Disney+ Supernatural Shonen Anime Is One Of The Most Popular Shows In History

By Jacob VanGundy | Published


Originally released in 2004, Bleach was one of the defining anime series of its time, helping to make anime mainstream in the United States. Building on the legacy of other popular shonen anime, it became a juggernaut with 366 episodes and several adaptations across multiple mediums. It has endured as one of the most popular anime series of all time.



Bleach follows Ichigo Kurosaki, a teenager who is recruited by a Shinigami named Rukia to help her fight monsters called Hollow. Ichigo and his friends become embroiled in the political infighting among shinigami as well as several other supernatural factions. The central conflict for much of the series is centered around the chaos caused by one of the most powerful Shinigami, Aizen, betraying his society. 

Ichigo’s Pals

One of Bleach’s selling points is its beloved and massive cast of characters. Ichigo’s main group of friends who aid him throughout the show’s various conflicts are his classmates Orihime and Chad who develop supernatural powers due to their exposure to the inhabitants of the spirit world, as well as the Hollow hunting archer Ishida. The show also has many beloved side characters like the warrior shinigami Kenpachi and the shapeshifting Yoruichi. 

A Hugely Popular Anime

Since it was originally released Bleach was immensely popular, bringing in high viewership and critical praise. It frequently broke into the top ten most-watched shows in Japan and was one of the top ten animated shows on Hulu in 2009. Its spiritual elements, beautifully animated fight scenes, diverse group of characters, and unique powers were all frequently praised by critics. 

One Of The Big Three

Part of the legacy Bleach wields is its place in the so-called “big three” of 2000s anime. Along with Naruto and One Piece, it was part of the wave of shonen anime that appeared on Cartoon Network’s Toonami and Adult Swim blocks, which helped anime become a mainstream success in America. Those three shows established many of the tropes of anime for the generations that grew up with them, from unique powersets to endless filler arcs. 



Bleach’s legacy is also evident in the various multimedia adaptations it has spawned in Japan. In addition to the series, there have been four animated films set in the same universe, as well as a live-action film adaptation which was released in Japan in 2018. While the show hasn’t garnered the same level of multimedia success outside of Japan, a live-action movie was planned by Warner Brothers in 2010, though it never seemed to make it past the scrip writing stage. 

Bleach: Thousand-Year Blood War

While the original show ended in 2012, a sequel anime titled Bleach: Thousand-Year Blood War, began in 2022 and is still ongoing. It adapts the manga’s final arc, picking up where the original anime left off. While the new show hasn’t captured the excitement of the original series, its ongoing existence proves that Bleach has staying power.

Stream It Now


The 2000s were a golden age for shonen anime, with some of the genre’s most iconic series all coming out at the same time, and making waves around the world. While the genre is less ubiquitous now, the shows that made anime outside of Dragon Ball Z marketable in the West are worth revisiting. Bleach is available to stream on Disney+ through Hulu.