072. The Superchunk
073. Drizzly Axes
074. Armlost, Armlost
075. 血雨 
076. Boarrider Comin'
077. 俺様の名はガンジュ 
078. meeT iT aT basemenT
079. FOURTEEN DAYS FOR CONSPIRACY
072. The Superchunk
073. Ax Storm
075. Crimson Rain
076. Boarrider Comin'
077. My Name is Ganju
078. meeT 'Em iN tHE basemenT
079. FOURTEEN DAYS FOR CONSPIRACY
FOURTEEN DAYS FOR CONSPIRACY is the ninth volume of the Bleach manga series.
The race to save Rukia from Soul Society is officially on, and Ichigo and company have come to their first roadblock, a very, very big roadblock. Jidanbō, the monstrous, fez-sporting gatekeeper hasn't let a single soul enter the Western Gate he guards in over 300 years, and he isn't about to change his mind about it just because Ichigo's crew wants to go through either. But, in a where-the-rubber-meets-the-road kind of way, Ichigo wasn't expecting his assault on the Soul Society to be a piece of cake either. After all, that'd just be boring.
Within the Dangai, while Ichigo Kurosaki, Orihime Inoue, Yasutora Sado, Uryū Ishida, and Yoruichi Shihōin run through the encroaching current, Uryū frantically observes that the walls behind them are crumbling and collapsing. Yoruichi warns them to not look back because they are all done for if the Kōryū swallows the group, only for part of the collapsing wall to snag Uryū's cape, pulling him back. Seeing this, Ichigo berates Uryū for wearing such a costume and prepares to draw his Shikai, Zangetsu, but Yoruichi reveals that swinging his Zanpakutō will only result in both him and Uryū being swallowed up because the Kōryū entangles all spiritual entities. However, as Ichigo questions what he is supposed to do in this scenario, Sado grabs Uryū's cape with his bare hand and rips it off, to the latter's relief, before hoisting Uryū onto his shoulder and resuming his running, to Ichigo's bewilderment.
Suddenly, as he protests Sado carrying him like this, Uryū notices something happening in the Kōryū and informs his friends that something is coming as the Kōtotsu bursts out of the Kōryū behind them. A startled and panicking Yoruichi explains that the Kōtotsu is a cleaner which appears every seven days and wonders why it had to show up now while instructing the group to run for their lives. Continuing to run ahead, Ichigo and his friends see that they have almost reached the exit, but Uryū reveals that the Kōtotsu has almost caught up to them, prompting Orihime to stop in her tracks and face the Kōtotsu as she uses Santen Kesshun in an attempt to stop the cleaner.
Outside the exit from the Dangai, in the air above the Rukongai, the exit explodes with energy and force as Ichigo and his friends are sent hurtling toward the ground below. The dust settles to reveal Orihime, who has caught her friends and absorbed the impact of the fall with another Santen Kesshun, as she cheerfully asks everyone else if they are alright. As Orihime praises Ichigo's landing pose of mid-somersault, her friends sit up while Uryū takes out another cape and bemoans having to already replace his due to the unexpected intensity of the trip, leaving Ichigo and Sado incredulous at him bringing a spare. However, as Orihime expresses relief at no one being hurt, Yoruichi angrily headbutts her and details how Orihime risked being killed by the Kōtotsu had her Shun Shun Rikka themselves been touched by it rather than the Santen Kesshun they created. Ichigo counters by pointing out how they would all be dead if Orihime had not intervened, though an irritated Yoruichi merely asserts that he fails to understand the gravity of the situation.
When the dust around them clears to reveal a rural-looking town, Ichigo questions if this is really Soul Society, prompting Yoruichi to clarify that this is the slum town known as Rukongai that lies outside of the Seireitei and is where Souls come to live when they first enter Soul Society. While Yoruichi states that it is the poorest and freest part of Soul Society where the majority of Souls live, Uryū observes that it looks deserted, which Ichigo affirms before noticing that the town nearby looks totally different. Realizing that this is where the Shinigami live, Ichigo begins running toward it so he can be the first one to enter, but Yoruichi frantically warns him that he will die if he gets close. Suddenly, dozens of enormous slabs of Sekkiseki drop down around the Seireitei and in front of Ichigo, creating a massive wall with an equally large gate barricading the city. With a startled Ichigo coughing in the resulting dust cloud, Jidanbō Ikkanzaka rises up behind him and notes that it has been a while since someone tried to pass through his gate without a permit as he welcomes Ichigo.
