125. Insanity & Genius
126. The Last of a Void War
127. Beginning of the Death of Tomorrow
128. The Great Joint Struggle Union
129. Suspicion [for Assassination]
130. Suspicion2 [of Tears]
124. Crying Little People
125. Insanity & Genius
126. The Last of a Void War
127. BEGINNING OF THE DEATH OF TOMORROW
128. The Great Joint-Struggle Union
129. Suspicion (of Assassination)
130. Suspicion 2 (of Tears)
-17. Prelude for the Straying Stars</ref>
BEGINNING OF THE DEATH OF TOMORROW is the fifteenth volume of the Bleach manga series.
Standing before a wounded Uryū Ishida while his lieutenant, Nemu Kurotsuchi, watches in concern as she lies on the ground nearby, 12th Division Captain Mayuri Kurotsuchi wonders how Uryū can be standing despite having his arms and legs slashed by Mayuri's Shikai, Ashisogi Jizō, leading him to realize that Uryū is using Ransōtengai to move his limbs with countless Reishi strings like a puppet. With Uryū ripping off part of his Quincy uniform and tying it around his wounded arm to staunch the bleeding, Mayuri mentally details how Ransōtengai was created so old and frail Quincy could keep fighting Hollows because internal injuries hampering movement mean nothing when using the technique and it allows one to keep fighting until they literally turn to dust, making it the ultimate combat move of the Quincy. As he admits that he thought Ransōtengai was a lost art found only in history books due to none of the 2661 Quincy he studied being able to perform even part of the technique, Mayuri observes that Uryū has mastered it at such a young age and inquires if he is a genius.
In the past, a young Uryū stands near his father, Ryūken Ishida, in the latter's office, and as he looks through a book from his library, Ryūken reveals that he knows Uryū has been spending time with Sōken Ishida again. Upon being reminded by Ryūken that he has been told to not go there, Uryū begins to protest, but Ryūken asserts that Uryū also knows he does not like to hear excuses and declares that Uryū's time would be better spent learning to save the living because saving the dead is the job of the Shinigami. When Ryūken states that he is not interested in the Quincy and Uryū does not have the talent for being one, which means the latter should let them die out with Sōken's generation, Uryū sorrowfully questions why his father hates Quincy so much, only for Ryūken to coldly claim that there is no profit in them.
Some time later, Sōken kneels in front of a sobbing Uryū in a park and notes that Ryūken has a point because of how hard it is to make a living as a Quincy and him having a family to support, only to conclude that neither he nor Uryū are wrong to hold their respective stances. Bringing up how he can see the Hollows and the people whom they attack, as well as how the Shinigami cannot handle the situation by themselves, Uryū wonders how Ryūken can ignore them despite obviously being able to see them as well before declaring that he wants to become a powerful Quincy and protect everyone from Hollows so his father will think Quincy are worth something, leading a touched Sōken to thank him.
In the present, as Uryū forms his Heilig Bogen, Kojaku, a grinning Mayuri praises this development since it means Uryū will not bore him after all and pulls on the end of the cone covering his left ear to bring out a fleshy tendril while promising to take Uryū back alive so both he and Orihime Inoue can be his research subjects.
In the past, Sōken asks Uryū to try to understand Ryūken since what one thinks is right depends on what one wants to protect, and when Uryū sarcastically inquires if Ryūken wants to protect his money, Sōken merely puts his hand on Uryū's head and assures him that he will find out in time, which will lead Uryū to learn what he wants to protect as well. Sōken begins walking Uryū home and explains that he will be entrusting him with the Sanrei Glove for when this time comes because he will eventually face a battle he cannot avoid, one that is beyond his abilities and will require him to sacrifice himself, if he still wishes to walk the path of a Quincy after finding out what he wants to protect.
In the present, Uryū recalls Sōken instructing him to use the Sanrei Glove in such a situation and begins moving his left hand toward the Sanrei Glove as he apologizes to Sōken for not understanding Ryūken or even knowing what he wants to protect. However, Uryū mentally asserts that he at least knows what he will not allow and remembers Sōken detailing how he can reach the peak of his Quincy powers by training with the Sanrei Glove on for seven days and nights, but must never take it off once he puts it on because he will lose his Quincy powers if he does. Apologizing to Sōken for disobeying him one last time, Uryū grasps one of the protrusions on the wrist of the Sanrei Glove and breaks it off, causing the glove to burst apart in a surge of energy that erupts upward from Uryū's position. With a shocked Mayuri wondering what this is, the swirling energy clears to reveal Uryū standing with the Quincy: Letzt Stil active.
