Summary:
Initially unsure about what to do, Ichigo and company get a note that’s followed by an enormous gate floating down from the sky. The doors open and a wind starts to suck things in. Upon getting closer, Ichigo sees their three opponents, and Ririn is carrying Urahara’s hat. Kon, Ishida, and Inoue get pulled in, so Ichigo and Renji have no choice but to follow. Ichigo tries to destroy the gate by attempting ban kai, but for some reason is unable to finish the power up. The group wakes up in a barren landscape and find Ririn’s group holding Sado hostage. Ririn announces that they’re going to play a challenge stage that gives Ichigo five minutes to save Sado, who is slowly being buried in sand. The catch is that they have to get through Nova and Claude. To fight Ichigo, Claude copies Ichigo’s appearance while to fight Renji, Nova starts manipulating space.

With time running out, Ririn launches a final attack in the form of a vortex that pulls everything upward. Ichigo once again tries for ban kai and once again fails to complete the transformation. Fortunately for our heroes, Sado’s prison cracks open and the vortex in the sky suddenly disappears. Though initially puzzled, Ichigo spots Urahara’s hat, and realizes what’s been going on. Urahara appears and says that after observing Ichigo, he’s noticed that Ichigo is unable to use ban kai. So before Aizen comes back, Urahara wants Ichigo to be able to initiate ban kai again. Urahara then tells them about Ishida’s lost abilities. Because he never told them about it, Ichigo lectures Ishida about the importance of fighting together. Ririn also reveals that all of his classmates are safe in a place admiring the stars.

Meanwhile, Yoruichi and Soi Fong have been on the move. From the sandy remains of a person, they tracked down a singing woman who is in the act of attracting a man with her song. Yoruichi – in human form – intervenes, but the woman gets away. Yoruichi returns to Urahara’s and gathers everybody to tell them about the appearance of a new enemy: the Baunt. Urahara explains that the Baunt are like Quincy in that they are humans with special powers. However, the Baunt can live forever by consuming souls. The problem is that the Baunt Yoruichi encountered is taking the souls of still living humans. Urahara then assigns Ririn to Ichigo, Claude to Inoue, and Nova to Sado as support.

Sado puts Nova in a turtle doll that he won out of a machine, while Inoue puts Claude into a rabbit doll. Ichigo is trying to find a suitable one for the picky Ririn, but she accidentally steps on his shinigami battle license and gets her mod soul tossed into a bird doll. After kicking Kon out for laughing at her, Ririn later senses the Baunt and alerts Ichigo. He arrives on the scene just as the female Baunt has started to eat a woman’s soul. He succeeds in cornering her, but she summons a fire beast she calls her “Doll.” Ichigo manages to cut off one of the Doll’s arms, but it easily reattaches back.

His friends – Sado, Inoue, Claude, Nova, and Kon – have also sensed the Baunt, but have gone a different way. They find a body that turns into sand right before their eyes and briefly encounter a male Baunt. Back at the fight, Ichigo can’t find a way to stop the Doll until he hits its weak point, the heart. However, the victory is short-lived because the Doll re-forms and subsequently buries them in rubble. It powers up a pair of fireballs, but they never reach their destination because of a lightning bolt from the sky. Ichigo is astonished to see the familiar face in front of him: Rukia.

Well the animation isn’t all that great, but the story definitely has its share of surprises. For starters, Ririn, Claude, and Nova are actually helping Urahara. I figured that the dolls in the ED animation were supposed to represent the three, and I knew they were mod souls, but I never made this connection. And on the heels of showing that those three are really allies, they also unveil a new bad guy: the Baunt (aka vampires). Now all we need is some ninjas and space pirates and… I joke, but my point is that I hope these villains don’t disappoint.
I like how they take away Ichigo’s ban kai. Doing so accomplishes two very important things: they make him less super-powerful for the time being (which was approaching DBZ proportions) and they allow the story to not screw up the manga plot in terms of Ichigo character development. Though speaking of screwing up manga plot, they did put Rukia back into the mix. It’s nothing too major, but a manga purist like myself will find anything to complain and worry about lol. It does make me curious about how they’re going to animate the manga chapter where she returns, whenever that finally comes around.
Overall, this episode alone raises my opinion of the entire arc by quite a bit. The previous episodes are still pretty poor in comparison to the Soul Society arc, but with this week I’m a lot more optimistic about Bleach. Next time, more Rukia!