Within the Seireitei, now barricaded by its Sekkiseki wall, several assembled Shinigami look at the closed gate and note that the Ryoka have fallen outside, which means they cannot do anything about the intrusion. However, 9th Division Lieutenant Shūhei Hisagi points out that this simply means they will have to deal with Jidanbō Ikkanzaka, who slams the handle of a large axe into the ground next to Ichigo Kurosaki outside the wall and requests that the latter show him what he can do.
Watching this from afar, Uryū Ishida stands with Orihime Inoue and Yasutora Sado as he expresses shock at Jidanbō's inhuman size. Yoruichi Shihōin explains that Jidanbō is the gatekeeper of the White Way Gate and was chosen out of all the giants in Soul Society for this job, and when Uryū observes that this must mean they have to defeat him in order to enter, Yoruichi affirms this and reveals that no one has ever gotten past Jidanbō in the 300 years he has been guarding this gate because of his legendary strength that allows him to kill 30 Hollows with a single swing of his axe, unnerving Uryū, who wonders how they are supposed to defeat such a foe. Despite planning to use their wits to form a plan and have Ichigo retreat for now, Yoruichi is shocked to see Orihime and Sado running forward to help Ichigo in his fight. However, upon noticing this, Jidanbō slams his axe into the ground in front of Orihime and Sado, upturning it to form a barrier, to the amazement of Uryū, before explaining that cities like the Seireitei have rules requiring those who enter to wash their hands when they go inside, not eat things off the floor, and keep all fights one-on-one.
Jidanbō asserts that he will be fighting Ichigo because the latter got here first and asks the others to wait patiently until he is finished smashing Ichigo because they must follow the rules when they come to the city. When Sado quietly tells Orihime to fireTsubaki at Jidanbō through a hole he is about to make in the upturned rock, Jidanbō whips his head around and inquires who Tsubaki is, shocking them with his hearing. Calling out to Orihime and Sado, Ichigo assures them that he is fine, but when Orihime begins to promise that they will reach him in a second, Ichigo asks her and Sado to stay put and not do anything, to her confusion. Uryū refuses to do this and claims that Ichigo could not possibly beat Jidanbō by himself regardless of what kind of training he underwent during the past ten days, leading Ichigo to admit that he did not know Uryū was there, further irritating the latter as he points out that he has been here the whole time. Meanwhile, Sado merely asks Ichigo if he can do it, and Ichigo states that he thinks so, though Uryū declares that this is not good enough while banging on the rock wall.
Bringing up Uryū's mention of not knowing what kind of training he went through, Ichigo explains that he managed to regain his Shinigami powers in just five days despite originally planning to spend all ten days doing so before revealing that he spent the remaining five days fighting against Kisuke Urahara day and night. Uryū assumes that Urahara taught him the secrets of combat, but Ichigo denies this because Urahara would not directly teach him anything as he draws his Shikai, Zangetsu, and proclaims that he gained stamina and guts because of how tough the training was. As Ichigo faces him, Jidanbō inquires if he is done talking, prompting Ichigo to observe that he did not ask Jidanbō to wait for him. Jidanbō states that Ichigo's bad manners must mean he is from the country and declares that he is supposed to thank someone who waits for him as he slams his axe down into Ichigo. However, as he braces himself against the resulting shockwave, Sado recalls Urahara's assertion that Ichigo does not know how to control his extraordinary powers and notes that what Urahara gave Ichigo was just as important as the secrets of combat or stamina. While Sado mentally asserts that Ichigo gaining experience in order to match the Shinigami would make him incredibly strong, the dust settles to reveal Ichigo casually blocking Jidanbō's axe with a one-handed grip on Zangetsu, and when the latter demands to know what he is in astonishment, Ichigo simply states that Jidanbō attacked before he was ready and inquires if this is not bad manners as well.
