The Seireitei Infiltration is the event that truly begins the Ryoka Invasion and sets several other conflicts in motion: while the Ryoka find an alternate way to enter the Seireitei, the Gotei 13 reacts to Ichigo Kurosaki's confrontation with 3rd Division Captain Gin Ichimaru at the White Way Gate.
After being beaten by Ichigo Kurosaki, gatekeeper Jidanbō Ikkanzaka agrees to open the White Way Gate for him and his friends, but finds himself confronted by 3rd Division Captain Gin Ichimaru, who chastises him for opening the gate while severing Jidanbō's left arm. Enraged by this, Ichigo clashes with Gin, but is caught off-guard by the latter's extending Shikai, Shinsō, which pushes Ichigo and Jidanbō out of the Seireitei, causing the gate to fall back down. However, the local Rukongai villagers are grateful to Ichigo and his friends for standing up for Jidanbō Ikkanzaka, who has been the only kind face among the Gotei 13 to them, and give them shelter while Orihime Inoue begins the process of reattaching Jidanbō's arm.
That night, after she is convinced to take a break from healing Jidanbō, Orihime enters a nearby house with Ichigo, where Uryū Ishida notes that she must be exhausted before Yoruichi Shihōin invites them to discuss their next plan of action. After recounting what has already transpired, Yoruichi explains that they can no longer enter through the White Way Gate due to the Shinigami increasing security on the other side in reaction to it being opened, and when Uryū concludes that a frontal assault on the gate would be foolhardy now, an irritated Yoruichi condemns it as a plan in the first place while indicating that it was Ichigo's idea before affirming that entering through the White Way Gate is impossible now.
Yasutora Sado brings up the possibility of using one of the other gates instead, but Yoruichi reveals that it is a ten-day walk to the next one, which is time they do not have, and with Uryū wondering what choice they have, Yoruichi asserts that they simply will not use the gates at all, shocking Ichigo and his friends. When Yoruichi asks him if he knows where Kūkaku Shiba is, the elder sitting with them in the room is shocked by the mention of her as Yoruichi recalls how Kūkaku was last living in west Fugai and tends to move around a lot. With the elder questioning if Yoruichi really intends to go over the wall surrounding the Seireitei in "that thing", a confused Ichigo hears the sound of approaching footsteps and is surprised alongside his friends when Ganju Shiba is thrown into the room, knocking down the door in the process. While Ichigo and the others express shock upon seeing Bonnie in the doorway, Ganju casually notes that Bonnie threw him again and greets the elder, who demands to know what he is doing here. Though he chides the elder for greeting an old friend like this, Ganju's attitude quickly changes when he sees Ichigo, and as the latter inquires what he is looking at, Ganju takes off his goggles and demands to know what a Shinigami is doing here.
Introduction to the Shiba Clan
A belligerent Ganju continues demand to know why a Shinigami is here as he grabs Ichigo's face, only for an irritated Ichigo to send him flying across the room with a punch to the face, to the shock of his friends watching. Skidding across the floor, Ganju sits up and angrily wonders if Ichigo is picking a fight, but Ichigo points out that Ganju is the one who picked a fight by antagonizing him for no reason and questioning who he is. While Orihime nervously tries to stop a fight from breaking out, the elder in the room notes that he knew it would come to this, leading Uryū to ask him who Ganju is as the latter expresses surprise that Ichigo does not know who he is before stating his name.
As Ganju declares that he is the self-proclaimed deep-red bullet of west Rukongai and the self-proclaimed but universally acknowledged boss of west Rukongai, the elder asserts that he is also the self-proclaimed number-one Shinigami hater of west Rukongai, shocking Ichigo and his friends with all of these titles being self-proclaimed. Ganju tackles Ichigo, sending them both flying out of the house onto the ground outside, and when Uryū and Orihime attempt to follow him and help, they are confronted by Ganju's Gang, where Taichi Miyamoto instructs them to not mess with their boss while Kenji Yamashita warns them that they will have to deal with the gang if they attempt to help Ichigo.
However, Orihime and Uryū are more startled by the fact that all the members of the gang are riding boars. As Ganju tells him to get out and proclaims that no Shinigami will ever set foot in west Rukongai while he is around, Ichigo merely kicks him in the face to put distance between them and asks that Ganju hear him out before they continue this, though Ganju is focused on how Ichigo hit him in the face twice. When Yoruichi tells him to stop wasting energy on this pointless fight, Ichigo refuses to do so because Ganju started it, leading Yoruichi to mentally berate him for being willing to ruin everything over his pride while Ganju realizes that Ichigo will not leave voluntarily.
Ganju decides that they will have to fight for real as he draws his short sword, and though the elder tries to assure him that Ichigo is a good Shinigami, Ganju denies this being possible because all Shinigami are equally bad, to the elder's concern. With Ganju rushing at Ichigo, Uryū realizes that Ichigo does not have his Zanpakutō on-hand, and as Orihime prepares to protect him with Santen Kesshun, to Taichi's ire, Sado throws Ichigo's Shikai, Zangetsu, at him. Thanking Sado, Ichigo unwraps Zangetsu, prompting Ganju to comment on its size as he slashes horizontally at Ichigo, who blocks by stabbing Zangetsu into the ground in front of him and intercepting perpendicularly.
However, Ganju asserts that it is not always size that counts and moves his foot around the ground near Zangetsu before using Seppa, which causes the ground to turn into sand, and shoving Zangetsu down into the sand up to its handle, trapping it and shocking Ichigo. With Uryū realizing that he turned the ground into sand, Ganju kicks Ichigo in the head, causing him to hurtle several feet away while bouncing off the ground before bringing himself to a stop. Ichigo observes that Ganju is using a strange technique, and when Ganju kicks him again, Ichigo intercepts by blocking his foot with one arm and grabbing his pant leg with the other before pulling a surprised Ganju down and hitting him in the face with the side of his fist. With Ganju bruised by this, Ichigo asks him if that stings and reveals that he could even beat Tatsuki Arisawa at karate until junior high. Angered by this, Ganju attempts to slash downward at Ichigo, who guards by blocking Ganju's wrist with his own and pulls Ganju inward by the wrist before unleashing a powerful blow directly to his face. However, though he suffers a bloody nose from this, Ganju remains standing.
