‘You won, you idiot.’Kenpachi
Ichigo vs. Kenpachi – The Aftermath
It seems we got a bit of a fake-out at the end of the last episode; we see that Ichigo is so severely wounded that he falls to the ground, unconscious. What we aren’t shown is that Kenpachi looks to be in equally bad shape, and he blacks out right after Ichigo does. After such a hyped-up battle, and after so much conjecture about who may actually be the stronger between the two, the fact that no one has really won this match is really an unexpected and ironic turn of events.
Adding to the unexpected, Yachiru actually thanks Ichigo for allowing Kenpachi to have more fun than he’s had in a long time, asks him not to die, and in a truly impressive display of physical strength, flies off into the air, with an unconscious Kenpachi on her back.
What is the reason for the close relationship between Yachiro and Kenpachi, two individuals who couldn’t be more different? We may get some answers in the form of a flashback, and it suggests that the pair have quite a long history together.
‘How painful it is, having no name.’
In the aftermath of a bloody slaughter, most likely at the hands of Kenpachi himself, the only person seen standing, he is approached by the tiny childlike form of Yachiru, a war orphan, who looks like she is still a toddler at this point. She is immediately drawn to his bloody sword, filled with delight at the sight of it. Kenpachi asks her name, and when not given an answer, assumes she does not have one, just like he doesn’t. A bit of a theme is starting to emerge here, as this nameless person, now known as ‘Kenpachi’, also has a zanpakuto that he assumes to be nameless, and it almost seems as if he is drawn to those like himself, those who are nameless. It is then revealed that it was on that day that he gave ‘Yachiru’ her name, in a gesture of indelible friendship. He then takes the name ‘Kenpachi’ for himself, which is the name given to the mightiest of Shinigami in each generation; quite a fitting name.
When Kenpachi comes to, the first thing he asks about is the fate of Ichigo. Yachiru tells him that he probably isn’t dead, and Kenpachi is actually glad to hear of it. A normal person would want their enemies to perish, but Kenpachi and Yachiru are far from normal in their unbridled enthusiasm for a good fight, and their philosophies and reasons for pursuing battle in the first place, which is what makes them such interesting and appealing characters.
Kenpachi vows to pay Ichigo back, and Yachiru replies that there is nothing to pay back. They have a bit of a disagreement over whether Kenpachi actually won or lost. Having realised that the relationship of synergy between Ichigo and his zanpakuto may have contributed to his surprising strength, he decides to ask his zanpakuto its name, but he is only greeted with silence. In a rarely seen moment of vulnerability, he cries out in anguish at his frustration over his current strength level. He then falls back into unconsciousness, to the alarm of Yachiru.
The fate of Ichigo
Ichigo’s rescuer comes a little bit later, in the form of Yoruichi, whom we haven’t seen in a while. Yoruichi commends Ichigo for a battle well fought against such a strong enemy, and in a flash of light, both of them disappear, probably for some much-needed healing. It’s now up to Ganju and Hanataro to rescue Rukia on their own.
A curtailed rescue attempt
They seem to be up to the challenge so far, with Hanataro using a strong anaesthetic to sedate the shinigami guards, and Ganju just using his sheer physical brawling skills. Eventually they find themselves face to face with the locked entrance to Rukia’s prison cell. Hanataro, still proving to be way more useful than expected, produces a spare key that he brought with him. At this point, he’s decided to throw all caution to the wind, and is prepared for the consequences if he is caught by the shinigami and punished for his perceived traitorous actions. But when the door is opened, Ganju has a shock awaiting him…
In an unexpected turn of events, he beholds the shingami that killed his brother, and that shinigami happens to be Rukia, herself. When confronted, she freely admits it, instigating the rage of Ganju, who proceeds to grab her by the collar in a threatening manner. In response, Rukia tells him that she takes no exception to dying by his hand, since she’s about to die anyway. It’s clear that there’s more to the incident between Rukia and Ganju’s brother than meets the eye, but for now things are left in the dark.
Hanataro tries his best to de-escalate this tense situation, but it’s taken care of for him with the arrival of someone with enormous spiritual pressure…
When Ganju and Hanataro realises that it’s Byakuya who has appeared, a virtually unbeatable individual renowned for his sheer power, they argue over who should confront him, while the other tries to make an escape with Rukia. Hanataro volunteers to hinder Byakuya, but Ganju frankly finds such a one-sided scenario ridiculous, and forcibly knocks Hanataro back into the cell, so he can handle the situation himself. Probably not much of an improvement anyway…
To wrap up, the next episode’s match-up looks to be between Ganju and Byakuya (I think we can all guess how that one will go), along with some other big surprises involving a certain feline character…