Staring in astonishment as Ichigo Kurosaki holds back his giant axe with a one-handed grip on his Shikai, Zangetsu, Jidanbō Ikkanzaka suddenly begins laughing, slightly blowing back a startled Ichigo with the resulting air force, as Uryū Ishida, Orihime Inoue, and Yasutora Sado listen from behind the rock wall obscuring their view of the fight with confusion. Jidanbō praises Ichigo's performance, as it has been decades since anyone has been able to block his axe, and decides that he no longer needs to hold back today before asserting that no one has ever stopped his second move even if Ichigo is only the third person to ever block his first swing. When Jidanbō brings down his axe with tremendous force once more, Ichigo nonchalantly blocks it again, leading Jidanbō to commend him for continuing to stand as he initiates Juppon Jidanda Matsuri, where he repeatedly smashes his axe down onto Ichigo while counting to 10, to the shock of those watching. However, Jidanbō loses count of his strikes and ends up performing extra attacks before concluding his assault with a horizontal slash, dragging his axe through the Sekkiseki wall and gate behind him beforehand to build up power, that levels the rock barricade he erected between Ichigo and his friends.
As Ichigo's friends shield themselves against the resulting shockwave and chunks of rock hurtling past them, Jidanbō is flabbergasted to see Ichigo effortlessly blocking his final strike by holding Zangetsu vertically over his left side, with his right arm over his head and his left hand bracing the blade. While Jidanbō wonders how he can still be standing and Orihime expresses relief at him being okay, Ichigo inquires if he is done and prepares to initiate his own attack, prompting Jidanbō to nervously claim that he has another move left while withdrawing a second axe from within his shihakushō with his free hand, to the surprise of Uryū and Orihime. Crossing his two axes above his head, Jidanbō grunts with exertion as his arm muscles swell in size and proclaims that this is his final move, Banzai Jidanda Matsuri, before bringing both axes down on Ichigo simultaneously, only for the latter to apologize in advance before destroying Jidanbō's axes with a single swing of Zangetsu.
With his two axes shattered by Ichigo Kurosaki's Shikai, Zangetsu, Jidanbō Ikkanzaka can only watch in shock as he is sent flying back by the force of Ichigo's attack. As Jidanbō falls on his back in front of the gate, a stunned Uryū Ishida wonders what Ichigo did, and while Orihime Inoue watches alongside him, Yasutora Sado theorizes that Jidanbō may be knocked out. Hearing this, Jidanbō leaps to his feet and claims that he merely slipped before berating Ichigo for assuming he was strong enough to knock out Jidanbō. However, as he prepares to resume the fight, Jidanbō realizes that his axe blades have been shattered, leading him to hunch over and begin weeping for his broken axes, to the bewilderment of Ichigo and his friends.
When Ichigo apologizes for breaking both axes unnecessarily, Jidanbō tearfully calls him a nice guy for feeling sorry despite the two of them being enemies and praises Ichigo as having a big heart, though Ichigo claims that he did not have any choice with Jidanbō crying so heavily. Jidanbō chastises himself for crying over a couple broken axes and proclaims that he has been utterly defeated by Ichigo as both a warrior and a man before authorizing Ichigo to pass through the gate as the first man to beat him in 300 years, to Ichigo's delight. Upon Orihime asking him if she and her friends can pass through as well, Jidanbō affirms this on the grounds that he cannot stop them because their leader beat him, leaving Uryū incredulous at the idea of Ichigo being their leader, to Ichigo's confusion. After Ichigo tells him his full name, Jidanbō comments that "Ichigo" is a cute name due to it sounding like "Strawberry", though Ichigo vehemently asserts that it is not cute because the kanji stand for "first place" and "guardian".
Jidanbō warns Ichigo to be careful regardless of why he is entering because there are a lot of powerful combatants inside the Seireitei, and when Ichigo confidently states that he knows this, Jidanbō acknowledges his resolve and leans down to begin lifting up the gate while promising Ichigo and his friends that it simply looks harder than it actually is. Sliding his hands underneath the bottom of the gate, Jidanbō grunts in exertion as the gate begins rumbling and, with great effort, lifts it above his head, to the amazement of Ichigo and his friends. However, as he notices that Jidanbō has stopped and is now staring nervously ahead, Ichigo sees 3rd Division Captain Gin Ichimaru standing on the other side of the gate and inquires who he is, prompting Jidanbō to identify him. Gin claims that this will not do and severs Jidanbō's left arm with his Shikai, Shinsō, before asserting that a gatekeeper is not meant to open gates.