Witness this, a stunned Ichigo admits that Ganju is tough for doing so after being hit with everything Ichigo had. Suddenly, as Ganju prepares to resume the fight, he and his gang hear a loud alarm, causing Taichi to panic. Inspecting the ringing clock on Taichi's back, Ishino frantically tells Ganju that it is 9 P.M., prompting a shocked Ganju to call out to Bonnie, who leaps over a stunned Ichigo and tackles Ganju. As he observes that Bonnie is still playing games, Ganju claims that they do not have time for this tonight and requests that she let him ride her. Ichigo assumes they are running away, but Ganju denies this and tells Ichigo to wait here until he returns.
When Ganju calls him a dandelion and mockingly asks him to not turn to fluff in the wind, an irritated Ichigo attempts to turn this back on him, but Ganju and his gang disappear into the distance on the backs of their boars while they argue about setting the timer earlier, leaving Uryū to clap Ichigo on the shoulder in solidarity over Ganju's strange actions while Orihime wonders if they are gone and an angered Ichigo demands to know who Ganju was. The next day, Uryū is shocked to learn that Ichigo is not coming with them, and when Ichigo stubbornly asserts that he is staying here until Ganju comes back, Uryū attempts to pull him out of the house by force.
With Uryū telling Ichigo to stop being a jerk and declaring that it does not matter if Ganju thinks he is a coward, Orihime pokes her head in while stating that she and Sado are waiting for them, prompting Uryū to ask her to help him peel Ichigo off the floor. Suddenly, as Ichigo demands to know who Uryū is calling an idiot, Yoruichi uses three claws to scratch him across his face and the bridge of his nose, leaving Ichigo to howl in pain and lie on the ground as Yoruichi berates him for forgetting that they came here to save Rukia Kuchiki in the heat of his rivalry with Ganju. With Ichigo calmed down by this, Yoruichi declares that they have no time for his games.
As Ichigo acknowledges this, Yoruichi headbutts him to make sure he understands. Some time later, while he and his friends walk through the plains on the outskirts of the Rukongai, Ichigo questions if this is really the right way given how far they are from the village, prompting an irritated Uryū to assert that the map which the elder gave them points to the location being around here and suggest that Ichigo take the lead if he believes that he can do better. While Ichigo claims that he is not complaining, Orihime points out that Kūkaku knowing the only way to get into the Seireitei without using the gates would make them such a great person that they should be living in town like a celebrity, which Uryū concedes is a good point, but Yoruichi denies this and explains that the surrounding area being so quiet and deserted better fits Kūkaku's personality.
Detailing how Kūkaku always builds a recognizable house despite frequently changing residences, Yoruichi assures them that they will know which house is hers at a glance before seeing it in the distance as Ichigo and his friends gaze in shock at Kūkaku's house, which features two giant stone arms holding up a banner with her name on it and a large spire behind the house itself. While Yoruichi cheerfully affirms that Kūkaku's house can be recognized with one glance, Ichigo and Uryū wonder how else Yoruichi has misled them about Kūkaku and declare that Kūkaku could not live in town because all the neighbors would throw a fit.
Yoruichi notes that the banner is being held by a pair of arms this time, leading a stunned Ichigo and Uryū to question if it is always something different, and casually begins approaching while Ichigo and Uryū fret over going into such a strange-looking house and express relief that no one else is around to see it. While they approach, Uryū assumes that the spire behind the house is a smokestack and wonders why it is so large for such a small house before noticing that its top is covered, the purpose of which he does not understand. Suddenly, Koganehiko and Shiroganehiko appears before the group and demand to know who they are before declaring that they will not let Ichigo's group through due to their strange appearance.
Though Ichigo expresses exasperation at having to fight more gatekeepers as he grips the handle of Zangetsu, Koganehiko is surprised when Yoruichi steps forward. Shortly afterward, with Shiroganehiko guarding the front door, Koganehiko leads Ichigo and his friends down the stairs inside the building as he apologizes to Yoruichi for not realizing the others were Yoruichi's attendants. While Uryū observes the strange layout of the house, with the stairs starting right behind the front door and no visible way to reach the second floor, Yoruichi brushes off Koganehiko's mistake and apologizes for not notifying them in advance, prompting Koganehiko to commend Yoruichi for such a gracious response. As they reach the bottom of the stairs, Koganehiko asks Ichigo and the others to wait on the stairs for a moment.
When Koganehiko approaches the sliding doors to the next room, Kūkaku calls out and asks him if he has brought an interesting guest before telling him to come in, prompting a startled Koganehiko to comply and open the sliding doors to reveal Kūkaku, who lounges on some pillows and a rug in the center of the room as she greets Yoruichi. Ichigo and his friends are shocked to learn Kūkaku is a woman, and as Kūkaku wonders who they are, Yoruichi reveals that they have come to ask her a favor, which Kūkaku observes is usually the case when Yoruichi shows up. After Yoruichi confirms her guess that there is trouble, Kūkaku notes that they have not had an exchange like this for a while and tells Yoruichi to relay their story, as she loves trouble. Soon afterward, having been informed of the situation, Kūkaku states that she understands and agrees to help them, to Yoruichi's surprise. Claiming that she cannot say no when Kisuke Urahara is involved, Kūkaku clarifies that she trusts Yoruichi but not Ichigo and his friends.
