Zanpakutou Unknown Tales (part 2 of 2)

Joined
Mar 24, 2013
Messages
6,482
Reaction score
1,326
Points
4,041

Zanpakutou Unknown Tales part 2

episode 230 to 255 in total

This is part 2 of 2, covering episode 241 to 255


SPOILER WARNING


(just in case)


********

After Ichigo reported what happened to Shunsui, Nanao, Ukitake, Unohana and Renji nearly everybody falls silent, everybody except Renji. Grabbing Ichigo's clothes and holding him close he makes it very clear that Byakuya would never betray them. Everybody wants to believe that, Ichigo included, but as Ichigo points out, it was Byakuya who turned his sword on them. Renji is sure that Byakuya must have a good reason for his actions.

Shunsui makes the decision not to keep Byakuya's apparent betrayal a secret. Keeping it a secret would only raise speculation and create problems by spreading unrest. Renji wonders how they are going to explain this to Rukia. Ukitake steps forward. He will talk to Rukia himself. Rukia is shocked when she learns that Byakuya apparently joined the Zanpakutous. Ukitake adds that they don't know his motives, something Rukia is aware of after hearing his report. Rukia ends up being first of all worried about him.

The Shinigami Byakuya has indeed joined the Zanpakutous. He is surrounded by them in the cave next to the lake. Everybody is suspicious, wondering why he accompanied Muramasa to this place. Senbonzakura wonders why Byakuya helped him and this in return causes the Zanpakutou to ask even more questions. Byakuya explains that he acted based on his own pride. He is not explaining what he means by that. Haineko and Tobiume point out that Byakuya helped them escape. This news is supporting Byakuya's position.

Senbonzakura tells Byakuya that if he is really serious with it that he is betraying the Shinigami, he should show them proof. He wants Byakuya to kill the Zanpakutou spirit of his adoptive sister Rukia, Sode no Shirayuki. It seems that a Zanpakutou killed by someone other than its wielder never returns to its original form. Would Byakuya be prepared to do this? As the Zanpakutou spirits know very well, Byakuya loves his younger sister more than anything. There is no way he could slay her Zanpakutou.

But Byakuya surprises all of them, Sode no Shirayuki included. Both of them fight and the fight is definitely serious. Byakuya shows that he is an experienced fighter and even with his Zanpakutou spirit gone, Sode no Shirayuki can't defeat him. His Kido powers are too strong. He explains that if it is for the sake of his pride there is nothing he won't slay. With Sode no Shirayuki's death, Rukia's sword breaks into pieces.

I was shocked but now, in hindsight, what Byakuya did was maybe not that shocking. Rukia had no Bankai at that time and a broken sword in Shikai mode will eventually recover, including the Zanpakutou spirit. It might look different but it will return with the basic features intact.

A lot of emotions ripple through the assembled Zanpakutou spirits. Muramasa makes his decision: He accepts Byakuya's resolve. But unlike everybody else, Senbonzakura is not willing to just move on. He will keep an eye on him. If Byakuya shows any unusual actions, he will slay him without hesitation. Muramasa already has a job for him...

Rukia went into Byakuya's office, looking for any clues on his desk, until she fell asleep. Suddenly a wave of strong spiritual pressure is waking her up. Running out of the room, into the corridor she sees that the walls are covered in slash marks, left behind by a sword. People are lying unconscious on the floor and there is Byakuya. Byakuya is not answering Rukia's questions but suddenly she notices Senbonzakura standing behind her. He is throwing the two broken halves of Sode no Shirayuki at her feet. Without her spirit Rukia has no means to fight.

This is Senbonzakura talking to her. Byakuya himself is just standing there, turning his back towards her. Rukia is shocked, she grieves but I can see another emotion rising more and more: anger. Byakuya suddenly orders her not to get involved any further. Senbonzakura wants to make that point for him but Renji is stepping in, stopping Senbonzakura's blade.

Byakuya warns Renji: Right now he is no match for him. But Byakuya is in for a surprise. Saru and Hebi are with Renji and they are fighting on his side. Senbonzakura ends up fighting Saru and Hebi while Renji crosses blades with Byakuya. Renji wants answers. Renji is no match for Byakuya but that doesn't stop him. I was also pleased to notice that Renji used Kido again, no matter that he is bad at it. But also a brief advantage counts and, of course, using Kido gives Renji more experience and he will get better at it.

A lot of damage is being left behind. Renji is lying injured at Rukia's feet and Byakuya warns her again not to get involved any further. Several Zanpakutou spirits arrive who were sent by Muramasa to give Byakuya and Senbonzakura a hand. Rukia steps protectively in front of Renji, ignoring his protests. Fortunately help arrives on time. Soi Fon and several members of her punishment force arrive as well as Ikkaku and Yumichka with Kira. Ichigo is nearby, watching. He also noticed that Byakuya is among the Zanpakutou spirits.

I am sure, protecting his "pride" - Byakuya made a bad mistake trying to stop his sister being involved by breaking her Zanpakutou. Rukia will always fight for what she believes in and she will do so any way she can. What Byakuya did was making her angry and fuel her determination to fight for her friends.

Soi Fon gives orders to arrest the Zanpakutou spirits and Byakuya. Kazeshini laughs, fighting back. Shortly afterwards Ruri'iro Kujaku joins him. He is Yumichika's spirit. Like his owner he is vain and intelligent. He is covered in beautiful feathers, something that reminded me immediately of a peacock. Shinigami and Zanpakutou spirits are pairing off, tending to fight one-on-one. Yumichika is facing Ruri'iro Kujaku. Of course he recognized his Zanpakutou spirit immediately. Just looking at him disgusts him said Yumichika, using the hated name Fujikujaku. Ruri'iro Kujaku is offended. Should Yumichika use that name again, he will kill him. Yumichika smiles. He invites him to give it his best shot.

Ichigo is stepping in front of Rukia and Renji, confronting Senbonzakura and Byakuya. Ichigo ends up fighting Senbonzakura while Renji points out to Byakuya that they haven't finished their conversation yet. Renji wants answers. He is injured, barely able to stand, but his determination is obvious. Saru and Hebi are standing next to Renji, ready to show him what they can do when they get really serious.

Meanwhile Ikkaku and Hozukimaru had an intense duel, away from people who would discover that Ikkaku has a Bankai. I enjoyed watching this fight. And both participants enjoyed it as well, that was obvious. They called each other partner, they loved the contest. Hozukimaru collapsed first, having given all he had. And Ikkaku followed afterwards.

Iba and Isane meet Ashisogi Jizo by chance. Iba and Isane are afraid, remembering her poison very well. But the butterfly baby doesn't seem to have hostile intentions right now until she takes a deep breath, producing a small cloud of purple gas. The way she talks reminds me of the Star Wars character R2-D2. Her whistling voice sounded cheerful and curious but not being willing to take any risks, Isane and Iba cause the building to collapse, burying the spirit. They will inform Mayuri as quickly as possible so that he can deal with this opponent.

It is raining heavily. Gonryomaru likes this weather. Working together with Tenken, they are fighting Soi Fon. Lightning bolts are crackling through the sky. Tenken's fire is active. The pouring rain is not able to cause an obstacle for using such powers. As Gonryomaru explains, Tenken is very shy. But Shojiro's spirit is passionate and he is a serious opponent Soi Fon has to deal with. Gonryomaru doesn't seem to have a lot in common with the quiet, hermit -like Shojiro. I can see in hindsight that we really never got the chance to get to know that man.

Suzumebachi is using the confusion to attack Soi Fon. She only noticed her after Suzumebachi was nearly able to give her the second sting in the same spot which would have killed her. The little wasp-like being looks fun and she greets her former master cheerfully. But Soi Fon is not fooled. Suzumebachi is happy that she materialized looking the way she wanted to. She is fed up with it that Soi Fon keeps worshipping Yoruichi. Suzumebachi is actually asking if she is stupid or something. Soi Fon should pay more attention to her clothes and find herself a good man. Soi Fon is speechless for a moment - I can't blame her.

