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Yes, that is correct! You can watch the latest episode of Bleach an hour after it airs in Tokyo on Crunchyroll, and not only is it legal but TV Tokyo, Shueisha, and Studio Pierrot actually make money off of the streaming distribution model. Crunchyroll has been doing this for a number of quality Anime programs, including Naruto Shippuden, for quite a while, as they gradually become The place for streaming Anime online. And hey, they even have some live action programming from Japan, Korea, and China. Don’t be fooled by the Drama header on the page, there is plenty of comedy and action available as well.

Here’s how it works. If you are a Premium Member of Crunchyroll (and if you’re not, please use the link below if you want to sign up; I think they give me an extra 4 hours on my premium membership for referring someone) you can watch the simulcast stream of the episode one hour after it airs in Tokyo. That gives Viz time to bolt the subtitles onto it, but still make it as close to realtime as possible, and you can watch it at 480p and 720p resolutions. If you are not a premium member all is not lost; you have access to stream the new episode a week after it airs, at slightly reduced resolution. Either way beats waiting the months it takes for the episodes to be dubbed and released on Disk in the US, although I still find myself buying the boxed sets as they come out.

There is, of course, a downside or two. First, Bleach starts next Tuesday, June 8th at 5:30AM EDT, 2:30am PDT; likewise, Naruto Shippuden runs on Thursday mornings at 7AM Eastern, 4:00AM Pacific Time. That’s a bit early for me, but I don’t really care. I just watched this weeks Naruto episode when I got home from work yesterday (Streaming is the Video On Demand of the internet), which means I still got to see it the same day as Tokyo, just adjusted to be convenient for my schedule. The other downside is the current season of Bleach consists of episodes #266-#273, going live on the 8th, with 274 being this Tuesdays Simulcast. Why is that a downside? Because the latest US DVD release of the Bleach Uncut Box Set: Season 5 also happens this Tuesday, the 8th, and that season ends with episode 109. I think there is going to be a bit of a gap in my understanding of the story arc. Again, I don’t really care, because eventually that gap will be filled, and until then I will have a steady diet of new episodes to watch.