In order to fight Amagai, Ichigo initiates bankai, but even with it active, he has a hard time doing battle because of how Amagai’s bakkoutou is able to seal off his spiritual power. Ichigo nevertheless continues fighting for Rurichiyo’s sake, and he surprises his opponent by firing off a Getsuga Tenshou wave. Amagai responds by attacking with pillars of fire, and when Ichigo tries to dodge, Amagai hits him with a fireball. Ichigo refuses to stay down though, and this leads to Amagai powering up further. Amagai then launches a massive wall of fire at Ichigo, but as the smoke clears, he finds that Ichigo is still standing. This is no longer the normal Ichigo – he now has his mask on. The transformation gives Ichigo enough speed and power to start hammering away at Amagai, however Amagai isn’t defeated so easily and gets through the assault with just a few scratches.
During a pause in the fighting, Ichigo questions why Amagai is so obsessed with revenge. Amagai thinks that Ichigo wouldn’t understand the empty feeling and hatred, and he reveals that he had decided that he couldn’t find the answer to his own existence without killing the people responsible for his father’s death. He then attacks Ichigo with a new ferocity and when that doesn’t stop Ichigo, he uses a special attack that traps and burns Ichigo in a prison made up of pillars of flame. Ichigo loses half his mask as a result of this, but he still gets back up and resumes the fight. He eventually catches Amagai off-guard with another Getsuga Tenshou, and Amagai isn’t able to block it. Although this causes him to drop his zanpaktou, Amagai rebounds with the power of his bakkoutou.
Doesn’t Ichigo showing his Hollow mask in front of Yamamoto screw up things up? Letting him know raises awkward questions about how Yamamoto can allow something like this happen right in front of him without doing something. Having a Hollow mask has to be a big no-no in the Soul Society rulebook, especially considering what happened in the Turn Back The Pendulum manga arc. I guess they could “fix” it with a memory wipe or something, but that’d seem cheap and stupid at this point.
As for the battle itself, it was good by anime original arc standards, but nothing really spectacular. It was cool to see Ichigo unleash his powers, however in the end, he barely does any damage to Amagai. It probably means that Amagai won’t be defeated by normal means, and so like almost every other bad guy this arc, he’s going to end up being consumed by his bakkoutou. As I noted last week, the bright side to the fight being over soon is that we’ll get to see something new. The message at the end of this week’s episode announcing the return of Bleach to Tuesdays showed all Hueco Mundo scenes in the background, and that seems like a pretty good indicator that they’ll be going back to the manga story.