As the fights around town rage on, Ikkaku challenges his Arrancar opponent to pull out his zanpaktou, but the Arrancar doesn’t think it will be necessary. It’s not until Ikkaku strikes with an attack of such force that the Arrancar is forced to do so. Watching them from the sidelines are Yumichika and a horrified Keigo. Yumichika calmly explains that Ikkaku is the second strongest in the 11th Division and then points out how happy Ikkaku is in the fight. He knows that he shouldn’t help out and that if Ikkaku dies, then that’s Ikkaku’s desire. Back in the fight, the Arrancar is figuring out Ikkaku’s attacking patterns and strikes when he gets an opening. However, Ikkaku surprises him by switching his zanpaktou and his sheath between his hands, thus creating an opening to strike at the Arrancar’s face. It is only after getting slashed that the Arrancar realizes that Ikkaku had intentionally been using a predictable pattern and is actually fighting recklessly for his own enjoyment. Because of this, the Arrancar decides to release his zanpaktou so that Ikkaku will learn that fighting an Arrancar isn’t fun. Ikkaku is shocked to see that the Arrancar’s zanpaktou Volcanica’s release actually covers the Arrancar’s arms and has made them massive. Now that he’s powered up, the Arrancar finally introduces himself as Arrancar No. 13, Edorad Leones.
Meanwhile, Rukia is noticing that Grimmjow’s spiritual pressure is much higher than D-Roy’s. Grimmjow demands to know whether Ichigo or Rukia is stronger, and since they don’t immediately answer him, he stabs Rukia in the gut with his hand. As she collapses, an infuriated Ichigo charges at his new opponent. Back at Ikkaku’s fight, Edorad explains that the Arrancar’s zanpaktou release, unlike a Shinigami’s, releases their true power and true forms. Volcanica is Edorad’s true power, and he demonstrates it by nearly incinerating Ikkaku. Seeing this, Yumichika contacts Soul Society to have them freeze the area around here since there’s chance a large number of souls could be affected. In addition, he also asks them to make preparations for Ikkaku’s funeral. At that moment, Ikkaku is being beaten left and right by Edorad’s Volcanica powers. He manages to release his own zanpaktou Hoozukimaru, but is then met with Edorad’s fist in an attack that breaks Ikkaku’s zanpaktou. Ikkaku, however, refuses to give up and uses his own body to withstand the force of one of Edorad’s fists. Thinking that the other Shinigami must be so preoccupied by now that they won’t notice what he’s about to do, Ikkaku initiates ban kai.
Emerging from the smoke and dust is Ikkaku wielding several large blades that he identifies as Ryuumon Hoozukimaru. With it, he is able to slice through Edorad’s fist and puts the Arrancar on the defensive. Edorad realizes that Ikkaku’s ban kai is simply a solidification of massive power, but it leans so heavily towards offense that it’s too fragile to withstand an attack. Feeling that he can win, Edorad decides to use overwhelming force to crush Ikkaku, however he then notices that Ikkaku’s power is increasing. Ikkaku explains that his Hoozukimaru powers up as the fight goes on until the dragon symbol on it turns completely red – that’s when his power is at its highest. As it turns out, the fight has been going on long enough so that this dragon is already red, and the two opponents charge at each other in a final attack.
Wow, that was so much better than even I had expected it to be. They must have increased the animation budget quite a bit because some of the parts this week, such as Edorad releasing Volcanica, looked amazing. It’s rare for me to say this, but this was done way better than the manga just because we got to see all that detail of him transforming. And that’s not even counting the fact that Ikkaku got to show off his ban kai. That was something that caught me by surprise when I had read the manga, and it was no less impressive here. Ikkaku himself made it all the cooler because of how he was almost reluctant to use it since he wanted to keep it a secret from the other Shinigami. One of the things I did notice was that the dragon-filling-in-red on Hoozukimaru was a lot more evident animated than it was on paper (but that’s not really a complaint).
I can’t help but think to myself now that this was well worth the wait, even through the Bount stuff. And it only gets better from here, so I’m now even more excited about what’s to come. Next week will be a little back-story on Ikkaku and Zaraki Kenpachi, and it will hopefully get to the next part of this battle with Renji.