When Ichigo wakes up completely healed, he senses a spiritual pressure around him, and Hitsugaya suddenly shows up in his room to confirm that it’s Inoue that he senses. Hitsugaya claims that they have an emergency, so Ichigo goes with him back to Inoue’s apartment where they proceed to contact Soul Society. It is here that they learn from Ukitake that Inoue has either been abducted or already killed by the Arrancar. This enrages Ichigo because they only know that Inoue disappeared with the Arrancar, so they can’t say that she’s dead yet. When Ichigo uses his healed wounds as proof that she’s still alive, Yamamoto appears on the other side of the transmission and concludes that if Ichigo’s story is true, then Inoue is indeed still living. However, Yamamoto also figures that this means Inoue has betrayed them because she wouldn’t have gotten a chance to go see Ichigo if she had been abducted, meaning that she had to have gone to the Arrancar on her own.
Hearing this just gets Ichigo angrier, but Renji steps in and vows to go to Hueco Mundo to open Inoue’s eyes to reality. Unfortunately, Yamamoto refuses to let him and wants all of them to return to Soul Society instead. When Rukia says that they can’t obey this order, Yamamoto has Byakuya and Zaraki appear through a gate to force the group to go back. Ichigo still intends to save Inoue without Soul Society’s help, and he wants to know how to get to Hueco Mundo, but Yamamoto turns him down because Ichigo’s power is needed for the upcoming battle. That night, Shinji finds that Ichigo had left a bag filled with cleaned bandages and a note saying thanks. Over at the Kurosaki house, Ichigo’s sister and father are trying to get him to eat dinner, but he doesn’t feel like it. Even Kon can’t get a reaction out of him because he’s so lost in thought. At school the next day, Ichigo gets lectured by his teacher and later gets a ticket from his friend Mizuiro for a preview screening of a movie. The date for that is December 5th, and Ichigo thinks that he’ll come back by then.
Ichigo then starts walking away from his friends, but Tatsuki stops him. She has been searching for Inoue, and she thinks that Ichigo knows something. When he plays dumb, she grabs his collar and reveals that she hasn’t been able to sense Inoue since yesterday. She really gets his attention by saying that she’s seen him in a black kimono fighting strange people, but Ichigo answers by claiming that it has nothing to do with her. Tatsuki punches Ichigo for this and, as she’s being restrained by Keigo, she questions what she is to Ichigo. She had thought they were friends and remembers all the times she helped him when they were kids. Without directly responding to her, Ichigo leaves her in Keigo and Mizuiro’s hands, and he asks them not to be concerned about him. As Ichigo starts to walk away, Tatsuki can only scream that he’s an idiot.
Later that night, Ichigo shows up at Urahara’s house where Urahara is waiting for him. Urahara had figured out that Ichigo would think that he was the only person who knows how to get to Hueco Mundo, so he made preparations. He is helping because feels responsible for what happened to Inoue, and he doesn’t mind disobeying Soul Society since that’s the reason he came here originally. In the training area underneath the store, Ichigo meets up with Ishida and Sado, and both want to go with him to Hueco Mundo. Ichigo doesn’t think that they’re strong enough, so Sado proves that he’s gotten stronger by throwing a punch. He wants Ichigo to believe in them, and he feels that Ichigo shouldn’t have to bear the burden alone – that’s what comrades are for. With Sado, Ishida, and Ichigo together now, Urahara thinks that their preparations are finally complete.
I hadn’t noticed it before when I read the manga, but the ticket dated December 5th that Mizuiro gave Ichigo seemed to really stand out. They usually don’t give out dates or specifics like, so I wonder if that date is going to come into play sometime later on in the story. Maybe it was just used to emphasize Ichigo saying that he’d come back before then.
More importantly though, this episode marks the imminent departure of Ichigo and company to Hueco Mundo, and the names of future episode titles confirms that we’re headed into the Hueco Mundo arc, meaning that there’s no turning back anymore. I’m really excited about this, but cautious at the same time because it won’t take long for the anime to catch up to the manga, and the manga is still in the middle of the Hueco Mundo arc. Usually that would mean a slew of anime original episodes, but I’d love to see how or if they try to throw fillers in while the cast is there.