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CONQUISTADORES is the twenty-second volume of the Bleach manga series.

Publisher's summary

The noose is tightening around Ichigo Kurosaki. His inner Hollow can't wait to consume him, the sinister transfer student has him tapped for a mysterious job, and now powerful new enemies have landed in his home town to destroy him.

Bleach All Stars

All-Stars
ウルキオラ・シファー
Ulquiorra Cifer
Ep268YammyCharaPic.png 平子 真子
Shinji Hirako
Ep267UlquiorraCharaPic.png ヤミー・リヤルゴ
Yammy Llargo
Ep278ShinjiCharaPic.png

Ep158SadoCharaPic.png 井上 織姫
Orihime Inoue
Ep216IchigoCharaPic2.png
茶渡 泰虎
Yasutora Sado
Ep215OrihimeCharaPic.png 黒崎 一護
Ichigo Kurosaki



Chapters

188. CRUSH THE WORLD DOWN

Isshin Kurosaki discusses the appearance of the Visored and the empowered state of the Arrancar with Kisuke Urahara.

Summary:

The cover page of 188. CRUSH THE WORLD DOWN.

Having been cut in half vertically by Isshin Kurosaki's Agitowari, a shocked Grand Fisher embeds his Zanpakutō in the ground and expresses disbelief at having lost before his body begins crumbling and dispersing into the air, leaving Kon to look on in astonishment while inhabiting Ichigo Kurosaki's body and wonder how it is possible for Isshin to be strong enough to win in a single strike despite his goofy nature. Suddenly, Kisuke Urahara approaches them and inquires if this was revenge, prompting Isshin to greet him as Urahara notes that it has been a long time since they last met and observes that Isshin's skill having not degraded is good. When Isshin questions why he is being so unusually civil, Urahara claims that he would not want Isshin to blame him for Isshin's Reiatsu being reduced, only for Isshin to counter that he would not blame even if this were the case because it is Isshin's power. With Urahara inquiring about how it feels to be a Shinigami again after twenty years, Isshin flatly states that it is alright, and upon being asked by Urahara if he feels better, Isshin admits that he was never bitter at Grand Fisher since he was simply acting on Hollow instincts and that the only thing he has regretted over the past twenty years is his inability to save Masaki Kurosaki on the night of her death.

In response, a smiling Urahara asserts that Isshin has not changed at all and that Ichigo is just like him, to Isshin's chagrin, before wondering if Isshin has noticed recent developments, which leads Isshin to confirm that the Visored have made contact with Ichigo just as Urahara predicted. Isshin describes the Visored as a lawless gang of former Shinigami who tried to acquire Hollow powers through forbidden methods and who could potentially cause trouble due to their whereabouts and ideology remaining unknown, prompting him and Urahara to note that them contacting Ichigo means the Visored are preparing for something just like they are. After a moment's silence, Isshin assumes that the Visored has probably noticed the sudden change in Arrancar as well, with Urahara picking up on Grand Fisher having been a Visored, and Isshin explains that Grand Fisher's level of development was far beyond any Arrancar he had ever seen before due to him possessing notable power after the Arrancar have been stuck at the same level for decades, which leads him to conclude that Sōsuke Aizen is behind their sudden progress.

Theorizing that Aizen made a deal with the prospective Arrancar to help them achieve their goal by using the Hōgyoku, Isshin muses that the Arrancar are still imperfect despite their heightened level of power, evidenced by their fuzzy Reiatsu, and that Grand Fisher was likely a prototype sent out to discover what level the current Arrancar can fight at. Isshin concludes that, though the Arrancar are manageable for now, the immeasurable power of the Hōgyoku means that Aizen will soon complete his work and try to crush the world with fully-developed Arrancar and an army of Menos Grande. When asked by Isshin if he has any ideas, Urahara promises to think of something since the current situation will be leading them, the Visored, and even Soul Society to mobilize for war. Simultaneously, in the Seireitei, 6th Division Captain Byakuya Kuchiki, 4th Division Captain Retsu Unohana, 12th Division Captain Mayuri Kurotsuchi, 7th Division Captain Sajin Komamura, 8th Division Captain Shunsui Kyōraku, 2nd Division Captain Suì-Fēng, 13th Division Captain Jūshirō Ukitake, 11th Division Captain Kenpachi Zaraki, and 10th Division Captain Tōshirō Hitsugaya are summoned, with the latter two grumbling about how annoying it is and vowing to be there soon respectively, and eventually gather in the First Division barracks before Captain-Commander Genryūsai Shigekuni Yamamoto, who stands beside his lieutenant, Chōjirō Sasakibe, and thanks them for gathering on such short notice as he commences the captains meeting.

Characters in order of appearance:

Episodes adapted from this chapter:


189. RESOLVE

Ichigo Kurosaki and Uryū Ishida ponder the offers they have received to respectively control and regain their powers.

Summary:

The cover page of 189. RESOLVE.

At Karakura High School, Ichigo Kurosaki sits in his classroom while his fellow students chat around him and ruminates on his confrontation with Shinji Hirako the previous night, where the latter called himself a Visored and invited Ichigo to join his group since he is just like them and does not belong with the Shinigami. Nearby, Uryū Ishida ponders Ryūken Ishida's promise to restore his lost Quincy powers on the condition that he swear to never involve himself with the Shinigami again. Soon afterward, Orihime Inoue and Shinji walk into the classroom and cheerfully greet Ichigo, who is stunned by Shinji showing up as though nothing happened last night. When Orihime greets him by name, Shinji is overjoyed that she remembered his name and hugs Orihime, leading a shocked Keigo Asano to protest him acting as though he knows Orihime better than Keigo does despite the latter having been friends with her for years. With Mizuiro Kojima lamenting this rocky start to their relationship and Keigo claiming that Shinji should let go of Orihime because the latter clearly does not like it, Shinji points out that Orihime is not struggling to free herself from him and asserts that she obviously does not mind, which prompts Keigo to tearfully declare that his ego is preventing him from understanding how out of line he is.

