I'm an Ichiruki forever and ever more, and I love your "If you love Bleach, you love Ichigo and Rukia and their bond" so much. But I am scratching my head at the comments about cancelation and the production company trying to rewrite stuff? Everything Kubo had said ever since the ending makes it clear this is how he wanted the story to go.
I completely understand, that for an IR or an IH fan, that part was a little–not incorrectly written–but maybe over-assumed. I was even thinking of recon and re-wording it , but it had received about 30 notes as soon as I had checked it once more so I figured it would be a little cheap to change it by that point. It was a ‘if it’s wrong I’m going to own up to it’ mental approach.
Let’s understand that Bleach has always been the least popular of the Big 3 (One Piece, Naruto, Bleach is the exact order of popularity), but unlike Oda and Kishimoto, Kubo fell off hard. After the defeat of Aizen, if you want a precise pinpoint look to Chapter 423 Farewell Swords, Bleach tanked (popularity became almost stagnant (with small dips) fairly soon after the S.S. Arc though).
Of course fans stuck around for awhile to see where the series would go, but the Full-Bringer arc was a drag and the purpose of it (which was irrefutably important) was introduced way too late for people to care. The characters people cared about and wanted to see most, the Shinigami (the entire reason Tite Kubo decided to draw Bleach), were gone without mention for too long.
Still, Bleach was more popular than 99% of any other manga ever, but it was the worst off in terms of what it was being compared to. Bleach has sold over 87 million copies world-wide. Each (paperback) volume is priced at about $7-$10 or so (I believe). Kubo garnered around $609 million-$870 million for SJ and himself (I don’t know in the slightest how the cash is split). This isn’t counting the movies, the anime, the novels, the data books, etc. I’m just giving you the roughest estimate I can think of.
With all that success I could see why you would be suspicious and when you consider most mangaka have to maintain a second job to make ends meet, it looks like I’m spewing crap.
But, to give you a sense of reality, Kishimoto has sold over 220 million copies total and Oda has sold over 345 million copies so far. Do the math and check the net worth’s. There is a minimal $931 million difference compared to Naruto and a minimal $1.8 billion dollar difference compared to One Piece. And the math is on a basis of a $7 paperback manga sale only (hardcover volumes can be nearly twice as much). $10 is the more likely price and there are novels, movies, data books, etc. we must consider on top of it all.
Kubo is severely lacking against mangakas he is supposed to be in the same league as.
Let me repeat, Bleach tanked. It started going down as low as hell.
The anime was cancelled for piss-poor viewership. The fillers were constant and part of the reason is that Bleach (the manga) was so slow to progress and that progression was so lack-luster nothing could be done to maintain it. (To compare, people hated Naruto fillers as well, but the plot in the manga was being handled well enough to maintain strong publicity, people knew what was coming was good).
The manga sales also dropped exponentially and SJ caring about Bleach dropped with them. To understand you should also know that Naruto had a decline in popularity up until it’s finale, but the sales still went up (this just means the graph of profit wasn’t as steep).
There’s a thing in business and marketing that has to do with the factor of ‘potential.’ From a marketing standpoint, a plateau or a decrease in popularity (despite the possibility of the object under scrutiny doing better than most other objects on the company roster…which Bleach was not managing to do) marks it as having relatively zero value. “We’ve already got the best you have to offer us, so we aren’t as inclined to accommodate and care about you or your product anymore. Instead we’re going to market things that we can still milk for full potential” type of thing.
And (based on Eiichiro Oda who addressed this issue in a SBS of Volume 47): manga rankings (of which we only know at a 7 week margin) are left to the dictation and preference (I’d be forward enough to assume) of the publication’s Editor-in-Chief.
Reader: Oda! My older brother tells me that the comics in Jump magazine run in the order of their popularity. Is that true?!
Oda: That’s a good question from a Jump reader. I get these questions quite often actually. That’s not exactly how it works. The Jump publication’s Editor-in-Chief chooses the order every week. But of course, the popular ones do have a tendency to run in the front. That Editor-in-Chief promotes certain comics on certain weeks depending on the mood. To be specific, the order is intended to “maximize the enjoyment of the reading public.” But it’s up to you to read in whatever order you want!
