At the bottom of the Shattered Shaft in the underground training area beneath the Urahara Shop, Ichigo Kurosaki screams in terror while watching the end links of his Chain of Fate begin to devour themselves with tiny mouths as they undergo Encroachment. Standing at the edge of the Shattered Shaft above, Kisuke Urahara explains that a severed Chain of Fate will begin to devour itself in a process called Encroachment. With his arms bound by Tessai Tsukabishi's Bakudō #99. Part 1. Kin, Ichigo slams his chest against the side of the Shattered Shaft and begins scraping the end of his Chain of Fate against it while proclaiming that he will crush the mouths, only for Urahara to warn him to not get too close to the mouths as Ichigo hears a crunching sound and falls back to discover that the mouths have taken a bite out of his torso, which spurts blood. As Urahara observes that they will eat Ichigo instead of the Chain of Fate if he gets too close, Ichigo collapses and grunts in pain. After admitting that it normally takes months or even years for a broken Chain of Fate to reach this state, Urahara reveals that there is a gas in the Shattered Shaft that stimulates Encroachment and tells Ichigo that his Encroachment will be complete in 72 hours as he clarifies that Ichigo will either become a Shinigami and escape or become a Hollow and be disposed of by Urahara and his crew. With Ichigo incredulous that Urahara would let him die, Urahara asserts that his only two choices are to succeed or die while Tessai continues to maintain his spell a few feet away from Ichigo.
Meanwhile, in an abandoned building in Karakura Town, Orihime Inoue and Yasutora Sado yell loudly as they attempt to summon their respective powers, prompting a confused and embarrassed Yoruichi Shihōin to tell them they are doing it wrong and state that they will never get to Soul Society like this. When Orihime begins to protest, Yoruichi asserts that they will not last one minute in Soul Society if they cannot activate their powers at will before instructing them to remember the first time they used their powers and retrace their steps. Admitting that this sounds reasonable, Orihime notes that she was desperate when she first used her power, prompting Yoruichi to inquire what she was desperate to do. With Orihime confused by this, Yoruichi explains how people discover their true powers when they want to protect something, regardless of what it is, and asks Orihime and Sado what they wanted to protect back then.
Though Orihime immediately thinks of Tatsuki Arisawa, Sado is unable to recall precisely what Karin Kurosaki looks like and simply adds her hat and hair as well as lipstick to Ichigo's face because he assumes that they must look the same, with the resulting mental image visibly shocking him as Orihime and Yoruichi wonder what is wrong. Suddenly, Orihime's hairpins sparkle, which Sado points out to her as Yoruichi further elaborates that the heart reveals what is most precious to its owner because it is closely linked to the soul. Yoruichi asks Orihime why she is going to Soul Society, and after she thinks for a few seconds and firmly states that she is going in order to protect Ichigo, Yoruichi praises her conviction as the Shun Shun Rikka suddenly burst out of Orihime's hairpins, prompting a surprised Orihime to happily greet them. However, Tsubaki begins pulling on her hair while berating her for summoning them when she is not in danger as Shun'ō frantically tells him to stop, which leads Yoruichi to tells Orihime that she needs to learn to control her powers while observing that they seem to be controlling her right now. Turning to Sado, Yoruichi asks him why he wants to go to Soul Society, but Sado initially does not answer.
Back in the Shattered Shaft, Ichigo lies on the ground and watches the mouths on the end of his Chain of Fate disappear as he notes that this was the fifth Encroachment and mentally detailing how the mouths only chomp on the links for a few minutes at a time between rest periods of several hours. As he gets to his feet, Ichigo mentally states that the pain of Encroachment is so paralyzing that he has to attempt his escape while the mouths are asleep and begins running up the side of the Shattered Shaft while yelling, only to slip off and fall back down as he screams. Watching from above, Jinta Hanakari observes that Ichigo managed to run 10 feet up the wall, slightly impressing Urahara as Ururu Tsumugiya calls him an idiot. When Jinta asks him if he is hungry, Ichigo reminds him that he cannot be hungry because he is a disembodied Soul. However, Jinta merely notes that this is good before revealing that a Soul getting hungry means that they are about to become a Hollow, shocking Ichigo. Offering to let Ichigo drink some of his spit if he is thirsty, Jinta lets a strand of saliva drip down from his mouth and has Ururu join him, prompting Ichigo to angrily threaten to beat them up when he gets free before switching to begging for mercy as the saliva begins to touch him. Nearby, Urahara purposely ignores this as he notes that it must be getting dark by now before stating that this area makes one lose all sense of time.
Some time later, Ichigo lies on the ground and looks up at the top of the Shattered Shaft as he admits that he cannot climb it. While Ichigo wonders how long he has been down here and how he is supposed to climb out, Jinta runs down the side with a large plate of fruit and offers it to Ichigo, whom he cheekily claims must be getting hungry by now, only for Ichigo to assert that he is not hungry and point out that he still has multiple links of his Chain of Fate left. Narrowing his eyes at this, Jinta sets down the plate and notes that it is easy to lose track of time in this hole, and when a confused Ichigo picks up on his mention of time, Jinta reveals in succession that Ichigo has been in the Shattered Shaft for exactly 70 hours, which is when most Souls start transforming into Hollows, and that the next Encroachment will be worse than all the others combined. Suddenly, mouths form on all the remaining links of Ichigo's Chain of Fate, and he can only stare in shock and futilely beg them to stop as the mouths devour each other and the base of the chain on his chest. With the entire chain gone, a mask begins forming itself on Ichigo's face as he screams in agony.