Suddenly, a furious Chizuru Honshō agrees with Keigo and vows to handle it from here, leaving Keigo frightened, as she insists that Orihime is too kind to tell Shinji how she really feels and proclaims that anyone who would take advantage of her kindness does not deserve to live, though Keigo nervously brings up how this logic means that Chizuru should be the first to die. However, before Chizuru can begin her lethal assault on Shinji, Ichigo stands up, grabs a confused Shinji by the collar, and drags him to the hallway outside, leaving an unnerved Chizuru and Keigo to question when Ichigo became so protective while Orihime silently watches this and turns to Yasutora Sado, who meets her gazes and nods as Uryū looks away. Outside, Shinji is slammed into a railing by Ichigo and chastises the latter for getting so mad about this when Orihime is not even his girlfriend and is out of his league, only for Ichigo to demand that he apologize to Orihime or face much harsher consequences. An unfazed Shinji states that Ichigo is in no position to tell him what to do, and when Ichigo inquires about why he is here, Shinji reminds Ichigo that he is a student and must continue going to school.

With Ichigo claiming that Shinji has no reason to be here anymore since he only enrolled to convince Ichigo to join the Visored, an unimpressed Shinji realizes that Ichigo believes he has given up and asserts that he will not be stopping until Ichigo is begging to join them. Elaborating that Ichigo does not have a choice since a Visored cannot go back once their symptoms appear and stating that this means Ichigo is already on their side whether he likes it or not, Shinji brings up Ichigo considering Orihime, Sado, Uryū, and the Shinigami to be his friends and reveals that this is temporary because Ichigo continuing to be a Shinigami will lead to his inner Hollow swallowing him and driving Ichigo insane, which will result in his power destroying his friends, his future, and his very identity. After theorizing that Ichigo has already sensed his inner Hollow growing too big for him to handle, Shinji reiterates his invitation for Ichigo to join the Visored and promises to teach him how to save his sanity while Tatsuki Arisawa watches them from below with concern.

At the end of the school day, Keigo cheerfully asks Ichigo if he wants to hang out in the city on the way home, but Ichigo declines due to wanting to be alone right now, leaving Keigo to complain that Ichigo is acting weird to Mizuiro, who points out that he has always been weird as Uryū leaves the classroom. Elsewhere, Shinji walks down a street and expresses exhaustion at not being cut out for school and being assigned a test right after a vacation, which he considers sadistic. Suddenly, while Shinji questions why he has to be the one to go to school and recruit Ichigo, Hiyori Sarugaki kicks him in the rear end and sends Shinji flying face-first into a telephone pole. With Shinji turning around in fright upon recognizing her, Hiyori kicks off her sandal, grabs it, and smacks Shinji across the face with it while demanding to know what is taking him so long. As Shinji apologizes, Hiyori berates him for requesting more time since she told him to talk Ichigo into it, and when Shinji clarifies that it is not this easy due to Ichigo being stubborn, Hiyori instructs him to use force despite a bewildered Shinji reminding her that she told him to persuade Ichigo.

However, they are interrupted when Orihime appears behind Hiyori with Sado and makes her presence known. With Hiyori angrily headbutting Shinji for allowing himself to be followed, Orihime details how she knew Ichigo would not tell her what was really going on and solemnly asks Shinji who he and Hiyori are and what they want with Ichigo, but Hiyori simply smirks and questions if Orihime believes that they would just tell her. Meanwhile, at Karakura Hospital, Ryūken finds Uryū entering his office and inquires about what choice he has made. When Uryū declares that he wants his Quincy powers back, Ryūken presses him on this, prompting Uryū to vow that he will never get involved with the Shinigami again.

Characters in order of appearance:

Episodes adapted from this chapter:


190. Conquistadores

Orihime Inoue and Yasutora Sado confront Shinji Hirako and Hiyori Sarugaki while Ichigo Kurosaki is left somber by Shinji's warning.

Summary:

The cover page of 190. Conquistadores.

Hiyori Sarugaki bluntly introduces herself to Orihime Inoue and Yasutora Sado, who are left confused, and demands that they introduce themselves in turn. Upon learning Orihime and Sado's names, Hiyori comments on Orihime's name containing the kanji for "princess" and Sado's containing the kanji for "tiger", which she mockingly claims to be fancy compared to hers containing the kanji for "monkey" and Shinji Hirako's containing the kanji for "common", though a disinterested Shinji points out that his is an adjective instead of a noun and criticizes Hiyori for shortening everything. After hitting Shinji in the face in response, causing his nose to bleed, Hiyori calls Orihime irritating for having glossy hair and large breasts, and when Shinji asserts that she is just jealous of Orihime, Hiyori hits him in the face again and denies having anything to tell Orihime and Sado before concluding that they are going to die here.

However, before Hiyori can draw her Zanpakutō, a startled Shinji grabs her and frantically runs away while apologizing to Orihime and Sado. Despite Orihime telling Shinji and Hiyori to wait, Sado reminds her that they cannot catch Shinji and Hiyori with their powers and would end up getting killed even if they did. Meanwhile, in the air above Karakura Town, Hiyori orders Shinji to let go of her so she can beat up Orihime and Sado, but Shinji counters that they cannot be killing random people while pursuing Ichigo Kurosaki. In response, an irritated Hiyori pokes two of her fingers into Shinji's rear end, leading a shocked Shinji to do the same to her with more force and reply to her outrage over this being done to a young lady by proclaiming that young ladies do not do this to others. After calming down, Hiyori somberly states that she hates Humans and Shinigami, which prompts an understanding Shinji to reiterate that they simply need to be patient for a little longer.

