Many years ago, Ikkaku had wandered around the Soul Society fighting thugs and feeling that he didn’t have a place where he belonged. Fighting and pain were the only truths for him. On one particular day, he had been looking for someone strong to fight when he had encountered a young girl who told him that he should go home because “Ken-chan” was in a good mood. Ikkaku had then been faced with Zaraki’s imposing figure, and neither man was willing to back down from the fight. Zaraki started the battle with a charge followed by a series of strong attacks that keep Ikkaku on the defensive. Both of them had found great fun in the fight, but Ikkaku was the one who was thoroughly beaten by the end. As he struggled on the ground and as Zaraki walked away, Ikkaku had questioned by Zaraki didn’t finish him off and demanded that he himself be killed. Hearing this, Zaraki had grabbed Ikkaku and made it clear that he shouldn’t be begging to be killed. Zaraki felt that Ikkaku shouldn’t want to die because he admitted defeat, but rather he should admit defeat only after he dies. He should live, think about killing the person who didn’t kill him, and then go after Zaraki again. As Zaraki started to walk off again, Ikkaku asked for his name, and Zaraki had said that he was Zaraki’s Kenpachi (Zaraki’s strongest person).
Ready to go to hell if Zaraki is there, Ikkaku joined the shinigami and was present when Zaraki explained to his new 11th division that he wanted strength out of his men – people who could fight. Now on the same side, the two were involved in one particular battle against a tough Hollow. Zaraki had cut it to pieces, but several more rose up where the first had fallen. Yachiru then suggested a competition to see who could cut the most Hollow tails, and all of them had happily participated. It was sometime later that Ikkaku was approached by Renji who asked to be taught how to fight. Renji got beat left and right in the training that followed, but he wanted to keep going. When Ikkaku asked Renji why he wanted to become strong, Renji had replied that there was someone he wanted to surpass. The two eventually got to the point where Ikkaku had taught Renji everything he knew and their training ended. Renji had known that Ikkaku had achieved ban kai and had wanted to see it. Because Renji had questioned why he didn’t use it, Ikkaku had claimed that it was his style. He then went on to reveal to Renji his full name and explained how it’s a courtesy to give your name to the person you are going to defeat. Yet despite achieving ban kai, Ikkaku turned down a captain promotion after Aizen, Ichimaru, and Tousen left. He explained that didn’t want other people to know he had ban kai so that no one else would ask him to be a captain. The reason was because if he became a captain, then he couldn’t fight under Zaraki anymore. Ikkaku’s only wish was to fight and die under Zaraki.
Back in the present, Ikkaku’s blade falls to the ground and he tumbles down soon after. The Arrancar Edorad, who had a huge chunk of his body taken out by Ikkaku’s attack, expresses how glad he is to have heard Ikkaku’s name, but then he falls from the sky and crashed into the ground. Still alive, Ikkaku struggles back up and finds Yumichika standing over him. Yumichika says that he had thought that Ikkaku would live, and Ikkaku replies that he was really lucky today.
I really think they did a fantastic job this week even though they didn’t quite follow the manga by expanding not-even-one-chapter’s-worth of material into one episode. It didn’t really bother me at all, especially not when it adds even more depth to Ikkaku and Renji’s characters. Plus, Zaraki and Yachiru are two of my favorite characters in Bleach, so I always enjoy seeing more of them. I’d even go as far as to say that I might have enjoyed the Bount Arc if it had more background stories like this. Maybe they could get with Kubo Tite and figure out what characters he’s not going to flesh out so much so that they can do it in the anime. That’s my way of saying that I really want to know how characters like Ichimaru Gin and Kurotsuchi Mayuri came to be like they are now.
Next week continues the story with Renji and Hitsugaya’s fights. I expect that there’ll be some really cool things to come, and I hope that they can keep up the good animation quality we’ve been seeing.