Bleach – 176, 177
Refusing to give up Rurichiyo, Rukia uses her special ability to encase her new opponent Douko Jinnai in ice, but he easily breaks free. In response, he consumes a piece of his sword – which he refers to as a bakkoutou – and this gives him power. His counterattack involves shooting blades from his back and throwing Rukia into a building, and with Rukia temporarily out of the battle, Kenryuu has to step in. Kenryuu’s flower ability is only able to keep Douko Jinnai occupied for a short amount of time though, and Douko Jinnai is still fast enough to stop Enryuu and Rurichiyo from escaping. Fortunately for those two, Rukia returns to the fight and uses a demon arts technique to protect them. Excited about the battle, Douko Jinnai eats another piece of his weapon and powers up yet again, making it that much harder for Rukia to keep up with him. Elsewhere in the city, Ishida’s opponent Kuzuryuu asks him about using shunpo, so Ishida reveals that he’s a Quincy who uses Hirenkyaku. Ishida in turn asks Kuzuryuu about his sword, so Kuzuryuu reveals that it’s a bakkoutou. He explains that these are different from zanpaktous in that they don’t have a shikai or bankai, and they instead convert the user’s spiritual force directly into power.
Unimpressed, Ishida begins his attack, so Kuzuryuu powers up with the weapon. Doing so allows him to cover the entire rooftop where they’re fighting with a dark fog, and shadows of his figure appear everywhere. Ishida tries to destroy all the shadows, but none of his arrows have any effect, and Kuzuryuu uses the fog as a cover from which to strike at Ishida at vulnerable spots. Sado meanwhile has also met his opponent Genga, and though he tries with words to convince Genga to stop and leave, Genga just laughs at him. Once they begin fighting, Sado recognizes the ability of Genga’s weapon to create walls wherever it fires, but Genga claims that it’s different from before because he’s much stronger than the previous user. Sado fares poorly against Genga at first, however he quickly picks himself back up and is able to stop Genga’s next attack with his Brazo Derecha de Gigante. This just causes Genga to power up even more, and the two become very evenly matched. In order to break the stalemate, Genga surrounds Sado with walls and then merges with those walls so that he can move within them without being seen. Sado realizes too late that Genga has sneaked up behind him.
Struggling in her fight against Douko Jinnai, Rukia is able to land a hit on him after getting his weapon stuck in the roof when he tries to finish her off. However, Douko Jinnai just powers up further by consuming more of his weapon, and he now has so many blades at his disposal that he can rain them from the sky in a hail of deadliness. Rukia is able to avoid getting hit by them, but when Douko Jinnai knocks her to the ground, she’s slow to get up. Douko Jinnai then turns his attention to Rurichiyo, and both Kenryuu and Enryuu take hits for her to protect her. Rukia eventually returns to the fight and realizes something that causes her to decide to use demon arts spells against the enemy. She goes back to using her zanpaktou for defense when Douko Jinnai shoots more blades at her, and before he can bite down on his weapon again, she uses more spells to tie him up. This gives her the opening to employ one of her zanpaktou’s signature attacks, but even that isn’t able to stop her opponent. What does stop Douko Jinnai is his own attempt to power up further because it causes his weapon to completely consume him. With the battle now over, Rukia approaches Douko Jinnai’s weapon, however, before she can reach it, some of Nukui’s men retrieve it and carry it off,
Ishida meanwhile is struggling with Kuzuryuu’s fog and is forced to bring out his Seele Schneider blades. He eventually realizes that his opponent has merged with the fog, but by this point, it’s too late because Kuzuryuu has injured Ishida’s leg, limiting his ability to move. Instead of trying to run though, Ishida shoots his Seele Schneiders into a pentagram shape around the battlefield and activates his Sprenger technique. Kuzuryuu gets caught in the explosion and perishes, however Ishida is injured in the process as well. At around this same time, Sado is facing a similar challenge from Genga who is traveling between the artificial walls around Sado in order to strike him from behind. Sado tries to run at first, but when this proves to be pointless, he opts to destroy the walls instead. Once he’s able to fight Genga head on again, Sado proves his strength enough for Genga to decide to put everything into a final attack. Sado responds by bringing out the Brazo Izquierda del Diablo, and when the two meet in a massive clash of power, Sado finishes Genga off by using La Muerte. Inoue comes running onto the scene in time to see an unconscious Sado in front of a giant skull-shaped crater in the ground.
With these fights over, the only one still continuing is the one between Hanza Nukui and Ichigo. When Nukui attempts to use his weapon’s moonlight reflection ability again, Ichigo is able to avoid it and manages to shatter the mirror. Unfortunately for Ichigo, Nukui is able to use the mirror shards to surround Ichigo with light before plunging him into another dark world.
As expected, there was a lot of fighting this week with some fairly good production quality (there were even a background song or two I’ve never heard before). It feels a little like Rukia got the short end of the stick because, whereas Sado and Ishida both got to finish off their opponents, Rukia’s opponent finished himself off by getting too greedy with his power. You could argue that she was the one who pushed him to that point, but it still wasn’t as impressive as if she had done it herself. Actually, once Douko Jinnai died that way, I thought that the other two would overload as well in order for the writers to drive home the point that these weapons are like evil, power-consuming leeches. That didn’t happen of course, and we were instead shown the more predictable Sprenger/La Muerte conclusions.
I also thought that the fog and wall abilities that Ishida and Sado were up against were a bit too similar to each other, but overall I would still take this kind of action any day over the generic ninja bad guys from past episodes. One of the things I hope they avoid in the future though is all the powering up that the bad guys have to do with those weapons. That got really old really fast. It made me wonder (again) why the hell people stand around waiting for their opponents to finish powering up when they could use the opportunity to strike. In any case, next week looks to involve Ichigo’s psyche and his memories of his mother, which will hopefully make for an interesting episode. Next week should feature the new ED theme too.