056. broken coda
057. Unfinished July Rain
059. Lesson 1: One Strike! + Jailed at Home
060. Lesson 1-2: DOWN!!
061. Lesson2 : Shattered shaft
053. Nice to meet you. (I will beat you.)
054. The Nameless Boy
056. broken coda
057. July Rain, Interrupted
059. Lesson 1: One Strike! + Jailed at Home
060. Lesson 1-2: DOWN!!
061. Lesson 2: Shattered Shaft
THE BROKEN CODA is the seventh volume of the Bleach manga series.
Rukia Kuchiki, the ex-Shinigami responsible for Ichigo's transformation, is on the run. Her brethren in Soul Society are quite displeased with the fact that she transferred the powers of a Shinigami to a Human and have dispatched two of their strongest agents to neutralize the situation. Their mission is twofold: to return Rukia to Soul Society, so that she may pay for her crime and to deal with Ichigo - permanently. But an unlikely third party is standing in their way: Uryū Ishida, the Quincy!
On a street in Karakura Town at nighttime, as Uryū Ishida approaches 6th Division Captain Byakuya Kuchiki and Lieutenant Renji Abarai after interrupting their interrogation of her, a surprised Rukia Kuchiki asks him what he is doing here, prompting Uryū to claim that he felt a sudden urge to go to the local branch of a 24-hour dressmaking shop for supplies. Watching Uryū assert that he did not bring the bag he is carrying just so he would have an excuse to leave the house after sensing the Reiryoku of a Shinigami, an incredulous Rukia mentally states that this may be the worst lie ever told and wonders if Uryū can really be that stupid. Suddenly, Renji slashes through the bag's handles, leaving a small cut in Uryū's arm, and reiterates his demand to know who Uryū is. When Uryū remains silent, Renji declares that it is fine if he does not feeling like answering because Renji can just kill him. Rukia tries to tell Renji that Uryū has nothing to do with this, but Uryū simply repeats his earlier answer of being a classmate of Rukia's who hates Shinigami, leading Renji to angrily assert that this is not what he is asking Uryū. Pausing for a few seconds, Uryū finally tells Renji his name, and when Renji expresses confusion at his change of heart, Uryū claims that he should know the name of the one who kills him even if he is a Shinigami, prompting Renji to proclaim that he is dead meat as Rukia tries to defuse the situation.
Meanwhile, at the Kurosaki Clinic, as he finishes relieving himself in the bathroom, Ichigo Kurosaki wonders where Rukia can be because it is already after 2 A.M. before deciding to take the night off from his Shinigami duties and get some rest if she wants to stay out all night. However, Ichigo is startled when he hears a muffled voice from nearby, and upon realizing it is coming from behind the toilet, Ichigo crouches down and discovers Kon has been gagged and taped to the back of the toilet, which leads Ichigo to sarcastically note that he did not know Kon was into this sort of thing and observe that he is lucky to be able to find time to enjoy himself. After being freed by Ichigo and returning to his room, Kon enthusiastically thanks Ichigo, who pinches his nose and offhandedly acknowledges this. Explaining how he could not see who was there and had to figure it out by sound, Kon recounts with horror and in graphic detail what he had to endure when Isshin Kurosaki visited the toilet, resulting in Ichigo spraying him with a can of air freshener while observing that this must be why he smells so bad. Offended by this, Kon leaps up to Ichigo's face and demands to know if this is how he treats a friend who has endured a nightmare of captivity, only for Ichigo to angrily tell him to get away and refute that they are friends.
When Ichigo inquires why he was back there to begin with, Kon points out that only Rukia could have done that to him before remembering that Rukia is in trouble and informing Ichigo of this as the latter pushes Kon back from his face. Climbing up on Ichigo's desk, Kon draws Ichigo's attention to the short note that Rukia left for him, and when Ichigo wonders what it is, Kon reveals that it is a note Rukia left before deserting them. Shocked by this, Ichigo demands to know why she did not say anything, but Kon tearfully asserts that he does not know and recounts how Rukia left him without a word of explanation even though he was present when she departed. As he concludes that the note is the only clue they have if this is the case, Ichigo opens it while wondering what is inside, only to be stunned when he finds what appears to be a nonsense series of hiragana with a note from Rukia telling him to have fun decoding it, leading Ichigo and Kon to realize that she was working on a riddle before she left. Upon seeing a drawing of a tanuki that Rukia left as a clue in the corner, Ichigo figures out that he just needs to read all the characters in the letter that are not "ta" and does so, leading to him and Kon learning that Rukia is asking them to not look for or worry about her after she leaves, burn this letter after they read it, and stay hidden for a while if possible.
