Thursday, June 12, 2014

Still Reading 'Bleach' and 'Naruto' Even If They Are Not Good Reads Anymore

Bleach and Naruto are supposed to be in their final respective arcs already, and are implied to be ending this year or next year.  And I am much disappointed by these two mangas’ developments and plots at the present.  Reading them is not as delightful as before; it almost felt like a chore that I have to get through every Wednesday.      

Bleach, at its early chapters/episodes, has been extremely kick-ass.  It had stood out from other mangas/animes for it was filled with electrifying twists, interesting characters, and badass action.  However, its best arc, for me, has always been the Soul Society Arc (the rescue mission for Rukia).  It was well-written, well-paced, and just totally awesome.  It was Bleach’s peak, in my opinion, and its quality has been in a gradual decline afterwards.  I also approve of its succeeding arcs up to the Fake Karakura Town Arc, but they weren’t as exciting as the Soul Society Arc. 

Bleach started actually sucking during the final battle between Ichigo and Aizen.  It felt to me that it lost its kickassery, creativity, and immense enjoyableness.    The Lost Substitute Shinigami Arc (with its Fullbring nonsense) was bland and needless.  And this current arc that features the Quincy – though it provided us the true background of Ichigo and his parents, which was fascinating – is generally underwhelming.  Of course, there were still flashes of awesomeness – like every time Kenpachi Zaraki makes an appearance since his character development remain fantastic and we are assured that something badass will happen with him around, or when the captains who lost their Bankais seemed to have figured out the way to win even without them – which kindle my enthusiasm and delight; but the manga fail to sustain those flashes.          
Kenpachi Zaraki's badassery...
...makes him Bleach's most consistent awesome thing.
Too bad that reputation took a dive when Ichigo has to save him from some girls.

Compared to Pain and Orochimaru, Tobi and Madara fail in comparison as antagonists in Naruto.  And the “big reveal” of Tobi’s real identity was a game-changing development but not at all mindblowingly awesome (it actually felt like “meh” instead).  Still, the stakes and plot kept Naruto in “must read” status.    There were still lots of badass action and developments.  In fact, it looks as if that it was heading to an epic finale.  Sasuke joins Naruto’s side.  Team Kakashi is reunited.  The four dead Hokages are resurrected – or, rather, re-animated – to aid Naruto.   The Third Shinobi War was heading to its climax.  It was great. 

And then everything went downhill when Obito (who adopted the name “Tobi” and had been pretending to be Madara) had a change of heart.  The real Madara was able to manipulate Obito into truly reviving himself and stealing Hashirama’s chakra from him.  As a villain, Madara is powerful but boring.  Further developments didn’t improve the blandness that Madara as a villain infused to the story.  It was revealed that Naruto and Sasuke are reincarnations of the sons of the “Sage of Six Paths” (ugh). And the revelation of the origin of chakra did not appeal to me.  These made Naruto unreadable and it totally undermines the ludicrous but awesome ninja mythos it has.  But the thing that pissed me most is that Kakashi lost his Sharingan! When that happened, it finally made me realize that I’ve lost all enjoyment reading Naruto.
I could have eventually forgiven the horrible costumes, the boring villain, and unexciting mess of plot developments...
...but this was the last straw.  Naruto sucks.

Still I read Bleach and Naruto even though I am not pleased with these two mangas now.  Why?  It’s because I’ve been following and loving their stories ever since I was in high school, and since they are supposed to be in their final arcs already, it felt that I owe it to them to see it through the end – even when they are generally sucking.  That is the curse of fandom.    

Besides, I am also holding on to the hope that, eventually, things will get better.  It’s still not too late for improvements happening on their plots.  The stories can still become epic at moment’s notice.  It’s still possible for them to end in a high note.  And I can’t miss that.  (Again, the curse of fandom)     

Still, I wish they have been consistently good as One Piece and Fairy Tail.  Despite the slow pace sometimes, these two are legitimately the most delightful reads among the major mangas (Kuroko No Basuke is my most favorite manga nowadays but I don’t consider it a “major” title).     

No comments: