Jul 27 2008 4:23pm

SDCC: The Cute, the Funny, and the SPOILER

Ichigo Kurosaki, Rukia, Chad-uh, Kon bear, Inoue, Quincy, and all the Soul Reapers. How can anyone not like Bleach, one of Viz Media’s most popular manga and anime? (Note: the plush version of crabby Ichigo and the equally cranky Kon in the photo. I want.)

This was my first real “fan panel” at San Diego. The kind where every sentence bears the gravity of an Announcement, and fans scream appropriately. And everyone comes in costume.

This was Bleach creator Tite Kubo’s first visit to America and his first trip outside of Japan. “For this I obtained my passport,” he said. Wow.

I’ve had my passport since I was really little, and I haven’t really gone anywhere.

The panel opened up with exclusive footage (“never before seen on the planet”) of Tite Kubo’s private studio where he draws and colors Bleach.

No need to describe every detail, but I will say this: has anyone seen the DVD extras on Hayao Miyazaki’s Spirited Away? Where Mr. Miyazaki and his animators work late into the night, and Miyazaki gets up to, like, chop scallions and katsu to make ramen for everyone in the studio? It had something of that homey intimate feeling.

And oh my lord, his CD collection.

Snippets from the Panel:

Moderator: “So, why is the kitchen so clean?”
[whisper of translation]
Kubo: “It’s very clean because we don’t cook.”

Moderator: “When did you realize you had such a large fan base in the U.S.?”
Kubo: “Ah!” [in Japanese]
[whisper of translation]
Kubo: “That was yesterday.”

And then, when all was going well, one of those classic spoiler moments happened. The horror.

Audience question: “Will you do a back story for _____?”
[whisper of translation]
Kubo: “I will draw.”

[The audience erupted into a deafening roar, and you got the feeling that something monumental had been announced, Puzzled, I asked the next person who ____ was. He told me. I now hate him. Shoot the messenger.]

Kubo: “I knew after writing the first chapter that ____ was a Soul Reaper.”

It wasn’t quite a Darth-Vader-is-my-father-moment, but it was still a little heart-stopping.

Anyway, something funny to end this heartbreak:

The Kon bear is one of the most beloved characters in Bleach. When asked how he came up with it, Kubo included this little story in his explanation (mind you, Kon looks a little...busted. He’s not the cutest plushie on the shelf):

At some sort of carnival, Kubo saw a little boy and his dad. The boy wanted this stuffed animal, but his dad thought it too expensive. So his dad bought him a cheaper—and really, uglier—stuffed animal. The boy cried, because it was so ugly, and threw it away.

That was the inspiration for Kon.

BTW, the Kon bear backpack sold out at Comic Con. So there you go.

And as Kubo told his story, the (person dressed up as a six-foot tall) Kon bear in the back of the panel room hung his head in sadness. The crowd howled. It was a Comic Con moment.

Eric Chapman
1. IdleThreat
I can think of many reasons not to like Bleach, but this isn't the appropriate place for that tyraid.
Jim Rion
2. JimR
I love Bleach, personally, as long as it stays on Story.
The Manga story, that is, with the Death Gods (When did they become "Soul Reapers"?) fighting the Hollows. All the animation stuff with the "Bounts" and the crazy drunken Captains, meh. Waste of my precious time with Nell.
Of course, I understand the need for it, what with the different schedules of the comic and the series, but still...
Jen Hill
3. greybon
Okay, I have to ask, is that spoiler from something that hasn't released over here yet?

And dude, you so need a stuffed Kon. Indeed. :)

JimR: I'm confused. In the Manga, they are Soul Reapers fighting the Hollows from the 1st book. When did they become Death Gods? Hmm. Bounts, though. I must be farther behind in the series than I thought. I'm up to volume 22. Doesn't sound like a promising story arc though.
Jim Rion
4. JimR
#3, Greybon--Sorry, I'm working off the Japanese versions w. personal translations. The Japanese is "Shinigami", which very definitely translates as "Death Gods."
"Bounts" are characters that only appear in the animated series--as filler to let the comics get far enough ahed to make another season's worth of shows.

The manga story arc is pretty good, though. Don't worry.
David Siegel
5. bigscary
Bleach, like so many shonen manga, would be much better if it did not succumb to shonen-manga-and-anime-made-therefrom disease, more commmonly known as tournamentitis. Luckily, Bleach, like One Piece, only suffers from pseudo-tournementitis, which has similar superficial symptoms, and can be chronic, but can go into permanent remission, whereas the true form is invariably fatal (to fun).
Jen Hill
6. greybon
@JimR -- Thanks for the clarification on that. Not sure why they changed Shinigami in the US version. Death Note uses the Japanese word, plus the English translation of it as "Death God."

I really wish they would release these sooner in the US. Maybe I should just suck it up and learn Japanese. :P
7. kakashi
the soul reaper that is ______ is ichigo's dad. Also i got Tite Kubo's autograph

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