As the three-way battle continues, Ichigo and Byakuya both fire their attacks to stop Kariya’s wind. After the explosion, Ichigo tries to hit Kariya from behind, but the Bount manages to block in time. When Byakuya directs his waves of petals at them, Ichigo has to jump out of the way as Kariya once again uses his wind to defend himself. Kariya manages to catch Ichigo off-guard with a punch to the gut, and attributes his advantage to his fighting experience winning over Ichigo’s speed. And while Kariya did get hurt by Byakuya’s petals, he can still heal himself almost immediately. Byakuya tries to make another offensive push with his thousands of petals, and succeeds in cutting Kariya several times. The fighting continues, but neither side is still able to come out on top. Suddenly, something bright streaks out of the sky and crashes into the crater. A familiar looking woman appears wearing Shinigami garb – someone who looks just like the deceased Bount Yoshino. She surprises everyone by introducing herself as Rantao, the person Yoruichi had talked about. Rantao claims to be the only person outside of Seireitei to know about the Bount, and recognizes that Kariya is one. In fact, it seems like Rantao has been waiting for the Bount to come, and she wonders if Kariya is going to kill her. Ichigo gets in the way before Kariya can make a move, but it seems that Kariya doesn’t actually want to kill her yet. He instead wants her to watch as the Bount reach their goals so that she can see what she caused. Kariya plans to kill her only after Soul Society’s annihilation.
Byakuya takes the chance to attack Kariya again, causing the battle to resume. Kariya uses his wind to block Ichigo’s zanpaktou, but this time Ichigo manages to cut through it. However, the three are interrupted by a hail of metal balls, courtesy of Daruku and Koga. With his doll keeping Ichigo and Byakuya busy, Koga escapes with Kariya. After the dust clears, Ririn and Byakuya aren’t able to sense where the Bount went. Byakuya then walks off, leaving Ichigo together with Rantao. The two of them don’t a chance to talk before they’re interrupted by Ishida. After getting a good look at each other, Rantao is intrigued by the Quincy and Ishida is surprised to find someone who looks just like Yoshino. Rantao claims that she’s not their enemy, and the two agree to go with her to talk and heal their wounds. Elsewhere in the forest, Ganjuu – along with Inoue and Sado – finds the right spot and whistles. Several men emerge from the bushes, one of whom Ganjuu identifies as Bull. Meanwhile, Ichigo and Ishida return to Rantao’s underground home where she heals Ichigo through an electric method. As for the Bount, Rantao confirms what Ichigo had learned from Kariya about the experiment from long ago. Once the Bount were created, they had no where to go and Soul Society wouldn’t let them stay. When the Bount tried to force their way into Soul Society, the Quincy got involved. It was soon after the Bount had slaughtered the Quincy that Soul Society used the chance to slaughter the Bount. Kariya had been in that battle and had escaped with a grudge against Soul Society. Ishida thinks that Rantao could have done something to help the Bount in the real world after all this time, but Rantao answers him by taking off her robes and revealing the symbol on her back. Her powers had been sealed off when she was banished from Seireitei, so she couldn’t go to the real world or escape from here. As for the flashy entrance she made earlier, Rantao claims to have regained enough energy to be able to fight, though even that is limited.
Rantao turns her attention to Ishida and figures out that Kariya must have used the Quincy powers to get here. She’s confused because she knows Ishida must have helped the Bount, yet she can also see that he is hostile towards them. Ichigo answers for Ishida, saying simply that various things happened. Rantao then tells Ishida that his battle accessory – the one that gave him his powers back – is quite dangerous. However, Ishida is determined to defeat Kariya, so he needs the power. She accepts this, though she does warn him to be careful not to cause trouble for the people around him. Rantao then falls to her knees, holding her head as if she was in pain. She explains that she’s old and has come up with some abilities while waiting for the Bount, but she still needs half a day’s rest. With Rantao asleep, Ishida and Ichigo decide to wait in her home until she wakes up since they have more to talk to her about. By that time, Kariya has returned to what is becoming a small army. He didn’t think that Byakuya was too bad and tells Koga that fighting with the captain will make for good propaganda. After Ichinose reports that the other three Bount are watching Seireitei’s movements, Kariya remarks that it’s almost time.
Well that was certainly a surprise. When I first saw Rantao appear, I thought that Yoshino was back and had secretly been a Shinigami or something. I certainly didn’t expect to be seeing her face again, let alone on Rantao – I had thought that Rantao was an old man or something. This does put an interesting twist on things. Maybe they’re related in some way or maybe Rantao specially created Yoshino in her own image? There’s still a lot we don’t know about her and I guess we’ll find out when she wakes up.
I overall enjoyed the episode since it had a bit of fighting, plot development, and even that surprise. It’s a shame we can’t get small plot twists like this every week, but I’m at least enjoying them when they come.
Oh yea, Ulquiorra is the special pic today. I wonder if they’re going to go through all the yet-to-be-introduced manga characters, or if they’re no longer going to have special pictures featured in the opening once the new OP comes in a few weeks.