Though Ichigo is confused because the letter does not explain why Rukia left, Kon quickly realizes that her warning to burn the letter and stay hidden means that they must be in danger because there is trouble between Rukia and Soul Society, which also means that she went off by herself to protect them, shocking Ichigo. Though Kon worries that Rukia may be dead, Ichigo tells him to not jump to wild conclusions and asserts that letting their imaginations run amok will not help them in this situation before declaring that he is going to enter his Shinigami form and find Rukia. However, when Kon asks him how he is going to do this, Ichigo pauses for a few seconds and reminds him of the Gokon Tekkō that knocks out Souls, but when Kon points out that Rukia is the one carrying that, Ichigo freaks out as he realizes that he cannot enter his Shinigami form without Rukia's help and yells at Kon that he has to be a Shinigami in order to help Rukia if she is in trouble with Soul Society, prompting Kon to demand to know why he is yelling at him and assert that he should not underestimate a stuffed animal. Suddenly, Kisuke Urahara appears in Ichigo's open window and notes that they seem to have a problem before explaining that he is willing to help them once on credit because one of his best customers is in danger as he holds up his Gokon Tekkō-bearing cane.
Back on the street, Renji stands over a defeated Uryū and confidently states that he warned Uryū about this as Uryū bleeds from the midsection onto the sidewalk. Watching this, a stunned Rukia notes that Renji is even stronger than before and curses her inability to stop him or even move. As he raises his Zanpakutō above his head, Renji tells Uryū to reflect on his stupidity as he dies and introduces himself as the one who killed Uryū before slashing downward as he sarcastically declares it was nice to meet him, only to be interrupted when Ichigo's Zanpakutō smashes into the ground next to him, breaking and overturning the concrete. After leaping back onto a nearby wall, Renji demands to know who Ichigo is, prompting Ichigo to introduce himself as the man who will beat Renji and sarcastically declares that it is nice to meet him.
While an incapacitated Uryū Ishida watches from the ground, a bewildered 6th Division Lieutenant Renji Abarai observes that Ichigo Kurosaki is wearing a shihakushō and demands to know who he is and what division he is from before wondering why his Zanpakutō is so ridiculously oversized. Picking up on Renji calling it big, Ichigo admits that he just thought it was big compared to Rukia Kuchiki's because he has not had anything to compare it to until now. As he stares nervously, Renji mentally notes that the size of a sealed Zanpakutō is proportionate to its wielder's Reiryoku and wonders if Ichigo really has that much power. However, when Rukia asks Ichigo why he came, Renji realizes that he is the Human who took her spiritual powers, and as Ichigo asks him what he is going to do about it, Renji leaps toward him and proclaims that he will kill Ichigo as 6th Division Captain Byakuya Kuchiki watches from the sidelines and notes Ichigo's name.
At the Kurosaki Clinic, Kon lies in Ichigo's bed while inhabiting Ichigo's body and holding his usual body. Wondering who Kisuke Urahara is, Kon recalls how Urahara helped Ichigo enter his Shinigami form and put Kon in his body so his family would not get suspicious before disappearing. As he admits that he has no idea what Urahara is up to and calls him creepy, Kon asserts that he also wanted to go look for Rukia while holding up his stuffed body, which he throws against the wall upon realizing he is talking to an inanimate object before picking it back up anyway.
Back on the street, Renji furiously attacks Ichigo, who barely manages to block his barrage of strikes with his Zanpakutō, and wonders if Ichigo's huge sword is just for show, prompting Ichigo to claim that Renji will bite his tongue if he keeps talking so much while mentally marveling at Renji's speed. When Ichigo counterattacks with a downward slash, Renji leaps over him, leaving Ichigo to embed his Zanpakutō in the ground, and flips over before slashing Ichigo's right shoulder. As Ichigo falls to his knees with blood spurting from his wound, Renji asserts that it is over and that his powers will go back to Rukia before revealing that she will return to Soul Society and die, to Ichigo's shock. While Rukia looks away, Renji mocks Ichigo for chasing after Rukia even though she ran away for the purpose of protecting him and questions his plan to save her as he declares that a fake like Ichigo could not put a scratch on a real Shinigami. Suddenly, Renji finds himself slashed at by Ichigo, leaving a small scratch on his chin, as the latter gets to his feet and explains that he could not resist doing this while Renji's guard was down in the middle of his pompous speech before asking him to continue talking about Ichigo not being able to put a scratch on a Shinigami. While an irritated Renji wipes the blood from his chin, Byakuya observes that Renji did have his guard down. Renji protests that it does not matter due to the difference in their skill levels, but Byakuya notes that he thought he had seen Ichigo somewhere before revealing that the Onmitsukidō sent an image-only report 33 hours ago of a Menos Grande being driven back to Hueco Mundo from the Human World by a massive sword wound, to Renji's shock.
