Bleach – 169
On the banks of a river in Karakura Town, two Shinigami suddenly appear with a girl on a carriage. Since the stuff they arranged for hasn’t arrived yet, they decide to wait there, but the girl then announces that she’s hungry. Meanwhile, Ichigo goes about his normal life and finds out that his neighbor suddenly moved away. When Rukia gets notified of Hollows in the city, both she and Ichigo leave school to fight them. They find it odd that more than 50 Hollows have appeared all at once, and they have no choice but to split up to fight them. Back at the riverbank, one of the Shinigami reports to the girl that he can’t shop for food because their gigai hasn’t arrived yet. The girl becomes impatient and tries to take off her hat, but the Shinigami stops her because that hat is keeping down her spiritual force. He instead urges patience until her special gigai arrives, and for now he’s more concerned about the important experiment that the other Shinigami is off preparing. While he’s turned away from the girl though, she runs off on her own.
Walking through town, the girl happens to see Ichigo battling the Hollows and calls to him. Seeing that she’s a soul, Ichigo heads down to her to investigate and is confused when she talks about wanting to eat. As she approaches him, the girl trips and her hat falls off, and Ichigo ends up helping her back up. However, his attention is then turned to the Hollows, so the girl gets annoyed because she’s still hungry. She grabs onto Ichigo, and while the two are struggling, her Shinigami guards find her and grab her. Unfortunately, they’ve brought with them a horde of Hollows that subsequently bury Ichigo, and Ichigo decides to initiate ban kai to quickly get rid of them all. The guards and the girl disappear while he is fighting, and the battle ends only after Ichigo is joined by Rukia, Ishida, Sado, and Inoue. Ishida in particular had sensed an unknown Shinigami’s spiritual force and had figured out that the people Ichigo met had used bait to lure out the Hollows.
That evening, Kon informs Ichigo that they have new neighbors. These new neighbors turn out to be none other than the girl and her two Shinigami guards, but when Ichigo confronts them, the lead Shinigami refuses to tell him who they really are even though they already know who he is. He even sets up a barrier to keep Ichigo out of the house. Since the girl and her guards are now using gigai, Rukia goes to Urahara’s store to ask about it, but Urahara isn’t there, and the others decline to tell her anything. The following day at school, Ichigo and friends are shocked when the girl and her guards show up as new students: the guards’ names are Kenryuu and Enryuu, and the girl introduces herself as Kasumiooji Rurichiyo.
Ugh, this arc might be hard for me to get through if Rurichiyo (the new girl whose character design reminds me of Dorothy Catalonia from Gundam Wing) remains the bratty kid type. I really don’t like those kinds of characters. On the topic of her character though, I recall that back during the Soul Society arc it was explained that there were four noble families (Yoruichi’s family was one of them). Perhaps Rurichiyo is a member of one of the other three. If the OP is any indicator, she’s going to get kidnapped, and Ichigo will have to go to Soul Society to save her.
Overall, I’m still pretty on the fence about this arc since we’ve barely just gotten into it. The story so far is nowhere near as exciting as some of the fights in the Hueco Mundo arc, but it’s just interesting enough, and I actually think it gives Bleach a fresh feel (a part of me was a little fatigued of the almost non-stop battle in Hueco Mundo). Plus, I’m enjoying the fact that Bleach is now broadcast in 16:9 aspect ratio too instead of the old 4:3.