In the manga Bleach, one of the most popular parts of the story was the Arrancar Arc. In this arc, various exciting battles occur in the Soul Society, the Human World, and Hueco Mundo. The Arrancar Arc takes place in Volumes 37-48 of the manga and episodes 266-310 of the anime adaptation. Today, I would like to focus on the middle part of the Arrancar Arc, in which the Shinigami (Soul Reapers), Espada, and Visords (also spelled ‘Vizards’) fight against each other in the Human World. Let’s look back and think about the charms of the characters. Please be aware that there are spoilers for the Arrancar Arc in this article.
This article contains some spoilers for The Arrancar arc of Bleach
(Volumes 37-48 of the manga, and episodes 266-310 of the anime adaptation)
Espada: The Battle Scenes and the Characters’ Personalities
One of the most fascinating factors of the manga Bleach is the author’s high-skilled drawing abilities and artistic taste. The beautiful frontispieces and the characters’ unique battle techniques, such as the Kido, grab the readers’ hearts. These artistic elements of the manga are inherited by the anime, such as in the opening sequence and the title cuts.
Then, how about in the battle scenes? There are many differences between the anime and manga in various scenes in Bleach. Compared to the original manga, the battle scenes in the anime focus mainly on the battles themselves, rather than on the characters’ psychological depictions. This is to make the scenes look more powerful and exciting. However, the anime instead carefully depicts the uniqueness of each member of the Espada more than in the manga.
This is especially prominent for Starrk, the Primera Espada, and Lilynette. Their battle against Kyouraku is one of the longest in the Arrancar Arc, both in the manga and anime. In the manga, Starrk and Lilynette’s background story is revealed only after they lose the battle. However, in the anime, many flashbacks about their past are shown whenever the two characters appear in a scene. I strongly believe that this change was made in the anime in order to clearly express ‘Solitude’, the Aspect of Death which Starrk represents. In the manga, the reader can tell that Starrk feels lonely by looking at his facial expressions, actions, and the way he calls Aizen’s name. Also, it first seems like he is just a lazy guy, but as the story proceeds, the reader starts to understand that Starrk feels hesitation towards becoming strong. However, it is difficult to express these complicated aspects of Starrk’s personality through the speedy battle scenes of the anime. I assume that Starrk’s flashback scenes were illustrated not just at the end but also in the middle of the battle scenes so that Starrk and Lilynette’s inner personalities would be emphasized.
Harribel, who represents ‘Sacrifice’, is another character who is well-depicted in the anime. In the anime, there are scenes in which Harribel grieves the deaths of her three subordinates who were killed by Genryuusai, and she also has flashbacks of her first encounter with them. These scenes, which were not included in the manga, all show what kind of person Harribel is.
The anime adaptation does not copy every subtle expression from the manga, and rather illustrates the characters’ personalities in between the fierce battle scenes. This gives the anime a different depth compared to the manga.
The Visored: The Character Depictions of Shinji and Hiyori
Shinji Hirako is one of the leaders of the Visored (also spelled ‘Vizards’). When the Shinigami captains are fighting against Arrancars and are about to lose, Shinji brings the other seven members of the Visored to save the Shinigami. I’m sure all fans got excited when reading or watching this scene.
Shinji’s actions are a little different in the manga and the anime. Let’s first think back on the scene in which the eight members of the Visored come to the Human World and see the Gotei 13 members for the first time in a long while. Shinji goes to see Genryuusai, the Head-Captain of the Gotei 13, and makes a ‘greeting’. When Genryuusai asks Shinji, ‘Are we to consider you an ally for now?’, he answers, ‘By no means are we your allies. We’re Sousuke’s enemies. There is someone else we support, and that’s Ichigo Kurosaki.’ When he says Ichigo’s name in this scene of the manga, Shinji is showing his back to Genryuusai. However, in the anime, he looks at Genryuusai and gives him a glare. Also, when Genryuusai calls out to Shinji in the manga, Shinji is looking away, but in the anime, he looks straight at the Head-Captain and responds to him. Let’s also think back on the scene in which Baraggan gets defeated by Soifon and Hacchi. Shinji, who was battling against Tousen and Ichimaru mentions, ‘Another one of your members seem to have been beaten.’ This line does not appear in the manga. Shinji is a character who seems to be carefree and who does not show his inner feelings. However, he truly despises Aizen and trusts Ichigo. Shinji’s inner feelings are expressed more clearly in the anime than in the manga through his words and actions, so that the viewers can easily empathize with him.
On the other hand, Hiyori is more loud and talkative in the anime compared to the manga, even while she is fighting. One of the biggest differences between the manga and anime is prominent in the scene in which the members of the Visored and Shinigami confront Aizen after they defeat the Espada. Hiyori is the first one to yell at Aizen and express her anger. In the anime, she starts speaking about her life in the Soul Society, in which each Shinigami was working together as a team even under severe circumstances. The reason why Hiyori bears a grudge against Aizen is not just because he betrayed the Gotei 13. It is also because Aizen made Hiyori hurt her friends with her own hands in the Hollowfication experiments, and he ruined her relationship with them. This is not something that is depicted in the original manga.
Both in the manga and anime, the Visored members’ anger reach its peak when they confront Aizen. I believe that Hiyori’s lines about her past were added into the anime because she is the perfect character to represent the Visored and express everyone’s anger. Through these scenes, the viewers are able to understand the strong bonds among the members of the Visored and the importance of the Shinigami and Visored fighting together.
The Complicated Battles and the Characters’ Inner Feelings
In the Arrancar Arc, the story is rather complicated, and it is difficult to understand the relationship among each group: Shinigami, Espada, Aizen’s group, and the Visored. The Visored do not care about the Shinigami, but they support Ichigo because they have a grudge against Aizen. The members of the Espada are not just fighting because they have the desire to destruct things; they are faithful to Aizen; they each have their own reasons to fight, and therefore, they execute their plans. In the anime, these aspects are depicted in a different way compared to the manga, so that the viewers would be able to understand the story easily. When you watch the Bleach anime, I recommend you pay special attention to not only the cool battle scenes, but also to the character’s personalities and relationships. Then, you would be able to enjoy the world of Bleach from a whole new perspective!