Kūkaku reveals that she is assigning a man to oversee the operation because of this, and as Yoruichi confirms that this is fine, Ichigo picks up on Kūkaku mentioning a man, prompting her to clarify that he is her little brother and a useless brat as she walks over to another set of sliding doors. Kūkaku tells her brother that she is going to open the doors and orders him to behave himself, and after he assures her that he is ready, Kūkaku opens the doors to reveal Ganju, who politely introduces himself and declares that it is a pleasure to make their acquaintance, but Ichigo can only stare in stunned silence alongside his friends before screaming in surprise simultaneously with Ganju, leading a startled Kūkaku to wonder if they know each other.
In the prison ward within the Sixth Division barracks in the Seireitei, Rukia stares at the window in her cell, and when she hears the cell door opening behind her, Rukia turns and asks 6th Division Lieutenant Renji Abarai if the date of her execution has been moved up, only for the latter, accompanied by four members of the Kidō Corps, to reveal that she is being transferred to the Shishinrō within Senzaikyū because she is going to be executed in less than 14 days. Soon afterward, Rukia walks along a bridge, with the four members of the Kidō Corps binding and obscuring her head with a veil, while Renji guides her to Senzaikyū. Inside the Shishinrō, as the guards release her bindings and kneel, Rukia stares solemnly out the window.
Renji directs Rukia's attention to the Sōkyoku on Sōkyoku Hill, which he asserts will be the instrument to end her life, while one of the guards explains that Rukia may stare out this window each day and repent for her crimes, which is why this prison is known as the "Palace of Penitence", before untying the restraints binding her wrists. Though the Kidō Corps members thank Renji for helping them escort Rukia and assert that they must leave, Renji hesitates in joining them and rushes back to Rukia, whom he informs of five Ryoka entering Soul Society the previous day before revealing that one of them was a Shinigami with a sword as tall as he was and orange hair, shocking her.
Later, as he walks away from Senzaikyū, Renji mentally observes that Rukia has not looked so alive in days and recalls how Gin was the one to intercept Ichigo, which he notes was probably wise to not tell Rukia because Ichigo may not have survived this. Suddenly, 5th Division Captain Sōsuke Aizen calls out to Renji, who is startled, and states that it is good to see him before inquiring if Renji has a moment to talk to him. Shortly afterward, Renji and Aizen stand in a storage room as the latter comments on how long it has been since he lost Renji to the Eleventh Division under Captain Kenpachi Zaraki before asking Renji if he is now in the Sixth Division, which Renji affirms.
When Renji questions what he wanted to talk about, Aizen smiles and inquires if Renji is close to Rukia, which catches him off-guard, and closes the curtain covering the doorway as he assures Renji that he does not need to hide it because Aizen knows that they have been friends since their days together in the Rukongai. With Renji confirming this, Aizen decides to be blunt and asks Renji if he believes Rukia deserves to die, and when a shocked Renji admits that he does not understand, Aizen points out the bizarre circumstances of her execution given that her crimes are the unauthorized transfer of her Shinigami powers and an overly long absence from Soul Society.
Asserting that he has never heard of anyone receiving the death penalty for, Aizen observes that her Gigai was order to be returned and disposed of immediately, her stay of execution was shortened from 35 to 25 days, and the use of the Sōkyoku against any Shinigami under the rank of Captain is unprecedented, all of which leads him to believe someone is behind this. While a stunned Renji wonders what he is getting at, Aizen admits that he has a bad feeling about this and begins to explain himself further, only to be interrupted by an alarm as an announcer informs all the captains of the Gotei 13 to gather for an emergency meeting.
The Cannonball Plan
Meanwhile, at Kūkaku's house, Kūkaku punches and kicks Ganju and Ichigo, respectively, while angrily demanding that they cut it out, shocking Ichigo's friends. As Ichigo and Ganju lie defeated on the floor, Kūkaku questions what is wrong with them to attack each other the moment they meet while Ichigo notes that Kūkaku kicking him without warning must be something that runs in the family. Ganju tearfully attempts to explain how he and Ichigo know each other, but Kūkaku merely kicks him in the face for talking back and grabs Ichigo by the head before asserting that he must follow her rules while in her house, which Ichigo meekly acknowledges. With Kūkaku releasing him and acknowledging his understanding, Ichigo tells Ganju that his sister is scary.
While Ganju agrees with this, Kūkaku tells them all to get up and follow her before leading the group down a nearby hallway. As he walks, Uryū observes that there are a lot of lights on the ceiling even though he did not see a generator, and when Kūkaku explains that they grow Hotarukazura in the holes on the ceiling as well as on both sides of the wood paneling, Uryū inquires if Hotarukazura is some kind of plant found only in Soul Society, only for Kūkaku to ignore him as she orders Ganju to open the door they have reached. While Ichigo comments to a confused Uryū that following Kūkaku's rules in this house apparently means she can ignore them sometimes, Ganju dramatically opens the door to reveal the room containing the Kakaku Taihō, which shocks Ichigo and his friends as they walk inside. Upon being asked what the Kakaku Taihō is, Kūkaku reveals that she is going to use it to launch Ichigo and his friends into the Seireitei through the sky.
with Ichigo and Uryū flabbergasted by the idea of this, Kūkaku clarifies that she is the premier fireworks expert of the Rukongai. Ichigo expresses shock at the idea of Kūkaku being a fireworks expert, and after affirming her statement, Kūkaku looks upward and commands Koganehiko and Shiroganehiko to do it, prompting them to begin rapidly turning a crank next to the smokestack outside. As the floor Ichigo and his friends are standing on begins to rumble and rise up, to their surprise, the smokestack above them crumbles to reveal the Kakaku Taihō, which emerges from the remnants as they fall to the ground below. With the ceiling above the chamber pulling apart to reveal a circular opening, Koganehiko and Shiroganehiko finish turning the crank, causing the Kakaku Taihō to come to a halt fully raised about the ground. Kūkaku asks the Ryoka if this scared them and declares that this is her personal fireworks launch pad, and when Ganju excitedly reveals that it is called the Kakaku Taihō, Kūkaku angrily kicks him in the face for joining her.
