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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 and One Piece are fairly different anime. The former is very much problem-driven with a finite goal, while the latter is an adventure/voyage-type of anime that could go on forever if given enough time. In our opinion, Bleach offers more depth and is more compact, which is why we prefer it over One Piece.
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 series by the Japanese artist Tite Kubo, which was also implemented as an anime. Studio Pierrot produced an anime series for the manga with 366 episodes, directed by Noriyuki Abe. The series was broadcast weekly on the Japanese television station TV Tokyo from October 5, 2004 to March 27, 2012, with the days of the week changing in the meantime. It last ran every Tuesday evening at 6 p.m. Japanese time.
Studio Pierrot also wrote the two 30-minute Bleach OVA episodes Memories in the Rain and The Sealed Sword Frenzy. The Weekly Shonen Jump announced in March 2020 that the anime would continue. The “Quincy Blood War” arc of the manga is to be adapted. The one-shot manga Burn the Witch was also adapted in the form of a movie.
The 15-year-old student Ichigo Kurosaki has had the ability to see ghosts since childhood. One day he meets the Shinigami Rukia Kuchiki who is hunting a hollow. As she is seriously injured during the fight, she is forced to transfer her powers to Ichigo so that he can defeat the hollow in her place. Until Rukia recovers, Ichigo has to do the work of a shinigami.
Rukia registers at Ichigo’s school and moves into his closet. Over time, the two become friends. Since Rukia Kuchiki has exceeded her stay in the human world, Rukia is forcibly brought back to the Soul Society by her stepbrother, the captain of the 6th Division of the 13 Protection Units of the Soul Society, Byakuya Kuchiki, and the lieutenant of the 6th Division, Renji Abarai.
Because of the transfer of her Shinigami powers to a person, which is a grave offense, she is sentenced to the annihilation of her soul. As Ichigo desperately wants to save Rukia, he is trained by Kisuke Urahara, who runs a business with products for spiritual beings and is an extraordinarily combat-experienced former captain of the 12th Division.
Together with his friends and schoolmates Yasutora “Chad” Sado and Orihime Inoue, who also have special powers, and the Quincy Uryū Ishida, he makes his way to the Soul Society, where an attempt to save Rukia leads to confrontations with powerful Shinigami comes.
Bit by bit a plot planned by one or three commanders Seireiteis is uncovered, which could have serious consequences, not only for the Soul Society, but also for this world, whereby Karakura, the hometown of the main characters, is explicitly targeted by the conspiracy.
One Piece: An overview
One Piece the anime is based on the manga One Piece by Eiichirō Oda and dates back to 1998, when a 30-minute OVA episode was produced on the occasion of the manga’s previous year’s success in the Shōnen Jump and the 30th anniversary of the Jump Super Anime Tour. Production of the television series began the following year, and over 1,000 episodes have been aired since then. In addition, Tōei Animation has produced thirteen films, over ten television specials, and some original video animations and short films.
Individual companies developed numerous merchandising items, including trading card games and a large number of video games for common consoles. With sales of $ 21 billion, One Piece is one of the most successful media franchises in the world.
In 1999, Tōei Animation Ltd. began work on a television series with the aim of a film adaptation of the manga, which should go on the air on the Japanese television station Fuji Television on October 20 of that year and has since been broadcast on a weekly basis with occasional interruptions and changes in the broadcasting time.
Under the direction of the directors Kōnosuke Uda and Munehisa Sakai, more than 1,000 episodes plus bonus episodes have been created, for example on the occasion of Japanese holidays. The series is so popular that it ranked 21st in the 100 most popular anime series in an online poll conducted by TV Asahi in 2006. With the broadcast of episode 207, the series has been broadcast on Japanese television since the end of October 2004 in HDTV.
The series was regularly among the ten anime series with the highest ratings in 2007. Currently, the cost of producing one episode is about 10,000,000 yen, which is a bit more than about 91,000 dollars.
