Though Ichigo dealt a severe blow to him, Grimmjow refuses to go down and proceeds to plunge his hand into Ichigo’s abdomen. As he does so, he recalls his past, including how he started as a Menos. Normally, Hollows eat human souls in order to bury their lost hearts and to quench the thirst of their own souls. In rare cases though, they have extremely strong thirsts that cause them to seek the souls of other Hollows. These Hollows tend to gather with others of their kind and start to eat each other, and this leads to them eventually combining into a Gillian. However, there are times when one of the Hollows’ abilities and ego surpass the others, and in these cases, the Gillian retains that Hollow’s individuality. Those Gillians consume other Gillians to continue their evolution, in the process turning into Adjuchas. Once this happens though, the Adjuchas are in danger of regressing back to being Gillians if they don’t continue to feed on other Hollows. If that occurs, then the Gillian can never return to being an Adjuchas again because they lose their individuality.
In Grimmjow’s case, he was confronted by a group of Adjuchas led by Di Roy and Shawlong, and it was Grimmjow who delivered the wound to Di Roy’s head. Seeing Grimmjow’s power, Shawlong had wanted him to join them and had explained that their group planned to become Vasto Lordes. They needed a strong power to pull them forward, so Shawlong had given Grimmjow the chance of being their king. The problem was that after eating thousands of Hollows, the members of their group weren’t getting any stronger and knew that they couldn’t become Vasto Lordes. Thus, they wanted Grimmjow to eat them because he was the one who could move further forward. Back in the present, Grimmjow gets pissed off at the look in Ichigo’s eyes and puts another hole in Ichigo with his other hand. Vowing to crush everyone who underestimates him, Grimmjow initiates Desgarrón – his strongest technique that creates giant energy claws stemming from his fingertips. Ichigo is barely able to stop the initial claw strike with his sword, but once he gets his footing, he drives his blade into one of the claws and shatters it.
Despite having almost entirely lost his mask now, Ichigo rushes towards Grimmjow and admits that he did come here to fight. He then lists off all the things that he’s going to do – defeat Grimmjow, Ulquiorra, and Aizen, and bring Rukia, Sado, Ishida, Renji, and Inoue back – before driving his sword through Grimmjow’s body. This finally finishes Grimmjow off, and after catching and laying his opponent on the ground, Ichigo jumps back up to Inoue. The first thing he does is to check if she is okay, and since he no longer has any more of his mask on, she realizes that he’s returned to normal. Nel then tackles Ichigo because she was concerned about him, so Ichigo thanks her. After putting Nel down, he urges Inoue to come with him to reunite with everyone else, and she takes his hand.
Aside from the transition to the anime original story (which I’ll get to in a minute), there’s one thing that really bothers me about what happens this episode: if Grimmjow ate Shawlong and the others, how come they still showed up earlier in the series? There’s a shot during the episode that seems to indicate that he might have just taken a bite out of each of them, but does a single bite mean that he’s eaten them? Still, despite this, I’m glad to see that the Gillian -> Adjuchas -> Vasto Lorde process was finally explained and weaved into the story via Grimmjow.
The big thing about this episode though is that it serves as the transition (or the beginning of the transition) into the new anime original arc which will involve the new captain who’s replacing Ichimaru. This week closely follows the manga up until the final minute where, instead of Ichigo slinging Inoue over his shoulder to carry her off (and all the stuff that happens after that), the two join hands and look out onto the blue sky (another sign of IchigoXInoue perhaps). And instead of the normal “To be continued”, this week it was “To the next episode”. The preview and the Shinigami Illustrated Picture Book segment show the possibility/likelihood of just magically returning Ichigo to Karakura Town (and thus school life) for the new story, though I’m not sure if they were just making fun of their predicament or hinting at what they’re actually going to do. When I saw that, I felt as bewildered as Ichigo sounded, however given what the production team had to work with, I guess this is as good a transition as I could have hoped for. It’s also quite possible that there’ll be something more concrete next week, but even then, I still wish that they would just put Bleach on hiatus for a year or so until they felt comfortable picking up with the story again. Oh well, hopefully the new OP and ED next week will be good.