As Senbonzakura explains to Ichigo and Rukia, Byakuya had returned him to normal long ago and had known all along about Kouga. He had pretended to join with Muramasa in order to find out where Kouga was sealed, and Byakuya now intends to kill Kouga for disgracing the Kuchiki family. Kouga, however, is intent on fighting with his own power and goes as far as to break Muramasa’s blade in half. This causes Muramasa to lose control of his power, and all of the Menos that he had inside of himself appear. Ichigo and Rukia decide to take on those Menos since Byakuya has to fight Kouga, and thus the battle begins. Kouga is initially able to match Byakuya attack for attack, but when Byakuya starts to use Senbonzakura, Kouga makes use of his own special ability to manipulate his opponent’s five senses. Fortunately, Senbonzakura is able to come to Byakuya’s rescue, and Byakuya initiates bankai. Kouga now finds himself on the losing side of the battle, and Senbonzakura and Byakuya explain that it’s because they fight together and that Kouga doesn’t understand the essence of power. Since Kouga won’t listen, Byakuya gets ready to end things with the Hakuteiken form of his bankai, and their two powers collide
I assume this was the climax of the story arc because it was one helluva episode where clearly a lot of the budget went. The fight choreography between Byakuya and Kouga when they were trading blows and spells was very impressive, and the animation quality was just as good. Byakuya’s Hakuteiken looked so much better here than it did when he used it against Ichigo all those episodes ago, and I loved the silhouette and petals effect when Senbonzakura saved him. If only all the episodes could be like this.
Anyway, I noticed that Kouga’s ability to manipulate senses was a bit like Aizen’s Kyouka Suigetsu and its hypnosis, and that combined with what happened in this episode made me think that they should just have Byakuya fight Aizen when the time comes. Of course Kouga is kind of an idiot for breaking Muramasa and nowhere near as devious as Aizen, so maybe not. Speaking of Muramasa, the preview was really interesting because it showed a Hollow, and the title of the episode indicates that we’ll be seeing Muramasa’s true form.
Oh and there was no new ED this week. I suspect that a new one will start up once this story arc ends in a few weeks.