Over a century ago in Soul Society, back when Aizen was still the vice-captain of the 5th Division and Shinji was its captain, all the captains had gathered for a certain ceremony. During this time, Love was the captain of the 7th Division, Rose had been promoted to captain of the 3rd Division, Kensei was the captain of the 9th Division, Yoruichi was the captain of the 2nd Division, and Kyouraku, Ukitake, and Unohana were already captains of their respective divisions. In addition, Lisa had been Kyouraku’s vice-captain, Hiyori had been the vice-captain of the 12th Division, and the 12th Division captain Hikifune had also recently been promoted into the Zeroth Division which served the royalty. Learning about this latter fact had surprised Aizen greatly.
The ceremony they are all going to concerns the promotion of a person to the 12th Division captain position, and the story behind that stretches back even further. Some time ago, Yoruichi had decided to recommend Urahara – who was then the third seat in the 2nd Division – for the position, but Soifon had been against it and had gone as far as to follow Urahara so that she could prove he was no good. When she presented her case though, Yoruichi didn’t take her seriously. Shortly before his test to become a captain, Urahara had gotten called away to take care of something, so Soifon followed him again. As it turned out, Urahara had rejoined the same group of men that Soifon saw him drinking with earlier, and they were after a group of fugitives. Since he was short of time, Urahara had handled all of the fugitives by himself, made it back in time for the test, and the rest was history. Now, Urahara finds himself to be the last captain to arrive at the ceremony.
For an episode that was almost 2/3 anime original and only covered one chapter of the ten-chapter arc, I thought this was pretty darn good. It was cool seeing all of the future Visoreds in their Shinigami ranks (I realized earlier that we haven’t heard from them in over 60 episodes stretching back to the fall of 2007), as well as the current captains in the former positions. Aizen might be the one to watch closest because everything he does here obviously foreshadows future events. The Hikifune aspect was also interesting because she might appear in the future if Aizen ever gets close to the king of Soul Society. The majority of the episode was the anime original material though, and I liked how it expanded on how Urahara became the 12th Division captain. It gives a lot more insight into how Yoruichi, Urahara, and Soifon’s relationships developed, and unlike some of Bleach’s other anime original stuff (the last two episodes for example), this is actually involves characters and plot relevant to the overall story. I wouldn’t mind more stuff like this to stretch out this arc, and I suspect that’s probably what they’re going to do in the coming weeks.