|14 Days Before Rukia's Execution|
|Romanji||Rukia shokei, jūyokka mae|
|Manga Chapters||Chapter 78, Chapter 79|
|Arc||Soul Society: The Sneak Entry arc|
|Previous Episode||The Man who Hates Shinigami|
|Next Episode||Assemble! The Gotei 13|
|Japanese||March 15, 2005|
|English||February 17, 2007|
|Episode 23 Screenshots|
At night in the Rukongai, the clock on Taichi Miyamoto's back starts ringing, and when Ganju Shiba skids to a halt after tripping onto his face and demands to know what time it is, Taichi frantically tells him that it is already 9 P.M., prompting a frightened Ganju to call out and whistle for Bonnie, who leaps over the head of a perplexed Ichigo Kurosaki. When Bonnie subsequently crashes into him, Ganju is sent flying dozens of meters away and skids along the ground as he passes his gang.
Praising Bonnie's performance, Ganju asserts that they do not have time for this tonight and asks Bonnie to let him ride her, only for Bonnie to charge into him once more, sending him flying into the air. An outraged Ichigo demands to know if he is running away, but Ganju denies this and tells Ichigo to stay here so they can settle this tomorrow. As Ichigo attempts to insult him back, Taichi, Ganju's Gang rides over him on their boars to catch up with Ganju.
Startled by this, Ichigo is caught underfoot and left in a cloud of dust, and when he finally stands up to finish, Ganju and his gang are gone, prompting Uryū Ishida to place a hand on Ichigo's shoulder in solidarity over how strange this was as Ichigo demands to know who Ganju is. The next morning, with Jidanbō Ikkanzaka continuing to lie outside under dozens of blankets, Orihime Inoue stands with Uryū and Yasutora Sado at a distance while wondering if Jidanbō is alright despite his injury having been healed. With Jidanbō snoring, Sado assures Orihime that he will be fine because big-bodied men have lots of stamina to keep them healthy.
Reassured by this, Orihime admits that he will surely be okay because of how big and strong he is as Uryū wonders who Kūkaku Shiba is, since Yoruichi Shihōin never gives them any details. When Orihime theorizes that it is someone Yoruichi knows who can get them into the Seireitei without using the gates, Uryū assumes that Kūkaku is famous for her skill, leading Orihime to conclude that it is a cat with pedigree papers like a Persian, a American Shorthair, or a Dalmatian, only for Sado to remind her that Kūkaku will not be a cat just because Yoruichi knows her before pointing out that a Dalmatian is a dog, to Orihime's surprise.
Uryū asserts that Kūkaku will be a well-built samurai judging from her name, but Sado counters that she will actually be an old hermit-type master. Inspired by this, Orihime begins drawing in the dirt at their feet, and after several seconds of Uryū and Sado watching in astonishment, she finishes her drawing and describes it as a hermit-like macho samurai with cat ears and a tail. Upon being told by Sado that he has no idea what she drew, Orihime suggests that she be a skinny guitar-wielding samurai, and Uryū informs her that she needs to have a cape as well, which Orihime acknowledges as Sado continues to stare in silence. Suddenly, Uryū realizes that Ichigo is late.
When Orihime offers to call Ichigo, Uryū decides to see for himself and walks inside, leaving Orihime to think up the next Kūkaku while Sado tells her that she does not have to think. Inside the house, Uryū expresses shock as Ichigo reiterates that he is not going before revealing that he is going to stay here in order to finish his fight with Ganju from yesterday. Telling Ichigo to stop joking around, Uryū attempts to pull him out of the house, but Ichigo stubbornly grabs onto the edge of the floorboards and refuses to let go while asserting that Ganju will assume that he ran away if he does not stay here, though Uryū points out that this should not matter.
Orihime sticks her head through the door and asks them if they are not leaving soon, prompting Uryū to request her help in dragging Ichigo out. As Ichigo promises to beat Ganju quickly and catch up to them, Yoruichi suddenly slashes three claws across his face and the bridge of his nose, causing Ichigo to scream in pain. With Ichigo lying motionless on the ground, Yoruichi criticizes him for forgetting the purpose of his journey by letting blood go to his head and reminds Ichigo that Rukia Kuchiki's life depends on him before asserting that he cannot waste time just to see who is more stubborn as Ichigo slowly sits up with a solemn look on his face.
