「The Battle」

Bleach’s 10th episode concludes the ultimate clash between two of the scariest Soul Reapers in the series. But while Zaraki discovers his hidden potential, Ichigo is tasked to find his own as he is disgraced by the third Soul King captain he comes across.


I’ll admit that I was half-expecting an episode-long fight between Zaraki and Unohana. With the Yamamoto and Yhwach fight feeling like a full-on Pay-Per-View bout, I was hoping that it’d have the same pomp & circumstance for the two blood-thirsty Kenpachi’s to clash. Likewise, I was let down that Unohana was killed unceremoniously with Zaraki relying on one fatal stab to put an end to the original Gotei 13. Then again, it seems to be one of the two resolutions Unohana was yearning for, given how Unohana was aiming to either murder Zaraki for repressing his true potential or be murdered by a bloodthirsty Zaraki.

Even though Zaraki is the one person who was capable of wounding Unohana, her elation in finding an equal is dashed when she noticed that he instinctually suppresses his abilities so that he could battle for eternity. Unohana had similarly learned to heal so she can fight for eternity, but her heartbreak comes from how painfully similar they are in their lust for combat.

I loved how her murderous side is reflected in her true Bankai, Minazuki. The blood pool that comes from her sword and her palms was as brutal as it was elegant. It’s a fitting blade from someone whose idea for entertainment was leaving a pile of corpses in her wake as she sought out anyone who could even keep up with her.

The fight was actually very effective in bringing depth to Zaraki’s character. While he was usually a menacing, violent monster on-screen, Unohana knows from the very start of the fight that Zaraki only narrowly won against his last two opponents before Yhwach because he had been holding himself back far too much to immediately slaughter Ichigo or Nnoitra.

Zaraki growing attached to Unohana was also something I hadn’t expected. His attachment to what they mutually share as bloodthirsty killers who are finally unrestrained causes him to get caught up in his own feelings for Unohana. Feeding the beast within Zaraki made him so joyful to recapture his love for fighting to the point where he had a very cool skeletal form as he defeated her, but he would receive that gratification from no one else but his mentor.

It makes it all the more upsetting when Zaraki realizes that Unohana will succumb to her wounds. It was already poignant to see Zaraki in a lovesick emotional state in the last episode when he despaired being locked into a cruel fight against Unohana. With this episode, it’s even sadder to see Zaraki mournful and begging Unohana to stay alive. He had become so content with his repressed abilities for the love of fighting that, by the time he learned to love bloodshed again through Unohana’s intervention, he’d no longer be able to share a heart-pounding battle with her.


I am a bit skeptical about Nimaiya as a character. I immediately got bad Killer Bee flashbacks when I saw him putting up hand signs, speaking in gratuitous English, pulling out the Fujiwara Chika flow, and having a harem of zanpakuto “honeys”. It’s one of those antiquated character types from a decade ago when mangaka started distancing themselves from using 1930’s American cartoons as their frame of reference for Black representation. Instead, they switched to encapsulating whatever they saw or heard from 1980’s hip-hop artists in characters like Killer Bee. I can see the dub iron out any of these concerns, but they play up a lot of the offensive quirks in the dialogue they gave this dude.

While Nimaiya’s assistant Mera has wonderful feet, the real kicker is what and how Nimaiya challenges Renji and Ichigo to have them recover their zanpakuto. Their fight with the Asauchi (or nameless zanpakuto spirits) was pretty funny because it was the one moment where Renji could potentially rub it in Ichigo’s face that he beat him at something.

Yes, the show spares no expense in making Ichigo look like a complete fool and a failure. Because he couldn’t find an Asauchi to take on the mantle of being molded into Zangetsu, Nimaiya mercilessly mocked Ichigo for being a colossal failure. Normally, this is where some Deus Ex Machina would come in to sweep Nimaiya off his feet and crown Ichigo as King of the World. But Nimaiya remains unimpressed and unperplexed by Ichigo’s despairing wails to be taken seriously. It does give Ichigo a way out by having him go touch his roots back when he was living an average civilian life if he’s going to regain Zangetsu. But it won’t come easy as he has to truly find the one thing that’ll make Zangetsu want to get back in the ring with him.


  1. Choya, what you didn’t include in your post was that Nimaiya explicitly mentioned that Ichigo never had an asauchi in the first place, so he never underwent the process Soul Reapers are supposed to go through to get their powers, and that was the main reason Nimaiya deemed Ichigo no good in his current state. He called Ichigo a fake Soul Reaper because of that.

  2. I’m glad this episode depicted Unohana’s bankai in the way it was suppose to be. The dark atmosphere and colors contributed to the impact of this battle. Seeing Everything But The Rain animated will be a treat.

    Taichi EX

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