160. Battle On Guillotine Hill
161. Scratch the Sky
162. Black Moon Rising
163. THE Speed Phantom 2 [Denial by Pride, Contradiction by Power]
164. That Who Change the World
165. Dark Side of Universe 2
166. Black & White 2
167. The Burial Chamber
168. Behind Me, Behind You
159. LONG WAY TO SAY GOODBYE
160. Battle on Guillotine Hill
161. Scratch the Sky
162. Black Moon Rising
163. THE Speed Phantom 2 (Denial by Pride, Contradiction by Power)
164. The One Who Changed the World
165. The Dark Side of the Universe 2
166. Black & White 2
167. Death Chamber
168. Behind Me,Behind You
THE BLACK MOON RISING is the nineteenth volume of the Bleach manga series.
Standing across from 2nd Division Captain Suì-Fēng on a small patch of ground left undamaged by her energy attack, Yoruichi Shihōin, having activated her lightning-type Shunkō, inquires if Suì-Fēng now understands why Yoruichi never showed her this technique. With a stunned Suì-Fēng standing on another undamaged portion of the ground and claiming that this is impossible, Yoruichi states that she did not teach Suì-Fēng this technique because it was too dangerous. Angered by this, Suì-Fēng rushes forward and attempts to stab Yoruichi with her Shikai, Suzumebachi, while declaring that this is a lie, only for Yoruichi to neutralize her strike with Hanki and grab her hand as she concludes that Suì-Fēng is not ready for this technique yet. Suì-Fēng looks at her hand and realizes Yoruichi neutralized her Kidō with a Kidō of equal but opposite force so easily, leaving her in disbelief at Yoruichi still being stronger than her, and jabs at Yoruichi with her other hand to force the latter to release her grip before leaping back. After pointing out how she should have surpassed Yoruichi by growing more powerful while a century of isolation weakened the latter, Suì-Fēng frantically demands to know how Yoruichi can still stand before and outclass her despite this.
In the past, a child Suì-Fēng watches a younger Yoruichi garbed in an elegant kimono pass in a royal procession as a man beside Suì-Fēng identifies Yoruichi as the princess of the Shihōin Clan and the future Corps Commander of the Keigun, whom Suì-Fēng will serve with her life by acting as Yoruichi's arms and legs. Internally, Suì-Fēng admits that it felt like she was seeing a goddess in the flesh the first time she laid eyes on Yoruichi and details how her family was one of lesser nobility that had served as executioners and assassins for generations, with life in the Keigun being the destiny of every member and strength being everything to them to the point where those unfit to join were cast out and disowned. Suì-Fēng notes that she was a member of the ninth generation and the youngest of six siblings to join the Keigun before revealing that she had cast aside her original name of Fēng Shāolíng to take on her great-grandmother's name instead. As she explains how the Keigun is the highest-ranking of the five Onmitsukidō divisions and is tasked with terminating their comrades who broke the law in addition to acting as scouts against Hollows, Suì-Fēng states that two of her five brothers were killed on their first mission, two on their second, and the last one on his sixth, leaving her feeling ashamed at their lack of strength in addition to sadness at their deaths.
Thinking of Yoruichi, Suì-Fēng details how the former was the 22nd and first female head of the Shihōin Clan whose Hakuda skills were transcendent, making her noble, elegant, and frighteningly strong - everything Suì-Fēng wanted to be. After asserting that she was in awe of Yoruichi, Suì-Fēng admits that her feelings eventually went beyond admiration to worship. Seven years after enlisting, an older Suì-Fēng joins the guard corps that reports directly to the commander and kneels before Yoruichi, who sits on a cushion wearing her Commander-in-Chief attire as she greets Suì-Fēng and inquires if the latter heard. With Suì-Fēng promising to devote her body and soul to protect the commander, Yoruichi decries the term "commander" as being too formal and requests that Suì-Fēng simply call her Yoruichi, prompting a shocked Suì-Fēng to claim that she could never do this. However, upon seeing Yoruichi's expression, Suì-Fēng relents and asks to address her as Miss Yoruichi, leaving Yoruichi exasperated by her stiffness. After giving Suì-Fēng permission to do what she wants, Yoruichi clarifies that she called Suì-Fēng here because she admires the latter's skills and asserts that she does not care what Suì-Fēng calls her. Having been told that Yoruichi is expecting great things from her, a blushing Suì-Fēng enthusiastically thanks her. Suì-Fēng states that she had no doubts and was elated even in battle, to the point of swearing over and over in her heart that she would die for Yoruichi, whom she spends much time with and grows close to.