When Yoruichi tells him to get ready if he understands, Ichigo looks down. Meanwhile, in the prison ward in the Sixth Division barracks, Rukia sits in her cell as the bars open behind her, leading her to ask Lieutenant Renji Abarai if her execution date was moved up. Standing with four members of the Kidō Corps, Renji reveals that it is less than 14 days until her execution and the use of the Sōkyoku has been granted before explaining that he is transferring her to Senzaikyū. Soon afterward, Ichigo and his friends walk through the outskirts of Rukongai as he observes that they have reached the edge of a village before questioning if this is really the right way.
Irritated by Ichigo's questioning, Uryū asserts that the map which the Elder gave them points to Kūkaku's house being somewhere around here and suggests that Ichigo take the lead if he has complaints, which Ichigo claims he does not. Orihime assumes that Kūkaku probably lives in such a remote area because she just wants to keep her identity a secret, but Yoruichi denies this and clarifies that this is just part of Kūkaku's personal preference before continuing to walk ahead. With Ichigo and his friends following, Yoruichi details how Kūkaku moves around often and always builds her house in the same way, which will allow them to recognize it once they see it.
Though Ichigo expresses doubt at this, Yoruichi reaffirms this and continues walking before stopping upon spotting Kūkaku's house, which the others do as well. While Ichigo and Uryū are left shocked, Orihime praises the design as cool and Sado remains silent as they look at Kūkaku's house, which has two giant stone arms holding a banner in front and a large smokestack behind it. With Yoruichi taking their reactions as proof that Kūkaku's house is recognizable on sight, a flabbergasted Ichigo and Uryū assert that there is no way Kūkaku wants to keep her identity secret and that she is likely not allowed to live in town because she builds houses like this.
When Yoruichi notes that it is human arms holding the banner this time and commends the style, Ichigo and Uryū are left aghast at Kūkaku changing the motif each time. Yoruichi, Orihime, and Sado begin approaching the house, but Ichigo and Uryū remain still as they agonize over the prospects of entering such an embarrassing house. Upon being prodded by Yoruichi, Ichigo and Uryū reluctantly resume walking, with Ichigo angrily telling Uryū to hurry up even though he knows how much the latter does not want to go. Unsure of what this means, Uryū looks up at the smokestack behind the house and observes how large it is by comparison before noticing that the opening is covered up.
Suddenly, Koganehiko and Shiroganehiko tell Ichigo and his friends to stop, and as they come to a halt, Koganehiko and Shiroganehiko stand on top of the two pillars while observing that they are strangers with a Shinigami among them. Leaping down to the ground in front of them, Koganehiko and Shiroganehiko proclaim that they will not allow Ichigo and his friends to pass before promising that they will die if they do not leave. However, as Ichigo expresses exasperation at encountering more gatekeepers in Soul Society, Yoruichi emerges from behind his leg and looks at Koganehiko and Shiroganehiko, who immediately address Yoruichi respectfully.
Shortly afterward, with Shiroganehiko guarding the entrance, Koganehiko leads Ichigo and his friends down a set of stairs within the house as Uryū comments on the strangeness of having a stairway starting at the front door and Orihime wonders how one reaches the second floor. When Koganehiko apologizes for not knowing that he and his friends were Yoruichi's attendants, Ichigo mentally refutes this identification while Yoruichi apologizes in turn for not notifying Koganehiko and Shiroganehiko in advance, leading Koganehiko to praise this as a generous sentiment from a great personage. Upon reaching the bottom of the stairs, Koganehiko asks the others to wait momentarily.
