Ichigo arrives just in time to save Rukia from Yammy. Rukia notices something wrong with Ichigo as he goes off to fight though she doesn’t know exactly what. Ichigo draws off Yammy from his injured friends. He uses his hollow mask for a moment, and Rukia notes that it has been evolving. They both notice that his hollowfication has changed significantly (after Ichigo’s fight with Ulquiorra). However when Ichigo tries to call his mask again he fails and Yammy captures him. Byakuya and Kenpachi arrive and save him, telling him to get out of the way and go back to the world of the living. Mayuri and Nemu arrive to open a Garganta to send him back, and Unohana goes with him.
Ichigo’s “I’ll beat you because I have to” strategy doesn’t seem to work too well for him. Willpower does affect his strength by quite a bit, but so far he has still needed a lot of luck to scrape through his battles. And this time his luck runs out (almost) as he is tired, his mask failed, and his mental state is unstable due to the fight against Ulquiorra. Again Ichigo is facing a ridiculously strong opponent and yet again he charges randomly in. Part of his justification is actually because Yammy is talking poorly of the of the espada he fought …not sure if that’s too much ego or honor. Yes, some battles are unavoidable, but he obviously isn’t too familiar with tactical planning. Watching a suicidal hero getting by only with plot armor isn’t so fun.
As for Yammy, I don’t really believe his claim that he’s stronger than all the other espada. Unless he’s referring to physical strength only, I’m sure any of the top five could shred him. Watching him fight isn’t interesting, but luckily Byakuya and Kenpachi arrived, slicing off one of his legs leg right off the bat. They look like they are here to kick ass, and this fight should get more exciting (from what I’ve read in the manga). I also liked Unohana’s gentle yet menacing attitude, and it’s too bad we don’t get to see more of her. It would be cool to see her fight, as I’m sure she’s not only good at healing. Unfortunately for Shinji though, Inoue doesn’t seem to be going back with them so any life-saving will probably be up to Unohana. I’m glad there was more development this episode. Unfortunately the next episode will be filler. The premise looks funny so hopefully it won’t be too terrible.
On a side note, a lot of the shots of Ichigo in this episode looked a bit like his original version (his character design at the beginning of the manga).