While his body resists his transformation into a Hollow, Ichigo Kurosaki finds himself in his inner world speaking to Zangetsu for the first time.
With Ichigo Kurosaki screaming in agony as a Hollow mask begins forming on his face, Tessai Tsukabishi can only watch in shock as a shockwave emanates outward from him. As Jinta Hanakari climbs to the top of the Shattered Shaft and observes that Ichigo is going to transform into a Hollow, Ururu Tsumugiya points her left fist at Ichigo while bracing it with her right arm and asserts that she is going to take preventative measures, but Urahara stops her and tells them to look closely before explaining how Hollows are usually formed by having the Soul burst into pieces and reassemble itself. Pointing out how Ichigo's body is remaining intact while his mask is forming, Urahara reveals that this atypical transformation is a sign of Ichigo's resistance, which means that there is a remote chance of him becoming a Shinigami in time, and tells them to wait a bit longer until his transformation is complete.
While the mask continues to form, a voice asks Ichigo if he can hear it as Ichigo wakes up on the side of a skyscraper in the middle of a sideways city. Wondering where he is, Ichigo has his attention drawn behind him, where Zangetsu stands on top of a pole. Upon being asked who he is, Zangetsu states that Ichigo should know and says his name, but Ichigo is unable to hear it. Disappointed by this, Zangetsu inquires how many times he has to shout in order for his voice to reach Ichigo and claims that there is no one in this world who knows Ichigo better than he does. Upon seeing Zangetsu stepping onto the side of the pole, a confused Ichigo questions what he is talking about because he does not have any friends who are this depressing, only to be shocked to see Zangetsu standing on the side of the pole as the latter asks him how he can sit in a place like that. Realizing that he is sitting on the side of a skyscraper with the ground behind him, Ichigo begins falling backward as he screams in terror, prompting Zangetsu to sarcastically praise his composure as he falls alongside him.
When Zangetsu assures him that Shinigami preside over all spiritual phenomena, including death, Ichigo frantically points out that he is not a Shinigami right now, only for Zangetsu to continue explaining that Ichigo can solidify the Reishi in the atmosphere beneath his feet in order to stop his fall, which leads an irritated Ichigo to demand to know if he is deaf. Zangetsu tells Ichigo to remember how he was able to gain traction on the air itself as a Shinigami, prompting Ichigo to recall doing so in his fight against Acidwire, and reveals that the Shinigami powers which Byakuya Kuchiki removed from Ichigo were only the ones given to him by Rukia Kuchiki, to Ichigo's shock. Detailing how that was all Byakuya was interested in because he assumed that them being gone would be the end of Ichigo, Zangetsu asserts that he was careless because he overlooked Ichigo's own Shinigami powers, further shocking Ichigo, as he explains that Rukia's powers awakened Ichigo's own and that they lay deep in his soul at the time of Byakuya's attack before telling Ichigo to find them.
The skyscraper behind Zangetsu begins to disintegrate into boxes, which fall past him as he stands in midair and asserts that Ichigo needs to find his hidden Shinigami powers now because this world is falling apart. Upon being told that his powers are in one of the boxes falling around them, Ichigo claims that he cannot possibly do so with how many thousands of boxes there are, but Zangetsu states that there is no time for excuses because Ichigo will turn into a Hollow if he does not find the right box before this world disintegrates. Stunned by this, Ichigo falls into a tear behind him and finds himself in water surrounded by the boxes. Wondering what he is supposed to do in order to find the right box out of all of these, Ichigo admits that he cannot even detect Reiryoku as he is right now, only for this to remind him of Uryū Ishida telling him something similar once. As he tries to recall how Uryū figured out that he was a Shinigami and how he was able to detect a Shinigami's powers, Ichigo remembers Uryū informing him that a Shinigami's Reiraku is red, unlike all other Reiraku, and realizes that this is the solution as hundreds of Reiraku appear connected to the boxes around him.
Upon spotting a red Reiraku, Ichigo grabs it and pulls the box it is connected to over to him while proclaiming that this is it, only to be surprised when it opens to reveal a Zanpakutō's hilt. Praising Ichigo for finding it, Zangetsu expresses hope that his name will reach Ichigo's ears next time, leading Ichigo to realize who he is. However, as the world continues to crumble around them, Zangetsu questions what Ichigo is waiting for and demands that he pull him out quickly as Ichigo pulls the Zanpakutō out of the box.
Back in the real world, Urahara, Jinta, and Ururu notice a rumbling from within the Shattered Shaft, prompting Urahara to shield the two children as a surge of Reiatsu erupts from the hole.
As Ichigo Kurosaki's inner world collapses around them, Zangetsu questions what Ichigo is waiting for and demands that he pull him out, prompting Ichigo to pull the Zanpakutō out of the box in front of him.
