The gathered Zanpakutou immediately start resisting, so Soifon and the other Shinigami face off against them. Ichigo in particular is forced to fight Senbonzakura, and so it’s up to Renji to try to stop Byakuya from getting away. Yumichika, on the other hand, goes up against his own Zanpakutou Ruri-iro Kujaku while Kira fights Shuuhei’s Kazeshini, Soifon fights Sasakibe Choujirou’s Gonryoumaru and Komamura’s Tenken, and Ikkaku fights his own Zanpakutou Hoozukimaru. Ikkaku initially has a lot of success against Hoozukimaru and is even able to use his own shikai, but Hoozukimaru then initiates bankai to turn the tables a bit. Not backing down, Ikkaku is able to shatter one of Hoozukimaru’s blades, however he then has to face Hoozukimaru will a filled dragon gauge. As a show of his confidence, he places half his broken spear on the ground to mark the line he won’t step behind, and he proceeds to take the full force of the attack. True to his word, he stands his ground and is able to defeat Hoozukimaru, though Ikkaku collapses afterward as well. Elsewhere in Soul Society, Iba and Isane run into each other, but before they can do anything, they spot Kurotsuchi’s Zanpakutou Ashisogi Jizou nearby.
This episode was comprised of a lot of set-up for half-a-dozen fights – which is a ton to have going concurrently now that I think about it – but it still managed to finish the Ikkaku one in a decent fashion. Not surprisingly, that fight against Hoozukimaru ended up being a bit of a brawl, and Ikkaku managed another victory by a slim margin. It felt like Hoozukimaru went easy on him though and didn’t use the bankai blades with the same intensity that Ikkaku did back during the Edorad fight, so I can’t say it got me too excited. I’m a little disappointed as well that Ichigo is up against Senbonzakura again and Byakuya is up against Renji. It’d be more interesting to see how Zanpakutou-less Byakuya would fight a bankai-level Ichigo. Actually, the most promising match-up might be Soifon vs. Gonryoumaru and Tenken, mainly because we don’t know a lot about Gonryoumaru’s powers (I was also amused by the scene where she tried to identify who he belonged to).
Anyway, I’m really looking forward to next week’s episode, though not because of what’s coming up in the story, but because it’ll be the premiere of the new OP and ED, Anima Rossa by Porno Graffitti and Sakurabito by SunSet Swish.