Ichigo Kurosaki is just your average teenage boy... except that he can see spirits.
So it's not exactly surprising that he gets involved in wild, dangerous adventures, in the first season of the hilarious, action-packed "Bleach." It starts off a bit slow, but rapidly winds into a thrilling, expansive adventure story, with lots of big swords, roaring monsters, and TV psychics.
One night a strange girl appears in Ichigo's bedroom, and is shocked when he can see her. She explains that she's a Soul Reaper, who helps the dead pass on to the Soul Society, and destroys evil spirits called Hollows.
But when Rukia is injured in a fight with a Hollow, all her powers are transferred to Ichigo -- and with them, the responsibility of killing Hollows. Ichigo soon finds out that it isn't easy juggling his new responsibilities with his normal, everyday life -- especially since the powerless Rukia is now attending his school, and living in his closet.
Even more distressing, his new powers are attracting all sorts of trouble: the Hollow who murdered his mother, the now-monstrous brother of his ditzy friend Orihime, an outspoken "mod-soul," and classmate Uryu-- the last of the Quincys, sworn enemies of Soul Reapers. Moreover, Orihime and the gentle giant Chad start developing spiritual powers of their own.
But then two powerful Soul Reapers show up to arrest Rukia. Ichigo is left mortally wounded and robbed of his powers, while Rukia is taken back to the Soul Society to be executed. To rescue Rukia, Ichigo agrees to undergo a terribly training regimen that could leave him worse than dead... and the journey into the Soul Society may be even worse...
Most long-running series run out their welcome pretty quickly, or start following a formula. But "Bleach" has that magical mix of complex plot, kinetic action, likable characters and kooky comedy. Not only does it click, but the results are sort of a mad hybrid of "Yu Yu Hakusho" and "Inuyasha." Its biggest problem? The first season ends with a cliffhanger the size of the Grand Canyon.
To keep us entertained, there's lots of action, monsters, blood, giant magical swords, spirit arrows and even a skyscraper-sized Hollow. But the writers keep an eye on the characters, and the first arc is used to establish them -- we get to see their pasts, their motivations, and why they want to fight Hollows. Even if it's simply a desire to do what's right and protect others.
And just as important important -- comedy. Every episode of "Bleach" has some comedy, whether it's crazy friends and/or relatives, TV appearances, or the wacky dialogue ("OH NO! I'M FRIENDS WITH A NERD! Maybe you need some thick nerd glasses..."). Even Ichigo produces some hilarious moments, such as his bloodcurdling scream when he wakes in Urahara's house.
Ichigo himself is the pivot of the whole series -- like many a good anime hero, he is rough, brash, sensitive and fights for those he loves. And though he's incredibly powerful, he still has a lot of training, fighting and learning to do, though he tends to jump in without thinking about it.
And he's backed by a colourful squad of characters: the prickly Uryu, quiet Chad, ditzy love interest Orihime, and the mysterious "Mr. Hat and Clogs" who trains Ichigo to be a full-fledged Soul Reaper. Not to mention Kon, a living lion doll who provides plenty of comic relief, whether he's getting bounced around the room or dressed as Marie Antoinette.
"Bleach's" first season introduces viewers to a brilliant series, full of hilarity, tears, blood and big, bad monsters. Definitely a must-see, for anyone who likes any of the above.