While Ichigo wonders if they are referring to the giant Hollow with the big nose that he fought, Renji merely laughs and asserts that the Onmitsukidō is not what it used to be as he declares that he cannot believe Ichigo wounded a Menos Grande. Though Byakuya cautions him, Renji points out how Ichigo's Zanpakutō is a huge and impotent embarrassment, which means Ichigo cannot control his Reiryoku, and demands to know what its name is, only for a confused Ichigo to state that it does not have a name and express surprise at the idea of Shinigami naming their Zanpakutō. Asserting that he knew it, Renji declares that Ichigo is 2000 years too early to be fighting him as an equal if he cannot even ask his Zanpakutō for its name before releasing his Shikai, Zabimaru], which transforms his Zanpakutō into a segmented blade, and leaping toward Ichigo as he declares that it is dinner time. However, as Ichigo holds up his Zanpakutō to block a sword slash, he finds Zabimaru embedding itself in his left shoulder as the segments stretch apart, revealing they are connected by a thread that allows Zabimaru to stretch out like a whip. After pulling Zabimaru out of Ichigo's shoulder, causing the latter to fall to his knees once more, Renji proclaims that Ichigo has lost and will die here as Byakuya watches intently.
As 6th Division Lieutenant Renji Abarai proclaims that Ichigo Kurosaki has lost to him and will die here, Rukia Kuchiki and 6th Division Captain Byakuya Kuchiki watch silently while a grievously wounded Ichigo drops his Zanpakutō and falls to his knees. Retracting the segments of his Shikai, Zabimaru, Renji asserts that Ichigo is simply not in his class and explains how a Zanpakutō changes size and shape according to the Reiryoku of its wielder before declaring that Zabimaru is the shape of his power. Renji bids Ichigo farewell and prepares to finish him off as he claims that they should be on their way because the air here does not suit him. While she watches this, Rukia mentally notes that the difference in power between Ichigo and Renji was clear from their first clash and that Ichigo could have retreated with only a minor wound once he sensed that he was no match for his opponent, which she had hoped he would, but admits that she has always known Ichigo would not admit defeat so easily. Urging Ichigo to run if he can still move, Rukia throws herself at Renji's sword arm and grabs it to hinder his movement, prompting a surprised Renji to demand to know what she is doing and assert that she is only making things worse for herself.
However, as Rukia continues to urge him to get up and run away, Ichigo merely grabs his Zanpakutō, to her and Renji's surprise. As he admits that he did not think Ichigo could still move, Renji states that this is good because it is not fun to butcher a crippled pig anyway. With Ichigo getting to his feet, Renji encourages him to come at him while swinging his sword, but Rukia stops telling Ichigo to run as she stares at him in shock. When Ichigo does not move, Renji assumes a battle stance and declares that he will attack if Ichigo does not, only for Ichigo to stare directly at him as the handle of the handle of his Zanpakutō begins vibrating and the tassels on the end suddenly burst off. Astonished by Ichigo's newly heightened Reiatsu, Renji find his left shoulder slashed and spurting blood as Ichigo leaps past him. Grimacing at his wound, Renji sees Ichigo turning around and prepares to block his incoming attack, but Ichigo's subsequent slash cuts his forehead and knocks him off his feet despite being intercepted by Zabimaru.
As he braces himself against a railing to stop himself, Renji looks up with his visor broken and wonders where Ichigo's new power came from with him having been dying a moment ago. Ichigo asks Renji what is wrong and confidently observes that he has gotten slow, leading Renji to mentally assert that Ichigo actually got faster, before proclaiming that he can take Renji apart now that his wound does not hurt and his body feels much more powerful. With an intimidated Renji left unable to move due to his heavy Reiatsu, Ichigo moves in for the finish blow and declares that this ends in victory for him, only to suddenly find most of his Zanpakutō's blade severed and missing. Shocked and confused by this, Ichigo notes that Renji did not do anything before seeing Byakuya holding the blade in his hand several meters away, causing an unnerved Ichigo to express disbelief at Byakuya having done this from such a distance. Reaching for his sheathed Zanpakutō, Byakuya appears next to Ichigo, initiates Senka, and moves behind him as blood spurts from a large wound on Ichigo's chest.
Wondering what happened and what direction he was cut from, Ichigo Kurosaki watches blood spurt from the wound on his chest and begins to fall over. However, 6th Division Captain Byakuya Kuchiki merely tells him that he is slow even when he is falling, and when Rukia Kuchiki frantically calls out to him, Byakuya looks at her before stabbing Ichigo through his midsection with his Zanpakutō. As he watches this in stunned silence, 6th Division Lieutenant Renji Abarai mentally notes that Byakuya is still peerless despite how long it has been since he has seen him in action and admits that he could only catch a glimpse of the second strike of Senka before observing that because he could not see Byakuya draw or sheathe his Zanpakutō, Ichigo probably does not even know what hit him. Renji looks at the motionless Ichigo and wonders what led to his abnormal Reiatsu earlier. When Byakuya asks him what is wrong, Renji brushes it off and asserts that he could have won without Byakuya's help, prompting Byakuya to assert that even he will get rusty if all he does is watch, which Renji silently denies.
