With the battle about to start, both captains urge Kira to get away, but he’s frozen in place. Instead, he gets to witness a fight between two captains that culminates when Hitsugaya’s summons Hyourinmaru, a dragon of water and ice. Hitsugaya uses his freezing powers to catch Ichimaru’s arm, but Ichimaru shoots Shinsou at point blank range. Hitsugaya narrowly dodges it, but Ichimaru then aims it for Hinamori. Hitsugaya doesn’t have enough time to stop the blade, but Matsumoto appears just in time to block it. Meanwhile, as dawn breaks, Yoruichi wonders if Ichigo can progress fast enough to prevent Rukia’s execution. While Yoruichi thinks about timetables, Rukia learns that her execution date has once again been moved up. Back at their own division, Hitsugaya and Matsumoto tend to a still unconscious Hinamori. The battle earlier ended when Ichimaru turned around at the sight of Matsumoto and disappeared, telling Hitsugaya that he should take care of Hinamori instead of chasing. Hitsugaya thanks Matsumoto for coming, then wonders to himself how much of Aizen’s letter was changed. When a hell moth appears and tells them that the execution time has been changed, Hitsugaya decides to go and stop it. At the training grounds, Renji makes a loud entrance and finds Ichigo training for ban kai. Renji is also there to train, revealing that time is limited since the execution time is now noon of the next day. Yoruichi feels that the situation may be hopeless, but Ichigo is determined to achieve ban kai by that time. In the tower, Rukia reflects on her fate, deciding to try asking for the safe passage of Ichigo and company back to the real world as a last request. She doesn’t feel sad over her execution, remembering what she did one night very long ago – a night where one man, Kaien, lay dying in her arms.
I was initially quite worried about the pacing of this episode. Chapters 134 through 136 cover the Kaien story, so I assumed they would finish this episode before they got there, which is exactly what ends up happening. To fill some space, a bit more is added to the fight between Ichimaru and Hitsugaya before Hitsugaya uses Hyourinmaru, as is a brief scene where everyone in Soul Society learns about the new execution time. I’m glad that they decided to do it this way because it allows us to see the Rukia and Kaien story in its entirety in one episode (since this week only teases at what happened).
And so this episode only covers two chapters, 132 and 133, with the most notable changes being the ones I already mentioned. The animation had me a little concerned to start, as parts of the beginning of the Ichimaru and Hitsugaya fight look rather rushed. However, it soon gets up to par once Hitsugaya uses Hyourinmaru, and the rest of the fight (and episode) is fine.
All of the worrying Yoruichi does about having enough time turns out to be for naught. With Rukia’s execution only a day away, Ichigo has to pull off a near miracle to achieve ban kai in time. And it just now hits me that the span of the next 30-40 chapters covers only a little over one day’s time, but it’s one helluva action-packed day. In fact they don’t really even cover the current day very much at all, since after this next mini-arc we’re going to go straight to the next morning – the morning of the execution (assuming they follow the manga in that respect). Anyway, this next episode will first give us a little of Rukia’s back story, a tale of her and one Shiba Kaien.