In the real world, Kisuke Urahara, Jinta Hanakari, and Ururu Tsumugiya look down the Shattered Shaft as a partially Hollowfied Ichigo strains against the Bakudō #99 Part 1. Kin binding his arms, causing the iron shafts embedding the fabric to burst out into the air behind him. Seeing this, Tessai Tsukabishi informs Urahara that he is switching to suppression mode because they cannot wait any longer and plunges his hands into the ground as he initiates Bakudō #99 Part 2. Bankin, releasing white energy which begins wrapping itself around Ichigo in the form of strips of fabric. As Ichigo is impaled by numerous metal bolts, a shocked Jinta demands to know what Tessai is doing because this will kill Ichigo, only for Tessai to assert that he has no choice because he can barely restrain Ichigo and must destroy him before the change is complete. Tessai completes the spell by dropping an enormous metal cube on top of Ichigo, but as it descends, white fluid bursts out of the bindings covering the hole in Ichigo's chest and travel upward while destroying more bindings along the way, revealing a fully formed Hollow mask underneath the bindings. With Jinta shocked by this, Tessai declares that this is it, but the cube comes to a halt as Urahara shields Jinta and Ururu before a torrent of Reiatsu erupts from the Shattered Shaft.
While Jinta observes that it exploded, something bursts out of the Reiatsu flare and hits the painted ceiling above, where it skids along as Jinta points it out to the others, before leaping off and slamming into the ground nearby. Surprised by this, Jinta demands to know if that is Ichigo and tells the latter to answer him if he is still alive. Upon seeing two glowing eyes within the dust cloud and a figure moving toward them, Jinta is left speechless as the dust clears to reveal what appears to be a fully Hollowfied Ichigo standing before them with a Shinigami's shihakushō and the tattered remnants of his bindings trailing off of him. With Jinta confused to see both a Shinigami's shihakushō and a Hollow mask on the same being and wondering which it is, the figure reaches for the Zanpakutō on his back, prompting Jinta and Ururu to assume battle stances, only to withdraw a Zanpakutō missing most of its blade. Though Jinta assumes that it is going to attack, the figure instead smashes the hilt of its Zanpakutō into the middle of its mask, shocking Jinta, and grabs the broken section as more pieces fall off before pulling the remnants of the mask aside to reveal Ichigo, whose Soul remains intact.
With Jinta stunned by him not turning into a Hollow, Ichigo clenches and unclenches his fist before having his attention drawn by Urahara, who celebrates him passing lesson two and becoming a Shinigami. However, an irritated Ichigo jabs Urahara in the eye with the hilt of his Zanpakutō and asserts that the latter should have been praying for him to not make it out alive before revealing that he swore to beat up Urahara if he survived. Noting that this is perfect, Urahara tells him to carry this spirit into lesson three and proclaims that Ichigo passes if he can knock off Urahara's hat with no time limit. Suddenly, Ichigo moves in and slashes upward at Urahara, who notices a slight cut on the brim of his hat and admits that he is impressed by Ichigo getting that close with a broken Zanpakutō. However, when Ichigo confidently declares that he does not need a lack of a time limit anyway because he will finish this in five minutes, a smiling Urahara simply tells him to try as he pulls his own Zanpakutō out of his cane.
In the Sixth Division prison ward in the Seireitei, as he grips the bars of Rukia Kuchiki's cell, a stunned Lieutenant Renji Abarai refuses to believe what Captain Byakuya Kuchiki just told him, but Byakuya merely questions if he must repeat himself before reiterating his statement that Rukia has been found guilty of a capital offense and will suffer the ultimate punishment 25 days from now, which is Soul Society's final decision. Asserting that this is the last time he will speak with Rukia, Byakuya departs while noting that they will next see each other at the gallows. After Byakuya leaves, Renji attempts to convince Rukia to not be sad because they could still change their minds, and when Rukia says that she is not sad while facing away from him in her chair, Renji angrily declares that she is obviously disconsolate while kicking the bars of her cell. However, Rukia simply states that the ruling cannot be overturned because it came from Central 46 and claims it is fine because she knew it would happen from the beginning, but when Renji expresses concern for her, Rukia whips around and declares that she got him, to his confusion. As she stands up, Rukia inquires if Renji really thought capital punishment would upset her and asserts that it only makes escaping more interesting, and upon seeing Renji's expression, Rukia notes that he seems very worried about her before mockingly observing that he should be worried about his strange tattooed eyebrows. Angered by this, Renji proclaims that he could not care less about Rukia and her problems as he claims to be looking forward to her execution before slamming the door to the prison ward behind him as he departs, leaving Rukia to stare solemnly at the sole window in her cell. Outside, Renji mentally berates Rukia for speaking of escape when she is receiving the ultimate punishment and wonders if Byakuya will really allow this to happen.