As his severed arm lands on the roof of one of the houses in the Rukongai behind him, a heavily bleeding Jidanbō Ikkanzaka roars in pain as Ichigo Kurosaki and Uryū Ishida wonder what 3rd Division Captain Gin Ichimaru just did. With Gin serenely standing as blood spurts around him, Jidanbō is forced to crouch with his remaining arm holding up the gate right next to his head by his loss of strength, prompting Gin to admit his surprise at Jidanbō still being able to hold up the gate with just one arm and assert that this means he really is Soul Society's strongest giant before calling him a failure as a gatekeeper. Approaching from behind Ichigo and his friends, Yoruichi Shihōin identifies Gin, who was not expected to show up, and nervously asserts that they must avoid fighting him at all costs because Ichigo and his friends are not ready to face a captain.
Jidanbō attempts to explain to Gin that he is opening the gate because he lost to Ichigo, but Gin merely notes that no one seems to have told Jidanbō how this works before claiming that a gatekeeper does not open gates because they are supposed to die if they lose. Suddenly, Ichigo leaps forward and attacks Gin, who blocks with his Zanpakutō and expresses mild surprise as he pushes Ichigo back. With Yoruichi left incredulous by his action, Ichigo points his Shikai, Zangetsu, at Gin and demands to know why he is involving himself in a fight that is already over. After requesting that Orihime Inoue tend to Jidanbō's arm, which she affirms, Ichigo tells Gin to fight him instead because only a coward would butcher a defenseless giant before promising to cut Gin up, only for Gin to grin and wonder if Ichigo is really not scared of him at all. As Ichigo denies this, Yoruichi frantically calls out to him and asserts that they need to retreat, which Ichigo protests.
Picking up on Yoruichi's mention of Ichigo's name, Gin observes that he has orange hair and a gigantic sword, which leads him to state that he must be Ichigo Kurosaki, to the latter's surprise. As Gin walks away and declares that this is just another reason to not let him in, Ichigo wonders why he is walking so far away and inquires if he is going to throw his wakizashi, Gin reveals that this is actually his Zanpakutō and releases his Shikai, Shinsō, which causes the blade of his Zanpakutō to rapidly extend forward. Upon seeing this, Ichigo blocks the blade with the broad side of Zangetsu, but is propelled backward into Jidanbō, sending both of them flying out into the Rukongai, and as Ichigo's friends rush to his side, the gate crashes back down while Gin bids them farewell.
Seeing Ichigo Kurosaki lying on the ground next to an unconscious Jidanbō Ikkanzaka, who is still bleeding from his severed arm, Orihime Inoue, Yasutora Sado, and Uryū Ishida rush over to him while wondering if he is okay, only for Ichigo to startle them by suddenly sitting up and yelling in pain. While Ichigo wonders who 3rd Division] Captain Gin Ichimaru was and admits that he could have been killed, Orihime notes that he does not seem to be injured as Uryū observes that Ichigo must have emerged unscathed by blocking the attack with his Shikai, Zangetsu, which he considers amazing. Yoruichi Shihōin approaches Ichigo and expresses relief that he is not hurt, and when Ichigo apologizes about causing the gate to be closed, Yoruichi asks him to not blame himself because Gin being on the other side means that they would not have been able to get through that way anyway and Ichigo not being harmed is enough.
However, the group is interrupted when dozens of Rukongai villagers come out and stare at them apprehensively. When Ichigo and his friends wonder who they are and if they were hiding before, Yoruichi details how Souls like Ichigo and his friends who have illegally entered Soul Society without a Shinigami escort are called Ryoka and considered the principle source of problems within Soul Society, which is why the denizens of Rukongai are wary of strangers, though Yoruichi admits that these may be friendly because they showed themselves to begin with. Suddenly, Yūichi Shibata pushes his way through the crowd and calls out to Sado, who is shocked alongside Ichigo to see the boy once trapped in a parakeet.
Shortly afterward, as five of the villagers push and pull Jidanbō's severed arm up to its stump on his shoulder, Orihime uses Sōten Kisshun to begin healing and reattaching it while another villager explains to Ichigo that Jidanbō has always been kind to them because he is from the Rukongai even though the Shinigami are just a bunch of bullies, which makes Ichigo good in their eyes for standing up for Jidanbō. Meanwhile, Sado walks with Yūichi on his shoulders and notes that the latter seems to like it here, only to be surprised when Yūichi mentions having a nice family as well. Hironari Horiuchi runs up to the pair and tells Yūichi that their mother and father will be worried if they do not get back soon. When Sado inquires who he is, Yūichi identifies Hironari as his big brother, and with Sado confused over the two of them having different last names, Hironari clarifies that most people in the Rukongai choose to live in families comprised of strangers because of how hard it is to find their actual family members in such a large area. Informing Sado that the Shinigami do not reunite families, Hironari details how the Souls who come to the Rukongai are sent in a different direction based on when they died and would not even know what district their relatives were sent to unless they committed collective suicide and received a numbered ticket together, which unnerves Sado in its business-like structure. Further shocked to learn that Hironari himself died in 1947 in Yamanashi, Sado asks Yūichi if this means he has still not found his mother, and when Yūichi sadly confirms this, Sado assures him that he will succeed one day, which cheers Yūichi up.