Uryū Ishida recalls Sōken Ishida's explanation of how the Sanrei Glove works - it has the power to diffuse Reishi at a high level, but holds so much power that most Quincy cannot even produce a Heilig Bogen with it, though one who can produce and maintain a Heilig Bogen with it for seven days and nights will reach the peak of their Quincy powers. However, Uryū also remembers Sōken warning him that he cannot take off the Sanrei Glove once he puts it on because his Reishi-collecting power will be beyond what a Quincy can control, like a strong flame that would harm him as well, and concluding that he would momentarily gain immense power before losing all his Quincy powers.
Having removed his Sanrei Glove and activated the Quincy: Letzt Stil, Uryū stands in a swirling cloud of energy with newly-formed armor over his chest and right leg, a massive flame of Reishi emanating from a jet on his right shoulder, and a new, more mechanical form of his Heilig Bogen, Kojaku. Stunned by Uryū's increased Reiatsu, 12th Division Captain Mayuri Kurotsuchi watches in astonishment as several structures around them begin to disintegrate into Reishi and flow into the Reishi flame on Uryū's back, leading him to realize Uryū is absorbing the buildings, which are made of Reishi, by forcibly breaking the bonds between them and making the Reishi part of his own power. As he concludes that Uryū is bending Reishi to his will, a sweating Mayuri claims that he is exceeding his Human limits.
Suddenly, Uryū holds up his left hand, and upon seeing Reishi redirect from the flame on his back to his palm in several angled lines to create a solid Heilig Pfeil, a shocked Mayuri leaps back, only to find that it is too fast to be dodged when Uryū nocks it in Kojaku and fires it at him. Though Mayuri manages to evade it by leaning back, causing the Heilig Pfeil to hurtle past his head, he discovers Uryū in the air above him as the latter fires another Heilig Pfeil straight down at him, resulting in a large explosion on impact. Landing on the ground near Mayuri, Uryū instructs him to beg for mercy and never appear in front of him again if Mayuri wants to live before promising to fire a Heilig Pfeil that is three times stronger than the last one he fired if Mayuri refuses.
However, with the smoke clearing to reveal he has lost his left arm and cannot see out of his left eye, Mayuri angrily berates Uryū for getting cocky and picks up his Shikai, Ashisogi Jizō, while deciding to return the favor. Mayuri activates his Bankai, Konjiki Ashisogi Jizō, and as Uryū stares in shock, Mayuri's Zanpakutō generates a massive caterpillar-like creature with a baby's head and arms as well as a large halo floating above it that lands on the buildings behind him. As he declares that Uryū's doom is sealed now, Mayuri details how Konjiki Ashisogi Jizō sprays lethal poison made from his blood for a 100-mile radius, and after clarifying that it will not harm him, Mayuri informs Uryū that he will die and claims he would never make a good research subject as Konjiki Ashisogi Jizō sprouts a flurry of blades from its underside. Hearing this, Uryū merely promises to shoot to shoot Mayuri before he can spray the fatal dose while forming another Heilig Pfeil in his hand, prompting Mayuri to invite him to try before sending Konjiki Ashisogi Jizō charging toward Uryū, who draws the Heilig Pfeil back in Kojaku and fires it, resulting in an enormous explosion of energy.
12th Division Lieutenant Nemu Kurotsuchi stares in astonishment as the smoke in front of her clears to reveal her captain, Mayuri Kurotsuchi, standing with a large hole in his abdomen dripping blood on the ground and his hat gone as he pants in exertion. In front of him, Mayuri's Bankai, Konjiki Ashisogi Jizō, having been split in two down the middle, crashes to the ground in front of Uryū Ishida, who stands with both arms bleeding profusely as he sweats. Cursing Uryū, Mayuri raises his shattered Zanpakutō and stabs it through his neck, causing his body to begin bursting apart into liquid. Shocked by this, Uryū wonders if his Zanpakutō has the ability to liquefy anything it cuts, and as Mayuri admits he was close, Uryū realizes he saved this move for his escape and angrily moves to attack him, only for Mayuri to explain that this would be futile because he cannot attack or be attacked in this state. After detailing how he will remain this way for a few days before returning to the Shinigami Research and Development Institute to recover, Mayuri bids Uryū farewell as a tougher opponent than he expected and concludes that the ending of him living and Uryū dying has not changed as the liquid drips out of sight.
