Continuing to look at the Bleach manga, the Soul Society arc continues with battle breaking out within the Seireitei.
Volume eleven contains ten chapters, starting with number eighty-nine and finishing up with ninety-eight.
Ichigo successfully defeats Ikkaku of the Eleventh Company and is rewarded with a valuable piece of information – the location of where Rukia is being detained as she awaits execution. However, Ichigo’s companion, the pyrotechnics-wielding Ganju, is having a much harder time with his Soul Reaper opponent. Meanwhile, Orihime and Uryû confront the younger brother of the gargantuan gatekeeper whom Ichigo defeated a little while ago. It’s time for Uryû to put all his training to the test and prove to everyone (and himself) how much more powerful he has become.
We start with chapter 89, ‘Masterly! And Farewell!’, in which Ganju’s fight with his aforementioned Soul Reaper foe, Yumichika, continues. Ikkaku informs Ichigo about Rukia’s whereabouts, but also warns him about the Eleventh Company’s captain.
The chapter ends with Uryû and Orihime coming under attack from a Soul Reaper.
In chapter 90, ‘See You Under the Fireworks’, Ichigo’s search for Ganju attracts the attention of many enemy Soul Reapers.
Ganju continues to fight Yumichika, using a combination of explosives and his technique that turns the ground to sand to eventually claim victory.
‘DER FREISCHÜTZ King’ is the title of chapter 91. The Soul Reaper that appeared before Uryû and Orihime targets the latter, and it is revealed that Orihimie has no killing intent behind her offensive skills – thus rendering them useless. However, Uryû has plenty of killing intent to spare.
The Soul Reaper identifies himself as Jirôbô Ikkanzaka, and unleashes his shikai: Tsunzaki Garasu.
Uryû brings the fight with Jirôbô to a close in chapter 92, ‘Masterly! And Farewell! (Reprise)’.
Ichigo reunites with Ganju, though both are pursued by myriads of Soul Reapers. They get surrounded, though an opportunity presents itself for them to get out of their predicament.
‘Steer For the Star’ is chapter 93’s title, in which Ichigo and Ganju take a Fourth Company Soul Reaper hostage. Unfortunately, the Eleventh Company Soul Reapers who they are surrounded by don’t care one bit.
Chad suddenly bursting through a wall opens up an avenue of escape for Ichigo and Ganju, which they eagerly take.
At the Fourth Company General Relief Station, Captain Mayuri Kurotsuchi tries interrogating Ikkaku for information about his fight. However, Kenpachi quickly puts a halt to that. Ikkaku tells the Eleventh Company Captain about his fight with Ichigo.
The hostage that Ichigo and Ganju took introduces himself as Hanatarô Yamada, and reveals he knows a way to get them to where Rukia is.
Hantarô guides Ichigo and Ganju through the Seireitei’s subterranean canals in chapter 94, ‘A Jail Called Remorse’. Whilst doing so, he tells them about the time he spent talking to Rukia.
The assistant captains learn of the devastation caused by the Ryoka within the Seireitei, and Renji slips away.
When Ichigo, Ganju and Hanatarô emerge from the subterranean canals, they find Renjia Abarai waiting for them.
In chapter 95, ‘CRUSH’, Ichigo begins fighting Renji. As they clash, Renji reveals that his power was being suppressed during their encounter in the World of the Living. Ichigo is not put off by this piece of information, though.
Ichigo and Renji continue to fight in chapter 96, ‘BLOODRED CONFLICT’. Ichigo is heavily injured, but he refuses to fall.
Elsewhere, Momo tells Assistant Captain of the Third Company, Izuru Kira, that Renji has pulled a disappearing act. Izuru says he’ll keep an eye out, though they won’t tell their captains.
As they fight, Ichigo believes he is able to identify an opening in Renji’s attacks. He seizes the opportunity, but it is Renji who delivers a blow.
Renji looks set to finish off Ichigo in chapter 97, ‘Talk About Your Fear’. A flashback to Ichigo’s training with Kisuke shows us that he initially lacked resolve. However, Kisuke helped him overcome that.
With hardened resolve, Ichigo stops Renji’s blade and brings a close to their fight.
Chapter 98 is ‘A Star And A Stray Dog’, in which a defeated Renji recalls his childhood spent together with Rukia, and how they grew up and grew apart after she was adopted by the Kuchikis. In the present day, Renji throws aside his pride and asks Ichigo to save Rukia.
The action is now going at full throttle for the Soul Society arc, with the fight between Ichigo and Renji being the highlight of this volume. We have had a chance to see how Uryû’s training has paid off, though I know he’ll truly be put to the test a little later on…
It’s also fairly impressive how Ganju was able to overcome Yumichika, considering the latter is a fully-trained Soul Reaper.
Whilst fighting Renji does allow Ichigo to develop, he’s not the only one who benefits from this fight. His defeat at Ichigo’s hands allow for Renji to stop ignoring his own feelings on Rukia’s execution. This is the only thing that happens as a result of his loss, but let’s worry about that stuff when we come to it.
Next time, the Soul Society learns of Renji’s defeat, and Ichigo encounters the person that Ikkaku warned him about.