Bleach‘s forty-fourth volume has the plot advance to the next stage of the Arrancar arc, which oddly enough involves barely any Arrancars.
There are a total of nine chapters in this volume of Bleach, going from three hundred and seventy-eight through to three hundred and eighty-six.
Old friends turn against each other as Tosen and Komamura battle it out. Will Tosen’s new powers be too much for the Soul Reapers? And when Hirako reveals his Bankai for the first time, can he turn the tables against Aizen?!
The blurb tells a lie here – it’s not Shinji’s bankai that is revealed, but rather his shikai. Anyway, let’s just jump into it.
Yammy appears to have defeated Chad, Renji and Rukia in chapter 378, ‘Eyes of the Victor’. Ichigo descends from above, and is able to lure Yammy away so he can unleash a full power attack.
Ichigo’s attack barely even scratches Yammy in chapter 379, ‘Falta de Armonia’. Ichigo tries to fight, but he is unable to Hollowfy again. Just as things look bleak, Byakuya and Kenpachi arrive.
Kenpachi ends up fighting Yammy in chapter 380, ‘Devil, Devil, Devil, Devil’, though not before he’s smacked Ichigo around a bit. Byakuya tells Ichigo to go back to the world of the living, which he is now able to do thanks to an experimental Garganta created by Mayuri. Captain Unohana says that she will accompany Ichigo as well.
Ichigo and Unohana make their way to the world of the living in chapter 381, ‘Words Just Don’t Like You’. On their way their, Unohana confirms that Ichigo hasn’t seen Aizen’s shikai, and as such, he’s the only one able to fight him.
As Ichigo and Unohana press forward in chapter 382, ‘The United Front 2 (Discordeque Mix)’, Ichigo says that he currently has less than half his power – signified by the state of his shihakushô. Unohana decides to take the opportunity to properly restore his spiritual pressure whilst they make their way to the world of the living.
Kenpachi and Byakuya end up fighting, with Yammy getting caught up in the middle of their dispute.
Yammy only gets angrier, and bigger, in chapter 383, ‘TOO EARLY TO TRUST’.
In the world of the living, Shinji entrusts Hiyori to Hachigen’s care whilst Aizen mocks him.
Tôsen says that Aizen has granted him a power far greater than bankai.
Tôsen Hollowfies in chapter 384, ‘Can’t Fear Your Own Sword’. He almost immediately cuts down Shuhei, and easily defends himself from Komamura’s attack. Though Shuhei is injured, he is not out of the fight and uses his zanpaku-tô to get close to his foe. However, he gets stabbed.
Komamura then uses his bankai.
Aizen draws his sword against Shinji in chapter 385, ‘Vice It’, but then Shinji uses his shikai, Sakanade.
Turns out that wounding the giant created from Komamura’s bankai will also wound Komamura himself. Tôsen then starts spouting off about justice before revealing that he as a Resurreción. It is called Suzumushi Hyakushiki, Grillar Grillo.
Tôsen gains sight after using Resurreción in chapter 386, ‘Bells Are Blue’. With his new power, Tôsen is able to overwhelm Komamura’s bankai. Just as Komamura is at Tôsen’s mercy, Shuhei delivers an attack that the blind Tôsen would have seen coming. He then release his shikai, and Tôsen returns to the darkness once more.
The volume ends there. It’s nice to catch up with the group in Hueco Mundo, even though Yammy completely curbstomps Chad, Renji and Rukia. Seeing Byakuya and Kenpachi bicker was quite funny, particularly with how Yammy pretty much became an afterthought.
Tôsen was blinded by sight in the end, ultimately making his Resurección pointless. Though I suppose the battle may have gone a different way had Tôsen not chosen to Hollowfy. The final moment of the battle with Shuhei delivering a fatal blow is still a pretty great moment, though.
Shinji’s shikai (not bankai, despite what the blurb says) is also hinted at in this volume – though we’ve got to wait to actually see what it can do.