However, Uryū assumes that Kūkaku is joking and asserts that there is no way to launch them into the Seireitei with such a thing without killing them, only to be interrupted when Kūkaku throws a Reishūkaku that hits him in the face before landing in Ichigo's hands. Upon being asked what it is by him, Kūkaku explains that the Reishūkaku can be filled with Reiryoku when someone presses their palm against it, but Ichigo expresses confusion at this concept, leading a surprised Kūkaku to clarify that all he has to do is channel power into his hands like when he uses Kidō as she forms a small swirl of energy in her palm to demonstrate. Yoruichi bashfully admits reminds Kūkaku that Ichigo is something of a makeshift Shinigami who cannot use Kidō, and after expressing her astonishment at this, Kūkaku tells Ganju to demonstrate this for Ichigo, which he agrees to do.
Despite this, Ichigo refuses to hand the Reishūkaku over to Ganju, and as the two prepare to fight, with Ichigo claiming that he would rather die than be taught by Ganju, an irritated Kūkaku punches them both in the head as punishment, leading them to meekly apologize to her while lying on the ground. After getting up, Ganju channels his Reiryoku into the Reishūkaku and creates a spherical barrier around himself, to the amazement of Ichigo and his friends, which Kūkaku refers to as the cannonball before detailing how the wall surrounding the Seireitei is not the only thing protecting it, as it is made from a rare material called Sekkiseki that completely blocks Reiryoku and cannot be damaged by attacks infused with it, leading Ichigo and Uryū to realize that this is why there were no guards other than Jidanbō, before revealing Sekkiseki emits Reiryoku-disintegrating waves.
Kūkaku elaborates that these waves form a sphere known as the Shakonmaku around the Seireitei, extending high into the sky and deep underground to create complete coverage. Admitting that flying into the Shakonmaku would ordinarily lead to disintegration for Souls made of Reishi, Kūkaku proclaims that this is where the Reishūkaku comes in as she thumps a visibly fatigued Ganju's barrier. As she brushes off Ganju's pleas to end the demonstration due to his dwindling Reiryoku, Kūkaku elaborates that Ichigo and his friends infusing their combined Reiryoku into the Reishūkaku will create a cannonball that can punch through the Shakonmaku after being fired from the Kakaku Taihō, which she acknowledges will be a rough ride before asserting that there is no other way.
With Ichigo and his friends too stunned to ask any questions, Kūkaku has Koganehiko and Shiroganehiko grab Ichigo and his friends so they can begin training with the Reishūkaku in the dojo, and when she reveals that they should train hard because losing focus while channeling Reiryoku into the Reishūkaku will create an explosion, a shocked Ichigo points out that she should have told them this earlier before being carried off. As Ganju stops maintaining the barrier, Kūkaku tells him to take the Reishūkaku downstairs and help the others practice, but when Ganju inquires if she is really going to help them and wonders what he is supposed to tell their older brother, Kaien Shiba, if they help a Shinigami, Kūkaku coldly reiterates that she told him to never speak of that and orders him to never let them see him with such a sorrowful expression, prompting Ganju to silently run off while Kūkaku stares into the distance.
Meanwhile, in the Seireitei, Renji walks briskly along a corridor and attaches his lieutenant's badge to his left arm as he notes that this is the first time he has gotten to wear it, which leads 7th Division Lieutenant Tetsuzaemon Iba to observe that this is also the first time he himself has been forced to wear one. With Iba recalling the order for lieutenants to don their badges and stand by in the second conference room as he and Renji reach the doorway, 5th Division Lieutenant Momo Hinamori greets them, and when Renji inquires if she is the only one here, Hinamori confirms this. As she walks in behind them, 10th Division Lieutenant Rangiku Matsumoto claims that it could take half a day for all the lieutenants to arrive because they are managing Soul Society alongside the captains. Rangiku mentions that she has been unable to reach her captain, which Iba notes to Renji is Tōshirō Hitsugaya, causing the latter to recognize him as being the famous boy genius.
When Hinamori asks him if he has seen Aizen, Renji denies this after recalling their earlier conversation. Tearfully explaining that Aizen has been acting strange all morning and would not tell her why, Hinamori admits that she does not know what to do. As he assures her that it is probably nothing and they will likely cancel the order any minute, Renji mentally wonders what is going on. Back at the Shiba Clan household, inside the dojo, Koganehiko and Shiroganehiko instruct Ichigo on how to use the Reishūkaku, and while Ganju walks in with an exasperated expression, Ichigo continues to fail at channeling his Reiryoku into the Reishūkaku and angrily asserts that Koganehiko and Shiroganehiko need to explain the process better.
Outside, with night approaching, Kūkaku drinks a cup of sake and asks Kaien to forgive her for helping Shinigami when they are the ones who killed him, though she notes that he would scold her if he were alive and she did not help them because he loved Shinigami and died as one. Under the supervision of Koganehiko and Shiroganehiko, the Ryoka practice creating a barrier around themselves by infusing the Reishūkaku with their Reiryoku: Orihime easily creates a perfectly spherical barrier, Uryū creates a narrow and nearly perfect barrier that Koganehiko and Shiroganehiko assume reflects his body shape, and Sado creates a slightly unstable yet strong barrier.
