Bleach – 51
On the morning of the execution, we find Captain Zaraki Kenpachi rushing through Soul Society with Inoue and Yachiru on his back and with Ikkaku, Yumichika, and Aramaki in tow. They arrive at and break into the jail that’s holding Ishida, Ganjuu, and Sado and reunite the prisoners with Inoue. All over Soul Society, the captains are getting ready to go to the execution. Captains Komamura and Tousen agree on their loyalty to first division Captain Yamamoto, while Captain Soi Fong only cares about executing orders. Captain Kyouraku decides that he’ll oppose the Captain Commander and the execution. After freeing the drifters, Captain Zaraki finds himself lost and at a dead end somewhere in Soul Society. He feels several strong spiritual pressures nearby, marking the entrance of Captains Tousen and Komamura and their respective vice-captains Hisagi and Iba. Tousen asks why the captain is helping the enemy, but Zaraki doesn’t answer, instead challenging them to a fight. He sends everyone else away with Yachiru, saying that he’ll fight alone against his four opponents. Of course, Ikkaku and Yumichika stayed with the captain and offer to fight the vice-captains on the other side. Once they disappear to fight their battles elsewhere, Zaraki is left with only the two captains as his opponents. Komamura lets loose his Tengen to attack, and Tousen immediately follows it up with his Benihikou attack. The eleventh division captain emerges from the smoke still standing, but with several of Tousen’s blades in his shoulders. He’s rather disappointed with their attacks and decides that he wants to end this quickly. Meanwhile, Renji is finished with his training inside the cavern. He bids farewell to the still fighting Ichigo, and then asks Yoruichi whether or not she thinks Ichigo can make it in time. She tells him that she’s confident that he can, that he instinctively knows that he can achieve ban kai.
This episode covers chapters 137 through 139 minus the last page and a half, which preludes the next fight. The biggest (and only) change I saw was just a move of the Renji-leaving-but-worrying-about-Ichigo scene to the end of the episode. This doesn’t change the timeline at all, so I assume they did this just to have a dramatic ending.
And so we return to the normal storyline this week, continuing where we left off by starting the events of the execution day. A clear divide is forming the ranks of the captains between those who want to stop the execution and those who are fiercely loyal to Captain Yamamoto. On one side, there’s Captains Komamura, Tousen, Yamamoto, and Kuchiki who pledge to hold up the laws of Soul Society. On the other, there’s Kyouraku and Ukitake, who feel that the execution is wrong. And of course, there are several other varying factors, including Ichigo who is still training for ban kai, but has only a few hours left. Having the captains on opposing sides makes it a lot more interesting than, say, having Ichigo fight through every single one of them. So there’s plenty of conflict yet to come, and a lot of it does not involve Ichigo. For instance, next week (double episode) will probably be almost entirely the Renji versus Byakuya battle. I hope that they keep up the good work and deliver us a memorable fight.
Closing Thought: Kon introducing himself as a leader in the Gotei 13, and then the screen getting X-ed out is hilarious.
Edit: I forgot to mention that next week’s one hour episode should also premiere the new opening and ending songs.
OP: 「一輪の花」 by HIGH and MIGHTY COLOR (No Release Day)
ED: 「LIFE」 by YUI (Single out 11/9/2005)
I’ve listened to 「LIFE」 several times now, and I’m not sure how much I like it so far. We’ll see which part of the song they choose and what images they use with it.