Despite being surrounded by Soifon’s forces and stopped by Soifon herself, Ichigo tries to make an appeal to Rurichiyo. Apologizing for making her lonely, he tells her that she doesn’t need to burden herself with everything and says that they’ll support her on whatever she decides. He urges her to do what she thinks is right, however – much to Kumoi’s delight – Rurichiyo responds by questioning what he’s talking about and by stating that she won’t forgive his rudeness. Frustrated with what’s going on, Enryuu suddenly releases his zanpaktou and slams it into the rooftop that they’re standing on. Ichigo uses this opportunity to go after Rurichiyo, but she claims not to know him and stabs him with a knife when he’s not looking. Based on the male voice that briefly taunts him, Ichigo realizes that this Rurichiyo is a fake, and he draws his sword when Kumoi appears. Soifon stops him from attacking though, and Kumoi is able to get away with the fake Rurichiyo while Soifon keeps Ichigo busy. She doesn’t believe his claim that the Rurichiyo who was here was a fake, and after nailing him repeatedly with quick attacks, she releases her zanpaktou Suzumebachi. Before Soifon can use it however, Rukia separates the two combatants with a huge blast of ice and thus gives Ichigo a chance to go after Rurichiyo instead of fighting. To his surprise, Kannogi Shuu helps him out by leading them in the right direction.
In the aftermath, Soifon wants her men to search the Kasumiooji estate, however Kumoi refuses to let her in and wants her to wait outside until his own men force Ichigo and Rukia out. The two are at that moment hiding out with Shuu, and when they ask him why he’s helping, he replies that he wants to be of assistance to Rurichiyo. He’s worried about her and wants to protect her, and he recounts how he’s loved her ever since they first met. After Ichigo reassures him that they can all protect Rurichiyo together, Shuu comes up with the idea of letting them take him hostage so that they can escape the estate grounds. Soifon meets Ichigo at the gate and tries to stop him, but she can’t do anything while he has Shuu hostage. Instead, she reports back to Genryuusai and the other captains, and everyone is surprised to hear about what happened. The only one who doesn’t have any history with Ichigo is Amagai, and for that very reason, he volunteers to help in the search. Soifon also reports on how Kumoi was acting strange by not letting them onto the Kasumiooji estate and how something had happened between him and Ichigo, but Genryuusai decides not to do anything about it.
Amagai then returns to the third division and meets up with Kira at the gate. Kira is surprised to hear about Ichigo, and because it involves the Kasumiooji family, he decides to tell Amagai about how he saw Kibune entering the estate. He also goes through all the other times Kibune has acted suspiciously, but Amagai feels that they can’t judge Kibune so quickly. Still, he recognizes the odd timing of it all and guesses that there’s something behind all this, and he asks Kira to keep an eye on Kibune for the time being. Their priority for now though is still to capture Ichigo.
Well this episode was more exciting than last week‘s, and it was cool to see Soifon get some action time. After Soifon beat Ichigo around like that though, I thought he’d respond with ban kai, so it was perhaps a little anti-climactic to see Rukia instead end the fight like she did. Incidentally, how the heck is Soifon deterred by just a block of ice? Couldn’t she just jump over or shatter the stupid thing? In any case, we also finally got to see Enryuu release his zanpaktou, and though it’s better than Kenryuu’s, it still wasn’t all that impressive. The color scheme of the two fists reminds me a bit too much of Sado’s fist, and Enryuu only used it once here so it was barely shown. It makes me think that there’ll be an episode or part of an episode focused on his background sometime in the near future.
Regardless, it looks like the two storylines are starting to come together now that Amagai is going after Ichigo and now that Kira has finally told Amagai about the Kibune connection. That would seem to indicate that we’re a good ways through the anime original arc, though it’s hard to tell just how much is left. Even if it does end (for example, by the time Fall season rolls around), I highly doubt they’re returning to the manga anytime soon. That’s a shame because, as I alluded to yesterday, I really want to see Turn Back the Pendulum animated now.