40 Comments

  1. Wow, there are some, uhhh….interesting(?) screens up there…. (28 + 19)

    Urahara was behind it all? Didn’t see that one coming, not a bit… ^^b

    Now this is why it’s stupid to automatically assume that fillers are crap. Even if the first couple episodes aren’t too good, you should keep optimistic until the conclusion. This is the perfect example of how fillers /seem/ stupid at first, then come back and slap you in the face. 😀

    Shinji103
  2. Spoiler question based on manga Show Spoiler ▼

    KyoshiroM
  3. Gooble, I think that the animators want to stretch this filler’s plot to have all the main cast properly fleshed out and reintroduce into the Bleach storyline before the next manga arc starts in the anime.

    And I think she’s the real Rukia, unless the vampires also employ mod souls too or are playing illusion games on Ichigo.

    Guido
  4. Yep, that’s what I had in mind.

    The premise and plot at the start of this filler Bleach arc reminds me the start of the Black Chapter saga from Yu Yu Hakusho.

    Urahara is testing our heroes with those mini-games so as to made them realize to come up in doing anything irrational when their time comes to face the vampire enemies.

    Guido
  5. I saw the special in RAW format earlier and it was highly entertaining. Theres a couple of times when you think Ichigo will go Ban Kai, but he wasn’t able to on either occassion (im sure Urahara explains why, but I didnt really understand what was being said). The new filler enemies seem ok… they appear to have to power to summon some strong-looking creatures, and the firey one gives Ichigo a hard time. Rukia makes a shock entrance right at the end of the episode… and judging by the level and type of Kidou blast she uses to deflect that big fireball away from Ichigo, she is more than likely the genuine article. I wonder what they’ll do with regards to her manga reappearence though… they may have shot themselves in the foot there.

    t0ffe3m4n
  6. Rukia appearing now isb’t that big a blow to the manga story. It’s not like there was some five-page scene where Ichigo goes soft and goes on and on about how glad he is to see her. ^^b Show Spoiler ▼

    Shinji103
  7. How did everyone else forget that in the manga ONLY ORIHIME IS SUPPOSED TO KNOW ISHIDA DOESN’T HAVE HIS POWERS! He made her promise to keep it a secret and its the main reason why he avoids Ichigo and co. Also, the story for the filler arc just totally ignores the fact that Ichigo is supposed to be struggling with his hollow. Ever since he came back from SS he’s been hearing the hollow’s voice in his head. If he was struggling this much in the fight his hollow should be trying to take advantage and gain control. That is what makes Rukia’s return in the manga such a big deal. She basically reenergizes him after he was feeling guilty for his friends getting hurt.
    Show Spoiler ▼

    EliteF22
  8. @EliteF22: It’s not that hard to figure out by the rest of the gang that Ishida lost his powers in a battle. Each of them (Chad, Ichigo, and most especially Urahara) is able to detect noticeable reiatsu “fluctuations” from other people/entities. It’s no use hiding it especially from these people. If they’re not able to get a reading from Ishida, that would mean something must have happened to him already back in SS to lose it.

    As for the hollow-struggle, well, do take note that this arc is a non-serious arc. It will ignore some concepts that were in the manga — for now. It’s most likely that the internal struggle will be shown more later. I mean, Ichigo’s ‘condition’ only manifested physically after he managed to initiate ban kai in SS. In this arc, he tries more frequently to achieve the state, and I can assume that because of his persistence (or Urahara’s “training”), we’ll eventually see what we expect to see from the manga’s events: his worsening condition.