Upon hearing Rukia calling out to Ichigo and seeing her running toward him, Renji pins her against a nearby streetlamp. Though Rukia protests this and tells him to let her go, Renji angrily tells her to forget Ichigo because he is dead and pleads with her to not make things worse for herself by crying over a corpse, as even touching Ichigo will lead to Central 46 adding 20 years to her prison sentence. Rukia asserts that she does not care because he was killed because of her and demands to know what is wrong with her going to him. Hearing Rukia's desire to go to Ichigo even though it would increase her sentence, Byakuya states that he understands because Ichigo heavily resembles "him", shocking Rukia. Suddenly, Ichigo grabs the leg of Byakuya's shihakushō, to his surprise, and asks Byakuya if he looks like someone who is dead before asserting that he better not keep telling the story while Ichigo is around. Initially overjoyed by this, Rukia's eyes widen as Byakuya tells Ichigo to let go while a stunned Renji wonders how Ichigo's will can be strong enough for him to keep moving. When Ichigo claims he cannot hear Byakuya and tells him to make eye contact when he talks, an irritated Byakuya decides that he must not want his hand anymore.
However, those present are left surprised when Rukia kicks Ichigo's hand away, and as Ichigo asks her what she is doing, Rukia scolds him for touching her brother's shihakushō despite only being a mere Human before coldly telling him to know his place, to Ichigo's shock. Rukia tells Byakuya to take her back to Soul Society so she can humbly pay for her crime because Ichigo's actions have awoken her, and while Ichigo attempts to get up while demanding to know what she is doing, Renji pins him down with his foot and tells him to die quietly rather than keep struggling. As Rukia tells Byakuya to not sully his blade further on Ichigo because he will soon die anyway and urges him to depart with her, Ichigo begs Rukia to stop joking around and look at him, leading Rukia to declare that she will never forgive him if he moves one inch from that spot or tries to come after her as she looks back at him with tears in her eyes. With a stunned Ichigo staring at her in silence, Rukia tells him to think of happier times for the short remainder of his life.
Sheathing his Zanpakutō, Byakuya agrees to not finish off Ichigo and explains how he sealed Ichigo's Saketsu and Hakusui in two attacks, which will leave him as good as dead, before detailing how Ichigo somehow surviving will still leave him with no power whatsoever, as both Rukia's spiritual powers and Reiryoku will be gone. At Byakuya's command, Renji opens a Senkaimon, and as rain begins to pour down, he, Rukia, and Byakuya all step through it. While the Senkaimon vanishes, Ichigo notes that he cannot talk or move and wonders why he was spared again before screaming in rage and sorrow.
As Ichigo Kurosaki lies bleeding out in the rain and observes what is happening in scattered thoughts, Kisuke Urahara appears with Yoruichi Shihōin on his shoulder while holding an umbrella and stands over Ichigo, who notes that the rain has stopped before losing consciousness.
Some time later, as he begins to regain consciousness, Ichigo realizes that he is no longer in pain and wonders if this means he is finally dying before observing that he now feels somewhat warm instead of cold. Upon opening his eyes, Ichigo finds himself in the Urahara Shop staring at Tessai Tsukabishi, who is lying on top of him, and begins screaming as Tessai greets him and praises his quick response. While Tessai calls out to Urahara to let him know that Ichigo is awake, Ichigo attempts to push Tessai off and recognizes him as one of Urahara's crew while demanding to know what Tessai is doing on top of him. After Tessai gets off of him, Ichigo sits up and clutches his shoulder in pain, only to realize that this means he is not dead before seeing that he is not in the Kurosaki Clinic. Seeing this, Urahara walks in and chastises Ichigo for moving around while his wounds have only barely closed before cheerfully asserting that he will die if this continues. After confirming that this is Urahara's house, Ichigo inquires if he saved him, prompting Urahara to note that he sounds upset and ask Ichigo if he did not want to be saved.
As he reflects on watching Rukia Kuchiki leave last night, Ichigo remembers that Uryū Ishida was lying there as well and asks Urahara what happened to him. Urahara recounts how Uryū simply went home because his wound, despite bleeding a lot, was not severe and would have taken two days to kill him if they had just left him there, which allowed Urahara to heal him on the spot. When Urahara observes that Uryū seemed worried about Ichigo when they were leaving, Ichigo expresses disbelief, prompting Urahara to recall Uryū graciously declining to come rest at the Urahara Shop and asking him to take care of Ichigo because only he can save Rukia and Uryū himself cannot beat the Shinigami. Ruminating on this, Ichigo scoffs at the idea of him being the one to save Rukia and demands to know how he is supposed to get to her when she has gone back to Soul Society, but Urahara merely inquires if Ichigo really thinks there is no way for him to get to Soul Society.
