Bleach is a Japanese anime focused on the life of teenage Ichigo Kurosaki who discovers he has special powers and throughout the show sees those powers grow as he faces challenges and battles against powerful supernatural beings.
In the story, there are thirteen court guard squads, each with a captain and a lieutenant at the head. Ichigo fights against the same enemies as these squads, but sometimes comes into conflict with them and their leaders. Whenever a situation threatens someone’s life, or the very existence or the world as we know it, the Emperor who rules over the court guards rules in a way that seems to intentionally hamper the pursuit of right over wrong.
A typical conflict more or less follows this sequence…
- An innocent person is accused of doing something wrong and the laws are strictly applied, resulting in that person being hunted down and/or put into prison
- One of the subordinate leaders, or an “outsider” (e.g. Ichigo) acts despite their orders or rules, and initiates a rescue or other actions to clear the accused person’s name
- Some of the captains or other outsiders rally around the rebel and help in the cause, out of devotion to the accused individual or to save a world or dimension that is in peril
- Throughout this, the emperor continues to enforce the rules, refusing to intervene and even seems to impair those attempting to do the right thing
- Eventually, the rogue group succeeds
Given that the efforts inevitably lead to a successful outcome, we can draw two possible conclusions:
1. The leader is worthless
2. The leader is a genius at developing his captains
Have you ever been asked to do something, or inspired/provoked to go against the grain to prove your point about something to your boss? Maybe you were so determined that you worked extra hours to crunch the numbers, or came to work on Monday with a counter-proposal you worked on all weekend. When this happens do you feel grateful or frustrated? You should say “thank you” because you’ve just grew a little bit.
Perhaps the emperor’s approach is obvious to Japanese viewers, but to Western viewers, it must seem that the emperor should be replaced with someone who has a clue. I suspect he is creating the situations and watching to see who the real leaders are. Interestingly enough in the story, they tend to be the youngest ones.