With Ichigo still shocked to see her, Rukia wastes no time in kicking his face, slapping him a few times, and then using her glove to drag out his Shinigami form. She leads him to a Hollow that’s appeared in town to try to have him fight it, but Ichigo can’t seem to draw his zanpaktou and just keeps dodging the Hollow’s attacks. When Ichigo finally does reach for his zanpaktou, he immediately feels his inner Hollow trying to take over. Seeing that Ichigo is unable to fight, Rukia questions if he’s afraid of defeat, not being able to protect his friends, or the Hollow inside of him. She says that if he’s afraid of defeat, he only needs to get stronger. If he’s afraid of not being able to protect his friends, he needs to swear get stronger until he can protect them. And if he’s afraid of the Hollow inside of him, he only needs to get stronger until he can crush it. After Rukia asserts that the Ichigo in her heart is the man who would shout that with confidence, Ichigo finally comes to his senses and powers up to defeat the Hollow.
With the fight over, Rukia takes Ichigo back to school and drags him to go see Inoue. When Ichigo doesn’t apologize fast enough to Inoue for being weak, Rukia apologizes for him. Ichigo then promises to get stronger and vows to protect Inoue next time. Moved nearly to tears, Inoue is glad that Ichigo is back to normal. Afterwards, Rukia and Ichigo return to his home where Kon attempts to greet her with a hug, but she knocks him to the ground with her foot. Outside the room, Karin catches her father and Yuzu eavesdropping on Ichigo’s conversation with Rukia because they’re shocked that he brought a girl home. Karin isn’t so impressed, and Ichigo eventually gets them to go away after hearing the commotion outside his room. He then turns to Rukia to get her to explain what the Arrancar are, but Renji, Ikkaku, Yumichika, and Rangiku interrupt by poking their heads through his ceiling light.
With the help of Rukia’s drawings, Renji explains that the Arrancar acquire both Hollow and Shinigami powers by removing their masks. Up until now, there’s only been a small number of incomplete ones, but Aizen’s Hougyoku made them complete. Soul Society originally wanted to just watch and wait with Aizen since they were still recovering from the loss of three Captains and the Bount incursion, but the true Arrancar appeared earlier than expected. Yamamoto chose Renji and Rukia to come to the real world, and Renji asked Ikkaku to come along. That led to Yumichika, Rangiku, and Captain Hitsugaya tagging along too, and that’s why they’re all here now. It’s at this point that Hitsugaya appears in the window to suggest that Aizen’s interested specifically in Ichigo. He goes on to say that normal Hollows removing their mask wouldn’t be much of a problem – only the ones stronger than Menos would be.
Since Ichigo didn’t know that there were Hollows stronger than the Menos, Hitsugaya explains that there are actually three classes of Menos. The first is the huge Gillian, which are highest in number of all the Menos, but move slowly and have the intelligence level of a beast. Hitsugaya feels that the problem lies in the two remaining classes. One of them is the Adjuchas, which are somewhat smaller than Menos and fewer in number, but high in intelligence. The final and strongest type is the Vasto lorde. Although these human sized Menos are extremely rare, they are stronger than captains. Because they are short three captains, Hitsugaya fears that if Aizen has more than 10 of the Vasto lorde class, Soul Society is done for. At that very moment, Ulquiorra and Yammy are returning to Hueco Mundo to report back to Aizen and 20 of their brothers.
I’m gonna start off with a manga-related spoiler because I have to get this off my chest (Don’t click if you haven’t read the manga because this is a major spoiler):
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In any case, this episode had Rukia giving a nice speech about getting stronger to knock Ichigo out of his rut. I like the way it was delivered, but I always get a little uncomfortable when they talk about getting stronger because it reminds me too much of DBZ and power levels. Aside from that, a big chunk of the episode was devoted to explaining the Arrancar, which was interesting to hear, but not terribly exciting to watch. Hitsugaya’s prediction that Soul Society would be doomed if Aizen had 10 or more Vasto lordes bodes poorly in light of the fact that Aizen already has Ulquiorra, Yammy, and their 20 brothers. Fortunately, Ichigo and company aren’t as weak as they may seem sometimes.
I’m really looking forward to this next set of episodes because there’s a ton of exciting material – at least one big thing for each of the fights that develops.