However, Ichigo struggles to create a complete barrier at all, and when Koganehiko and Shiroganehiko repeatedly criticize his lack of skill in channeling his Reiryoku, an irate Ichigo hits Shiroganehiko in the face with the Reishūkaku and demands that they give him better instructions as Ganju sits in the corner and scratches his nose. With night arriving, a visibly exhausted and sweating Ichigo remains unable to create a barrier despite his best efforts. Poking his head into the room, Taichi informs Ganju that dinner is ready before noting that he seems busy. Ganju tells Ichigo and his friends to go eat because they must be hungry, leading Uryū to realize that he is right.
While Ganju observes that the villagers in Rukongai did not feed them because they do not get hungry due to not using any spiritual powers, Uryū expresses concern over leaving Ichigo behind, but Ichigo tells him to go and promises that he will join them once he succeeds in creating a barrier. Upon being asked if she is coming, Orihime claims that she will wait for Ichigo because she is not that hungry, only for her growling stomach to immediately disprove this. As Orihime asserts that her stomach is exaggerating and she really is not hungry, Ichigo requests that she go because he will be fine, and though Orihime insists that she wants to get some more practice in, Ichigo solemnly reiterates his request, prompting a concerned Orihime to agree to do so and push Uryū and Sado out of the room while declaring that she will see Ichigo there.
Some time later, as an exhausted Ichigo continues to attempt to create a barrier, Ganju, having stayed behind, lies on his side and stares at him with a bored expression. When an annoyed Ichigo asks him what he is looking at, Ganju questions why he cares, and upon being told to leave because he is distracting, Ganju refuses and continues to watch Ichigo's failed attempts, eventually sitting up, laughing while reading a book, and practicing swings with a tennis racket, the last of which prompts Ichigo to throw the Reishūkaku at him in anger, only for Ganju to dodge before grabbing the Reishūkaku.
Spinning the Reishūkaku on his finger, Ganju observes that Ichigo is clearly pushing himself before inquiring if Rukia is really so important to Ichigo for him to go this far in order to save her. However, Ichigo denies this, to Ganju's surprise, and grabs the Reishūkaku back from him as Ganju wonders if Ichigo promised to save her. As Ichigo denies this as well, Ganju assumes that Ichigo is getting paid to save her, but an irritated Ichigo points out that Soul Society's money is no good in the Human World. With a confused Ganju demanding to know why he is trying so hard, Ichigo reveals that he owes Rukia because she saved his life, which he has not repaid her for yet, and explains how she lent him her powers so he could save his family, which he elaborates is the reason why she is currently facing execution.
While Ichigo asserts that he is not some loser who would let her die without a fight, a stunned Ganju approaches him and snatches the Reishūkaku out of his hands, and as a bewildered Ichigo demands that he give it back, Ganju claims that he has decided to practice as well and tells Ichigo to not listen to his explanation of his technique. Ganju details how he visualizes a dark and heavy circle in his mind that he imagines himself diving into, resulting in a spherical barrier forming around himself, and notes that this is the basic principle behind all Kidō spells, to Ichigo's astonishment. As he stops maintaining the barrier, Ganju declares that this is incredibly easy.
Ganju tosses the Reishūkaku back to Ichigo while claiming that even he would be able to do this upon learning the secret, though a genius like Ganju would never need to be shown the secret. With Ganju going upstairs after mocking him as being unable to do it as well due to his lack of talent, an embarrassed Ichigo calls him a cocky idiot and prepares to use this technique. Upstairs, as Sado, Uryū, and Orihime eat dinner together, Uryū sets down his bowl alongside Sado and expresses his thanks for the meal. After responding to Sado's observation that he eats slowly by claiming that this is how he was raised, Uryū notices Orihime has not eaten much and asks her if she is full.
With her stomach growling as she tries to affirm this, Orihime punches her stomach in an attempt to silence it as an embarrassed Uryū to promise that she does not have to do this because he and an equally embarrassed Sado will not say anything. Orihime explains that she wants to give her food to Ichigo, prompting Uryū to realize that he has not shown up yet even though it is past midnight. Suddenly, the three of them, Kūkaku, Koganehiko, and Shiroganehiko simultaneously feel an incredibly powerful Reiatsu permeating the area, and while Koganehiko and Shiroganehiko panic over one of the giant stone arms supporting the banner outside cracking apart due to the pressure, Orihime realizes that this Reiatsu is coming from Ichigo, which leads her and the others to check on him.
Angrily wondering what Ichigo is doing, Kūkaku rushes down to the dojo, where she finds Orihime, Sado, Uryū, and Ganju already standing outside. When Kūkaku demands to know what is happening, Ganju nervously explains that he just taught Ichigo a little trick to channel his power and admits that he did not think it would turn out like this. Upon opening the door to the dojo, Kūkaku is shocked to find Ichigo generating an incredibly large and intense barrier around himself with the Reishūkaku, prompting her to instruct him to solidify his Reiryoku right now. As he does so, a sweating Ichigo finds his barrier drastically reduced in size and intensity, leading him to proclaim that he has done it.
However, when Orihime congratulates Ichigo and he thanks her, Kūkaku berates him for breaking his concentration so suddenly as his barrier cracks and explodes outward. Afterward, with Sado having shielded his friends from the blast, Kūkaku admonishes an incapacitated Ichigo for not heeding her warning of an explosion occurring should any of them lose focus while using the Reishūkaku, which he meekly acknowledges, before turning her ire to Ganju when the latter attempts to pin the blame solely on Ichigo. Declaring that Ganju is equally guilty as she hits him, Kūkaku punishes him by withholding dinner for him, though she returns to hitting Ichigo when the latter mocks Ganju for this, as Orihime watches with a smile.