Having found a place where nobody is likely to watch them, Yumichika and Ruri'iro Kujaku are fighting each other. It looks like it that Yumichika is defeated. Ruri'iro Kujaku is disappointed. Yumichika is kind of weak. Ruri'iro is indeed having the upper hand. It adds to it that Yumichika's spirit knows the weaknesses of his master very well. The spritual pressure of Ikkaku and Hozukimaru is gone. Yumichika is becoming increasingly unbalanced while Ruri'iro Kujaki watches this effect calmly and with amusement. Then Ruri'iro Kujaki adds that contrary to him he has no problem with it to use his powers in public. Yumichika is horrified. And then he is bound by the Kido power he hates so much. I found it interesting to watch that when the fight turned increasingly ugly, also Yumichika and Ruri'iro Kujaki lost their beauty.

Isane and Iba are fighting Haineko and Tobiume. Suddenly Ashisogi Jizo emerges from the collapsed house, materializing directly in front of Isane. Her reaction is instinctive and I believe so is Ashisogi Jizo's. Her blades emerge from her chest. Isane was able to evade most of them but one of them left a scratch on her leg. It is enough to poison her. Isane is unable to get up. But that doesn't stop her from fighting.

Renji and his spirits are defeated. Rukia asks Byakuya to stop this but he is only looking at her, showing no emotion. Ichigo is fighting Senbonzakura while Kazeshini is fighting Kira. Both fights are very intense and they are quite evenly matched. Suddenly a thought is alarming Kazeshini: Is Kira able to use Shikai again? Kira just smiles. He won't tell. I had to smile. Kira was bluffing. Removing a chain with explosives from around his arm (similar to what Hisagi has) he throws it into Kazeshini's face, followed by Kido attacks.

Kazeshini screams when Kira cuts him down, leaving him unable to fight. Kira binds him with a spell and was about to leave to help others when Wabisuke appeared behind him. Kira left his back completely unguarded. Wabisuke cut Kira down and is about to decapitate him. Ichigo struggles to get to him to prevent that but Senbonzakura keeps stopping him. But Kira is lucky. Suddenly Zaraki returns and his spiritual pressure is protecting Kira. Zaraki laughs, looking forward to the challenges before him.

It was amusing to watch that everybody stayed out of Zaraki's way. Most looked and stared. Others smiled. Ichigo greeted him openly and it is him Zaraki addresses first. He was hurrying back and is not apologizing for the mess he made. Suddenly Wabisuke attacks Zaraki from behind. Nothing happens. Zaraki is just irritated: He has no time to be bothered with someone on his level. Wabisuke is being killed, the sword breaks in two.

Ruri'iro Kujaku is still holding Yumichika tight with his energy vines. He tells Yumichika that they are both very much alike. They both live according to their senses of aesthetics. Beauty above all. But Yumichika was in the wrong place. He means that Yumichika is among those slow-witted, boorish, hot-blooded people. If he unleashes his true power, they would only make fun of him. Being unable to expose his own technique to Kenpachi Zaraki and Ikkaku Madarame - in time that in itself became an aesthetic to him. Someone like Yumichika who doesn't accept his own powers for fear of how people will see him can never win against somebody like him who believes in his own powers. Ruri'iro Kujaku believes that it is time to end this. The blossoms covering the vines are starting to grow.

Gonryomaru asks Zaraki where he has been hiding. Zaraki doesn't like the sound of that but now Yachiru takes over. Jumping on Zaraki's shoulder she explains. They were hunting Hollows when they heard about the troubles and tried to hurry back but along the way they got completely lost. (I expected that but this old joke still amuses me). Zaraki announces that he is about to go on a rampage which means Yachiru should keep her distance. Looking at the Zanpakutou spirits, Zaraki wants to know who is the strongest.

Senbonzakura and Byakuya agree: Byakuya will return while Senbonzakura will deal with Zaraki. Zaraki removes his eyepatch, laughing. Most people, no matter if Shinigami or Zanpakutou, are not even able to come close. Zaraki's spiritual pressure behaves like a tidal wave, a force of nature. The cherry petals can't penetrate it and are simply pushed aside. The same happens to people. Ruri'iro Kujaku is impressed. He also knows that Yumichika won't feel this power much longer. The blossoms are nearly fully formed. Ruri'iro hopes that Yumichika will die beautifully.

Yumichika made a decision. Instead of dying beautifully he is going to defeat him. He explains that he would rather die than have people see the release of Ruri'iro Kujaku. But that is not all there is to it. With these words, Yumichika gets up and the blossoms grow even more. Yumichika cuts the vines with a Kido spell. The only other two people who are still standing nearby are Zaraki and Byakuya.

Ruri'iro is shocked. Yumichika explains that he will always be a member of the strongest fighting squad among the Gotei 13. He is a member of squad 11. Like his captain, he will stake his pride to continue fighting and should he fall trying, he can laugh at him. The anime shows clearly that Zaraki and Yumichika share this mindset. But I never believed that Yumichika's fears are justified. I was hoping that Zaraki would call Yumichika an idiot and send him flying into a nearby building (meaning not in this story but eventually in Bleach's history), telling him off for hiding his true potential. And Ikkaku with his history would reveal himself to be a hypocrite should he cause Yumichika trouble because of his powers.

Now Zaraki and Byakuya start fighting. Byakuya has better things to do but Zaraki is not taking no for an answer. Zaraki grabs Byakuya's blade with his bare hands. Byakuya slips away but receives a long cut. Both, Byakuya and Yumichika, are at a disadvantage but they are not giving up. What Yumichika did is using something they have in common: being stubborn and overconfident. When Ruri'iro sends the vines to Yumichika again, they end up being bound together with a Kido spell. Yumichika has won. His Zanpakutou has been restored. Shortly afterwards Soi Fon regains her Zanpakutou as well, defeating her spirit after a wild chase.

Rukia senses Byakuya nearby and is running towards him. Meanwhile Konjiki Ashisogi Jizo appears at the location where Byakuya and Zaraki are fighting. Purple gas is spreading and Ichigo is exposed to it. When the gas cloud starts to disappear other people appear who were affected. Renji and Rukia are lying next to each other. There is Kira as well. Ashisogi Jizo returns into Shikai form. The butterfly baby sounds distressed. Ashisogi Jizo slaps Ichigo a few times, trying to wake him up. Yachiru laughs, she wants to play, too. Ashisogi Jizo is afraid of the little girl and tries to run away. But Yachiru sees this as an invitation to play tag.

Yachiru pulls her wings. Now Ashisogi Jizo is terrified. She starts to call for her Bankai when Zaraki grabs the little spirit, also covering her mouth. He is not pleased. Now Byakuya managed to get away. Mayuri watches for a moment and then presses the self destruct button. The sword breaks in two and falls to the ground. Mayuri explains that this is his Zanpakutou. The owner can do whatever you please with it. He punished it for betraying its master.

Ichigo is terrified. He can't argue with it that his body needs urgent treatment but the syringe Mayuri is holding could be worse than the poison. Right now he can't even crawl away from Mayuri's grip holding his robes no matter how hard he struggles. Mayuri learns why: Ishida warned him. Mayuri knew it: He should have restructured Ishida too so that he wouldn't talk unnecessarily. Ichigo fights even harder to get away. He doesn't want to be modified, free of charge or not. As she did it with Ishida, Nemu is holding Ichigo. Ichigo keeps struggling...

Zaraki doesn't care what happens to Ichigo as long as he is still able to fight him. Mayuri is in a good mood but it doesn't last much longer. Unohana and a lot of her medical personnel arrive. She reveals that she developed an antidote and that she already treated quite a few people. At least this saves Ichigo from Mayuri's cure. I loved Unohana's smug smile. Mayuri accepts her challenge. He will develop a poison even Unohana can't analyze so quickly.

Meanwhile Byakuya and Muramasa are meeting in the cave next to the lake. Muramasa is pleased with his work. Now Byakuya will soon head towards the world of the living. Meanwhile Zaraki wants to challenge Byakuya. Yoruichi and Soi Fon don't know where he is but Yoruichi found the location of Yamamoto. Getting to Yamamoto is more important.

Byakuya and Muramasa are walking together to a different location in the caves: Yamamoto sits with his eyes closed in a green, see-through, triangular force field. Sogyo no Kotowari (Ukitake's twin spirits), Katen Kyokotsu (Shunsui's spirit) and Minazuki (Unohana's spirit) are surrounding the force field from the outside. Byakuya steps very close to the green, transparent wall. Yamamoto opens his eyes. He unleashes his fire power that quickly fills the whole triangle. Byakuya stays where he is as if he knows that the fire won't hurt him.

