As the surprise that Nel was a former Espada settles in with Ichigo, Nnoitra claims that she deceived everyone, but Nel denies it. When Nnoitra then accuses her of having a hidden agenda, Nel explains that she was just having fun and didn’t want to be separated from Ichigo. In order to make Nel shut up, Nnoitra tries to stomp on her, but Ichigo flies in and knocks Nnoitra’s foot aside. He believes in Nel and continues his fight with Nnoitra, however Nnoitra clearly has the upper hand and kicks him away. Turning back towards Nel, Nnoitra observes that she’s lost her memory and thinks that it was because he broke the Hollow mask on her head. He threatens Nel again with his weapon, and when Ichigo tries to protect her, Nnoitra kicks Ichigo again. None of Ichigo’s attempts to stop Nnoitra work for long, and it pisses the Espada off enough to break Ichigo’s arm. Ichigo’s screams of pain are too much for Nel to bear, and as she screams his name, a small explosion occurs.
Emerging from the smoke is Nel in her grown-up form, and the first thing she does is to get Ichigo to safety. She attributes being able to return to this form to his protecting her, and she now wants to return the favor. Ichigo gets worried when he realizes that she intends to fight Nnoitra, but she tells him that it’s okay, and he then sees the number 3 on her back. Nnoitra is unprepared for Nel’s strength, and when he tries to fire a Cero at her, she sucks it up and fires it right back at him with her own Cero added on. When he sees his master get blasted like that, Tesla rushes to Nnoitra’s aid and lets Inoue go. Nel meanwhile goes back to Ichigo and nearly hugs him to death. This lasts until Tesla suddenly gets flung back, and a singed but still alive Nnoitra emerges from the smoke. He admits to having forgotten about Nel’s Cero technique, but he also notes that she has forgotten how long she’s been away. He claims that the power of the Espada isn’t the same as when she was around, but Nel remains unintimidated and prepares to face Nnoitra again.
Well, what I was most curious about coming into this episode was how Kaneda Tomoko would change her voice more for adult Nel. The answer turned out to be not much, and that felt really weird since she no longer was a little kid. At best, it reminds me of the way she voiced Aoi in Myself;Yourself, but that’s still not a huge difference. Maybe I shouldn’t have been expecting anything different. In any case, adult Espada Nel is a lot more interesting to watch than crying-all-the-time kiddie Nel, though I do have to say that the fighting itself wasn’t that great. I liked seeing Nnoitra get his ass kicked for once, but I think I’ve been completely spoiled by Soul Eater for how awesome a battle/action scene can be.
The other thing I found weird was the prolonged shot of Szayel standing there with a goofy look on his face while everyone else was reacting to sensing Nel’s power. What was that all about? Speaking of Szayel, it looks like from the preview that next week will mostly involve the battle against him, though with the rate they’re going through the manga (about 2.5 chapters this episode for example), it should also include more of the Nel and Nnoitra fight.