Ichigo’s sisters seem to know pretty much nothing about what he’s is up to, and they seem completely unaware what’s going on in the spiritual world. This is in huge contrast with his friends, who guess correctly that he is involved with Soul Society again. Even then their knowledge is pretty vague, and I don’t think they’ve had much additional contact with the shinigami after Aizen’s attack on Karakura Town. I’ve never been a fan of the way Ichigo keeps his friends and family out of the loop purposely in some misguided attempt to “protect them” and his secrets aren’t helping anyone. Now it gets worse however; Kyouraku approaches Keigo, Tatsuki and Mizuiro and tells them that they will have to part ways with Ichigo permanently. There has been no clues given to why this needs to be the case, but perhaps Ichigo will die (yeah, right) or he will take up permanent residence in Soul Society. My guess is that he will be appointed to captain, or a position under the Spirit King.
Renji, Rukia, and Byakuya are all still in the Spirit Palace undergoing the Zero Squad’s shenanigans, including having to cross swords while staring at each other awkwardly, or being forced to strip down under the threat of castration. Whatever else Shutara did to Renji after that is left to our imaginations. Despite the Zero Squad’s strange personalities, it looks like whatever they are going through is meant to power them up and train them as they progress through each trial. So far there is healing, food, new clothes, new weapons, and personal training, corresponding to the specialty of each of the five members. I’m not sure why Renji, Rukia, and Byakuya were selected for this aside from the fact that they are main characters, but they will need to make something happen beyond the usual shinigami arsenal if they hope to match the strength of the Vandenreich.
Unfortunately there’s no word from Urahara’s end this chapter after last week’s teaser, which I would have much preferred to see over the comic relief filler that was sprinkled throughout. Whatever he’s up to is likely to be quite important, and the mystery man he’s with (probably Grimmjow) is hopefully going to play a significant role.