That night, as she continues to heal Jidanbō's arm, a visibly fatigued Orihime asks Shun'ō and Ayame if they are okay and promises that it will not take much longer. Recalling Ichigo as an elegant and powerful prince for his earlier actions, Orihime resolves to keep going, only to be startled when Ichigo offers her a cup of water. An unnerved Ichigo apologizes for scaring her and suggests that she should rest inside one of the nearby homes soon, and when she assures him that it will not take much longer, Ichigo observes that she has been out here for a long time, leading her to admit that healing someone from Soul Society is different than healing a regular Human. Upon learning that it will take five more hours to finish healing Jidanbō, Ichigo points out that this is the length of three soccer games and will cause Orihime to collapse. Suddenly, several villagers appear to insist that Orihime rest while they finish up because she has done enough. After agreeing to take a break while downplaying her efforts, Orihime heads inside with Ichigo as the villagers comment on her kindness and physical beauty.
Inside the nearby house, Uryū notes that Orihime must be exhausted when she and Ichigo walk inside before Yoruichi invites them to discuss their next plan of action. After recounting what has already transpired, Yoruichi explains that they can no longer enter through the White Way Gate due to the Shinigami increasing security on the other side in reaction to it being opened, and when Uryū concludes that a frontal assault on the gate would be foolhardy now, an irritated Yoruichi condemns it as a plan in the first place while indicating that it was Ichigo's idea before affirming that entering through the White Way Gate is impossible now. Sado brings up the possibility of using one of the other gates instead, but Yoruichi reveals that it is a ten-day walk to the next one, which is time they do not have, and with Uryū wondering what choice they have, Yoruichi asserts that they simply will not use the gates at all, shocking Ichigo and his friends. When Yoruichi asks him if he knows where Kūkaku Shiba is, the elder sitting with them in the room is shocked by the mention of her as Yoruichi recalls how Kūkaku was last living in west Fugai and tends to move around a lot. With the elder questioning if Yoruichi really intends to go over the wall surrounding the Seireitei in "that thing", a confused Ichigo hears the sound of approaching footsteps and is surprised alongside his friends when Ganju Shiba is thrown into the room, knocking down the door in the process. While Ichigo and the others express shock upon seeing Bonnie in the doorway, Ganju casually notes that Bonnie threw him again and greets the elder, who demands to know what he is doing here. Though he chides the elder for greeting an old friend like this, Ganju's attitude quickly changes when he sees Ichigo, and as the latter inquires what he is looking at, Ganju takes off his goggles and demands to know what a Shinigami is doing here.
A belligerent Ganju Shiba demands to know why Ichigo Kurosaki, a Shinigami, is here as he grabs Ichigo's face, only for an irritated Ichigo to send him flying across the room with a punch to the face, to the shock of his friends watching. Skidding across the floor, Ganju sits up and angrily wonders if Ichigo is picking a fight, but Ichigo points out that Ganju is the one who picked a fight by antagonizing him for no reason and questioning who he is. While Orihime Inoue nervously tries to stop a fight from breaking out, the elder in the room notes that he knew it would come to this, leading Uryū Ishida to ask him who Ganju is. Surprised that Ichigo does not know who he is and stating his name, Ganju declares that he is the self-proclaimed deep-red bullet of west Rukongai and the self-proclaimed but universally acknowledged boss of west Rukongai as the elder asserts that he is also the self-proclaimed number-one Shinigami hater of west Rukongai, shocking Ichigo and his friends with all of these titles being self-proclaimed.
