‘Don’t go parading your creepy sense of justice around here.’Mayuri Kurotsuchi
This episode, we encounter one of the most disturbingly amoral and sadistic characters in the Gotei 13, and probably in all of Bleach. The episode title, ‘The Despicable Shinigami’, says it all.
Orihime and Uryu
The focus this time is squarely on the still slightly awkward, isolated duo of Orihime and Uryu. Things have been fairly quiet for them recently, as they’ve taken to successfully (most of the time) impersonating shinigami, in order to avoid suspicion and detection. During this time, the two characters have gotten to know each other a little better, and Orihime is currently in the process of healing her fairy, Tsubaki, after his disastrous run-in with Jirobo in Episode 28.
It’s during this time that Uryu comes to the conclusion that Orihime’s personality is not suited for any kind of fighting or conflict, and her powers and abilities seem to bear this out as well, being more geared towards the care and healing of others. It’s also quite interesting that the one fairy that specialises in direct attack is the one that proved ineffective in this regard, and was injured as a result of it. As seen in the incident directly following, she even has a caring attitude towards enemy combatants, abhorring any kind of pain or injury inflicted on others.
While trying to make some progress under the cover of night, they have an unfortunate encounter with a drunken shinigami, who is immediately suspicious of them, and asks them what squad they’re from. They reply they’re from Squad 11, but despite his inebriation, the shinigami is observant enough to notice that they’re wearing Squad 12 uniforms, and that they’re not carrying zanpakutos.
Before things escalate, some Squad 12 members happen by, and hit the shinigami over the head. The cheerful looking group seem to be of the opinion that Squad members should take care of their own, but Uryu still doesn’t trust them, and with good reason. He tells Orihime to get away from them, just in time…
One of the squad members suddenly explodes, causing numerous casualties around him, followed immediately afterward by the remaining men. Apparently, this was a ploy set up by Mayuri, who had been stalking Uryu and Orihime since the previous episode, and who apparently is not above using his own men as human bombs. He finally makes his presence known, with his dedicated assistant Nemu following right behind.
As the smoke clears, Mayuri realises that the Uryu, Orihime and the drunken shinigami are still unharmed , due to Orihime’s Santen Kesshun shield. Having seen nothing of the sort before, this power fascinates him. Orihime, horrified by all the death around her, collapses into tears. The drunken shinigami is genuinely surprised and confused by her reaction.
Mayuri, wanting to know more about Orihime’s abilities, announces his title of Chief of Research and Development, and offers her work as a ‘research subject’, complete with, um, ’work benefits’:
‘I’ll limit drug therapies to eight times a day! And mechanical experiments up to five times a day!’
Uryu replies that they have no intention of being his lab rats. He fires up his bow, and aims it squarely at Mayuri, who immediately recognises him as a Quincy. However he shows no interest; it’s Orihime he’s interested in.
Uryu has now grown very protective of Orihime. Before beginning the fight, Uryu, having no desire for her to participate or help him, aims his bow at the drunk shinigami and asks/threatens him to run away with her. Taking a hint, he grabs her and starts running, despite Orihime’s protests.
Mayuri is a guy who has many more surprises up his sleeve; for starters, he has an Inspector Gadget-esque extended mechanical arm, which he uses to try to catch the fleeing shinigami, but is thwarted by one of Uryu’s arrows. He then casually detaches it from his body and throws it to the ground, and then re-grows his original arm as if it was nothing. In a state of utter disbelief, Uryu wonders exactly who or what it is he’s fighting.
We then witness the most bizarre zanpakuto release we’ve seen up to this point, Ashisogi Jizo, a bizarre clawed weapon truly suited to its user . Nemu joins the attack, but she’s in the way of Mayuri, who slashes and injures her in order to get a strike at Uryu. with no qualms about it whatsoever. He then scolds her for getting in the way, and she immediately apologises despite being the one injured by him. She asks for medical assistance, and instead gets a hard kick from Mayuri. Uryu is shocked and disgusted at this spectacle.
Mayuri, sensing Uryu’s discomfort with what he’s seeing, tells him that it was him who created her, and therefore she would never perish so easily.
Uryu, having also been cut by Ashisogi Jizo, realises that his limbs have been rendered immobile, which is apparently its special attack. Considering the circumstances, Mayuri then proceeds to torture Uryu for a little bit, for his amusement… and then it gets really personal…
An Opportunity for Vengeance
Mayuri recalls, in the waning days of the Quincys’ survival, an old man who was one of his research subjects, that kept calling out the name of his apprentice grandson. He produces a picture, and surely enough, it’s Uryu’s grandfather and sensei.
An enraged Uryu, finally in confrontation with his grandfather’s killer, summons a huge amount of spirit energy before stating his vengeful intentions:
‘By the pride of the Quincy, I will kill you.’
Things are about to get intense between Myuri and Ishida… on to the next episode!