Bleach – 255
While the battle outside is still going on, Ichigo finds himself inside of the world where which Muramasa resides. Muramasa still wants to settle things with him, so the two start fighting, and although Ichigo initially has some trouble, he’s able to overcome Muramasa’s abilities thanks to Zangetsu’s help. Through it, Ichigo comes to understand what it means for Shinigami and Zanpakutou to acknowledge and accept each other’s existence. This inner world then starts crumbling, so Ichigo tries to make Muramasa realize that he has no reason to fight given how Kouga claimed he didn’t need him and how it was Muramasa’s own desire to understand Kouga that drove him. Ichigo then expresses his own connection to Zangetsu and declares that the Shinigami and Zanpakutou are irreplaceable to each other. Since they’re running out of time, Ichigo and Muramasa charge at each other, and Ichigo wins. Ichigo saves Muramasa though, and all this causes the giant dome to disappear in the real world. All that’s left are Ichigo and Muramasa, and Muramasa finally understands what Ichigo was talking about. He then breaks and disappears, and in the aftermath, all of the Zanpakutou return to their respective Shinigami’s weapons, and Byakuya is grateful towards Ichigo.
So I was pretty neutral about this episode after watching it. It wasn’t a horrible conclusion by any stretch, but it didn’t really have any particularly good highlights either. Case in point, the animation quality and fight choreography was decent for the most part, however the battle never really felt exciting to me. Instead, by the end of it, I was just getting tired of Ichigo’s preaching even though I understood that it tied in with the themes of pride and the Shinigami/Zanpakutou relationship that have been all over this story arc. I had actually been hoping that Kouga would make another appearance for one final plot twist or something, but obviously that never happened. I’m just glad now to see the arc finally over given how it’s been downhill since the Byakuya vs. Kouga fight a few episodes ago. The anime isn’t returning to the manga storyline quite just yet though, as the extra segment at the end of this episode alluded to, and unfortunately there’ll be some more anime original episodes going up until at least April.