Ganju tackles Ichigo, sending them both flying out of the house onto the ground outside, and when Uryū and Orihime attempt to follow him and help, they are confronted by Ganju's Gang, where Taichi Miyamoto instructs them to not mess with their boss while Kenji Yamashita warns them that they will have to deal with the gang if they attempt to help Ichigo, though Orihime and Uryū are more startled by the fact that all of them are riding boars. As Ganju tells him to get out and proclaims that no Shinigami will ever set foot in west Rukongai while he is around, Ichigo merely kicks him in the face to put distance between them and asks that Ganju hear him out before they continue this, though Ganju is focused on how Ichigo hit him in the face twice. When Yoruichi Shihōin tells him to stop wasting energy on this pointless fight, Ichigo refuses to do so because Ganju started it, leading Yoruichi to mentally berate him for being willing to ruin everything over his pride. Realizing that Ichigo will not leave voluntarily, Ganju decides that they will have to fight for real as he draws his short sword, and though the elder tries to assure him that Ichigo is a good Shinigami, Ganju denies this being possible because all Shinigami are equally bad, to the elder's concern. With Ganju rushing at Ichigo, Uryū realizes that Ichigo does not have his Zanpakutō on-hand, and as Orihime prepares to protect him with Santen Kesshun, to Taichi's ire, Yasutora Sado throws Ichigo's Shikai, Zangetsu, at him.
Thanking Sado, Ichigo unwraps Zangetsu, prompting Ganju to comment on its size as he slashes horizontally at Ichigo, who blocks by stabbing Zangetsu into the ground in front of him and intercepting perpendicularly. However, Ganju asserts that it is not always size that counts and moves his foot around the ground near Zangetsu before using Seppa, which causes the ground to turn into sand, and shoving Zangetsu down into the sand up to its handle, trapping it and shocking Ichigo. With Uryū realizing that he turned the ground into sand, Ganju kicks Ichigo in the head, causing him to hurtle several feet away while bouncing off the ground before bringing himself to a stop. Ichigo observes that Ganju is using a strange technique, and when Ganju kicks him again, Ichigo intercepts by blocking his foot with one arm and grabbing his pant leg with the other before pulling a surprised Ganju down and hitting him in the face with the side of his fist. With Ganju bruised by this, Ichigo asks him if that stings and reveals that he could even beat Tatsuki Arisawa at karate until junior high. Angered by this, Ganju attempts to slash downward at Ichigo, who guards by blocking Ganju's wrist with his own and pulls Ganju inward by the wrist before unleashing a powerful blow directly to his face. However, though he suffers a bloody nose from this, Ganju remains standing, leaving a stunned Ichigo to admit that he is tough for doing so after being hit with everything Ichigo had. Suddenly, as Ganju prepares to resume the fight, he and his gang hear a loud alarm, causing Taichi to panic.
Inspecting the ringing clock on Taichi Miyamoto's back, Mitsuru Ishino frantically tells Ganju Shiba that it is 9 P.M., prompting a shocked Ganju to call out to Bonnie, who leaps over a stunned Ichigo Kurosaki and tackles Ganju. As he observes that Bonnie is still playing games, Ganju claims that they do not have time for this tonight and requests that she let him ride her. Ichigo assumes they are running away, but Ganju denies this and tells Ichigo to wait here until he returns. When Ganju calls him a dandelion and mockingly asks him to not turn to fluff in the wind, an irritated Ichigo attempts to turn this back on him, but Ganju and his gang disappear into the distance on the backs of their boars while they argue about setting the timer earlier, leaving Uryū Ishida to clap Ichigo on the shoulder in solidarity over Ganju's strange actions while Orihime Inoue wonders if they are gone and an angered Ichigo demands to know who Ganju was.
The next day, Uryū is shocked to learn that Ichigo is not coming with them, and when Ichigo stubbornly asserts that he is staying here until Ganju comes back, Uryū attempts to pull him out of the house by force while telling him to stop being a jerk and declaring that it does not matter if Ganju thinks he is a coward. Upon seeing Orihime poke her head in while stating that she and Yasutora Sado are waiting for them, Uryū asks her to help him peel Ichigo off the floor. Suddenly, as Ichigo demands to know who Uryū is calling an idiot, Yoruichi Shihōin uses three claws to scratch him across his face and the bridge of his nose, leaving Ichigo to howl in pain and lie on the ground as Yoruichi berates him for forgetting that they came here to save Rukia Kuchiki in the heat of his rivalry with Ganju. With Ichigo calmed down by this, Yoruichi declares that they have no time for his games and headbutts him to make sure that he understands.
