Author: Tite Kubo
Publisher: Viz Media
American release date: December 5, 2006
Format/Genre/Length: Paperback/Manga/Supernatural/208 pages
Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★★
Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes
The date of Rukia’s execution keeps getting pushed forward, and now it’s set for noon the next day! The time that was gained on the passage through the Senkaimon will count for nothing if Ichigo doesn’t figure out how to bankai! Without that, he’s doomed to failure!
Hitsugaya finds himself under attack by none other than Hinamori, to his confusion and consternation. She’s found a letter, in the late Captain Aizen’s hand, blaming his death on none other than the captain of the 10th Company. Of course Toshiro is innocent of the charge, but Momo is in no condition to understand that. It doesn’t help that she is being egged on by the ever-smiling Gin Ichimaru.
Meanwhile, Renji has shown up at the place where Ichigo is training. He wants to train there too, to be ready to save Rukia. He informs Ichigo of the change in date of the execution, which causes Yoruichi dismay. But she continues to have faith in Ichigo’s abilities.
Learning of the change, Rukia seems to be accepting of her fate, as her mind turns to a fallen comrade, Assistant Captain Kaien Shiba, the man whose death she is responsible for. Nothing could have changed what happened, and yet she feels guilty for what she did. No wonder Ganju hates her and doesn’t wish to help her. Shiba was his brother. Captain Ukitake tries to talk to Byakuya, but doesn’t understand his acceptance of Rukia’s fate. His own sister!
Thanks to Kenpachi, Orihime is reunited with Ishida, Chad, and Ganju, but they are confronted by Captain Komamura, Captain Tosen, Hisagi, and Iba. Kenpachi says he’ll take them all on. When Ikkaku and Kumchiki show up, the subordinates go off to fight, leaving the captains to it. For his part, Captain Kyoraku is thinking he’ll be the only one to be yelled at by old man Yama, but he has to do what he feels is right.
The clock is ticking and Rukia’s fate lies in Ichigo’s hands. The backstory of Rukia and Kaien is very poignant and explains much. I enjoy seeing such stories about the characters, which flesh them out. Having already watched the anime, it only adds to my enjoyment and knowledge of them, and sometimes explains things I didn’t realize, or things that went by too fast in the anime.
I like the relationship between Hitsugaya and Hinamori, which never wavers through the series. He is very protective of her, just as Matsumoto is protective of him. The brief scene with Shunsui and Nanao is priceless (in case you hadn’t noticed by now, he is quite my favorite lol).
Of course I already know what’s going on, so I won’t speculate on some things, but it is obvious that there are wheels within wheels. Byakuya’s seeming indifference to his sister’s fate is baffling. Also, what is the health issue which seems to greatly affect Ukitake (if it’s explained in the anime, I missed it). We see little of Ichigo’s companions in this volume, but I found it funny to see both Orihime and Yachiru riding on Kenpachi’s shoulders. Kenny is an interesting man. He lives to fight, without rancor or malice but a simple love of fighting. I would never cross this man, although I suspect he has a good heart deep down, and I love his relationship with Yachiru. Gin is enigmatic as ever, and layered much like an onion. And Komamura with the strange mask – what’s up with that? How does he even see?
Then again, Tosen is blind and he manages, reminding me of Geordi La Forge on Star Trek Next Generation, even down to the visor! The race is on to save Rukia and time is running out. If the hero is going to make a dramatic rescue, he had best do it soon! Another great volume, looking forward to more!