Simultaneously, at the Kurosaki Clinic, Isshin Kurosaki welcomes Ichigo home by hitting the side of his head with a flying elbow, only to be shocked when Ichigo does not dodge or respond to the blow and is instead sent crashing into the corner of the living room. When Karin Kurosaki and Yuzu Kurosaki come out to tend to Ichigo in confusion and concern, Isshin assumes that Ichigo is sick or scored poorly on a test and claims to not care about tests since good grades are for nerds. With Yuzu aghast at him calling himself a father while saying such things, Isshin asserts that a young man in high school should be focusing on things he cannot talk to his parents about like romance, and when Yuzu questions Ichigo not talking to him about romance, Isshin proclaims that he should not if he is doing it right, leaving Karin visibly unimpressed.

Suddenly, Ichigo gets to his feet and walks past Isshin up the stairs as he apologizes and notes that he will be staying in his room until dinner, which leads a flustered Isshin to call after him while Yuzu berates Isshin for not apologizing. As Ichigo slams the door to his room and sets his bag down, Kon pokes his head out of the dresser and admonishes Ichigo for scaring him like this. After welcoming Ichigo home and claiming to not have been waiting for him, Kon begins to ask him if Isshin was acting strangely, but remembers Kisuke Urahara politely warning him that everything he saw last night must remain secret and panics at having nearly slipped up, which he believes would have led Urahara to kill him. With Kon frantically assuring him that Isshin is totally and extremely normal, Ichigo lies face-down on his bed and claims that nothing is wrong when Kon expresses concern. Annoyed by this, Kon criticizes him for acting liked a sullen teenager and hops over to the window, which he opens to move onto the sill while declaring that he is going to go for walk if Ichigo wants to sulk prior to leaping into the air and lamenting how difficult it is to be Ichigo's roommate.

Back on his bed, Ichigo ruminates on how he has been hearing Hollow Ichigo calling him from within ever since his battle with 6th Division Captain Byakuya Kuchiki, where his mask also vanished after coming back repeatedly no matter how many times he threw it away. Ichigo muses that Hollow Ichigo is getting closer and faster all the time and that he does not need Shinji's warning to know that he will be swallowed up if he does not stop Hollow Ichigo. With an agonized Ichigo wondering what he is supposed to do, Karin knocks on the door and enters the room, startling him, before asking about what is bothering him. Though Ichigo claims that it is nothing and that she does not need to worry about it, a distressed Karin reveals that she knows Ichigo is a Shinigami, to the latter's astonishment.

During this, at the Shinigami Research and Development Institute in the Seireitei, Hiyosu and Rin Tsubokura sit in front of their monitors alongside their fellow researchers, who complain about how boring it is to have another day where nothing is happening. While Hiyosu instructs him to stop eating and bring them some tea, a complying Rin sees data on his monitor and realizes that a positional axis has been located in eastern Karakura Town. Upon being approached by 12th Division 3rd Seat Akon about what is going on, Hiyosu informs him that they are here as a massive impact shakes the ground at a park in Karakura Town. While people nearby realize that something fell from the sky, the dust clears to reveal Ulquiorra Cifer and Yammy Llargo, with Ulquiorra unzipping his top to reveal his Hollow hole in his neck.

Characters in order of appearance:

Episodes adapted from this chapter:


191. Conquistadores 2 "Screaming Symphony"

Ulquiorra Cifer and Yammy Llargo invade Karakura Town in search of a specific target.

Summary:

The cover page of 191. Conquistadores 2 "Screaming Symphony".

In his bedroom in the Kurosaki Clinic, Ichigo Kurosaki is initially stunned at Karin Kurosaki declaring that he is a Shinigami, but smiles and attempts to claim that he does not know what she is talking about, only for Karin to tell him to not pretend like this and recount how she has been noticing things for a while now, with her not fully understanding until Don Kanonji's show taping. Suddenly, the two of them experience a powerful Reiatsu crushing down on them, with Yasutora Sado, Orihime Inoue, Kisuke Urahara, Yoruichi Shihōin, and Isshin Kurosaki experiencing the same sensation around Karakura Town. When Ichigo moves to leave, a concerned Karin grabs onto his shirt and questions where he is going, and after a moment's hesitation, Ichigo apologizes to Karin and grabs his Substitute Shinigami Badge, which causes him to exit his body in his Shinigami form and leap out the window, leaving a worried Karin behind to stare after him.

Meanwhile, as Ulquiorra Cifer and Yammy Llargo stand in a crater created by their landing in a park in Karakura Town, Captain-Commander Genryūsai Shigekuni Yamamoto is informed by a Riteitai in the First Division barracks in the Seireitei that the Twelfth Division has detected two Arrancar in Karakura Town and that the density and stability of their Reiatsu indicates that they are fully developed. In the crater, Yammy criticizes the Human World as boring from his experiences in it back when he was a Hollow and claims that the low Reishi density makes it hard to breathe, but Ulquiorra tells him to stop complaining since he is the one who wanted to come along despite Ulquiorra stating he could do this alone. Sarcastically apologizing to Ulquiorra, Yammy climbs out of the crater and finds several Humans looking around the area under the impression that a meteor struck the park. After promising to suck out their Souls if they do not stop staring at him, Yammy performs Gonzui, causing the Souls of hundreds of people in the surrounding area to be drained from their bodies and into Yammy's mouth.

Afterward, Yammy expresses disgust at the quality of the Souls, and when Ulquiorra points out that he should not have expected weak Souls to taste good, Yammy claims that the people were staring at him like he was a freak, only for Ulquiorra to reveal that they could not see him and Yammy and were simply looking at the crater. In response, Yammy bluntly asserts that they were annoying him and inquires about how many they have to kill, prompting Ulquiorra to note that they only need to kill one individual here. Though Yammy is incredulous that they only need to kill one person, Ulquiorra recounts how he was told that there are only three powerful enough to fight them in the entire Human World and that the rest are trash, making them easy to find. However, he is alerted by Tatsuki Arisawa, who survived Yammy's attack and is lying weakened on the ground nearby next to the bodies of her fellow martial arts students.