Upon coughing up blood as his skin begins discoloring, Uryū observes that the poison from Konjiki Ashisogi Jizō is entering his system and he needs to do something fast. Suddenly, Nemu calls out to Uryū and reveals that he can find an antidote for the poison underneath the lieutenant's badge on her left arm. After retrieving the antidote and helping Nemu sit up, Uryū inquires if she would be more comfortable lying down. When Nemu states that she is fine like this, Uryū asserts that she should lie down, but Nemu promises him that she will be alright because the poison will not harm her due to her blood being the same as Mayuri's. With Uryū hesitating to drink the antidote, Nemu questions if he believes it is a trick and offers to drink some of it first to show him otherwise, only for Uryū to decide that it would be illogical for her to attempt to poison him when he is already poison and drink the antidote.
Nemu thanks Uryū for not killing Mayuri by aiming for his gut rather than his head, and though Uryū claims that it was a fluke and that he shot to kill, Nemu still thanks him and notes that giving him the antidote was the least she could do. As he continues to drink, Uryū inquires why Nemu would want to protect such a father, leading Nemu to admit that she is not sure and explain that she somehow found herself relieved when she discovered that Mayuri had survived. Instructing Uryū to leave after he finishes drinking, Nemu informs him that the other Shinigami will come soon after seeing Konjiki Ashisogi Jizō and promises him that she will be alright because they will tend to her. After setting down the empty antidote flask, Uryū thanks Nemu and bids her farewell before leaving.
Soon afterward, Uryū limps along the ground near the entrance to the Senzaikyū compound and steadies himself against the nearby rocky wall as he mentally observes that his Ransōtengai must be wearing off because he can barely move his limbs. As he concludes that his time as a Quincy is at an end, Uryū wonders if Orihime Inoue is alright and decides that she should have the upper hand due to her Reiatsu being much stronger than Makizō Aramaki's. Reaching the base of the stairs leading up to the compound, Uryū begins climbing up and mentally asserts that the other Ryoka should be on their way here or will be eventually, meaning that he just has to wait. Uryū decides that he should save Rukia Kuchiki due to getting here first and smiles as he thinks of how mad Ichigo Kurosaki will be if Uryū beats him to it.
However, upon reaching the top of the stairs and entering the compound, Uryū find himself confronted by 9th Division Captain Kaname Tōsen, who apologizes and states that they must keep the peace before releasing his Shikai, Suzumushi, releasing a high-pitched tone over the surrounding area that knocks Uryū out, causing him to collapse. Shedding a single tear, Tōsen asks Uryū to forgive him and declares that the pointless battles are at an end as he instructs Uryū to sleep because his struggles will be over soon.
Standing over a bleeding Ichigo Kurosaki, Yoruichi Shihōin instructs him to get up because there is no time to lose, and as Ichigo struggles to stand up, Zangetsu promises to drag him to his feet if he does not get up on his own as he stands before Ichigo with a variant of his Shikai, Zangetsu, that has spines arcing off the blade.
Twenty-eight minutes earlier, Yoruichi shows Ichigo the Tenshintai. Upon being asked by a confused Ichigo what it is, Yoruichi explains that the Tenshintai is a vital spiritual tool of the Onmitsukidō that can forcibly transfer and externalize a Zanpakutō Spirit. With Ichigo perplexed at the idea of needing this to achieve Bankai, Yoruichi confirms this and elaborates that while the essence of Shikai is communicating and synchronizing with one's Zanpakutō Spirit, Bankai requires externalizing it and forcing it into submission, which means that one must summon their Zanpakutō Spirit to the real world instead of entering their inner world to communicate with it, a move which usually takes ten years of training to perform. However, Yoruichi asserts that she believes Ichigo is ready to externalize Zangetsu after fighting 11th Division Captain Kenpachi Zaraki, leading Ichigo to remember Zangetsu appearing before him during that battle. After observing that Ichigo knows what she is referring to, Yoruichi details how Ichigo piercing the Tenshintai with his Shikai, Zangetsu, will force this to happen and how she will use her power to maintain it, but concludes that it can only be done once and lasts for three days, meaning that Ichigo must somehow force Zangetsu to submit in this time.
Ichigo interrupts Yoruichi by stabbing Zangetsu into the Tenshintai and declares that he will not ask her what happens if he fails because he will simply have to do this if it is the only way. As the Tenshintai shatters and Zangetsu disappears, Zangetsu appears next to a surprised Ichigo and notes that he seems to have recovered. Confirming with Zangetsu that he heard the explanation, Yoruichi gives him permission to choose the method of battle and requests that he start immediately, prompting Zangetsu to kneel and place his hand on the ground before manifesting dozens of Zangetsu-like swords in the surrounding area. With Ichigo staring in astonishment, Zangetsu clarifies that only one of these real swords represents the real him and is the only one which can defeat him, meaning Ichigo must find it and use it to defeat Zangetsu before the latter kills him.
