Bleach – 203
In the past, although Nnoitra was someone who showed no mercy, Nel was someone who did, and she didn’t want to fight him. When Nel questioned him about his desire to fight, Nnoitra had explained that he wanted to die in battle, and he wanted it to happen before his body collapsed. This is indeed what occurs in the present, and the victorious Zaraki had fun doing it. Zaraki then tries to get Ichigo to take Inoue and leave because Ichigo’s job is done, but unfortunately, Inoue gets kidnapped again, this time by the Espada named Stark. He brings her to Aizen, and Aizen who wants her to stay put while he, Tousen, and Ichimaru head out to destroy Karakura Town. Aizen communicates his plan to all of the Shinigami inside Hueco Mundo and informs them that he no longer has any use for Inoue. Kidnapping her was all part of a ploy to get Soul Society to strengthen its own defenses rather than that of the real world, and it also served to lure Ichigo and company plus four captains to Hueco Mundo where he could imprison them. As he says this last part, the four openings that the captains came through all close.
With three captains who defected and four imprisoned, Aizen considers Soul Society’s strength to be halved, and he steps towards the real world. Ichigo wants to try to do something, but Zaraki stops him and reveals that one of the orders given to Urahara was to make it so that all the captains could fight in Karakura Town. More specifically, this means that they’ve moved Karakura Town to Soul Society temporarily, put all the people to sleep, and replaced it with a deserted replica that can be destroyed in a fight. Yamamoto and the rest of the Gotei 13 are thus waiting for Aizen when he emerges, but he already knows what they’ve done and calls forth his top Espada Stark, Barragan, and Halibel. Aizen’s new plan is to annihilate the Gotei 13 here and then go to the real Karakura Town in Soul Society to create the royal key. He also leaves Las Noches in the care of Ulquiorra. Sensing that Ulquiorra is back, Ichigo tells Zaraki that his duty is to protect his friends, and he rushes off to where the Espada and Inoue are.
I always thought the whole we-magically-moved-Karakura-Town-to-Soul-Society was a rather flimsy part of the story, but there are few scenes as cool as the sudden show of force by Yamamoto and all those captains and vice-captains. If only they didn’t have to fight the three Espada and their lackeys first – I’d much rather see Yamamoto vs. Aizen or Komamura vs. Tousen or anyone vs. Ichimaru. The manga’s still nowhere near that point however (a testament to how long the battle is dragging out), so those match-ups are just speculation and hope on my part.
The fact that the people of Karakura Town have been moved though makes me wonder if that includes Ichigo’s father since I could see him potentially playing a role in this battle. Then again, he might not want to get involved unless Ichigo or his daughters were in direct danger. A group that’s much more likely to fight is Shinji and the Visoreds, and we’ll get to see why in the next big story arc. Unfortunately, that will have to wait a few weeks because first there are going to be a couple of anime original episodes, starting with next week with what looks to be more Rurichiyo/Kenryuu/Enryuu stuff.