As she wonders if Miyahara and Kudo are dead and who Ulquiorra and Yammy are, Tatsuki finds herself confronted by Yammy, who grins and observes that her Soul must be stronger than he expected if it was not drained by his Gonzui. With a frightened Tatsuki realizing that her mind is fading, Yammy asks Ulquiorra if Tatsuki is the one, only for Ulquiorra to observe that her Soul is being crushed just by being close to him and that she is trash as well, which leads an unimpressed Yammy to conclude that she survived his Gonzui by luck and bid her farewell while preparing to kick her. Suddenly, before Yammy's kick can connect, Sado moves between him and a nearly unconscious Tatsuki to grab Yammy's foot with his Fullbring, Brazo Derecha de Gigante, as Orihime moves to Tatsuki to shield the latter with her arm.

Mentally, Sado is shocked by the power of Yammy's kick and determines that he is too strong for Orihime to handle prior to instructing Orihime to leave with Tatsuki like they planned, which she agrees to. When Yammy asks him if Sado is the one, Ulquiorra asserts that he needs to develop his Pesquisa and concludes that Sado is trash as well, to Yammy's delight. Leaping forward, an unnerved Sado charges and fires an energy blast from Brazo Derecha de Gigante, but as she looks back in the aftermath, Orihime is horrified to see an unharmed Yammy dropping Sado, who has had Brazo Derecha de Gigante ripped off at the shoulder and severed at the elbow. After leaving Tatsuki lying against a tree, Orihime frantically runs over to Sado as Yammy asks Ulquiorra if Orihime is trash as well and Ichigo rushes toward the battlefield.

Characters in order of appearance:

Episodes adapted from this chapter:


192. Conquistadores 3 [Hounded Priestess]

With Yasutora Sado grievously wounded and unconscious, Orihime Inoue faces off against Yammy Llargo alone.

Summary:

The cover page of 192. Conquistadores 3 [Hounded Priestess].

In the past, as she runs with Yasutora Sado down a street in Karakura Town, Orihime sees a man nearby collapse and urges Sado to wait so they can help him, but Sado asserts that it is too late because he is already dead and brings Orihime's attention to the sky, where the Souls of hundreds of people in the area are being drained by Yammy Llargo's Gonzui, leaving Orihime aghast. While they continue running, Sado requests that Orihime promise to take anyone who is still alive at the center of this event away from the area and responds to her protests by pointing out how only she can heal people and save the injured, which is why he is counting on her.

In the present, with Yammy looming over her and asking Ulquiorra Cifer if she is trash as well, Orihime mentally notes that Sado must have known Yammy and Ulquiorra were incredibly strong and that she would not stand a chance against them, which is why he fought alone to protect her and Tatsuki Arisawa. After pausing for a moment, Ulquiorra confirms that Orihime is trash, but when Yammy gleefully extends his index finger and jabs it toward her, Orihime activates Santen Kesshun between the two of them to intercept the blow, surprising Yammy as she stands up with a determined expression in the wake of the shield shattering from the impact. While Yammy wonders what she is, Orihime initiates Sōten Kisshun on Sado's mangled Fullbring, Brazo Derecha de Gigante, which prompts a shocked Yammy to comment on the technique healing Sado and the latter still being alive, though Ulquiorra internally denies this being a healing technique since it appears to be regression of space and time in a form he has never seen before, to his intrigue.

Mentally, Orihime initially declares that she has to buy time until Ichigo Kurosaki gets here, only to remember his troubled expression and realize that she cannot always expect him to come to her rescue or burden him with this right now. Admitting that she does not know what is troubling him at the moment, Orihime raises her outstretched palms and resolves to drive Ulquiorra and Yammy away herself since Ichigo has enough to worry about right now and this may be the only thing she can do for him. As she summons Tsubaki, Orihime vows to protect Tatsuki, Sado, Uryū Ishida, and Ichigo as she performs Koten Zanshun, sending Tsubaki hurtling forward with enough force to rupture the ground in his wake. Despite being startled by this, Yammy simply holds up his hand and blocks Tsubaki with his bare palm, dispersing the energy around him without injury and causing Tsubaki to crumble into dozens of pieces while Yammy grins and mockingly calls him a gnat.

With Orihime stunned by this, Yammy suggests that they tear off her limbs and take her to Sōsuke Aizen due to her unusual powers, but Ulquiorra concludes that this is not necessary and that he can kill her. However, when Yammy moves to comply by reaching toward Orihime, he suddenly finds his hand stopped by the tip of Ichigo's Shikai, Zangetsu, pressing against it, causing him to demand to know who Ichigo is as the latter stands between him and Orihime. After apologizing to Orihime for taking so long, Ichigo responds to her lamenting her friends' injuries being the result of her weakness by assuring her that it is not her fault and promising that Ulquiorra and Yammy will be punished for this before activating his Bankai, Tensa Zangetsu.

Characters in order of appearance:

Episodes adapted from this chapter:


193. Conquistadores 4 [Ebony&Ivory]

Having arrived to save Orihime Inoue from Yammy Llargo, Ichigo Kurosaki easily overpowers the latter with his Bankai, but begins experiencing issues with his inner Hollow.

Summary:

The cover spread of 193. Conquistadores 4 [Ebony&Ivory].

Ichigo Kurosaki activates his Bankai, Tensa Zangetsu, creating an overwhelming surge of Reiatsu that rockets skyward in a pillar before clearing to reveal him wearing his longcoat and wielding his black sword. Though awestruck by her first time seeing the awesome power of Tensa Zangetsu, Orihime Inoue mentally observes that Ichigo seems different from the time he used it on Sōkyoku Hill because his Reiatsu is fiercer, grittier, and thick and heavy to the point of being stifling, leading her to feel like it is not actually Ichigo. When told by Ichigo to stand back, an unnerved Orihime complies and presses her hands to her chest in concern.