Elsewhere, as he walks along a corridor, Byakuya is confronted by 11th Division Captain Kenpachi Zaraki and 3rd Division Captain Gin Ichimaru, who respectively note that he seems very calm despite the circumstances and praise him for it. When Gin claims that Byakuya is an example to all Shinigami for being imperturbable even when his sister is going to die, Kenpachi wonders if he is joking and asserts that the only Shinigami who are scared of dying are Gin and 9th Division Captain Kaname Tōsen, to Gin's surprise. Byakuya questions what two Captains without their Lieutenants would want with him, and when Gin explains that they thought Byakuya would be sad about his sister's impending execution, Byakuya states that it has nothing to do with them while Kenpachi dismisses the idea of Byakuya being sad because the blood of a criminal only dishonors a distinguished family like his. With Byakuya admitting his surprise at a commoner like Kenpachi understanding the ways of nobility, Kenpachi merely claims to have always been observant and offers to behead Rukia before the execution for Byakuya's sake, only for Byakuya to calmly declare that someone with Kenpachi's skills could not manage this job. However, as Byakuya and Kenpachi further provoke each other, Gin suddenly ties up Kenpachi's body with cloth and moves them both to a nearby rooftop with Shunpo while apologizing to Byakuya, whom he did not intend to anger. With Kenpachi struggling to free himself, Gin asks Byakuya to give his regards to Rukia and moves them both away, leaving Byakuya to resume his walk after a moment's pause.
Back in the training area underneath the Urahara Shop in Karakura Town, Tessai Tsukabishi climbs out of the Shattered Shaft, and upon being asked if he is alright by a surprised Jinta Hanakari, Tessai claims that he is hardly alright due to his badly cracked glasses, leading Jinta to observe that he is at least in one piece while calling him a monster. Despite this, Jinta tells Tessai to keep his broken glasses on because Kisuke Urahara has drawn his Zanpakutō and Tessai does not want to miss this as he turns back to the fight between Urahara and Ichigo Kurosaki. Upon seeing Urahara cut through a rock with his Zanpakutō, a shaken Ichigo claims this is not bad for Urahara's small sword, leading Urahara to accept this as a compliment before warning Ichigo that he will not go easy on him as he repeatedly slashes around Ichigo while chasing him. While running, Ichigo recalls that only Zanpakutō can harm Shinigami and Hollows, which leads him to believe that he will be fine if he is cut by Urahara's sword because it cannot possibly be a Zanpakutō due to him drawing it from his cane, only for Urahara to immediately prove this wrong by slashing off the remnants of Ichigo's Hollow mask and lightly cutting his head and shoulder, to Ichigo's confusion. Observing that Ichigo let his guard down by assuming that Urahara did not have a Zanpakutō to hurt him with because he is not a Shinigami, Urahara criticizes him for being naive and releases his Shikai, Benihime, which he asserts is very much a Zanpakutō to a shocked Ichigo.
Watching Kisuke Urahara release his Shikai, Benihime, Ichigo Kurosaki recalls 6th Division Lieutenant Renji Abarai releasing his own Shikai, Zabimaru, and criticizing him for thinking he could fight Renji as an equal without being able to ask his own Zanpakutō for its name. When a stunned Ichigo mentions the concept of the Zanpakutō's name, Urahara affirms that each Zanpakutō has a name before asking Benihime if she is ready as he attacks Ichigo, who is slammed into a large rock behind him with enough force to crack and break it apart. Seeing this, Jinta Hanakari joins Tessai Tsukabishi and Ururu Tsumugiya in taking shelter behind another nearby rock as Ichigo hurtles past them. As he regains his footing while sliding backwards, Ichigo sees Urahara emerging in midair from the dust cloud and brings up his damaged Zanpakutō just in time to block Urahara's subsequent attack with what remains of the blade. With Benihime grinding along the blade, Urahara praises Ichigo's courage in blocking Benihime with his broken Zanpakutō instead of running away, only to assert that Benihime is too fierce to be restrained by something like that as he cuts off half of the remaining blade.
Shocked by this, Ichigo begins running away from Urahara while mentally noting the unfairness of Urahara being able to cut through his Zanpakutō. Suddenly, Urahara appears behind Ichigo and reminds him that he said Ichigo's Zanpakutō was too big. Casually leaning back to dodge Ichigo's subsequent upward slash, Urahara explains that it is not filled with Reiryoku and is instead a bloated bag of fluff that happens to be in the shape of a sword, which he asserts is why it shatters so easily as he destroys the remaining blade and half the guard of Ichigo's Zanpakutō with another slash from Benihime. As a speechless Ichigo watches the other half of his Zanpakutō's guard fall off the hilt and onto the ground, Urahara notes that the blade is gone altogether and questions if Ichigo will come at him with only a hilt, though he admits that Ichigo might be able to achieve the goal of knocking his hat off with that. However, Urahara warns Ichigo that this is no longer about courage and warns him that he will kill Ichigo if the latter comes at him with that toy as he exerts his Reiatsu. Intimidated, Ichigo begins fleeing from Urahara while mentally asserting that he will kill him, only for Urahara to swiftly catch up with him and attack. As he leans away, Ichigo is surprised to find another part of his Zanpakutō's hilt severed and resumes running from Urahara, who grabs him by the back of his shihakushō and throws Ichigo on the ground before slashing down at him. Rolling away from this at the last second, Ichigo gets to his feet as he mentally berates himself as a coward beyond all redemption for pathetically and shamefully running away without any resolve whatsoever.
