And it's funny, because where my 2020 experience of re-reading/finishing Inuyasha (which had been my primary/only fandom 2003-2005) were completely different than the first time, and I understood the story in different ways and found myself relating very differently to it, my experience of re-reading/finishing Bleach was pretty much exactly the same as the first time (2007-2009), lol. I love the exact same characters in the exact same way and am into the exact same plot points and want the exact same things out of my relationship to Bleach.
I don't think it's because I am a dramatically different person now than I was in 2003, but not a dramatically different person than I was in 2007... I'm pretty sure I'm dramatically different than both of those past selves, though I suppose I'd agree that there's something to be said of the developmental gap between middle school and high school.
Maybe another part of it is that back in the day, Inuyasha was a fic-writing fandom for me? Whereas it very definitely wasn't this second time around, so by extension my experience of the series was fundamentally changed. Meanwhile, Bleach was never a fic-writing fandom for me, even as I loved it very, very deeply (perhaps moreso than I did my contemporaneous fic-writing fandom, weirdly enough). And I think Bleach is unique in that regard. Usually my non-fic fandoms are tightly-composed enough that I don't feel called to explore all the crevices and build out character interiorities, etc. Bleach is a lot of things, but "tight" is probably the absolutely last word I'd use to describe it. XP Like, DEAD last.
But then and now, the way I love Bleach is wanting to collect random facts and stats and bios of all the characters, and to know more about the worldbuilding and its politics and its day-to-day. I want to talk and speculate and headcanon, but always in the form of bullet points and comics--I have zero desire to write or read for it. It's not that I don't love the characters in addition to the worldbuilding, or that I don't want to spend time with them. I just want to spend a different kind of time.
Unfortunately, that means there's no natural outlet for this fannish fervor, as opposed to fic, where you can be like, "all right! I will release the fannish love building in my body by writing a thing." For Bleach, it's just kind of...there, and I don't know where to put it because there's no good place for it to go. XP In high school my friends and I made a turn-based strategy board game based on Bleach that we'd play during lunch, which was a lot of fun, but that's not an option this time around. SO I DON'T KNOW WHAT TO DO WITH MYSELF.
Also, I'm REELING because if you read 15 years' worth of manga in three days, shit hits the fan altogether too quickly, without you being able to really process all the traumas your favorite characters are withstanding. So I am REELING because in the last three days I have experienced my fave:
- lose his childhood friend to the manipulative clutches of the villain, who groomed her as his subordinate (before revealing himself to be a treasonous fuck)
- watch said childhood friend be stabbed and left for dead by the main villain, and shortly thereafter have the villain do the exact same thing to him
- witness the psychological deterioration of said friend in the aftermath of her idol/commanding officer's treason
- be himself accused (incorrectly) of treason and hunted down
- be forced to kill a completely different childhood friend, who'd committed completely different treason (POSSIBLY POOR TASTE IN FRIENDS, BUT HE DOESN'T HAVE MANY, SO I GUESS YOU TAKE WHAT YOU CAN GET)
- try to kill main villain, who is a master of illusions, only to accidentally thrust his sword through his psychologically-damaged childhood friend's chest, and then fall to the ground in a bloody heap with her and stay there for some unexplained amount of time, because he's not the main character and the plot moved on from them
- be stripped of his bankai, which in Bleach is: 1) a character's primary weapon/fighting capacity (bad thing to lose in the middle of a war...), 2) functionally a magical "familiar"--which in his case is an ice dragon, and one of the few entities he actually has a close relationship and enjoys being with :(
- reunite with his dragon, only to nearly die in battle anyway
- BE CONTROLLED AS A ZOMBIE BY THE ENEMY
- BECOME A DRUG-TESTING EXPERIMENT FOR THE SERIES' RESIDENT MAD SCIENTIST
- which requires him to, while a zombie, also be drugged and stabbed through the chest with a sword
- come out of this whole mess alive, somehow, but with a "significantly reduced expected lifespan."
DDDDDDDDDD; He's just a kid, omg. LET HIM LIVE. I mean, my second- and third-favorite characters also endured the same or worse (occupational hazard...?) But he's not as main a character as the other two, so all of this trauma felt more like collateral than the driving trauma of the story, which somehow makes it feel worse. MY POOR BABY. Sort of like Kevin and Linda Tran, except at least in Bleach the main protagonists did not have an active hand in bestowing/aggravating the trauma, and were overall a helpful and positive (if somewhat removed) force in the way things turned out. XP So I guess there's that.