Some time later, Yoruichi suddenly vanishes from Suì-Fēng's life without even saying goodbye, and the next day, Suì-Fēng hears of the charges levied against Yoruichi: desertion, helping Kisuke Uraharaescape, and eluding arrest, resulting in Yoruichi no longer being the Commander-in-Chief of the Onmitsukidō or the Corps Commander of the Keigun, which Suì-Fēng considers a scandal and a betrayal by her personal god.
In the present, as she continues to attack Yoruichi with her own Shunkō, Suì-Fēng details how she lost all respect for Yoruichi and cursed her name while swearing to become stronger than her and eventually capture Yoruichi with her own hands. However, though Suì-Fēng claims that she will never forgive Yoruichi for betraying her respect and trust, when she has her assault stopped by a blast from Yoruichi that leaves her fist held inches from Suì-Fēng's face and ruptures the ground behind Yoruichi, Suì-Fēng tearfully inquires why Yoruichi did not take Suì-Fēng with her and falls to her knees in sadness, leaving Yoruichi to look down at her somberly.
In a clearing within the forest surrounding Sōkyoku Hill, 11th Division 3rd Seat Ikkaku Madarame observes the lightning that occurred nearby and claims that it would have struck them had he swung his sword, prompting 7th Division Lieutenant Tetsuzaemon Iba to berate him for not realizing this was actually Kidō and that they are in no danger because it was aimed at something else while drinking sake from a gourd. When Iba tosses the gourd to him and admonishes him for not learning how to perform Kidō, Ikkaku catches the gourd and drinks from it as well as he sits against a tree and asserts that spells are simply not his style. While Ikkaku claims to have not been born with versatile powers like Iba was, Iba clarifies that he was not born like this either, but simply trained for versatility because one is more likely to become a lieutenant if they are well-rounded than if they are simply proficient in one area of combat. Though Ikkaku comments that this does not sound like much fun as he tosses the gourd back, Iba declares that a man should aim to rise through the ranks and that it is indeed fun while catching the gourd. However, Ikkaku counters that this is merely what Chikane Iba wanted, though Iba questions why he would want to be a lieutenant for a witch like his mother.
Suddenly, as Ikkaku begins to address something, Iba observes that they are out of sake, prompting a shocked Ikkaku to berate Iba for drinking it too fast, and when Iba states that sake is subject to the laws of nature like everything else, an incredulous Ikkaku inquires if he is implying that the sake evaporated. After agreeing to do it once again, Ikkaku and Iba repeatedly play janken until Iba wins, at which point he moves to the top of the nearby cliff while attributing Ikkaku's loss to him being bad at janken. Suddenly, the two of them hear a loud explosion of force on Sōkyoku Hill, leading Iba to inquire who is fighting 6th Division Captain Byakuya Kuchiki because he does not recognize the Reiatsu. Upon being told that it is likely Ichigo Kurosaki, Iba asks if he is from the Eleventh Division, only for Ikkaku to question why someone from the Eleventh Division would be fighting Byakuya and clarify that Ichigo is a Ryoka whom he fought once before. With Iba commenting on how Ichigo must be strong and that it would be fun to fight someone like that, Ikkaku notes that Iba is a warrior to his core and picks up his Shikai, Hōzukimaru, while declaring that it is time that they picked up where they left off. Affirming this, Iba holds up his own Shikai and reminds Ikkaku that whoever loses has to get more sake, and after Ikkaku continues that whoever wins gets to rest, the two of them conclude that easing up will result in death before resuming their clash.
