Tite Kubo’s Bleach is one of the “Big Three” anime and manga series, and one of the major works that contributed to the popularization of anime and manga around the world.
The story of high-schooler Ichigo Kurosaki who becomes a Substitute Shinigami (Soul Reaper) and then helps save both his world and the Soul Society with his allies and friends became enormously popular and spanned a 16-season (soon to be 17) anime series, four feature-length anime films, several video games, and other derivative material and merchandise.
In this article, we are going to give you a thorough insight into the Bleach anime series. You’re going to get all the necessary information, as well as a complete guide to watching the whole series, including the four anime movies that have been aired.
Bleach Watch Order
In this part, we will focus on the chronological Bleach watch order, providing you with some details on each of the works listed here.
Bleach Episodes 1-117
Bleach starts of with the first 117 episodes of the anime series, which include the first five seasons of the anime and roughly half of season six. Most of the content here is canon, save for the whole fourth season (“The Bount”), which features an original story focused on Ishida and a group of entities called Bounts (they’re similar to vampires).
This batch includes the whole Soul Society arc, where Ichigo becomes a Shinigami and then has to enter Soul Society to save Rukia, but also the beginning of the Arrancar saga, marked by Aizen’s rebellion and the appearance of the Arrancar.
Bleach the Movie: Memories of Nobody (2016)
After returning from Soul Society and being in the human world, specifically, Karakura Town, Ichigo Kurosaki, and Rukia Kuchiki are attacked by a large number of unknown souls. While Ichigo and Rukia were surrounded by these spirits, a shinigami named Senna appears, a girl with purple hair and orange eyes, who easily destroys the spirits with her shikai.
As Senna denies answering any questions from Ichigo, the latter is forced to follow her. Meanwhile, in Soul Society a mysterious incident occurs: the stage of the human world will be projected in the sky of Soul Society. An official first-class readiness alert is sent to Gotei 13. Tōshirō Hitsugaya, captain of the 10th Division, and Rangiku Matsumoto, Lieutenant of the 10th Division, arrive in the human world to investigate the matter and meet Ichigo.
In the Urahara Shop, Kisuke Urahara explains to them that the dimension that unites Soul Society and the human world, known as the Valley of Screams, has expanded in such a way that it has connected the two worlds. Kisuke also explains that the souls that Ichigo had previously seen are called “Blanks”, which are souls that have been lost between the path between the worlds and also their memory.
The Valley of Screams is the place where the Blanks live, but they alone cannot expand the dimension where they live. With the lost memory of the Blanks, a “Memory Rosary” can be created, an artifact still unknown. Nonetheless, Senna reveals to Ichigo that she herself is the rosary of memory. Right at that moment, a group called “Dark Ones” appears, who take Senna away after a futile effort by Ichigo and the Shinigami of the Soul Society to stop them.
Once inside the Valley of Screams, the Dark Ones tell that they were once shinigami but were exiled and had to live in the Valley of Screams. As Senna is composed of lost memories, which haunt the Blanks, the Dark Ones intend to cause a reaction that collapses Soul Society along with the Human World in order to take revenge for what they did to them.
Ichigo and Rukia enter the Valley of Nightmares through a portal that is inside a river. Once the portal to the human world is opened, the process that will destroy the two worlds will be completed in one hour. Rukia requests reinforcements from the Soul Society.
Bleach Episodes 118-125
This small batch continues where we left off in season six of the anime, before it is, once again, interrupted by two movies. The movies don’t really fit the chronology of the events, but they do fit the chronology of the development of Ichigo’s powers, which is why we advise you to watch them after episode 125 (Fade to Black can be watched anytime after episode 125, but it’s best to get it over with right away).
This batch continues the Shinigami’s fight against the emerging Arrancar in Karakura Town and also introduced the Vizards.
Bleach the Movie 2: The DiamondDust Rebellion (2007)
After the theft of an object of immense power, the “king’s seal” by mysterious individuals, Tōshirō Hitsugaya, who had been entrusted with the protection of the object together with his Division, who disappeared mysteriously, is considered an accomplice of the thief and traitor by Shigekuni Genryūsai Yamamoto.
