Bleach Recap 2020, Episode 59: Ichigo vs. Byakuya – the Battle Concludes

So the Ichigo vs. Byakuya fight is a wrap, right?

Well, no. Things are only about to get more complicated, as it’s revealed that this is a battle of not two, but three wills. And the third will reveal itself in a most unorthodox fashion…

It seemingly took forever, but Orihime, Uryu, Chad and the others finally make it to the top of Sokyoku Hill, only to be told that Rukia has already been rescued; the news is broken by Yachiru, who has been waiting since she left them in the dust a few episodes back. They’ve missed most of the action, but they still have Ichigo’s final clash with Byakuya to look forward to. Orihime and Uryu have the good sense to keep their distance, and watch from afar.

Their group still has some hangers-on, including Makizo, the guy who had drunkenly harassed them a while back (remember him?), then unwittingly got involved with the Ryoka and their dealings. He seems to have ingratiated himself to the group a bit, now being called a number of unfortunate nicknames ( ‘Maki Maki’ to Yachiru, ‘Mr. Mustache’ to everyone else), but he is still baffled by seeing such strong bonds of friendship, wondering who Rukia is to these people that they would risk their lives for her. Orihime replies that Rukia is the one who changed Ichigo’s whole world, and it was Ichigo in turn who changed theirs.

Back to the main event. Byakuya, still reeling from his wound to the gut, doesn’t look like he’s finished putting up a fight. As a matter of fact, he has more tricks up his sleeve, as he reveals his Senkai

You know something bad is coming when your opponent’s spilled blood just straight up vaporises off of the floor and transforms in to a strange luminescence that starts encircling you. Byakuya announces that this is his ‘all-or-nothing’ attack, the true final form of Senbonzakura. He and Ichigo soon both become surrounded by hundreds of glowing pink swords…

Byakuya now has an unlimited supply of weapons. Summoning one blade, he stabs Ichigo in the foot, effectively stunning him and anchoring him to one spot, then using this opportunity to zap him through the shoulder with a potentially fatal Hado attack. Ichigo’s hands start shaking as he realises his body is starting to fail him, and his vision starts fading into black. This just may be the end for Ichigo…

Before leaving him for dead, Byakuya compliments him for being such tough customer, beating so many Captains and whatnot; a parting pat on the back, you could say.

But the two combatants of this fight keep turning the tables on the other, with one unexpected event after the next. When a bizarre voice speaks from inside him, Ichigo finally manages to summon the will to stave off unconsciousness and block Byakuya’s sword… with only his hand. A Hollow mask begins to from on Ichigo’s face, surprising Byakuya and making him wonder if ‘Ichigo’ is actually still the identity of the person he is fighting. He requests a name from this new entity before him, but it tells him that it has none.

‘Hollow Ichigo’ begins to attack wildly, in a frenzied rage, gravely slashing Byakuya, all the while taking the opportunity to insult Ichigo for his percieved weakness and incompetence. He has strange new attacks as well, unleashing ’Black Getsuga’ straight at Byakuya, which he narrowly avoids.

Ichigo surfaces once again, and tries to wrestle control of his body back from his inner Hollow. The mask shatters into pieces, as Ichigo struggles to wrestle it from his own face. Perhaps he should have waited for Hollow Ichigo to win the fight for him?

Byakuya realises that Ichigo wants to defeat him on his own, without using his Hollow form. This is not a battle that can go on much longer, and Byakuya realises this. He unleashes his final attack, Shukei Hakuteiken, which manifests a luminescent winged entity. This guy seemingly has limitless amounts of techniques to draw on.

The final clash is a huge contrast in black and white, with Byakuya’s attack emanating white energy, Ichigo’s emanating its black counterpart, like a skyward, pulsing yin-yang symbol. Incidentally, I always thought it was interesting that it was the protagonist who was visually symbolised as possessing the dark powers, something that you don’t see often in these types of fiction.

In the aftermath of this clash, both are seen wounded and bleeding profusely, with no clear winner. However, it was Byakuya’s sword that was shattered during the exchange, the final petals seen dissipating from his hand. The fight now essentially drained out of both participants, Byakuya takes this opportunity to explain his position on Rukia; sympathy and other such feelings are worthless to him, and the law must be carried out without question, even with regard to loved ones, perhaps especially because of them.

Declaring Ichigo the winner, he walks away and disappears. Ichigo begins to scream at the sky in frustration, before realises he no longer has the energy to stand, let alone scream. Before he can collapse to the ground, he collides with Orihime, who has finally arrived on the scene. Talk about a clumsy reunion…

Meanwhile, Toshiro and Rangiku are continuing to try to piece together the mysterious plot in the Seireitei. Having been barred from entry into the Central 46 compound, Toshiro decides to break down the door. He notices that no alarms have gone off, and that the place is deserted, all of this pointing to a previous culprit who managed to enter while successfully avoiding detection. On entering, both Rangiku’s and Toshiro’s eyes widen, and looks of horror cross both their faces as they behold… something, but it won’t be revealed until the next episode…

You can feel it, can’t you? This arc is soon coming to a close, and the central mystery will soon be revealed. My summation of Episode 60 will follow closely after this post, as I’ve proclaimed the 29th of February 2020 as a personal “holiday”, my first and perhaps only one for the remainder of the year, being that special extra day of a leap year (is there an official name for this day? Like “leap day” or something of the sort?). So that’s two months, 60 episodes down… whew, I’m getting tired even thinking about it…

Published by dirksblogposts

My name is Dirk O'Brien. I'm a graphic designer by profession, and have had a lifelong interest in comics and animation.

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