Suddenly, Zangetsu appears before Ichigo and questions why he runs as he brings Ichigo's mind into his inner world. Zangetsu notes that Ichigo still has not called him and asserts that Ichigo should be able to hear it now because only fear is plugging his ears. As Ichigo comes to a stop in the real world and stands up straight, Zangetsu assures him that there is nothing to fear with only one enemy to face down and encourages Ichigo to abandon his fear and advance, as retreating will age him and fear will kill him, before commanding Ichigo to shout his name as Ichigo calls out Zangetsu, causing a torrent of Reiatsu to emanate from the hilt.
When Ichigo Kurosaki stops running from him, Kisuke Urahara also stops in his tracks and stares at him, prompting Jinta Hanakari to express confusion as he peers at them from behind a rock alongside Tessai Tsukabishi and Ururu Tsumugiya. With Ichigo's Reiatsu steadily thrumming outward from him, Urahara assumes a battle stance with his Shikai, Benihime, while Ichigo holds the broken hilt of his Zanpakutō next to his hip as if to sheathe it. As Zangetsu encourages Ichigo to abandon his fear and advance, as retreating will age him and fear will kill him, he commands Ichigo to shout his name as Ichigo calls out Zangetsu, resulting in a torrent of Reiatsu surging from the broken hilt and startling Urahara as Ichigo turns around and unconsciously fires a Getsuga Tenshō. The subsequent energy wave crashes outward between the surrounding rocks, prompting Tessai to shield Jinta and Ururu with his body.
As the dust begins to settle, Jinta peers over the rock and wonders what is happening now while Urahara holds onto his hat and watches Ichigo, who kneels with his Shikai, Zangetsu, embedded in the ground before standing up and pulling it out. Though a puzzled Jinta questions what kind of Zanpakutō this is because there is no hilt or guard, which he feels means it is not shaped like a normal sword at all and makes Ichigo's previous Zanpakutō better, Tessai can stare in shock while Ichigo silently inspects Zangetsu. However, when Urahara steps forward and declares that they can proceed with lesson three now that Ichigo has managed to draw his Zanpakutō, Ichigo holds Zangetsu out to the side and apologizes while assuming that Urahara will evade it as best he can, and when a confused Urahara inquires why he will need to dodge, Ichigo admits that he probably cannot restrain it as the remnants of his bindings burst off his shoulder due to his rising Reiatsu. Alarmed by this, Urahara prepares to protect himself with Chikasumi no Tate as Ichigo brings down Zangetsu and unleashes another, more concentrated Getsuga Tenshō.
In the aftermath, Urahara's hat flies off with almost half of its brim missing as Urahara stands behind Chikasumi no Tate in the wake of Ichigo's attack and admits that he would have lost at least an arm without the shield. Walking over to his hat and picking it up, Urahara dusts it off and declares that Ichigo killed it before putting it back on his head. As he looks over the large ravine created by Ichigo's Getsuga Tenshō, Urahara notes that Ichigo is a scary kid to be able to do this with only one attack before informing a sleeping Ichigo that he has passed the third lesson.
On August 1st, the day after Ichigo Kurosaki completes his training with Kisuke Urahara, Keigo Asano welcomes him home and tearfully declares that he was lonely playing video games alone while flinging himself at Ichigo, who merely kicks him in the face as he offhandedly states that it is nice to see Keigo too. When Mizuiro Kojima appears with a golden tan and asks Keigo if he missed him, Keigo angrily throws salt at him while calling him a foreign devil, prompting Mizuiro to complain about how it is making his Phuket tan sting before revealing that he brought Keigo back a coconut as a gift, only for Keigo to declare that he will crack it open using Mizuiro's head. As he watches this in bewilderment, Ichigo mentally notes that he has decided to enjoy what may be his last normal summer vacation while Urahara's crew prepares to open the gate to Soul Society.
At 3:10 P.M. that afternoon, after confirming the time with Mizuiro, Ichigo demands to know why Keigo brought them out to the area they will watch the fireworks from in the middle of the day if the display is not happening until that night, prompting a tearful Keigo to demand to know if Ichigo knows how much he has been looking forward to this day while revealing that he did not sleep at all last night as Ichigo observes that he sounds like a grade school kid before a field trip. Keigo declares that he would have had them meet at 11 P.M. in the morning if he could, leading Ichigo to point out that this would have been last night rather than this morning, and bemoans how he shut himself in his house and played video games he did not even like every day while Ichigo and the others were gone before revealing that he cleared five role-playing games in the last ten days as a stunned Ichigo notes that he seems to have found his calling in life.
Suddenly, Tatsuki Arisawa kicks over Keigo from behind and greets Ichigo and Mizuiro alongside Orihime Inoue and Yasutora Sado, and while Mizuiro greets them in return, Ichigo expresses shock upon seeing Tatsuki's right arm in a sling and is further incredulous to hear that she only placed 2nd at Nationals. Though Tatsuki merely brushes it off as lame because she would have won were it not for her injury, Keigo and Mizuiro are frightened to be standing in front of the second strongest high school girl in Japan, and when Ichigo wonders what kind of monster could have done this to her, Tatsuki explains that she was actually hit by a car when she went to buy a drink after the semifinals and managed to beat her next opponent with just her left arm before revealing that she had to fight a "gorilla" in the finals, prompting Keigo and Mizuiro to mentally swear that they would not fight such a creature with a bazooka.