Some time later, as he and his friends walk through the plains on the outskirts of the Rukongai, Ichigo questions if this is really the right way given how far they are from the village, prompting an irritated Uryū to assert that the map which the elder gave them points to the location being around here and suggest that Ichigo take the lead if he believes that he can do better. While Ichigo claims that he is not complaining, Orihime points out that Kūkaku Shiba knowing the only way to get into the Seireitei without using the gates would make them such a great person that they should be living in town like a celebrity, which Uryū concedes is a good point, but Yoruichi denies this and explains that the surrounding area being so quiet and deserted better fits Kūkaku's personality. Detailing how Kūkaku always builds a recognizable house despite frequently changing residences, Yoruichi assures them that they will know which house is hers at a glance before seeing it in the distance as Ichigo and his friends gaze in shock at Kūkaku's house, which features two giant stone arms holding up a banner with her name on it and a large spire behind the house itself. While Yoruichi cheerfully affirms that Kūkaku's house can be recognized with one glance, Ichigo and Uryū wonder how else Yoruichi has misled them about Kūkaku and declare that Kūkaku could not live in town because all the neighbors would throw a fit. Yoruichi notes that the banner is being held by a pair of arms this time, leading a stunned Ichigo and Uryū to question if it is always something different, and casually begins approaching while Ichigo and Uryū fret over going into such a strange-looking house and express relief that no one else is around to see it.
While they approach, Uryū assumes that the spire behind the house is a smokestack and wonders why it is so large for such a small house before noticing that its top is covered, the purpose of which he does not understand. Suddenly, Koganehiko and Shiroganehiko appears before the group and demand to know who they are before declaring that they will not let Ichigo's group through due to their strange appearance. Though Ichigo expresses exasperation at having to fight more gatekeepers as he grips the handle of his Shikai, Zangetsu, Koganehiko is surprised when Yoruichi steps forward. Shortly afterward, with Shiroganehiko guarding the front door, Koganehiko leads Ichigo and his friends down the stairs inside the building as he apologizes to Yoruichi for not realizing the others were Yoruichi's attendants. While Uryū observes the strange layout of the house, with the stairs starting right behind the front door and no visible way to reach the second floor, Yoruichi brushes off Koganehiko's mistake and apologizes for not notifying them in advance, prompting Koganehiko to commend Yoruichi for such a gracious response. As they reach the bottom of the stairs, Koganehiko asks Ichigo and the others to wait for a moment and approaches the sliding doors to the next room, where Kūkaku calls out and asks him if he has brought an interesting guest. When Kūkaku tells him to come in, a startled Koganehiko complies and opens the sliding doors to reveal Kūkaku, who lounges on some pillows and a rug in the center of the room as she greets Yoruichi.
Ichigo and his friends are shocked to learn Kūkaku is a woman, and as Kūkaku wonders who they are, Yoruichi reveals that they have come to ask her a favor, which Kūkaku observes is usually the case when Yoruichi shows up. After Yoruichi confirms her guess that there is trouble, Kūkaku notes that they have not had an exchange like this for a while and tells Yoruichi to relay their story, as she loves trouble. Soon afterward, having been informed of the situation, Kūkaku states that she understands and agrees to help them, to Yoruichi's surprise. Claiming that she cannot say no when Kisuke Urahara is involved, Kūkaku clarifies that she trusts Yoruichi but not Ichigo and his friends, which is why she is assigning a man to oversee the operation. As Yoruichi confirms that this is fine, Ichigo picks up on Kūkaku mentioning a man, prompting her to clarify that he is her little brother and a useless brat as she walks over to another set of sliding doors. Kūkaku tells her brother that she is going to open the doors and orders him to behave himself, and after he assures her that he is ready, Kūkaku opens the doors to reveal Ganju, who politely introduces himself and declares that it is a pleasure to make their acquaintance, but Ichigo can only stare in stunned silence alongside his friends before screaming in surprise simultaneously with Ganju, leading a startled Kūkaku to wonder if they know each other.
