The action continues in Hueco Mundo with volume thirty-two of Bleach, with the focus this time around being on Ichigo having another rematch with an opponent who he hasn’t been able to surpass thus far.
There are nine chapters in this volume, including one flashback chapter. The main plot goes from chapter two hundred and seventy-nine up to chapter two hundred and eighty-six, whilst the flashback is chapter minus sixteen.
After healing Ichigo’s terrible wounds so that he can face the diabolic Grimmjow at full strength, Orihime must watch from the sidelines as the two battle. Orihime tries to convince herself Ichigo will be all right, but she can’t help but be worried about him. And when Grimmjow taunts Ichigo into releasing his Hollow self, her confidence in her friend begins to waver. Has their time in the realm of the Hollows changed them both too much?
With Ichigo fully healed in chapter 279, ‘Jugulators’, he and Grimmjow begin their fight. Orihime and Nel watch on, with the former reassuring the latter that Ichigo will be able to win.
As Ichigo and Grimmjow clash in chapter 280, ‘Jugulators 2’, Grimmjow says the reason Ichigo ventured into Hueco Mundo was because he wants to fight. Grimmjow launches a Gran Rey Cero, forcing Ichigo to Hollowfy.
Ichigo’s Hollowfication frightens Orihime in chapter 281, ‘THE VULGARIAN NOISE’, but he assures her that he will end the battle quickly.
With Ichigo going all out, Grimmjow does the same and uses his Resurreción, Pantera. Grimmjow’s power catches Ichigo off-guard initially, but he gets back into the fight fairly quickly.
The only female Espada and her Fracciónes watch Grimmjow and Ichigo fight from a distance in chapter 282, ‘THE PRIMAL FEAR’.
As they fight, Grimmjow commends Ichigo on being able to maintain his mask for longer, leading to Ichigo taking advantage of an opening and wounding his foe. When Grimmjow launches an attack that almost hits Orihime, Ichigo protects her.
Ichigo starts nearing his limit in chapter 283, ‘You don’t hurt anymore’. Whilst Orihime laments over how Ichigo is turning into someone – or something – she doesn’t know, Nel starts cheering him on. Nel is able to snap Orihime out of her depression, and she tells Ichigo not to die.
In response, Ichigo musters up the strength to halt Grimmjow’s attack and wound him.
Chapter 284, ‘Historia del Pantera y sus Sombras’, has a brief flashback which shows Grimmjow’s as an Adjucha. In the present day, the heavily wounded Grimmjow refuses to give in. He intends to crush anyone who looks down on him.
Grimmjow unleashes his ultimate technique, Desgarrón, in chapter 285, ‘Devour the Flesh, Alone’. The continuation of the previous flashback shows that Grimmjow’s Fracciónes were willing to sacrifice themselves so he could ascend to greater heights.
With his mask almost completely gone, Ichigo retaliates against Grimmjow’s attack.
The battle between Ichigo and Grimmjow comes to a close in chapter 286, ‘Guillotine You Standing’. Ichigo intends to take Orihime and Nel and go to help Chad and Rukia, but Grimmjow hasn’t given up yet.
However, Nnoitora appears from nowhere and seemingly finishes off Grimmjow.
Finally for this volume, we get chapter -16, ‘Death on the Ice Field’. The chapter focuses on Tôshirô Hitsugaya’s past – in particular, his first meeting with Rangiku and how he started on the path to becoming a Soul Reaper.
Perhaps I’m biased here because Ichigo vs. Grimmjow is up there as one of my favourite fights in Bleach, but I really like this volume. Everything that happens in it (with the exception of chapter -16) is centred around Ichigo and Grimmjow, so there’s no distractions from the fight.
We also finally get to see Grimmjow’s Resurreción, after it was teased when he fought Shinji in the world of the living.
One thing I don’t like, though, is Orihime’s role. Gone is the conviction she had earlier in the arc. She’s not a terrible character, but this particular part of the series really doesn’t do her any favours…
All the set-up featured in volume 31 paid off, as this volume delivers some pretty great action.