Starrk is stabbed through the chest by Shunsui, who attacks from the shadows with Kageoni. Shunsui reveals that his zanpakuto makes “child’s games real” and uses it’s various abilities to gain an upper hand against Starrk. He destroys Lilynette, who was in the form of Starrk’s wolves. Starrk is able to hold his own for a while, but Shunsui uses Irooni to attack Starrk’s hollow hole and cuts him down. Love and Rose speak with Shunsui, who states he will sacrifice his code of honor for a victory. In flashbacks, it is revealed that Starrk was always alone, since his presence alone caused other hollows to lose their souls. He splits his soul into two, and travels with Lilynette until they meet and ally with Aizen. Back in present time, Aizen goes to Hallibel who is still fighting Lisa, Hiyori and Toshiro, and cuts her down, saying she is not strong enough.
This episode’s fight was definitely the best I’ve seen in a while. It’s always enjoyable to see two very strong characters fighting each other, and this was no exception. Starrk and Shunsui kept the action fast-paced and I loved how former refused to reveal much about his powers. Dual swords with both of them helped make the fight exciting and Shunsui’s large bag of tricks ensured that there was no lapse and that they stayed on their toes all the time. His shikai abilities are definitely one of the most unique with several games involving colors, altitude and shadows. However, I felt that there was really no need for him to explain the rules to Starrk; surprise is one large advantage he shouldn’t have hinted at so quickly- Starrk is clearly a very perceptive character. Shunsui is still much stronger than he looks though, and he manages to destroy the wolves. From the manga, I do not recall that Lilynette died along with the wolves (thought she died when Starrk did), but the anime clearly shows that she was gone when the wolves died. I also do not understand why the wolves just vanished, since Starrk was able to produce dozens of them easily and they regenerated after being destroyed; perhaps it is possible that they do drain the soul with use and so cannot be used indefinitely. Regardless, with all the flashbacks it was obvious he was going to die, which is a real shame for his character.
After Starrk’s death, Aizen finally decides to move, immediately cutting down Hallibel. Lisa, Hiyori and Toshiro were finally working together and still couldn’t do squat to her, and Aizen just defeats her in one slash. Considering Hallibel clearly saw the attack coming and Aizen wasn’t using any powers, it shouldn’t have ended that quickly. Aizen’s power is just ridiculous; I don’t know why he’s even bothering with a bunch of useless minions when he could have singlehandedly achieved all his goals by himself. Even if he’s lazy and just likes to kill time, in the end the arrancar didn’t achieve that much and it’s hard to imagine him not knowing what was going to happen. Still, this episode moved quickly with the last two arrancar down which is an improvement; I still have various complaints, the ones mentioned above, and the better-but-still-crappy animation (this eye-twitching scene was particularly bad), but I’ve stopped expecting too much from Bleach.