Watching this, Yammy Llargo questions if Ichigo's use of Bankai makes him their target, and after noting that Yammy's tantrums seem to have lured him out, Ulquiorra Cifer confirms that Ichigo's orange hair and black Bankai means he is unmistakably their target, leaving Yammy delighted by their luck as he proclaims that Ichigo saved them the trouble of looking for him and throws a powerful punch. However, Ichigo simply holds up the sword of Tensa Zangetsu and blocks Yammy's fist with the flat side of the blade, causing the ground beneath his feet to be ruptured while he remains unharmed. With Yammy astonished by this, Ichigo inquires if he is the one who mangled Yasutora Sado's arm and promises to start with his arm in return, and when Yammy instinctively draws his arm back, Ichigo moves to his right shoulder with Shunpo and severs Yammy's right arm at the bicep with a single slash, shocking both him and Ulquiorra.

As Yammy screams in pain and Ichigo lands on the ground to resume his assault, Ulquiorra internally chastises Yammy for not developing his Pesquisa and for charging in without testing Ichigo's power first prior to noting that Ichigo managed to slice through Yammy's Hierro and sever his arm with surprisingly hard Reiatsu despite having only achieved Bankai a short time ago, though he does not believe Ichigo is a threat to Sōsuke Aizen. Having wounded an angered Yammy further, Ichigo admits that he is as tough as he looks if he can still stand while Ulquiorra offers to take over if Yammy is having trouble. In response, Yammy tells Ulquiorra to shut up and grabs the handle of his Zanpakutō, which Ulquiorra is bemused that he would resort to against Ichigo.

Upon hearing this, Ichigo is startled by Yammy's sword being a Zanpakutō and notices his and Ulquiorra's broken Hollow masks, holes in their bodies, and strange Reiatsu, leading him to question if they are like Shinji Hirako and himself. Suddenly, Hollow Ichigo washes over Ichigo's mind, causing him to double over and clutch his head while the sclera of his eyes begin to turn black and he repeatedly urges Hollow Ichigo to go away. Though initially startled by this, a grinning Yammy takes advantage of Ichigo's incapacitation and kicks him hard in the stomach, causing him to cough up blood, and when Orihime rushes over in concern despite Ichigo warning her to stay back, Yammy sends her flying with a backhand to the side of the head.

With Yammy resuming his assault by punching him, Ichigo realizes that he cannot move his body and deduces that Hollow Ichigo will sabotage him if he resists the latter. Overjoyed by Ichigo no longer moving, Yammy unleashes a flurry of blows and tells him to die, but Ulquiorra muses that something is off due to Ichigo's Reiatsu fluctuating so severely that its lowest point is trash and its highest point surpasses his own, which he cannot understand the meaning of. Before Yammy can deliver the killing blow, his fist is intercepted by a Chikasumi no Tate formed between himself and Ichigo, and as Yammy reels back in surprises, the shield shatters to reveal Kisuke Urahara, who stands next to Yoruichi Shihōin while wielding his Shikai, Benihime, and apologizing to Ichigo for being late, though Yammy simply wonders where all these insects are coming from.

Characters in order of appearance:

Episodes adapted from this chapter:


194. Conquistadores 5 [La Basura]

Kisuke Urahara and Yoruichi Shihōin arrive to take on Yammy Llargo in Ichigo Kurosaki's stead.

Summary:

The cover page of 194. Conquistadores 5 [La Basura].

Annoyed by Kisuke Urahara and Yoruichi Shihōin having intervened in his fight against Ichigo Kurosaki, Yammy Llargo declares that they are asking to get killed by interfering and moves to strike them, only to find himself suddenly slammed headfirst into the ground by Yoruichi, leaving him completely bewildered. While an enraged Yammy pushes himself up with his remaining arm, Yoruichi tells Urahara that she will be tending to Orihime Inoue and takes the medicine from him as she walks away, only to respond to Yammy reaching for her by moving to the back of his hand with Shunpo and delivering a kick to his cheek powerful enough to draw blood from his nose and mouth before leaping into the air and punching a stunned Yammy in the back of the head hard enough to crater the ground and create an explosion of force that dwarfs the surrounding trees.

In the aftermath, Ulquiorra Cifer watches impassively while Yoruichi walks away from a motionless Yammy to a bloodied Orihime, whom she assures of Ichigo Kurosaki's safety and has drink the medicine provided by Urahara. Suddenly, a furious Yammy gets to his feet behind Yoruichi and roars, and though the latter simply wonders if he ever gives up, Yammy proclaims that she is dead and begins charging a Cero in his mouth that he unleashes in a wide and powerful blast which surges through the surrounding area. With dust swirling around him, a chuckling Yammy assumes that Yoruichi and Orihime must be smeared across the ground now since there is no way they could have dodged his Cero at point-blank range, but he is astonished when the dust clears to reveal Urahara standing on the other side of a deep rift in the ground in front of a protected Yoruichi and Orihime with his Shikai, Benihime, leveled at Yammy.

When Yammy demands to know how he did this, Urahara explains that he simply neutralized the Cero with an attack of similar power since it would have been risky to outright deflect it and response to Yammy's disbelief by promising that he can do it again and firing Nake, Benihime. Before the vertical energy blast can reach a shocked Yammy, Ulquiorra moves in front of him and slashes through the blast with his bare hand, startling Urahara. Despite Yammy being grateful for this, Ulquiorra suddenly jabs his hand into the former's stomach with a powerful blow, drawing blood in the process, and criticizes a confused Yammy for losing control and not realizing that he cannot possibly defeat Urahara and Yoruichi at his current level. Upon seeing Ulquiorra opening a Garganta with Descorrer and declaring that they are leaving, Yoruichi accuses him of running away, but Ulquiorra tells her to watch what she says and counters that she knows very well what would happen if she tried to fight him while protecting Ichigo and Orihime. As he and Yammy enter the closing Garganta, Ulquiorra asserts that they have achieved their immediate objective and promises to tell Sōsuke Aizen that the Shinigami he has been observing is trash and not even worth killing.