Haineko and Tobiume are bored. They were expecting a more exciting life after being separated from their masters. Their discussion in the spot next to the lake is being interrupted when Kazeshini reaches the group. He collapses at their feet. Haineko and Tobiume are amazed that Kazeshini managed to reach them with these injuries.

Muramasa arrives with a group of Zanpakutou spirits. He kneels down next to Kazeshini, welcoming him back. Kazeshini wants to ask him a question. Muramasa told him to follow his true instincts. He demands to know why a Shinigami is among them - meaning Byakuya. Muramasa smiles. He explains that Byakuya Kuchiki plays a crucial role in achieving their greater goal. And, as long as they have Genryusai Yamamoto, they can't do anything to them.

The rescue group has arrived at the entrance of the cave. There is Ichigo and Yoruichi, Zaraki and Yachiru, Shunsui and Ukitake. They can sense Yamamoto's presence as well as some kind of powerful barrier. Shunsui is amused: With Zaraki around there is no use trying to make plans. Zaraki and Yachiru are off, looking forward to the fight. They all better follow and see what they are going to do.

Shortly afterwards, Zaraki is not so pleased any more. He charged in but it is so dark that he doesn't know where he is going. He is asking Yachiru for directions. I was smiling - as if that would do any good. Her sense of direction is certainly not one of her strengths. Soon they are completely lost.

Yoruichi's sense of direction is well developed. Jumping along, crossing a lake by stepping on the stalagmites reaching out of the water, she makes good progress. Ichigo follows her. He asks Yoruichi if she has any idea what Byakuya is thinking but she doesn't know either. Ichigo fell into the water and now Haineko and Tobiume are attacking Yoruichi. They are no match for Yoruichi but dealing with them will keep her busy. Yoruichi tells Ichigo to hurry ahead and save Yamamoto. This is their top priority.

Zaraki and Yachiru eventually meet Tenken and Gonryomaru who are eager for a rematch. Ukitake and Shunsui are meeting their spirits while Ichigo is following Minazuki. It is obvious that she is leading Ichigo somewhere but I think he is not realizing that while he keeps running. And then Minazuki is gone. Instead Ichigo is meeting Kazeshini. Kazeshini wants to kill Ichigo. There is no doubt about that. Ichigo calls for his Bankai. Kazeshini falls deeper and deeper, ending up in a crater. He gets up one last time and then dies, his Zanpakutou breaking in two.

Now Ichigo reaches his destination: The transparent triangle. Yamamoto is sitting in the middle, now surrounded by a sea of fire that laps around him on the ground like water. Not long ago, the fire got agitated and filled the whole space when Byakuya got close. This time, when Ichigo stretches out his hand, the fire seems to try to slap him away, even burning his hand.

Ichigo is drawing his sword. He realizes that someone else is nearby. Muramasa is amused. He knew it, they are destined to cross blades. Ichigo's attacks increase in intensity. Muramasa keeps goading him: Ichigo can't move on until he defeated him. He wants Ichigo to hit him with everything he has got. Ichigo agrees. He is summoning his mask. But Muramasa wants more. He knows that Ichigo has more he can put into a fight.

Yoruichi suddenly realizes that the Zanpakutou spirits had orders to keep everybody away from Ichigo. Following the by now extremely strong characteristic spiritual pressure she arrives just in time to watch how Muramasa receives the full blow of a masked Getsuga Tenchou. Muramasa laughs. He absorbed as much of the power he could and then unleashes it onto the triangle.

The explosion is enormous. The ceiling of the cave is gone. The force field develops cracks and then collapses. Muramasa's hand stretches out, reaching Yamamoto...

Ichigo is confused. He doesn't understand what happened. But Yoruichi does. Muramasa's goal was that Ichigo uses his hollowfied Getsuga Tenchou. Shunsui understands as well. Muramasa fused his own powers with Ichigo's, causing a massive amount of energy. Ukitake adds that he wanted to destroy the barrier with it. Yoruichi knows now that they made a serious mistake. Yamamoto was not imprisoned within the barrier. He locked himself in to keep Muramasa out.

Yamamoto agrees with their observations and adds further explanations. Muramasa's goal was to gain access to his mental world. As Muramasa explains, Yamamoto locked him out. But he was prepared. This is why he started the Zanpakutou rebellion, throwing the Seireitei into chaos. After things cooled down, he left it to the Shinigami to "save" Yamamoto. In other words, Muramasa used Ichigo for his own ends.

Muramasa is pleased. Everything went according to plan. Muramasa is not even attempting to deny that he used the Zanpakutou spirits as well, that they were just a means to an end. What the spirits do now does not concern him. It is time for the next step of his plan. Muramasa leaves and some spirits try to get after him. But they are stopped by a wall of fire.

Ryujinjakka surrounds them all, holding them prisoner. All the Zanpakutou spirits within reach turn to ashes. Only spirits within their swords are safe, at least for now. By the way, Ryujinjakka was not shown as a corporal being but showing it as a sea of fire is the best choice. I had to remember the picture young Shunsui discovered in Yamamoto's office.

"Ah, that picture... That is a monster that appeared in Soul Society long ago. It appeared when Soul Society was in great need and only brought further turmoil. It will not trouble us again. If, someday, that monster were to appear before us again... I fear that will be the last day I am ever seen in this place."
Muramasa is very pleased with himself. Now nobody can get in his way any more. Yamamoto knows what his true goal is and he points out that the Gotei 13 must immediately stop him. But right now this is easier said than done.

Ryujinjakka is obviously determined not to allow anybody to escape its fiery prison. Shunsui observes that he plans to keep everybody trapped here. Ichigo tries to escape using Shunpo but fiery tentacles follow him, forcing him back.

Yamamoto explains that Muramasa is heading for Karakura Town. It has the "thing" he wants. This is the moment a Senkaimon gate opens: Muramasa, Byakuya and Senbonzakura enter Ichigo's home town. They all know that their arrival will draw the attention of a lot of spiritual beings. Byakuya will deal with the Hollow threat - and Senbonzakura will keep an eye on Byakuya. After Muramasa is left behind to continue his part of the mission, his spiritual body is starting to break down again. He realizes that he has to hurry. There is not a lot of time.

Only Yoruichi managed to escape the prison by taking advantage of a crack using Shunpo. But that escape route closed very quickly. Ichigo, Shunsui and Ukitake keep trying to breack out but without success. Yamamoto knows that brute force won't work. He explains that it won't be easy but in time he could control Ryujinjakka. But they don't have time. If Muramasa is not stopped he will dispel the seal. Muramasa is after Koga. He is trying to revive the Shinigami Koga, the master of the Zanpakutou Muramasa.

Muramasa is a Zanpakutou that can enter another person't inner world and control the Zanpakutou that lives within it. His master, Koga, once led a rebellion against the Seireitei. The Zanpakutou controlled by Muramasa not only denied ther master's power, they also attacked them and thrust Soul Society into chaos. They suffered great casualties but finally managed to seal Koga away. Ichigo points out that Muramasa told him that he killed his own master. Yamamoto answers that this is one of Muramasa's lies. Koga still lives within the seal even now. It is a secret event that was never recorded. Muramasa needed to enter Yamamoto's mind to find out how to free Koga, information only he has.

Surrounded by Hell Butterflies Muramasa sets foot on the World of the Living. He is standing in a secluded nature beauty spot. In front of him is a lake and not far away from the shores is a small island that is dominated by a large tree. Now he is very close to his destination. But before Muramasa can reach it he discovers that he is not alone. Hidden behind a tree a girl in a school uniform watched him. She asks him who he is and what he wants.

Muramasa silently summons his sword and attacks. The girl, Orihime, reacts immediately and Muramasa is surprised about the shield she summoned to protect herself. Muramasa materializes behind her, reaches out to her with her powers... and collapses. Weak and extremely frustrated he loses consciousness. He was so close!

When Muramasa slowly wakes up he is surrounded by an orange glow. He is feeling much better but he is also confused. He doesn't understand why the girl helped him. Orihime confirms that she is one of Ichigo's friends. She can't ignore an injured person. Even when Muramasa reveals that he is Ichigo Kurosaki's enemy, it does not make a difference to her. Orihime is not surprised. She expected that. But the point is, Muramasa looked like he was in so much pain.

