「ありがとう 」 (Arigatou)
Ichigo and Rukia fight hollows as usual, but Rukia begins to worry about Ichigo’s reiatsu. Kurumadani tells them not to do anything without permission, and she tells Ichigo to be more careful. He goes to school as usual, but begins to struggle when battling hollows in his shinigami form. Both Ishida and Rukia notice that Ichigo’s spiritual pressure is reaching its limit and they attempt to keep him from fighting.
Ichigo takes Rukia ice skating along with all their friends, but as they return home another hollow shows up. Ichigo is beaten back though and struggles to maintain his reiatsu. He realizes this, and musters his energy for one last Getsuga Tenshou, and defeats the hollow with Rukia’s help. Before collapsing, Ichigo tells Rukia that he had already guessed that she was trying to prevent him from fighting. He confirms his friendship with Her before passing out and when he wakes up, Rukia tells him he is passing through the second phase of the loss of his reiatsu. He comes to terms with the fact that his powers are disappearing, and says farewell and thank you to Rukia as she disappears.
Most of this episode was actually added material, but that’s not bad at all since it links everything from the previous arc and fleshes out some of the events. It also shows their regular human lives, and we haven’t seen them going to school or just hanging out in a long time in either the anime and manga. There’s a lot of focus on Rukia and Ichigo too and that’s always welcome in my book. They get some decent character development, even if it’s not strictly canon, and I found the change of pace quite enjoyable. From the way they address each other, this episode makes it pretty clear that they share a very close friendship together.
Both Rukia and Ichigo look better in casual clothes in my opinion as well, maybe because I’ve been looking at their shinigami forms for too long. I’ve always been a Ichigo x Rukia shipper, and they really do have pretty good chemistry together even if they are still in the friend zone. Kubo isn’t really pushing the romance aspect of Bleach so I’m not expecting much, but tender little moments like this are still nice. I don’t understand why their goodbye was such a big deal when Rukia could just use a gigai if she wanted to visit Ichigo, but ignoring that, this was a spectacular episode, and it was nice that they chose to expand the one chapter into a full 20 minutes. Seems there will be a little more of this regular slice of life next week, then it’s time for Ginjou and the Xcution to make their appearance.