Astonished by the idea of this, Ichigo asks Urahara to tell him how to get there, which Urahara agrees to do on the condition of being allowed to train Ichigo for the next 10 days. Though Ichigo dismisses the idea of someone like Urahara teaching him how to fight and points out how they have no idea when Soul Society might decide to kill Rukia, Urahara asserts that he does not understand and uses his cane to pin Ichigo to the floor with Shitonegaeshi before clarifying that he is saying the Shinigami will kill Ichigo. Asking Ichigo if he truly believes that he could win if he fought the Shinigami as he is right now, Urahara explains that he allowed Ichigo to fight them this time because he believed it would help Ichigo understand while Ichigo mentally describes how the tip of Urahara's cane feels like the tip of a sword hovering over him. Urahara asserts that Ichigo would not stand a chance in Soul Society at his current level and criticizes his desire to save Rukia despite his weakness making any charge into enemy territory suicidal before advising Ichigo to not use her as an excuse to kill himself, which convinces Ichigo.
Letting Ichigo sit up, Urahara explains how Soul Society generally waits one month before executing a capital offender, which should hold true for Rukia as well, which gives them 10 days for training, 7 days to open the gates to Soul Society, and 13 days for Ichigo to save Rukia. As Urahara states that this is plenty of time, Ichigo recalls Rukia's departure and wonders if he can get strong enough in 10 days, leading Urahara to affirm this by promising Ichigo that he will have a power stronger than iron at his disposal if he truly wishes to save Rukia. However, Urahara also asserts that Ichigo can forget saving Rukia if his resolve is half-hearted because Urahara is going to put him through truly intense training for the next 10 days. Acknowledging this, Ichigo observes that no one else can do this if he cannot and agrees to begin the training.
At Karakura High School, Tetsuo Momohara greets Ichigo Kurosaki, and when the latter reacts in confusion, an irritated Tetsuo wonders how Ichigo cannot remember him after all the times he asked Ichigo to join the karate team, prompting Ichigo to apologize. Noting that he is at school right now, Ichigo recalls Kisuke Urahara giving him a bottle of pills to take one of every hour and promising that his wounds will be a lot better by that night, as he does not want Ichigo to die in the middle of their training, before telling him to go to school until his summer vacation starts tomorrow. As he sits down at his desk, Ichigo observes that the medicine really is amazing despite the skull-and-crossbones label on the bottle because it only takes one pill to numb his pain completely. However, Ichigo also reveals that no one at school remembers Rukia Kuchiki, with Tetsuo sitting at her desk in the classroom and no one having even mentioned her name, and states that he now understands what it means to return to Soul Society, with her existence having been erased from the world and people's hearts, rendering her essentially a blank spot.
Later, Misato Ochi finishes reading the announcements and advises her students to not spend too much time studying except for this class, as well as to break some rules in order to make good memories, which bewilders her students, before declaring that class is dismissed as they all cheer. As the students around him discuss their after-school plans and new music releases, Ichigo looks at Uryū Ishida's empty seat and notes that he was absent all day before admitting that he thought Uryū might remember Rukia too. Suddenly, Keigo Asano wraps a blindfold around Ichigo, lifts him out of his seat, and spins him around before asking him where the watermelon is, only for Ichigo to hit him in the head with the bat, prompting a bleeding Keigo to tell him that he is supposed to crack the watermelon instead of his skull. Soon afterward, Keigo presents various beach party supplies to Ichigo, Yasutora Sado, Orihime Inoue, Tatsuki Arisawa, Mizuiro Kojima, and Michiru Ogawa before proposing that they all go on a ten-day beach trip starting tomorrow. As he describes all the available festivities and hijinks they will get up to, Ichigo states that he will be busy and apologizes to an incredulous Keigo. While Orihime also declines, Tatsuki reveals that she will be attending Nationals, leading Michiru to state that she will not go if Orihime and Tatsuki are not either, and Sado declines as well. When a dejected and tearful Keigo turns to him, Mizuiro reveals that he is going to Phuket tomorrow, prompting Keigo to angrily grab him by the shoulders and demand to know if he is going with the two older women he met at the Casual Soul Realm Assault Trip taping. Mizuiro clarifies that it is actually his girlfriend Marie and nine of her friends for a total of eleven, which only enrages Keigo further as he accuses Mizuiro of trying to start a nude soccer team.
Watching this, Ichigo notes that it feels weird for people to be acting normal and for the world to keep rotating without Rukia, but wonders why it should not be this way since Rukia is originally from Soul Society and never really belonged in the Human World, though he is disheartened at the possibility of this being true. Suddenly, Ichigo is surprised to find Orihime standing in front of him and is further shocked when she asks him where Rukia went and why everyone forgot about her. After Ichigo explains the situation to her, Orihime sits next to him while summarizing it as Rukia having gone back to her own world and Ichigo wanting to help her, which he affirms. Ichigo admits that he is surprised Orihime could see them and begins to ask her why she never brought it up sooner, but Orihime inquires what he is going to do and points out how Orihime being from the other world means that all her friends and family are over there. Wondering if Ichigo is going to take Rukia away from her loved ones and bring her back to the Human World after he saves her, Orihime questions if this is the right thing to do, leaving a shocked Ichigo at a loss for words. However, as Ichigo tries to answer, Orihime asserts that it is the right choice, to his further bewilderment, and declares that Ichigo has already made up his mind no matter what she says before imitating how Ichigo will put on a stubborn face and tell Rukia that she will only be able to see her family again someday if she is alive rather than dead, which Orihime cheerfully states is what the Ichigo she knows would say.
