The plot thickens. The king of the Vandenreich proves himself to as ruthless as first impressions have showed. His subordinates fear him greatly… and for good reason since he leaves no doubt that they are considered to be easily expendable. Both Ivan and Luders Friegen, the leader of the intruders, are vaporized on a whim, ending any possible future contributions to this arc. More significantly however, is his revelation that he controls Hueco Mundo completely already and has the arrancar under his power, including Harribel. This makes it very likely that the other arrancar with indeterminate fates may make appearance again, as Nel does in an epic skydive right into Ichigo’s mid-section. I wasn’t expecting to see her this soon again, but with the disarray that the Vandenreich has thrown both Soul Society and Hueco Mundo into, an unlikely alliance between the two is not out of the question now.
Soul Society itself is still reeling from the mysterious attack, which has apparently left over a hundred shinigami dead — including the lieutenant of the first squad. Without Ichigo’s help, Soul Society will probably face extinction yet again, and no doubt Urahara’s assistance will need to be enlisted as well. For now though, I’m looking forward most to the appearance of the Zero Squad/Spirit King, a confirmation of which arrancar are still alive, and an explanation of the identity of the new enemy. Tying all the major groups and elements of Bleach together in a clear, logical fashion could really salvage the series from its current long, unimpressive run. There are dozens of questions that need to be answered; that’s really all I expect from the story, and if that is done well, it will make a satisfying conclusion. And of course, hopefully we’ll see some epic battles too.