Author: Tite Kubo
Publisher: Viz Media
American release date: April 2, 2013
Format/Genre/Length: Paperback/Manga/Supernatural/192 pages
Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★★
Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes
Captain General Yamamoto’s battle with Yhwach is done, the foe defeated. So why is the man apologizing… to Lord Yhwach? Because, as it turns out, this man is a mere double, not the terrible Quincy king. Lord Yhwach is alive and ready to continue the battle. But first he admits that he has been a busy boy, visiting the underground great prison, where he made an offer to Aizen, which was refused. And now the battle is done, and Yhwach instructs his Stern Ritter to destroy the Soul Society!
Ichigo is finally able to break out of the cage he was being held in. He makes his way to what is left of the Soul Society, where a seemingly dying Byakuya begs him to please save the Soul Society. Ichigo comes face to face with Yhwach, who doesn’t want him killed. Yhwach hints to Ichigo about information he doesn’t possess, about himself… and about his mother. He plans to overcome Ichigo and take him back with him. But thanks to a trick of Aizen’s, he is out of time and is forced to retreat… for now. He promises Ichigo he will return, though.
The Soul Society begins to licks its wounds in the aftermath of the onslaught, finally able to bring the wounded indoors. Ichigo visits Rukia and Renji in the infirmary but claims he is fine. The issue is tabled when he learns Captain Kurotsuchi wishes to speak with him. Meanwhile the Captains are in disarray themselves, receiving news that while Byakuya and Kenpachi are alive, they may never be themselves again. Sai Fon is beside herself with fury and grief, and the captain are at each other’s throats, until Shunsui calls for their attention and calmly tells them to stop fighting.
Ichigo is devastated when Kurotsuchi tells him his zanpakuto cannot be fixed, although the captain claims that are circumstances. An unexpected blast from the past shows up, but before Ichigo can fathom what happened, Kurotsuchi announces that the Zero Squad have arrived. Who the heck are they?
Turns out they are five captains whose combined strength is greater than that of the entire Thirteen Court Guards! They’ve come to rebuild the Thirteen Court Guard Squads. But first they want to take Ichigo back to the palace! They have four items on their list that they intend to take back with them – Byakuya, Rukia, Renji, and Ichigo. Just then, Kiskue manages to open communications and Ichigo is happy to see that Orihime and Chad are fine. But then Ichigo hears a familiar voice and wants to know what they’re doing with him. Kiskue blows him off and breaks the connection. When Ichigo learns that the Zero Squad can fix his zanpakuto almost as good as new, he’s more than willing to go with them.
This arc is just getting worse and worse. Captain General Yamamoto gone? Yhwach and his cohorts alive? And now these Zero Squad clowns who seem to think they can do whatever they want? I don’t know if I can survive this arc, it’s so depressing. The best thing in this volume is watching Shunsui step up to do what needs to be done as he becomes the new Captain General. Unfortunately, it looks like he has to give up Nanao and has no choice in the matter. His seconds have been chosen for him. Be that as it may, he has business he intends to get down to, including teaching Kenpachi zanjutsu. He can’t be sure the others will return, so he can’t take any chances. But when he comes face to face with Captain Kenpachi, he is in for a surprise.
What will happen next? More heartbreak or the beginning of healing? I don’t see how, not until the Quincies are dealt with. What’s the deal with Ichigo’s mother? And when will Uryu finally make an appearance. Also, are we going to see Aizen’s return? That’s twice now he’s been mentioned, and I have to believe that means something. Looking forward with trepidation to the next volume.