The Bleach anime is a beloved classic of the genre at this point, but many fans still feel guilty about the excessive amount of add-on content in the series, some of which can be quite odd. While Bleach has some traditionally structured additional stories, some of which are really good quality, the really weird episodes tend to be one-off and have absolutely no connection to what’s going on. These extra episodes can change genres, see characters dress and behave differently from their personalities, and even disrupt classic events in jarring ways.
However, that doesn’t mean there’s no fun with these oddities. Many of Bleach’s spin-offs are designed to highlight the more humorous side of the series and can be quite entertaining at times. They can focus on supporting characters to change the tempo or give celebrities a little more attention. Whether fans like them or not, here are ten of the weirdest sub-episodes in the Bleach anime.
10 Hitsugaya, Karin and the soccer ball – episode #132
This episode shows Ichigo’s sister Karin approaching Captain Hitsugaya, who is currently in the human world on a mission, after seeing him perform an extraordinary soccer kick. When Karin and her friends are challenged to a soccer match by some misbehaving youths, she decides to turn to Hitsugaya for help. Hitsugaya turns out to be very good at soccer and dominates the field after being coaxed a bit, and only after the truth is revealed that this is Ichigo’s sister. The idea of Hitsugaya being attached to Ichigo’s sisters is inherently an odd one, but arbitrarily throwing stones into the mix makes it especially weird compared to other episodes in this season.
9 Thrust! Kemari Tournament Overrun with Ghosts – episode #205
Rurichiyo, an original character in the new Captain Shusuke Amagai spin-off, takes center stage in this episode, which was enough to disappoint a lot of fans. Rurichiyo is arguing with another original character, Kenryu, and the two agree to settle it with a traditional Japanese game called Kemari, which basically involves keeping the ball off the ground. A lot of other characters ended up getting caught up in this as well, with Urahara and Mod Souls acting as commenters for the sake of, obviously, no one. The episode is a classic addition formula, where characters use their abilities in strange ways to aid the game, until eventually all bets are off.
8 Summer! Sea! Swimsuit Festival!! – episode #228
What anime is complete without the mandatory beach episode? Yes, Bleach shows up on the beach, and there’s plenty of hot stuff for people of any taste throughout. Inspired by a spin-off chapter by Bleach creator Tite Kubo that featured certain characters in swimsuits, this beach episode sees many characters appear to frolic in the sun. It sounds normal for anime, but things get pretty weird when the watermelon-themed Hollows appear and start attacking with their tentacle-like vines. However, all was well–this was in fact a deliberate change by Byakuya and a few other captains. Why? That is a good question.
7 Grim Reapers Join the War! Seireitei also has a special for the new year! – episode #355
Fans probably wouldn’t expect Bleach to be the kind of show with special holidays, but at least it happened once. The episode mostly revolves around a kite flying event that quickly turns into competition when one kite accidentally knocks down another. This all ends in disaster when they disrupt the Captain, and the episode switches to Rukia performing a special New Year’s dance at Byakuya’s orders. It was an amalgamation of two completely different ideas, both far removed from Bleach’s central premise. Really, though, it’s an excuse for Rukia to wear a chic kimono for the New Year, making it an episode that caters to fans in some way.
6 The Story of Ikkaku’s Bloody Kendo – episode #133
Once again, a Soul Reaper character is busy in the real world, only to be distracted by sports. This time, the sport in question is Kendo, which is at least related to Shinigami’s usual skill set. Keigo’s sister’s Kendo team was ambushed by opponents hoping to injure them and knock them out of the tournament, so Ikkaku was tasked with training the team to win. However, they ran out of opponents in the tournament, leading to Hitsugaya and Renji being dragged into the situation as well. However, the whole thing turns into a lovers quarrel, and so Ikkaku settles it by hitting Keigo’s sister’s ex-boyfriend and his Kendo team.
5 Side Story… Ichigo and the Magic Lamp – episode #287
Perhaps one of the weirdest episodes of Bleach has to be this one, when Ichigo dreams of an Arabian Nights themed world where everyone has a slightly different name than usual. The main cast participates in a heist in this episode, attempting to steal a rare Snow Crystal, but instead receives a magic lamp, la Aladdin, containing a Rukia deity. It then turns into a weird remake of the Soul Society installment with this theme at the forefront, with Rukia’s partner being executed by the Lights. The episode was inspired by a drawing on Kubo’s one-time title page, but its dreamy tone definitely ranks it among the weirdest.
4 The cry of the soul? Death Rug is born! – episode #229
This episode sees the return of Keigo’s older sister, Mizuho, who has developed feelings for Ikkaku, as she loves bald men. To get her to back off, Yumichika offers to find Ikkaku a wig, trying out various weird styles before deciding on one that sticks to his head. However, when it came time to fight a Hollow, Ikkaku was unable to get out of his gigai body due to the wig being glued on. The entire episode seems to exist as an excuse to draw Ikkaku with some weird hairdo, giving Ichigo and the others a chance to laugh at his ridiculous appearance.
3 Soul Burial Detective, Born Karakuraizer/The Last Day of Karakuraizer – episode #213/214
If there’s one thing Bleach is missing, it’s Power Rangers-style superheroes, or so you can believe. Kon (in Ichigo’s body) was recruited by Urahara to become the guardian of Karakura Town known as the Karakuraizer while the Shinigami characters were busy with the main plot. Kon is eventually joined by other characters from the human world who have been caught up in this, such as Keigo, Tatsuki, and Chizuru. The selection of characters alone is questionable, and then the team is up against a Hollow that looks like a kid who drew it. However, the main insult of these two installments is its placement, as it comes after a very important point in the story for seemingly no reason at all.
2 side stories again! The Enemy This Time Is a Monster? – episode #304
Another dream episode, this one sees Ichigo and his friends being transformed into monsters of folklore. Uryu is a vampire that doesn’t drink blood as it reminds him of Shinigami, while Rukia is a succubus, which will definitely strengthen the Ichigo/Rukia shippers by showing Ichigo thinks of her this way. It even ties into the previous dream episode, bringing back the Snow Crystal and showing flashbacks of its events. One may wonder, how do dream episodes have continuity? Don’t worry about it. While it’s weird, it’s always fun to see the characters in these ridiculous outfits, especially when Ichigo and Uryu’s father is involved.
1 Movie! Festival! Soul Reaper Film Festival! – episode #298
Perhaps one of the most difficult episodes to explain is this, the festival episode. It begins by breaking down the fourth wall, saying that this film festival is to celebrate the movie Bleach: Hell Verse, which confused Ichigo. The Soul Reapers then began putting together a movie for the festival, inviting Mayuri to do the special effects and Rukia as the star, Maid Cop. Ichigo is forced to wear a dog costume and is accidentally hit by Byakuya’s Kido, while dodging Zaraki, who wants to fight him for his own movie. Everything about this episode is ridiculous from start to finish, and it’s actually pretty funny as a result.
Bleach’s filler is definitely… imaginative at times, and it goes to show how wild and weird the series can get when it’s not directly adapted from the manga. The net effect of all these extras is that the anime offers a much lighter and goofy experience than just reading the manga, and it allows its characters to really show their goofier sides. Whether that’s a good thing or not depends on each person’s personal feelings about Bleachbut sometimes a silly act is welcome.