With Orihime encouraging him to save Rukia because she does not want her friend to die either, Ichigo gets up and sincerely thanks Orihime before running up a nearby set of stairs, leaving Orihime to ask him to not get hurt before deciding that she will not let it happen. After finding a phone booth, Orihime calls Sado and reveals that she has made up her mind. Shortly afterward, when Ichigo arrives at the Urahara Shop, Urahara stands with Tessai Tsukabishi, Jinta Hanakari, and Ururu Tsumugiya as he asks Ichigo how his wounds are faring, prompting Ichigo to rip open his shirt and reveal that only scars remain as he declares that they have completely healed. Commending this, Urahara asks Ichigo if he got permission from his family and asks with embarrassment if he could not come up with anything better when Ichigo explains that he told them he would be crashing at a friend's house, which irritates Ichigo. As Urahara decides that they should get started, Ichigo plants his feet and bows while loudly thanks him for saving his life, leading a surprised Urahara to ask him if he said something. After Ichigo denies this, Urahara smiles and states that he did not think so before admitting that he is looking forward to this.
In the 6th Division barracks in the Seireitei in Soul Society, Lieutenant Renji Abarai strides past two unseated Shinigami, whom he exchanges greetings with, and reaches the door to the prison ward, which he opens with a keycard. Inside, Rikichi Yuki expresses dismay upon seeing a Jigokuchō flying away again and tries to catch it with a net while asserting that it will get him in trouble if it does not come back. When that fails, Rikichi attempts to entice it with a fake butterfly of the opposite sex, only to be kicked down by an irritated Renji, who demands to know what he was doing. As Rikichi rubs his head and wonders what that was for, Renji criticizes him for not being able to handle the Jigokuchō on his own by now and responds to Rikichi pointing out that he is supposed to be off-duty today by stating that he is just here to check on Rukia Kuchiki and asking how she is, leading Rikichi to note that she has been staring at the small window in her cell since last night.
Renji asks Rukia how long she is going to sulk and asserts that she will not survive to be executed if she does not eat something, but Rukia claims that she is simply not hungry while addressing Renji as Lieutenant. When an annoyed Renji asks her if his new rank bothers him, Rukia denies this and commends him for working hard to get himself promoted in the two months she was gone before sarcastically wishing him luck, praising his strength, and asking him about his strange eyebrows, prompting an angered Renji to declare that she is dead and tell her to step out of her cell. After pausing for a few seconds, Rukia asks Renji if she is really going to die, and when he confidently declares that she is going to be executed any day now, Rukia merely accepts this, leading a bewildered Renji to assure her that he was just kidding as she questions how she was supposed to know that. Renji explains that 6th Division Captain Byakuya Kuchiki is on his way to the Captain-Commander's office and will likely request a reduced sentence for her because he will not just stand by and let her be killed as her brother, but Rukia asserts that he will simply kill her himself because she knows very well what kind of person he is, having not once looked at her in the 40 years since the Kuchiki Clan took her in.
Meanwhile, in the Human World, the Urahara Shop is closed for business, and Ichigo Kurosaki, Kisuke Urahara, Tessai Tsukabishi, Jinta Hanakari, and Ururu Tsumugiya stand in a large, desert-like area underneath it as Urahara expresses amazement at such a huge and cavernous chamber being located underneath his store. While Ichigo flatly states that he is duly impressed, Urahara reveals that this is his training room which they made overnight just for him using their powerful technology, prompting Ichigo to ask Tessai if their policy is to ignore customers just to cater to spiritual matters, which Tessai does not have an answer for. Urahara points out that the ceiling is painted to resemble the sky, which Ichigo observes is just like a prison, and that they planted trees to make it cheery, only for Ichigo to note that they are all dead, before patting himself on the back for managing to build this underneath a city, prompting an annoyed Ichigo to assert that it is likely illegal and in violation of several building ordinances.
