「復活！死神代行･黒崎一護！ 」 (Fukkatsu! Shinigami daikou･Kurosaki Ichigo!)
“Revival! Substitute Shinigami･Ichigo Kurosaki!”
After seeing Ichigo’s insanely powerful Getsuga Tenshou, Ginjou tries to turn tail and run, but of course Ichigo won’t have any of that, especially after all the crap they put him through. Even without bankai, the fight was pretty epic, and regular Getsuga Tenshou hasn’t been this awesome since the first few times Ichigo used it. The fact that a bunch of high-ranking shinigami and former shinigami contributed their own reiatsu to him is probably why his power is even higher than before. I had hoped that this would also give Ichigo some new attacks or abilities, but unfortunately that doesn’t seem to be the case. However, I am glad to see that the Gotei 13 (the Captain-Commander in particular) are finally willing to bend their traditions and rules to do what is necessary and rational.
Quite a bit happened in this episode, as Ginjou is revealed to be the first substitute shinigami. Tsukishima is still screwing around with Ichigo’s friends, and there’s an emotional scene as a confused and distressed Inoue runs to Ichigo. Urahara and Isshin finally act to take them out of action and prevent them from interfering with anything else, but I really do wonder why they chose to act so late. Urahara is usually on top of things quickly, and I really feel that Kubo chose to wait until things were more dramatic before bringing in the rescue squad.
I’m also not sure how Ginjou can just take and toss around Ichigo’s fullbring powers like a bag of drugged candy and share them with the other fullbringers. He essentially gives each of them a part of Ichigo’s powers, which manifest in the form of fancy gadgets that extend their own abilities. Yukio in particular gains the ability to manipulate the reality around him with his handheld console. It’s a stupid ability, and mostly just serves as a plot device to divide all the characters into separate battles. At least there’s not too much drag with dialogue initially in the fights as Kenpachi ends his fight before it really even begins. The part where he just slices Hulk Giriko clear in half was probably the single most satisfying moment in the entire arc for me, and at the same time we are saved from enduring a long speech boasting about his power and explaining his abilities in detail.
I did enjoy how the directors added a lot of additional scenes into the anime that were not in the manga. Seeing everything in color makes the battles much clearer and more exciting. Close-up shots also show that the character designs have changed in many subtle ways to reflect their long absence, and if you compare the designs in the early years of the manga to the ones now you can quickly see how much Kubo’s art has evolved over the years.