Meanwhile, on Sōkyoku Hill, Ichigo and Byakuya clash repeatedly, eventually overturning a section of the ground with the force of their blows as the ground underneath Byakuya ruptures from Ichigo's subsequent overhead strike with his Shikai, Zangetsu. After separating and moving several meters apart to stand on separate chunks of ground, Byakuya observes that Ichigo has mastered Shunpo as well and begins to downplay this, but Ichigo interrupts him by commenting on his cool-headed nature and asserts that Byakuya analyzing him like he is not a threat is just an act before reminding Byakuya of his promise to kill Ichigo. Pointing out how Byakuya has not even scratched him yet and demanding to see his Bankai, Ichigo reiterates Byakuya's promise to kill him and execute Rukia Kuchiki himself. Though Byakuya questions why this matters, Ichigo proclaims that Byakuya makes him sick and that he plans to hit Byakuya with everything he has got while crushing all of the latter's powers because of how twisted his promise to execute his own sister is. As he concludes that he does not care about Byakuya's sense of duty or honor, Ichigo asserts that he will never let Byakuya say this in front of Rukia again and demands once more that Byakuya activate his Bankai so he can crush it and make Byakuya beg Rukia for forgiveness.
Despite this, Byakuya refuses to change his mind or both Ichigo and Rukia's fates regardless of what Ichigo says and declares that he will not need to use his Bankai against Ichigo for at least a thousand years before releasing his Shikai, Senbonzakura, which separates the blade of his Zanpakutō into a thousand blade petals that swirl around him. However, as the blade petals approach him, an unfazed Ichigo unleashes a Getsuga Tenshō that tears through the entirety of Senbonzakura in one blast, stunning Byakuya.
Ichigo Kurosaki's Getsuga Tenshō surges off the side of Sōkyoku Hill, and as the dust clears, 6th Division Captain Byakuya Kuchiki stands as one of his tekkō falls off his injured left arm, which begins to bleed. With Byakuya questioning if this flash of light was the power of his Zanpakutō, Ichigo stands in front of a large chasm with his Shikai, Zangetsu, over his shoulder and confirms this before explaining that the Getsuga Tenshō consists of Zangetsu absorbing his Reiryoku at the moment of attack and firing highly concentrated Reiatsu from the tip, which is then magnified and discharged. Admitting that he could not use it at will and did not even know how to discharge it until today, Ichigo recounts Kisuke Urahara stating that all he could teach Ichigo was the proper state of mind, which he finally understood after training with Zangetsu because the latter was the only one who could teach him about Zangetsu.
In the past, Ichigo fights off several clones of Zangetsu and finally succeeds in firing a Getsuga Tenshō at will, leading Zangetsu to dispel his clones and explain to Ichigo that the energy released by this technique differs greatly depending on whether or not Ichigo knows its name before relaying its name to Ichigo.
In the present, Ichigo tells Byakuya the name of Getsuga Tenshō and embeds Zangetsu in the ground as he demands once again that Byakuya use his Bankai. After sarcastically commenting on how glorious the name Getsuga Tenshō is, Byakuya decides to give Ichigo what he wants and drops his Zanpakutō onto the ground, which it sinks into like water, while promising a surprised Ichigo that he will be gone like dust in the wind before he can regret his decision. With two long rows of massive blades rising up behind him, Byakuya activates his Bankai, Senbonzakura Kageyoshi, causing the blades to split apart into innumerable blade petals that surge toward Ichigo, who grabs Zangetsu and leaps away while Senbonzakura Kageyoshi crashes into the ground where he was standing. While Senbonzakura Kageyoshi follows him into the air, Ichigo fires another Getsuga Tenshō directly at Byakuya, only for the latter to casually block and disperse it with Senbonzakura Kageyoshi. Suddenly, Ichigo finds Senbonzakura Kageyoshi massing behind him in midair, and as one of the blade petals cuts his shoulder, Ichigo turns and attempts to block the swarm with Zangetsu, only for the remainder of Senbonzakura Kageyoshi surrounding Byakuya to join the rest and overpower Ichigo, who is slammed into the ground in a flurry of blade petals.