In the present, Ichigo leaps back as Zangetsu does the same in the opposite direction, and after grabbing separate swords, the two of them clash fiercely while Yoruichi watches.
Meanwhile, 6th Division Lieutenant Renji Abarai incapacitates the guard outside his cell and destroys several of the bars before stepping through as he tells Zabimaru that they are going. Elsewhere, in her cell, 5th Division Lieutenant Momo Hinamori places the letter from her captain, Sōsuke Aizen, in her shihakushō and looks up with determination. In another cell, a disheveled and bloodied 3rd Division Lieutenant Izuru Kira sits with his arms restrained in his damaged and scratched-up cell as he agonizes over having drawn his sword against Hinamori. Berating himself as the absolute worst, Izuru hears rustling and demands to know who is there, only to be stunned when his captain, Gin Ichimaru, approaches and expresses sympathy over how tired he looks before grasping one of his cell's bars and offering to take Izuru with him.
As he stands before 4th Division Captain Retsu Unohana alongside his fellow 13th Division 3rd Seat, Kiyone Kotetsu, Sentarō Kotsubaki loudly relays the request of his captain, Jūshirō Ukitake, for her to show leniency toward 4th Division 7th Seat Hanatarō Yamada as his arresting officer due to how he was coerced physically and mentally in following the orders of the Ryoka while in their custody. However, though she acknowledges this, Unohana observes that the Ryoka whom Hanatarō assisted caused serious damage and his complicity in this cannot be overlooked given his position before inquiring if Hanatarō understands as the latter stands before her.
Meanwhile, in the Fourth Division's Sōgō Kyūgo Tsumesho, a handcuffed Uryū Ishida wakes up on a cot in the 75th underground relief cell and wonders where he is while realizing that he is still alive. Suddenly, a heavily bandaged Ganju Shiba looks over the side of the cot above Uryū's and greets him, only for Uryū to scream in confusion upon seeing Ganju's completely bandaged face. With a shocked Uryū demanding to know if he is a burglar, Ganju leaps down from his cot and questions what he would steal from an invalid in a jail cell as he lifts his bandages to expose his eyes and mouth so Uryū knows who he is. Relieved to learn that it is Ganju, Uryū admits that he was worried about the former because he did not seem very strong, prompting an annoyed Ganju to claim that he felt the same way about Uryū.
When Uryū asks Ganju why the Shinigami would treat their injuries when the Ryoka are intruders and their enemies, Yasutora Sado reveals that there has been a new development, and as Uryū looks over to see him sitting nearby, Sado details how he heard the guards discussing the murder of one of the Gotei 13 captains inside the Seireitei, which leaves them as prime suspects for being Ryoka. As Uryū concludes that they are being kept alive for questioning, Ganju affirms this and notes that he could get them out of here with Seppa were it not for his handcuffs being made of Reiryoku-sealing Sekkiseki. Uryū looks down at his handcuffs and mentally observes that even without his handcuffs, he would not have access to his powers anymore. Despite this, Ganju points out that their friends are probably still alive if the enemy does not want them dead, prompting Sado to state that Orihime Inoue has probably been captured as well due to her lack of combat skills if they are in here, which leaves Ichigo Kurosaki and Yoruichi Shihōin. Asserting that he is going to wait for Ichigo because the latter will definitely come here, Sado tells Ganju and Uryū that all they can do until then is recover from their injuries and prepare for the next fight.
Within the Study Chamber inside Sōkyoku Hill, the last sword Ichigo picked up during his training to achieve Bankai is shattered by the sword Zangetsu is wielding, sending Ichigo skidding back with a broken hilt in his hand. Cursing this, Ichigo throws the hilt away as Zangetsu notes that this is the eighteenth sword Ichigo has gone through and chases after Ichigo when the latter leaps away. Upon seeing a sword identical to his Shikai, Zangetsu, embedded in the ground nearby, Ichigo moves to it and pulls it out while claiming that only the real Zangetsu would be shaped like this. However, Zangetsu shatters it with his bare hand when Ichigo swings it at him, and as Ichigo stares in stunned silence, Zangetsu proclaims that this was feeble before slashing Ichigo across the chest with his own sword. Zangetsu reminds Ichigo that all of the blades embedded in the ground here are pieces of his spirit, with this being a test to find the piece made for fighting, and that the sword he just broke was a piece of Ichigo's fragile spirit trying to rely on Zangetsu, leading him to assert that Ichigo should not even speak of Bankai until he can tell the difference. With Zangetsu ordering him to try again because he does not have time to be resting on his knees, Ichigo picks up another sword and declares that he knows this as Yoruichi watches from afar.
