In my ongoing efforts to accomplish nothing productive with my life, I got an urge to rewrite Bleach in a way I think would be more interesting. Of course, that’s a momentous undertaking, so instead of writing the whole thing out I just threw together an outline. Since I’m not going to go reread the entire series some of this may be foggy, but hey, who’s reading this?
Beginning through Soul Society:
-Honestly I don’t think I’d change much for the first two arcs. Maybe just some miscellaneous things, like the shape of Tensa Zengetsu’s guard, and possibly a few bits of foreshadowing. Oh, and I feel like Aizen’s shikai should be a little less OP—as opposed to “see it once and I will forever have total control over your senses”, maybe give it a time limit, possibly a month or two so the Gotei 13 could still reasonably be under its spell during the Soul Society arc. Fairest would be that he needs his shikai active to use its effects, but maybe a little OP isn’t too bad.
The Vizard and Hueco Mundo:
-Since the biggest criticism of the arc is that it’s essentially the same as the Soul Society arc, changing the formula would probably be a good place to start. Since Soul Society was sort of allying with Urahara and the Vizard, an idea I had was that they could use Urahara’s portal-opening skills to just make frequent raids into Hueco Mundo rather than an extended infiltration done by Ichigo and co, essentially the same as the Arrancar popping into Karakura now and then (which would probably also keep happening). It could still go on for a while, but experiencing each world in short bits might make that more tolerable.
-The teams being sent on raids would change regularly as well. A number of Soul Reapers, Vizards, and Ichigo’s friends would gather together each time and be dispatched, while others would stay behind and train or defend Karakura or something else. It’d allow a great chance to showcase all the characters, not just the popular ones, as well as give them more of an opportunity to lose some fights and be brought back to safety to reflect on that.
-To facilitate this setup, it would sure help if Soul Society had an idea of what might be strategic places to strike in Hueco Mundo. A mole in Aizen’s forces would help this greatly, and I’d like to suggest Mashiro Kuna. (The Vizard lady with the green hair, I had to look up her name but apparently that’s it.) Hear me out: it’s been stated that she can maintain her Hollow Mask for 15 hours, without ever even training to control it. If she approached Aizen sometime before the plot started, keeping her mask on and claiming that her Hollow has taken control of her body, she could probably pull that off, as long as she keeps the mask on whenever Aizen’s nearby. Maybe she actually would train and lengthen her duration to be able to keep it on even longer, perhaps even indefinitely. So Aizen would think he has a powerful Hollowfied Shinigami in his ranks, but in reality she is able to leak information to the other Vizard, who in turn pass it on to the Soul Society. Of course, Aizen would almost definitely want to cast her under his zanpakuto’s control, but if we say Mashiro’s Hollow Mask makes her immune to it (either as a general Vizard power or because of the lenses her mask creates over her eyes), Aizen would be none the wiser and this could work out.
-Obviously we’ll still have Ichigo training to control his own Hollow. Since he doesn’t respond well at first, he’d probably try going on a raid right away, and I imagine being in Hueco Mundo would give his Hollow a much better chance of taking control for a bit. Whether this would change the circumstances of Ichigo finally taking control of the Hollow is up in the air, but the series of raids would provide him a better time frame to gradually increase his control of the mask, rather than just suddenly jumping from novice to master like it sort of felt like in the manga.
-Also Chad. Chad still gets his left arm armor in Hueco Mundo, though I might change its color scheme to match his right arm and come up with one singular name for the power rather than giving each arm a different name. Orihime might develop some new powers too—I think she’s technically a Fullbringer also? At least, I’d probably make that official in this version, so maybe she gets her 4 spirit Reflect early, or gets an entirely new ability added to her repertoire. And this should go without saying: Chad and Orihime get to win fights. From here on out. Interesting ones, and maybe a couple of easy ones later on just to be nice.
-There’s a question of where this leaves Uryu. As I recall, he only agreed to go to Hueco Mundo because he wanted to help rescue Orihime, so with that not being the case I’m not sure if he would want to participate in the raids, especially since there should still be some pretty high tensions between him and the Soul Society, what with him being the last Quincy and everything. Though as long as the Arrancar keep attacking Karakura, that’d still give Uryu plenty of opportunity to show off, so maybe it wouldn’t be a real problem.
