Bleach – 174
Having let Rurichiyo return to the real world in order not to alert the Gotei 13, Kumoi subsequently gives Hanza a special sword and sends him to take care of her. Ichigo and company meanwhile meet with Urahara about what happened, and Urahara suggests that they were intentionally let go because they could be dealt with easily in the real world. Urahara also reveals that certain goods have recently become hard to obtain due to a lack of spirit particles as raw materials. He suspects there’s someone behind this because things like this don’t happen naturally, and the connection to Rurichiyo is that it started around when she first came to the real world. Along the way home from Urahara’s store, the group senses a spiritual force, and Ichigo, Sado and Ishida decide to investigate while the others take Rurichiyo home. At this very moment in Soul Society, Kumoi is naming a boy name Kannogi Shuu as the next head of the Kasumiooji family since he’s Rurichiyo’s fiancé, but there is some opposition to this move.
Back in the real world, Ichigo encounters Hanza and recognizes Hanza’s spiritual force as the same as one he had felt in Soul Society. Ichigo also recognizes the sword that Hanza is using to be similar to the reflective one that a previous assassin had used, but Hanza refuses to explain why he has it. When Hanza has trouble defeating Ichigo in a straight fight without special abilities, he decides to release the zanpaktou and uses the moonlight reflection power on Ichigo. This turns out to be different from the ability the previous assassin used in that it brings Ichigo into a mirror world where he’s unable to move. Hanza explains that his sword evolves by eating its user’s spirit power – the more the user has, the more power that can be drawn out from the sword. Unwilling to die like this, Ichigo draws upon his own enormous power to free himself, and to Hanza’s surprise, the mirror world begins to crack. Although Ichigo is still unable to move, right as Hanza is about to finish him off, Yoruichi shatters the mirror world and jumps in between the two.
Hanza has no choice but to retreat after Yoruichi makes him realize that all of his underlings who had been attacking everyone else have now been defeated. On the way back, he thinks about Yoruichi – whose name he had recognized – and about Ichigo’s power making this harder than expected. Meanwhile, in Soul Society, Kannogi assumes the role of head of the Kasumiooji family after Kumoi had all the opposition eliminated.
Ugh, why did they have include Ririn and company here. I could have done entirely without that reminder of the last anime original arc. That aside, I think the story is headed in a decent direction (not great, but it could be worse) with the Kannogi stuff and the mysterious shortage that Urahara explained. What’s still lacking are the fighting scenes. I found the ones between the good guys and the run-of-the-mill assassins to be fairly boring, especially when I can’t help but compare them to the intense battles that took place in Hueco Mundo. The fight between Ichigo and Hanza here was slightly better – at least the reflective sword’s abilities are different than before – and it was also nice to see Yoruichi get in again on some of the action, even if it was relatively short. Perhaps the introduction of some new villains, which seems to be what the preview for next week hints at, will improve things in that regard, but I’m not going to be getting my hopes up.