Bleach 499 – I Got You Now
With casualties mounting in the thousands, inexplicably overpowered opponents, no bankai, and almost no information on the enemy, the shinigami seem to be making it very clear how much they are relying on Ichigo. Urahara on the other hand is able to quickly analyze the fallen Quincy and give Ichigo some info on their abilities, including how they can power up their defense or attack directly through their blood. I definitely did not think Kirge would just die, but Urahara is surprised when what he thought was a corpse suddenly gets up and traps Ichigo in a cage all the way from Hueco Mundo. And yes, Inoue and Chad are neutralized almost instantly, again.
Perhaps Kirge should have tried that move earlier given its supposed effectiveness, but Urahara should be able to do something about that cage, and even if he can’t I find it hard to believe that a mere barrier could hold Ichigo back, especially when recalling how he destroyed an entire dimension with sheer force of spiritual power back in the Full-bringer arc. However, I do feel like Gotei 13 has other options to try (e.g. the top tier captains or Squad Zero) even if Ichigo is unable to arrive in a timely manner, and it doesn’t make a lot of sense for these new enemies to overpower them so easily. All the developments are emphasizing how critical Ichigo is to the defense of Soul Society and how lost it is without him – a notion that can get a bit ridiculous at times… a mighty organization with thousands of members and thousands of years of history and experience, saved from annihilation so many times within a short period of time by one very special teenager. Should Ichigo fail to escape soon, Soul Society may very well fall to the invaders, and we’ll get an even more protracted arc.