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About a month or two ago my TiVo decided to record the television show Bleach off of Cartoon Network. This is a manga/anime that I’ve heard of, but I didn’t know anything about it and the name didn’t sound particularly appealing to me — What is it, a show about a kid with bleached hair?

I watched the one episode on my TiVo and actually found it somewhat interesting. There was some character who had come into possession of a parakeet that seemed to be cursed, causing accidents to happen all around it. Then there also seemed to be some characters who were part of something called the “Soul Society.” My impressions were sketchy, given that I was jumping in mid-stream to the show, but it seemed a little metaphysical and therefore interesting.

So a few weeks ago as I browsed PopURLs I came across a fansub of Bleach on YouTube. As it turns out, my impressions of the show were completely wrong. Instead of being some brain-stimulating show drawing you into a fantastic universe where the supernatural is a real element of day to day life and a mysterious organization called the Soul Society allows the viewer to explore the dimensions of this universe, it turns out that Bleach is just another Dragonball Z clone. How disappointing. Not really a surprise, as most of the non-fanservice, non-dating-drama, non-mecha animes out there seem to be this same formula of “Protagonist and his weaker compatriots fight opponents using glowing energy blasts and teleportation, usually justified as martial arts even though the characters rarely if ever actually have a legitimate fight without using anime conventions. During fights, protagonists and enemies “power up” and take on different forms.” The majority of anime is so formulaic that it’s a wonder to me why it’s so popular.

The funny thing I noticed when watching this Bleach show on YouTube was exactly how little “show” there was. Between the introduction song, the recap of previous episodes’ events, and a typically anime not-funny comedy sketch at the end of the episode, I think the total running time for the episode came in at about fifteen minutes. Factor in that a large portion of these shows typically involves: 1. Characters “powering up” attacks, 2. Characters standing-still as attacks bounce off of them, and 3. Characters standing around bragging about their “power level” or “skill” and it’s amazing how little content or actual animation must be involved in making a show like this.

I guess I should have remembered my general rule that any anime that appears on Cartoon Network, aside from Cowboy Bebop, must be tripe.

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