I was one of the many that got so engrossed with the anime series, BLEACH by Tite Kubo between 2004 to 2012. It was enthusing to watch Ichigo become a soul reaper to fight hollows. Soul reapers are guardians of the soul society, but what does that have with the title bleach? Why is bleach called bleach?
The series was called Bleach to give an impression of the color white. Calling the series white or black would have been too bland, bleach is more striking. It is also called bleach as it resonates with the functions of the “Soul Reapers” which are the main characters of the series.
Come along with me as I tell you more about the animation series Bleach. The name bleach has left many wondering about its significance. There is more to it right here. Bleach is called bleach for the obvious reason Kubo gave and some other non-obvious ones.
What is Bleach Called in Japanese?
The Japanese translation of the word bleach isブリーチ. It is pronounced Burichi. This word means ‘soul cleanser” which is an indicator of what soul reapers stand for. The word also means the same thing as bleach in English. The chemical that is used in cleaning white clothes or the process of using the chemical.
The meaning of bleach in Japanese as “soul cleanser” is a good reason for Kubo to opt for bleach ahead of black or white as the animation title. Kubo was quoted as saying that “Black” is too generic a title and that “White” inspired bleach. I think that statement is not all to why he decided to call it bleach.
What Is The Significance Of The Name Bleach?
The name bleach as the Japanese meaning as indicated is connected with soul cleansing. There is a good similarity with the role of Kubo’s “Soul Reapers” and “soul cleansing.” I also see a good similarity with the chemical bleaching and what soul reapers do.
Soul Reapers can also be called shinigami (死神) which is literally “death gods.” These death gods are charged with the responsibility of ushering souls to the afterlife. They are the guardians of the transition of souls from the human world to the “soul society.”
The soul reapers are to ensure that souls have peaceful rest on exit to the afterlife. They guide the souls (wandering souls) to rest by giving them “Konso” (soul funeral). To make this happen, they also fight against violent lost souls that defer rest. I think that can be called bleaching. Laying the souls to rest and protecting them is cleansing them.
Fighting against lost and violent souls is also a cleansing process. These dangerous souls are a nuisance to the spirit world and humans, hence they must be conquered. They deny other souls of rest and safe passage to the soul society. Thus, the soul reapers are needed to stop their activities.
Is There More To The Name Bleach?
The series is entirely about dousing the fires of evil. It is a continuous fight of good against evil which is like the bleaching of cloth or cleansing. Rukia entered Ichigo’s room on a quest against a “hollow.” A hollow is a dangerous and monstrous lost soul that can cause harm to both spirits and humans.
The story from then till the end was about stopping the bad from overcoming good. After Ichigo got the powers of Rukia, he took up the role of a soul reaper. He, with Rukia, employed the service of his friends to carry out the “bleaching” of souls.
Later, there was a need to rescue Rukia from her fellow soul reapers. I believe that choosing the name Bleach was not just to give the impression of white. It does have significance with what the story entailed.
Bleach is to summarize the process of the good soul reapers winning over hollows. Not just hollows, but corrupted and selfish soul reapers as well. There were several conspiracies and a thirst for power by some soul reapers. This became the usual narrative throughout the series.
The Naming of Bleach
Tite Kubo had the intention to draw a Soul Reaper dressed in a kimono when he conceived the idea of bleach. Not originally called bleach. The first title he thought of was “Snipe.” Snipe was inspired by guns, Snipe was coined from a sniper
Kubo wanted the soul reapers to have guns at first, but guns do not fit with kimonos. He wanted others to have guns while Rukia would have a scythe. The original dressing for his soul reapers was a suit but he later settled with a kimono. Swords are better with the kimono and so the reapers have swords.
The soul reapers were dressed in black kimonos and that suggested a title of “Black.” Black as a title sounded random to Kubo and it does to me as well. He thought of white and decided against it for the same reason. Bleach then popped up as it gives a sense of white. I think bleach passed the test more aside from the reasons above since it can connect black to white.
There is Bleaching in Bleach
Bleaching is the process of removing color or stains from a piece of fabric or fiber. There is no scene in the bleach animation series that featured any character performing the bleaching process I defined here. But there was bleaching in other contexts all through the series.
The work of the soul reapers to cleanse souls is bleaching enough. The endless quest of Ichigo, his friends, and allies against the dangerous souls in the soul society is also bleaching. Finally, overturning evil to good is also bleaching. What do you think is a better title for this series?
It has been stated in the sections of this article above how the bleachings were done. That then justifies the choice of the title. Irrespective of what has motivated the choice, it is a good fit. The series is indeed BLEACH.