In the aftermath of the Muramasa incident, the Shinigami return to Soul Society, but they find that their respective Zanpakutou spirits are still able to take human form. To complicate matters, also on the loose are what Kurotsuchi calls Toujuu (lit. sword beast), which are materialized Zanpakutou who went berserk after their masters were killed trying to subdue them. Of the two that appear, Senbonzakura helps Sode no Shirayuki defeat one of them, and Rukia wielding Sode no Shirayuki eventually defeats the other, strengthening their relationship in the process. Kurotsuchi takes in the latter one for research, and when Ukitake reveals that there are reports of more, Sode no Shirayuki reassures Rukia that the Zanpakutou will help with this matter.
As expected, the new ED finally premiered this week, and I really liked it. The song is catchy, just like Kansha was, and it feels like the perfect way to end an episode. The animation that went with it is mostly sakura petals plus images of the various members of the Gotei 13 (I’m guessing they blew most of the budget on those petals), and this one clearly goes in the Inoue column in the which-girl-does-the-ED-focus-on battle between her and Rukia.
As a Rukia episode, this episode wasn’t too bad since it had some decent character development for her and Sode no Shirayuki. I’m not so thrilled about it as part of a larger story arc though. The whole random-Zanpakutou-have-gone-crazy plot seems like it could lead to a lot of monster-of-the-week type episodes, with probably different Shinigami protagonists each week. On the other hand, I’m hoping that this means that there will be some sort of conclusion at the end of the arc where all the Zanpakutou spirits will be gone for good. I’d rather the anime writers not try to mix the Zanpakutou spirits into manga material like they did with the Bount arc’s Ririn and company. Either way, it looks like this is going to be the story until at least April, and not surprisingly, Ichigo is getting involved next episode.