The plot of the television series largely corresponds to that of the original manga. Differences can be seen in the introduction to the story, but also at the beginning of the portrayal of violence: the first chapters of the manga are shown as a flashback when Luffy tells his first ally Zorro about why his straw hat is so important to him.
A further change in the plot concerns the so-called filler episodes, which augment the actual plot with additional elements and adventures so that the television broadcast does not advance too quickly compared to the original manga.
Bleach vs One Piece: Which anime is better?
Now that we’ve done the introductory part, we can continue with the analysis of these two shows. We’re going to analyze the shows through several categories 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.
As far as the plot is concerned, Bleach and One Piece are very different. Bleach is a problem-driven anime. There are several story arcs, each of which is focused on solving a certain issue and moving on to the next one, with the overall goal of eliminating the evil that threatens both the World of the Living and the Soul Society. In that aspect, Bleach is far more focused than One Piece. The latter is one big adventure and although there is the ultimate goal of obtaining the One Piece treasure, the adventure can go on forever. This is the basic difference between these two anime series and, in our opinion, the lack of focus present in the One Piece plot is a disadvantage. Certainly, for fans, this is great because the show has been able to reach more than 1,000 episodes using that template, but having more focus on the plot and its resolution is better in our opinion.
The characters of Bleach are much deeper, darker, and more complex than the ones in One Piece. The main characters have actual depth and the character development is really great. Even the supporting characters (like the captains from Soul Society) and the villains have actual depth, meaning that both Kubo and the writers put a lot of effort into portraying them. One Piece is different. It’s not that the show doesn’t care about its characters, on the contrary, but if you write a 1,000-episode plot, then you have to put a lot of secondary narrative elements that put the focus away from the character development. A lot of One Piece characters are either stereotypes or just comical relief characters, even the main ones, which cannot be said about Bleach; the show has its fair share of such characters, but characters like Kon and Hanataro aren’t really that important for the plot. This is why we give this point to Bleach, also.
Bleach deals with the issues of life and death, good and evil, idealism and corruption, and other similar topics. These are very complex and deep issues, which is what made Bleach so special. Certainly, the show tackles some more common topics such as coming-of-age, friendship, prejudice, etc., but all of these topics exist within a more complex framework. One Piece, on the other hand, has a more diverse approach to its themes, but the overall framework is much lighter in tone and is more focused on the friendship-and-adventure aspect, analyzing such topics as loyalty, determination, etc. As far as depth is concerned, Bleach is the clear winner in this category.
Bleach’s animation was never bad, but until the later seasons, it was somewhat static, seeing how complex some of the moves used in the show have been; the movies are an exception, but their canon status is debatable. When the show switched to a more modern broadcasting format, the animation likewise became better, but it took its time getting there. There were a lot of scenes that just repeated themselves and the fights, although epic, needed a better treatment at times. One Piece, on the other hand, never had problems with this, as the animators did a good job at the very beginning. Of course, the show demanded a more dynamic approach and the overall animation became better as the years went by, but the animation is one of the show’s stronger points. This is why One Piece wins in this category.
As far as the influence is concerned, both Bleach and One Piece are among the most popular anime around the world. Alongside the manga and the anime, both franchises contain movies, novels, books, video games, and other merchandise. They also have large fandoms around the world. Bleach received some criticism for how it ended, while One Piece is still running and despite all the fillers, fans still want to see more of Luffy’s adventures in the pirate world. This is why we are going to give this point to One Piece, although the difference between them is really not that big.
To conclude, Bleach is, in our humble opinion, the better of the two anime series. It has fillers, it has its downsides, but where it really matters – the plot, the characters, and the overall depth – Bleach is a far more complex story than One Piece. One Piece might be more popular and it had superior technical elements, but we do not think that it is enough for it to beat out Bleach, seeing how we do like to see our story and characters develop with depth, rather than just see them animated in an appropriate fashion.
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!