Suddenly Muramasa moves away, evading several small arrows that would have otherwise hit him. Uryuu and Chad join Orihime. Uryuu is not keeping Muramasa out of his sight, pointing his bow at him.

Meanwhile Ryujinjakka's prisoners get help: Hitsugaya and Hyorinmaru arrive. Fire is fighting ice. Yamamoto explains that their priority is to get Ichigo out of here so that he can return to the World of the Living. He has to stop Muramasa. He has to prevent that Koga will be freed. Ichigo feels responsible, believing that this situation is his fault. He will do everything he can to help. It was close but eventually Ichigo escapes. Yamamoto is relieved. Now it is time to give his sword some harsh punishment.

Muramasa learns that also Uryuu and Chad are Ichigo's friends. Muramasa has no idea what a Quincy is. Looking back at Bleach's history, this is not suprising. Uryuu chases Muramasa around with volleys of arrows and Chad tries to hit him with his transformed arm. Muramasa is getting increasingly irritated. He has no time for this.

Uryuu nearly got him with the full blast of his spider-web bow but a wave of pink blades is coming from a different direction, stopping the wave of arrows and protecting Muramasa. Also Chad recognizes their origin: Senbonzakura. Senbonzakura continues fighting Uryuu while Muramasa manipulates Chad's mind. We can see now that Muramasa can also affect human beings, at least human beings who have powers. Chad encounters a vision, a vision taken from a memory that is important to him and has been turned into a weapon against him. Chad meets his grandfather. He has no idea that this image is disguising Muramasa. Chad hasn't even got a chance to fight. Muramasa looks down at his victim with contempt. That was easy.

Muramasa leaves Chad and walks away while Orihime runs to his side to help. Uryuu and Senbonzakura fight an intense battle. Both of them seem to be evenly matched. Uryuu is trying to change that. Two waves of arrows are attacking Senbonzakura, interrupting the flow of the current battle. Senbonzakura steps aside when Muramasa comes closer. Muramasa tries to enter Uryuu's mind but Orihime's shield is protecting him.

Orihime looks at Muramasa with intense empathy that visibly cuts into Muramasa`s soul. Orihime can feel it: He is burdened with a deep sadness. Orihime asks him why he is doing this. Orihime is upset, something that leaves an impact on Uryuu who is standing close to her. Muramasa let Orihime in, but just for a moment. He pushes her out again, his anger, his frustration taking over. Orihime can't understand and should not act as if she does. His name is Muramasa. His power will change the world.

As Orihime has seen it once before, a black reddish spiritual power exits Muramasa's body. It is not the power of a Shinigami but feels much more like that of a Hollow. To everbody's surprise Rukia joins the group. She immediately attacks Muramasa using Kido. The powerful energy wave disappears. Also Muramasa did not expect this development. Rukia explains that she simply followed the spiritual pressure of her brother. Rukia explains to everyone who Muramasa is and not only Uryuu wonders what he is doing in the World of the Living. Suddenly an alarming thought enters Uryuu's mind: Where is Kurosaki? Muramasa believes that Ryujinjakka's flames consumed him by now. Orihime doesn't believe that. I don't think Uryuu and Rukia think differently.

The black reddish power is back and the intensity with which it leaves Muramasa is increasing. Suddenly Hollows start to emerge from it. Now surrounded by big Hollows Muramasa answers Rukia's question: He is indeed a genuine Zanpakutou. He is a Zanpakutou with the power to change the world. He is trying to release himself from this long, lonesome battle. Jumping away, towards the island, Uryuu tries to aim at him. But Senbonzakura blocks this aim. Pink blade petals and pale blue arrows clash against each other again, cancelling each other out.

The big Hollows move forward. Rukia urges Orihime to take Chad away to a safer location. Orihime understands, doing her best to protect him. Rukia's spells are strong enough now to destroy one of the big Hollows with the first attempt. While Rukia fights the Hollow threat, Muramasa is reaching his final destination. In front of him is the ancient, giant tree. A swarm of Hell Butterflies leaves. Muramasa smiles. He waited so long for this moment!

Chad is feeling better and joins the fight against the Hollows. Uryuu is still trying to get past Senbonzakura so that he can fight Muramasa. Right now there is nobody who can get into Muramasa's way and stop his plans. After a long chant cracks appear on the image of the large tree. It was obviously an illusion, a fake image. Like a cracked mirror, it eventually breaks apart and the broken shards disappear.

Uryuu eventually fought Senbonzakura also with a Seele Schneider (Soul Cutter). Senbonzakura knows about Quincies but that they use this kind of weapon is news to him. He believes that Uryuu is using an unfamiliar weapon and that he has no chance against him with it. He is in for a surprise. Uryuu explains that Seele Schneider is not a sword. It weakens the bond between reishi so that they are easier to steal. Lifting Seele Schneider, the pink petals aimed at Uryuu turn pale blue and disappear into his weapon. Senbonzakura stares in shock and Uryuu doesn't hesitate. Using Seele Schneider as an arrow he pierces the Zanpakutou spirit, hurling him away.

A huge coffin-like construction is floating in front of Muramasa. Several old weapons with long handles are piercing it. Chains are wrapped around it. But before Muramasa can open it, Rukia arrives, doing her best to stop him. Also Uryuu arrived on the island. Senbonzakura resumes his fight with him. Some of his mask got broken and he is breathing heavily but the Zanpakutou spirit is still able to fight.

Muramasa explains to Rukia that his master is in this coffin. He once tried to take control of the Soul Society. He describes his master as the most powerful Shinigami. Muramasa wants to revive him. Everything he has done is for this moment. The chains break. The outer shell starts to disintegrate. The weapons clatter to the ground. A man is floating where the coffin has been. Koga is not dead but the long imprisonment left him with the appearance of a mummy. Muramasa is delighted, wishing for his master to wake up.

Before that can happen Ichigo arrives. I already thought from the beginning that Koga can't wake up before Ichigo gets involved. He is the main character after all. But on the other hand, he can't stop what Muramasa set in motion.

Several Hundred Years Ago

Ginrei Kuchiki and Koga, a man who entered the Kuchiki family by marriage, are standing on a tall rock formation, watching a fierce battle. Shinigami are fighting Shinigami. Ginrei observes that the rebels are growing in number. He asks Koga how he would handle this situation. Koga believes that they don't have time for observation. He wants to act right now.

Ginrei forbids it. War cannot be waged by a single person. Koga does not listen. Ginrei is not trying to stop him. He just watches Koga leaving, thinking that he always wants to rush to his death. Koga drops in from above, disrupting the battle. People can see that he is a member of the Kuchiki clan. Powerful purple spiritual energy is swirling around him.

Koga is only one man. The rebels think that their sheer number will overwhelm him. Koga draws his sword and gives a command: "Whisper, Muramasa!" Waves of purple energy hit the men. Their Zanpakutous no longer obey their commands but turn against them. Soon the rebels are dead, having killed each other or having been killed by their own swords. Koga himself doesn't need to do anything. All he does is watching, showing no emotion.

Yamamoto is pleased, praising Koga's work. The rebellion is still far from over but they have taken a big step towards recovery. The Soul Society is in a lot of turmoil but maybe this is a test in order to find out if permanent peace can be achieved. In order to do that the Soul Society needs young strength like Koga's. Yamamoto asks Koga to continue using his power. Koga bows, vowing that he will give his life in order to bring peace to this world.

News about what Koga did spreads quickly. He took out several dozen rebels by himself, an amazing achievement. But Koga noticed that Ginrei was dissatisfied with him. Ginrei asks Koga a question. Why did he launch an attack on his own? Koga was confident that he could change the situation himself using his power and the power of his Zanpakutou Muramasa. Ginrei asks the young man another question: Do you know what people who have great power need to use their power? Heart. Those with power must control their power but at times are controlled by their power. In order to gain balance you need a heart that is not overconfident of your power. Ginrei is very much aware of Koga's superior abilities. However, he still lacks the heart to make full use of those abilities. Ginrei gives Koga the advice to take note of this incident as a bad example of his actions. He points out that Koga should not forget that he now bears the title and responsibility of the Kuchiki clan. This is all Ginrei has to say right now. He asks Koga to leave.