Later, as the friends walk through Karakura Town in the evening, Ichigo expresses surprise at how long it took them to just walk to their destination, and upon being told that their destination is the Onose River, Tatsuki points out that they are already here, only for Keigo to claim that they need to keep going because the fireworks are being shot off at the city field across the river while Mizuiro clarifies that they need to go farther down in order to get a good view. Sitting down on the riverbank, Tatsuki asserts that this area is fine because they will get lost in the street vendors and crowds of people if they get too close to the fireworks, prompting Keigo to proclaim that fireworks displays are festivals that are all about going crazy over the fireworks, interacting with the street vendors, and getting aroused by the girls in yukata. As Keigo criticizes Tatsuki and Orihime for coming to watch fireworks in their street clothes because he wanted to see Orihime in a yukata, Ichigo questions if they should check out the vendors for a while, which Mizuiro is not sure of.
Suddenly, Ichigo is startled to hear Isshin Kurosaki yell out to them as he, Karin Kurosaki, and Yuzu Kurosaki run up dressed in kimono and tackle Ichigo, who is sent rolling down the embankment while his friends watch in confusion. Karin and Yuzu offer Ichigo a chocolate-covered banana, and when he refuses to eat it while asking them why they are all the way over here, Yuzu loudly expresses surprise at him not wanting to eat her banana, leading Ichigo to ask her to lower her voice as he wonders if they are drunk. Isshin reveals that he is very drunk, to Ichigo's outrage, and explains that one of the vendors put out a stall of fruit juice that was diluted with sake instead of water, though Isshin assumes it was due to senility while Keigo notes that senility likely had nothing to do with it. While Keigo and Mizuiro realize that Isshin knew exactly what he was drinking, Isshin reveals that he also saved a lot of great seats at 7 A.M. and offers to take the students there, leading Ichigo to observe that this is where he was this morning, and admits that he almost got arrested by the police while trying to set up a raft on the river to watch the fireworks from as Ichigo mentally asserts that they should have thrown him in jail.
After learning that Orihime and Tatsuki will come over later, Isshin runs off with his daughters, Keigo, Mizuiro, and Sado as an exasperated Ichigo notes that he should probably go too. When Ichigo apologizes to her for the chaos and assures her that it is okay if she does not want to come, Tatsuki affirms that she will show up later and tells Ichigo to catch up with them. As Ichigo leaves, Orihime and Tatsuki look out over the river as Orihime cheerfully observes that it has been a while since they were last here. Noting that they come here every fall, Tatsuki reminds Orihime of the time that she found a red dragonfly on this riverbank and ran off after it, only to not come back that night and leave Tatsuki to tearfully look for her for two days. Orihime fondly recalls how a fisherman bought her tasty sushi while she was lost before revealing to Tatsuki that Sora Inoue could catch red dragonflies on his finger by simply pointing at the sky and having one land on it, which she loved and always wanted to do herself but never could.
As she listens to this, Tatsuki notes that Orihime changed how she parts her bangs, and while Orihime claims that she simply felt like a change and wonders why Tatsuki is wearing such a solemn expression, Tatsuki asks her to not go too far away. However, Orihime inquires what she is talking about and asserts that she is simply going to her aunt's house for a while before assuring Tatsuki that she does not want to do so and would much rather hang out with her. While Tatsuki looks at her, Orihime proposes that they come back here and watch red dragonflies again after summer vacation is over, which Tatsuki happily agrees to. Suddenly, fireworks begin exploding in the sky above them, prompting Tatsuki to begin running off while observing that it is not even dark yet and telling Orihime to follow her. As she runs, Orihime mentally assures Tatsuki to not worry because she always feels safe wherever she goes due to Tatsuki always looking for her before asking her to wait if Orihime goes somewhere she cannot find so Orihime can eventually come back to her.
Later that night, Ichigo carries Karin and Yuzu home as they sleep on his back and questions why he has to do it. When a drunk Isshin tells his daughters to enjoy making their brother work like a mule, Ichigo angrily demands to know if he thinks it is funny and turns away as Isshin tearfully claims that he was just kidding and that Ichigo does not need to get upset. As he continues walking, Ichigo reveals that he is going away again in about a week and will not be back until summer vacation is over, prompting Isshin to encourage his solitary journey before requesting that he bring back any cute girls he meets for Isshin. Though Ichigo is visibly doubtful of his capabilities, Isshin assures him that he can look after the house while Ichigo is gone before proclaiming that no harm will befall their family as long as he is around. While Isshin prides himself on having said something cool, Ichigo asserts that he is not worried and declares that he is going.
