Another Anime I enjoyed when I was younger, Bleach was a show which I only gradually came to appreciate in the second season when Ichigo– our default male protagonist– launches an incursion into the Soul Society, that place where all Soul Reapers live and work. Done to save the life of Yukia, the reaper who saved him from a monstrous “Hollow” attack, the second season introduced me to a program loaded with interesting characters and action.

You’ve probably guessed that I don’t watch much Bleach anymore; if so, then you would be correct. It has since faded from my purview along with many other such loves from my childhood. Though I did watch some online dubs a few year ago, since then, Bleach has remained merely a memory.

But, like many pieces of Japanese texts, Bleach shows the now expected allusion to the feudal period. Specifically, through the Soul Society.

As I said, the Soul Society is the home of the Soul Reapers. And even though this society is home to Soul Reapers the world-over, all of it has a twinge of Japanese history. Specifically, medieval history. Noticeable immediately, the dress of the Soul Reapers will remind people of the kimono, the distinctive black and white colors and simple swords denoting a class above and beyond the hum-drum lives of those who live in shabby huts outside the Soul Society’s fortress. This, then, is the other historical trace; though the exact class nature of the Soul Society is never directly addressed, at least in my relatively scant understanding of the franchise, cursory glances suggest that the Soul Reapers act as feudal police while the regular spirits outside the castle-academy complex, exist in a quasi-living state. I won’t attempt to delineate the specifics of what may or may not be the reality of the Soul Society; I simply have no access to this information. But, one can concretely say that the Soul Society is Bleach’s one true connection to the medieval past.

That is all I can really say at the moment. Until I study more of feudal Japan, and until I study more of Bleach, I cannot comment beyond these specifics.

Regardless, I look forward to, someday, digging up additional facts about Japanese feudalism. Maybe on that day, I can go back and give Bleach the treatment it deserves. Until then, though, these quick musings will be enough. If you have any comments on medieval Japan vis-à-vis Bleach, please comment below and help me forward my education.

Thanks and thanks for reading!

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