Characters in order of appearance:

Episodes adapted from this chapter:


195. Death & Strawberry(Reprise)

In the aftermath of his and his friends' brutal loss against Yammy Llargo, a dejected Ichigo Kurosaki is surprised by the arrival of allies old and new.

Summary:

The cover page of 195. Death & Strawberry(Reprise).

At the Urahara Shop, Kisuke Urahara returns with groceries and juice for Jinta Hanakari and Ururu Tsumugiya, whom he asks about the condition of Yoruichi Shihōin. Further inside the shop, Yoruichi sits in her undergarments with her left arm and leg bandaged and with several dirty dishes and bowls on the ground around her. As Yoruichi finishes consuming the contents of the last bowl with a loud belch and drinks tea from the cup on the ground, Urahara enters and observes that her arm seems to be back to normal, prompting Yoruichi to affirm that she should be able to use her arms and legs in her daily routine now. However, when Urahara inquires if she can fight as well, Yoruichi laments her mistake in not activating her Shunkō prior to attacking since the Hierro of the Arrancar is incredibly tough and warns Urahara that the latter are far stronger than they anticipated.

Meanwhile, at Karakura High School, a heavily bandaged Orihime Inoue responds to Chizuru Honshō's shock over her appearance by claiming that she fell down some stairs, only for Chizuru to refuse to believe this due to Orihime looking like she was run over by a truck after not attending school for five days, which had greatly worried Chizuru. When a bandaged Ichigo approaches her from behind, Orihime cheerfully turns around and questions what he wants to talk about, but a solemn Ichigo denies it being anything important and walks away. Though Chizuru is uncertain of what is wrong with Ichigo, Orihime asserts that she has to go to the bathroom and leaves the classroom, leaving Chizuru bewildered.

As he sits on his desk, Ichigo recalls Orihime recovering at the Urahara Shop while assuring him that her injuries are her own fault and are not as bad as they look, which is why he does not need to look so sad. However, Ichigo ruminates that Yasutora Sado was mangled and Tatsuki Arisawa was almost killed because he was too weak, something he sees no reason to not feel guilty over. Suddenly, Ichigo senses something and looks toward the classroom door in confusion as 11th Division 3rd Seat Ikkaku Madarame wonders which classroom he is in, leading 10th Division Lieutenant Rangiku Matsumoto to flatly state that she does not know. When an incredulous 6th Division Lieutenant Renji Abarai points out that she was supposed to write it down, Rangiku casually reveals that she did and lost it, to Ikkaku's irritation, though her captain, Tōshirō Hitsugaya, tells him to relax and observes that they simply have to search for Ichigo's Reiatsu. Renji complains about how hard it is to control his Reiatsu while in a Gigai for the first time, and when Rangiku teasingly finishes his sentence by claiming that he is incompetent, Renji denies this and questions why she is so calm. Simultaneously, Ikkaku laments how uncomfortable his attire is and responds to 11th Division 5th Seat Yumichika Ayasegawa suggesting that he untuck his shirt like they did by demanding to know where he would put his wooden sword if he did so.

With Ikkaku asserting that they should have let him bring a real sword and being outraged by Yumichika informing him that it was the law of the Human World that decided this rather than them, an annoyed Renji tells him to shut up, only for Hitsugaya to reprimand them both for making a scene and telling Renji to open the door when they reach Ichigo's classroom. Inside the classroom, Ichigo sees Renji open the door to reveal that he, Hitsugaya, Rangiku, Ikkaku, and Yumichika are dressed in student uniforms and greet him, which prompts an astonished Ichigo to call out to each of them in turn and address Hitsugaya by his first name, to the latter's irritation. Upon being asked by a stunned Ichigo what they are doing here, Renji declares that they were sent here to help the Substitute Shinigami prepare for battle with the Arrancar, but is irritated when Ichigo does not recognize the term since it means that he does not know who he has been fighting. Suddenly, Ichigo is told that the Arrancar are the ones who defeated him the other day, and as Ichigo looks at the open window behind him in surprise, Rukia Kuchiki pulls herself up in a school uniform and greets him.

Characters in order of appearance:

Episodes adapted from this chapter:


196. PUNCH DOWN THE STONE CIRCLE

Rukia Kuchiki forces Ichigo Kurosaki to confront and work through his newfound fear and anxiety.

Summary:

The cover page of 196. PUNCH DOWN THE STONE CIRCLE.

Having seen Rukia Kuchiki enter their classroom through the window and greet Ichigo Kurosaki from the other side of the room, Tetsuo Momohara is left aghast by this and Shunsuke Kobayakawa questions who she is as Jun Miyamoto dismisses this in favor of staring at 10th Division Lieutenant Rangiku Matsumoto and 11th Division 3rd Seat Ikkaku Madarame. As Chizuru Honshō inquires if the newly-arrived Shinigami Strike Force are Ichigo's friends, Rukia leaps across the room and kicks Ichigo squarely in the face, sending him skidding back along the ground into 6th Division Lieutenant Renji Abarai's arms. With a bewildered Ichigo demanding to know what this is about and realizing that Renji is now restraining his arms, Rukia slaps him across the face on both cheeks and tells Ichigo to look at himself before donning her Gokon Tekkō and pulling his Shinigami form out of his body through the open window despite Ichigo's protests.