Elsewhere, in the Eleventh Division barracks, Makizō Aramaki proclaims his happiness at being unexpectedly picked up by Lieutenant Yachiru Kusajishi, who sits against the wall nearby as she explains how Orihime's Reiatsu was similar to Ichigo's due to them both being Ryoka and how she simply found Aramaki nearby when she went to investigate. With Yachiru struggling to remember his name, Aramaki introduces himself as Maki-Maki and comments on how it has already been ten years since he joined the division, only to be shocked when Yachiru calls this a silly name because she gave it to him herself. While Orihime sits on a chair nearby, 11th Division 3rd Seat Ikkaku Madarame lounges on a couch against the far wall and inquires if she thinks Ichigo is still alive while 5th Seat Yumichika Ayasegawa chews his thumbnail over Orihime's beauty, though Orihime admits that she is not sure. Telling Ikkaku to not ask stupid questions, his heavily bandaged captain, Kenpachi Zaraki, claims that he knows Ichigo is alive and trying to get even stronger, which sounds like fun to him, and sits in front of Orihime as he promises to help her because he has a feeling that he will see Ichigo again if he sticks with her.
In the past, a young, bruised, and barely conscious Rangiku Matsumoto is approached by a young Gin Ichimaru as she lies on the ground. Offering Rangiku one of the dried persimmons that he is carrying, Gin observes that her passing out from hunger must mean she has Reiryoku as well, and when Rangiku picks up on his phrasing, Gin reveals that he has Reiryoku as well and introduces himself, prompting Rangiku to comment on how strange his first name is.
In the present, Rangiku wakes up on a couch in the office of her captain, Tōshirō Hitsugaya, who asks her if she is awake as he sits behind his desk nearby. Upon being asked by Rangiku what he is doing in her room, an irritated Hitsugaya points out that this is the office and not her room before instructing her to take over for him if she is awake. Walking over to Hitsugaya's desk, Rangiku points out that it is his fault for taking on the Fifth Division's work, but is surprised when Hitsugaya hands her only a few sheets of paper and tells her to go to her own desk with them. Rangiku questions if this is really all that is left since there were multiple stacks of paper when she last checked and notes that she must have slept for a long time while Hitsugaya brushes this off and begins to drink from his cup. As he notices Rangiku's tone, Hitsugaya tells her she does not have to do the paperwork because it must have been hard to see her classmate Gin and 5th Division Lieutenant Momo Hinamori like that. After repeating Hitsugaya's description of Gin as her classmate, Rangiku inquires if he really believes Gin killed Hinamori's captain, Sōsuke Aizen. Suddenly, 10th Division 7th Seat Kōkichirō Takezoe announces his presence from outside the door to the office, and after Hitsugaya confirms that he and Rangiku are present and orders him to come in, a kneeling Kōkichirō slides open the door and apologizes for interrupting before revealing the prison guards have reported that 6th Division Lieutenant Renji Abarai, 3rd Division Lieutenant Izuru Kira, and Hinamori are missing from their cells.
Meanwhile, within the Study Chamber inside Sōkyoku Hill, half of a broken Zangetsu-like sword embeds itself in the ground as a wounded Ichigo Kurosaki skids to a halt with the remainder of the sword in hand while his blood spatters on the rock behind him. Watching from above, Yoruichi Shihōin observes that he is still holding his stance even after his sword is broken, and as Zangetsu notes that this is makes fifty-one broken swords, Ichigo tosses away the broken sword and pulls a serrated one out of the ground next to him before rushing toward Zangetsu, who swings his hooked sword horizontally at Ichigo. Though he initially blocks perpendicularly with his own sword, Ichigo tilts his blade toward himself and ducks to allow Zangetsu's sword to swing over him, and with a surprised Zangetsu completing his swing, Ichigo stabs his own sword at him, only for Zangetsu to leap high into the air before the strike reaches him, leaving Ichigo to shatter the rock behind where he was standing.
