Chaos descends upon the Soul Society in this volume of Bleach, with a certain event causing suspicion to run rife among the Soul Reapers.
Volume sixteen of Bleach contains nine chapters. It starts with chapter one hundred and thirty one, and finishes up with chapter one hundred and thirty nine.
The scheduled execution of former Soul Reaper Rukia Kuchiki has been moved up and is now just hours away. Meanwhile, the Soul Society is in chaos, with Soul Reapers drawing swords against one another. Something is rotting at the core of the Soul Society, but who, or what, could be behind it?
We start with chapter 131, ‘The True Will’ in which Momo reveals to Tôshirô the words that were in the letter she received from Aizen. She tries confronting him, despite her mixed feelings. Tôshirô is left with little choice but to fend her off, before confronting Gin.
Tôshirô unleashes his zanpaku-tô, Hyôrinmaru, against Gin in chapter 132, ‘Creeping Limit’. Whilst they fight, Gin tries to skewer Momo whilst Tôshirô is busy with him, but Rangiku arrives to prevent that from happening.
Yoruichi wonders if Ichigo will be able to complete his training, though she’s unaware that the decision has been made to move Rukia’s execution to the next day.
Chapter 133, ‘memories in the rain 2: Nocturne’, shows us that Gin retreated after Rangiku’s arrival. As Rangiku ponders on where Gin is trying to go and Tôshirô wonders if anything from Aizen’s letter was true, they receive the news about the execution. Tôshirô declares his intention to put a halt to it.
Whilst Ichigo is training, Renji arrives and informs him about the new date for the execution before engaging in his own personal training. Ichigo becomes determined to master bankai before the execution no matter what.
In her cell, Rukia wonders if she can request to have Ichigo and his friends returned safely to their world.
In chapter 134, ‘memories in the rain 2, op. 2: Longing for Sanctuary’, Captain Ukitake approaches Byakuya about the execution – Byakuya seems to just accept it. After that, we get a flashback that shows Rukia’s first meeting with the assistant captain of the thirteenth company, Kaien Shiba.
Kaien’s wife was killed by a Hollow, which led to him going with Rukia and Captain Ukitake to track it down.
Kaien goes after the Hollow in chapter 135, ‘memories in the rain 2, op. 3: Affected by the Night’. Kaien ends up in a dire situation, but Ukitake stops Rukia from rushing to his side when that happens. The captain tells her that there are two types of battle: one to defend life, and the other to defend honour. However, without Ukitake or Rukia interfering, the battle takes a dire turn.
In chapter 136, ‘memories in the rain 2, op 4: Night of Wijnruit’, the Hollow turns its attention to Rukia and Ukitake. The captain orders his subordinate to retreat, but she ends up coming back anyway, leading to her doing something that will stay with her forever.
Kenpachi breaks into the prison where Uryû and the others are being held in chapter 137, ‘Surrounding Clutch’. Ganju is taken aback to see him, though when Orihime turns out to be with them they are all quite surprised.
Renji completes his training, though Ichigo is still being put through his paces by Zangetsu. Before Renji departs, he asks Yoruichi if Ichigo can achieve bankai – Yoruichi is certain that he can.
With only five hours to Rukia’s execution in chapter 138, ‘Private Thoughts’, the captains of the Soul Society begin to move out. Getting introductions in this chapter are 7th company captain, Sajin Komamura, 2nd company captain Soi Fon, and 2nd company assistant captain Marechiyo Ômaeda.
As Kenpachi travels through the Soul Society with Orihime and friends in tow, captains Komamura, Tôsen and assistant captains Tetsuzaemon Iba and Shuhei Hisagi appear before them. Kenpachi is eager to take them on.
Kenpachi confronts Komamura and Tôsen in chapter 139, ‘Drowsy, Bloody, Crazy’. The two assistant captains end up fighting Ikkaku and Yumichika. Despite using their zanpaku-tô’s abilities, Kenpachi proves to be incredibly resilient.
Elsewhere, Renji has resolved to save Rukia and is making his way towards here. Byakuya waits nearby…
That’s it for volume 16, in which Ichigo pretty much takes a back seat in order to give a few of the captains some time to shine – this won’t be the first time.
Regardless, what we saw from the captains was pretty great – Tôshirô’s fight against Gin is enjoyable whilst it lasts, and Kenpachi’s berserker-like attitude towards battle is fun to read/watch.
The identity of Kaien Shiba is also revealed, as well as the role he played in Rukia’s life. The flashback also showed us who it was who told Rukia about the two kinds of battles, and sheds a bit of light on why she chose not to interfere with Ichigo’s battle against the Grand Fisher back in the world of the living.
Whilst Ichigo may be sidelined for this volume, we still get some enjoyable action scenes and we learn a little more about some of the characters. All in all, a fairly enjoyable read.
Next time we’ll see what Renji was able to achieve during his training.