When Ichigo tells him to start training already because they do not have much time, Urahara commends his spirit and agrees before pushing Ichigo's Soul out of his body with the tip of his cane. Flying back onto the ground, Ichigo demands to know what that was for, only to suddenly find himself tired and out of breath as Urahara observes that this is the first time Ichigo has left his body without becoming a Shinigami, which means that he is just a Soul and will find it hard to move and breathe. Urahara explains that Byakuya destroyed Ichigo's Hakusui and Saketsu, which act as the source of and a booster to his Reiryoku respectively, meaning he is now a regular disembodied Soul from a regular Human with no spiritual powers, before revealing that he must restore his Reiryoku in order to fight the Shinigami. After Urahara details how he must learn to control his Soul body, which will happen when he recovers his Reiryoku because it provides that control, and states that he will have succeeded when his Soul body moves better than his physical body, Ichigo asserts that it sounds complicated and wonders how he is supposed to do this, leading Urahara to note that he probably learns better by doing before calling over Ururu, who greets Ichigo and states that it is a pleasure to train with him.
While Ichigo expresses confusion at this, Urahara reveals that his first lesson is to hit her, shocking Ichigo, and explains the rules as the session ending when one of them is unable to move and Ichigo trying to knock her out before he gets knocked out. When Ichigo demands to know if he is sick for wanting him to hit a little girl, Urahara claims that it will not be as easy as Ichigo thinks with his Soul body, further irritating Ichigo. However, Ururu tosses Ichigo protective equipment while putting on her own, and as Ichigo tries to tell her that he will not be fighting her, Ururu asks him to put the equipment on or risk being killed before leaping toward a confused Ichigo and throwing a punch, which creates a large explosion of force while Urahara asserts that he told Ichigo as much.
As the dust settles around Ururu Tsumugiya after her powerful blow, Jinta Hanakari notes that he cannot see Ichigo Kurosaki and Tessai Tsukabishi wonders if he is dead, prompting Kisuke Urahara to admit that he does not know. Upon seeing Ichigo tumble out of the dust cloud and run toward Ururu, Urahara assumes he is charging her, only to be confused when Ichigo runs past her and grabs his headgear off the ground before running away while marveling at the power Ururu unleashed and admitting that he will die if he is hit by that kind of attack. Asserting that he is going to wear the headgear no matter how much it helps him, Ichigo realizes that he does not know how it works, prompting Urahara to tell him to tie it onto his forehead and recite a cheesy mantra about the power and armor of justice. Though he initially agrees to do so, Ichigo only gets to the point of placing the headgear on his forehead before throwing it down in embarrassment and proclaiming that he cannot do it. However, after Ururu attacks him again and Urahara tells him that this is no time to look stupid, Ichigo decides to put it on and recite the line despite his embarrassment, only for nothing to happen as Urahara laughs about him actually putting it on, to Ichigo's chagrin.
Putting the headgear and gloves on properly, which gives him protection for the sides of his face as well, Ichigo declares that he is ready now and tells Ururu to do her worst, only to be sent fleeing once again as she continues to attack the area behind him. When Urahara compliments his fleeing, Ichigo asserts that it is a defensive strategy and notes that he is not sure the headgear will save him. As he continues to run while expressing astonishment at Ururu's power and reiterating that he will die if he is hit by her, Ichigo realizes that he is outrunning her, which means he might be able to dodge her punches, and turns to face Ururu before narrowly dodging her subsequent punch aimed at his head, leading him to mentally declare that he can do it as he throws a left hook at Ururu, who leans back at the last second, to Urahara's entertainment. Ichigo continues to throw punches at Ururu, who dodges each one, and mentally promises that he only intends to tap her headgear rather than hit her face because he is so much bigger than her that such a hit should be sufficient to knock her out. Upon throwing one more punch, Ichigo manages to graze Ururu's cheek and observes his success. However, when her cheek begins to bleed, Ururu stares coldly at Ichigo and leaps onto his outstretched arm before delivering a powerful kick to his head, sending him crashing into a nearby rock wall.
As he grabs Ururu's leg to prevent her from continuing, Urahara declares that Ichigo is "safe" while a lightly injured Ichigo finds himself having been caught by Tessai. Realizing that he lost, Ichigo asks Urahara to let him try again so he can beat Ururu, but Urahara declares that he passed lesson one, shocking Ichigo. When Ichigo points out that Ururu beat him soundly, Urahara reminds him that he only told Ichigo to knock out before he was knocked out, not that he had to knock out Ururu, to Ichigo's surprise, and asserts that a HumanSoul does not stand a chance against Ururu because she has Shinigami-level combat skills before asking Ichigo if he is still having trouble breathing. With Ichigo realizing that he is not, Urahara observes that his movement should be better too and inquires how long this has been the case, leading Ichigo to estimate it as having been a little while. Urahara that this lesson was solely about whether or not Ichigo could survive the first blow from Ururu because Reiryoku is most quickly increased when a Soul is put in a life-or-death situation, which is why they exposed Ichigo to mortal danger; if his Reiryoku increased, he would evade the subsequent punches and live, while he would die if it did not increase, leading an irritated Ichigo to observe that this would mean no harm to Urahara himself either way. Reminding Ichigo that his Reiryoku did increase, Urahara declares that they should celebrate by proceeding to something, but while Ichigo assumes he is referring to dinner or a party, Tessai severs his Chain of Fate with a large axe while Urahara tells a stunned Ichigo that they are proceeding straight to lesson two.
