Ichigo finds himself in a storage room with Yoruichi, presumably his savior. Ichigo remembers Sado and the others, but Yoruichi calms him down by telling him that they’re fine. Yoruichi is more concerned about the hollow mask that Ichigo is carrying with him. Ichigo recounts that Hanatarou threw it away back when they were in the sewers, a statement which alarms Yoruichi greatly, so he takes it in for safekeeping. When Ichigo says that Yoruichi is pretty amazing to be able to carry him back with Yoruichi’s small body, Yoruichi says that he used his original form. Realizing that Ichigo has never seen it, Yoruichi transforms…into a beautiful girl. She starts to explain about the device she used to carry him, but Ichigo yells for her to put some clothes on first to which Yoruichi teases Ichigo for a while about clothes and seeing a girl naked. As they’re talking, they feel a great spiritual energy. Ichigo realizes that Ganjyu and Hanatarou are in danger and rushes off with the wing device.
On the bridge, Ganjyu charges Byakuya, but gets easily avoided and cut instead. After Ganjyu reveals that he’s from the Shiba family, Byakuya gets serious and uses his special attack, Senbonzakura (1000 cherry blossoms) which absolutely destroys Ganjyu. As Byakuya turns to attack Rukia and Hanatarou, his arm is stopped by the arrival of Captain Ukitake. As Byakuya fills Ukitake in on the situation in Soul Society, they feel an immense spiritual power, signaling the arrival of Ichigo. He and Rukia quickly get reacquainted, returning briefly to their old arguing selves. Rukia, though not showing it, is pretty glad that Ichigo is here to save her. Ichigo turns to face Byakuya and the two clash. Byakuya is very surprised that Ichigo blocks his first attack, and each attack afterwords. He turns to use Senbonzakura again, but something wraps around his sword, and Yoruichi appears to stop him.
Yay! I’ve been waiting for this episode for forever. I’m glad that the production crew, like they have done so far, kept pretty true to the manga in the dialogue and action. In fact, the only major changes/additions I could see were Rukia’s mini-monologue at the end about her brother and Ichigo, and the exclusion of the Shiba smile reference from Ichigo (if you read the manga, you know the page I’m talking about). And the mask only had 3 stripes instead of 4, but oh well.
The preview last week spawned a lot of discussion on how they changed the color of Yoruichi’s hair from the dark blue it was in episode 31’s ending sequence to a much brighter purple. Honestly, it didn’t bother me at all; I hardly noticed it.
There was quite a bit of 3D thrown in this episode, and it wasn’t done too badly, even if it did slightly look out of place. Byakuya’s Senbonzakura is as cool as ever, as was pretty much the entire fight scene. It’s funny how Number One (the song) is now the powerup music – they played it twice this episode: when Ichigo arrived and when he spars with Byakuya. And I say spars because this really isn’t a full fight (we’ll get that much much later). Next episode will most likely conclude the bridge scene and then move on to Ishida and Inoue.