「霊骸VS原種、誇りをかけた激闘！」 (Reigai VS genshu, hokori o kaketa gekitou! )
“Reigai vs. Original, The Fierce Fighting for Gambled Pride!”
Yushima announces that his goal is to destroy Soul Society. When he attempts to kill Rukia though, Ichigo intercepts the hit in his hollow form. Nozomi’s consciousness, which was still floating in limbo inside Yushima, suddenly wakes up and takes over Yushima momentarily. Ichigo’s then hollowfication dissipates and he loses his reiatsu again.
After regaining control, Yushima requests more fusion stabilizer, then states that he will kill Ichigo. Ichigo’s friends stand up to protect him however, and Yushima mocks them again for their friendship. They mount a combined attack against him and successfully bind him. Ishida then attempts to absorb his reiatsu, but by absorbing the reishi from his Seeleschneider, Yushima is able to negate it and fires a massive attack at Ichigo. Nozomi interferes again and causes to attack to miss, then she tells Ichigo to kill Yushima while he still can. Ichigo is unable to do it though, and Kageroza takes over again.
He derides the concept of friendship and boasts about his achievements alone, but Ichigo confronts him and tells him that he can’t do everything alone. Nemu shows up and hands Yushima the fusion stabilizer, but then reveals that she is actually Kon in a gigai. He explains that Mayuri faked his death, helped Urahara defeat his reigai and the reigai Nemu, and replaced it with Kon’s Soul Candy. Kon also brings back Ichigo’s completed Mod Soul Candy and restores Ichigo’s powers.
Elsewhere in Soul Society, the shinigami continue to battle the reigai, but they struggle against the reigai’s attack strategy. Byakuya figures out that they are switching off opponents, and so by standing together in a formation, the reigai don’t risk attacking. He speculates that the reigai take on Kageroza’s isolationism and therefore fight as such.
「侵軍篇、最終決着！」 (Shingun hen, saishuu kecchaku!)
“Invading Army Arc, Final Conclusion!”
Ichigo releases his bankai and attacks Yushima. Kon, Rukia, Renji, Ishida, and Chad also join in the fight to help him. In the end, he is able to land a direct hit on Yushima with Getsuga Tenshou in his hollow form and badly injures him, allowing Nozomi to take control once again. Before Ichigo can severe his Soul Chain though, Kageroza blocks the hit, refusing to give up. He uses his zanpakutou to summon a large structure that destroys large parts of Sereitei, intending to take down everything along with himself.
Both the reigai and shinigami are surprised by this turn of events, and the reigai turn against Kageroza, aiming to protect Soul Society. They charge the structure, but are destroyed along with it. Badly injured, Yushima recalls his past and goes into a rage against Ichigo, but is quickly defeated. He separates into Kageroza and Nozomi again, and the former soon dissipates. As Nozomi begins to disappear as well, she states she will teach Kageroza the value of friendship, then thanks Kon and the others, and bids farewell.
I felt that these two episodes were of fairly poor quality overall, which is surprising since they are the final episodes of this arc. Especially in the second to last episode, fights looked pretty bad and the animation was subpar. Many of the scenes, especially in the reigai fight, consisted of panning over still shots, with very little actual movement. Though towards the end things stepped up and there was a lot of impressive looking attacks and explosions, framerate still felt choppy and detail was lacking, leaving me with a bad final impression.
As for what actually happened, I was even more so left unsatisfied. Too much time was spent bragging and talking with opponents; for example Yushima spent 2 minutes explaining Ishida’s technique and how he figured it out. It’s a recurring flaw, but becomes more annoying every time. It also doesn’t seem believable that all of Ichigo’s friends were able to get up and launch an all out attack against Yushima after getting defeated so badly in the last episode. Things become somewhat better as the story approaches the climax, and the final scenes of episode 340 were pretty exciting with “Number One” blasting in the background. We finally get to see Ichigo’s bankai in a more impressive light, showing off its speed and power and looking almost as badass as it did when it was first introduced. Yushima really is quite skilled too though, able to hold his own against that many opponents, but in the end a maxed out Getsuga Tensho to the face at point blank is still too much to take.
The reigai are all disposed of conveniently in one fell stroke as they all suddenly decide to be good guys again and sacrifice themselves in a suicide charge. Utterly implausible, but I suppose there’s few other methods to get rid of two dozen filler characters within three minutes. Kageroza and Nozomi’s end was also fairly predictable, though Yushima didn’t quite redeem himself in the end like I had half expected him to. As always, friendship runs as the main theme to the very end, and concludes with a tearful goodbye between Kon and Nozomi. If it wasn’t for the extremely flawed relationship and character development throughout the series, that scene could actually have quite a bit of tearjerker potential, but as it stands this arc was mostly only good for the battles. That aside, this decent but ultimately forgettable filler arc has finally come to an end, and it looks Ichigo will be bidding farewell to his shinigami friends in the next episode as his reiatsu fades away. I’m not particularly anticipating the Xcution arc, but the preview art is looking good.