In order to save the young girl, Ichigo and company beat up on the Hollows chasing her, but to their surprise, the girl yells for them to stop. It turns out that she’s an Arrancar, and this was all just a game for them. She then introduces herself as Nel Tu, her brothers are Pesche and Dondochakka (who aren’t really her brothers), and their pet is Bawabawa. Ichigo questions if they’re really Arrancar since they give a different feeling than the Arrancar who came to the real world, so Nel explains that those were the Números – the Menos Grande and higher who become Arrancar. The Números are identified by their two digits numbers and are under direct control of the Espada. It is at this point that Nel realizes that Ichigo and company are the ones who don’t look like Arrancar, and she panics when they turn out to be Shinigami, Quincy, and human because she thinks they’re the bad guys and are going to kill her.
Unsure of what to do, Nel talks with her brothers and decides to play the endless chasing game, so she steals Ichigo’s zanpaktou and starts running. Bawabawa gets Ishida and Sado running too, and the game doesn’t end until Nel trips over a tree branch. Ichigo saves her from getting buried under the others when they all trip as well, and after checking to see if she’s okay, he turns towards the palace, ready to continue heading towards it again. Nel starts crying because he’s leaving, and it is at this point that a huge Hollow called Lunuganga emerges from the sand. It quickly becomes apparent that Lunuganga is hostile, so Ichigo fires off a Getsuga Tenshou. Although this splits Lunuganga’s head in half, the Hollow is able to reform because he’s made of sand. Lunuganga can also create twisters, and one of them nearly sucks Nel in. Fortunately, Ichigo grabs her hand in time, and he Ishida, and Sado use their special abilities to destroy a twister each.
Their simultaneous attack on the giant Hollow appears at first glance to destroy Lunuganga, but a large sand pit then develops underneath their feet. Ichigo learns from Nel that Lunuganga’s weakness is water, but there is no water in this desert. Nevertheless, a blast of ice suddenly comes out of nowhere, freezes Lunuganga, and shatters him. The culprit is Rukia, and she’s arrived with Renji. The first thing the two of them do when they reach Ichigo is to hit him for coming to Hueco Mundo without waiting for them. Rukia and Renji were determined to come back from Soul Society, and she questions why Ichigo didn’t believe in them since they’re friends. Ichigo realizes that she’s right, and after a botched introduction from Nel, Pesche and Dondochakka, Ichigo and company start to resume their trek towards the palace. However, Nel insists on taking Ichigo to Las Noches, so the group rides Bawabawa through the desert instead of walking.
Along the way, Ichigo asks Rukia about the mantles that she and Renji are wearing, and he’s shocked to learn that were given by Byakuya. Reasoning that he had only been ordered to bring them back to Soul Society and nothing more than that, Byakuya had actually helped them get back to the real world, and Urahara got them to Hueco Mundo. Byakuya had also made a disparaging remark about Ichigo though, and that gets him mad. His attention, however, soon turns back to Lunuganga who has appeared again in front of them.
Well, Nel sure is something else with the way she talks. Reading her lines in the manga is one thing, but hearing them in the anime is different. Kaneda Tomoko does quite a job voicing her – it fits her voice a lot better than Aoi in Myself; Yourself does. I also didn’t realize that Pesche was voiced by Koyasu Takehito either, and I wouldn’t mention that except for the fact that he’s in M;Y too. Anyway, this episode stretched roughly two chapters worth of manga material into an episode with extra Nel stuff and an extended fight with Lunuganga added. All of the Rukia and Renji scenes were actually kept entirely intact, which surprised me a little because I had assumed that they’d change something given that the upcoming anime original arc has Rukia disappearing (according to the title of next week’s episode). Regardless, they’re still going ahead with that, and it looks like there’ll be anime original episodes until at least the end of November.