Even against Kariya’s new weapon, Ichigo is still able to use his speed to his advantage and go on the offensive. Despite Kariya’s efforts to use his spirit power for defense, his coat still gets shredded by Ichigo’s attack. Kariya then decides to show his doll Messer’s true form, which uses the friction of the wind to cause static electricity. This allows him to direct lightning blasts successfully towards Ichigo, sending Ichigo crashing into the ground. When Kariya reveals that there is more than one Joukaishou and explains his plan to explode them all, Ichigo responds by questioning the meaning of doing this. Kariya explains that he finds both Bount and Shinigami to be rotten, so he plans to destroy everyone. Around this time, Rukia and Renji arrive on the scene, but Renji keeps Rukia from getting in Ichigo’s way. Since Ichigo gets back up, Kariya feels that he has no choice but to finish Ichigo before the world ends. Ichigo, however, can’t seem to find the strength to move until a certain Hollow side briefly flares up and fires off a black Getsuga Tenshou at Kariya. But since Ichigo briefly struggles with himself and reverts back to how he was, it is apparent to Kariya that Ichigo’s power has withered. And unlike Ichigo, Kariya can rely on using the spirit particles to heal himself. Or so, that’s what he thinks until he tries to patch up the wound he just got and finds that he can’t absorb spirit particles anymore. Since he also still has the stab wound from Rantao, Kariya realizes that her action might be the cause of this.
Regardless of that, Kariya is almost ready to unleash the Joukaishou, so Ichigo makes another charge at him. Kariya decides to demonstrate what he can do by exploding one of the other Joukaishou in Seireitei, but what he doesn’t know is that the Shinigami are rushing to seal them all off. After knocking down Ichigo again, Kariya proceeds to send a lightning attack from his sword to blow up one of the Joukaishou. Fortunately, a cloud of sakura petals suddenly appears to block the attack, and that same cloud comes after Kariya. This is Byakuya’s bankai, but he’s not the only one helping because Yoruichi appears too. Hearing from her that the other captains are working to seal the multitude of Joukaishou, Kariya knows that he’s going to have to defeat everyone here to fulfill his goals. Ichigo, however, still has plenty of fight left in him and starts going at it with Kariya again. Yoruichi meanwhile keeps Byakuya out of the fight in case the two of them have to contain the Joukaishou if Kariya unleashes it. As the fight goes on, she realizes that Kariya has used up all his own power and is now relying on the Joukaishou’s power to fight. Kariya is well aware of this and explains that either his body will either hold the Joukaishou until its ready or he’ll be defeated by Ichigo. He attacks again, this time landing a kick that sends Ichigo flying back towards a rock. As it turns out, this rock has Ichinose’s zanpaktou sticking out of it, and that acts as a lightning rod for Kariya’s lightning attack, preventing Ichigo from getting hurt by it this once.
By this time, Ishida, Sado, and Inoue have emerged from the woods next to Renji and Rukia. They want to go help, but Rukia feels that they shouldn’t. As she sees it, Ichigo is a Shinigami substitute, but not an actual Shinigami. He is also a human, but not a normal human. Ichigo wanted power to protect, but when he got them, he was burdened with both the real world and Soul Society. And although he bears this weight that they cannot understand, he still moves forward. Rukia explains that the Bount are similar in that they are and are not human, suffering between two worlds. She suggests that maybe Ichigo is the only one who can stop Kariya since they carry the same burden. If that is the case, then they can only believe in him and watch. Having heard all this, Inoue is looking a bit depressed, so Rukia tries to cheers her up by saying that Ichigo will definitely win. Ichigo and Kariya have meanwhile powered up to their fullest for one final charge. As they’re pushing their swords against each other, Ichigo asks what Kariya did to his Bount allies, suggesting that Kariya used them in order to win. In response, Kariya claims that people hate those who are better than themselves, regardless if they are your comrades. In a given long period of time, those comrades will sooner or later fear your power and leave you. Thus, there is no meaning in protecting such people. Ichigo, however, believes that there is indeed meaning and that he protects because he wants to.
From the sidelines, Yoruichi spots the crest on Kariya’s body glowing, indicating that the Joukaishou is about to be released. She tries to get Byakuya to help her seal it, but the captain does nothing and instead continues to watch as Ichigo and Kariya make their final swings at one other. When the dust clears, Ichigo is the one who falls to his knees. Kariya turns around and proclaims that it’s over, noting that he finds it regrettable that he won’t get to see if Ichigo walks the same path as him. He starts to say something about himself, but then disintegrates into a cloud of dust. It is at this point that Sado and the others come to help Ichigo back up on his feet. Looking up at the sky, Ichigo remarks that after everything, Kariya disappeared by himself. When Rukia wonders if that’s what Kariya intended from the beginning, Ichigo isn’t sure, but he feels that Kariya wanted to put a stop to his endless time.
Well that wasn’t too bad an ending since they managed to involve Byakuya, Yoruichi, and hints of Hollow Ichigo. I guess Kariya wasn’t that strong since Ichigo was never forced to fully bring out his Hollow side. I do think it was a bit disappointing that Kariya just *poof* disappeared into a cloud of dust, but oh well. I did like Rukia’s speech comparing Kariya and Ichigo though, since it sort of tied everything together and explained why Ichigo had to be the one to stop Kariya. All I’m left to do now is wonder what would have happened if all of the captains had just decided to all gang up on Kariya at once. Something like that would likely never happen in a series like this, but it’s fun to think about.
Anyway, this more or less brings the Bount arc to a close since all the Bount that we know of are now dead. Next episode looks like it’ll be a regrouping and transition from this arc into the new arc, which appears to be starting with the introduction of a terrifying/dreadful transfer student in episode 110. Having said that, Bleach is off next week and will be returning on January 4th for episode 109, though that’s actually on a Thursday. They do not appear to be changing the air-date permanently, so Bleach should go back to Wednesday the following week.