So, a good portion of my manga review on Friday was dedicated to complaining about Bleach. The pacing is very off right now. But as a pure Shonen fighting series, I really don't like Bleach. Sure, a lot of the fights are fun and awesome, but Negima and Naruto both do them better. The two things I really like about Bleach are the characters and...this general feel about it. I'll explain the later one now.
Bleach just sort of exudes this aura of...I don't know, general coolness. I don't want to say "trendiness" or "chique" because I'm about as far from that as you can get while still being a functioning member of society. But most of the characters look realistic. With certain exceptions (lookin' at you, Kenpachi), they look like someone you could feasibly see walking down the street, which is something that doesn't happen with a lot of animated things. A lot of the splash pages in the manga have the cast sitting around in a bunch of different clothing rather than the standard costumes we see most animated characters in. And the opening and ending themes for the anime are generally fantastic. A Few Of My Favorites. (I'll admit, pulling up the links of those, which I have saved on my computer for when I want to listen to them, I listened through most of 'em.) Take particular note of the first opening (A) and the thirteenth ending (Of), both of which have almost no fighting in their animations. Naruto has great music, but it tends towards the more typical Shonen hot-bloodedness- which is fun, but all the tunes in the Bleach EDs and OPs are fresh and modern, and they really don't sound like something that's going to lead into a typical Shonen hack-and-slash fest. I guess what I'm saying is that Bleach has really modern sensibilities, and despite me being a complete and total fantasy geek, I find that stuff very cool.
The second bit is obviously the characters. I don't think I really have to go into great detail as to why I like the characters, but the chance to see them doing awesome things, even if the awesome stuff drags and doesn't make too much sense, keeps me reading. The core cast of Ichigo, Ishida, Orihime, Chad, Rukia and Renji (I'll throw him a bone for his big part in Hueco Mundo) are great together, and there are a ton of secondary characters I love. Basically, Bleach has a great cast.
All this sums to my personal opinion- Bleach would be better as a sort of teen drama. I know this sounds like a horrible idea, and it probably is. But less of the teen, less of the drama, you know? I'd ideally set it at a College. Lord knows that even though they're in High School, those guys sure as hell look 18. You've got Ichigo, Chad, and Ishida all living as roommates. Renji and a couple other secondary shinigami are down the hall. Orihime, Rukia, and Tatsuki (thrown in because I wish we'd see more of her) are roommates. Secondary characters (minus the espada et al) are there in various roles- Mayuri is a creepy-as-hell chemistry teacher, for example. Things go from there. Keep it simple, keep it smart. Just the character interaction can drive the show for the most part. I know it'd never happen, but I'd kinda like to read an AU fanfiction about it.