With Ichigo looking up in shock, Zangetsu throws his own sword directly downward, shattering Ichigo's sword on impact and sending a large chunk of the blade flying away. Zangetsu appears in front of a stunned Ichigo and backhands him into a rock several meters away as he admonishes Ichigo for taking his eyes off the enemy and notes that this makes fifty-two broken swords. While a smiling Ichigo admits that he thought he finally had Zangetsu, Yoruichi mentally details how Ichigo deflected Zangetsu's initial attack at the point of contact by matching the speed of his own sword with that of his opponent before instantly going on the offensive. Observing that Ichigo has come a long way from relying solely on Zangetsu's strength and is now learning at a frightening pace and level, Yoruichi mentally tells Kisuke Urahara that he was right about Ichigo.
Simultaneously, outside the jail cell where Hinamori was being kept, the guard that was on duty bows before Hitsugaya and Rangiku as he recounts how everything went white for him after he turned around in response to Hinamori calling for him, with her being gone when he woke up. As the guard declares that this was simply inexcusable, Hitsugaya notes that Hinamori must have used Hakufuku and explains to the confused guard how Hinamori is a master of Kidō whose powers they should have sealed if they were serious about imprisoning her, though they did not do so because no one thought she would go this far. Standing next to the giant hole in the cell bars and wall behind them, Rangiku questions why Hinamori would do this when she was not facing execution, but Hitsugaya asserts that there is only one reason and orders Rangiku to go back without him as he grips the handle of his Zanpakutō and proclaims that he is going to rescue Hinamori.
Elsewhere, Hinamori runs along a walkway with Aizen's letter in her hand and mentally admits that she could not believe her eyes when she read it, to the point of not believing the letter itself for a time, but concludes that it is true after all as she states that "he" killed Aizen.
Within the Study Chamber inside Sōkyoku Hill, Ichigo Kurosaki wields a scimitar-like sword clashes fiercely and repeatedly with Zangetsu, who wields a jagged sword, and as Yoruichi Shihōin watches from above, Ichigo and Zangetsu are sent flying apart by the force of their clash, prompting Yoruichi to observe that Ichigo has been fighting for more than five minutes with the same sword without it breaking, though she begins sweating and notes that it could be near its limit while the loop of cord in her hand glows with Reiryoku. With Ichigo declaring that he is not done yet and rushing toward him, Zangetsu moves to attack, only to disappear and send his sword flying as the Tenshintai he was inhabiting returns to its normal state, leaving Ichigo speechless in confusion. Landing behind Ichigo, Yoruichi tells him drop his sword because the first day is over as she undoes her ponytail.
Shortly afterward, a naked Ichigo relaxes in a hot spring behind a rock in the training area and admits that he had no idea it was here while realizing that he has never been in one before. After observing that it must be nighttime if the first day of training is over, Ichigo states that he can feel his joints creaking and that his sense of time is messed up down here as he splashes water on his face. Suddenly, Ichigo finds the scratch on his face rapidly healing upon coming in contact with the water, leading him to express awe and excitement at his discovery of how the hot spring actually heals his wounds rather than simply removing the pain. As Ichigo slurps some of the water into his mouth in an attempt to heal the cut inside, Yoruichi approaches from behind and inquires how the water is, though Ichigo can only wave and mumble his praise due to his mouth being full. Acknowledging this, Yoruichi decides to have a soak as well and begins removing her pants, prompting Ichigo to spit out the water in his mouth in shock.
With Ichigo spluttering over this and questioning why she is taking her pants off first, Yoruichi chuckles and reveals that she knew he would react like this, to his irritation. After transforming back into a cat, Yoruichi enters the hot spring and notes that this form should not upset Ichigo before teasingly wondering if he is disappointed by this as an annoyed Ichigo claims he is going to drown her. Ichigo looks around the area and brings up how similar it looks to the Study Chamber underneath the Urahara Shop in the Human World, prompting Yoruichi to affirm this and reveal that Study Room was modeled on this place. While Ichigo expresses his surprise at this, Yoruichi elaborates that this was originally her and Kisuke Urahara's secret playground which they built deep underneath the Sōkyoku. Though Ichigo is incredulous at the idea of secret constructing such an area, Yoruichi merely asserts that Urahara always had a talent for mischief before recalling how they played here every day as children and proceeded to train here together after he joined the Gotei 13 and she joined the Onmitsukidō.
Astonished by this, Ichigo demands to know if this means Urahara was a Shinigami and realizes that this lines up with how much he knows about Soul Society, him having a Zanpakutō, and some of the people Ichigo has met reacting strangely to the mention of his name. With Ichigo questioning what exactly he is, Yoruichi sighs and notes that she should have known Urahara would not tell him everything before deciding that there is no reason to keep it from Ichigo now that they have come this far as she informs Ichigo that Urahara was the former captain of the Twelfth Division, as well as the founder and first President of the Shinigami Research and Development Institute.
