Ichigo, Sado, and Ishida burst into Hueco Mundo and find themselves inside a building that’s not quite what Ichigo imagined. Against Ishida’s judgment, Ichigo feels that it doesn’t matter if they make noise because then they can catch an enemy and find out where Inoue is. Ishida then inadvertently activates a booby trap that causes the floor to fall out, and he and Ichigo have to save Sado from falling into the hole below. Further down the hallway, Ichigo activates another trap, this time in the form of a giant rolling ball, but Sado shatters it with his punch. Shortly thereafter, the three are discovered by an Arrancar, but instead of facing him, Ishida and Sado run away, dragging Ichigo with them. Ishida has realized that they’re underground, so they can’t risk collapsing the building by fighting in the narrow hallway. Fortunately, they soon arrive in a huge circular room, though Ishida is still more interested in the exit on the far side. He never reaches those stairs up because a second Arrancar appears in front of him, and the first one soon arrives behind them.
Ichigo is ready to fight these Arrancar by himself, but Sado elbows him and insists that Ichigo be the one who steps back. Both he and Ishida think that Ichigo should save his strength until they find Inoue, and Ishida also reveals that he learned what they know about the Arrancar. Their opponents are the small and fast Iceringer and the large and strong Demoura, and in the beginning, Sado fights the former while Ishida battles with the latter. Demoura uses a technique that gathers surrounding spirit energy into his palms for attacking, and this prevents Ishida from gathering spirit energy to construct his own weapon. As Ishida is wishing that he could get more distance between himself and Demoura, he notices Sado having a hard time hitting Iceringer due to the distance between them. Because of this, Ishida stops moving and lets Sado punch Demoura instead. Ready to counterattack against a foe he’s better matched against, Ishida forms his new bow called the Ginrei Koujaku and fires off a volley.
Iceringer manages to get out of it with only a shoulder injury, but Ishida matches the Arrancar’s speed and reveals that he’s not a normal human – he’s a Quincy. His opponent responds by unleashing his Uña Tirotear attack that can rapid-fire 108 shots. This doesn’t bother Ishida at all though because his Ginrei Koujaku can do 1200, and this easily overwhelms Iceringer. Sado meanwhile has to deal with Demoura’s deadly tongue attack, however he’s able to stop it with his arm. He doesn’t like finishing off opponents who have lost their will to fight, but he realizes that this isn’t the time to be like that, so he powers up his arm for an attack he calls El Directo.
ED: 「種をまく日々」 (Tane wo Maku Hibi) by 中孝介 (Atari Kousuke)
Watch the ED!: Mirror 1, Mirror 2, Mirror 3
I liked both the new opening and ending songs (ASIAN KUNG-FU GENERATION’s OP a bit more than the ED), but honestly it’s the animations that go with them that get me the most excited because of all the hints of stuff we’ll be seeing in the new arc. I find it particularly interesting that the ED has shots of Szayel and Aaroniero – maybe we’ll manage to get that far in the story before ED changes again in 13 or so weeks.
So this first episode of the Hueco Mundo arc starts with a little anime-original material (probably to kill time) of the guys handling some traps, but the majority of the episode was the first battle in Hueco Mundo, just like it was in the manga. These are relatively weak opponents, but it’s still cool to see Ishida and Sado get to show off some of their new powers given how we’ve been getting a lot of Ichigo and Shinigami action lately. Manga readers know though that this is only the beginning since there’ll be more special techniques for both of them in later fights.
As excited as I am about all this, the animation quality for next episode looks a bit weird or worse than usual (see the shots of Aizen and Ishida in the preview). This wouldn’t normally concern me very much since the show has its ups and downs, but next week’s episode is going to be giving the first looks of the anime versions of the rest of the Espada, and I’d rather they not all look like crap.