Bleach – 117
With the Arrancar on the move, Ichigo and company immediately sense the incoming spiritual pressures. Rukia counts six of them all headed for different targets with spiritual pressure around the city. She thinks that Inoue will be safe with Rangiku and Hitsugaya, but she notices that Sado is alone and that there’s an Arrancar headed his way. By now, Rangiku and Hitsugaya have both come out in their shinigami forms and are soon confronted by a pair of enemies. The taller Arrancar immediately attacks Hitsugaya and introduces himself as No. 11 Shawlong. He feels that he’s hit the jackpot by getting a captain, but Hitsugaya disagrees. Meanwhile, Sado has almost finished getting healed, so he runs out of the building, but is immediately met by the Arrancar D-Roy who’s about to plunge his hand into Sado’s chest. Fortunately, Ichigo arrives in time to stop D-Roy and tells Sado to step back. Since Ichigo insists on handling this, Sado retreats as he wonders if he’s not strong enough to fight by Ichigo’s side anymore. When Rukia learns that Ichigo told Sado to step back, she proceeds to say the same thing to Ichigo.
Rukia then surprises Ichigo by bringing out her own shinigami self. She has her own powers back, and her gigai is now being occupied by the Soul Candy she ingested. While her gigai restrains Ichigo, Rukia’s battle starts when D-Roy attempts to make a first strike. At first, Rukia is able to block his hand, and when she counter-attacks, he’s able to block her zanpaktou. Although D-Roy introduces himself as Arrancar No. 16, he has no interest in knowing who Rukia is because he plans to kill her immediately. Hearing this, Rukia suggests that he then learn the name of her zanpaktou as she brings out and releases the Sode no Shirayuki. D-Roy is caught off-guard by the white zanpaktou, allowing Rukia to freeze him to the ground. Nevertheless, he quickly breaks free and flies up because he thinks that her zanpaktou’s power is useless in the air. Unfortunately for D-Roy, a column of light then rises up through the sky and envelopes him in ice, soon shattering him into oblivion.
Since Ichigo is shocked at the sight of Rukia’s white zanpaktou, her Soul Candied-body explains that it’s an ice element type renowned in Soul Society as the most beautiful. Furthermore, Rukia has always had officer level strength, but a certain someone kept her from becoming an officer because the missions would have been a lot more dangerous. That person is of course Kuchiki Byakuya. This conversation is interrupted when Ichigo and Rukia suddenly feel an enormous spiritual pressure and find Grimmjow hovering above them. The other Arrancar have also sensed D-Roy’s death, though they all also think that he was the weakest of them. Around this time, Keigo is going out to buy some drinks when a wall nearby explodes and a bloody Ikkaku emerges from the smoke. Ikkaku recognizes Keigo from earlier, but while his face is turned, the Arrancar that he’s fighting smacks him. Getting back up, Ikkaku makes a deal with Keigo where he saves Keigo from the Arrancar in exchange for Keigo providing a place to stay for the night. After coercing Keigo to agree, Ikkaku tries to get the Arrancar to reveal his name, but the Arrancar only gets as far as proclaiming that he’s No. 13 before he stops himself and decides that it’s pointless to give his name if he’s going to kill Ikkaku anyway.
Ikkaku feels different about revealing his own name since he and the other Shinigami have a rule about letting the other side know who they are before they kill them. He then introduces himself as the third seat of the Zaraki Division, Madarame Ikkaku, and asks that the Arrancar to remember it because it’s the name of the man who’s going to kill him.
I remember when I first read this part of the manga that I was quite surprised and impressed with how Rukia was able to finally come out and show her power by killing one of the Arrancar without some long drawn out fight. It’s been a while, but I’m glad to finally see the Sode no Shirayuki animated. My only issue is that that Bount arc might have significantly weakened the impact of this episode, at least for those people unfamiliar with the manga. Whereas in the manga we had Rukia going from not doing much in the SS arc to kicking ass in this arc, in the anime the SS arc leads into the Bount arc which has Rukia doing quite a bit of fighting. In other words, for better or worse, the Bount arc got us used to Rukia being more than just a battle support character, so her coming out with her initial release here might not have been as big a surprise.
That’s a fairly minor and very specific complaint though. The episode itself was everything I expected it to be and the animation quality was pretty high. I actually don’t consider Rukia using her initial release, despite how impressive it was, to be one of the best highlights or shocks of this battle, all of which are still yet to come. Next week will be Ikkaku versus the Arrancar Edorad.