Warner Brothers Adapting BLEACH For The Big Screen

Founder and Editor; Toronto, Canada (@AnarchistTodd)
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Warner Brothers Adapting BLEACH For The Big Screen
Given how Warner Brothers has struggled to bring Akira to US screens I can't imagine how they think this will be any easier:

Warner Brothers have hired producer Peter Segal and writer Dan Mazeau to adapt Tite Kubo's popular manga Bleach - already the subject of a long running anime series and multiple animated features in Japan - to the big screen in the US.

Frankly, I don't see the path to success on this. The story behind Bleach is an enormous, sprawling thing with a huge cast of characters set in a universe that requires a great deal of explanation. The origin story alone - in which Japanese teen Ichigo travels to the afterlife and becomes a sort of death god to battle evil spirits known as Hollows - is an absolute beast that will be extraordinarily hard to contain within the running time of a single feature, never mind that the mythology that anchors the whole thing is something entirely foreign to US audiences.

It's been ages since I watched any of the Bleach anime but if I recall correctly it took pretty much the entire first series just to get Ichigo to Soul Society and a whole lot more for him to battle through the various obstacles between him and his initial goal. Wrangling that story line down to feature length - and that's the story they're going to have to start with - will require radical changes.
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ikilledbambiFebruary 23, 2012 12:15 PM

they must be funny guys :D my only wish is to not adapt One Piece

DonSenorFebruary 23, 2012 7:17 PM


TOP2NE1February 23, 2012 9:58 PM

Don't fret too much, Bleach was bad to begin with!

AlendraFebruary 24, 2012 2:28 AM

So far it sounds like shit. The original story is wonderful as it is. All the characters, their reasons for interacting the way they do, their relationship to one another, this movie's going to tear it to pieces.

It'll be boobs boobs boobs fighting fighting fighting no feelings revenge angst boobs fighting angst, the end.

If Rukia's even IN it, which I doubt because she doesn't have a major rack, she'll be Asian while everyone else is some tan skinned knock-off.

butonFebruary 24, 2012 4:00 AM

They tried the same lame move with Dragon Ball some time ago. It was a bad one. What's next? Ranma 1/2? :))

SnailFebruary 24, 2012 6:45 AM

Aesthetics of the characters and settings must always be spot-on with certain properties. That, I will be adamant upon with the 'Bleach' title.

The story however could be barely re-worked into a 2 hour feature, and still appease fans and newcomers alike. It is not impossible.

Features such as 'Watchmen' and 'Storm Riders' made it work. Every arc of 'Bleach' is simple and straightforward.

huffy08February 24, 2012 7:27 AM

"It'll be boobs boobs boobs fighting fighting fighting no feelings revenge angst boobs fighting angst, the end."

Hmm, sounds pretty faithful to the manga to me.

huffy08February 24, 2012 7:29 AM

"Given how Warner Brothers has struggled to bring Akira to US screens I can't imagine how they think this will be any easier:"

You ever read Bleach Todd? Because a complex epic brimming with metaphysical questions and social commentary it is not. While adapting something that's a bajillion volumes into a two-hour movie might be tricky as long as there's lots of fighting it'll be fine.

Todd BrownFebruary 24, 2012 9:49 AM

I haven't read it but I've watched a lot of the anime. And I totally agree that it's not complex metaphysically. The issue is that the cast of characters is HUGE.

Look at it this way. If you're going to tell the Bleach story you have to start with the origin story, which is Ichigo and Rukia, Ichigo getting powers, Rukia being condemned and Ichigo going to save her. That storyline is what introduces you to absolutely EVERYTHING in this universe so there's really no way around it. If you're going to do BLEACH you have to tell some version of that story.

On paper it seems simple enough, it even falls into a clean three act structure. Act One: Ichigo and Rukia meet, Ichigo gains powers. Act Two: Rukia is taken away for trial, Ichigo and his friends train up to save her. Act Three: The actual assault on Soul Society. Problem is that exact story took the anime - which everybody is going to judge this film against - THREE FULL SEASONS to tell. Sixty Two episodes. If you chop of five minutes per episode to allow for credits you're still talking about compressing NINE HUNDRED AND THIRTY minutes of story into a two hour or less movie.

AKIRA is more complex metaphysically, sure, but the source story is much shorter and more manageable than BLEACH, and the initial plan at least was to actually expand it from the single film form that most people know it as into two feature to give the ideas a bit more room to breath. Right from the outset with BLEACH they're going to have to go the opposite way and start radically cutting down. There's no way around it. They either need to create an entirely new story, completely separate from the established storyline or they need to entirely drop at least two thirds of the characters, most of those being removed from Soul Society.

Just approach it from a basic mathematical standpoint. On Ichigo's side you've got Ichigo, Rukia, Kon, Orihime, Chad, Ishida and Urahara - all of whom have distinct powers and origin stories of their own that need to be addressed somehow. On the Soul Society side you've got the heads of thirteen divisions, plus their deputies, all of whom again have their own distinct powers and their own alliances and loyalties which need to be spelled out for the story to work. Even if you only focus on, say, five of the divisions that's still another ten principal characters to work with. Let's say you give each of those principal characters something around three minutes - which is probably not enough - to establish themselves, their powers, etc and you're already at over fifty minutes of run time in the movie without having told an ounce of actual story.

My hunch is that the way this will go will be to radically simplify Soul Society and greatly reduce the number of characters and the amount of fighting there. That being the case Ishida will probably also be greatly reduced or even removed from the story. I would expect Kon to go as well. I would expect no more than two prominent captains in Soul Society with the others present only in the background as a nod to fans, if they are present at all.

Todd BrownFebruary 24, 2012 9:59 AM

No kidding ... Bleach is one of the more fan-service heavy series around ...

Ard VijnFebruary 24, 2012 10:31 AM

Which reminds me of Peter Jackson's efforts to get Lord of the Rings off the ground. When he was gunning for two films (knowing that nobody was willing to finance him for three) he consistently was asked to make it one movie, and drop some hobbits out of it.