As far as the world of (shōnen) anime is concerned, there is a group of anime known as the “Big Four”. Among them, Dragon Ball is considered to be the predecessor, while the remaining three – Bleach, Naruto, and One Piece – are considered to be the “Big Three”, since they all came out roughly at the same time, while Toriyama’s anime is a tad older. These four shows have certainly made an impact on the history of anime and that is why we at Fiction Horizon have decided to compare these four shows for you!
Bleach might be my personal favorite when the “Big Four” are concerned, but Dragon Ball’s overall legacy and cultural importance are what makes this anime so great and why we think that Dragon Ball is the better anime in this sceatio.
In today’s article, we are going to compare Bleach and One Piece. In the first two sections, we are going to give you an overview of the two series and their plots, while the final section is going to contain a comparison of the two anime series, in which we are going to reveal the reasons behind our choice. Enjoy!
Bleach: An overview
Bleach is a manga written and illustrated by Tite Kubo. It follows the adventures of the young Ichigo Kurosaki, who accidentally receives shinigami powers from Rukia Kuchiki. In addition to taking on the task of defending humans from evil spirits and guiding departed souls to the afterlife, Ichigo becomes involved in a series of clashes between souls, which lead him to explore various realms of the afterlife and discover more on their origins.
Bleach was published in Japan in the Weekly Shōnen Jump magazine from August 7, 2001 to August 22, 2016, for a total of 686 weekly chapters, which the Shūeisha publishing house then collected in 74 tankōbon volumes. An anime television series was taken from the manga, produced by Pierrot under the general direction of Noriyuki Abe. The broadcast began on October 5, 2004 on TV Tokyo and ended on March 27, 2012, for a total of 366 episodes, grouped into 16 television seasons.
Other derivative works are two OVAs, four animated films, a rock musical, numerous video games, a trading card game and two light novels. Bleach has received critical acclaim in multiple parts of the world, including North America and various parts of Europe. The manga has so far sold more than 90 million copies in Japan and 120 million copies worldwide, also becoming one of the best-selling manga in the United States. It also received the prestigious Shōgakukan Award for manga in 2005, and the anime was nominated for the American Anime Awards.
Bleach was born out of Tite Kubo’s desire to design shinigami in kimono, which laid the foundation for the design of the shinigami within the series and the creation of Rukia Kuchiki, the first character created. The initial story was presented at Weekly Shōnen Jump shortly after the cancellation of the previous manga of Kubo, Zombie Powder. Initially, the author did not think he would be successful enough to exceed five years of serialization.
The first ideas for the story did not include the hierarchical structure of the Soul Society, but they had already foreseen characters and elements that were not introduced into the story until the Arrancar saga. The series was originally titled “Black” due to the color of the shinigami’s clothes. Kubo then tried the name “White”, but became fond of the Bleach title because of its association with the color white and because it wasn’t too trivial.
Dragon Ball: An overview
Dragon Ball is a manga series created by Akira Toriyama, inspired by the classical novel The Journey to the West by Wu Cheng’en’. It was published in Weekly Shōnen Jump magazine from 1984 to 1995 and later collected in 42 bound volumes from 1985 to 1995 by Shūeisha.
It is chronologically the fourteenth story of Akira Toriyama. The action takes place in an imaginary universe resembling Earth, The World, in which other works by the same mangaka are located. Thus, the author sometimes integrates characters belonging to a different story, hinting to the reader about the existence of a shared fictional universe.
Dragon Ball tells the story of Son Goku, from childhood to adulthood. Accompanied by many characters, he repeatedly searches for the seven Dragon Balls. These are magic crystal balls that allow, if they are together, to summon the dragon Shenlong appear, who is, thanks to a specific formula, able to grant the wish to anyone who speaks in front of him. Throughout his life, Son Goku is called upon to fight increasingly strong opponents, some of whom become allies.
The anime adaptation is divided into two distinct parts. These are separated according to the evolution of the main character: Dragon Ball portrays his childhood and Dragon Ball Z his adulthood. The first series has an incredible and zany overall tone (despite the tragic moments), the second, on the other hand, emphasizes the physical violence and the psychological development of the various protagonists, keeping only very occasional humorous breaks.
There are four other anime set in the same universe: Dragon Ball GT, which is an alternate sequel; Dragon Ball Z Kai, which is a new animated version of Dragon Ball Z stripped of fillers and elements that were not in the original manga (decreasing the count from 291 to 167 episodes); Dragon Ball Super, which is a direct sequel to the manga; and Super Dragon Ball Heroes, which does not follow on from the original manga.