-Tension with Soul Society in general might be beneficial here. For Uryu, they’re the people who wiped out his people. As for Ichigo, some of the shinigami might still not entirely trust him, or hold a grudge over his rampage. Plus, while in Hueco Mundo, I imagine the shinigami would want to smite as many Hollows as possible, and if this included some less than threatening foes like Nell and her gang, I’m sure Ichigo would have a problem with that. It’d provide a way to continue examining the flaws of Soul Society and perhaps show a gradual process of mending them.
-With continued attacks on Karakura, it’s possible that more of Ichigo’s human friends could develop Fullbrings and get a formal introduction to the spiritual world, but I don’t have any specific ideas about that.
Fake Karakura Town:
-I think the basic setup here works as a climax for the Hueco Mundo era. The circumstances might be different, though: I imagine Mashiro would get word out about Aizen’s plan to attack, and perhaps this is when Ichigo and some others actually target Aizen’s castle in an attempt to stop him. They wouldn’t, of course, and we’d still get some fights in Hueco Mundo while other battles are going on in Fake Karakura, though I guess we’d need to decide which Espada are staying behind to still be fought in Hueco Mundo at this point…maybe only the top five are still around and only Ulquiorra and Yammy stay behind? I think that’s more or less what happened in the manga.
-Ichigo and a couple of others would take on Ulquiorra. I definitely think Ulquiorra’s second Resureccion is unnecessary and, well…pulled out of thin air, so I’d cut that. I also think Ichigo’s Arrancar transformation is a little out there, though it might work better if it came from Ichigo’s Inner Hollow agreeing to work closer with Ichigo and meld their powers into something more potent. As long as it doesn’t revive him from near-death and is more evenly-matched with Ulquiorra instead of reversal-curb-stomping him, I guess it’s not so bad. Also I’d prefer to keep his original mask design, but that’s just straight nostalgia.
-Whoever goes to Hueco Mundo and doesn’t fight Ulquiorra would fight Yammy, and I think this would be the larger group. I’d want this fight to be on-screen and very difficult, forcing several characters to combine their powers in interesting ways to figure out a way to topple the guy who’s supposedly the strongest Espada. (I mean, I’m not entirely on board with him secretly being the 0 Espada, but…I’ll keep it here so there are at least two Espada guarding Hueco Mundo while Aizen’s away.)
-I recall most of the fights in Fake Karakura being alright. Though, I remember being dissatisfied with Yamamoto’s fight—an Arrancar created specifically to seal his flames is a fine idea, but I’d like to see it more as a full battle, and maybe end with the old man being worn down naturally (and maybe a cheap shot from Aizen) rather than just crumbling after throwing himself on his exploding opponent.
-Admittedly, I’m not entirely sure where Grimjow would be in all this. His fight with Ichigo would probably happen prior to this final battle, and I’m not sure if he would go back to Aizen after that, or if Aizen would even take him back. Maybe he does, and Grimjow ends up fighting someone else in Hueco Mundo who holds him off so Ichigo can finish off Ulquiorra? Or maybe he comes in to help Ichigo fight Ulquiorra? It’s hard to say. I am totally okay with him surviving this arc, though.
-So…that brings us to Aizen. Let’s start with what oddly bothered me the most: over 20 chapters with the same title. Either don’t do that, or give them all different subtitles, like earlier repeating titles (which I always thought was kinda cool). As for how the fight actually plays out…gee, what do I remember…well, if he’s attained god-like power then it does make sense he’d curbstomp a lot of people, but seeing them put up a little more fight might be more interesting. The real question here is Ichigo vs Aizen. I think I can get behind Isshin having Ichigo learn the Final Getsuga Tenshou, though maybe there should be a little more reason as to why—maybe Ichigo tries fighting Aizen with his Arrancar form (which he can now toggle) and plenty of help, but still isn’t able to win, so they pull back while the others continue to hold Aizen off. Obtaining the technique would be done in either Karakura or Soul Society, since I still feel the sudden Hyperbolic Time Chamber thing was…well, sudden. When Ichigo comes back, everyone else would probably be on the brink of death, and rather than doing a short curbstomp battle to no real effect I’d prefer him just use the Final Getsuga Tenshou right away, lose his powers, and let Urahara’s seal activate to finally defeat Aizen.
-Also I’m not sure I really got Gin’s character? So maybe some tweaks would be made to that.
Since this ended up being long and I’m not quite done with the final arc yet, I think I’m going to cut it here and post the rest another time. I already know my revisions for the last arc are going to be extensive…