Bleach – 172
After spending a lot of time chasing a missing cat in Soul Society, Kira and the other members of the third division discuss how they’ve been doing a lot of menial tasks lately. When Kira goes to talk to Amagai about it, he’s initially caught off guard by how Amagai calls him by his given name because it reminds him of how Ichimaru used to do the same. In any case, Amagai’s reasoning for the menial tasks is that he’s trying to restore the trust lost by the men due to Ichimaru’s betrayal, and he explains his desire to create a new division with himself, Kira, and Kibune as the three pillars of support. In the days that follow, Amagai tries more team-building training exercises, but he puts Kibune in charge instead of Kira because Kibune is more familiar with it. This leads the men to feel that Kibune is more reliable than Kira, and Kibune catches Kira eavesdropping on the men talking. Kira doesn’t want to do anything about it, and he’s quick to snap back at Kibune when Kibune tries to point out Kira’s accomplishments. That night, Kira gets drunk with Iba and Renji and tells them about how the division is changing, and he gets depressed over talk of Kibune replacing him. Captains Amagai and Kyouraku meanwhile are also out to have a drink, and when Amagai proposes better cooperation between the divisions, Kyouraku suggests talking with Ukitake about it.
The following day, Kibune and Kira are alerted to a report of a suspicious shadow near Soul Society’s execution grounds’ ruins. When they arrive, they find an unseated member of the division waiting for them by a large pit. Suddenly, the ground gives way, causing all three to fall into the pit. Kira saves the unseated member from the fall, and afterwards, he and Kibune look for an exit at the bottom. To Kira’s surprise, there are cages down there filled with Hollows, and all of the Hollows somehow get released. Kira and Kibune have no trouble handling these weak Hollows, and when the unseated member from earlier starts getting absorbed into a Hollow, Kira rushes to act. Kibune gets there first though and releases his zanpaktou, changing it into a large bladed weapon that he can toss with ease. This weapon cuts through many Hollow, but when Kibune then aims for the Hollow that’s absorbing the unseated third division member, Kira gets in the way because he wants to save that person. This causes Kibune to points out how the unseated member was unable to fulfill his duty, and he calls this Shinigami worthless trash. Kibune goes on to accuse Kira of being too soft and blames Kira’s attitude for being unable to prevent what happened with Gin. He then throws his weapon at the Hollow again, and Kira blocks it again, but this time the clash of their power vaporizes all the Hollows around them.
Amagai and more members of the third division then show up, and in the aftermath, Kira notices that his zanpaktou is now chipped. When preliminary investigations of what happened turn up evidence of tampering, Kira stares at Kibune, but neither tell Amagai about what happened. As it turns out, the Hollows were Mayuri’s experiments, and he’s angry that someone released them. Elsewhere in Soul Society, the gate to the real world at the Kasumiooji house opens, and Rurichiyo sneaks through.
Even though I’m not a big fan of Kira and really don’t want this sub-arc to be focused on him since he’s a weak character in every sense of the word, I didn’t mind this episode too much. A lot of it still feels like we’re transitioning between major arcs since Amagai is working to rebuild the division, and Kira is still trying to get over what happened with Ichimaru, but at least there’s some mystery thrown in, and we got to see Kibune’s zanpaktou in action (it’s a cool looking blade, and I hope there’s more to it than just him throwing it around). On that note, despite the suspicions they cast on Kibune this week, I suspect there’s more at play here than we’re being told because everything so far feels a bit too easy. Given Kira’s recent funk and what’s needed to get him out of it, Kibune may not be a bad guy after all.
The real eye opener wasn’t in the episode though; it was in the preview. Oh Ichigo, what the hell happened to you? I know Bleach has had some bad animation moments, but that shot from the preview might take the cake. I’d even compare it to fan-art, and it might not even as good as that. Granted, the entire preview doesn’t look bad, but isn’t the preview on the whole supposed make us want to see next episode? That’s not really making the case for me. Anyway, since Rurichiyo has come back to Soul Society, it looks like our heroes will follow suit next week.