Earlier, news broke that the long-running anime series, Bleach, may be coming to a rather-abrupt conclusion, with a spin-off series of Naruto taking over Bleach‘s time slot in April.
From the start, people have been in disagreement what this actually means, whether Bleach is getting canceled or just simply being moved to a different time slot. As I previously reported, all of this comes from a Japanese program listing for the last week of March.
At this point, virtually nothing more has been said. It actually is looking more likely that Bleach is actually going to end its televised run at the end of this month.
However, the chances of the final arc, just recently begun in the manga, never being animated are rather slim. Bleach is too lucrative a franchise to just end like that, so I wouldn’t be surprised if the show were simply put on hiatus while the manga plays out to the end. Once the manga is over, or close to being over, we might see the anime return in some form. This is just speculation, however.
The Bleach manga began in January of 2002, and has currently run for 54 volumes (spanning 484 chapters). The anime began in October of 2004 and has aired for, currently, 363 episodes. There have been four feature-length films and a number of video game adaptations. The franchise has become one of the most famous internationally for Shonen Jump, ranking with One Piece and Naruto in terms of length and popularity.
As such, the anime will likely receive a suitable conclusion. Time will tell.
By the way, Bleach‘s ratings in Japan have been decreasing for the past year. The show hasn’t broken 3% of total audience share (or barely even 2%) for quite a while. Given that downward trend, this decision was, arguably, inevitable, regardless of how long the show had been running.
Final Update: CrunchyRoll reports on the latest episode listings from WebNewType. Episode 366 is listed as “Final Episode”. So, after 366 episodes and four movies, the anime adaptation of Bleach is concluding.