The Soul Reapers’ fight against the Espada continue in volume of thirty-eight of Bleach, with the focus being on Barragan’s Fracciónes fighting against four Soul Reapers that are guarding four pillars protecting Karakura Town.
There are nine chapters in this volume of Bleach, which runs from chapter three hundred and twenty-three through to chapter three hundred and thirty-one.
The Soul Reapers must guard the four pillars that are protecting Karakura Town from destruction at the hands of Aizen’s minions. Standing guard are assistant captains Yumichika, Kira, Hisagi and Ikkaku! But when Ikkaku goes down, will Karakura Town fall with him…?!
Let’s start by pointing out an error in that blurb: neither Ikkaku nor Yumichika are assistant captains. With that out of the way, let’s see how the battle in the fake Karakura Town unfolds.
Izuru is less than impressed by Abirama’s Resurreción in chapter 323, ‘Gloomy, Ghastly, and Full of Despair’. After using Hadô 58, Tenran, and dodging Abirama’s attacks for a while, Izuru gets close enough to cut his wings with Wabisuke. The battle soon comes to an end after that.
Focus switches over to Shuhei in chapter 324, ‘The Reaper’. His opponent is Findorr Calius – who has gained an extra ‘r’ in his first name since the last volume. Findorr uses his Resurreción, Pinza Aguda, which ultimately results in Shuhei responding by releasing his zanpaku-tô’s shikai, Kazeshini.
Shuhei reveals that he dislikes the way his shikai looks in chapter 325, ‘Fear For Fight’, because it looks like something meant for taking lives. Findorr powers up to the level of a captain, but Shuhei feels those who don’t fear the blades they wield don’t deserve to wield them. Shuhei and Findorr’s battle end. One of the four pillars is destroyed after Ikkaku falls.
Yumichika tries to rush over to Ikkaku in chapter 326, ‘Knockdown Monster’, but is stopped by Shuhei and Izuru.
Ikkaku’s opponent, Poww, tells Ikkaku to use the power he has been holding back, but Ikkaku refuses. Before Poww can kill him, Captain Komamura steps in. Tetsuzaemon stops the real Karakura Town from returning.
Poww then uses his Resurreción, Calderón.
Tetsuzaemon takes Ikkaku and runs from Poww in chapter 327, ‘Knockdown Monsters’, though his immense size makes it difficult to escape. However, Komamura stops Poww’s attack. Poww tries to retaliate with a cero, but Komamura uses his bankai, Koku-jô Tengen Myô-oh.
Poww is defeated courtesy of Komamura in chapter 328, ‘The Knuckle Debate’. Tetsuzaemon also reveals that he is aware that Ikkaku knows bankai, though he promises to keep quiet about it.
With the pillars protected, the curtain raises on the battle and the Soul Reapers move to confront the Espada and their Fracciónes.
The Captain-General orders the Soul Reapers to not let the Espada set foot into the Soul Society at any cost in chapter 329, ‘RAMPAGING RAMPAGE’. On the other side, Barragan gives the order to have all the Arrancars wipe out the Soul Reapers.
Blades clash as the fight between the Soul Reapers and Espada begins.
Tôshirô confronts Halibel in chapter 330, ‘CROSSING SWORDS’, whilst Rangiku focuses on her Fracciónes. Apache, Mila Rose and Sun-Sun discover first-hand what Rangiku’s zanpaku-tô, Haineko, is capable of. They retaliate with a triple-cero.
Soifon and Marechiyo fight Barragan’s remaining Fracciónes. Whilst Marechiyo doesn’t seem to fare too well, Soifon almost immediately releases Suzumebachi.
Soi Fon intends to finish her battle in two strikes in chapter 331, ‘Don’t Believe the Hide’. Her opponent finds that laughable, and introduces himself as Ggio Vega. He use his Resurreción, Tigre Estoque.
Marechiyo doesn’t seem to be making much of a dent against his opponent, who uses his Resurreción, Mamut. However, Marechiyo had been hiding his speed, and he uses that to strike with his zanpaku-tô, Gegetsuburi.
This volume ends with ‘Datos de Arrancar’ – or just character profiles for two of the Espada. In this case it is Ulquiorra Schiffer and Grimmjow Jeagerjaques. Ulquiorra’s theme song is “Moonshield” by In Flames, whilst Grimmjow’s is “Step Inside” by Bomb LA.
The action that started in the previous volume continues, though the protection of the pillars just does feel more like a prelude to the main event. Again, it was nice to see characters with less appearances get to do something, and Shuhei’s shikai might just be up there as one of my favourite zanpaku-tô designs.
With the other Soul Reapers finally jumping into the action, we’ll be getting quite a bit of action for a fair while. We’ve got plenty of shikai, bankai and Resurreción releases to look forward to, all of which ultimately leads up to the climactic showdown with Aizen.
…and of course, there is still Ichigo’s next confrontation with Ulquiorra.