The Captains Assembled
Meanwhile, in the First Division barracks in the Seireitei, Gin Ichimaru stands outside the doors to the captains' assembly hall, which open to reveal almost all of the other captains standing on either side of the room: 12th Division Captain Mayuri Kurotsuchi, Hitsugaya, 8th Division Captain Shunsui Kyōraku, 6th Division Captain Byakuya Kuchiki, 4th Division Captain Retsu Unohana, 2nd Division Captain Suì-Fēng, Aizen, 7th Division Captain Sajin Komamura, 9th Division Captain Kaname Tōsen, and Kenpachi. Sitting on the opposite end of the room, Captain-Commander Genryūsai Shigekuni Yamamoto demands to know what Gin has to say for himself.
As he walks past the other captains, Gin questions what he was called here for and observes that all the captains have assembled just for him, only to notice that 13th Division Captain Jūshirō Ukitake is absent and inquire where he is. Though Gin expresses sympathy upon being informed by Tōsen that Ukitake is sick once again, Kenpachi informs Gin that they were not called here to discuss a sick captain and brings up Gin's confrontation with Ichigo the previous day before asserting that he let him get away even though a captain should be able to kill four or five Ryoka with ease. Gin merely expresses surprise to hear that Ichigo is not dead, leaving Kenpachi shocked.
Though Gin claims that he thought Ichigo was dead and wonders if his instincts have begun to fail him, Mayuri admonishes him for pretending to not know and reminds him that captains can sense the disappearance of a being's Reiryoku, leading him to inquire if Gin was simply so negligent that he did not notice. With Hitsugaya annoyed to have to be around bickering old men again, Gin asks Mayuri if he believes Gin let Ichigo get away on purpose, and as Mayuri confirms this, Kenpachi tells him to be silent and threatens to cut Mayuri up if he does not stay out of it because Kenpachi is the one asking the questions. While Suì-Fēng calls this conflict stupid, Shunsui expresses apprehension.
While Byakuya remains silent, Yamamoto criticizes this conduct as disgraceful and tells Kenpachi and Mayuri to stand down, which they do, before noting that Gin should have some idea of why he was called here now. Yamamoto clarifies that he called this meeting because he wants to hear Gin's explanation for acting independently without orders and committing an error unworthy of his rank by allowing his target to get away, and as Yamamoto intensely demands that he explain himself, Gin simply states that he does not have an explanation, to Yamamoto's surprise, and asserts that he was careless without an excuse before telling Yamamoto to punish him as he sees fit. However, as Aizen begins to speak up, an alarm goes off as an announcer informs the Gotei 13 that an intruder has been detected in the Seireitei.
Still waiting in the conference room, Renji and Hinamori express shock at the intruder alert occurring while meeting with 1st Division Lieutenant Chōjirō Sasakibe, 2nd Division Lieutenant Marechiyo Ōmaeda, 3rd Division Lieutenant Izuru Kira, and Iba. In the captains' assembly hall, as Aizen wonders if this is the Ryoka, Kenpachi runs out of the room, despite Aizen's protests of them not being finished with their meeting, and dashes along one of the alleys outside before being joined by his lieutenant, Yachiru Kusajishi, who leaps off a roof and calls out to Kenpachi before landing on his shoulder. Upon being asked by Yachiru if he is going to kill an enemy, Kenpachi confirms this and explains that it is a Ryoka in the Seireitei who survived a fight with Gin before expressing a fervent desire to fight him.
Back in the assembly hall, Yamamoto notes that it cannot be helped and declares this meeting adjourned for now, as he will issue Gin's punishment later, before ordering the assembled captains to get to their battle stations. While the captains move out, Aizen stands next to Gin and observes that this is a convenient time for an alarm to ring, and when Gin inquires what he could possibly mean by this, Aizen asserts that he cannot get away with it and warns Gin to not underestimate him as he walks away, leaving Hitsugaya to watch them with interest while Gin promises that this will be the last time Aizen ever hears the alarm ringing.
Morning Of The Launch
Hours later, in the dojo within the Shiba Clan household, Ganju sits and concentrates as he reads a long scroll while mumbling to himself. Behind him, Ichigo sleeps as he lies stretched out on the floor with his right hand in a fist, only to suddenly bolt awake upon thinking of catnip. Ichigo asks Ganju what he was dreaming about, but an irritated Ganju points out that he has no way of knowing this, and when Ichigo comments on how deeply he slept and wonders why he was sleeping in here, Ganju asserts that he does not know this either. When Ganju refuses to tell him what he is doing, Ichigo is left annoyed as Uryū walks into the room and reveals that Yoruichi is waiting for them upstairs because they are preparing to leave.
Shortly afterward, at the base of the Kakaku Taihō outside, Yoruichi greets Ichigo, Uryū, Orihime, and Sado while sitting with a crooked tail in front of Kūkaku, Koganehiko, and Shiroganehiko. When Ichigo observes that Yoruichi's tail looks like a toothbrush and wonders what happened, to the shock of his friends, Yoruichi coldly demands to know if he has a problem with this, and as Ichigo meekly denies this, Uryū reveals that this is his fault because he grabbed Yoruichi's tail after falling asleep the previous night, forcing Uryū, Sado, and Orihime to pry him off while leaving Yoruichi's tail bent, which means Ichigo should not bring it up.
While a stunned Ichigo agrees, Kūkaku asks him where Ganju is, prompting Ichigo to note that he was reading something downstairs. Suddenly, Ganju tells everyone to stop and arrives while carrying the scroll and wearing a new outfit, and as he claims that heroes always arrive late, Ichigo questions why he is dressed like this, leading Ganju to explain that this is his custom-made battle costume which he will not allow Ichigo to borrow. As Ichigo brushes this off because he believes Ganju is just here to show off, a solemn Ganju jumps in front of him and reveals that his brother was killed by a Shinigami, to the shock of Ichigo and his friends. Though Kūkaku is angered by his mention of this, Ganju tells her to shut up and listen, to her surprise.
