In the aftermath of the battle against Kariya, Ichigo gets his wounds healed by Inoue. Rukia also got healed, but she’s sleeping since she needs some more time to recover. Renji confirms that Seireitei formally admitted to the existence of the Bount, which ends up being the opposite of Kariya’s goal of trying to erase that existence. He and Ichigo then start arguing, but they get interrupted by the arrival of Byakuya, who tells Ichigo to go back home to the real world. After Byakuya moves on, Rukia wakes up from the commotion and joins Ichigo and Renji. In his reflections about what happened, Ichigo remarks that Kariya couldn’t endure seeing the Bount history repeated and feels that living so long isn’t easy. For Kariya, history was not a line stretching forward, but rather a circle turning round and round. He was just trying to break off from that. Thinking about this, Rukia remembers when she first got assigned to Karakura Town in the real world before she met Ichigo. Renji is also reminiscing about the past to that very same day when he achieved his vice-captain status. Ikkaku had suggested he go tell Rukia, but Renji had decided to wait until Rukia came back from her new assignment.
During all this, Koga wakes up in Rantao’s underground home. He had apparently survived the attack from Captain Hitsugaya and had been brought there secretly by Yoruichi. Upon learning that Kariya is dead, Koga says that if it is the fate of the Bount to perish, then he can only accept it. Rantao then notes that she’d like to hear about the Bount from the last one still alive since she doesn’t want to go back to Seireitei. As Yoruichi leaves, Koga asks her to thank Ichigo for stopping Kariya. Meanwhile, Ichigo departs from the Sixth Division and finds Kon sneaking around outside. Ichigo tells Kon that they’re about ready to leave Soul Society and that Rukia is going to stay here to recover. When Kon wishes he had more power to impress Rukia, Ichigo thinks about how Kariya’s power only served to bury Kariya in the end. He realizes that Kariya wanted the power to change fate whereas he himself wanted a turn of fate. As he recalls his life before he got his Shinigami powers, he remembers how he felt that his powerlessness was the one thing that wouldn’t change. Ichigo now thinks that fate is like a set of gears, and they are the sand that gets crushed between them. He wonders if his power is to crush fate or if he’s going to get swallowed up by his powers like Kariya was. Feeling that it’s no use thinking about it, Ichigo decides to just use this power to protect everyone.
When Ukitake finds Ichigo standing there, Ichigo explains that he was thinking about why Kariya obtained power. Ukitake comes to the same conclusion about Kariya wanting to break free of the circle of history, but also he suggests that even if it is the repetition of the same thing… Ichigo proceeds to finish Ukitake’s sentence by saying that it’s not so bad if one has friends. Back at the Sixth Division, Rukia is wondering to herself if history turns round and round or if it extends forward. If history is the former, then should they break from it or be resigned to it? Although Rukia misses Ichigo, Sado, Inoue, and Ishida’s departure from Soul Society back to the real world, she’s still grateful to Ichigo for everything and hopes to see him again. Unbeknownst to all of them, a new figure has appeared in Karakura Town.
As expected, this episode serves as a transition between arcs to wrap things up and set up the new arc. It’s not an entirely clean wrap-up of the Bount arc since not all the Bount are dead. Koga’s survival shouldn’t be too big of a surprise since his body wasn’t shown in the previous episodes and since he seemed the most rational of the Bount. I assume they’ll just ignore that he’s around from now on since the next arc won’t really be taking place in Soul Society. I also think that the issue of Ririn and the other mod souls meanwhile might be dealt with when Ichigo sees Urahara again since I doubt that they’re going to be written into this next arc.
And of course, we’re definitely returning to the manga for the next arc since Shinji has now appeared. I thought they did a great job weaving in the flashbacks of Rukia in Karakura from the first episode and then mirroring them using Shinji at the end here. It’s a nice touch that really said to me that we’re now starting the second important storyline to Bleach. And judging from the preview, we’re going to get right into the thick of things, and that should introduce one of the big surprises I’ve been looking forward to seeing animated (i.e. what happens in the chapters titled “Tell Your Children The Truth” and “THE CIGAR BLUES PART TWO”).