As the dust clears, Byakuya details how Senbonzakura Kageyoshi is an attack comprised of millions of blades coming from all directions and asserts that Ichigo will never be able to evade it with a slow technique like Getsuga Tenshō despite how powerful Zangetsu is while a wounded and bleeding Ichigo lies in a large crater created by the attack. However, with Byakuya turning away, Ichigo merely berates himself for thinking that he could beat a Bankai with a Shikai, and when Byakuya admonishes him for not thinking before he speaks because his words imply that he has achieved Bankai, Ichigo confirms that this is exactly what he is saying as he stands up.
With 6th Division Captain Byakuya Kuchiki stunned by what he just said, a wounded Ichigo Kurosaki questions if Byakuya is going to make him say it again or if the latter does not believe what he is seeing before proclaiming that he is nowhere near finished. As he holds his Shikai, Zangetsu, out to the side, Ichigo tells Byakuya to watch closely in order to see his Bankai and yells loudly. Ichigo's Reiatsu begins surging around him, and as he watches this, a stunned Byakuya mentally asserts that this is impossible because only the most experienced Shinigami can perform Bankai, with even the four Noble Houses whose members are born with Reiatsu surpassing all others only having one member in several generations ever attain that level of power, to the point that the names of those who have achieved Bankai are etched into the history of Soul Society. Looking at Ichigo, Byakuya wonders how he could dream of achieving Bankai when he became a Shinigami on borrowed powers and has no noble lineage in addition to not being a proper Shinigami.
While Byakuya is unable to comprehend how he can be emitting such astounding Reiatsu, Ichigo points Zangetsu in front of him and grips it with both hands before activating his Bankai, which releases an explosion of energy that blasts off the edge of Sōkyoku Hill. The dust and energy clear before an astonished Byakuya to reveal Ichigo standing with his Bankai, Tensa Zangetsu, consisting of a ragged black coat with a red lining and a pure black daitō. Despite this, Byakuya refuses to believe that what he perceives to be an ordinary Zanpakutō could be a Bankai and assumes that this is simply Ichigo gleefully treading on something else the Shinigami hold sacred as he did with the execution ceremony. However, as Byakuya moves to attack with his Bankai, Senbonzakura Kageyoshi, while declaring that he will cut Ichigo down for insulting their pride, he suddenly finds Ichigo holding the tip of Tensa Zangetsu to his throat before he can react, stunning him. Ichigo observes that Byakuya's pride demands that he kill Rukia Kuchiki and steps back before proclaiming that stepping on this pride is the reason why he achieved Bankai as he levels Tensa Zangetsu at Byakuya.
6th Division Captain Byakuya Kuchiki recalls how he briefly lost sight of Ichigo Kurosaki when attacking the latter with his Bankai, Senbonzakura Kageyoshi, after the latter activated his own Bankai, Tensa Zangetsu, and admits that he could not react in time when Ichigo held the tip of his sword to Byakuya's throat. Looking at Ichigo standing before him, Byakuya questions if Ichigo withdrew his blade out of overconfidence and asserts that arrogance destroys the footholds of victory before claiming that Tensa Zangetsu cannot possibly be a Bankai due to its miserable size and Ichigo himself being a Ryoka. After warning Ichigo that he will regret not slitting Byakuya's throat when he had the chance because one only gets a single miracle per battle, Byakuya promises that Ichigo will not get a second chance and attacks him with Senbonzakura Kageyoshi.
At the last second, Ichigo evades the swarm of blade petals, which slices through the rocks behind him, and dodges another stream of Senbonzakura Kageyoshi sent by Byakuya before landing in front of him and slashing at him with his sword. When a surprised Byakuya blocks the strike with Senbonzakura Kageyoshi and attacks him from the side, Ichigo rapidly moves behind Byakuya before the petals reach him and falls onto his hand to duck below another stream sent at him, allowing him to handspring behind Byakuya once again while the latter turns to face the area where he was located prior. Astonished by Ichigo's speed while the latter continues to evade Senbonzakura Kageyoshi, Byakuya wonders if his Bankai cannot catch Ichigo, who begins moving so fast that he generates several afterimages of himself around Byakuya.
