The three imprisoned vice captains Kira, Hinamori, and Renji all remember back to a time long time ago, when they are all going through shinigami school, assigned to the advanced class one. Training shows that Renji is fairly useless in the demon arts, but a good swordsman. Renji and Kira quickly become friends with Hinamori as an acquaintance. One day, their class goes to do some field training in the real world. Their guides are the sixth year student Hisagi and his two lieutenants Kanisawa and Aoga. Hisagi is well known among the students as having been pre-accepted into the Gotei 13 with an officer position even before he graduated. The students are split into groups of three, and our three future vice captains join together. Arriving in the real world, their training goes fairly smoothly, and they defeat a Hollow without any problems. As they are about to leave, Hisagi hears the call and scream of Kanisawa from behind him. Renji and company arrive to see her pierced through the two giant tusks of a Hollow. Aoga charges it in a rage, but he too is quickly killed. Hisagi urges the freshmen to run away, and then calls for reinforcements from Soul Society. Although Renji and Kira follow his orders and run away, they notice that Hinamori isn’t. She rushes to help the future vice captain, giving Renji and Kira no choice but to run after her. An already wounded Hisagi struggles in the fight, but is saved when the three first years block an attack for him. They unleash a blast spell which, while having little effect, gives them enough time to run away. However, they are soon surrounded by even more Hollows that have materialized before them. The situation feels hopeless until a quick sword strike extends through one of the enemy. The students turn around to find that reinforcements have arrived in the form of Captain Aizen and VC Ichimaru. The tides turn as the two make quick work of the Hollows. Hinamori remembers how Aizen smiled to her that night, and she gains the determination to break free from prison.
This story was originally a side special “-17” chapter from Volume 15 of the manga. It is fairly separate from the main storyline, though it had some pre and post-text that showed Renji, Kira, and Hinamori’s resolve. I like how they tie it all together here in the animated version by having the three remember the incident, and then use it to strengthen Hinamori’s determination at the end.
There are tons of changes from the manga – too many to name. The major changes include the adding of several scenes between when they are in the classroom and the field excursion. Those allow us to see the development of the characters a lot more than we’re getting out of the main storyline. I myself like Kira a lot more now after having seen this episode. Another major difference from the manga is the order in which the Hisagi fight occurred. The manga had him fighting two Hollows before Hinamori and friends save him. Only Hinamori uses the blast spell (which also has no effect) before a ton of Hollows show up. Doesn’t really affect the overall story, but it’s a change nonetheless.
This story is supposed to be about Renji, Kira, and Hinamori, but the animated version leans a bit more towards Hinamori even though it’s not told from her point of view. We get to see how she meets Aizen and starts almost idolizing him. This works very well into the main story since we’re getting to a point where Hinamori plays a big part again. She’s going after Aizen’s killer, with the preview showing her pointing her sword at Captain Hitsugaya. And to think, he used to be such a cute and bratty kid.