Elsewhere, 3rd Division Captain Gin Ichimaru strolls along a walkway in the Third Division compound with his lieutenant, Izuru Kira, following him. Suddenly, 10th Division Captain Tōshirō Hitsugaya appears before them on a platform connected to the walkway and states that he knew he would find them here because only Izuru's cell was opened from the outside as he admonishes Gin for not covering his tracks very well. However, Gin asserts that he did this on purpose so Hitsugaya would know, and as he admits that he is glad to have gotten here before 5th Division Lieutenant Momo Hinamori did, Hitsugaya grips the handle of his Zanpakutō and declares that he is going to kill Gin before she arrives, only to be interrupted when Hinamori lands on the platform between the two of them.
While Hitsugaya is surprised by her arrival, Hinamori states that she has finally found him and notes that this is where he was as she stands up and begins drawing her Zanpakutō. Warning Hinamori to stay back while he deals with Gin because he is too strong, Hitsugaya is stunned to find Hinamori leveling her Zanpakutō next to his neck as she declares that this is for her captain, Sōsuke Aizen, while Gin smiles behind her.
In the past, Momo Hinamori bids a young Tōshirō Hitsugaya farewell by his nickname, to his irritation, and promises that she will refer to him by his real name when he is old enough to go to the same school as her while running off in her Shin'ō Academy uniform with her bag in hand, prompting Hitsugaya to defiantly claim that he will never go there as his grandmother stands with him. As she approaches the gate, Hinamori assures Hitsugaya that she will visit him during her vacations even though she will be living in the dorms at school, only for him to assert that she should not bother.
Elsewhere, a young Izuru Kira finishing praying in front of his parents' gravestone and states that he should get going. Suddenly, Izuru is startled when a Renji Abarai falls out of the nearby tree directly onto the gravestone, and as Renji groans in pain before a stammering Izuru, Rukia Kuchiki pops up out of a nearby pile of leaves and admonishes Renji for not heeding her advice of never sleeping in the top of tree, prompting Izuru to demand to know who the two of them are.
Some time later, Gengorō Ōnabara welcomes the new class of students to the Shin'o Academy and describes how the school has a proud 2000-year history of training members of the Kidō Corps, Onmitsukidō, and Gotei 13, a tradition which he hopes the students will honor. Standing at the head of the classroom while Izuru, Renji, and others sit before him, Gengorō details how this class contains students with the highest exam scores, making them the elite, and expresses his hope that they will strive to someday lead the divisions they join rather than simply settle for being here. As Gengorō continues his speech, a late Hinamori stands outside and nervously notes that he will not want to hear any excuses.
Two months later, as she walks down a corridor among her fellow students, Rukia is suddenly kicked in the behind by Renji and demands to know what that was for, prompting Renji to question why she is standing out here doing nothing despite how long they have been here. Turning the question back on Renji, Rukia realizes that he, Izuru, and several other students are standing with bags slung over their shoulders and wonders if there is a training exercise today, which Renji confirms by revealing that they are traveling to the Human World in order to perform Konsō. Shocked by this, Rukia declares that it is not fair for only his class to do this, but Renji counters this by reminding her that they are the elite and claims that they will be way ahead of her when they get back before bidding her farewell as he and Izuru walk away, leaving Rukia to attempt to refute this, only to stop and stare somberly after him.
Later, on a rooftop, 6th Year Shūhei Hisagi stands alongside Aoga and Hotaru Kanisawa in front of a closed Senkaimon and addresses the students by introducing the three of them, causing the crowd to begin murmuring in shock. With Hisagi demanding that they be quiet or risk getting left behind, Renji asks Izuru if they are famous, leading Izuru to expresses surprise at him not knowing and clarifies that Hisagi is the famous one because he is the first Shin'o Academy student to be accepted into the Gotei 13 before graduating and is likely to become a seated officer before long, though Izuru notes that Hisagi failed the entrance exam twice while he passed with the highest score, meaning he may have more talent than Hisagi does, to Renji's bemusement.
