Ichigo’s new sword is finally getting forged, and it’s one of the most over-the-top chapters we’ve seen in a while, ending with yet another big new twist about our main character. Nimaiya’s “escort service” of five girls comes flying out of the sky to help him make the zanpakutou, and their personalities are just as colorful as his. Their grandiose entrance (except for the quiet, dark-haired one who goes splat on the ground) was almost as overboard as his are, and I had to reread the chapter to figure out what exactly was going on. The forge is set up, and Ichigo’s Asauchi is transformed into a slab of metal as Nimaya begins work in a shower of fire, water and iron.
Things get really interesting as he also begins to delve deeper into the origins of Ichigo’s powers. If Ichigo wasn’t shocked enough from his previous identity crisis, Nimaiya delivers the critical punch as he tells him that Zangetsu isn’t his real zanpakutou. Ichigo’s true zanpakutou is pure white, not black, and is indeed one and the same as his inner hollow, Whitey. I assume Shiro Ichigo was the hollow that Aizen created, which fought and contaminated Misaki, then passed on to Ichigo and bonded with his shinigami powers. The physical resemblance is quite strong, and there is little doubt that Aizen and Juha Bach were aware of it. And as to the true nature of old man Zangetsu, wit turns out that he is Juha Bach himself — one thousand years younger. I know that some people had noticed the resemblance between the two much earlier, and apparently this similarity was no coincidence. I’ll admit I personally did not expect to see this coming at all, despite knowing about Ichigo’s quincy background.
Although Zangetsu is an imposter, it’s not clear whether or not he is actually an extension of Juha Bach’s consciousness or simply a manisfestation of his quincy abilities due to his ancestry. If it is the former, then Ichigo may have to fight another inner battle, this time with Whitey on his side. There’s also the question of how Zangetsu was able to achieve things like bankai when he was an imposter, and how neither Urahara nor Isshin suspected anything. I look forward to the next chapter.