Anyone that was expecting a showdown with Ichimaru this episode may be a little disappointed, as this was an unexpectedly laid back and yet rewarding episode that reveals a bit about the the everyday life of the average soul that dwells in the Rukon district, and the surprising aspects that differentiates it from the world of the living. But before that, let’s first get back to the action at hand…
In the words and actions of Gin, we see an example of the ruthless nature of the Soul Society, as Jidanbo has put himself in some hot water. You see, the price for losing a battle isn’t opening the gate as Jidanbo naively thinks; the price is death, a price Gin is more than willing to mete out. One of his attacks slashes Jidanbo’s forearm, the crushing weight of the gate still on his back and shoulders, causing him to buckle.
Having already warmed a bit to Jidanbo, Ichigo thinks this is a dick-move on the part of Gin. Yoruichi knows that an opponent like Gin is way beyond the abilities of anyone there, despite their recent improvement, but Ichigo proceeds to immediately attack Gin anyway.
Yoruichi yells out Ichigo’s name in alarm, a name that Gin recognises. As stated before, his reputation has already begun to precede him. Gin unleashes the power of his zanpakuto, “Shinso”, and a great gushing gale of wind forces back both Ichigo and Jidanbo, throwing them both past the open gate of the Seireitei. Gin, in his mocking nature, waves ‘bye-bye’ as the gate closes in front of him. Ichigo and friends have seemingly lost this one.
Close but no cigar, as they say. Getting past the wall is going to be more difficult than expected. Ichigo is disappointed as hell, but Yoruichi tells him that they just basically dodged a bullet not getting into a scrape with an individual like Ichimaru, someone he couldn’t possibly have defeated. The drawn out battle between the two will have to wait for another time.
They scarcely have time to collect themselves when they realise they’re being stared at by the town’s bystanders. Yoruichi explains that it’s because they’re ‘Ryoka’, or souls that arrive at the Soul Society via illegitimate means, and are said to be the cause of numerous calamities.
Expecting trouble, they are instead approached by an elder of the town, who thanks and welcomes them for standing up for Jidanbo, who is unexpectedly well-liked by the villagers for his kindness. Conversely, the residents pretty much hate the shinigami.
Orihime then uses her powers to heal Jidanbo, to an onlooking Ichigo’s surprise. Among the gathering crowd, Chad recognises a familiar face: Shibata, the small boy that was turned into a parakeet back in Episode 4, who was briefly under his care and protection.
They both decide to hang out for a bit, taking a leisurely walk together through the district. Chad meets Shibata’s ‘brother’, a soul that died way back in 1947. Strangely, the concept of a ’famiy’ works differently in the Soul Society, where unrelated people agree amongst each other to form family units and live together. Very often these people come from very different places and historical eras. The process of ageing also seems to work differently; if I were to guess, it looks like people stay at the age they were when they died.
It’s explained that reunions with actual family members from a person’s previous life are rare, a concept that I find to be pretty sad when you think about it. After all, bereaved people often speak about reuniting with friends and loved ones in the afterlife, it’s one of the more comforting beliefs tied to this particular concept. Shibata is understandably bummed by the fact that he is unlikely to reunite with his mother, so the ever-supportive Chad makes a promise to help him find her.
‘I’ll always gonna have your back.Chad
Later on, Yoruichi has a meeting with the team, along with the town elder they met earlier. Now that they’ve messed up their first attempt at entering the Seireitei, they will have to pursue a Plan B, which they currently don’t have. Their failed attempt at opening the gate no doubt means that security is going to be ramped at the other entrances from now on. Strategising about an alternate way of entering the Seireitei, Yoruichi mentions Kukaku Shiba, a person who frequently changes residences for some reason. The elder immediately expresses trepidation at whatever method that name suggests.
There’s the sudden sound of hooves, and then the sudden arrival of an odd man along with… a boar? A boar with a red bow on its head. A boar named Bonnie. The afterlife is getting weirder and weirder all the time.
Shinigami sure aren’t winning any popularity contests around these parts. So here’s yet another guy who hates shinigami, in fact he hates them so much that he doesn’t even introduce himself before expressing disgust at the presence of one of them in the room. He tries to intimidate Ichigo, but he isn’t having it, punching him across the room. This isn’t the best of first impressions, so then the guy introduces himself as Ganju, a ‘self professed’ shinigami hater, and apparently ‘self professed’ at a lot of other things.
They decide to take it outside, where they see Ganju’s ‘henchmen’, all riding on boars. If their intention is to come off as intimidating, they’re failing miserably.
Ichigo and Ganju’s brawl escalates into a sword fight. Ganju also possesses a zanpakuto with powers, and by creating swirling quicksand in the ground below them, manages to to disarm Ichigo by getting his weapon sucked into it. Impressively, an unarmed Ichigo still manages to punch him in the face and disarm him in turn. At this point it devolves into a straight up fistfight.
Before the fight can conclude, a loud alarm clock is heard, from a giant clock strapped to the back of one of Ganju’s henchmen. Apparently Ganju and his cohorts are on a strict schedule of some sort, and they all go into a state of complete panic at the mere notion of missing it. Ganju completely forgets about his duel with Ichigo and hurriedly calls his steed, Bonnie.
The episode ends a bit abruptly, and on a really strange note. Just how unusual are the things going to get next episode? You just never know with this series…