The Arrancar arc continues on with the thirty-first volume of Bleach, with various battles unfolding within Hueco Mundo.
There are nine chapters in the volume, which opens with chapter two hundred and seventy and closes with chapter two hundred and seventy-eight.
Ichigo and the rest of the rescue squad have made it as far as the fortress of Las Noches and are one step closer to freeing Orihime from the Arrancars’ clutches. And although the battles in Hueco Mundo have been brutal, the opponents have been surprisingly honourable. But that is about to change…
Volume 31 kicks off with chapter 270, ‘WARning’, in which Ichigo comes face to face with Ulquiorra. Ichigo has no intention of fighting, until Ulquiorra reveals he was the one who brought Orihime to Hueco Mundo. Ichigo goes all out from the start, using both his bankai and Hollowfication to hit Ulquiorra with an all-out Getsuga Tenshô.
Despite Ichigo’s efforts, chapter 271, ‘If You Rise From the Ashes’ reveals that Ulquiorra was relatively unharmed by the attack. The Espada then goes on the offensive, utterly overwhelming Ichigo. Ichigo discovers that Ulquiorra is Espada No. 4, which comes as a shock after he assumed he was the leader.
Ulquiorra deals a fatal blow to Ichigo after that revelation.
Orihime is able to sense the decline of Ichigo’s spiritual pressure in chapter 272, ‘Don’t Kill My Volupture’. She is also approached by two Arrancars.
Renji’s battle against Szayelaporro continues, but there is nothing he can do to harm his opponent. Szayelaporro summons his Fracciónes – an Espada’s minions – in order to bring the fight to an end. As things seem dire, Uryû arrives.
Meanwhile, Orihime suffers abuse at the hands of Loly, whilst Menoly keeps watch. Before they can go too far, Grimmjow breaks into the room.
Grimmjow attacks Loly and Menoly in chapter 273, ‘DOG eat DOG’, and tells Orihime he saved her as thanks for healing his arm earlier on. He also has something that he wants Orihime to do.
Uryû and Szayelaporro introduce themselves to each other, and then their fight starts.
Uryû is able to land an attack on Szayelaporro in chapter 274, ‘The Monster’, but the Espada nullifies it. Szayelaporro was able to counter Uryû as he had already analysed his abilities.
Grimmjow gets Orihime to heal Loly and Menoly before departing with her, which leads to Loly thinking of Orihime as a monster.
Renji and Uryû start to work together in order to fight Szayelaporro and his Fracciónes.
Uryû gets Renji to fend off Szayelaporro for a while in chapter 275, ‘The United Front 2 (Red & White)’. Renji uses Zabimaru to constrict both himself and Zabimaru, and then uses a kidô which explodes. This distraction gives Uryû enough time to set up a final attack.
Szayelaporro falls victim to Uryû’s Sprenger technique in chapter 276, ‘Blockin’ Beast’. He is wounded, but by consuming one of his Fracciónes, Szayelaporro heals. His ruined clothes don’t, however, so he temporarily departs for a new outfit.
Meanwhile, Grimmjow arrives at the place where Ichigo was defeated, to find Nel crying over him.
Grimmjow brings Orihime along with him in chapter 277, ‘Corrosion of Conformity’, in order to heal Ichigo.
It doesn’t take long for Ulquiorra to discover that Orihime has gone.
Grimmjow tries to hurry Orihime, but Ulquiorra arrives before Ichigo is fully healed.
Grimmjow gets into a brief fight with Ulquiorra in chapter 278, ‘Heal for the Crash’, using the opportunity to seal Ulquiorra inside a closed dimension with a Caja de Negación. After that, Grimmjow tells Orihime to heal Ichigo, but she refuses.
However, Ichigo insists that she heals both him and Grimmjow so they can have a fair fight.
This volume was all right, with Uryû getting to show off a new technique and fighting alongside Renji. Just a shame that the Espadas seem to be beyond everyone at this point… Though I guess Renji and Uryû are faring better than both Rukia and Chad.
Talking of Ichigo, the other thing of note in this volume is the set-up for the battle between him and Grimmjow in the next volume. Without a doubt, that’s one of the highlights of the Arrancar arc.
Orihime doing nothing when Loly was attacking her was pretty lame – I know she’s not a fighter, but she was certainly more than capable of defending herself until the Arrancar gave up. I suppose Grimmjow did get to hand out some brutal justice in return, though.