Bleach – 319
「一護捕縛網！尸魂界を脱出せよ！ 」 (Ichigo hobakumou! Souru Sosaetii o dasshutsu seyo! )
“Ichigo’s Capture Net! Escape from Soul Society!”
After seeing Nozomi in the records, Ichigo wants to return to the real world. Yourichi tells them that they will break through the fake shinigami guarding the Senkaimon. They use inflatable gigais as a distraction, but the reigai Byakayu gets in the way and Yourichi stays behind to hold them off while Ichigo and Rukia escape.
In Karakura Town, Ishida confronts Inaba and tells him to leave. They fight and Ishida is able to bring him down, but Inaba gets up seemingly unharmed. He releases his sword and takes out Ishida in an instant. Inoue and Chad arrive to save them, but Chad is taken out quickly as well. Ichigo and Rukia arrive just in time. He uses his hollow form but is unable to overcome Inaba. The real captains and vice captains then show up, and Inaba and his Reigai retreat into the Precipice world. Before he leaves, he claims that with Nozomi, he’ll be able to use his true power and control all of SS and the real world.
Surprisingly, the developments in this episode got my interest, and the fights were pretty exciting, which is rare for fillers. The action was fun to watch and things moved a long at a decent pace as well. There’s a huge cast of characters featured, and the only main character I noticed was missing was Urahara. Now that a large number of shinigami have been cloned and control Soul Society, the protagonists can just go all out in large battles which is a nice departure from the usual one on ones. That’s not to say that cliches were avoided unfortunately. “Arriving just in time to save the day” is definitely an overused plot device, but it’s still kind of funny watching all the characters show up one after the other just when the previous people get defeated. I wonder if the villains ever think “if only I had one more second, I could have finished them off, saving me a lot of trouble in the future”.
The villain Inaba does seem to be quite strong though, and his powers also seem to deal with the manipulation of time. Just when Ishida gets his moment of glory, he gets cut down in a blink of an eye, which I saw coming quite a while off. To make a fair comparison however, Ichigo fared no better against him even with his hollow mask and bankai, due to his unstable reiatsu and it wasn’t until the very end with the arrival of all the real shinigami when they could claim a minor victory.