With Ichigo questioning if he cannot keep up and noting that he can still go faster, Byakuya tells him to not get carried away and gestures with his left hand at Ichigo, who realizes Senbonzakura Kageyoshi is speeding up and narrowly dodges the two streams of blade petals that subsequently crash into the area where he was located. Internally, Byakuya details how controlling Senbonzakura Kageyoshi with his hands makes it move twice as fast and asserts that there is no one whom he cannot catch before converging the entirety of Senbonzakura Kageyoshi onto Ichigo in midair, which he believes will be the finishing blow. However, Ichigo merely slashes all the blade petals around him away with hundreds of rapid strikes with his sword, leaving Byakuya staring in shock at him having swatted them all away, and reminds Byakuya of his claim that one can only have a single miracle per battle as he appears behind Byakuya and inquires what this is before stabbing at him.
Byakuya turns around and catches the blade of Ichigo's sword near the hilt with his right hand before it can pierce his body, and as blood spurts into the air from his injured hand, Byakuya concludes that Tensa Zangetsu concentrates all its power into this small blade so Ichigo can fight with maximum force at hyper-speed. Acknowledging this as the secret ability of Ichigo's Bankai, Byakuya proclaims that he will simply crush that power and Ichigo along with it.
On the steps leading up to Sōkyoku Hill, the Ryoka Invasion and Makizō Aramaki run up while discussing how incredible the Reiatsu they are experiencing is and how it is getting heavier the closer they get to the top. Though uncertain if it is really Ichigo Kurosaki's Reiatsu, upon reaching the summit, Orihime Inoue, Yasutora Sado, Uryū Ishida, and Ganju Shiba are stunned by the intense Reiatsu emanating from beyond the dead white trees in front of them. With Uryū and Ganju unable to tell if Ichigo is beyond the trees, Orihime asserts that she does not need to see because the scent of Ichigo's Reiatsu stays the same no matter how strong he grows. When Sado notes that he cannot sense Rukia Kuchiki's Reiatsu even though she was supposed to be up here, 11th Division Lieutenant Yachiru Kusajishi reveals that she got away while sitting on a nearby tree branch. Sado questions why Ichigo is still fighting if Rukia got away, prompting Uryū to explain that he must be up against a powerful adversary and that the Gotei 13 would still come after Rukia even if Ichigo got her out, meaning that she will not be safe until he has broken the enemy completely and crushed all hope of executing her. As Uryū concludes that Ichigo is risking his life, a trembling Aramaki claims that they are all crazy to be going this far for a mere friend, but as Uryū attempts to counter this, Orihime firmly asserts that there is nothing mere about it and that Rukia means a lot to Ichigo because she changed his whole world.
On the other side of the trees, a surprised Ichigo pulls his bloodied sword out of 6th Division Captain Byakuya Kuchiki's grasp and leaps back. However, Byakuya simply tells Ichigo to observe the true form of his Bankai, Senbonzakura Kageyoshi, taken when it has abandoned all defense and dedicated itself only to offense, and initiates Senkei while his blade petals mass overhead and form a thousand large swords that begin rotating in four rows around the two of them. With Ichigo intimidated by this, Byakuya explains that the swords will not strike him all at once and that this is a technique he reserves for those whom he has sworn to kill by his own hand as he summons one of the swords to his bloody right hand. As Byakuya concludes that he is only the second person to ever see it, Ichigo claims to feel special, and after Byakuya inquires if he is ready, Ichigo leaps forward alongside Byakuya, embedding footprints in and shattering the ground where they were standing, and clash fiercely, resulting in an explosion of energy that rips out of the Senkei barrier around them.
Watching from behind the trees, the Ryoka are startled by the shockwave that hits them, leading Ganju to question what Ichigo and Byakuya are doing to each other. Though Uryū suggests that she stand back a little since they cannot do much from here, Orihime thanks him, but states that she is going to stay right here as she braces herself. Internally, Uryū observes that Orihime knows she will only get in the way if she tries to help and Ichigo would not want her to even if she could help him, yet has to fight to hold herself back all the same. While he concludes that Orihime is waiting and praying for Ichigo, Uryū mentally warns Ichigo that he will have to answer to Uryū if he does not win as Ichigo and Byakuya continue to clash.