Ganju details how Kaien was special because he made it through the Shin'ō Academy on his first try despite being from the Rukongai and had spiritual powers strong enough to qualify him for the position of Lieutenant within the Gotei 13, which consisted of him finishing a six-year curriculum in two years and becoming a Lieutenant five years after that. However, Ganju asserts that he was betrayed and killed by the Shinigami whom he considered his friends, and with Ichigo listening silently, Ganju concedes that his being a child at the time prevents him from remembering all the details before recalling that the Shinigami who dragged his dying brother to their house had the face of the devil and Kaien looked happy when he thanked that Shinigami before dying.
Admitting that he does not know why Kaien did this, Ganju proclaims that he knows for certain Kaien never hated the Shinigami and that he wants to know why. With his gang peering around the side of the house at this, Ganju grabs Ichigo by the collar and declares that he does not believe Ichigo is like the other Shinigami, which leads him to believe that he can discover something if he joins the Ryoka, before revealing that he is going to be helping them because of this. As Ganju concludes that he is willing to go into the heart of enemy territory in order to learn what a Shinigami really is, Ichigo's friends are left in awe by his resolve while the members of his gang weep over his words and Koganehiko and Shiroganehiko tearfully assert that he has grown up to be a fine young man, though Kūkaku merely notes that it sounds like his mind is made up.
When Kūkaku warns him to not come crying back to her because he should be ready to die if he enters the Seireitei, Ganju claims that he is. Freeing himself from Ganju's grasp, Ichigo grabs him by the collar and simply welcomes him aboard, prompting Ganju to grin while Kūkaku proclaims there is no turning back now before informing the Ryoka that they are about to begin. As he stands with his friends during the preparations for their launch into the Seireitei, Ichigo looks at the Reishūkaku and recalls how they all practiced extensively to make a cannonball with it, though Uryū points out that only Ichigo himself practiced extensively, before inquiring if Yoruichi can use it properly. Asserting that this is a silly question, Yoruichi has Ichigo place the Reishūkaku on the ground and stands on top of it before quickly and effortlessly generating a perfect barrier, which Yoruichi claims is as easy as breathing. After letting the barrier dissipate, Yoruichi sees Ichigo on his hands and knees in embarrassment and taunts him over his inability to do this easily.
Nearby, Ganju runs up to his sister Kūkaku, and when the latter notes that she heard he was reading something downstairs and asks him if he mastered it, Ganju admits that this is only somewhat true. After acknowledging this, Kūkaku decides that they will use the Flower Crane Archery Second Style for the Kakaku Taihō, and with Ganju nervously agreeing, Kūkaku slams the side of the Kakaku Taihō with her hand, causing a spiral-shaped opening to appear, before telling Ichigo and his friends to get inside. Ichigo, Yoruichi, Ganju, Uryū, Orihime, and Sado gather inside the Kakaku Taihō as Kūkaku paints a black circle around the cannon with a large brush and notes that the sun will be up soon, acting as their cue to begin the launch ceremony, before tossing the brush behind her. Inside the Kakaku Taihō, Ichigo and his friends all hold up the Reishūkaku as Yoruichi stands on top of it.
Instructing the Ryoka to stay close once they are inside the Seireitei, Yoruichi asserts that they should flee immediately if any of them encounter a captain because their only objective is to rescue Rukia and requests that they do not take any unnecessary risks. Upon seeing the sun rise behind her, Kūkaku stabs her sword into the ground and kneels as she begins reciting the incantation, prompting Ichigo and his friends to pool their Reiryoku into the Reishūkaku and form a barrier around themselves at Yoruichi's behest, while Koganehiko and Shiroganehiko assist the spell from afar. As she rips the bandages off her hair and wraps them around her arm, which ignites, Kūkaku slams her flaming fist into the ground, sending a surge of fire up the side of the Kakaku Taihō, before completing the second launch method, Kagizaki, as the Kakaku Taihō fires the Ryoka within high into the sky. With Koganehiko and Shiroganehiko congratulating her on a successful launch, Kūkaku somberly looks up and tells Ganju to be careful. Flying above the land below, a surprised Ichigo admits that he thought there would be a bigger jolt, only for Ganju to inform him that it is coming as the cannonball suddenly begins flying horizontally toward the Seireitei, causing Ichigo and his friends to scream in fright.
Ganju unties the scroll he was reading prior, and when Ichigo questions what he is doing, Ganju explains that the second launch method of Kakaku Taihō is a two-part incantation, with part one launching and controlling the direction while part two controls the acceleration and trajectory, which he concludes offers precision guidance before telling Ichigo to not bother him if he wants to land in one piece. Ichigo acknowledges this as Ganju tells the others to listen and details how they will need to even out the discharge of their Reiryoku in order to adjust the cannonball's trajectory and land safely inside the Seireitei. After noting that he will not be able to monitor the discharge of their Reiryoku when he begins reading the second incantation, Ganju instructs Ichigo and his friends to adjust their Reiryoku output levels to match his own and assures them that they should be able to sense each others' level of Reiryoku by keeping their hands on the Reishūkaku, allowing them to adjust accordingly, before urging them to concentrate.
With affirmation from the others that they will die if anyone makes a mistake, Ganju begins reading the second incantation from the scroll. As the cannonball continues to hurtle through the air with Ganju proceeding through the incantation, Orihime meekly informs Ichigo that he is releasing too much Reiryoku, and though he apologizes for this and tries to adjust, Uryū tells him to lower it a little more, prompting a flustered Ichigo to claim that he is trying and has already lowered it by a lot. Though Sado merely says his name, Ichigo grows frustrated and frantically acknowledges Uryū's second request while continuing to try to lower his Reiryoku output. Distracted by this, Ganju accidentally reads the same line of the incantation twice.
