Not really much to say to introduce this one other than that the battles in Hueco Mundo continue.
There are a total of ten chapters in volume thirty-four of Bleach. It starts with chapter two hundred and ninety-six and finishes with chapter three hundred and five.
To Ichigo’s surprise, his childlike friend Nel Tu reverts to her true form to shield her human protectors. And yet, an unforeseen turn of events leaves Nel and everyone at the mercy of the enemy, who is a heartbeat from exterminating them. What hope is there for Ichigo and his friends now?
This volume starts with chapter 296, ‘Changed Again And Again’. Nel uses her Resurreción, allowing her to overwhelm Nnoitora.
Meanwhile, Pesche and Dondochakka challenge Szayelaporro, even employing their Cero Sincretico technique.
Just as it seems that Nnoitora is at Nel’s mercy, she reverts back to her child form.
Nnoitora kicks Nel aside in chapter 297, ‘King of the Kill’, and gets Tesla to deal with Ichigo when he tries to intervene. Tesla uses his Resurreción and attacks Ichigo whilst Nnoitora forces Orihime to watch.
Szayelaporro is unaffected by the Cero Sincretico, and he prepares to bring his fight to an end. All over Hueco Mundo, things seem bleak as the Arrancars close in on Ichigo’s friends.
Tesla is about to finish Ichigo off, but then Kenpachi Zaraki arrives.
Kenpachi easily cuts down Tesla in chapter 298, ‘INTRUDERZ 3’, and then challenges Nnoitora. He reveals that he got into Hueco Mundo with Kisuke’s help. He’s not the only captain to have arrived, either – Byakuya Kuchiki, Retsu Unohana and Mayuri Kurotsuchi also arrived in Hueco Mundo.
Nnoitora and Kenpachi introduce themselves to each other and start to fight.
The presence of Captain Unohana causes the Exequias to retreat in chapter 299, ‘The Verbal Warfare’. Uryû is surprised to see Mayuri, who is quite keen to learn Szayelaporro’s name so he can label the specimen jar he intends to put in him.
Byakuya confronts the séptima Espada, Zommari Rureaux, who was about to finish off Rukia. They end up having a contest of speed.
Hanatarô tries to catch up with Byakuya in chapter 300, ‘Curse Named Love’. Whilst he does that, Zommari uses his Resurreción, Brujería. Eyes appear all over the Espada’s body, and he is able to take control of anything he looks at – the first target being Byakuya’s left leg. Byakuya is able to counter the technique, but it comes at a cost.
When Zommari tries to target Rukia, Byakuya protects her. Hanatarô catches up, but Byakuya tells him to back away so he doesn’t get caught up in the fight.
Byakuya’s left hand falls under Zommari’s control in chapter 301, ‘Nothing Like Equal’, leading him disabling his own arm. Zommari also took control of Rukia, who he makes cut down Hanatarô. He then has Rukia hold her sword up to her own throat.
Byakuya drops his blade, but uses Rikujô Kôrô to bind Rukia. He then uses his bankai.
Zommari survives Byakuya’s bankai in chapter 302, ‘Pride on the Blade’. He is heavily injured and Byakuya is able to render his technique useless. In a fit of anger, Zommari declares that Soul Reapers destroy Hollows simply because they think they hold justice in their hands. Byakuya retorts that he will slay Zommari because he aimed his blade at his pride.
Isane Kotetsu arrives, and Byakuya tells her to take care of the injured.
Elsewhere, it seems that Mayuri isn’t faring too well against Szayelaporro.
Turns out that Mayuri was just faking it in chapter 303, ‘Dumdum-dummy-Dumbstruck’. He had implanted a surveillance bacterium in Uryû, and as such was able to see Szayelaporro’s techniques and prepare counters for them. Szayelaporro targets Nemu. Mayuri grows tired of everyone talking and uses his bankai. Szayelaporro begins to be infected by the poison.
Isane and Hanatarô treat Rukia in chapter 304, ‘Battle of the Barbarians’. When she comes to, she is surprised to see Byakuya there. Whilst Kenpachi fights Nnoitora, Ichigo gets Orihime to heal Nel.
Mayuri’s bankai swallows Szayelaporro, and it’s poison ends up infecting both Renji and Uryû. Mayuri throws them the antidote, but something happens with Nemu. Szayelaporro was able to implant himself inside her, and was reborn by feeding on her.
Szayelaporro declares himself a perfect being in chapter 305, ‘The Rising Phoenix’. After examining the dessicated Nemu, all that Mayuri has to say is that it is an interesting technique. Szayelaporro tries to turn Mayuri’s bankai against him, but Mayuri is prepared for that. With the Espada having exhausted his arsenal, Mayuri takes the opportunity to test out a new drug he has developed on him.
Szayelaporro’s perception of time is changed so that one second feels like one hundred years – Mayuri simply stabs Szayelaporro, leaving him to feel the blade piercing his heart for an entire century.
This volume is pretty all right, particularly with the arrival of reinforcements in Hueco Mundo. Before that, though, we get to see Nel’s Resurreción, though only briefly. It’s a shame, because I think it’s interesting.
This arc continues to be a low point for Orihime, who’s more or less only reduced to only saying a single name: Ichigo.
On the plus side, some captains from the Soul Society showed up. It’s nice to see Byakuya fighting to protect his sister rather than siding with the law like he did during the Soul Society arc, though I guess we don’t really see anything new from his fight. I suppose there is Yoruichi’s technique he uses, but that is pretty much just a variation of the flash step. It’s a pretty standard fight over all.
We have yet to get to the main event of Kenpachi’s fight against Nnoitora, so I won’t say too much about it here.
However, when it comes to fights in the Arrancar arc, Mayuri Kurotsuchi vs. Szayelaporro Grantz is one I really quite enjoy. It’s effectively two mad scientists engaged in a battle of wits – there’s no flashy sword swinging here. Just two sadistic geniuses trying to outclass each other. One thing I particularly enjoy is Mayuri’s reaction to Szayelaporro’s claim that he is a perfect being, but we’ll see just what that is in the next volume.
An all around fairly enjoyable volume, and the arrival of some captains from the Soul Society changes things up a bit. Admittedly they are still in Hueco Mundo, but it’s nice to have some other characters involved now.