Bleach (ブリーチ Burīchi) is a Japanese manga series written and illustrated by Tite Kubo. Bleach follows the adventures of Ichigo Kurosaki after he obtains the powers of a Shinigami —a death personification similar to the Grim Reaper—from another Shinigami, Rukia Kuchiki. His newfound powers force him to take on the duties of defending humans from evil spirits and guiding departed souls to the afterlife.
Ichigo Kurosaki is a teenager gifted with the ability to see spirits. His life is drastically changed by the sudden appearance of a Soul Reaper—one who governs the flow of souls between the human world and the afterlife—named Rukia Kuchiki, who arrives in search of a Hollow, a dangerous lost soul that absorbs energy from souls. When Rukia is severely wounded defending Ichigo from the Hollow, she attempts to transfer a part of her reiatsu energy to Ichigo so that he can defeat the Hollow. However, Ichigo takes almost all of her energy, transforming into a Soul Reaper and allowing him to defeat the Hollow with ease. With her powers diminished, Rukia is left stranded in the human world until she can recover her strength. In the meantime, Ichigo must take over Rukia's role as a Soul Reaper, battling Hollows and guiding souls to the afterlife realm known as the Soul Society.
Bleach was first conceived from a desire on Tite Kubo's part to draw Shinigami in a kimono, which formed the basis for the design of the Soul Reapers in the series and the conception of Rukia Kuchiki. The original story concept was submitted to Weekly Shōnen Jump shortly after the cancellation of Tite Kubo's previous manga, Zombiepowder, but was rejected. Manga artist Akira Toriyama saw the story and wrote a letter of encouragement to Kubo. Bleach was accepted for publication a short time later in 2001, and was initially intended to be a shorter series, with a maximum serialization length of five years. Early plans for the story did not include the hierarchical structure of the Soul Society, but did include some characters and elements that were not introduced into the plot until the Arrancar arc, such as Ichigo's Soul Reaper heritage. The series was originally meant to be named "Black" due to the color of the Soul Reapers' clothes, but Kubo thought the title was too generic. He later tried the name of "White," but came to like "Bleach" more for its association with the color white and that he did not find it too obvious.
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