Ichigo and company have arrived in the Soul Society, but getting into the Seireitei is proving to be a more difficult task. Fortunately, they’ve enlisted the help of Rukongai’s premier fireworks expert to get them inside.
The Soul Reapers inside the Seireitei won’t just sit idly by waiting for the intruders, however.
There are a total of ten chapters in this volume, going from eighty up to eighty-eight point five. There’ll be more oddly numbered chapters later on, but this volume contains the first one.
With the help of Kûkaku – a one-armed explosives expert and old friend of the mysterious talking cat Yoruichi – Ichigo and crew are one step closer to infiltrating the Soul Society and rescuing their friend Rukia before she is executed. For Kûkaku’s plan to work, Ichigo must control his enormous reservoir of spiritual energy – and there’s no telling how much collateral damage this will cause. Meanwhile, the Soul Society hasn’t been twiddling their collective thumbs, and quickly dispatches a delegation of captains to give the unwanted visitors the rudest of welcomings imaginable.
In chapter 80, ‘The Shooting Star Project’, Kûkaku reveals her plan to get Ichigo and the others into the Seireitei – it involves launching them from a cannon. They need to surround themselves with their spiritual pressure, which will allow them to pierce through the barrier that surrounds the Seireitei.
Meanwhile, we’re introduced to assistant captains of the fifth, seventh and tenth companies – Momo Hinamori, Tetsuzaemon Iba and Rangiku Matsumoto respectively. Momo is concerned about Captain Aizen, though none of the others have been able to reach their captains either.
Orihime, Uryû and Chad are able to control their spirit energy in chapter 81, ‘Twelve-Tone Rendezvous’. Ichigo, however, isn’t as successful. Ichigo reveals his reason to going to such lengths to save Rukia to Ganju, and receives some advice about channelling his energy.
A meeting between most of the captains also starts.
The captain’s meeting in chapter 82, ‘Conflictable Composition’, demonstrates that the captains of the thirteen companies really don’t get along with each other too well – Gin allowing the Ryoka to escape from him is the focus of the meeting.
Ichigo manages to successfully channel his spirit energy, though quickly discovers the price for suddenly breaking concentrating.
An alarm sounds, alerting the Seireitei to an intruder.
With the alarm sounding in chapter 83, ‘COME WITH ME’, Kenpachi dashes off and is joined by eleventh company’s assistant captain, Yachiru Kusajishi. The captain’s meeting is adjourned, though Gin and Aizen exchange some words before departing.
After Ichigo’s group is rested up, they all prepare to make their way into the Seireitei – including Ganju, who reveals his brother was killed by a Soul Reaper.
It’s launch time in chapter 84, ‘The Shooting Star Project 2 (Tattoo on the Sky)’. Yoruichi says they should flee if they meet a captain class foe, and only concentrate on rescuing Rukia.
Ichigo’s immense spiritual pressure proves to be a detriment, and Ganju ends up distracted when he’s supposed to be chanting.
The whole Seireitei notices when something smashes into the barrier.
In chapter 85, ‘INTRUDERZ 2 (Breakthrough the Roof Mix)’, Ichigo and his allies successfully penetrate the Seireitei’s barrier, only to end up separated. Chad ends up alone, whilst Ganju tags along with Ichigo. The third group is Orihime and Uryû – Yoruichi tried to hitch a ride on Ichigo’s soldier, but also ends up separated.
Ichigo and Ganju have two Soul Reapers waiting for them when they land.
Everyone manages to land in the Seireitei relatively safely in chapter 86, ‘Making Good Relations, OK?’. However, there are plenty of Soul Reapers around and it seems that Orihime and Uryû have a pursuer.
Ichigo and Ganju split up, leaving them each to face one Soul Reaper. Ichigo fights the bald one, third seat of the eleventh company, Ikkaku Madarame.
The other Soul Reaper pursues Ganju in chapter 87, ‘Dancing With Spears’, forcing him into a dead end.
Upon hearing that Ichigo trained under Kisuke Urahara, Ikkaku goes all out and unleashes his zanpaku-tô, Hôzukimaru. It becomes a spear-like weapon with three sections. Ikkaku is able to injure Ichigo, but Ichigo is confident in his ability to fight back.
Ichigo and Ikkaku continue to fight in chapter 88, ‘SO UNLUCKY WE ARE’. Ichigo is able to get use to Ikkaku’s movements, and deals a serious blow to him. Ikkaku refuses to give up, but that proves to be his undoing.
Chapter 88.5 is ‘KARAKURA SUPERHEROES’, which introduces the Soul Reaper Zennosuke Kurumadani – Rukia’s replacement for Karakura Town. However, he hasn’t been able to do his duties properly, as some familiar faces have been defeating Hollows.
Now that Ichigo and company are inside the Seireitei, there’s going to be a lot more fighting. Ichigo and Ikkaku’s fight is only the first of many, and we still have yet to see how Ganju fares against his opponent.
Orihime and Uryû will also have a fight on their hands.
These battles will provide opportunities to see how each character has progressed in terms of combat abilities.
Quite a few of the Soul Reapers are formally introduced in this volume – some will go on to play more important roles than others. One thing we’ve seen is that there appears to be quite some tension between the different companies – gathering all of the captains together for that meeting must have been quite a headache.
This volume was pretty good, all in all. Ichigo’s fight against Ikkaku had both combatants fighting fairly equally – they both dealt injuries to each other. In the end, Ichigo was able to claim victory, but he did suffer some injuries in the process. There are plenty more powerful foes lurking around the Soul Society, and they won’t let Ichigo just waltz straight up to Rukia.