After losing consciousness, Captain Hitsugaya awakens in the room of Ichigo Kurosaki, who in the meantime has learned of his alleged “betrayal” from Soifon. At the same time, in the Soul Society, the lieutenant of the Tenth Division, Rangiku Matsumoto, is under house arrest, while the entire Division is in danger of being dissolved. Rukia Kuchiki, Renji Abarai, and Shunsui Kyoraku come to his aid and decide to investigate what happened.
In the earthly world, Hitsugaya disappears again after colliding with two of the three mysterious thieves and involving Ichigo Kurosaki in the fight. In the Soul Society, it turns out, thanks to the research of Captain Kyoraku and his lieutenant Nanao Ise, that the leader of the thieves is actually Sojiro Kusaka, an old friend of Hitsugaya, who never left the Shinigami academy.
Kusaka steps forward, first ambushing Captain Kyoraku, then sending his two subordinates to fight on earth against Ichigo and Rukia, who turns out to be Arrancar. Tōshirō Hitsugaya attacked and wounded by lieutenants Izuru Kira and Shuhei Hisagi, manages to find his old friend Kusaka, who offers him to ally with him and destroy the Soul Society.
Ichigo and Rukia, supported in the clash with the two Arrancars by Uryū Ishida, Yasutora Sado, and Orihime Inoue, manage to defeat them easily and reach the Soul Society.
Kusaka and Hitsugaya, in the place where the Sokyoku used to stand, are joined and surrounded by countless Shinigami, including captains and lieutenants. The imminent battle is stopped in time by the arrival of Ichigo, who reveals Hitsugaya’s plan, which is to solve an ancient account with a companion of his, not in the role of captain of Gotei 13.
Bleach the Movie 3: Fade to Black (2008)
In the laboratory of the 12th Division, Mayuri Kurotsuchi is attacked by a mysterious individual armed with a scythe, and a mysterious object is stolen.
After being hit, the captain loses his memory and the whole Soul Society is attacked by a strange liquid substance. Rukia Kuchiki watches helplessly at the scene and soon after she is joined by a girl, who tells her that everyone will forget about her existence.
That said, the Shinigami is also mowed. All the Shinigami thus forget about her existence. Ichigo Kurosaki, in the mundane world, feels that Rukia is in trouble.
After visiting Kisuke Urahara, who doesn’t seem to remember Rukia, he heads to the Soul Society with Kon. Here Ichigo realizes that not only Rukia has been forgotten, but he too does not seem to be remembered by anyone Shinigami anymore.
Ichigo, after quick clashes with Shuhei Hisagi, Renji Abarai, and Sajin Komamura, goes to the home of Byakuya Kuchiki. Here he sees the Captain in front of a photo of Hisana, her deceased wife, and her little lion mistakenly mistakes her for Rukia.
Byakuya is surprised that Ichigo knows his wife’s name and asks him how he knows. He no longer remembers either Rukia or Ichigo anymore, but he gives the boy an important clue: he claims that Hisana grew up in Rukongai district 78, “Inuzuri”.
In this place Rukia awakens, no longer remembering anything about her past from Shinigami. Her two kidnappers treat her lovingly and it turns out that in the past Rukia had found her two, still children, and raised them as her own children. The two, who are brothers, are now waiting to receive the names that Rukia promised to give them.
After a thousand searches, Ichigo manages to find Rukia on the mountain where the graves of his old friends are located. Rukia, however, seems to have completely forgotten about her old best friend.
Bleach episodes 126-299
This is the largest chunk of episodes you’ll watch without any interruptions (save for the filler seasons that aired in this period). This batch actually continues the Arrancar saga, with two filler seasons, the shorter “The New Captain Shūsuke Amagai” arc, and the longer “Zanpakutō: The Alternate Tale” arc, which interrupted the Soul Society’s fight against Aizen and the Arrancars.
The canon content in this batch is the best from the whole series, including the remaining episodes from the Arrancar saga you’ll watch in the next batch. There are some individual filler episodes scattered throughout the seasons, but there are not many of them.
