The following post contains editorial opinions and a dumb poll. I was joking around on Twitter the other day alluding to the recent Orihime panel, maybe I should make a warning icon for such posts and comments: "Warning: Debbie Vision."
First, the dumb poll, in lieu of a chapter this week. We shouldn't have spoilers until the 12th or 13th or so, and we should have a color page per Zangetsu01 by then.
Consider your relationship to your eyewear vis a vis Bleach characters and check all boxes that apply. Not applicable if you wear contacts or have 20/20 vision unless you think metaphorically--which of course, you may.
Next, like everyone else, I've been contemplating ten more years of Bleach. I've been amused by how many young-uns have been wondering if they will still be reading manga and watching anime in a decade. Haha, I know the idea that shounen fighting manga are just for 12-year-olds is easy enough to topple, but the notion of how loooong ten years really is seems relevant to how many years have passed for you yourself. Older people seem to think of decades as shorter (who can remember getting older?), and younger people see only the vast evolution from childhood to adolescence to adulthood and the forever it takes (if you're a parent, it's a blink of an eye, trust me).
Back to Bleach--so why are so many people in fandom so upset about another decade of it? Is there honestly that much concern for the integrity of the plot and for another favorite jumping the shark? When I think back to beloved series I've followed for over a decade (I can't think of a manga since I haven't read any that long--so far my beloved manga have all ended on happy notes--Nodame Cantible most recently), yes there was that sense of er, stick a fork in it, it's done, but I kept watching. Yes, Friends kept on being funny and X-files never stopped being full of pop-culture allusions, mythological stuffs and conspiracy puzzles like sudoku for nerdmos, but I got a little bored. I think it was the shipping parts that bored me. Even though I shipped Ross/Rachel and Mulder/Scully (X-files was the fandom that invented the word "shipping"--I found the Internet just in time to discover that!), I got bored with my ships about a season before they inevitably, predictably, oh so predictably became canon with babies.
Ha, wonder if that may happen with me and IchiRuki and Bleach before the next decade is up?
Maybe--if I were reading Bleach for only this ship or that one, but I suspect that Kubo-sensei will find something to keep my interest. After all, even during the Arrancar arc that was a yawner for so many people, I was laughing my ass off over the gorgeous horror that was Szayel Aporro (the chapter called "The Bad Joke" was ultimately filler even though it had its moments--"The Bad Joke" should've become the byword for what Kubo pulled on his audience back then instead of "the Kubo Troll').
I suppose that there really are people horrified enough with the idea that a work of fiction they loved will sour before their eyes, but in my experience, works of fiction are kinder to you during break-ups than lovers. You have the ultimate say-so in regards to closing the book or turning off the channel; you keep whichever mementos you choose, and you move on. Series always end--they leave with you a good feeling or that "why the $%%&+@#$# did I hang on for this last year!!" but you really can't blame the producers, the creator, Chris Carter or Kubo Tite for your own indulgences, can you? Don't want? Don't stay. Get out before your only source of references is TV Tropes. Gardening is a good hobby. Volunteer, meditate, go on safari.
So yeah, I'm a little sad because some friends left Bleach during HM, came back, and seem to have left it for good now, but I can't blame them one bit.
I've been in this fandom going on six or seven years now (can't keep track) and I'm the obsessive type, so I figure I'm in for the long haul, given that I like to turn little pebbles over and over for meaning. I didn't treat Friends or X-files this way but when those shows weren't the highlight of my week, they were still a little bit more than welcome background noise, and I find it hard to understand why most people aren't pleased about a serial manga they read and enjoy on a regular basis sticking around for a while. I mean--I'm happy to have Bleach once a week in my life predictably. Even those who like to complain about Bleach should be happy to have it around to complain about it seems.
I wonder too about the culture of shounen manga in Japan. It's often argued that Bleach is for 12 and 13 year-old-boys and one shouldn't look too deeply into it. I was chided for this in fact just a couple days ago when poetry-geeking at the Orihime FC at BA. I was feeling cheeky and asked all 12 year olds in the FC to raise their hands--not a fair question because I think you have to be 13 in order to join the forum, but when you think about it, because some of these serial manga go on for freaking years and years and people literally grow up with them, here's a large chunk of their readership being twelve one decade and twenty-two the next. So does the author, say Kubo-sensei at the dawn of a new decade and a new arc, accommodate for his grown-up new audience? How about the audiences who started the manga at even older ages? One would think it's only natural that before the first chapter is even conceptualized, the artist sees his story as having a broad appeal (There are no escaping the adult jokes in all kid stories and Kubo's very amazing poems are something that distinguish his shounen manga from others), but when it comes to coming-of-age stories, I like to think of artists growing up with their own styles and their own audiences. Also, in a way, although a shounen hero never really becomes completely sophisticated within the genre, his story does become more complex over time. Think about the audiences who grow up with these heroes. Consider this phenomenon--growing up with stories from a sole author not a franchise series of authors and seeing these stories through many coming-of-age adventures to a natural conclusion.
I read the Dragonball story--the Ur of shounen--all in one gulp but that's an amazing collection right there telling of a magical boy who lives through challenges that not only make him the world's strongest warrior but also bring him to marriage and adulthood. In fact, at the end of Dragonball, Goku is zipping around the world on a cloud with his bride-to-be in search of the wind harp to put out the fire at his wedding party (!) Fine, on the surface there's a story for children but there's a little something for everyone in a shounen. Generations of people adore Goku. Grandmothers love Bleach (I hope to be a grandma loving Bleach one day), and there's a little something for everyone in Kubo's manga--maybe even people who like to fret about metaphors and fuss about how little poems illuminate characterization.
I may be feeling a little extra mushy about all things that try to bridge the gap between generations The son, as some of you know had the bar mitzvah a couple weeks ago--for those of you not familiar with this rite of passage--it's when a Jewish boy turns 13 or becomes a "man." My Jewish "man" still reads Bleach. A dear friend of mine, an Asian American who unlike me actually did begin reading Bleach at its inception 10 years ago, is now in her first year of law school. Another decade and I may have already picked out and mailed out her Bleach doujinishi wedding gifts and her Bleach action figure baby shower gifts! *sob*
Okay, it's time to sweep the porch and restrain myself from making observations about shippers. I forgot to mail out a prize to luminous85 ! If you haven't received a prize from me from the recent contest, please let me know! I've been scattered lately. I'm recovering.
I'm so pumped about the next chapter and Sado-kun's role in Xecution.
eta: also, paging nendo_chan . Please contact me--I can't PM youuuu~~