Behind them, Rangiku comments on this proceeding just as they had expected and Renji criticizes Ichigo's behavior. When Ikkaku mentions to 11th Division 5th Seat Yumichika Ayasegawa that Ichigo's expression indicated he needed a good thrashing, Rangiku claims that she found his expression adorable instead, and when an incredulous Yumichika questions this, Rangiku denies seeking his approval for her opinion, prompting Yumichika to inquire if she was seeking Ikkaku's instead while the latter requests that he be left out of this. As an annoyed 10th Division Captain Tōshirō Hitsugaya orders them to shut up, Jun, Chizuru, and the other students wonder what has happened to Ichigo, whose lifeless body remains slumped in Renji's arms with its eyes rolled back, and assume he is dead. After Renji hears one of the students commenting on his spiky red hair and glares at them, Ikkaku instructs him to ignore this since it is just mindless Human prattle, but hears two of the students comment on his bald head and slowly draws his wooden sword while menacingly daring those students to step forward, though Renji reminds him that it is just Human prattle. With Ikkaku promising to slice the students in two and Yumichika offering to help him, an aghast Hitsugaya wonders why he volunteered for this.

Meanwhile, Ichigo carries Rukia across the rooftops of Karakura Town on his back and inquires about where she is taking him, only for Rukia to demand that he shut up and keep running. While looking at her Denreishinki, Rukia draws Ichigo's attention to a large Hollow with blade-like fingers below them and kicks a startled Ichigo down to deal with it. Upon crashing into the ground below, Ichigo finds the Hollow slashing at him with the blades on its right hand and narrowly evades the strike by side-stepping it, but Rukia insists that he fight instead since such a low-level Hollow should be easy for him by now. Despite asserting that he does not need a lecture, Ichigo feels Hollow Ichigo taking notice of this within him and is distracted long enough for the Hollow to send him flying back with a slash across the chest.

When Rukia inquires about what is wrong, Ichigo tells her to shut up and begins dodging the Hollow's blade fingers as they embed themselves in the ground around him, with his bandages coming undone in the process, only for Rukia to reveal that she knows he has not been a proper Shinigami since his confrontation with the Arrancar and question what he is afraid of. Bringing up the idea of his fear stemming from Yasutora Sado and Orihime Inoue getting hurt, Rukia dismisses this and asks Ichigo if he is a coward and quitter who is afraid of defeat and being unable to protect his friends before theorizing that it is instead the Hollow inside him, to Ichigo's shock. Rukia tells Ichigo to get stronger if he is afraid to lose, do what he must to protect the ones he loves if that is what he wants, and grow strong enough to crush his inner Hollow if it is so terrible because he must stick out his chest and scream in defiance even if no one in the world believes in him, as this is the Ichigo she knows.

In response, Ichigo draws his Shikai, Zangetsu, and turns around to face the Hollow with confidence while claiming that he wishes Rukia would shut up, leaving her smiling while he purifies the Hollow with a single slash. Soon afterward, Rukia returns Ichigo to his body and drags him to find Orihime at Karakura High School. After cheerfully greeting Orihime and promising to discuss how long she will be able to stay later when a delighted Orihime asks about this, Rukia pulls an out-of-breath Ichigo over by his collar to Orihime, whom he addresses with hesitation prior to Rukia forcing him to bow and apologizing for being weak on his behalf to a startled Orihime. Catching his breath, Ichigo continues this by promising Orihime that he will get stronger so they cannot hurt her next time, which leads Orihime to mentally observe that Ichigo is back to his old self and verbally thank him before tearfully thanking and welcoming a smiling Rukia back.

Characters in order of appearance:

Episodes adapted from this chapter:


197. The Approaching Danger

Ichigo Kurosaki is informed of the nature of and the danger posed by Sōsuke Aizen's newly-created Arrancar.

Summary:

The cover page of 197. The Approaching Danger.

At Karakura High School, Keigo Asano walks through the halls with Mizuiro Kojima and claims that mixing two parts ginger ale with one part Calpico makes a substance that tastes just like hair tonic, prompting an uninterested Mizuiro to address him by his last name and assume that Keigo drinks a lot of hair tonic if he knows this. With an offended Keigo deducing that Mizuiro is trying to pretend not to know him, Mizuiro hears loud noises coming from their classroom up ahead and wonders what is going on. In response, Keigo decides to investigate and pulls open the door to the classroom while demanding to know what the other students are doing by having fun without him, only to find 11th Division 3rd Seat Ikkaku Madarame glaring down at him on the other side of the doorway.

Seeing Keigo staring in fear at the sight of him, Ikkaku questions what he is looking at and threatens to severely beat and injure a trembling Keigo before 10th Division Lieutenant Rangiku Matsumoto shoves her palm into the back of Ikkaku's head and tells him to leave Keigo alone. When Ikkaku complains about how much this hurts, Rangiku promises to tell 11th Division Lieutenant Yachiru Kusajishi about his actions if he does not calm down, leaving him sweating nervously and begging Rangiku to not tell on him. With Rangiku accepting this result and rudely telling the others that they are getting out of here, to the chagrin of her captain, Tōshirō Hitsugaya, Keigo gawks at her visible breasts and flings himself at her while commenting on how naughty her uniform is, only for Rangiku to nonchalantly repel and incapacitate him by slamming the back of her fist into Keigo's face. As Ikkaku wonders if he is going to be okay and Rangiku casually leads the Shinigami Strike Force away, Mizuiro steps on Keigo's side and praises him as a stellar foot rest, to Keigo's irritation.

Meanwhile, at the Kurosaki Clinic, Kon is overjoyed to see Rukia Kuchiki and leaps toward her, but Rukia simply stops him in midair with her foot and stomps him onto the floor of Ichigo Kurosaki's bedroom as she greets him, though Kon revels in how only one person would stomp on him without hesitation after not seeing him for an entire summer and claims to be happy enough to cry. While an annoyed Ichigo tells her to stop gawking and come inside, Rukia comments on how long it has been since she has lived in his small bedroom, prompting Ichigo to claim that it is not small and to instruct Rukia to stop comparing it to 6th Division Captain Byakuya Kuchiki's residence, which she apologizes for. As Rukia sits on the floor and ignores Ichigo's demands that she sit on the floor instead, a blushing Isshin Kurosaki and Yuzu Kurosaki listen through the closed door with cups held against their ears.

