Captain Hitsugaya and VC Matsumoto find out that Hinamori, Abarai, and Kira have all escaped from their cells. Investigating Hinamori’s cell, the captain finds that she used demon arts to escape, and he makes up his mind to find and save her. Meanwhile, Ichigo continues his training with Zangetsu. Yoruichi notices great improvement with how Ichigo is able to handle himself against Zangetsu, but her powers reach their limit for the day, forcing her to end the training. The two take a hot springs bath together (with Yoruichi in cat form) and discuss the underground area and Urahara. Yoruichi informs Ichigo, much to his surprise, that Urahara used to be the captain of the 12th division and was also the founder and first president of the research institute of technology. Above in Soul Society, Ichimaru and Kira return to the third division to find Hitsugaya waiting for them. He prepares to fight Ichimaru, but Hinamori’s appearance interrupts them. She declares that, according to Aizen’s letter, Hitsugaya is the conspirator who is planning on using the Soukyoku to destroy Soul Society. Aizen was going to confront Hitsugaya the night before he was found dead. The letter tells Hinamori to kill Hitsugaya if Aizen failed. And with that, a crying Hinamori attacks. Hitsugaya is able to avoid her attack, and tries to convince Hinamori that the letter is a fake. Hinamori counters that it was definitely Aizen’s handwriting, but confesses her own confusion. Hitsugaya, taking to the air, notices that Ichimaru is grinning like mad. Furious, Hitsugaya lunges down at him, but Hinamori gets in the way. There is no time to dodge, so he has no choice but to knock her down. With Hinamori unconscious, the 10th division captain turns his sights onto the 3rd division captain, and the two prepare to draw their swords.
I absolutely loved this episode for bringing life to the story even better than the manga did. Several of the shots were artfully done, and Hinamori’s voice actress, Sakuma Kumi, did a good job in bringing forth her emotions. The background song that played when Hinamori was explaining everything was a nice touch too. Oh yea, and the animation was really good this episode. Icing on the cake…
Another three chapters of the manga this week, covering from 128 to 131. They moved the scene where Hitsugaya and Matsumoto visit the jail to the beginning, probably for greater coherence of the storyline. The scene of Hinamori in the tree is extra, as are all of the scenes with Urahara back at his shop (though I felt those were rather amusing) and the scene of Hitsugaya visiting Kira’s cell after he’s gone. The only other change I saw is that Yoruichi never changes back to human while in the hot springs in the manga. I assume they did that for humor and fanservice.
Ichimaru is such an interesting character. I found that at the end of this arc, he is the character that I was left wondering most about. They hint at his relationship with Matsumoto today, and their past together is still something I’m very interested in. Ichimaru makes such a good bad guy too with that creepy smile of his. *shudders*
Next week will conclude this fight, and then move on to some Rukia backstory (the good stuff). The preview was a bit too spoilerish about the Hitsugaya and Ichimaru fight, which is bad, but doesn’t really mention anything about Rukia’s story, which is good…assuming they follow the manga and tell it at this point. In any case, Bleach has probably become my favorite anime these days, probably the only series I really don’t have any production gripes about.