When he hears tapping at the sliding doors next to him from Kūkaku, Koganehiko interprets this as her welcoming the guests inside and slides open the doors, revealing Kūkaku lounging on several pillows and a rug at the other end of the room. Yoruichi walks toward Kūkaku, who greets her, as Ichigo and his friends are left astonished by Kūkaku being a woman. While Yoruichi points out how no one said Kūkaku was a man, Kūkaku wonders who Ichigo and the others are, and when Yoruichi requests a favor from her, Kūkaku notes that this is usually the case when Yoruichi comes by before inquiring if this is a difficult problem. Upon being told that it is, Kūkaku grins.
Observing that it has been a long time since she and Yoruichi talked, Kūkaku agrees to hear them out because she loves difficult things. Meanwhile, within the Seireitei, Renji walks along a bridge to Senzaikyū with a veiled Rukia behind him, escorted by the four members of the Kidō Corps who carrying staffs attached by red rope to a collar around her neck. After they enter the Shishinrō within Senzaikyū, the Kidō Corps members remove the veil and rope from Rukia before bowing as Renji asks Rukia if she can see the Sōkyoku on Sōkyoku Hill from the sole window within the cell, as they are the instruments which will be used to take her life.
One of the Kidō Corps members explains that this place is called the "Palace of Penitence" because its prisoners can look out at the Sōkyoku and repent for their crimes every day during their incarceration while Renji looks up at the curving staircase above. Standing up to remove the bindings from Rukia's wrists, which retract into the collar around her neck, the Kidō Corps member picks up his staff alongside his fellow members and walks over to Renji, whom he thanks for his assistance in escorting Rukia before suggesting that they leave as the other members walk past. However, while the members approach the exit, Renji remains still.
With the member of the Kidō Corps expressing confusion, Renji approaches Rukia and leans down to her ear as he reveals that one of the five Ryoka who arrived in Soul Society yesterday wielded a sword as long as his body and had orange hair, visibly shocking Rukia. Back in the Shiba Clan household, Kūkaku, having been fully informed of the situation, smokes a pipe and expresses understanding before agreeing to take on the job, to Yoruichi's surprise. As she admits that she cannot refuse even if she wanted to because Kisuke Urahara is involved, Kūkaku gets to her feet and clarifies that she does not trust Ichigo and his friends even though she trusts Yoruichi.
When Kūkaku reveals that she wants to send her henchman with them to oversee the operation, Ichigo picks up on her mention of a henchman, leading Kūkaku to admit that he is actually her younger brother who is not very useful yet. Walking over to another set of sliding doors, Kūkaku inquires if her brother is ready, and as he expresses surprise and begins tidying up, Kūkaku requests that he behave himself, which he agrees to do, before opening the door to reveal Ganju, who bows his head and politely greets Ichigo and his friends, only to look up and see them all staring at him with astonishment and confusion as he and Ichigo stand up and begin screaming in shock.
As she watches this, a perplexed Kūkaku wonders if the two of them already know each other. Back in the Seireitei, Renji walks away from Senzaikyū and notes that he has not seen Rukia look so alive in days before concluding that he was right to not tell her that 3rd Division Captain Gin Ichimaru is the one who confronted the Ryoka, since this likely means Ichigo is dead. Suddenly, 5th Division Captain Sōsuke Aizen calls out to Renji from afar and comments that it has been a while since they last met before asking Renji if he has a moment to talk. Shortly afterward, in a storage room, Aizen observes that they have not talked since Renji joined the Eleventh Division.
With Aizen wondering how many years it has been since then and if he is part of the Sixth Division now, Renji inquires what Aizen wanted to talk to him about, prompting Aizen to walk past him and close the curtain in the doorway leading outside before asking Renji if he is close to Rukia. As Renji expresses shock, Aizen assures him that he can be honest because Aizen knows they were friends during their early years in the Rukongai, and when Renji affirms this, Aizen decides to get to the point and inquires if Renji believes Rukia should die. Renji admits that he does not understand what Aizen is talking about as the latter asserts that the circumstances of her execution are odd.
Pointing out how Rukia is only guilty of the unauthorized transfer of her Shinigami powers and staying in the Human World longer than permitted, Aizen concedes that these are heavy crimes but observes that they are being dealt with in a strange manner, with her Gigai being ordered for immediate return and disposal, her grace period being shortened from 35 to 25 days, and the use of the Sōkyoku on someone below captain-level power, all of which are outside the norm. When Aizen theorizes that this is all the will of one person, a stunned Renji demands to know what he means, leading Aizen to admit that he has a bad feeling while Gin listens from outside.
