Bleach – 105
Having finished his battle with Koga, Captain Hitsugaya returns to his division and asks his men to recover the Bount. He doesn’t know if there’s a body, but feels that they should bury it if there is. His men report to him about how everyone has gathered at this division, including Ichigo and friends. They had ran into Matsumoto and ended up here with the injured Ishida. Hitsugaya relays to them how Kariya is the only Bount left because of the defeats that he, Soifon, Kurotsuchi, and Zaraki have dealt their enemy. And fortunately for Ishida, Inoue soon arrives with Kira after having taken care of Jidanbou at the gate. While she’s helping Ishida, Ikkaku and Yumichika are out with their 11th division around Seireitei looking for Kariya. Over at the first division headquarters, Nanao is relaying a message from Kyouraku and Ukitake to Yamamoto about how they’ve found documents that Rantao left about the power of the Joukaishou. However, to bring out the full power of the Joukaishou, a period of time is needed before activating it. That period of time is about a day – the same amount of time Kariya gave them.
As the sun is rising the next morning, Kariya is standing on a wall inside Seireitei when he’s approached by Rantao, armed with a special gun. Without saying a word, she starts firing and manages to injure Kariya even though he tries to use his wind against the gunfire. It seems that Rantao knew Kariya was here because of a Bount sensor and came to personally end this. However, seeing the exposed crest on Kariya’s injured body reminds her of something from the past. She recalls how the Bount were born into the real world after the accident and attempted to live with humans. They were unable to peacefully do that, so Rantao helped them and brought them together in hidden communities. She went back to Soul Society to ask for protection for the Bount, but the Central 46 Chambers couldn’t acknowledge the accident or help them. Afraid that the Bount will destroy the balance of souls in the real world, they sent a force of Shinigami against the communities Rantao helped establish. She ended up assisting the Bounts being slaughtered and even saves a boy at the cost of fighting her own Shinigami allies. Giving him a necklace with a metal block attached, she told the boy about the Bounts’ still-hidden powers that this could draw out and urged him to run away.
Rantao was captured afterwards and taken back to Soul Society where she was faulted for everything. The boy she gave the necklace item to found a way to control the Dolls perfectly, and the Bount wanted revenge. They tried unsuccessfully and Seireitei erased all records about it. Rantao herself still remembers and thinks that Kariya is the boy – the crest appeared when he used the necklace item. She still feels that she can help the Bount and tries to dissuade Kariya from using the Joukaishou. Kariya, however, reveals that its energy has already been taken in by his body and he intends to use it to destroy the Shinigami. Around this time, Ishida is leaving the rest of his sleeping friends when he senses Rantao’s power and concludes that she must be fighting Kariya. But by now, the Bount leader has decided to kill Rantao, so he attacks her with his wind power and blows her away.
I wonder if Ishida is going to be able to see the Rantao die too. It would be effectively like seeing the same woman die twice, with Yoshino being the first time. That’s assuming that Rantao does indeed die, which I think she will since this is an anime-original arc and they’ll sooner or later get back to the manga storyline where she doesn’t exist. Or I guess she could just disappear into the background or go back into hiding or something, but that doesn’t have the same impact on Ishida as Kariya killing her. Whatever happens, we’ll probably find out next week. For now, they still appear to be on course to end the Bount arc when this season ends in four weeks. Who knows what’ll happen then…