I can see that Ginrei was an old, wise leader. He was doubtlessly a very skilled and strong fighter also as an old man. And he understood people. I smiled when the heart theme was mentioned again, something that is recurring throughout Bleach. Or as Peter Parker alias Spider-Man said, with great power comes great responsibility.
Watching the slaughter made me sick. Koga definitely did not take responsibility for his action, meaning using his heart. He showed no respect for life. More, what he did felt cowardly to me and voyeuristic. Koga did not lift a finger to fight himself. I disliked this man intensely from the beginning.

Koga retreats to a quiet place and enters his inner world. It is a very simple design: There is water as far as you can see with pillar stumps sticking out. Koga is standing on one of them, lost in thought. Muramasa talks to him. He can feel that something is troubling his master no matter that he denies it. Muramasa asks Koga not to hide things from him. They are one. Their trust in each other makes them stronger.

Koga asks Muramasa if he is not using his power correctly. Koga doesn't know. Koga's powers have not reached its full potential. Muramasa doesn't know how much power he can produce. What Muramasa does know is that they are a Shinigami and a Zanpakutou that are meant to be together. He asks his master to trust in him, his spirit, as well as himself.

Koga finishes the link. He came to the conclusion that trusting himself is the way he can maintain order. And Koga continues on the path he entered, slaughtering all rebels he can find without mercy. The men who accompany Koga at his side are cheering. Koga doesn't notice that he is being watched. Ginrei and Yamamoto witness their latest victory or more accurately, Muramasa's while the other Shinigami serve as Koga's cheerleader.

The rebels have been suppressed. Entering his inner world again Koga wonders aloud what Ginrei is thinking. No matter what his achievements are, he never accepts him. In fact he seems to look down on him. Muramasa tells him what he wants to hear but I think he genuinely believed it as well: His master is strong and beautiful. Muramasa was not wrong but this strength and beauty is only skin deep. It is not enough. But I can see that Koga would never understand that and Muramasa, who is a Zanpakutou spirit and part of his soul, couldn't either.

Koga's wife is worried. The anime is never showing her clearly, especially not her face. She kneels respectfully in the doorway to Ginrei's room. She wonders about her husband. He has changed. Ginrei tells her not to worry. He is a sensible man. He has far greater power than he. Koga only needs more time to understand things properly. Koga keeps slaughtering and Koga's men keep praising him. Eventually Koga points out that their goal is not to be popular with the public but to restore order to the Soul Society. Walking through the corridors a group of men is loitering in a doorway. They are obviously not participating in the adoration Koga is usually receiving. They retreat quickly. The men surrounding Koga believe that they are probably jealous of their achievements. And they laugh. But Koga is not laughing.

Koga is receiving orders from Yamamoto. His task is to deal with the remaining rebel forces. Yamamoto has organized a special task force and he wants Koga to become its leader. Koga is supposed to do what he can to get the job done. Koga gladly accepts and shares this news immediately with Ginrei. He expects him to be pleased as well. But Ginrei is not showing enthusiasm. Instead he is warning Koga not to tarnish their clan's name. Koga is not hiding his disappointment. Ginrei is still not turning around and is still not facing Koga. He warns Koga not to misinterpret the intention of the Head Captain. Koga leaves, his ego bruised. His wife watches from a distance, not getting involved.
News about Koga's appointment is being discussed among the men who showed their disapproval of Koga. One of them mentions that they are close to restoring order to the Soul Society. If this continues, it will be difficult for their faction to override his position. Another one reminds the group that Koga is very powerful. There might not be anything they can do. But one of the men disagrees: He has a plan.

It doesn't take long: The rest of the rebels lie dead with Koga standing victorious surrounded by their bodies. Koga's men are running towards him, congratulating him, glad that this battle is over. But before they can reach him they end up being cut down, dead. Koga is shocked. He had nothing to do with that. Suddenly he is surrounded by armed Shinigami with their swords drawn. Their plan is for Koga to die in this rebellion. They attack him and Koga reacts as he always did: He calls Muramasa. These are foot soldiers who have not reached the Shikai level. Black formless humanoid spirits with red eyes leave their Zanpakutous, following their instincts. Soon everybody is dead.

Koga thought the matter is settled but he is wrong. Koga and Muramasa are suddenly surrounded by law enforcement. They demand to know what the meaning of this is. The dead around him do not belong to the rebel faction. The man addressing Koga belongs to the group who set this plan against him in motion. He points out that these people belonged to what he calls their Unified Hegemony. Another man asks Koga if he attacked his own allies in the battle. Koga denies this. They attacked him and therefore he attacked them back.

Now Ginrei arrives, investigating what happened. The group is pointing at the bodies. This man who married into the Kuchiki clan has murdered his fellow Shinigami. One of the victims suddenly moves, determined to explain what happened before he dies. According to his statement, Koga suddenly attacked them in order to show off his powers. They were victims of his ambition. People demand Koga's arrest.

Koga is ready to fight but Ginrei stops him. He orders Koga to do nothing for now and stay still. Muramasa returns into his sword and Koga hands it over, surrendering. Koga ends up bound in a cell. Ginrei looks at him through the bars. His punishment has been decided. He will be deprived of the position he has held for the past century. And as for his Zanpakutou - It has been deemed dangerous and will be neutralized. Koga can't believe it. Does Ginrei really believe their claims? Does Ginrei really believe that he killed them out of his own desire?

Not showing any emotion, Ginrei asks back if he thinks that he would believe that. Koga has to deny that. Ginrei explains that his superiors believe that his Zanpakutou's powers are a problem. They do not fear him, Koga. They fear that Muramasa could go berserk. That shocks Koga. People are not afraid of him but of Muramasa? Ginrei has told Koga this before. Those with power must have a strong heart. Koga was overconfident in his Zanpakutou's powers and continued to believe that his choices were correct. Yamamoto wa worried that he might go berserk. This is why he placed Koga under his direct command.

Koga is upset. He was set up by those who want power. But Ginrei disagrees strongly. No. What caused this is his overconfidence. Koga wonders what he should have done. They were after his life. Should he have died? Ginrei demands that Koga restrains himself. There is still time until the sentence will be carried out. Koga has to learn some patience. Then he walks away.

Ginrei realizes that Koga might indeed have rushed into his death this time. He has to act quickly or he will really lose his powers. Meanwhile Koga retreats into his inner world. He doesn't get it: Why doesn't Ginrei understand his power and his existence? Koga is not carrying his sword any more but that doesn't prevent Muramasa from entering the cell. Muramasa points out that Koga doesn't need Ginrei to understand himself. As he said, Koga should believe in himself and him, his Zanpakutou spirit. That Muramasa manifested himself here surprises Koga. Muramasa felt his desires, his inner anger. It reached out to him. If Koga calls to him he will go to wherever he is. He is his Zanpakutou. He wants Koga to live and to follow his desires.

Muramasa summons his sword. He is freeing his master from his bonds, he is slashing the door to pieces. The Shinigami trying to stop them end up being cut down. Muramasa wants Koga to leave with him. He doesn't need to follow the rules of a world that despises and envies his power. Koga should just change the world with his power. Before they leave, Koga wants Muramasa to understand something very clearly. He is his master. As his Zanpakutou he has no business telling him what to do. Anger is reflecting in his voice.

I can see clearly that Koga was never interested in a partnership between him and Muramasa. Koga is the master. Muramasa is the servant, the instrument. What Ginrei said about Koga is very true. Koga has strong powers but his personality is weak, dangerously so in view of the power Muramasa has. And Muramasa's loyalty is touching. Part of it is his nature as a Zanpakutou spirit but his affection for his master comes from his heart.

Present Day

Now Koga is floating in front of Muramasa who looks at his master with joy, with affection. Now they will finally be together again, a team! Koga is awakening, his spiritual pressure is so strong that Ichigo and Rukia can't get near him. Muramasa stretches out his arms towards his master. Now is the time for them to complete their goal.

Instead Koga impales Muramasa with his sword. Muramasa is stunned. He can't understand why his master would do this to him.

Several Hundred Years Ago

The group of conspirators is pleased with the results of their plan. Koga must be tied up in prison feeling pretty humiliated. He used to boast so proudly of his power. They wish they could see how dejected he looks with their own eyes. The men are laughing but they don't laugh for long. Koga slaughters them all, not even commanding Muramasa to do it for him. They are no threat. All of them are unarmed while Koga cuts them down.

