In the past, Shinjii meets Ichigo and after revealing that he is also a vizard, asks him to join them. Aizen sends Ulquiorra to the real world, resulting in Ichigo’s first encounter with the arrancar. He then trains with the vizard to gain control over his hollow powers. With these powers he is able to fight Ulquiorra and Grimmjow. Back in the present, Ichigo is shocked that Aizen had been behind everything, planning out meetings and battles. Ichigo does not believe him and attacks, but is easily stopped. Right after Aizen states that he had known Ichigo since his birth, Ichigo’s father Isshin arrives in shinigami garb and attacks. He knocks Ichigo to the ground, who states he will not question Isshin. Ichigo then attacks Gin, and Isshin battles Aizen.
I thought the flashbacks were finished, but apparently not, as footage of battles from old episodes continues to be shown. Again, it’s a nice refresher for past fights, but nothing new is revealed other than the fact that Aizen has been watching Ichigo on TV all this time using hidden cameras placed almost everywhere. Of course the epic battles between Ichigo and Grimmjow and Ulquiorra are revisited too. Unfortunately all his hard work was for naught, as every single action he took had been part of Sousuke’s master plan. He cracks and screams at Aizen, who naturally is playing it cool and slow-rolling his monumental explanation about how he used Ichigo as a test subject and “helped” him along with the development of his powers, literally from the very beginning. Everything from the time he first met Rukia to the capture of Rukia to each one of his battles were just someone else’s game. Aizen of course is just toying around with poor Ichigo. We the viewers already know that he is a mix between human and shinigami, so the fact that Ichigo got Aizen’s special attention is not particularly surprising.
After Isshin arrives, he immediately headbutts Ichigo, who returns the favor by kicking in his dad’s face. That sudden moment of comedic music and background there was seriously out of place, and should have been much more emotional, as was their heart-to-heart conversation after. Aizen himself does not bother with them, and instead sits above the massive destruction of Karakura town conversing with Gin. Finally, father and son come out to do battle, with Ichigo getting his long-awaited rematch with Gin who apparently is going to go all-out this time. For an intial attack, Isshin is looking fairly strong as he is able to knock Aizen through several buildings with a finger-flick attack.
Some massive developments/revelations were made during this episode making it quite an important episode. On the whole, it wasn’t poorly done: there are a lot of flashbacks, but they aren’t necessarily bad. Aside from that one awkward and unfunny comedic moment between Isshin and Ichigo, there aren’t really any problems, and the episode was relatively enjoyable. It feels strange commenting on the quality of the episode so often, but unfortunately with Bleach that is a constant problem that has to be addressed. The plot however seems to be moving quickly and building up to the climax; next time there will be more action with Gin, which I am definitely looking forward to. Unfortunately there is no element of suspense with the manga around, but the animation and any anime original additions will be something to watch for.