With Szayel gone to change his clothes, Renji and Ishida decide that their best course of action is to run. Meanwhile, Ulquiorra confronts Grimmjow over having had Inoue heal Ichigo, and Grimmjow doesn’t respond, but when Ulquiorra tells him to hand Inoue over, Grimmjow outright refuses. Grimmjow charges at Ulquiorra and fires a blast at point blank range, but Ulquiorra blocks it and counterattacks from above. Using his hand, Grimmjow stops Ulquiorra’s blast, and the subsequent explosion creates a lot of smoke and dust that Grimmjow uses as cover so that he can grab Ulquiorra from behind. He then places a small cube inside Ulquiorra’s Hollow hole that immediately wraps Ulquiorra up and causes him to disappear. Since Inoue is confused about what just happened, Grimmjow explains that Aizen gave a device called Caja Negación to the Espada for punishing subordinates. The device causes those Arrancar to become permanently trapped in another dimension, though it isn’t meant to be used on Espada. In Ulquiorra’s case, Grimmjow estimates that it will only hold him two to three hours, and because of that, he wants Inoue to hurry up with healing Ichigo. Inoue, however, refuses because she knows that Grimmjow only plans to hurt Ichigo again.
Grimmjow grabs Inoue’s neck in anger, but Ichigo steps in and forces Grimmjow to let go. To Inoue’s surprise, Ichigo asks her to heal him and also to heal Grimmjow as well because he knows that Grimmjow wants to fight on equal footing. He incites Grimmjow’s excitement and anger by suggesting that Grimmjow might want to use those wounds as an excuse when he loses, and so Grimmjow agrees to fight on equal footing. The two are eventually fully healed by Inoue, and before heading into battle, Ichigo promises her that he’ll win. As the fight begins in the distance, Inoue notices that Nel is too afraid to watch or even listen. She comforts Nel by asserting that Ichigo will win and refers to how he said he would. When Nel objects because she knows that everyone says that, especially when they’re scared, Inoue explains how she thinks that Ichigo swears something to himself and then expresses it words in order to realize that desire. That’s why she thinks that Ichigo saying that he’ll win means that he actually will win, and so she feels that they should wait and believe in him. These words are comforting to Nel, but she then notices how Inoue’s arm is shaking.
Meanwhile, Ichigo narrowly avoids getting hit by Grimmjow’s cero blast, and Grimmjow takes great delight in their fight. He thinks that Ichigo wants to destroy him as much as he wants to destroy Ichigo, and when Ichigo claims that this isn’t the reason he’s fighting, Grimmjow doesn’t believe it given how he’s hurt Ichigo’s friends. As they continue the battle, Grimmjow questions the reason that Ichigo came here and points out that Ichigo didn’t just take Inoue and run earlier. Grimmjow believes that Ichigo is actually here to fight because he’s a Shinigami and Grimmjow is a Hollow, meaning that this is what they’re predisposed to do. Grimmjow then fires another cero blast, and it breaks through Ichigo’s Getsuga Tenshou counter. He follows it up by slashing Ichigo and then returning to the ground where he cuts his hand so that he can initiate the most powerful cero called the gran rey cero – something that only the Espada can use. Ichigo notices too late that Inoue is also in the path of this, and this leaves him no choice but to bring out his Hollow mask to protect her.
I really kind of wish the Grimmjow and Ulquiorra fight lasted longer. It’s always fun to see the bad guys duke it out, especially when the alternative is seeing Grimmjow against Ichigo for the umpteenth time. Granted, things get more interesting once Grimmjow enters his released form (as seen in the preview for next episode), but I think it would have been just as cool to see him in that form against whatever Ulquiorra’s released form is like. Speaking of which, the other thing this episode reminded me of is the question of how much time has passed since Ichigo and company entered Hueco Mundo. With so many chapters/episodes, it’s easy for the perception of time to get distorted, and I bring this up mainly because Grimmjow cites how Ulquiorra can get out of the other dimension in two to three hours, and there hasn’t been any sight of him up to the most recent chapter of the manga. This episode covers up to chapter 280 and the manga is currently at 314, so theoretically those 34 chapters in between represent less than that amount of time – unless Ulquiorra already got out and we just don’t know it yet.
In any case, we won’t be seeing the continuation of this fight in the anime for another three weeks because there’s no episode next week or the week after that. Episode 166 will air on April 9th, 2008.