Since Ichigo is surprised that his Hollow self can also initiate ban kai, Hollow Ichigo explains that he could do it when Ichigo could. The two then envelope each other in energy blasts, but when Ichigo opens his eyes again, he finds himself in Soul Society fighting against Byakuya. Ichigo doesn’t know what’s going on, but he has no choice except to defend himself against Byakuya’s ban kai. Byakuya comments on how Ichigo doesn’t notice the unrest in his own heart and then continues the petal onslaught. Having gotten knocked down, Ichigo tries to climb back up onto a ledge, but Byakuya appears above him and talks about Ichigo not attaining true ban kai. After letting go of the ledge because of Byakuya’s swords, Ichigo finds himself falling downward. Byakuya reaches the ground before him and says that a person who doesn’t have the will to fight can’t defend against his sword. The captain then prepares to finish Ichigo off, but Ichigo suddenly finds himself back in the sideways world fighting against his Hollow side. Although he’s still confused about what just happened, Ichigo fires off a Getsuga Tenshou. Hollow Ichigo easily deflects this attack and responds with one of his own at point blank range.
Meanwhile, in the real world, Lisa has her hands full fighting the Ichigo that is gradually turning more and more Hollow. Once 10 minutes have passed, the Vizard named Muguruma Kensei takes her place and continues the battle. Shinji and the Vizards are using a 7-man rotation of 10 minutes each, so each person can rest for 70 minutes between fights with Ichigo. During his turn, Kensei cuts Ichigo’s arm, but he soon realizes that Ichigo has hyper-speed regeneration. In response, he fires a huge energy blast, however it still doesn’t manage to do any significant damage to the regenerating Hollow Ichigo. As she watches the fight, Lisa thinks about how the struggle for Hollow control takes about an hour. Thus, it should be over by the time her turn comes again. Back inside the sideways world, Hollow Ichigo reminds Ichigo that it was his Hollow side that first used the Getsuga Tenshou in ban kai form – Ichigo is only imitating it and not doing a good job at that. Hollow Ichigo then grabs Ichigo’s sword, turns it white, and makes it disappear. Before Ichigo has a chance to fully take in what’s going on, he hears Kariya saying that he’s the worst.
Ichigo tries to tell himself that Kariya is an illusion, and although Kariya doesn’t deny it, he does say that illusions are something that the mind sees. He explains that this was all created from Ichigo’s mind, and so his existence signifies Ichigo’s worries of having defeated him. After the end of a fight, Ichigo always looks back at the enemies he defeated and the comrades he couldn’t protect. Kariya wonders if Ichigo is afraid of walking forward along the same path as him, but Ichigo denies it. The Bount then notices that Ichigo doesn’t have Zangetsu and asks if Ichigo thinks it’s possible to defeat him bare-handed. He throws Ichigo into the ground and questions if Ichigo understands the powerless feeling of losing Zangetsu. Thinking that Ichigo wants a weapon, Kariya attacks him with his wind power, and when Ichigo opens his eyes once again, he sees that he’s now in the multiple-sword world where he trained with Zangetsu. Unfortunately, the old man who represents Zangetsu isn’t around – only Kariya is. He urges Ichigo to choose a weapon, but Ichigo knows that Zangetsu isn’t around here. Instead, he remembers that Zangetsu is inside of himself, and that allows him to call forth the true blade. Ichigo, however, is still unable to hurt Kariya.
Explaining that fighting is something that goes on forever, Kariya says that strong people will continue to appear, and so if a person doesn’t have the resolve for an eternal battle, he or she will eventually be defeated. However, even that isn’t the end because the fighting would just be repeated by someone else. This is the endless cycle of rebirth: not just life and death, but the endless cycle of fighting. Kariya goes on to say that a person who possesses power will eventually be dragged into a fight – that’s how it was for the Bount. He then starts beating up Ichigo, and when Ichigo tries to strike back, Kariya catches the Zangetsu with his hand. The Bount leader, however, soon disappears and Ichigo finds himself once again back in the sideways world with the now-white Zangetsu disappearing from his hand. Because Ichigo calls it Zangetsu, his Hollow side asserts again that he’s Zangetsu before throwing Ichigo into a building.
Hollow Ichigo then asks if Ichigo knows the difference between a king and his horse. If there are two beings with the same appearance, ability, and power, one becomes the king and the other becomes the horse. The reason for this is simply instinct. The person who becomes king needs to want to fight, to want power, and to mercilessly crush his enemies. Ichigo’s Hollow side accuses him of using reason to fight and feels that Ichigo can’t hurt anyone if his sword is still in its sheath. Claiming that this is why Ichigo is weaker, the Hollow Ichigo throws his Zangetsu right into Ichigo’s abdomen. Hollow Ichigo follows this up by saying that he won’t let a king weaker than him ride on top of him, and since Ichigo is weaker, the Hollow is going to destroy him to become the king. As he seems to lose strength, Ichigo thinks about instinct, the desire for battle, and not handing over his sword. With this, he suddenly grabs the white Zangetsu that his Hollow side was pulling out of him and transforms it black again. Hollow Ichigo manages to get away in time, but his right hand has now turned human. The word instinct once again permeates through Ichigo’s mind.
You know, in a way, I think it’s kind of ironic that Kariya was talking about how fighting continues forever since the entire Bount arc was a way for the fighting to continue while we waited for the Arrancar arc. I also find it amusing because shounen shows like Bleach essentially do keep putting out more and more strong people, just like Kariya says. That doesn’t mean it’s not entertaining to read or watch, but I sometimes can’t find myself taking it very seriously. I am once again reminded of DBZ and the over-9000 video.
Anyway, most of this episode with Byakuya and Kariya can be chalked up as anime-original material to lengthen the story a bit. I guess those later parts weren’t completely a waste if you could get past the fact that it was Kariya delivering the lines (I had hoped never to see him again). Hollow Ichigo still got his king and horse point across, and I liked how they animated Kensei and Lisa fighting Hollow Ichigo (even though they didn’t show Ichigo’s arm flying off), so overall this was a good episode. Now that I think about it, the preview shows Zaraki for next week’s episode, just like the manga has it, so that vision might help tie in the Byakuya and Kariya scenes a bit more.