigo just has a feeling of being really friendly over all. He is a group oriented guy and always worries for everyone. You can’t really hate on a guy like that. There are also times when he throws out some really deep speeches. Talking about things like the value of a human life and why someone should fight. Ichigo’s answer for fighting is always the same, to protect people.
In the end though Ichigo’s best quality comes down to him being simply awesome. A beast of a fighters who tears through foes and won’t lie down in defeat. This is a guy who becomes so powerful that at one point him clashing blades with his opponent actually tears a mountain apart. His main attack, the Getsuga Tensho, is a giant cleave of energy that can cut through buildings and decimate massive things like walls or an entire forest if he wanted. He carries a massive sword with a sometimes even bigger ego. His attitude when fighting is very different from his usual demeanor. He talks smack and never lets the opponent hear any fear in him. He actually never really has any fear anyway. Even his facial expression and the way that he carries himself really makes you know he is hear to beat the crap out of some fools. Enemies who get in his way are always going to be cut down no matter what it takes.
The verdict on Ichigo. Ichigo gets the verdict of good. He is a character who is super likeable, has some great morals, is super powerful, and is just generally epic. He doesn’t falter or give in, and will always protect his friends and family and use them when he really needs help. Among the shonen genre, “Bleach” is definitely my favorite and Ichigo carries a lot of it.
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