However, before Aizen can further explain, an alarm begins to sound off as an announcer instructs all captains to gather for an emergency meeting. Back in the Shiba Clan household, Ichigo and Ganju punch each other in the face simultaneously, and after reeling back from this, Ichigo grabs the back of Ganju's head and throws him forward, resulting in Ganju crashing through a set of sliding doors that shatter around him. As Ichigo confidently runs toward him, Ganju springs up and kicks Ichigo in the face, sending him rolling back past his friends, before running up and spreading his legs as he eagerly jams his foot into Ichigo's crotch, to the latter's immense pain.
Angered by this, Ichigo kicks Ganju across the room, sending him crashing through the sliding doors next to a shocked Koganehiko before an angered Ganju runs back inside to resume the fight. Watching calmly and smoking her pipe as Ichigo and Ganju continue to fight around her, Kūkaku has her pipe knocked out of her hand when Ganju slams one of the sliding doors into Ichigo, irritating her, and when she sees Ichigo inadvertently snap the pipe in two by running over it, an enraged Kūkaku unleashes a powerful Hadō spell that rips through the floor, sends Ichigo and Ganju flying, and explodes out of the top and the front door of the house right after the others evacuate.
With the house, the smokestack, and the arm-shaped pillars all tilting over as the energy dissipates, a stunned Uryū questions if Kūkaku really had to go this far in order to stop them, prompting an equally stunned Sado to note that this must be why she moves often as a speechless Orihime observes that it must be hard. Inside the ruined house, Kūkaku berates Ichigo and Ganju for fighting from the moment they laid eyes on each other and ruining her house, and as Ganju tries to protest this, Kūkaku strikes him repeatedly before asking Ichigo's shocked friends, who have just returned, if they have any complaints, leading them to deny this in unison.
Watching this from the ground nearby, an incapacitated Ichigo is astonished by the disposition of both brother and sister before expressing fright when Kūkaku turns to face him. Kūkaku walks over to Ichigo and picks him up by the back of his head before declaring that he can get out if he does not like the way she does things, and when Ichigo meekly apologizes, Kūkaku lets him go and acknowledges his understanding as she walks away, leaving Ichigo to collapse and crawl over to Ganju, where they concur that Kūkaku is scary. After telling everyone to stand up, which they do, Kūkaku orders Koganehiko to go outside and start the preparations with Shiroganehiko.
With Koganehiko affirming this, Kūkaku tells the others to be quiet and follow her. Shortly afterward, as the group walks through a well-lit corridor, Uryū wonders why there is light underground when he did not see any generators earlier, prompting Kūkaku to explain that she keeps Hotarukazura in the ceiling and on both sides of the wood paneling, but when Uryū inquires if this is some sort of plant found only in Soul Society, Kūkaku ignores him and merely announces that they have arrived, to his confusion. As Kūkaku orders Ganju to open the door in front of them, which he enthusiastically agrees to do, Uryū tries to get Kūkaku to answer his question.
Suddenly, Ichigo grabs Uryū's mouth and pulls him back before warning Uryū to not defy Kūkaku when he demands to know what this is about. With considerable effort, Ganju manages to pull open the door, revealing the base of the smokestack behind the house. As Ichigo and his friends marvel at the size of it, Kūkaku explains that she is going to use this to launch them into the Seireitei from the sky, and when Ichigo and Uryū express incredulity at this, Kūkaku introduces herself as the best fireworks technician in the Rukongai.
Next Episode Preview
Ganju Shiba introduces the Reishūkaku, a device that Kūkaku Shiba made which can penetrate the Shakonmaku surrounding the Seireitei, and explains that the latter is made of Sekkiseki, which breaks down Reiryoku completely, before Ichigo Kurosaki inquires if he can repeat that.
Characters in order of appearance
|The Man who Hates Shinigami||Assemble! The Gotei 13|