Renji and the other captains find it hard to believe that Byakuya betrayed them, and Ukitake has to break the news to Rukia. Things only get tougher when they learn that Zanpakutou cannot return to normal if they are destroyed by anyone other than their owner. Byakuya meanwhile arrives with Muramasa back at the Zanpakutou hideout, and everyone is suspicious of him. In order to get him to prove that he’s on their side, Senbonzakura challenges Byakuya to kill Sode no Shirayuki, and to their surprise, he does so after a brief battle, breaking her blade in two. Given this, Muramasa decides to give Byakuya a special task. Back at the Sixth Division, Rukia dozes off thinking about her brother, and she senses him when she wakes up. The entire place is a mess, and he appears to be responsible for it. Even more devastating for Rukia though is when Senbonzakura tosses her the broken Sode no Shirayuki. Fortunately, Renji comes in to save Rukia, and Zabimaru comes to help Renji. Thus, while Renji tries to fight Byakuya and figure out what he’s doing, Zabimaru fights against Senbonzakura. Both Renji and Zabimaru eventually get defeated though, and Byakuya warns Rukia not to get involved. A group of the other Zanpakutou then show up to finish what Byakuya started, however more Shinigami led by Soifon arrive as well, including Ichigo.
I actually enjoyed this episode. They’re doing a good job making it look like Byakuya is going all-in on the Zanpakutou side, but you can tell that he’s still holding back a little in terms of Rukia herself. Certainly his willingness to attack and break Sode no Shirayuki was a little surprising, but because this is an anime original arc, you just know that there’s going to be some way to return her to normal in the end, so that takes a lot away from the plot twist. Regardless, his fight with Sode no Shirayuki was interesting to watch if for no other reason than because he’d normally never have to face those ice powers. The Renji vs Byakuya and Zabimaru vs Senbonzakura fights weren’t bad either, but they were a bit less interesting in the end because of how predictable the results were. I’m excited though to see that the battle isn’t over yet and that Ichigo and others have shown up, meaning that next week’s episode should be packed full of action.