Breaking Dordonii’s sword, Ichigo turns towards the Privaron Espada one more time before running out of the room and towards the next area. Dordonii is thus left to face the large group of Exequias who appear with orders to track down and kill the wounded intruder. He decides to stand in their way because he’s thankful to Ichigo for transforming into a Hollow even though Ichigo probably didn’t need to do so in order to defeat him. Dordonii knows that the opponents that Ichigo has yet to face are not as nice as him, so he hopes that Ichigo doesn’t hesitate to finish them off – he wants Ichigo to become a demon. Unfortunately, he’s not able to hold his ground against the force of Exequias and falls to them. News of his defeat soon reaches Aizen, and Aizen comments on how this was slower than expected. He doesn’t care too much though, and instead interrogates the messenger about who sent the Exequias. As the messenger is struggling to answer under the weight of Aizen’s spiritual pressure, Szayel Aporro Granz appears and reveals that it was him.
Szayel kneels to apologize and explains that it was all in order to execute the invader, but he’s ready to receive any punishment. To his surprise, Aizen decides that it’s not a problem as long as Szayel had a reason. Still, he wishes that Szayel’s report was a little more accurate because he knows that Szayel extracted the spiritual pressure records of the intruder from Dordonii for the purpose of his own research. Shocked, Szayel confirms that this is true and leaves. Ichimaru comments afterwards on how Aizen seems happy, though Ichimaru admits to feeling the same way. Meanwhile, in a hallway somewhere in Las Noches, Dondochakka is running down a hallway holding Renji above his head until he finally stops and slams Renji into the ground. Coming to his senses, Dondochakka doesn’t understand why he did that, so Renji angrily explains that Dondochakka had sensed Nel’s spiritual force before getting excited and picking him up.
Dondochakka then panics when he realizes that Pesche isn’t with them, and Renji only makes him more confused when he explains that Pesche hasn’t been with them since the beginning. At that moment, Ishida is locked in a battle with Cirucci Thunderwitch, and she’s able to either block his arrows with her chakram-like weapon or avoid them altogether by jumping from pillar to pillar in a room full of them. Even when he attempts to catch her off guard her by using different arrow trajectories while she’s trying to attack him, he isn’t able to hit her. The problem is that as more pillars get destroyed during their fighting, Cirucci gets more room to direct her weapon towards Ishida. This puts Ishida on the defensive, and he gets hurt when she smashes her weapon into his and breaks through it. Unbeknownst to Ishida though, there is someone watching from the hallway behind him. Around this same time, Rukia is running up a flight of stairs and surprisingly finds herself in an open area with blue skies. One of the Espada then appears behind her and offers to tell her about it, so Rukia follows him into the nearby building.
Inside the dark room, the Espada reveals that he’s weak to daylight, and he’s able to remove his mask inside because the light can’t reach in here. He then introduces himself as the ninth Espada, Aaroniero Arruruerie. What shocks Rukia most though is the fact that Aaroniero’s face is exactly like Kaien’s.
Raise your hand if you saw the Kaien thing coming either here in this episode or when you read this manga chapter, whichever was first. Anyone? No one? For me, it was one of the biggest “wtf” moments this series has produced, though once they actually explained it, it was kind of disappointing (more on that when we reach that point in the anime). Anyway, I’m surprised that they decided to move up the Aaroniero stuff before concluding the Ishida and Sado parts. Maybe they wanted to end the year on a bigger bang, though you could argue that there’s plenty of excitement with Ishida and Sado too.
Still, I can’t help but wonder if there’s a motive for this connected to potential filler material in the near future given that we’re moving relatively quickly through the manga – this episode had about two chapters worth of stuff plus some anime original stuff in the Cirucci/Ishida battle. According to a 2ch source though, episode 156 will be about Ishida and Pesche, and episode 157 will be about Grimmjow and Inoue, so there won’t be any fillers through at least January of the new year. Speaking of which, as a reminder, there is no episode on January 2nd. Also, the new ED starting next year is going to be by RSP (Real Street Project). And finally, the OP was changed again this with a different movie promo. See it here.