Bleach – 211
Kyouraku has difficulty falling asleep, so he goes for a walk and notices Aizen still up as well. Upon returning to the 8th Division, he’s met by a young Nanao Ise who wants to read with Lisa, so he has to tell her that Lisa is busy tonight. He reassures her that Lisa will be back at dawn, not knowing that Lisa is currently getting beat up by Kensei. The Shinigami are struggling with Kensei, but they’re finally able to restrain him via a powerful spell from Hachigen. However, Hiyori then goes through a Hollow transformation and injures Shinji. While the others try to restrain her, they are surrounded by a dark sphere and all get taken out at once. Shinji sees after it disappears that the culprit is none other than one of Kensei’s men: Tousen. When Shinji questions why Tousen betrayed his own captain, Aizen and Ichimaru appear, and Aizen asserts that Tousen has been faithfully obeying his instructions.
Shinji had suspected that Aizen was up to something, and he reveals that he chose Aizen to be his vice-captain because he wanted to watch over him. Aizen, however, explains that it was because Shinji didn’t trust him that he was able to replace himself with a body double by using his zanpaktou’s power. Shinji never noticed because he never got close enough to Aizen to really get to know him. Aizen also asserts that Shinji didn’t choose him but rather that he chose Shinji because Shinji’s excessive suspicions were ideal for his plan. He further incites Shinji by suggesting that Shinji is thus responsible for what happened to his friends here, and when Shinji tries to fight Aizen, Shinji himself starts to go through a Hollow transformation. From this, Aizen observes that agitation speeds up the transformation, but he declines to explain himself to Shinji.
Aizen then notices that Hiyori has retained some of her own consciousness, so he has Tousen cut her down. Shinji responds by attacking Tousen, and Tousen turns out to be unable to match up to Shinji even in this state. Done with Shinji, Aizen prepares to finish him off, but he gets interrupted by the arrival of Urahara and Tessai, the former of whom cuts off Aizen’s 5th Division badge in a surprise attack. Aizen sees the two as more interesting guests.
This was a pretty good adaptation of the manga material, and I liked how they expanded on Shinji’s own thoughts during the Hollow transformation. I really enjoy this part of the story in general because it brings together and explains so many aspects of the plot, like how Shinji and company became Visoreds, and we can see how far back Aizen’s ambitions and Tousen’s betrayal went. These kinds of revelations are what make this flashback arc so much fun. What I’m still curious about is what originally sparked Aizen to want to do all this and consider experimenting with Shinigami/Hollow hybrids. I assume even simply personal ambition has roots in something, but we just don’t know very much about Aizen’s past yet. In any case, next week should be a good episode as well (I hope they put a lot of oomph into how next week’s episode ends), but as they indicated in the voice-over during the preview this week, what comes after that is more anime original material without Ichigo.