Keigo’s sister Mizuho arrives at the kendo club to find its members all beat up after having been attacked the previous night by a rival school’s club. The goal of the rival club was to get them to pull out of the upcoming district tournament, and Karakura High School’s club is ready to do just that if not for Mizuho stopping them. She brings in Ikkaku to train the five first-years who didn’t get hurt, and to Keigo’s surprise, Ikkaku agrees to do it. He thus begins the freshmen on a training regiment from hell, and by the end of it, only one of them – a boy named Shinji – still has the spirit to spar with Ikkaku. Seeing him work so hard at this, Keigo asks Ikkaku why he’s doing it, and Ikkaku replies that it’s fun, but he also admits that it’s been a while since he’s seen eyes that desperately want to become stronger like Shinji has. The next day, Ikkaku finds the other four freshmen too injured to continue, and since Mizuho refuses to pull out of the competition, Ikkaku decides to go ask the other Shinigami to help. Unfortunately, both Rangiku and Yumichika turn him down because the kendo gear stinks too badly for them to wear.
Ikkaku eventually coerces Hitsugaya to help and gets Urahara to send Renji, but they’re still short one person even with Shinji included. They have no choice but to use the completely inexperienced Keigo, though Ikkaku isn’t worried because only three of them have to win out of five matches total. During the actual tournament, Hitsugaya easily wins the first round and Keigo loses the second round as expected. Before Renji’s match, he senses a Hollow, so he quickly gets the second win before heading off. The other Shinigami have to go too, leaving just Shinji behind as the fourth fighter. Ikkaku knows that he’ll win even if Shinji loses, but he feels that the person who wants to win the most is Shinji, so he urges him to go become a man. He then fights and defeat a Menos Grande with the others, and afterwards, Ikkaku rushes back to the competition. He arrives in time to see Shinji win, but Ikkaku still wants his own chance to fight in the competition, so he beats up the entire opposing team, including their leader that Mizuho has a grudge against for dumping her.
Not that to say that was badly animated – in fact, the quality was rather good compared to recent weeks – but watching this episode was like experiencing an exercise in different animation styles. I can only imagine what Bleach would be like if every episode looked like this or this, though those were admittedly the most amusing parts of this episode. Anyway, getting to see Ikkaku in the spotlight again isn’t bad (even fun with the way it was presented), but I still would rather we get back to the main story. Next week, however, looks to be about Yumichika and the soul of a baker.