There have been some rumors floating around that Bleach, the beloved anime, is definitely coming back. I had sort of lost hope on it as it's been a while and I didn't expect a hiatus, but I somehow stumbled on a really good Bleach fight last night and it left me wondering, so I looked into things. The rumors generally pointed to a September return of Bleach.
Reprise of the awful musical
Unfortunately, the only thing we got in September was an awful reprise of the awful musical (http://www.crunchyroll.com/anime-news/2012/09/09-1/video-bleach-rock-musical-reprise-wraps). I've seen a few other blog posts that take the attitude that it's ridiculous that there's enough demand to bring back a crappy musical yet there's not enough demand for the anime.
As horrible as this musical is, the good news is that this may be a way for the money grubbers to gauge if Bleach still has enough interest in it for it to be financially worth it to bring it back. However, it could just be a last dance (literally) before Bleach circles the grave
The manga is still too close to the anime
The basic conjecture I have seen from around the web is that the Bleach manga is continuing, and it will continue for a long time, but that the anime is still too close to the manga. Returning to the anime now only leaves a window for about 10 to 20 episodes from estimates I've seen before they would have to go back to filler.
Naruto had this happen, and they managed to keep the series going for nearly a year on filler episodes. It's very possible Bleach may be taking a break instead of going for a year of fillers after seeing how it went with Naruto. The transition between Naruto and Naruto Shipuuden is one of the longest ones in existence.
However, there have been plenty of good anime that simply lost viewers and disappeared forever. D. Gray Man is one, and so is Hit-man Reborn. So, this could definitely go both ways, but a large part of me feels like it would follow the path of the latter as Bleach's ratings were slipping toward the end.
Where Bleach went wrong
The Fullbring Arc took a drastic turn from the basic Bleach formula, and it more than likely turned away a lot of viewers. Shounen anime like this is about growing old with the main characters and watching them progress. Dragon Ball Z, no matter what you think of this show, does this in one of the most complete ways I'm aware of. From child to death, you follow Goku through all the Dragon Ball series. When he's beating on Cell, you still have imagines of him being a little kid with Master Roshi.
The same can be said of anime like Naruto. Everyone remembers when Naruto was just a hated and despised character swinging on a swing alone. Now, he's pretty much the hero of the entire ninja world. That's a huge change of direction, and it only works well because you've watched him grow up. The same can be said for Dragon Ball. No one wants to see an anime where someone just shows up and becomes the hero instantly. That's what we have American movies for. Anime is about the development from weak, sometimes hated child into a strong, heroic person.
Bleach, however, made a traditional mistake of taking that away from the main hero, and the fans revolted. Other anime that take the hero and turn him into something weaker include the Death Note and the often hated Dragon Ball GT.
In Death Note, Light pretty much loses his ideals of being a good person and instead becomes a power hungry monster. In Dragon Ball GT, Goku goes from being the strongest being in the universe to being literally, a weak child.
No one likes to see that. Imagine if Naruto suddenly lost his Kyubi powers and was one of the weakest ninjas in the world? Would you like to see the minor characters carry him to victory? I wouldn't.
Or imagine if Luffy lost his ability to stretch, or if Natsu lost all of his magic. It doesn't make a good story, and people don't want to watch that.
With the fullbring arc, this is exactly what Bleach did. And it went on for so long that I managed to even forget why I loved the show in the first place.
Those are the kinds of fights we'd expect from Bleach, and they weren't there in the Fullbring Arc. Instead, we got people being shrunk and going into dollhouses, someone with dirty boots, and a bunch of weak fights.
The struggle was supposed to be about the hero losing his ability and wanting to protect his friends, but that's not what turns people on.
The verdict on if it's coming back
I'm still unsure, but if I had to guess today, I would say that there's probably a little truth to those rumors that the anime will come back in 2013 or 2014. Even if there was enough demand right now, there would be no reason to bring it back for 10 or 20 episodes and then go back to fillers. As I've said before regarding hardware, companies like to put out fake rumors as a method of judging interest. If Bleach had a rumor that it was coming back, and no one cared, the people in charge could look at that and decided that there's not enough interest.
However, if a rumor is spread, and people pick it up, the people in charge have a good reason to bring it back as there's still some interest left in it.
If it does come back, it only makes sense for it to come back in late 2013 or 2014 under a different name (much like Naruto did). I wouldn't be surprised if it did come back. The Bleach intellectual property is still worth something and there are people still putting out Bleach reprises to gauge inherent interest in the series.
One thing for sure, is that I do miss the Bleach of the Aizen and Hueco Mundo arcs. Watching the fight between Ichigo and Ulquiorra is enough to make you want more Bleach.