After a recap of what happened in Soul Society, we learn what happened a week after Aizen left. Some of the healed men are making trouble for the fourth division workers, but they are quieted by Captain Unohana. Meanwhile, Ikkaku is holding fighting matches when Ichigo shows up to challenge him. Their bout is short-lived though, because Captain Zaraki arrives to fight Ichigo, but since Ichigo doesn’t want to fight the captain, he runs away instead. Captain Komamura, on the other hand, is visiting the grave of Captain Tousen’s friend. The captain vows to VC Hisagi that they’ll bring Tousen back. In the eleventh division headquarters, VC Matsumoto is still angsting about Ichimaru, but Hitsugaya informs her that she has a visitor: Kira. She has of course forgiven him and invites him to eat and drink. While those two are partying, Hitsugaya goes to visit Hinamori, who is still unconscious.
Since they are returning home soon, Ishida has remade the group’s original clothes with his tailoring knowledge. He even did Rukia’s dress, and so Inoue decides to go take it to her, and somehow comes to the realization that Ishida likes Rukia. Unable to find Rukia, Inoue runs into Ichigo, who had finally escaped Zaraki. They ask Renji and Captain Kuchiki, but those two don’t know where Rukia went either. Since Renji didn’t know, Ichigo figures out that probably no one else did either. He suspects that there’s only one place she could have gone. Indeed, Rukia went out and found Kuukaku and Ganjuu so that she could apologize to them for killing Kaien. Kuukaku had heard the whole story from Captain Ukitake, so she was ready to forgive Rukia. When Ichigo and Inoue show up, Rukia breaks the news to them that she’s staying in Soul Society and not going back. Although he’s slightly surprised, Ichigo realizes that if that’s what Rukia wants, then it’s ok. When the next day comes around, Ichigo and company leave through the gate after saying their goodbyes and after Ukitake gives Ichigo a substitute shinigami fighting license.
Ichigo and company, including Yoruichi in cat form, travel back through the dangai to get to the human world, but emerge above the city. Fortunately, Urahara and his people catch them and welcome them home. Urahara formally apologizes, but Ichigo doesn’t mind, though he does tell Urahara to apologize to Rukia sometime. Everyone gets off at their own stop, though Ishida tells Ichigo that when they meet again, they’ll be enemies (Shinigami and Quincy). Ichigo himself gets off early and walks back home to the family clinic.
So they did do what I thought they’d do and recapped Soul Society for the first half of this episode (b/c otherwise they wouldn’t have enough material to take up the hour without dipping into the next arc). The recap bits transitioned fairly well with the “One week after” stuff. Most of the supporting cast gets some screen time as Ichigo and company prepared to return home. There’s a lot of forgiving going on (Matsumoto and Kira, Rukia to the Shibas, Urahara to Ichigo) as everyone is patching up relations strained by the situations. And Ichigo saying “I’m home” outside of the clinic feels like a nice way to end the episode and the arc.
As for the next arc, it looks like Renji will be involved in the human world, along with at least three new villains. I’m not too impressed by how they look, partly because they remind of the villains of Black Cat and partly because I’ve gotten so used to the style of dress from Soul Society. And there’s plenty of questions about how they’ll handle characters in this “filler” arc relating to the next manga arc (Rukia for example), but I guess we’ll have to wait and see what happens.
Edit: I forgot to mention that there’s a new ED airing next week, 「マイペース」 (My Pace) by SunSet Swish.