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Bleach Comic Recasts Characters as One Piece Pirates

In the mid-2000s, when Bleach, One Piece, and Naruto reigned at the top of the manga charts, the three major series liked to tip their hats to each other from time to time, and one of these references has some fish out of water Soul Reapers/Shinigami give piracy a try.

Included in the databook Bleach: Official Character Book Souls is a 4-panel comic called "Bleach Pirate Team," which proposes what jobs certain characters would have aboard a pirate ship. The roles are similar to those used in One Piece in particular, and the ship as portrayed in the comic feels distinctly in the series' style, complete with a Jolly Roger flag that looks similar to Rukia's infamously bad bunny sketches.

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First up for the crew is Kukaku Shiba as the armsmaster; in the manga, she's mostly known for operating a massive cannon, so it's a fitting title. Her design is barely different, partially because she already had that scruffy, pirate-like aesthetic, and there's a note explaining that most of her weaponry is simple fireworks. Orihime is shown next in the role of ship's cook. In spite of being widely known as the "leekspin girl," Orihime is actually a pretty bad chef. She has a penchant for creating bizarre food combinations, which makes her a rather questionable choice for the job.

Kenpachi Zaraki, the rough and tumble captain of squad 11, is cast as the ship's captain, apparently for no other reason than the fact that he's already a captain and wearing an eyepatch. His outfit particularly resembles Blackbeard's. Ichigo is shown last as the helmsman, where's it's also pointed out that he's a pretty terrible choice for this role. Prior to the Straw Hats picking up Jinbe as their designated helmsman, the ship was steered by various characters at different points, but commonly Ichigo's fellow redhead and navigator Nami.

While not drawn, Kubo apparently had more opinions to share on roles, including a few even more unexpected characters. The oft-greedy merchant and former Soul Reaper, Kisuke Urahara, is set as the guard of the treasury, while Ichigo's completely ordinary classmate Keigo is given the lowly job of luggage carrier. Hilariously, in Bleach's eventual future, Keigo is shown running a ramen shop, making him a far better choice for chef than Orihime. Rukia is cast as the treasure, in a nod towards her status throughout the early Soul Society arc as everyone's objective. The best decision, however, is placing TV medium, gaudy dresser and arguable fraud Don Kanonji as the ship's figurehead.

"Bleach Pirate Team" may just be a little one-off gag, but nowadays it also serves as a callback to a very different period in manga history. With Bleach finally making a comeback with its anniversary special, new anime, and successful spin-off series, looking back on these One Piece-inspired jokes can provide a reminder of what fans used to love about Bleach, and fuel to decide if they can do so again.

Next: Bleach's Next Chapter Needs to Address the Series' Secret Spin-off

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