Rukia is back.
But before any celebration is in order, there’s the matter of the powerful, fiery Bount ‘doll’ she has to confront. Rukia usually doesn’t have a problem with Hollows, but the Bounts and their dolls may be a different thing entirely, and it’s unknown if Rukia has any previous experience with them, or is powerful enough to defeat one of them.
Quite unexpectedly, the standoff is put to a halt, when another Bount, the man whom Chad and Orihime encountered last episode, intervenes with an army of snakes. But instead of assisting the female Bount in her attack, his snakes ensnare her fiery doll, Goethe, and it disappears. The snakes then revert into metal pipes and fall to the ground.
Like the other Bount, he also has his own ‘doll’, a talking snake that he calls ‘Friede’. The remaining snakes then proceed to restrain the female Bount, and so he is able to capture her. The two Bounts appear to know each other; the man goes by the name of Ryo, and the woman’s name is Yoshino. Ryo also appears to have stature over Yoshino, suggesting that the Bounts are not only affiliated, but have a pecking order.
Ichigo now has even more questions that need to be answered, and once again, Ryo replies in annoyance at the humans’ curiosity about him, once again referring to them as mere ‘food’, not deserving of any of his answers or attention. He flees the scene, carrying away Yoshino, bound and helpless.
Now that the enemies have escaped, the attention fully turns to Rukia, and the team all have a somewhat emotional reunion. Rukia reveals that she was assigned to Karakura Town once again, to fight Hollows. She knows nothing of the Bounts, but maybe she was unknowingly sent there by the brass to deal with them.
Rukia meets the Mod Souls for the first time, and takes an immediate liking to Kurodo, who she thinks resembles ‘Chappy’, the cutesy rabbit character she has a bit of an obsession for. Kon’s jealous fit over Kurodo from last episode gets even worse; Kurodo now has the attention of all the ladies, both Orihime and Rukia.
Yoshino is taken to see a third Bount, Jin Kariya, who appears to be the leader, sitting in a dark, spacious, opulent room, overlooking the city. While he expresses concern for her wellbeing, he also calls her weak and foolish. She is accompanied to what looks like a cramped storeroom and then locked in, the only light coming from the night sky through a tiny porthole in the wall.
Rukia, Orihime and Chad decide to spend the night at Ichigo’s, under the pretense of studying schoolwork, so they can discuss and possibly plan for the situation with the Bounts, hopefully without interruption from Ichigo’s manic, precocious father. Eventually Rukia gets a call from Renji, who is delighted that she’s arrived and decides to crash the ‘study session’ as well… literally. It begins to occur to Rukia that the real reason she may have been sent back is because of the Bounts.
The next day she’s back at school, and due to her memory-manipulating machinations, to the other students, it’s like she never left. The team’s remaining member, Ishida, who feels like a fifth wheel these days, learns that she’s returned. They’re all relaxing in the schoolyard, when sensations of nearby Reishi interrupt the temporary tranquility. They all rush off to investigate.
In their hurry, They unknowingly pass Hanataro on the street on their way to intercept the threat. Hanataro, who is his usual clumsy self, is dressed in ‘civilian’ attire, regular plain clothes, instead of his typical Shinigami garb, suggesting that he may be operating ‘undercover’, as part of the mission concerning the Bounts.
Ichigo and the team find Ryo feeding again, already claiming another victim, now just a pile of dust on the ground, and with another one, a woman, still in his clutches, about to be consumed. Ichigo once again begins to ask him questions about his motives, and the Bounts in general, but he only retorts with the repeated reply of “no comment”.
In response he pulls out a whip, which transforms into his snake. The enormous pressure of the snake/whip’s impact creates fissures in the ground, from which other snakes start emerging. Orihime’s bag strap then turns into a snake, and so does a nearby water hose… anything that’s snake-like apparently can be transformed and weaponised by his ability…
Soon the team are beset on all sides by snakes, even more numerous than their previous encounter with Ryo, and they all summon their powers in defense. As this struggle plays out, Ryo begins taking a particular interest in Ishida, whom he somehow immediately recognises as a Quincy, and a de-powered one at that, noticing that he’s the only individual that hasn’t displayed any powers to defend himself.
While this battle ensues, Yoshino is seen sneaking out of the compound in which she was being imprisoned; Kariya, who is watching her from above, allows her to escape. Why is she being held against her will, by her own kind?
This episode, the arc gets into full swing as me meet more of the Bount characters, and get a better idea of their abilities. I suppose it can be assumed that they all have the power to summon dolls to fight for them? More revelations are in the cards… on to Episode 71!