While blood spatters on one of the Senkei swords rotating around them, Ichigo Kurosaki and 6th Division Captain Byakuya Kuchiki clash fiercely in the center of the circular rows. When their blades pass each other and manage to strike, Ichigo and Byakuya leap back with fresh wounds as Ichigo mentally asserts that Byakuya has been getting faster ever since he activated Senkei, though he believes that he can still go a little faster too. Suddenly, Ichigo finds the tip of Byakuya's sword about to pierce him between the eyes, and as Ichigo narrowly evades this and receives a cut on his right cheek, Byakuya seemingly passes by him, leading Ichigo to look to his right, only for Byakuya to appear behind him and stab his sword at Ichigo's neck. Upon noticing this, Ichigo pushes down Byakuya's sword with his own and moves into a blade lock, prompting Byakuya to inquire why Ichigo is slowing down. Though Ichigo points out that he is still fast enough to block Byakuya's sword, Byakuya calls down another sword from the topmost row to his left hand and embeds it into Ichigo's right foot. With Ichigo reeling in pain, Byakuya places his left index finger against Ichigo's right shoulder and uses Hadō #4. Byakurai, firing a beam of energy all the way through a stunned Ichigo's shoulder that leaves a smoking hole.
Byakuya pulls out the sword embedded in Ichigo's foot, allowing the latter to stumble forward, and observes that he has reached his limit. As a confused and bloodied Ichigo realizes that he cannot move, Byakuya brings up Ichigo's theory that Senkei increased his speed and clarifies that Senkei simply condenses the blade petals of his Bankai, Senbonzakura Kageyoshi, into the shape of a sword and explosively increases their lethality while leaving his speed unchanged. With Ichigo realizing that he just got slower, Byakuya admits that he did well to defeat captain-class Shinigami and survive a direct attack from Senbonzakura Kageyoshi, but concludes that Ichigo is already a corpse no matter how hard he tries, which Ichigo should feel as well, before declaring that this is as far as Ichigo goes while preparing to deliver the finishing blow.
Seeing this, Ichigo frantically orders his body to move because nothing will change unless he wins, as just fighting or surviving means nothing. However, when a nearly-unconscious Ichigo asserts that he wants to win, Hollow Ichigo scoffs at this while Ichigo's hand grabs Byakuya's sword by the blade mid-swing. As Hollow Ichigo reiterates that he cannot allow Ichigo to die, a shocked Byakuya inquires who he is, prompting Hollow Ichigo to claim that he does not have a name while a Hollow mask begins forming over the left side of his face.
Having been asked by 6th Division Captain Byakuya Kuchiki who he is, Hollow Ichigo, having taken possession of Ichigo Kurosaki's body, claims to have no name before slashing Byakuya diagonally across the chest with the sword of Ichigo's Bankai, Tensa Zangetsu. With a large amount of blood spattering on the ground from a badly wounded Byakuya, Hollow Ichigo laughs maniacally and berates Ichigo as not being good enough because of how his bones are creaking from the weight of his own Reiatsu. Crushing the Senkei sword that Byakuya was using in his left hand, Hollow Ichigo declares that he will show Ichigo how to use Bankai, and as Byakuya calls another sword to his hand, Hollow Ichigo unleashes a black Getsuga Tenshō, shocking Byakuya with its different color, and moves to Byakuya's left before unleashing another black Getsuga Tenshō. However, as Byakuya prepares to counter the two blasts approaching him, Hollow Ichigo suddenly appears behind Byakuya and attacks him, allowing both Getsuga Tenshō to slam into him in a large explosion of energy.
While the dust settles to reveal a further wounded Byakuya, whose kenseikan shatters as he questions if Hollow Ichigo is a Hollow due to his Reiatsu and strange mask, Hollow Ichigo stands across from him and dismisses the answer as irrelevant for Byakuya, only to be interrupted when his left hand grabs the still-forming mask on his face. With Byakuya staring in astonishment, Hollow Ichigo struggles to stop his left hand from tearing off the mask and proclaims that they can win if Ichigo leaves this to him, but Ichigo internally demands that he disappear and stop interfering before successfully ripping off the mask and regaining control of his body. After Ichigo apologizes for the interruption and suggests that they start over, a stunned Byakuya realizes that even though Ichigo could cut him while being controlled, this is not what the latter wanted. Smiling, Byakuya agrees to this and decides to not ask Ichigo about the entity controlling him before observing that they should let the next clash decide this battle since neither of them have much strength left.