In the prison ward within the Sixth Division barracks in the Seireitei, Rukia Kuchiki stares at the window in her cell, and when she hears the cell door opening behind her, Rukia turns and asks 6th Division Lieutenant Renji Abarai if the date of her execution has been moved up, only for the latter, accompanied by four members of the Kidō Corps, to reveal that she is being transferred to the Shishinrō within Senzaikyū because she is going to be executed in less than 14 days. Soon afterward, Rukia walks along a bridge, with the four members of the Kidō Corps binding and obscuring her head with a veil, while Renji guides her to Senzaikyū. Inside the Shishinrō, as the guards release her bindings and kneel, Rukia stares solemnly out the window as Renji directs her attention to the Sōkyoku on Sōkyoku Hill, which he asserts will be the instrument to end her life. One of the guards explains that Rukia may stare out this window each day and repent for her crimes, which is why this prison is known as the "Palace of Penitence", before untying the restraints binding her wrists. As the Kidō Corps members thank Renji for helping them escort Rukia and assert that they must leave, Renji hesitates in joining them and rushes back to Rukia, whom he informs of five Ryoka entering Soul Society the previous day before revealing that one of them was a Shinigami with a sword as tall as he was and orange hair, visibly shocking her.
Later, as he walks away from Senzaikyū, Renji mentally observes that Rukia has not looked so alive in days and recalls how 3rd Division Captain Gin Ichimaru was the one to intercept Ichigo Kurosaki, which he notes was probably wise to not tell Rukia because Ichigo may not have survived this. Suddenly, 5th Division Captain Sōsuke Aizen calls out to Renji, who is startled, and states that it is good to see him before inquiring if Renji has a moment to talk to him. Shortly afterward, Renji and Aizen stand in a storage room as the latter comments on how long it has been since he lost Renji to the Eleventh Division under Captain Kenpachi Zaraki before asking Renji if he is now in the Sixth Division, which Renji affirms. When Renji questions what he wanted to talk about, Aizen smiles and inquires if Renji is close to Rukia, which catches him off-guard, and closes the curtain covering the doorway as he assures Renji that he does not need to hide it because Aizen knows that they have been friends since their days together in the Rukongai. With Renji confirming this, Aizen decides to be blunt and asks Renji if he believes Rukia deserves to die, and when a shocked Renji admits that he does not understand, Aizen points out the bizarre circumstances of her execution; her crimes are the unauthorized transfer of her Shinigami powers and an overly long absence from Soul Society, which he has never heard of anyone receiving the death penalty for, her Gigai was order to be returned and disposed of immediately, her stay of execution was shortened from 35 to 25 days, and the use of the Sōkyoku against any Shinigami under the rank of Captain is unprecedented, all of which leads him to believe someone is behind this. With a stunned Renji wondering what he is getting at, Aizen admits that he has a bad feeling about this and begins to explain himself further, only to be interrupted by an alarm as an announcer informs all captains to gather for an emergency meeting.
Meanwhile, at Kūkaku Shiba's house, Kūkaku punches and kicks Ganju Shiba and Ichigo, respectively, while angrily demanding that they cut it out, shocking Ichigo's friends. As Ichigo and Ganju lie defeated on the floor, Kūkaku questions what is wrong with them to attack each other the moment they meet while Ichigo notes that Kūkaku kicking him without warning must be something that runs in the family. Ganju tearfully attempts to explain how he and Ichigo know each other, but Kūkaku merely kicks him in the face for talking back and grabs Ichigo by the head before asserting that he must follow her rules while in her house, which Ichigo meekly acknowledges. With Kūkaku releasing him and acknowledging his understanding, Ichigo tells Ganju that his sister is scary, prompting him to agree. Kūkaku tells them all to get up and follow her before leading the group down a nearby hallway. As he walks, Uryū observes that there are a lot of lights on the ceiling even though he did not see a generator, and when Kūkaku explains that they grow Hotarukazura in the holes on the ceiling as well as on both sides of the wood paneling, Uryū inquires if Hotarukazura is some kind of plant found only in Soul Society, only for Kūkaku to ignore him as she orders Ganju to open the door they have reached. While Ichigo comments to a confused Uryū that following Kūkaku's rules in this house apparently means she can ignore them sometimes, Ganju dramatically opens the door to reveal the room containing the Kakaku Taihō, which shocks Ichigo and his friends as they walk inside. Upon being asked what the Kakaku Taihō is, Kūkaku reveals that she is going to use it to launch Ichigo and his friends into the Seireitei through the sky, and with Ichigo and Uryū flabbergasted by the idea of this, Kūkaku clarifies that she is the premier fireworks expert of the Rukongai.
I have a stereo at home. I bought it in junior high with money I earned delivering newspapers - I know it's such a cliché. I've been using it for over 10 years. Recently, it hasn't been working so well. I thought about replacing it, but even if I bought the latest, coolest unit, I'd probably still miss this one. So I can't bring myself to buy a new one. In other words, I'm a wimp. Tite Kubo