Yes, I know all things must come to an end, but somehow I never expected Bleach to end. I kind of considered it a perpetual anime series that would just keep going. Nope. 366 episodes and it's over. Owari. Can you tell I'm still coming to grips with that?
What can I say about Bleach? I consider it one of the all time great anime series, even despite my dislike of a filler arc or two. It had an absolutely unique plot, a totally massive cast of characters with a minimal body count, and decent music. Of course, one of my favorite characters did die (Ulquiorrra), but the main cast all survived.
Spoilers ahead for the final arc, and assumptions that if you're reading this you know enough about what Bleach is about that I can talk about the ending arc only. I started out not liking the final arc, mainly for two reasons. First of all, they switched character styles. I had a hard time getting used to the new character styles. Ichigo's sisters looked like they had aged about 5 years, and the rest of the gang was just different. On top of that, add the loss of Ichigo's remaining reiatsu resulting in a totally powerless Ichigo, and the new arc was tough to take at first. When he loses his final bit of reiatsu, he can no longer see and interact with Rukia and the other shinigami, along with being totally powerless against Hollows. Enter the FullBringers. Certain people (usually people whose mothers were touched by Hollows while carrying them) have the ability to manipulate the "reiatsu" of inanimate objects, and these people are called FullBringers. They approach Ichigo and tell him they can help him regain his lost powers in exchange for his help freeing them from their abilities. Although Ichigo has accepted his loss of power on the surface, he is desperate to regain enough power to protect the people he cares about. Thus much of the arc revolves around Ichigo working with the various FullBringers to regain and control his power.
While this is going on, one of the FullBringers has been attacking Ichigo's family and friends. This FullBringer, Tsukishima, has the ability to insert himself into a person's past once he cuts that person with his sword. So Tsukishima is becoming a part of the past of all Ichigo's friends and family. When Ichigo gains enough power to try to stop him, all his friends and family work against Ichigo and think he has lost his mind for fighting their long time, dear friend.
Once Ichigo regains all his FullBring and Shinigami powers, the true reason for the FullBringer's help comes to light. Ginjo, the head FullBringer, has the ability to take the power from another and he takes all of Ichigo's newly won power from him, leaving Ichigo powerless once more. This causes Ichigo to lose it briefly, but being Ichigo, he stands up to fight again, even with not a scrap of power to do it with.
At this juncture he is pierced from behind by a sword, and as he turns in shock, he finds the sword held by Rukia (who he can now see) and Ichigo regains all his shinigami powers and then some. It turns out everyone in Soul Society who he has ever interacted with contributed reiatsu to the sword to return Ichigo's powers to him. Rukia and 5 of them (Byakuya, Hitsugaya, Kenpachi, Renji and Ikkaku) bring the sword to deliver it, and fight the 5 FullBringers other than Ginjo, who is being fought by Ichigo. The results of these battles are foregone conclusions.
One other interesting plot element at the end of the series is that the 5 shinigami who came to return Ichigo's reiatsu are also there to act as observers to see what Ichigo will do. Ginjo was a former subsititute shinigami who turned against Soul Society, and during his battles with Ichigo he tries to turn Ichigo against them also. Ichigo makes a different decision, and the 5 shinigami witness it.
The final episodes are very satisfying. Not only does Ichigo end up more powerful than ever, but he has had an amazing influence on everyone whose life he has touched, including the members of Soul Society. Once complete outcasts under a death sentence, the members of the Visored who wish to, return to Soul Society, many of them regaining their positions as Captains in the places left empty by Aizen-tachi. Soul Society has changed many of it's most rigid laws due to Ichigo's actions. So the series ends up with a happily ever after ending that's really nice. Overall, it's a really amazing series. I'm glad I watched it all the way through.