As Byakuya and Ichigo face off, Byakuya asks Ichigo why he wants to save Rukia, but Ichigo counters with why Byakuya doesn’t want to save her. Byakuya decides that he’s just going to have to kill Ichigo and execute Rukia himself. Renji, carrying Rukia, tells her that he and Ichigo got strong to protect her, and that she should depend on them and stop blaming herself. In the main group, Soi Fong is taking out Ukitake’s officers, but when Ukitake moves to help, Commander Yamamoto steps in his way. Captain Kyouraku grabs Ukitake and jumps off the cliff, saying that someone else is there to save Ukitake’s third seats. Sure enough, none other than Yoruichi tackles Soi Fong off the cliff. Somewhere inside the city, Ukitake and Kyouraku decide that they have run far enough and are ready to face the commander. Nanao, who followed them, is completely paralyzed by Yamamoto’s gaze, so her captain quickly takes her to safety before returning to the fight. The commander is quite disappointed that his most promising and strongest disciples decided to turn against him. He takes off his outer garbs, revealing a stunning physique undernearth, and then releases his zanpaktou which turns into a fiery sword.
I’m glad this episode decides to consolidate some of the parallel storylines because otherwise it would have been jumping around all over the place. This episode focuses on the Yamamoto vs. Ukitake/Kyouraku aspects for the second half, while the first does do a lot of that changing point of view. Nothing really to complain about since it’s a welcome change for greater story coherence.
And since they changed stuff around, certain parts of the manga aren’t included: they cover chapters 153 to 155, minus the Soi Fong vs. Yoruichi parts of chapter 154. I guess that’s less than normal, but they make up for it by showing a lot of Yamamoto’s buff body (which feels really unnecessary, but maybe that’s just me).
The three battles developing now are the commander vs. the two captains, Yoruichi vs. Soi Fong, and Ichigo vs. Byakuya. If they go at their current pace, next week will cover the rest of the first fight, and should cover all of the second fight. That leaves Ichigo vs. Byakuya for episode 57 and on.
Closing Thought: I hope the Karakura Super Heroes bit at the end becomes standard (much like the character introductions were). Today’s little bit covered the other half of chapter 88.5 – the fighting half.