Ginrei receives news that Koga broke out of the barrack jailhouse and killed the three Shinigami involved in that incident. Koga is on the run now and has to hide. Muramasa asks him if he feels better now. Koga can't say that he does. When he thinks back, it still makes his blood boil. Muramasa points out that those men are no longer around. They are dead. He believes that it is time to forget their past karma and live their lives looking forward.

Muramasa returns into his sword while Koga walks away. Ginrei found him. He is confronting him alone. Ginrei wants to know why Koga acted the way he did. He wants to know why Koga killed them. For Koga, the answer is simple: They betrayed him. Koga is still angry but now that he and Ginrei are alone, Koga is allowing other emotions to show as well. They betrayed him but still... He believed that they felt ashamed about betraying him. But they were laughing. Killing them still didn't make the empty feeling in his heart of knowing that they tricked and deceived him go away. What is he supposed to do now?

Ginrei is brutally honest: With his actions he lost any chance of proving his innocence. If he had reflected on his situation, conducted himself properly and confined himself to quarters from the moment suspicion was cast on him, everything would have been all right. Koga still doesn't get it. Why should he? He didn't do anything! Ginrei agrees with it that he didn't do anything. But what about now? Koga might have had good cause, but he committed a grave crime of killing men who did not draw their swords. Koga will likely be put to death.

Koga is terrified. Koga, the hero who was admired by so many and enjoyed his ego to be stroked, who believed that he can wage a war by himself imagines that everybody has always been laughing behind his back, belitteling him. How dare they? And Ginrei is the same, just like them. He acts as if he is on his side. He befriended him, put him off his guard. But in his heart he is jealous of his power. With this remark he confirmed everything Ginrei said or hinted at. Koga is a weak person. He is vain with delusions of grandeur. And this combination makes Koga even more dangerous than his powers alone.

Koga goes so far to unleash Muramasa at him but Ginrei is prepared. Muramasa harmlessly glides through Ginrei's body. He can't enter him. Koga unhinges more and more. He will kill Ginrei but he will save killing him for last. Koga leaves the Kuchiki clan. There are so many people he wants to kill.

Koga explains to Muramasa in his inner world that he is surrounded by enemies. Everybody hates him but he will kill them before they kill him. Koga ignores him again when Muramasa asks why he can't move forward. Instead Koga's mind is rooted in his conviction that everybody hates him. And he can't understand why. Should it be the fault of his powers? Muramasa is cut off more and more. Koga doesn't hear him. He is not just ignoring him any more. The connection between Koga and Muramasa is breaking down.

Slaughtering men with a manic laughter Koga commands Muramasa to release. But nothing happens. Koga has to repeat the command and he is irritated about the delay. Koga has to be stopped. Since yesterday he killed more than several dozen people. Ginrei explains that there is only one way to deal with Muramasa. You need to understand his power and close one's heart. But in order to block his attack in that state, one must possess considerable spiritual pressure and an unyielding mental fortitude. Ginrei needs a second person to help him doing this. Only Yamamoto has that power as well and he agrees to work with him. They will seal Koga away.

While Koga is hiding in a cave Muramasa appears next to him. He wants to know why Koga even killed innocent people in the Rukon district. Koga wanted to send a message to the Soul Society. He has been cast out and the Shinigami will learn how powerless they are to stop him. Muramasa wonders if this is really necessary for creating their vision of a better world. Muramasa is no longer laughing. He grabs Muramasa by his throat. This is not "their" vision, it is Koga's. Muramasa is not his equal. He better remembers his place. Muramasa is a sword. A sword should keep quiet and do what it is told.

Rain is pouring down when Ginrei and Yamamoto confront Koga. The two "senior citizens" are followed by a group of people carrying various equipment but they keep some distance. Ginrei makes a last attempt to reach Koga, make him see reason but it is useless. Koga has turned into a fanatic who believes in it that might makes right. Yamamoto is going to stop him here and now. An ugly smile appears on Koga's face. He is convinced that they can't stop him either.

Koga calls for Muramasa. He is not hearing him. This time even repeated calls make no difference: This time Muramasa is not going to help him. Fighting the spells that will eventually seal Koga away is futile. Screaming Muramasa's name in fear the coffin closes around him.

What I don't understand is why Koga did not receive the death penalty. Why was he buried alive instead? What also got my attention is that this imprisonment took place on the World of the Living. He was dumped there, something that was probably more convenient than imprisoning him somewhere in the Soul Society.

Bleach is about choices. Koga chose the wrong path and he got what he deserves. The person I feel sorry for is Muramasa.

Present Day

Koga looks down at Muramasa with hatred. When he was on the verge of being sealed away Muramasa didn't answer his call. Muramasa refused to lend him a hand. Muramasa is stunned. Koga's voice didn't reach him and that is the truth.

Eventually Muramasa learned that Koga has been sealed away. That is why he has been trying for so long to undo the seal. Muramasa doesn't receive gratitude for his efforts, the contrary. Koga is angry. It is meaningless if he is not there when he needs him. He pulls out the broken sword and kicks his spirit. Koga, a Shinigami, gave birth to his power. All he needs to do is to do what he says. Koga denies that they were one spirit. To him Muramasa is just a sword, just a tool. Koga swings his broken sword, about to kill his now helpless Zanpakutou spirit...

.... but a blade stops him. Byakuya will not allow this. It angers him that Koga calls his own Zanpakutou a tool and wants to slay it. Koga has no right to call himself a Shinigami. Rukia and Ichigo are watching the battle as well as Muramasa who is lying in the grass. Byakuya's arrival surprised them but after what they have just learned, they now understand and agree with Byakuya's motivations.

Looking at Byakuya, Koga can see that he is facing the present leader of the Kuchiki clan. He learns that he is looking at Byakuya Kuchiki, 28th generation head of the Kuchiki clan. Ginrei was Byakuya's grandfather. Koga soiled the honour of the Kuchiki clan. He has no right to speak his grandfather's name.

Senbonzakura materializes next to Ichigo and Rukia. He explains what happened. He was under Muramasa's control when he chased after Byakuya. They fought in the sewers and eventually Muramasa's hold over him was broken. Senbonzakura confirmed to his master that he returned to his senses. He also explains that Byakuya was aware of the Zanpakutou Muramasa and his master, Koga. Ginrei told his grandson that if Koga's seal will be broken it will be his duty as head of the Kuchiki clan to slay that man. The world must never be exposed to that warped evil power ever again.

But Byakuya found out soon that there are no written records about what happened and where Koga had been sealed away. That is why Byakuya stayed by Muramasa. Byakuya tells Koga that he can't allow him to remain alive any longer. Muramasa is badly hurt. No matter what his master did to him, his loyalty is unbroken. He offers his powers to him. His powers belong to Koga. But Koga rejects Muramasa, breaking the sword. He tells him that he became just a hindrance to him. Koga doesn't need to use such an unstable sword. His own powers alone are enough.

Despair is getting a hold on Muramasa. The spiritual pressure of a Hollow is emerging again with a lot of force. It has never been that bad before. Not normal Hollows, several Menos Grande exit Muramasa and appear in the World of the Living. Ichigo understands: Byakuya was willing to pretend to betray them to be true to his own pride. Ichigo wants that Byakuya deals with Koga. He will deal with this. Rukia agrees, looking at her brother full of love. Then Ichigo and Rukia fight together against the Hollows.

Senbonzakura and Byakuya are in full agreement. Byakuya reaches out his hand and Senbonzakura returns into his sword. Koga picked up one of the weapons Ginrei used for the sealing ritual. Sword and a combination of axe and blade are clashing against each other. The fight is intense. Koga's attack is full of passion, full of anger. Byakuya is very calm, very focused. Even if Koga is underestimating him, he won't make the same mistake.

Soon the battle includes the use of Kido. Both opponents are strong and skilled at it. Byakuya is confident. Against his Senbonzakura, Koga's Kido is child's play. Koga catches Byakuya with the threads of spiritual energy he used before. Byakuya himself is indeed helpless but he is not alone. Calling Senbonzakura the wave of pink blades is cutting the threads, setting him free. They also break Koga's weapon. Byakuya announces that this ends here, swinging his sword at him.