In the SRDI within the Seireitei, Hiyosu watches archival footage of Rukia Kuchiki in her Gigai at Don Kanonji's Casual Soul Realm Assault Trip taping and observes that it is very well-made as he expresses his hope that it is returned to them soon. Walking up behind Hiyosu, 12th Division 3rd Seat Akon teasingly notes that Hiyosu has been watching this footage for several days and inquires if he is really not bored of it yet, but Hiyosu bluntly asserts that he can look at it all he wants because he found it. Akon admits that they would never have found this Gigai if Hiyosu had not been scouring the Human World's radio wave broadcasts, only for an irritated Hiyosu to point out that they would already have it back were it not for Akon requesting that the Onmitsukidō investigate it. As Akon assures Hiyosu that it should be returned to them today, a nearby alarm shaped like a caterpillar with a human head begins screaming, leading him to observe that it seems to have arrived as Kuna wheels the Gigai into the room on a gurney.
Laughing with excitement, Hiyosu rips the cloth off the Gigai and praises its perfect condition while admitting that he thought it might have been shaved by the Quarantine Department. As they crowd around the gurney, the other researchers inspect the limbs of the Gigai and observe that it does not have a signature despite being exquisitely crafted. Kuna asserts that no one other than Akon could make something of this quality, but Akon states that he does not remember this Gigai and assumes that it is the work of his Captain, Mayuri Kurotsuchi. While another researcher dismisses its creator as irrelevant, Hiyosu extends his eyeball outward on a rod with a crank on the side of his head as he reminds them that they should be thanking him for finding it. Suddenly, Hiyosu expresses surprise, and when Kuna asks him what he found, a shocked Hiyosu tells them to take a closer look at a certain portion of the Gigai. Leaning in, a stunned Akon asserts that this is not Mayuri's work or that of anybody else because nobody should be able to do something like this, but one of the researchers simply states that it is here regardless, prompting Akon to clarify that it exists even though it should not before declaring that whoever made it is definitely no longer in Soul Society. Upon being asked why he believes this with such conviction, Akon proclaims that possession of this level of skill would be enough to banish someone from Soul Society forever.
At 1 A.M. on August 8th, in the Kurosaki Clinic, Ichigo Kurosaki sits awake in his bed while looking out the window and recalls Urahara's instructions to do this while asserting that he is getting a bad feeling about this. As he looks out the window and enjoys the breeze, Ichigo is caught off-guard when a large ball bearing a caricature of Urahara on it hurtles toward him and passes through his window before hitting his closet, where it bursts open, releasing a large amount of blood-like liquid. Grossed out by this, Ichigo is shocked when the dripping liquid spells out a message telling him to gather with his friends in front of the Urahara Shop. While Ichigo freaks out about the mess and compares it to a message written by a murder victim with his own blood, the dripping liquid reveals a postscript message that claims anyone who saw the main message and though it was a horror movie cliche has no sense of humor, prompting Ichigo to angrily throw his pillow at the message.
Shortly afterward, Ichigo quietly walks past Karin Kurosaki and Yuzu Kurosaki before reaching the front door, where he bids his family farewell as he opens the door and walks outside. Suddenly, Isshin Kurosaki leaps off the roof of the house and greets Ichigo, who steps aside at the last second as Isshin crashes into the ground where he was standing. After congratulating an incredulous Ichigo for evading his attack, Isshin hands him a small charm and reveals that he wanted to give this to Ichigo before he left. When a confused Ichigo questions what it is, Isshin claims it is a talisman that Masaki Kurosaki gave him a long time ago which will give Ichigo good luck, shocking Ichigo, who asserts that he cannot takes this as Isshin agrees and clarifies that he is only lending it to Ichigo for the trip before requesting that Ichigo return it when he gets back. Seeing Ichigo solemnly contemplate this, Isshin declares that he will shave his beard off if Ichigo loses it, leading Ichigo to question the viability of shaving as a threat. After agreeing to take it, to Isshin's delight, Ichigo runs off into the night.
As he runs down the street, Ichigo crosses paths with Orihime Inoue, who begins running alongside him. Ichigo asks Orihime if she also received a summons from Urahara, and when she confirms this with a strange look on her face, Ichigo inquires what is wrong, only to be baffled when Orihime reveals that she was also told that she has no sense of humor. Explaining that he also got a summons, Ichigo asks Orihime if she is sure that she is going, and after she affirms this, Ichigo smiles and declares that they had better hurry while the two of them continue running. Upon reaching the Urahara Shop, Ichigo and Orihime are surprised to find Yasutora Sado sitting outside and note that he is early. Upon learning that Sado was taking a walk when he got the summons because he could not sleep, Ichigo wonders where he got the summons, only to be shocked to see it written in a nearby alley as he thinks of how the neighbors will react.
When Ichigo wonders where Uryū Ishida is because he had heard the latter was coming too, Orihime assures him that Uryū will be here soon enough, but Sado asserts that he is not coming, to Orihime's surprise and irritation, before explaining that he believes it may be for the best because Uryū is the most complicated and fragile out of all of them. However, Uryū inquires who Sado is speaking of as he steps forward and clarifies that he said he was training because he could not accept losing to the Shinigami. As Uryū declares that he is ready for a rematch and will go wherever he has to for it, Orihime thanks him for coming along, prompting a mildly embarrassed Uryū to claim that this has nothing to do with Rukia. Uryū asserts that Ichigo will see how much stronger he has become when they get to Soul Society, but Ichigo focuses on him walking all the way to the Urahara Shop in his new outfit, which Uryū defends the appearance of. In the middle of this, Urahara walks up and greets Ichigo and his friends as he opens the doors to his shop. Detailing how he will explain the method for traveling to Soul Society inside, Urahara warns them to listen carefully or risk not making it there alive.
