Previously in Bleach, the technique known as ‘bankai’ was alluded to by Yoruichi. We get our first of many demonstrations of said technique in this volume. Ichigo continues his training under Yoruichi, striving to learn bankai.
There are eight chapters in this fifteenth volume, with numbers one hundred and twenty four up to one hundred and thirty taking place in the present, whilst the last chapter of this volume is minus seventeen, which gives us a look into the past of some characters.
During a bloody confrontation with a sadistic Soul Reaper, Uryû chooses a path will temporarily grant him enormous power, at great personal cost. Meanwhile, Ichigo races to master a powerful technique that will help him fight Byakuya and, hopefully, save Rukia from execution.
We start with chapter 124, ‘Crying Little People’. Uryû is able to overcome the paralysis inflicted on him by Mayuri previously, and a flashback throughout the chapter shows Uryû’s grandfather sharing some meaningful words with him. With his grandfather in his thoughts, Uryû willingly gives up his powers as Quincy for a huge boost of power.
In chapter 125, ‘Insanity & Genius’, Uryû’s huge burst in power catches Mayuri by surprise. Uryû is able to hit Mayuri with an attack, but the Soul Reaper captain responds by unleashing his bankai – Konjiki Ashisogi Jizô. Quincy power clashes against bankai in one final clash.
Uryû is able to fire an arrow that tears through Mayuri’s bankai and leaves a gaping hole in the Soul Reaper himself in chapter 126, ‘The Last of a Void War’. Mayuri is forced to retreat, though Uryû does get infected by his bankai’s poison. However, Mayuri’s assistant captain offers Uryû an antidote.
Uryû presses on, but comes face to face with another captain who easily knocks him out.
We also see that Ichigo is struggling with his training.
Zangetsu puts Ichigo through his paces in chapter 127, ‘Beginning of the Death of Tomorrow’, as Yoruichi observes. Using a technique that allows a Soul Reaper to manifest their zanpaku-tô’s spirit in the real world, Ichigo fights Zangetsu in order to try and achieve bankai within a mere three days.
Elsewhere in the Soul Society, three assistant captains – Renji, Momo and Izuru – break out of prison – Renji and Momo have their own reasons, but it is Gin Ichimaru who frees Izuru.
We discover that Uryû, Ganju and Chad all had their wounds treated after their defeats, and are currently been held as prisoners as they are suspected of the murder of a captain. Chad believes their best option is to just wait for Ichigo.
Ichigo’s training with Zangetsu continues, whilst Orihime finds herself in the care of the eleventh company. Kenpachi decides to help Orihime because he’s sure that he’ll meet Ichigo again if he sticks with her.
Chapter 129, ‘Suspicion (of Assassination)’ begins with tenth company assistant company Rangiku Matsumoto dreaming of her first meeting with Gin Ichimaru. Tenth company captain Hitsugaya wakes her up, and the two receive a report that the assistant captains are missing from their cells.
Yoruichi continues to observe Ichigo’s training, and sees that he has the capacity to grow at a frightening pace and a frightening level.
After checking the situation at the prison cell, Captain Hitsugaya declares that he is going to rescue Momo Hinamori by himself. Elsewhere, it seems that Momo has discovered the identity of the person who killed Captain Aizen.
Ichigo gets a well-earned break from his training in chapter 130, ‘Suspicion 2 (of Tears)’. Whilst soaking in a healing hot spring, Yoruichi reveals to Ichigo that Kisuke was the previous captain of the 12th company and the founder and first chief of the department of research and development in the Soul Society.
Elsewhere, Captain Hitsugaya confronts Captain Ichimaru – only to have Momo show up and point her blade at him, for the sake of Captain Aizen.
We get an ‘untold story’ for the final chapter of this volume, which is -17, ‘Prelude for the Straying Stars’. We get a glimpse of the time that Renji, Momo and Izuru spent at the Soul Reaper Academy together.
That concludes volume 15 of Bleach, and we certainly got some nice action from it. Uryû’s fight against Mayuri gave us our first demonstration of the Soul Reaper’s bankai, and showed us just how far Uryû was willing to go in order to defeat a powerful foe.
Ichigo’s training with Zangetsu feels a lot like something out of Fate/stay night – what with Ichigo using and breaking multiple swords against his opponent as he tries to master bankai.
In between the action, we learned a little more about Kisuke and Yoruichi, and there was also the stuff with the three assistant captains breaking out of prison. With Momo’s accusation at the end, we also get some intrigue – particularly as there’s good reason to be suspicious of Gin Ichimaru as well.
Quite an enjoyable volume all round, then.
Next time, chaos reigns as fellow Soul Reapers turn their blades on one another. We also delve a little into Rukia’s past and learn about the person called Kaien Shiba.