But Byakuya did not cut the real Koga in half but an illusion. Byakuya receives a long cut on his back but he is still able to fight. Not only is he weakened, after cutting more copies he still hasn't managed to reach the real Koga. Muramasa can control Zanpakutou. That ability came from his powers. By sending spiritual pressure into his adversary he is able to confuse his five senses.

If Byakuya had attacked him with his heart closed, as Ginrei and Yamamoto did, Koga would not have been able to affect him like this. But Byakuya reveals that he attacked Koga without closing his heart on purpose in order to kill him. If Byakuya had closed his heart, he might be able to seal him away but he wouldn't be able to kill him.

Koga restores and duplicates his weapon with his power. Byakuya is not able to fight them. His sword is out of reach and his body ends up trapped in ice. Koga laughs. Even without a Zanpakutou he is the strongest there is. Koga thrusts his weapon forward, about to inpale Byakuya's head. Byakuya faces his enemy proudly, showing no emotion. He doesn't flinch, also when the tip of the blade very nearly reaches his face.

At this moment a flow of pink petals is stopping Koga's blade. He can't believe it. Byakuya's sword did Shikai by itself. Senbonzakura materializes in physical form behind his master, placing one hands on his shoulder, controlling the petals with the other. Their affection, their bond is strong and beautiful. I love this scene! Senbonzakura offers his help. If Byakuya's senses don't work properly any more, he will fight as his eyes and limbs.

The ice prison shatters and Byakuya lifts his sword with Senbonzakura inside. He won't allow Koga to manipulate him and Senbonzakura again. Byakuya calls for his Bankai. Koga is shocked, staring at the wall of swords. Byakuya explains that within his space, confused senses mean nothing. Whereever Koga is, this blade will find him without fail. Again, Koga binds Byakuya with his spiritual ropes. And again, Senbonzakura frees his master, this time using blades taken from the wall.

Koga doesn't understand. How can Byakuya be this strong? It is because Byakuya and Senbonzakura are fighting together. They are a team. A Shinigami and Zanpakutou together make one. They display their true powers only when their respective souls are in harmony. Koga has abandones everything for the sake of silly pride. He cannot defeat them.

Koga is upset and angry. Byakuya does not understand. Despite all of his achievements no one recognized what he did. They branded him a traitor and tried to put him away. He decided to create a place for himself. Power is order. Koga wants to become the king of a new world.

Byakuya dismissed Koga's words as foolishness. The real tragedy is that Koga failed to recognize the true nature of power. The power you needed was the power to relate with others and with his Zanpakutou. Byakuya can see that Koga won't listen to him. There is no more to say. Byakuya is calling for his most advanced form: Senbonzakura Kageoshi - Shukei Hakuteiken. The anime actually shows how Byakuya is forming his energy wings and the halo is clearly visible. Again, this form reminds me very much of the Quincy Vollstaendig.

Byakuya actually uses the pulsating energy that looks like wings to fly. He looks a bit like a fire bird in white and I couldn't help it, I see parallels with the execution bird the Shinigami use with the Sokyoku stand. The sight is beautiful and powerful. I was amazed. Byakuya looks like an angel. Koga has turned into an ugly beast, consumed by rage. Byakuya is flying at him, clashing with Koga in the air, determined to execute him for his crimes.

Meanwhile Muramasa screams in a sea of reddish-black Hollow spiritual energy. After several Menos Grande emerged black energy tendrils are slashing through the sky, leaving a swarm of normal Hollows behind. Rukia believes that Muramasa is no longer able to suppress the spiritual pressure of the Hollows that he had somehow absorbed. Muramasa gave up everything for Koga's sake. He even exceeded his own limitations. It's as though he has only existed until now through sheer will power.

Muramasa is also attracting Hollows that already roamed the World of the living. Ichigo knows that he has to act. He wants to take them out all at once. Easier said than done but Uryuu is more than happy to help. His bow is much more appropriate for the job. Ichigo is a bit miffed. It is nice to have him around - like bug spray. I still have to laugh about that desription.

The battle left both, Byakuya and Koga, worn out. Byakuya and Senbonzakura are supporting each other. Koga is standing on an ice block floating on the lake. He stretches out his hand, commanding Muramasa to come to him. Muramasa doesn't respond and Koga wonders why. Calling Muramasa's name a last time he falls into the lake and disappears under an ice sheet. Byakuya is satisfied. Koga is dead.

Senbonzakura is wondering about Koga. If he hadn't possessed such power he would not have such delusions. Byakuya explains that this was the fate of a weak-hearted man consumed and controlled by his power. Senbonzakura's reply is very interesting and I could not agree more: Koga was the exact opposite of Byakuya. Byakuya willingly allowed himself to be branded a traitor in order to stick to his beliefs.

After Hollows left Muramasa, the effect becomes reversed. Muramasa turns into a kind of black hole that is sucking in Hollows. The hole pulsates and eventually reveals a fully hollowfied Muramasa. Ichigo and his friends realize even stronger that Muramasa took in Hollows in order to maintain his body. Muramasa attacks and Ichigo and his friends fight back. Orihime cries. Looking in Muramasa's one red eye she can see his loneliness. He so desperately sought after his master only to be abandoned. It is too cruel.

Byakuya returns to Ichigo and his friends in order to help fighting Hollow Muramasa. They can see that the hollowfied Muramasa is fighting the transformation. He is determined not to give in. Orihime realizes that this is all wrong. She is running towards Muramasa, telling him that the person he was looking for no longer exists. Rukia warns Orihime. She is certain that this hollowfied being can't hear her any more. But Orihime knows better. He hasn't been completely possessed by the Hollows yet. In the depths of despair he is still fightig desperately to maintain his identity.

Orihime's mind is trying to reach out into Muramasa's soul again. Orihime touches a nerve, I am sure, but it prompts the hollowfied Muramasa to lash out at her. (I am reminded of White's reaction to Uryuu when he reached out to Ichigo). Fortunately Orihime's shield is strong enough and Rukia catches her.

Ichigo and Muramasa fight intensely. Ichigo eventually put his mask on. A bizarre battle finally leads to it that the Hollows Muramasa absorbed form a large dome like structure. Some Menos Grande exit through various slits on the top. Muramasa himself is somewhere inside. Orihime and Rukia are running away from a Menos Grande when new help arrives: Sode no Shirayuki returned. She destroys the Menos Grande with one blast. Sode no Shirayuki smiles. She is sorry that it took so long. It is not just her.

A lot of Shinigami paired with his or her Zanpakutou spirit arrived. But this time, there is no hostility, no tension. All I sense is harmony, partnership, friendship. It is a beautiful scene. They are all back, also the spirits that were killed. They have been restored in time, as I thought, as I hoped they would.

Sode no Shirayuki explains that Mayuri undid the mind control over the Zanpakutou. Tobiume adds that they are sorry for all the trouble and will work hard to make it up. After a lot of the Menos Grande are destroyed Soi Fon takes off, determined to destroy the dome. But a volley of small Quincy arrows stops her. Uryuu is not going to allow it that the dome is being destroyed. He asks her what she will do if her careless attacks damage the town. And Orihime adds that Ichigo is still inside the dome. Soi Fon doesn't care. Her mission is to destroy this thing.

Hitsugaya states that their priority is the Hollows that surround them. Soi Fon listens to him and leaves, joining the fight against the Hollows again. Ichigo's friends should check for his spritual pressure. Unfortunately the shell of the dome is not allowing such readings. On top of that suddenly a flow of black goo is pouring down from a fissure above the dome and materializing into even more Menos Grande. The fissure is expanding and countless red eyes of Menos Grande are glowing in the darkness. If this fissure continues to grow the World of the Living will be flooded with them.

While all the other Shinigami and Zanpakutou spirits were still wondering what to do and worrying Byakuya and Senbonzakura took action. They are firing their pink blade petals at each corner of the fissure. Now all the Shinigami and Zanpakutou spirits are adding their spiritual pressure to their efforts, supporting them. The fissure shrinks and eventually closes.

Meanwhile the dome is still floating and keeps expanding. It is a low process but steady. Orihime is very worried about Ichigo but Rukia points out that nobody can go near it. Ichigo has to deal with the situation he is in himself. Right now, all Ichigo's friends can do is hoping for the best.

