There have been several recent incidents of disappearing shinigami in Karakura Town, and Urahara’s investigation determined they had probably been eaten, but not by hollows. He warns Rukia, who has agrees to transport some merchandise, to be careful. Later, Zennosuke is attacked by the creature who mocks him for being a pathetic shinigami, and Rukia arrives just in time to save him. However it is unharmed by her attacks, and reveals that he was the hollow Shrieker who had attacked Rukia back when she was the shinigami in charge of Karakura Town. Shrieker refuses to say how he got out of hell and attacks Rukia with his frog creatures which spit exploding leeches. Even though this time Rukia has her powers, he also has become more powerful and she falls to the ground. Zennosuke uses his power to trap the monster, but he uses leech bombs on his body to knock him out. He captures Rukia, but Renjii arrives. He initially fares no better than Rukia, but then releases his bankai which gives Rukia an opening to cut him down and he returns to Hell.
In Soul Society, the captains are shocked about the fact that a Sinner (those who had committed heinous crimes in their life) of Hell had escaped. The Captain Commander orders Rukia and Renjii to deal with the situation, and also tells them not to involve Ichigo. In Hell, the arrancar Szayel and Aaronierro begin to fight with each other. Shuren arrives and informs them that they are in hell, and Szayel attacks him asking if there is a way to escape. His minions Taikon, Gunjo and Garogai attack the arrancar, and Szayel fires a Gran Rey Cero at Shuren but they are soundly defeated. Taikon then reveals that it was they who sent Shrieker to the real world, then got rid of him after he returned. Shuren holds up a lantern with an image of Hollow Ichigo inside and states that he will bring him down.
This episode could be considered filler, but it also expands on the special hell arc chapter a few weeks back as a sort of prequel to the new Bleach movie, so while not technically canon, it’s not as uninteresting as some other fillers are. I actually found it to be pretty well done and was a good episode in general. The majority of the episode actually did not cover material from the special chapter and instead featured the return of Shrieker, who, way back in the early years of Bleach, had been sent to hell. Shuren had apparently sent him to the real world, and he took the chance to take revenge on Rukia. The battle was an interesting battle, and this badass shot of Rukia especially caught my eye. The fight was fast paced and went back and forth with both of them landing good attacks on each other. With him now “silenced” however, he probably won’t be back in the real world.
The latter third of the episode was an animated version of the hell arc chapter. Unfortunately the animation quality actually dropped, and the art felt more simplified. The main highlight was the introduction of Shuren, who looks like he will be the main villain in the movie, probably aiming to do open the gates of hell or something using Ichigo (who actually didn’t appear at all in the episode). I think Yamamoto knows something extra, since he specifically ordered Rukia and Renji not to involve Ichigo when they went down to hell. Szayel and Aaronierro also made a cameo appearance, but they are easily eliminated and I don’t think they will be all that relevant in the plot.
As Gin battles Ichigo and Isshin battles Aizen, Aizen begins to evolve because of the Hougyoku. Urahara arrives and attacks Aizen, using multiple high level spells to bind him. However they do not work and Aizen slashes Urahara, stating that he is so strong he does not even need to dodge attacks now. Urahara takes the chance to put a seal on Aizen’s wrists, which turns his own reiatsu against him. He warns Ichigo and Isshin that it will not be enough to defeat Aizen, and Aizen does emerge from the seal unharmed, covered completely in white armor. Urahara and Isshin both attack him, and restrain him with a chain. Yoruichi suddenly arrives and attacks Aizen from above, hitting him repeatedly with some sort of special armor. Aizen is still unharmed and manages to smash a piece of her armor, and taunts them to make their next move and they repeatedly attack him to no avail.
On the sidelines, Gin tells Ichigo that he has already given up on the inside, and suddenly attacks him. Nearby, Kira sees Matsumoto running for Gin.
Well this is 300th episode of Bleach, marking almost 6 years of the Bleach anime. The episode wasn’t particularly special, but was still pretty exciting on the whole. For those who have already read the manga however, it’s just a reminder that Aizen is way too strong, and his overpoweredness is almost a plot flaw as he is virtually a indestructible, almost omnipotent villain. Of course he admits only Hougyoku had kept him alive and that without it, he would have been soundly defeated by the likes of Urahara. Aizen brags about how strong he is and how his power is unrivalled even when he was back in Soul Society, but honestly I think Urahara is at least on his level, and probably far more devious. It just feels like Aizen is cheating, but on the other hand he’s a villain, so anything goes. Aside from that problem though, this episode wasn’t particularly bad and the action was non-stop and interesting. One big flaw though (and seemingly a recurring one throughout the series) was the out of place comedic moment of Yoruichi and Urahara’s bickering. I complain about the out of place bickering everytime it shows up, and it really does detract from the atmosphere. Bleach isn’t a drama series, but scenes like this should still retain their seriousness, and the sudden mood interruption, often coupled with funky music and comedic backgrounds, just doesn’t work. Regardless, they must be getting desperate as Aizen just tanks all their attacks and taunts them with his hacks.
Gin on the other hand just stands there idly, messing with Ichigo’s mind. He’s correct in that he could easily backstab them while they were busy dealing with Aizen, but he chooses not to, either because Aizen doesn’t need help, or as is obvious— Gin’s personality pretty much dictates that his loyalty to Aizen isn’t absolute. Even he is in the dark about Aizen’s powers, and with Aizen’s ego he probably doesn’t care much for his subordinates, using them mostly through fear (typical villain).
I’ve only had time to work on these posts now, and I’ll try to finish this week’s episode as soon as possible.