As he affirms this, Ichigo asks Byakuya once more why he did not try to save Rukia Kuchiki, which Byakuya promises to answer if Ichigo defeats him, to Ichigo's amusement. Byakuya initiates Shūkei: Hakuteiken, condensing his Bankai, Senbonzakura Kageyoshi, into a large pair of wings connected by a halo behind him and a long sword in his hand, and after admitting that he does not have any awesome moves like this due to Zangetsu only teaching him the Getsuga Tenshō, Ichigo concludes that the only thing he can do is channel all his Reiatsu into one blow, which he proceeds to do. With a large tendril of black Reiatsu emanating from his sword, Ichigo leaps toward Byakuya, who follows suit, and the two clash one last time in an explosion of white and black Reiatsu.
While Shinigami around the Seireitei stare in shock at the conclusion of the clash atop Sōkyoku Hill, Ichigo Kurosaki stands behind and facing away from 6th Division Captain Byakuya Kuchiki, where blood spurts from a fresh wound on his back and he is forced to prop himself up with the sword of his Bankai, Tensa Zangetsu, before he falls over. As Ichigo refuses to fall down, blood spurts from a fresh wound on Byakuya's chest, prompting him to look at his injured hand and recall Ichigo's sword piercing through the blade of his Shūkei: Hakuteiken during their final clash. Byakuya brings up Ichigo's desire to know why he did not try to save Rukia Kuchiki, and with Ichigo looking back at him, Byakuya asserts that lawbreakers must face justice and be punished according to their crimes because this is the law. When Ichigo questions if he was going to kill his own sister to uphold the law, Byakuya states that sympathy for one's own kin is unworthy, stunning Ichigo, and that familial devotion is nothing next to the law. Affirming that he must not succumb to sentimentality, Byakuya concludes that the Kuchiki Clan is one of the four great Noble Houses who must set an example for all Shinigami and that no one will uphold the law if they do not.
However, Ichigo admits that he still does not get it and declares that he would have fought the law if he were in Byakuya's position, leading Byakuya to recall 13th Division Lieutenant Kaien Shiba as he realizes that he was never Ichigo's enemy since the latter has been fighting the laws of Soul Society. After noting that Ichigo is similar to Kaien, whose ferocity he found distasteful, Byakuya informs Ichigo that his ferocity has broken Byakuya's sword and that he will no longer pursue Rukia before disappearing with Shunpo while ceding victory to Ichigo, who celebrates having won, only to find himself wobbling and barely able to stand due to blood loss. Suddenly, the back of Ichigo's head collides with Orihime Inoue's face, causing him to fall over while Orihime apologizes for her hard head and explains that she was trying to catch him.
As Ichigo expresses surprise at Orihime being here, Yasutora Sado, Uryū Ishida, Ganju Shiba, and Makizō Aramaki approach as well while Uryū comments on Ichigo being in such good spirits despite being covered in blood. After inquiring who Aramaki is and being told by an exasperated Aramaki to ignore him, Ichigo expresses relief at his friends being okay, though Uryū clarifies that they are not okay and are only unscathed compared to Ichigo himself. When Ichigo asks her if she is hurt, Orihime frantically denies this and recounts how Uryū protected her alongside the Shinigami, with 11th Division Captain Kenpachi Zaraki even giving her a ride, before tearfully admitting that she was not in any danger and was just worried about Ichigo. Apologizing for being unable to protect Ichigo, Orihime thanks him for not getting killed and expresses gratitude at him being alright, which Ichigo thanks her for.