Upon being approached by an unimpressed Karin Kurosaki about what they are doing, Yuzu shushes her and reveals that Ichigo brought a girl home, and when Karin points out that Ichigo has been doing this since middle school with girls like Tatsuki Arisawa, Yuzu claims that this is different because Rukia is girly, only for Karin to remind her that Tatsuki has been attractive since eighth grade, shocking Isshin, and assert that Ichigo would have to bring someone at least as attractive as Orihime Inoue home in order to impress her. Hearing this commotion, Ichigo angrily slams open the door and tells his father and sister to get lost, causing them to flee down the stairs and confirm their suspicions with each other as Ichigo laments that he now knows how monkeys feel in the zoo. After closing the door once more and telling Rukia to shut up when she observes that his family has not changed, Ichigo requests that she explain what the Arrancar are and why they have come after him.

Suddenly, 6th Division Lieutenant Renji Abarai, Rangiku, Ikkaku, and 11th Division 5th Seat Yumichika Ayasegawa remove the ceiling light from the ceiling of Ichigo's bedroom and poke their heads down through the hole from the attic while Renji offers to explain instead, leaving Ichigo shocked and confused as to how they got into his room and what they did to his light. As Rangiku cheerfully claims that Ikkaku's head is like a lightbulb, to the latter's chagrin, Kon sees her breasts and flings himself toward her in arousal under the pretense of her uniform being a deadly weapon, but Rangiku simply punches him from the side without even looking and climbs onto Ichigo's bed while Ikkaku wonders if this is a sort of custom in the Human World, which leads Ichigo to deny this and clarify that it is simply how Kon acts.

After the Strike Force gets situated in Ichigo's bedroom, Renji explains that Arrancar are Hollows who have removed their masks in an effort to acquire Shinigami powers and that they are few in number, with fewer still having ever fully developed their powers until Sōsuke Aizen gained the Hōgyoku, which led to fully developed Arrancar like Ulquiorra Cifer and Yammy Llargo appearing. With Rukia illustrating this in a notebook, Renji asks Ichigo if he understands so far, and when Ichigo confirms this while adding that the visual presentation leaves something to be desired, Rukia throws the notebook at his head in irritation as Renji details how Soul Society was initially going to simply monitor the situation until Aizen made a move since the Gotei 13 had just lost three captains and needed time to rebuild its forces, but the fully developed Arrancar appeared earlier than they had expected and the latter's invasion of the Human World forced the Gotei 13 to take action by selecting the Strike Force.

When Ichigo inquires about who chose the Strike Force, Renji reveals that Captain-Commander Genryūsai Shigekuni Yamamoto did so as the acting Commander-in-Chief until the next Central 46 is formed and chose Rukia because she knows Ichigo the best, though Rukia claims that she was chosen for her abilities. Renji elaborates that he was chosen as one of Rukia's superiors and was instructed to assemble a team excluding captains, which led him to choose Ikkaku to accompany him, resulting in Yumichika demanding to come along, Rangiku hearing the commotion and not wanting to miss the fun, and her captain, Tōshirō Hitsugaya, reluctantly coming along to keep an eye on them, which causes Ichigo to question how casual they all are about this. Sitting on Ichigo's windowsill, Hitsugaya asserts that Aizen definitely has his eyes on Ichigo as Rangiku addresses him as the bore who did not want to hide in the attic with the rest of them.

After responding to Renji pointing out that his choice to wait outside until someone opened the window was foolish since there are not many boys with silver hair around here by promising to remember this when they return to Soul Society with annoyance, Hitsugaya notes to Ichigo that effective Arrancar are not produced by removing the masks of random Hollows, but instead by doing so with Hollows of Menos Grande-level and above, which would allow them to wage war on Soul Society. Picking up on Hitsugaya's wording, a stunned Ichigo wonders if he is saying that there are Hollows more powerful than the Menos Grande, prompting Hitsugaya to clarify that there are actually three classes of Menos, the first of which are Gillians, considered the lowest class and foot soldiers of the Menos. With Hitsugaya explaining that the Gillians are numerous, identical, and the Menos Grandes usually depicted in textbooks, Ichigo learns that the Menos Grande he fought before coming to Soul Society was just a Gillian, leaving him astonished that it was just a foot soldier. However, Hitsugaya observes that the Gillians are slow despite their gigantic size and have the intelligence of wild animals, allowing captain-class Shinigami to easily defeat them, and that the next class is more problematic.

Hitsugaya details the existence of the Adjuchas, who are smaller in size and number than the Gillians but are highly intelligent and much more powerful to the point of giving orders to the Gillians, and the Vasto Lordes, the highest class of Menos who are Human-sized and extremely few in number, before revealing that the latter are even more powerful than captain-class Shinigami, mortifying Ichigo. Furthermore, Hitsugaya observes that they have no way of knowing how much more powerful a Vasto Lorde becomes as an Arrancar and the Gotei 13 missing three captains, along with Aizen, Gin Ichimaru, and Kaname Tōsen training the Menos right now, means that Aizen having ten or more Vasto Lorde under his command would mean Soul Society is doomed.

Simultaneously, in Las Noches, Ulquiorra and Yammy enter the throne room of Aizen, who responds to Ulquiorra's announcement of his return by inviting him to share what he has learned with his twenty comrades.

Characters in order of appearance:

Episodes adapted from this chapter:


Author's Notes

Volume 22 Intro Image.png
If anyone asked me which season I like best, I'd tell them I like the time between the seasons. And if I wasn't allergic to pollen, I think I'd like it at least three times more.
-Tite Kubo

References

  1. Bleach 22 (Japanese). Shueisha.
  2. Bleach, Vol. 22. Viz Media.
  3. This chapter originally appeared as "Approaching Danger" in Weekly Shonen Jump.

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