  9. ichigo and ririn make a funny duo, totally crack me up. ^^
    i wonder where ichigo hide ririn’s gaia(temp body) ^^;,
    wait did she follow ichigo back in that form?
    only saw sado carrying nova modsoul seed.
    i think i’m abit messed up

    winsonkoh
  10. @ukitake13: He’s giving him a gift basket because they are both white haired.

    @the ongoing manga-anime discussion: I’m quite surprised actually, in one fell swoop, they instantly made me like the whole series again. It’s not really that hard to integrate all this additions to the next major manga arc actually, in fact I feel they’re doing quite a satisfying job with the filler arcs now.

    They haven’t added in any new things that will interfere with the future manga arc for now, and the whole Ichigo losing bankai issue is quite logical if you think from the angle that he gained his bankai in record time, not to mention he’s only has his shinigami powers for a while only now.

    I would say that his bankai in SS was helped in by the feelings he had for Rukia, his determination to save her and also the fact that SS is more conducive to unleashing spiritual powers.

  11. no no damme! it wont work! Ichigo can’t love Rukia now!
    Rukia will be with Renji and Ichigo will love Rinrin!
    soon, Rinrin will fall for Ichigo and it’ll be like Rin-Primula XD
    but no Asa to come and ruin it all… uhh and Inoue will go with Ishida!

    Rinrin X Ichigo zutto!! XD

  12. Soi Fong gets all nervous, trying to give Yoruichi a valentine. And when she finally gets up the nerve to come out and say it, Yoruichi has turned into a cat… which completely spoils the mood.

    Ukitake is giving Hitsugaya a late Christmas present (hence the Santa Claus on the red boot). Awkwardness ensues since Hitsugaya hates being treated like a little kid. I don’t know much Japanese, but that’s what I picked up.

    Peccavo
  13. “It does make me curious about how they’re going to animate the manga chapter where she returns, whenever that finally comes around.”

    Show Spoiler ▼

    Well, I agree anyway that it’s going to be weird, but one of my problems with the filler arc anyway was that it was going to delay Rukia’s return to the show, so at least she’s finally back. >_>

    Kylara
  14. >ichigo and ririn make a funny duo, totally crack me up. ^^
    >i wonder where ichigo hide ririns gaia(temp body) ^^;
    >wait did she follow ichigo back in that form?
    >only saw sado carrying nova modsoul seed.
    >i think im abit messed up

    Don’t worry, you are not the only one confused with that.

    I am also trying to figure it out. Since it seems that the mod souls are much more powerful in human bodies, I’m reluctant to think that they simply tossed the bodies into the backburner and forgot about them. I think I really need to start reading the manga. However since these ARE filler eps, there may be a possibility that it may end up like that. Which would be sad, because Nova was awesome, Rinrin was adorable, and Claude was ok-ish with his wierd hair. And his doll is…odd, so I hope they put him back in his other body soon!

    Anyone else have a theory on this?

  15. I think Rinrin made another illusion so she won’t be a seed?

    Or she could have just went with Ichigo infront of everyone where we couldn’t see her at all while Claude and Nova just did what they were told to do that’s my guess who really knows?

    Blanc
  16. Is there anybody agree that Ichigo just overprotects Orihime? I mean he took her with him when they ran away from the door and asked Renji and Ishida to take care of her when he could not be around her. Ichiori 4ever !!! ^o^

    kawaiinu
  17. So, since Soi Fon is the one giving the Valentine’s Day gift, I guess all the slash fans now know officially who’s on top in their relationship…

    (In Japan, the girl gives chocolate to guys on Valentine’s Day, I believe.)

  18. thank you for this wonderful site!

    i can’t find these episodes on youtube, and i dont have a manga of BLEACH. boohoo..

    anyway. i really appreciate you for posting this one!!

    arigato gozaimasu!

    candice

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