Kanisawa tells the class that they will be in groups of three assigned by the slips of paper they drew earlier and instructs them to find and partner up with their fellow students who have slips with the same symbol as theirs do. Seeing that his and Izuru's slips both have the same skull design, Renji states that he knew this is what they were for and questions who the third member of their group is, only to be approached by Hinamori, who reveals that she is with them. Acknowledging this, Renji kicks a blushing Izuru in the behind and tells him to not screw things up with a confused Hinamori. After confirming that each team has a Jigokuchō, Hisagi orders them to proceed through the Senkaimon.
At night in the Human World, Hisagi oversees a student performing Konsō on a Plus and admonishes him for pressing the hilt of his Zanpakutō too hard against the Plus's forehead because it leaves him in pain during the process. As the Plus shrieks in pain, Renji stands with his Zanpakutō over his shoulder and observes that Konsō was a lot easier than he expected, which Izuru nervously affirms as he repeatedly unsheathes and resheathes his Zanpakutō behind Renji. Irritated by this, Renji punches Izuru in the arm, prompting Hinamori to tell them to stop it. Looking through a record book, Hisagi notes that this was the last of them and that thirty students each performing Konsō twice is not bad for their first time out before commanding them to gather around because they have finished today's practice.
Suddenly, Kanisawa calls out to Hisagi as she is skewered and killed by a massive Hollow's two pincers, causing the students to begin screaming in fright and leading a stunned Izuru to wonder what it is while it towers over them. With Hisagi identifying it as a Huge Hollow, the Hollow tosses Kanisawa's lifeless body away, and as Aoga angrily rushes forward to avenge Kanisawa's death, Hisagi warns him to wait, only for Aoga to be cut down as well by the Hollow. Cursing, Hisagi instructs the students to run as far away as they can and wonders how the Hollow could have gotten so close without him sensing it while the students flee in terror. As he presses the communicator around his neck and contacts Soul Society for assistance at their location, Hisagi finds himself confronted by a large six-armed Hollow with several long, curving blades on each hand that proceeds to attack him, drawing a large amount of blood in the process.
Upon noticing this, Hinamori stops and looks back at Hisagi while the two Hollows move in on him, prompting Izuru to frantically ask her what she is doing. When Hinamori questions why they are running, Izuru asserts that they are doing so because Hisagi told them to and that the group leader's orders are absolute as Renji points out how they have no chance against Hollows who killed sixth year students so easily, only for a sweating Hinamori to draw her Zanpakutō and rush back toward Hisagi anyway, to Izuru and Renji's chagrin. Kneeling with blood dripping from the three scratches over his right eye, Hisagi mentally notes that the Hollows can cloak their Reiatsu, which is why he did not sense them, and declares that he is not beaten yet as the multi-armed Hollow attacks him once more. However, Hisagi is shocked to find Renji, Hinamori, and Izuru intercepting the Hollow's bladed hands in front of him, and while Renji and Izuru request that he forgive them for disobeying orders since they did so in order to save him, Hinamori recites the incantation for and fires Hadō #31. Shakkahō at the multi-armed Hollow, which Izuru assumes killed it as it explodes on impact, only for Hisagi to deny this as the smoke clears to reveal the Hollow only lightly damaged while several more large Hollows appear behind it.
Seeing this alongside his terrified comrades, Izuru screams in fear over not wanting to die like this. Suddenly, 5th Division Lieutenant Gin Ichimaru's Shikai, Shinsō, extends past the four students and pierces the skull of the Huge Hollow through the roof of its mouth, causing it to fall backward off the roof and disintegrate. While Gin comments on the state of the students, his captain, Sōsuke Aizen, apologizes for being late and states that he and Gin are here to rescue them, leading a shocked Hisagi to identify the two of them. As he pats Hinamori's head, Aizen praises her and the others for doing so well and promises them that everything is under control now, meaning that they can rest, while he and Gin approach the remaining Hollows to dispatch them.
Later that night, as she stands with Izuru and Renji, Hinamori observes that Aizen and Gin were amazing, and when Izuru points out that they are captain-level, Hinamori acknowledges this, but asserts that they were still amazing before inquiring if he thinks that they can ever be like Aizen and Gin. Though Renji dismisses this because he considers captains and lieutenants to be beasts, Izuru claims that he will be like them, prompting Hinamori to echo this as Renji remains silent. With a bandaged Hisagi ordering them to come through the open Senkaimon before they are left behind, Renji, Hinamori, and Izuru depart.
I judge any new anime by its opening sequence. The one for Bleach was better than I expected. I was so happy, I burned a DVD of it so I can watch it over and over. Actually, I watch it every night before I go to bed. For those of you out there who love Bleach and think you're its biggest fan - sorry, but that's probably me!!! -Tite Kubo