Long-running anime series, especially manga adaptations, have a tendency of adding so-called filler episodes or arcs during its initial run. Although fillers expand the story in some way (sometimes, though, they’re just recapitulations), they aren’t related to the main narrative and prolong the main story, which is why fans usually don’t like them. The chief reason, why manga-based anime use fillers, is because there is a delay in the publication of the manga or the anime has finished the until-then published manga storyline, so the animators use filler episodes until new material is available.
Bleach was, with its 366 episodes and running from 2004 to 2012, one of the longest and most popular anime franchises in history. The 366 episodes were divided into 16 narrative arcs, five of which were completely original. Since a lot of people want to avoid fillers, we have created a guide for watching Bleach without the fillers, so keep reading if you’re interested!
Bleach was a shōnen manga created and written by Taite Kubo. It was published in Weekly Shōnen Jump from 2001 to 2016, finishing the narrative after a total of 74 volumes. Bleach is focused on the adventures and journeys of the adolescent Ichigo Kurosaki, who inherits his parents’ destiny after he obtains the powers of a Soul Reaper—it is a personification of Death similar to the Grim Reaper—from another Soul Reaper, Rukia Kuchiki. His new-found powers force him to take on the duties of defending the humans from various evil spirits and guiding departed souls to the afterlife, which in turn set him on journeys to various ghostly realms of existence. Bleach was and still is one of the most popular manga series in history. It has been adapted as a long-running anime series with four cinematic tie-ins, and a featured film. There are also several video games based on the manga and anime.
Now that we’ve given you a brief introduction to the world of Bleach, let us focus ourselves on the main issue.
Bleach (anime) – an introduction
Bleach (or BLEACH) is a Japanese anime series that aired from 2004 to 2012. It is an adaptation of Taite Kubo’s manga series of the same name. Although the anime, for the most part, adapts Kubo’s manga, it also contains several original, self-containing narrative arcs that were not present in the manga. The series ran for eight years, airing a total of 366 episodes. In 2020, it was announced that the manga’s last arc, “Thousand-Year Blood War”, would be also adapted in anime form.
The anime originally aired on TV Tokyo and was wholly directed by Noriyuki Abe. The main writers for the series were Masashi Sogo (#1–229, #266–316), Tsuyoshi Kida (#230–265), and Kento Shimoyama (#317–366).
As for the story, it followed the main premise of the manga, adapting Kubo’s material in animated form. Ichigo Kurosaki’s powers and his role of a Soul Reaper was explored in detail, showing how the protagonists and the characters around him evolved like in the manga, but also with some additional stories.
Although the series ran for eight years, it is divided into 16 uneven seasons, 11 of which were based on the manga, and 5 of which are original story arcs. The seasons, with their official names, are (the original arcs are coloured):
|3||“Soul Society: The Rescue”||2005||2005||22|
|7||“Arrancar: The Hueco Mundo Sneak Entry”||2007||2007||20|
|8||“Arrancar: The Fierce Fight”||2007||2008||16|
|9||“The New Captain Shūsuke Amagai”||2008||2008||22|
|10||“Arrancar vs. Shinigami”||2008||2009||16|
|12||“Arrancar: Decisive Battle of Karakura”||2009||2009||17|
|13||“Zanpakutō: The Alternate Tale”||2009||2010||36|
|15||“Gotei 13 Invading Army”||2011||2011||26|
|16||“The Lost Agent”||2011||2012||24|
Watching order without fillers
Now that we know the basic structure of the Bleach anime, we can answer your main question, and that is – how to watch Bleach if you want to avoid all the fillers?
Well, the first you can easily do is remove the five original filler arcs, which will reduce your episode count from 366 to a total of just 203. But, the original arcs are not the only filler content in the anime; there are several individual episodes that are obvious fillers and if you want to avoid them, you can skip those episodes as well.
Here is the complete watching order for the Bleach anime, without fillers:
Main Arc 1: Soul Society Arc
- Watch episodes 1-32
- Skip episode 33
- Pick up at episodes 34-49
- Skip episode 50
- Pick up at episodes 51-63
- Skip the complete “The Bount” and “The Assault” arcs
Main Arc 2: Hueco Mundo Arc
- Pick up at episodes 110-127
- Skip episodes 128-137
- Pick up at episodes 138-167
- Skip the complete “The New Captain Shūsuke Amagai” arc
- Pick up at episodes 190-203
- Skip 204-205
- Pick up at episodes 206-212
- Skip 213-214
Main Arc 3: Fake Karakura Town arc
- Pick up at episodes 215-226
- Skip episodes 227-229
- Skip the complete “Zanpakutō: The Alternate Tale” arc
- Pick up at episodes 267-286
- Skip episode 287
- Pick up at episodes 288-297
- Skip episodes 298-299
- Pick up at episodes 300-302
- Skip episodes 303-305
- Pick up at episodes 306-310
- Skip episodes 311-316
- Skip the complete “Gotei 13 Invading Army” arc
Main Arc 4: Substitute Soul Reaper Disappearance
- Pick up at episodes 343-354
- Skip episode 355
- Pick up at episodes 356
- Finish the anime at episode 366
The filler episodes and arcs
For your very convenience, we’ll provide a separate list of all the filler content here:
- Individual episodes or groups of episodes: 33, 50, 128-137, 204, 205, 213, 214, 227-229, 287, 298, 299, 303-305, 311-316, 355
- Arcs: “The Bount” (#64-91), “The Assault” (#92-109), “The New Captain Shūsuke Amagai” (#168-189), “Zanpakutō: The Alternate Tale” (#230-265), “Gotei 13 Invading Army” (#317-342)
What about the movies?
There are a total of four Bleach anime movies. The first, Bleach: Memories of Nobody, was released in 2006, with the second – Bleach: The DiamondDust Rebellion – and third – Bleach: Fade to Black – movies releasing in 2007 and 2008 respectively. The final anime film, Bleach: Hell Verse, was released in 2010.
The four movies are indeed connected to the main anime, although they are separate storylines. If you want to watch them in chronological order, along with the anime, here’s when and how you should do it:
- Bleach: Memories of Nobody clearly shows that Ichigo is able to use his bankai in the World of the Living, so it happens after the Bount Invasion arc, but before the Arrancar arc as he’s still unable to use his hollow form. This means that the movie is set between episodes 109 and 110, just after the first filler arc.
- Bleach: The DiamondDust Rebellion is a bit more ambiguous in terms of chronology, but we can approximately pinpoint its setting. We know that Ikkaku can use his bankai, so the movie is quite probably set after the first invasion of Arrancars (the ones defeated by Toshiro team) and before they entering in Hueco Mundo. This all happened around episode 138, so this is when you should watch it.
- The same applies to Bleach: Fade to Black, whose position in the timeline is also not fully clear. Based on the information we have, we know that it is set during the Arrancar fight, but before the characters entered Hueco Mundo because Ichigo still uses the first form of his hollow mask. So, this one is also set somewhere around episode 138.
- The fourth movie, Bleach: Hell Verse, is a filler movie where Ichigo uses the second form of his mask and transforms into his full hollow form, so we know that he has already fought Ulquiorra in Hueco Mundo and returned. In relation to the anime, it is set after episode 299.
And there you have it. This is your ultimate guide to watching Bleach, both the anime and the tie-in movies. We recommend watching the whole series, but if you’re not a fan of fillers, we have provided you with all the information you need to watch the complete series like you prefer.
And that’s it for today. We hope you had fun reading this and that we helped solve this dilemma for you. See you next time and don’t forget to follow us!