Bleach 500 – A Challenger Has Appeared
Akon’s announcement to the shinigami that Ichigo is coming brings a sudden wave of hope, but the disappearance of his reiatsu no doubt re-doubled the panic. Cell phone reception is conveniently cut off as well, though Ichigo can still listen in on the chaos in the technology division – and in the rest of Soul Society as well. Helpless and trapped in Kirge cage, he hears everything at once (Batman style), though it’s just a huge mess of screams of pain and despair. Some strange power, probably from one of the Sternritter, also causes the good guys to begin turning on each other unconsciously, including Jindanbou who makes sudden appearance after a very long absence. A lot of people have probably long since forgotten about him, and he doesn’t seem particularly relevant here either, except perhaps to highlight the desperate state of affairs Soul Society has found itself in.
The situation in Hueco Mundo also worsens, for both sides. Kirge was able to secure a significant advantage last chapter, but his boasts haven’t even left his mouth when he is suddenly sliced in half from behind by an unknown assailant, who then proceeds to threaten an injured Urahara. This could be any one of a number of characters, new or old (perhaps one of the surviving arrancar), but given Urahara’s shock at seeing the person, it might be someone of even greater importance. He or she is also probably very strong to be able to defeat Kirge like that, even when considering inconsistent power levels. I’m guessing this is someone Urahara knows or knew well, but the range of possibilities is large so I’ll abstain from excessive speculation and let the cliffhanger resolve itself next time. Urahara is highly unlikely to actually die, but hopefully there will be some major developments, especially on unrevealed background information.
With Kirge almost certainly defeated, Ichigo may or may not be freed from the barrier, though I’m still disappointed he didn’t manage to smash it on his own power yet. Either way, I’m sure Soul Society isn’t completely doomed just yet, so the main focus now is on who this katana-wielding person is and what they want.