Inside the training area underneath the Urahara Shop, Orihime Inoue and her friends look around as she expresses amazement at how large it is and how it feels like a secret base, to Ichigo Kurosaki's confusion, prompting Tessai Tsukabishi to tearfully thank Orihime for her kind words. Watching this, Ichigo notes that Orihime has a gift for making friends with people she just met and is the opposite of Yasutora Sado and Uryū Ishida, the latter of whom questions why Ichigo is looking at him like this. After drawing their attention, Kisuke Urahara asks them to pay attention and snaps his fingers, causing four large rectangular pillars wrapped in tags to emerge at 90-degree angles from the space behind him and slide into place with each other, forming a gate. As he explains that this is a Senkaimon leading to Soul Society, Urahara requests that they listen carefully because he is going to tell them how to pass through this gate without dying.
Urahara pushes Ichigo's Soul out of his body with his Gokon Tekkō-tipped cane, to the amazement of Orihime, Sado, and Uryū, who begin examining his lifeless body. While Uryū observes that the two are separated quite easily, Orihime asks Ichigo if he is really no longer in his body anymore, which Ichigo confirms before inquiring why they are touching his body. Suddenly, Kon pops out from behind Ichigo's shoulder and tells them to stop touching it because it is going to be his body for a while, shocking Ichigo. As Kon assures Orihime that she can touch it as much as she wants, Ichigo demands to know what he is doing here, prompting Kon to declare that he is going as well while Orihime and Uryū are left speechless over seeing a talking stuffed animal. Though Kon asserts that he will not let Ichigo leave him behind and is going to Soul Society no matter what, he quickly begins screaming in terror when Sado picks him up by the head and recalls their first encounter. While Kon questions why Sado is here, Urahara calls out to the group and reveals that he is going to explain the gate.
Detailing how the gate is comprised of both a Senkaimon and a Reishi Henkan-Ki, which converts Reishi, Urahara states that the two are attached by covering the gate with Ketsūgo-Fu, which act as a binding agent. When Ichigo picks up on his mention of Reishi conversion, Urahara reminds them that Soul Society is a world of Souls and cannot be entered without being a Soul before pointing out that only Ichigo can move about as a Soul, as the rest of them would be attached to their bodies by Chains of Fate if their Souls were pushed out and would barely be able to move as a result. Urahara reveals that this is where the Reishi Henkan-Ki comes in by converting Kishi, the matter that makes up most things in the Human World, into Reishi, which is the main component of Souls. Considering this, Uryū concludes that they can enter Soul Society exactly as they are now by simply walking through the gate even without removing their Souls, which Urahara confirms. Though Ichigo asserts that he understands and that they can proceed, Urahara jabs him in the side with his cane and prepares to move on to the most important point.
While Ichigo leans against a rock in pain, Urahara assures them that passing through the gate itself is not a problem because the Reishi conversion is painless and will allow them to reach Soul Society if they keep moving forward. However, Urahara clarifies that the problem is time and details how the Senkaimon can only remain open and connected to Soul Society for up to four minutes at most, shocking Ichigo and his friends, who are further stunned when Urahara reveals that still traveling when the gate closes will result in them being trapped in the Dangai forever. As he adds that the Dangai also has a restrictive current called the Kōryū which paralyzes Souls in order to prevent the entry of Hollows and other foreign invaders, Urahara asserts that any of them getting a limb caught in it reduces the possibility of passing through the Dangai within the time span to nearly zero.
With Orihime questioning how they can get through like this, Yoruichi Shihōin finishes her sentence for her and reminds Orihime of how the heart and soul are connected, with the state of the heart being crucial. Yoruichi tells Orihime and her friends that the will to go forward will be their guide and instructs them to simply go forward while casting aside all fear, not looking back, and not thinking of those they are leaving behind. When Yoruichi states that those who can do this should follow, Ichigo steps forward while his friends remain silent and declares that Yoruichi is wasting time because all their minds were made up the moment they arrived. Despite Yoruichi warning him that he will never return to the Human World if he loses, Ichigo proclaims that he will just have to win, which Yoruichi affirms.
Urahara and Tessai begin charging up the gate to open the Senkaimon, with Urahara instructing Ichigo and his friends to run in as soon as it opens. As a bound and gagged Kon struggles to free himself, Ichigo instructs him to take care of his family before leaping into the gate alongside his friends and Yoruichi, where they find themselves in a realm of dripping sludge littered with bones and a path to a rectangular opening in front of them. While they realize that this is the Dangai, Yoruichi berates them for standing around while the Kōryū is approaching. Outside, Urahara touches the gate, which repels and burns his hand, and while Ichigo and his friends begin running through the Dangai, Urahara asserts that it is all up to him now.
The other day I received a letter from a reader who said that they had named their son Ichigo. The realization that my work had influenced someone I didn't even know was both exciting and terrifying. So I've decided to shape up. I hope this human Ichigo can be proud to be named after my Ichigo when he grows up.