Hundreds of years ago, there had indeed been an uprising in Soul Society, but Kouga had been on the Gotei 13 side. In addition to this, he had become Kuchiki Ginrei’s son-in-law, but Ginrei had concerns about Kouga not yet having the heart necessary to master his Zanpakutou’s power. Kouga was more than capable of putting down the rebel forces though, and Yamamoto had appointed him the head of a special unit. The problem was that Kouga had also made some powerful enemies, and they framed him for attacking men on his own side. When the punishment included the disempowerment of Muramasa, Ginrei had explained to Kouga that what people were really afraid of was Muramasa going out of control. Kouga, however, felt that Ginrei still didn’t accept him, and after Ginrei left, Muramasa had materialized inside the prison cell. Muramasa had urged Kouga to follow his instincts and had broken him out of prison, though Kouga had emphasized that he was still the master. Now, back in the present, Muramasa approaches Kouga and is surprised to get stabbed in the gut.
This was a surprisingly good episode. I had thought that Kouga was just some crazy warlord in the past – which is probably what they wanted us to think – but now we know that it’s a lot more complicated than that and that he was actually part of the Kuchiki family. It looks like Kouga is technically Byakuya’s uncle (though if they really wanted a plot twist, they’d make him his father), and it finally makes sense now that Byakuya was probably helping Muramasa so that he could clear the family name. The episode didn’t even make Kouga out to be a bad guy, but since it’s kind of hard to hate on random Shinigami who are probably long since dead, Muramasa comes out of this looking like the biggest villain. That is, at least until we find out what happened during the rest of the past – and why Kouga is stabbing Muramasa now – because I’m sure that at some point, Ichigo will still have to fight Kouga.