Ah yes, the classic “welcome to my world” worst-case (best-case?) scenario.
Prior to the isekai craze (at least a good decade or two before), this usually meant becoming a member of a badass organization or being forced into creating one yourself. But whenever these franchises are successfully published, the watch order typically dwindles into inter-group character reflections. Which, depending on who you ask, may either be the best or the worst aspect of enjoying power level discussions.
For a Bleach watch order, the nuance is a bit different, because the orientation or nature of the power should also be taken into consideration. Like, is it inherently evil? Or would it ultimately depend on the deeds of the one using it?
Of course, similar analyses were also conducted for our Dragon Ball watch order, Digimon watch order, and especially Fullmetal Alchemist watch order. But Bleach is still the closest within the classics, apart from D-Grayman apparently, from having a clear-cut black-and-white division between individual abilities.
Recommended watch order
TV episodes mostly follow a linear, chronological path, unless there are extended flashback episodes. The rest of the movies are then technically squeezed in between the arcs, though like with One Piece, they have no impact on the original source material whatsoever. Special and OVAs that are scattered all over are the ones that you should focus more on for non-TV-episodic canon stories.
1. Chronological order
Again, please remember that the movies do not affect the main storyline directly. Think of their power levels as a base of what they did and what they can do within the respective timelines of the TV series and feature film. Or, in the case of Hell Verse, coincides with a specific event within the canon narrative.
- Bleach Season 1 (Episodes 1-7)
- Bleach: Memories in the Rain (Special)
- Bleach: Gotei-13 Omake (Special)
- Bleach Season 1 (Episodes 8-20)
- Bleach Season 2 (Episodes 21-41)
- Bleach Season 3 (Episodes 41-63)
- Bleach: The Sealed Sword Frenzy (Special)
- Bleach Season 4 (Episodes 64-91)
- Bleach Season 5 (Episodes 92-109)
- Bleach the Movie: Memories of Nobody (feature film)
- Bleach Season 6 (Episodes 110-131)
- Bleach Season 7 (Episodes 131-137)
- Bleach the Movie (2): The DiamondDust Rebellion (feature film)
- Bleach the Movie (3): Fade to Black (feature film)
- Bleach Season 7 (Episodes 138-151)
- Bleach Season 8 (Episodes 152-167)
- Bleach Season 9 (Episodes 168-189)
- Bleach Season 10 (Episodes 190-205)
- Bleach Season 11 (Episodes 206-212)
- Bleach Season 12 (Episodes 213-229)
- Bleach Season 13 (Episodes 230-265)
- Bleach Season 14 (Episodes 266-299)
- Bleach the Movie (4): Hell Verse (feature film)
- Bleach Season 14 (Episodes 300-316)
- Bleach Season 15 (Episodes 317-342)
- Bleach Season 16 (Episodes 343-366)
- Beach: Thousand Year Blood War (upcoming new TV series)
2. Release order
Here’s a list of year-based dates to give a better picture of the franchise progression of the series:
- Bleach Season 1 (2004)
- Bleach: Memories in the Rain (2005)
- Bleach: Gotei-13 Omake (2005)
- Bleach Season 2 (2005)
- Bleach Season 3 (2005)
- Bleach: The Sealed Sword Frenzy (2006)
- Bleach Season 4 (2006)
- Bleach Season 5 (2006)
- Bleach the Movie: Memories of Nobody (2006)
- Bleach Season 6 (2007)
- Bleach Season 7 (2007)
- Bleach the Movie: The DiamondDust Rebellion (2007)
- Bleach the Movie: Fade to Black (2008)
- Bleach Season 8 (2008)
- Bleach Season 9 (2008)
- Bleach Season 10 (2008)
- Bleach Season 11 (2009)
- Bleach Season 12 (2009)
- Bleach Season 13 (2009)
- Bleach Season 14 (2010)
- Bleach the Movie: Hell Verse (2010)
- Bleach Season 15 (2011)
- Bleach Season 16 (2011-2012)
- Bleach: Thousand Year Blood War (scheduled for October 2022)
Plot of Bleach
High-school student Ichigo Kurosaki was trying to live his simple life as a young boy, until he witnessed the existence of the Hollow, and encountered the Soul Reaper Rukia Kuchiki. Temporarily unable to fulfill her duties due to the last battle, Ichigo takes on the role of the substitute Soul Reaper after realizing that he has the potential to be one.
Throughout his time as a rookie fighter, he also realizes that many people around him, particularly his close friends were also in one way or another spiritually aware, and thus also know the existence of the Hollow. Together, they take on this brand new world of the supernatural, growing with each new battle, and engaging ever more escalating levels of trials and threats.
Unfortunately, however, Rukia’s actions that led to all of these, particularly her failure in defeating her sworn enemy, even allowing an “ordinary human” to become a Soul Reaper, were condemned by the Soul Society. The sentence for her actions? Why death, of course.
Needless to say, our brave protagonist who now owes his very life to Rukia isn’t going to allow any of that…
Into the gray line, we go next…
Bleach was among the classic long-running series of the early 2000s, originally tiered alongside One Piece and Naruto. However, the latter half of the original source material was never given proper adaptation. The last official episode 366 (prior to the upcoming Thousand Year Blood War), continues somewhere within volume 55 of the original manga. Do take that in mind in case you eventually catch up and it’s somehow not yet October 2022.
As for the OVAs, they’re alright. Not groundbreaking in terms of solidifying the setting, but we wouldn’t exactly recommend skipping them altogether. Unlike the movies, at least.
Looking for other groundbreaking action-filled anime? You should check out our best shounen anime list!