Ganju angrily accuses Ichigo of causing this, only for Ichigo to assert that he lost his concentration because of Ganju. While Orihime and Uryū admonish Ichigo and Ganju for arguing at such a time, Sado looks outside the cannonball and nervously draws his friends' attention there, causing them to realize that the Seireitei is in view. Down in the Seireitei, Kenpachi expresses frustration due to not having found any intruders after searching all night, to Yachiru's disappointment, but as he tells two unseated Shinigami that they can go, Kenpachi hears the high-pitched sound of the cannonball hurtling toward the Seireitei and looks up at it.
Elsewhere in the Seireitei, Renji stands with Byakuya and is shocked at the sight of the cannonball while Aizen instructs Hinamori to move everyone else back, which she acknowledges. With other Shinigami running away in fear, Yoruichi realizes that they are going to crash and tells the others to harden the cannonball as much as possible by infusing it with all the Reiryoku they can muster because they have no other option as the cannonball crashes into the Shakonmaku. Sitting in the Shishinrō in Senzaikyū, Rukia looks out the narrow window and observes how narrow the patch of sky she can see is, only to be shocked when the sky begins to glow. As they stare up at the cannonball containing the Ryoka, three unseated Shinigami observe that it crashed into the Shakonmaku and stopped while Aizen expresses disbelief at a spiritual entity being dense enough to not be destroyed by an impact against the Shakonmaku. In the air above, Ichigo and his friends finds themselves stuck in the tangled remains of the cannonball.
When Ichigo wonders why they are not falling even though they got through the shield, Yoruichi tells the others to stay together and explains that their cannonball melted when it hit the Shakonmaku, leaving them tangled in the wreckage, before warning them that it will soon start to swirl and disappear, which will hurl them in different directions if they are separated by that point. Suddenly, Ichigo and his friends are caught up in a swirling vortex of energy, prompting Yoruichi to declare that it has begun. Finding himself being dragged away, Ganju begins frantically swimming in midair toward Ichigo, who angrily tells him to get away while Uryū questions what they are doing. When Yoruichi instructs them to grab someone close and not get separated, Ichigo reluctantly grabs Ganju and Sado grabs a surprised Orihime while Yoruichi leaps onto Ichigo's shoulder, to his confusion.
Sado attempts to grab Uryū's hand, and upon missing, he propels himself away from Orihime and grabs Uryū's collar before throwing him back at Orihime. As she catches a screaming Uryū, Orihime calls out to Sado, who falls to the ground below in a torrent of energy, but when Ichigo expresses concern, Yoruichi assures him that Sado will be all right and points out that they need to think of a way to save themselves if they want to see Sado again. With Ichigo and Orihime reaching for each other while holding onto Ganju and Uryū, respectively, the remainder of the cannonball explodes, sending the Ryoka flying in four different directions while cloaked in energy.
Watching this from below, Kenpachi realizes they are all headed in different directions and wonders which of them is the strongest. Upon seeing that he is hurtling toward a building, Sado manifests his Fullbring, Brazo Derecha de Gigante, and draws back his arm as he prepares to unleash an energy blast. As she and Uryū fall toward the ground, Orihime uses Santen Kesshun to cushion their impact. Yoruichi flies through the air alone and notes that this may prove to be more convenient, and after pushing Ichigo back, Ganju uses Seppa, turning the ground they hit into sand as the impact creates a large explosion of energy, leaving a large sand pit behind.
After a moment, Ichigo and Ganju pop up out of the sand pit and begin spitting out sand, leading Ichigo to note that Ganju's strange spell saved them. As he expresses gratitude for this, Ichigo sees Ganju still coughing up sand and kicks him in the back to help the process while questioning how long his spell is supposed to make him cough, and when Ganju accuses him of being ungrateful for doing this, Ichigo explains that this is his way of saying thanks, which surprised Ganju. Suddenly, 11th Division 3rd Seat Ikkaku Madarame appears beside 5th Seat Yumichika Ayasegawa on the rooftop behind Ichigo and declares that he is lucky before jumping down alongside Yumichika. Landing in front of Ichigo and Ganju, Ikkaku explains that they were hiding out here because they did not feel like being deployed and observes how the intruders fell into their laps regardless as he declares it is not a lucky day for Ichigo, who expresses confusion.
Elsewhere, several unseated Shinigami a large impact crater in the ground, and after realizing that it must have been one of the Ryoka who did not die on impact, they spread out to begin searching. Sitting on a branch of a nearby tree, Sado blows steam off his fist, which still has Brazo Derecha de Gigante activated with a bird sitting on his shoulder protrusion, and wonders what he should do next. Meanwhile, Yoruichi hurtles toward the ground, where several other unseated Shinigami prepare to intercept, only to disappear before crashing into them. With the confused Shinigami deciding to search elsewhere, Yoruichi reappears on and walks along a nearby roof.
In another part of the Seireitei, upon envisioning Ichigo standing over her, Orihime bolts awake and bashfully declares that they are going to engage in close-quarters combat, but finds herself in pain when she strains her bandaged right arm in the process. Asking Orihime if she is alright, Uryū apologizes for not being Ichigo and explains that they got lucky by landing in an area that seems to have no one around. As she agrees that this is lucky, Orihime clutches her bandaged arm when it stings again, prompting Uryū to instruct her to be careful because she was injured in the crash and he could only bandage her wound because he did not bring any painkillers.
Orihime thanks Uryū and expresses surprise at him carrying bandages around, and when Uryū apologizes for her getting hurt because it would not have happened if she did not need to use her powers to protect him, Orihime asserts that she would have gotten hurt anyway due to how clumsy she is. After getting to her feet, Orihime points out that no one would have been around to bandage her in this case, leading to her fainting of blood loss and dying, and tells Uryū that they should get moving before someone comes to investigate the noise generated by their crash, which he acknowledges. However, as the two run off, 7th Division 4th Seat Jirōbō Ikkanzaka steps out from behind some boards leaning against a nearby wall.