Upon arriving at a waterfall in a remote area of the wilderness, Uryū Ishida declares his satisfaction and asserts that he can train here without anyone bothering him, only to be interrupted when Orihime Inoue cheerfully calls out to him while climbing up the rocky mountainside with Yasutora Sado and Yoruichi Shihōin, to Uryū's astonishment. After they get settled, Uryū questions the idea of a lesson, prompting Orihime to explain that they need one so they can go to Soul Society before asking Uryū if he wants to join them. Admitting that he had noticed Orihime and Sado's Reiryoku had increased recently but did not think they were considering this, Uryū inquires who will be teaching them, and when Orihime bashfully states that their teacher is right next to him, a shocked Uryū assumes that he has been masking his presence this whole time, only to be flabbergasted when Yoruichi identifies as the master. When Uryū questions what Yoruichi is, Orihime and Sado simultaneously tell him that Yoruichi is a cat as Uryū clarifies that he wants to know why Yoruichi is talking as the latter remarks on his pointing as rude. Suddenly realizing what he is doing, an embarrassed Uryū asks them to forgive him for his outburst as Yoruichi mocks him for reacting so violently to a cat talking, which provokes an irritated Uryū into swiping at Yoruichi while demanding that the cat stop talking.
Yoruichi tells Uryū to take a lesson from Orihime and be more adaptable before instructing those present to focus on why they are here as Orihime asks Uryū why a talking cat is so unusual, though Sado admits that it is a little strange. Orihime points out that Uryū is planning to rescue Rukia Kuchiki too and encourages him to join them for Yoruichi's lessons, but Uryū respectfully declines, leading Orihime to wonder why and pick up Yoruichi, whom she asserts is amazing for tracking Uryū here by his spiritual presence. Though he agrees that Yoruichi is very skilled, Uryū explains that he just wants to be alone before claiming that he never had any intention of rescuing Rukia and is simply training because he is angry with himself for losing to a Shinigami. Upon seeing Yoruichi walking away after hearing this, Orihime calls out to the cat, who declares that they have no further business here because Uryū is not going to Soul Society. As Orihime tries to protest this, Sado gently tells her that they should go and begins to follow Yoruichi. Turning to face Uryū, Orihime promises that they will be waiting if he changes his mind before running off to catch up to Yoruichi and Sado. As she leaves, Uryū simply apologizes to Orihime and asserts that this training cannot be witnessed by anyone as he opens a box that he brought with him and tells his master that he is ready.
Meanwhile, in the Study Chamber underneath the Urahara Shop, Ichigo Kurosaki declares that he is doing to die as Tessai Tsukabishi sits on his back, and when Kisuke Urahara questions if he has to make so much noise, Ichigo reminds him that they cut off his Chain of Fate and that he needs it. However, Urahara simply states that he knows this, to Ichigo's bewilderment, and explains how Ichigo is going to die because he cannot return to his body. Detailing how the chain's Encroachment will soon begin and eventually reach Ichigo's chest, where it will create a large hole, Urahara proclaims that this will cause Ichigo to turn into a Hollow as he tosses confetti into the air. When Ichigo is left shocked by this, Urahara expresses surprise that he did not already know before revealing that the one way for Ichigo to survive after his Chain of Fate has been cut is for him to become a Shinigami. Urahara confirms that lesson two is about Ichigo regaining his Shinigami powers and promises that he will be a fully functional Shinigami once again when it is over before declaring that "Shattered Shaft" will commence and pointing at a rock spire dozens of meters away, only to have a large hole appear underneath Ichigo and Tessai, who promptly fall into it.
As Ichigo screams in terror from within the hole, Urahara proudly certifies this as his highest-level fakeout, but is somewhat unnerved when he does not hear them land and observes to Ururu Tsumugiya that it is very deep, prompting her to assert that she worked very hard. After landing, Ichigo curses Urahara before realizing that his arms have been bound as Tessai reveals that he has used Bakudō #99, Part 1. Kin and apologizes before explaining that he must bind Ichigo's arms for the duration of this lesson. Calling out to Ichigo from the surface, Urahara tells him to reach the top of the pit in his current condition and declares that this is lesson two, which Ichigo proclaims is impossible. However, Urahara merely tells him that he may not want to spend his time arguing because Encroachment has already begun as Ichigo sees the last two links of his Chain of Fate sprout tiny mouths with spiky tongues that begin devouring the upper links.
Recent photo of author Since I moved here last year, my landlord next door has taken a real liking to me. His wife even cooks for me. The food's great and I'm thankful, but I feel bad because I've never told them that I can't eat onions. Tite Kubo
The Viz publication of this volume altered the cover by zooming in on Byakuya, leaving much less space above him and cutting out much of his scarf.