Inside the dome Ichigo fell for a long time until he splash landed into water. The world is barren, wherever he looks is water with broken pillars breaking through the surface. Ichigo wonders where he is but he learns eventually: This is Koga's inner world. For some reason it hasn't collapsed yet. Muramasa, who is also in this world, doesn't know either why or how Ichigo entered this place. Muramasa is no longer hollowfied but appears in his original form. He also wonders why he is here, if maybe his reunion with Koga summoned him here.

Muramasa believes that this world will disappear soon. But whatever happens, he is grateful to the destiny that connects him and Ichigo. This destiny has been given to him to settle their battle. Ichigo doesn't understand but Muramasa explains that his power will nourish him. Muramasa and Ichigo fight, falling into the water. Eventually Ichigo ends up being entangled in Muramasa's spiritual energy ropes. But Ichigo frees himself, understanding now how this power of Muramasa really works.

Ichigo thought he has impaled Muramasa but it was just an illusion. Muramasa laughs, creating more illusions of himself and fighting Ichigo. Ichigo landed hard on a pillar, wondering what to do. This is the moment in which Old Man Zangetsu appeared at his side. He explains that Muramasa's power of suggestion does not work on him. He will become his eyes. But it is impossibe for this to work without you and I - Zanpakutou and master - are truly connected to one another. Ichigo understands. He is ready.

Ichigo and OMZ are fighting together as a unit. Muramasa's tricks don't work any more. Koga's inner world is crumbling around him. OMZ warns Ichigo that Muramasa is about to be consumed by the Hollows he absorved over many years. There is not much time left.

Muramasa is being sucked down in a maelstrom. He remembers, he never heard Koga calling him. Sinking down deeper and deeper, Muramasa suddenly hears someone calling his name. It is not Koga. It is Ichigo. Old Man Zangetsu warns Ichigo. If he remains here he will never be able to go back. Fortunately Muramasa found his way back to the surface by following the sound of Ichigo's voice.

Muramasa's body is starting to fade and OMZ is getting increasingly worried. But Ichigo has faith in Muramasa: He won't become a Hollow. Ichigo intends to be together with his Zanpakutou, Zangetsu, to the very end. This does also apply to his friends and even the captains. To a Shinigami and Zanpakutou, each is irreplaceable and special to the other. Muramasa knew this better than anyone. Ichigo wants to know why he has been doing things that trampled on that pride.

Muramasa shouts back that this is the true nature of his power. Ichigo explains that holding someone down by force is not the only way to use a Zanpakutou. There is no need to accommodate everything a Shinigami does. While the dome and Koga's world collapse, Ichigo and Muramasa cross blades. A huge wave pulls them down. Again, Muramasa hears Ichigo's voice calling his name. He feels Ichigo's hand grabbing his.

Ichigo and Muramasa find themselves on the small island were Koga had been sealed. Muramasa is lying on the grass while Ichigo is holding his hand. Ichigo's friends watch from the distance and stay away, giving them privacy.

Muramasa wonders - Is this what Ichigo calls a sharing of the soul? Ichigo agrees, compassion showing on his face. Muramasa also wonders about something else. It seems he wound up making quite a mess of Koga. Ichigo points out this happens to all of us. If you made a mistake, just fix it. Muramasa smiles at Ichigo while he is dying. He is sure, someday... And his body dissolves into sparkles while his sword breaks in two.

The sparkles rise and stay together. I would welcome it if Muramasa, a Zanpakutou spirit, can enter the cycle of rebirth. He is and was a remarkable soul and together with a better Shinigami, a better master, much better guidance, both would have been an amazing team.

I am glad that Muramasa did not die alone but that Ichigo was with him, showing him at the end what he missed and supporting him, allowing Muramasa to die in peace.

It is raining. Ichigo's friends and allies as well as the Zanpakutou spirits are standing on the island after Muramasa left. All spirits return into their Zanpakutous willingly and peacefully. Their masters welcome them back. Before Byakuya walks away he tells Ichigo that this is the second time he is thanking him.


********​

Part 1 [LINK]
 
Last edited:

Polgarena

Contributor
Joined
Jun 2, 2013
Messages
8,389
Reaction score
1,452
Points
4,041
This was another excellent article. It is evident why this specific anime-only arc received a lot of praise (certainly more compared to some other anime only arcs). The main strength of this story lies in the interactions between Shinigami and their Zanpakuto Spirits as well as the fact that we could see that those spirits are reflections of their Shinigami.

Muramasa's story is a tragic one and his disbelief in being betrayed by his Shinigami after everything he did to get him back is understandable. I can understand where Muramasa's character is coming from, but the same doesn't work for Koga. Ginrei offered him a helping hand on a number of occassions, but Koga wanted to bathe in glory. He misunderstood his powers and agreed to be Yamamoto's bloody weapon on his own accord. He had a chance to be saved, but he willingly worked against it.

Moving onto more positive sides of this arc, I liked it very much that Byakuya worked undercover from the beginning and that Senbonzakura was working with him. Renji's trust in Byakuya's integrity proved to be correct. Yamamoto's side of the story showed that with great power comes great responsibility. Since he knew Koga's whereabouts he chose to isolate himself. Another way to look at this is that Yamamoto didn't have a full trust in his Zanpakuto Spirit and counted on the possibility that Muramasa will separate them instead of trusting his abilities and aiding his officers during the crisis. This dualism between Byakuya and Yamamoto showed how much more honorable Byakuya actually is.

A number of fun and enjoyable moments were spread throughout this arc. Ikkaku's and Hozukimaru's fight sounds like it was very honorable. Unohana's smug smile after she quickly neutralized Ashisogi Jizo's poison was excellent.

I'm glad that Yoruichi, Uryuu, Sado and Orihime still had a part to play in this arc. The fact that Orihime found a connection with Muramasa is not surprising, but it's still impressive. She knows how to reach people's hearts. That's who she is, and that's reflected onto her powers. Uryuu actually did good against Senbonzakura, one of the most skilled Zanpakuto Spirits. Ichigo's description of Uryuu as a bug spray against Hollows was funny. Koga was an opponent for Byakuya to settle the score with and that fight was very good. Muramasa's final scene was touching, he didn't go out alone as Ichigo was with him. That's very much like Ichigo, once again showing that bonds are important.
 
Joined
May 11, 2017
Messages
107
Reaction score
21
Points
0
Thank you for this wonderful insight into the Zanpakuto Rebellion arc.

I really enjoyed the political strife shown within the ranks of the Gotei and the nobility.

It had a very CFYOW-esque vibe (the political conspiracy against Koga, I mean).

In the Bleach verse, this was the first time that a zanpakuto, acting on its own, was introduced.

Ikomikidomoe (from the novels) is possibly the second one, as it helped Hikone escape from Hueco Mundo by opening up a Garganta on its own.
 
Joined
Mar 24, 2013
Messages
6,482
Reaction score
1,326
Points
4,041
Thank you, Scheneizel :) I am glad that you like my essay.

I can think of three examples in which Zanpakutou spirits acted on their own. The most important one is of course Yachiru, the only Zanpakutou spirit who had her own career, even her own Zanpakutou including spirits. A Zanpakutou spirit who developed her own Zanpakutou spirits - it is remarkable!

We have seen a manifestation of Zabimaru in very early Bleach, when the spirit appeared to Renji while he was lying injured in a prison cell.

There was also the appearance of Old Man Zangetsu outside of Ichigo's body when Ichigo fought Kenpachi.
 

wanda lensherr

Scarlet witch
Joined
Mar 24, 2013
Messages
2,925
Reaction score
329
Points
376
Thank you, Scheneizel :) I am glad that you like my essay.

I can think of three examples in which Zanpakutou spirits acted on their own. The most important one is of course Yachiru, the only Zanpakutou spirit who had her own career, even her own Zanpakutou including spirits. A Zanpakutou spirit who developed her own Zanpakutou spirits - it is remarkable!

We have seen a manifestation of Zabimaru in very early Bleach, when the spirit appeared to Renji while he was lying injured in a prison cell.

There was also the appearance of Old Man Zangetsu outside of Ichigo's body when Ichigo fought Kenpachi.
Hey now that u mention it that is so true about yahciru. I havent thought if that way. Good job on your essay
 
Top