Yamamoto starts the battle against Aizen and his forces by enveloping Aizen, Ichimaru, and Tousen in a wall of flame. Aizen, however, is confident that his Espada can take care of things without him needing to do anything. Meanwhile, in Las Noches, Ulquiorra thinks that Inoue should be scared since she’s alone, but she claims not to be because her heart is already together with all of her friends. Ulquiorra finds this hard to believe, so Inoue explains how she was initially sad when she heard that everyone came to save her. When she sensed Rukia fall and saw Ichigo fighting though, she didn’t want any of them to be hurt, and she realized that those were the same feelings that her friends had towards her.
At that moment, Ichigo is charging towards the tower where Inoue is, but he gets temporarily held up by Rudobone and the Exequias. He fortunately gets some help from Renji, Sado, and Rukia, so he’s able to continue on while those three handle the Exequias. Back in the tower, Ulquiorra dismisses what Inoue said and asserts that feelings cannot actually be shared. Inoue concedes that it might be impossible to feel the exact same thing, but she believes that when people care about each other, their hearts will be a little closer. For her, this is what it means for hearts to be as one. Ulquiorra responds to this by questioning what heart is, and he wonders if he’ll be able to see it if he tears open her chest or breaks open her skull. All this is interrupted by the sudden arrival of Ichigo.
So not only are both the OP and ED really good (kudos to SCANDAL and Sambomaster), the accompanying animation sequences/character shots look really nice as well. The OP sequence in particular has Rukia, Inoue, and Rangiku singing and dancing (which makes sense since SCANDAL is a girl band), and it manages to be very stylish and sexy. If only the actual series could look that good all the time. The ED sequence meanwhile is back to focusing on Rukia and Ichigo after the last ED focused on Inoue. It’s a little weird to see Rukia with Ichigo though given how the story is clearly pointing to Inoue and Ichigo as a stronger couple.
Well, the OP had me all pumped up for this new arc, but the episode itself was only average. It was cool seeing Yamamoto in action again, especially against Aizen, but that was a fairly brief part of the episode, and the rest was focused on Inoue, Ulquiorra, and Ichigo. I understand that the writers needed some extra stuff so that they could stretch two chapters of the manga into an entire episode and that they’re trying to contrast the friendship/love/hope in Inoue with the analytical and despair-inducing Ulquiorra, but that part still dragged on for a bit too long, especially with all those flashbacks. I cheered when Ichigo appeared because it meant that we could get on with the battle, though as the preview shows, it’s actually the battle in Karakura Town that will be the main focus of next week with several of the vice-captains. In fact, based on the Arrancar shown in the new ED sequence, it’s probably safe to say that the rest of this spring season will be that Karakura Town battle, and they’ll likely stop right before the story returns to Las Noches. It should be an interesting few months.