Bleach vs Dragon Ball: Which anime is better?
Before giving our final verdict. The things we are going to compare are going to be the plot, the characters, the depth, the animation, and the overall influence of the anime itself. The analysis is primarily going to focus on the anime and not the manga. Let us begin.
The plots of Bleach and Dragon Ball are only relatively similar, in that they have a world-saving element to them. Everything else is different. Bleach focuses on Ichigo Korusaki’s quest to save his close ones from different supernatural threats in a very dark and macabre world. The adventure, a key element in Dragon Ball’s narrative is secondary here; of course, Bleach is one big adventure in general, but adventure as a narrative focus is not overly emphasized in Kubo’s story. On the other hand, Dragon Ball’s focus on adventure is part of the show’s charm and the reason why a lot of people became attached to the show. This is a completely different focus and as both shows were executed in a brilliant manner, it is difficult to determine the winner based only on this. This category would’ve been a tie were it not for the fact that Toriyama’s story directly influenced Bleach’s author Tite Kubo, which is why we have to give this point to Dragon Ball.
Both shows also did a brilliant job when character development is concerned. Both protagonists, Ichigo Kurosaki (Bleach) and Son Goku (Dragon Ball), are among the most iconic and most famous anime characters ever created, and they are both well-known around the globe, even if you’re not a die-hard anime fan. Both of their stories have been portrayed in an amazing way and this is why they are so good. As far as the rest of the cast is concerned, we cannot really choose between these two shows. Whether it’s Rukia or Krilin, Inoue or Bulma, Kon or Master Roshi, Hitsugaya or Korin, all of these characters have been portrayed excellently and despite being supporting cast members, all of them have enough depth and individuality to be extremely likable. As for the villains, you can’t really go wrong with the likes of Aizen or Frieza. This is why this category has to be declared a tie.
When it comes to depth, this is where Bleach reigns when compared to all the other “Big Four” anime. Bleach touches upon a lot of complex topics, most of them concerning the issues of life and death, through which other questions are raised and analyzed. The show has a specific level of philosophical and existential depth that Dragon Ball never had, despite not avoiding these issues, especially in later seasons of the show. Still, Dragon Ball is far more focused on loyalty, friendship, determination, and the following of one’s goals to the very end, with the focus also shifting towards saving the world later on; Bleach, on the other hand, tackles all of these topics as well, especially through the brilliantly portrayed friendship between Ichigo and Rukia, and Ichigo’s relationship to Soul Society, but it also has that additional depth that Dragon Ball doesn’t really have. This is why this point goes to Bleach.
Bleach was, initially at least and not counting the movies, quite lacking when it came to animation. This was the show’s biggest flaw. Bleach’s animation relied a lot on stock footage and was sometimes too static for the situations that it depicted. Bleach contained a lot of fighting scenes and a lot of scenes with characters fighting and performing complex movements. And although these scenes were by no means bad, they weren’t really that good in the beginning. If you consider the fact that Dragon Ball is much older and was animated at a time when standards weren’t so high as now, the animation becomes even better. Dragon Ball has not only done an amazing job with its animation, it has also shown us how it can evolve, as the recent iterations of the franchise have absolutely amazing animation. A lot of dynamics was necessary to fully animate these two shows, since they focus a lot on fighting and complex movement, and since Dragon Ball did a better job in that aspect, we have to give this point to Dragon Ball.
The overall influence of these two is difficult to compare because of Dragon Ball’s cult status. Namely, however good and influential Bleach might be, it will never even come close to the cultural importance of Dragon Ball. Dragon Ball is an anime that has influenced a whole generation of 1990s children and has become a synonym for anime for a whole group of people. Dragon Ball is, for a lot of people, the only anime they’ve ever seen, and even those who haven’t seen any anime know of Dragon Ball. Bleach is a global phenomenon, that cannot be denied, but it will never reach the level of popularity and influence of Dragon Ball.
Bleach, as you could’ve seen, did “win” in one category, while Dragon Ball won in three, with one tie. But even without this simple mathematics, it is quite evident that Dragon Ball is the more important work of the two. Bleach is a truly great anime – in fact, yours truly loves it more than the other three – it has influenced a generation of fans and it has an enormous fanbase around the world, but the overall influence of Dragon Ball and the almost divine status it has in the history of animation is something that explains our choice in this article.
And that’s it for today. We hope you had fun reading this and that we have given you all the information you were looking for. See you next time and don’t forget to follow us!