Ichigo, Rukia, Orihime, Chad, Renji, and Uryu continue their escape from Hueco Mundo. Joined by Soul Reapers Retsu, Isane, Kenpachi, Byakuya, Yachiru, Mayuri, and Nemu, the burden was mostly lifted from them as the Soul Reapers took over their battles against the Espada. When we last left off, some of the battles were over, but Kenpachi and Mayuri were still trying to overcome two very powerful opponents. Mayuri has pretty much defeated the sadistic Szayelaporro, having trapped the Espada in a virtual infinity of time, where the Espada’s perception of time has slowed to a trickle as he is forced to stand frozen and watch Mayuri’s blade slowly pierce him. Mayuri lectures his fellow scientist, claiming that as a scientist, it is the quest for perfection and not perfection itself that drives scientific ambition. Once perfection is achieved, there is nothing left. Through some…questionable methods, Mayuri revives Nemu, who immediately begins digging through the rubble to uncover the door to Szayelaporro’s laboratory, while Mayuri sets about healing Renji and Uryu. Meanwhile, Kenpachi’s brutal battle against the uncuttable Nnoitora continues, as Ichigo, Orihime, and Yachiru watch from the side lines. The bulk of this volume is a back and forth battle between the two, with Kenpachi gradually letting loose more and more of his strength to cut into Nnoitora’s extremely hard skin, eventually forcing the Espada to release his zanpakuto form. As both of them thrive on fighting challenging opponents, the battle is a sadistic joy for each of them. Kenpachi grins insanely as the challenge level rises, his ferocity overflowing as he unseals his power for the battle. Nnoitora, initially totally confident he will win, eventually becomes frantic as the Soul Reaper continues to counter his every measure. Though he is angered by what he views as pity from Kenpachi, through flashbacks, we learn what drives Nnoitora to fight, and this battle ends in the most perfect defeat he could have hoped for. With the battle over, Kenpachi orders Ichigo to return with Orihime to the world of the living immediately. Unfortunately, before they’re able to do little of anything, Orihime is (again? sheesh….) captured by an Espada and taken to Aizen. Confused, Ichigo wants to rush off to rescue Orihime, but immediately Aizen’s voice echoes throughout Hueco Mundo. He has opened a gate to Karakura Town and plans to wipe out everyone there.
Not a whole lot to really talk about with this volume. Mayuri is pretty amusing as usual. The battle between Kenpachi and Nnoitora is pretty amazing, if that’s your thing. If what you like in Bleach is the intense battles, you’ll be absolutely thrilled with this volume. It’s a vicious, high octane battle between two characters who love fighting, and they both go all out. The main cast takes the bench this volume, merely observing, while the Soul Reaper captains take over the action and the dialog. Aizen finally reveals his true reason for abducting Orihime originally – to draw away the attention of the Soul Society from the world of the living in order to protect the Soul Society, and lure Ichigo and his friends away from Karakura Town, leaving it completely undefended. Unfortunately for Aizen, Karakura Town isn’t quite as undefended as he might have hoped, so many high powered battles are certainly soon to come. It’s a little annoying that Orihime was so easily captured…AGAIN. But I guess Ichigo and Co. have to have something to occupy them while they’re trapped inside Hueco Mundo. Ulquiorra is still running around, too, after all. Still, this arc has been going on and on and on…I’m anxious for some new conflict, or the appearance of some characters we haven’t seen in a while.
Review copy provided by Viz Media.