As far as the filler seasons are concerned, “The New Captain Shūsuke Amagai” references events from the canon storyline, while the “Zanpakutō: The Alternate Tale” arc is completely unrelated (we’re not even sure when it’s supposed to take place, even roughly).
Bleach the Movie 4: Hell Verse (2010)
The film opens with the confrontation between Ichigo Kurosaki, transformed into Hollow, and Ulquiorra Schiffer who is observed in a flame by a soul residing in Hell. Ichigo, after fixing some thugs for dropping flowers aimed at a dead child, is joined by Rukia and Renji to warn him that they are investigating something in Karakura, but they do not want to involve him by order of Byakuya Kuchiki.
Arriving at the school together with Orihime Inoue and Chad, right in front of them some scaffolding seems to give way and are about to fall on a student, but Chad stands in the way and thanks to her strength he manages to save her. Convinced that it was not a simple accident, Ichigo returns with Orihime, Chad, and Uryū Ishida to examine the place.
At that moment another incident occurs inside the school in which Tastuki, Keigo, and Mizuiro are involved, and they discover the architects: they are three beings wrapped in black cloaks, with white limbs and with a mask, who claim to be needing Ichigo’s help for a particular reason.
Meanwhile, Renji arrives, who reveals to Ichigo that Rukia has headed to her house because he has perceived a reiatsu similar to that of strangers and takes her place, allowing him to go and help her friend and the two little sisters.
In the fight, one of Ishida’s arrows manages to destroy the mask of one of the attackers and just at that moment, the Gates of Hell appears from which a large blade comes out and pierces the man.
Due to the situation, his comrades withdraw. Meanwhile, at the Kurosaki Clinic, Ichigo arrives just in time to help Rukia in her fight and, horrified, sees that one of the two individuals is holding Karin and Yuzu captive.
Just as he is about to return to Hell via a portal, the individual is shot in the back by a man who manages to save Karin, but sadly fails to do the same with Yuzu, who is kidnapped and taken to Hell, while Chad, who arrived along with Renji and Ishida, is wounded to protect Rukia. The leader of the individuals, Shuren, reveals to Ichigo that they need his power over him and that they will only return his sister if she helps them.
Inside the clinic, the man who helped them reveals himself as Kokuto, an Infernal Sinner, or a soul who has been sent to Hell, the place where those who, during their life, have committed atrocious acts are sent to be sent to the Soul Society, and who are continually tortured for their sins. Kokuto offers to help them recover Yuzu, despite her being a sinner, even though he warns them that she is not acting out of good intentions; however Rukia and Renji remain suspicious of him.
Bleach Episodes 300-366
The last batch is also the last (so far). It brings us to the conclusion of the Arrancar saga, which was a very emotional moment, a filler season (“Gotei 13 Invading Army”), and the Fullbringer arc, which deepens the mythology and sees Ichigo regain his Shinigami powers after he had lost them during his fight with Aizen.
The filler season is a direct continuation of the canon series, so even though it’s filler, it continues the events of the anime and leads into the Fullbringer arc. There is also a small number of individual filler episodes here.
Do You Need to Watch Bleach in Order?
As far as the core anime series is concerned, you definitely need to watch it in order, as the series is set out chronologically.
As far as the filler seasons and the non-canon movies are concerned, you need not watch them in order as they’re not really connected to the main plot in any way (save for the “Gotei 13 Invading Army” anime arc, which is directly connected to the end of the Arrancar Saga, and the “The New Captain Shūsuke Amagai” arc, which references events from the main plot, but are nonetheless filler).
But, if you want to completely enjoy it, you should follow our guide as it is the best way to watch the whole series.
Will There Be More Bleach Anime?
When Bleach ended in 2014, there was still a whole manga arc left to adapt; incidentally, it was the manga’s largest arc in total. Fans were shocked to hear that Bleach had been canceled and that the Quincy Blood War arc would not be adapted, especially since it was a truly great and shocking story.
But, as we found out during 2020 and 2021, Bleach is going to return in 2022 with the Thousand-Year Blood War arc which is going to adapt the manga’s final arc. So, we definitely are going to see more of the Bleach anime in the future.