Bleach – 175
After having effectively taken control of the Kasumiooji family by using Kannogi as a figurehead, Kumoi meets with the recently defeated Hanza and has him display his determination to take care of Ichigo and Rurichiyo by fusing with the mirror sword. After doing so, Hanza gets Kumoi’s consent to give three more special weapons to three other men he’s recruited for the job. Back in the real world, Ichigo and friends gather at Rurichiyo’s house to discuss what’s going on, and Rurichiyo suspects that they’re all there to protect her. Kenryuu makes up an excuse to avoid telling her the truth, but Rurichiyo doesn’t challenge him on it and decides to get some rest. She doesn’t actually go to bed though, and Ichigo finds her sitting on the rooftop by herself a little later. When the two start talking about how everyone is worried for her safety because she’s a princess, Rurichiyo remembers how people had lost their jobs after she got scraped up once while trying out archery. She admits that she would have been a better girl if she had known that others would get punished for what she did, and even though she recalls fondly how Kenryuu and Enryuu had raised her, something still bothers her.
Suddenly, Ichigo and his friends sense a great spiritual force arrive in the real world. Hanza is here with his men and sends them to take care of everyone else while he personally goes after Ichigo. After Hanza makes quick work of the barrier protecting Rurichiyo’s house, Ichigo goes out to face him, and all this confirms Rurichiyo’s suspicions that she was being targeted. Ichigo and Hanza agree to fight away from the house, but after they leave, one of Hanza’s men appears and faces off against Rukia, Kenryuu, and Enryuu. Ishida and Sado are also challenged with separate fights against the remaining two members of Hanza’s party, and high above the city, Ichigo begins his battle by initiating ban kai.
Well, the first two-thirds of this episode were pretty boring, but the last part when the action was about to begin woke me back up. I say boring because, while it’s nice that Rurichiyo gets more character development, they’ve already established pretty well that she can be both bratty and introspective about her thoughts and actions, so I didn’t get anything new out of those segments this episode. The most interesting aspect was the new villains and the battle match-ups, but even that was watered down a bit because there’s no actual fighting this week (unless you count Hanza breaking through the barrier). Hopefully the upcoming battles will be more inspired than the ones in recent weeks, and maybe our heroes will finally use some of the new abilities from the Hueco Mundo arc.
Speaking of which, there are going to be two episodes next week, both of them probably fighting episodes since there are four separate ones to cover here. I find that a little odd because Bleach has historically gotten time off whenever new television seasons come around (i.e. in early January, April, July, and October), but on the other hand, I think it’s been like two years since the last double episode, so maybe it’s about time.