Do I need to comment on which rank Bleach was in the pecking order?
Bleach was officially labeled a gag-manga by the Jump….do you think that’s because it was a company favorite? That it’s ranking was high? Shounen Jump labeled it as a straight-up joke, a comedy. It’s a complete spit in the face.
By now, do you kind of see how Bleach was? At least from a cold-calculus business standpoint? Especially considering One Piece and Naruto were the measuring sticks Bleach was being held against?
Anime cancelled, manga popularity and sales drop, Kubo constantly being ill and “feeling as though he was failing, the story wasn’t moving, always thinking of pulling the plug.”
Any other manga selling by Bleach’s standards would have tanked years prior. The investment required (again I’m speaking from a strictly business standpoint) is not worth the profit or lack there of being collected.
Then when the biggest, baddest battle, the climax, the closing that required the most attention and advertisement came about…..a sudden 5 chapter limit was placed with no real reason as to why.
Really, truly we have no other option than to conclude Jump finally lost it’s patience.
And it’s a completely reasonable notion to assume Kubo fucked his own creation even more because he himself was screwed out of his 15 year long manga. It’s a common fault in human thought. When something hurts you, especially business wise, you bite back. Obviously, Jump is going to be well-off without Kubo, but Bleach still is and will always be tied to SJ, so if you fuck up an ending and you have no real profit to lose, you simply dirty the name of your publication brand.
It’s elementary psychology and it’s a well-observed pattern. It doesn’t make anybody a baby, it’s a logical assumption and a premeditated denial from the appeased side of an audience.
I mean,the very last volume had worse sales than the very first chapter.
(some don’t have the best credibility because of the audience, but they all correlate and tell of the same data and they can be (and have been) cross-checked. This is just the only way to limit hundreds of websites to 4-5, but let me know if you want more).
I looked for every source I could find to shed positive light, but because Bleach’s quality fell so horribly, so did the anime, so did the sales, so did the fan’s commitment, so did SJ’s patience, so did the respect. I just don’t have any little bit of good news to give you.
It’s not being exaggerated AT ALL how desperately Bleach has been hanging on to it’s lifeline. The anger is justified, the disappointment has merit, and the realization is being fought out in the only concrete concept we have–the canon ships (of which were cheaply defended by saying, “well shit it’s because Ichigo’s and Rukia’s mini-me’s should meet” (also utter crap when you look at the manga where the importance of the next generation was never, not even once the goal of the narrative, was not seen as important, and was not even mentioned).
And it is absolutely bullshit to think for even one second this crap was Kubo’s intended. Nothing original holds for 15 years.
- Rukia was the original main character
- Bleach was originally Snipe
- Ichigo has a completely different look
- Renji was originally implied to be a Kuchiki and had zanpakuto of a different name
- The hierarchical structure of Soul Society didn’t exist in beginning intentions of the manga
- Kubo, in his take, works “characters first and then plot will come naturally”
- The final battle was most likely originally created for Ichigo and Rukia (check the Sand & Rotator poems labeling the two as the Matching Powers,Yhwach bringing the poems back into relevance, and that whole “Kurosaki…Kuchiki” line).
- Kubo not completing his list of wishes/promises
- Kubo literally admitting he felt he was failing as a mangaka, he thought of pulling the plug, it sucked, he wasn’t doing what he wanted, etc.
- Kubo not even planning to be involved in the final novels
- A few hundred loose-ends (not even the small nuances that make for top-notch story-telling, it’s as shallow as we don’t know if half of the characters are dead or alive)
- I could list so damn many, but this legendary, literary mess was not Tite Kubo’s intention. You’d have to be so obtuse, complacent, and imbecilic to believe that.
I’m not going to tell you what the man wanted, given I don’t know myself, but what I could do is safely bet my right leg it wasn’t this.