10th Division Captain Tōshirō Hitsugaya mentally details how Central 46 is comprised of six judges and forty sages brought together from all across Soul Society, acting as the highest court in the realm where crimes committed by Shinigami are tried, with the power to enforce a ruling by calling upon the Gotei 13, Onmitsukidō, or Kidō, and whose rulings are so absolute that not even a captain can dissent once they are made, only to conclude that the Central Underground Assembly Hall is now a slaughterhouse as he and his lieutenant, Rangiku Matsumoto, stand among the corpses of the Central 46 lying in their seats. Running two fingers across the blood pooled on one of the tables, Hitsugaya observes that it is dry, brown, and flaking, meaning that the Central 46 was not killed today or yesterday. Internally, Hitsugaya wonders when this could have happened because the underground chamber should have been completely sealed after 6th Division Lieutenant Renji Abarai was defeated and the special wartime order was proclaimed, meaning that no one would have been allowed anywhere near here, and all thirteen protective walls were closed with no sign of entry when he and Rangiku forced their way in today, which leads him to realize that the Central 46 has been dead for some time and that all the orders they have received regarding Rukia Kuchiki's execution were false.
Initially assuming that 3rd Division Captain Gin Ichimaru did this, Hitsugaya is uncertain that one man could massacre the highest court and keep it secret alone, but as he questions if others were involved, Hitsugaya is alerted when 3rd Division Lieutenant Izuru Kira states that he knew Hitsugaya would come as he stands at the top of the stairs leading into the chamber. With Hitsugaya demanding to know if he did this, Izuru leaps out of sight, prompting Hitsugaya and Rangiku to run after him while a mysterious figure lurks behind the other entrance leading into the chamber. Pursuing Izuru outside, Hitsugaya demands to know if he killed them, but Izuru denies this and reveals that he was let in only moments before Hitsugaya and Rangiku arrived by those within opening the lock and letting him inside. When Hitsugaya inquires who let him in, Izuru asserts that the Central 46 did, to Hitsugaya's confusion and chagrin, and notes that Hitsugaya should be protecting 5th Division Lieutenant Momo Hinamori rather than chasing him.
Though an unnerved Hitsugaya is unsure of what he is talking about, Izuru informs him that Hinamori is no longer in the Tenth Division's barracks and recounts how Hitsugaya used Kyōmon to surround the room Hinamori was sleeping in with a high-level barrier that deflects attacks from the outside, thinking this would keep her safe. However, Izuru points out that Kyōmon is meant to keep people out and not in as he reminds Hitsugaya that Hinamori is a master of Kidō who could easily break such a barrier and put one around herself to conceal her Reiatsu while she moved about. With Izuru concluding that Hinamori has been following Hitsugaya and Rangiku this whole time, a stunned Hitsugaya asks Rangiku to deal with Izuru in his stead, which she affirms, and leaps back to return to the Central 46 Compound. Rangiku is surprised when Izuru stops running, and when Izuru explains that his task was to stop her here, Rangiku asks him if Gin gave him this task, only for Izuru to assert that he does not have to answer her. As Rangiku questions what is wrong with him and wonders if Gin told him something, Izuru inquires why he should answer to a dead woman, shocking Rangiku, and releases his Shikai, Wabisuke.
Meanwhile, as he rushes toward the compound, Hitsugaya berates himself for not realizing Hinamori would follow him because she believes that he killed her captain, Sōsuke Aizen, and that she would come after him if it meant dragging herself on the ground for Aizen's sake even though he believed that she would not be able to move so soon. Back in the Central Underground Assembly Hall, a stunned Hinamori stands at one of the entrances and wonders is going on as she stares at the dead council members. While Hinamori recounts what she witnessed and questions why Hitsugaya was so shocked at this if he killed Aizen and by extension the council members, leading her to question if Izuru did it, Gin approaches her from behind and leans over her shoulder as he greets her.
FULL Color!!! The hellish full-color section comes to you in its full of hell form! Now! Enjoy a hell of a taste!
My favorite shoe broke. I'm searching for a shoe-repair master. -Tite Kubo
In the Japanese version of this volume, chapter 162 is still printed in color and not grayscaled like regular color pages; as such, the chapter sketch following it is also in color, making it the only colored volume sketch in the entire series.