In the seventeenth volume of Bleach time is rapidly running out as Rukia’s execution draws ever closer. Soul Reapers continue to fight amongst themselves, as beliefs clash.
There are a total of ten chapters in this volume, which opens with chapter one hundred and forty and finishes with chapter one hundred and forty-nine.
The rebellion within the Soul Society grows as doubts spread about the death sentence of ex-Soul Reaper Rukia Kuchiki. Determined to save her, Rukia’s childhood friend Renji vows to cut down the captain of his own squad, unaware of the terrifying fate that awaits him.
We start with chapter 140, ‘Bite at the Moon’, in which Renji cuts through his fellow Soul Reapers as she rushes to Rukia’s aid. Of course, he is stopped in his tracks by sixth company captain, Byakuya Kuchiki. They clash, and Renji demonstrates the fruits of his training.
Renji unleashes his bankai, Hihiô Zabimaru, in chapter 141, ‘Kneel to the Baboon King’. Byakuya is surprised to see that Renji has mastered bankai, though he still remains determined to defeat his assistant captain.
In chapter 142, ‘To Those Capturing the Moon’, Byakuya is able to counter Renji’s bankai. He binds Renji in place and unleashes his own bankai: Senbonzakura Kageyoshi. Renji suffers the full force of the bankai, leaving Byakuya confident of the win and saying that it was the difference in their class that meant Renji could never win.
Kenpachi is able to sense the fight between Renji and Byakuya in chapter 143, ‘Blazing Souls’. He is, of course, still fighting Tôsen and Komamura.
Despite being heavily injured, Renji gets back to his feet and insists he can still fight.
Renji tries to make a final attack on Byakuya in chapter 144, ‘Rosa Rubicundior, Lilio Candidior’. The effort renders him unconscious, but Byakuya is left with no choice to but recognise his efforts.
Elsewhere, as Rukia is being led towards the execution grounds, Gin Ichimaru appears before her.
Gin informs Rukia about what happened to Renji in chapter 145, ‘Shaken’. He also offers to help her, but only retracts the offer which causes her resolve to crumble.
As Kenpachi continues to fight captains Tôsen and Komamura, he goads them into using their bankai.
In chapter 146, ‘Demon Loves the Dark’, Tôsen accepts Kenpachi’s challenge and unleashes his bankai: Suzumushi Tsuishiki Enma Kôrogi. Tôsen’s bankai steals away the senses of anyone who isn’t holding Suzumushi. Still, Kenpachi manages to put up a fight.
Elsewhere, Rukia’s execution is set to begin.
A handful of captains gather for Rukia’s execution in chapter 147, ‘Countdown to the End: 3 (Blind Light, Deaf Beat)’. We are also shown how Yumichika is faring against Shuhei – not very well, at least until he decides to reveal his zanpaku-tô’s true power.
The scene shifts back to Kenpachi, who concocts a method in which to counter Tôsen’s bankai.
Kenpachi wounds Tôsen in chapter 148, ‘Countdown to the End: 2 (Lady Lennon~Frankenstein)’. A flashback shows how Tôsen came to follow the path of justice. Kenpachi tries to walk away from the fight, but Tôsen insists on finishing it. Komamura ends up having to protect Tôsen from being killed by Kenpachi. With Komamura’s true self revealed, he unleashes his bankai: Kokujô Tengen Myô-Oh.
The beginning of Rukia’s execution puts a halt to Kenpachi and Komamura’s fight in chapter 149, ‘Countdown to the End: 1 (Only Mercifully)’. This also causes various Soul Reapers and Ichigo’s friends to rush to the site of the execution.
Elsewhere, Renji finds himself healed up by Hanatarô. Hantarô asks Renji to save Rukia.
Before she is executed, Rukia asks that her friends will be allowed to leave the Soul Society alive. This request is granted, though only so Rukia can die with peace of mind. With that, the order to carry out the execution is given.
The volume ends with a Radio-Kon Baby!! segment in which Kon interviews Kisuke Urahara.
Lots of action in this volume, and the reveal of no less than four bankais. Renji’s efforts against Byakuya are certainly noteworthy, as Ichigo unknowingly gave him the strength to fight for his beliefs. Renji suffered a total defeat, but he did earn Byakuya’s recognition.
Kenpachi’s fight against Tôsen was pretty great, too. Not even being deprived of his senses stops Kenpachi from fighting and he certainly showed some remarkable instinct before figuring out the trick to Tôsen’s bankai.
Ichigo continues training in the background for this volume – the captains of the Soul Society very much get the spotlight for now. What we got to see was different Soul Reapers’ ideals clashing, as some fight to prevent Rukia’s execution whilst others fight to stop those people.
Seeing Byakuya’s bankai demonstrates just what kind of power Ichigo has to overcome when he inevitably fights him, and things do not seem to be in has favour as of the end of this volume.
Rukia’s execution is set to take place in the next volume.