As they fall towards Kirio Hikifune's palace, Renji and Ichigo squabble over which of them will break the other's fall. They discover that Kon had hidden himself in Ichigo's robes and use him to cushion their landing.
After Kirio greets them, she prepares a banquet for them to feast upon. While Ichigo initially thinks that there will be a catch to being fed, Kirio notes that being around Kisuke Urahara has made him overly suspicious. While she goes to make dessert, Renji, Ichigo and Kon dine. Ichigo wonders if it is alright for them to be treated to hot springs and feasts while those in Seireitei prepare for battle, but Renji reassures him that they need to be fully recovered before they can train hard.
Kirio returns with the dessert, having become much slimmer, leaving the trio bewildered. She explains that when she cooks, she uses up her reiatsu and thus she tries to put on as much weight as possible to counter the weight loss that results from cooking.
Kirio tells them that the Royal Guard members have all contributed something significant to the history of Soul Society as recognized by the Soul King. Kirio is responsible for the creation of Artificial Souls and she used the same principals to strengthen their reiatsu via their food. She then warns them that in the next palace they will meet Ōetsu Nimaiya, the man who made the Zanpakutō.
Оэцу Нимайя с толпой девушек торжественно встречает Ичиго, Ренджи и Кона в своём «Дворце феникса». Он представляется и заставляет их тоже исполнить «официальное приветствие». Но тут веселье останавливает Мера. Она отводит Ичиго, Ренджи и приунывших Кона и Оэцу в настоящий дворец феникса, выглядящий, как хибарка, где первые двое, окружённые гневом своих духовных мечей, должны доказать, что они достойны держать меч, выкованный создателем духовных мечей номер один.
While Ōetsu is told that Ichigo and Renji have arrived, Kon complains about the two Shinigami using as a cushion to land and that he was dragged away from the last palace by them despite wanting to stay. The trio are loudly greeted by Ōetsu, who identifies himself as the number one Zanpakutō creator. He brings them to a building where they are welcomed by a number of ladies and formally introduces himself, forcing them to perform an elaborate formal greeting.
Mera interrupts Ōetsu and has the group follow her to a hut on the edge of a precipice. She states that the hut is the real Hōōden and that her master does not like to acknowledge that he lives there. Ichigo and Renji step inside and fall a short distance. Ōetsu tells them that he is the only Shinigami there and that the other people are actually Zanpakutō. He notes Ichigo's inability to discern the difference and states that they have no love for Zanpakutō which is why they cannot tell the difference and then shatters Renji's Zanpakutō, saying that a Zanpakutō that is not loved breaks easily. As they notice beings around them, Ōetsu states that the wrath of the Zanpakutō is around them and that if they can get out alive then he will reforge their blades.
Ichigo and Renji find themselves pitted in a test of combat with nameless Zanpakutō, which Nimaiya reveals to be the Asauchi. Nimaiya explains that the Asauchi every member of the Gotei 13 is given upon graduation from the Shin'ō Academy is essentially a blank template, and that over time the essence of the wielder's soul is projected onto the blade, thus creating the wielder's personal Zanpakutō. These Asauchi are all made by Nimaiya himself. Nimaiya further explains that the Asauchi feel anger towards Ichigo and Renji, because of their incorrect usage of their Zanpakutō, and finally questions who is truly superior in the relationship between Shinigami and Zanpakutō.
Meanwhile, on the lowest floor of the Central Underground Prison, "Muken," Zaraki Kenpachi and Unohana enter a dark cavernous space. Unohana explains that this is the only place she and Zaraki could freely fight, and that it was only due to special permission from the captain-commander that they were permitted there.
Under normal circumstances, those who are not criminals would not be allowed there, to which Zaraki states that if not for their strength they would be deemed criminals themselves. Unohana gives Kenpachi a chilling look, and remarking upon how talkative he has been, reveals a scar above her heart. Unohana says her wound is throbbing, and Kenpachi echoes her, pointing at the scar over his left eye.
In another room Captain Commander Kyōraku remarks upon the strength of the original Gotei 13, and says that their 11th Division Captain (Unohana) was famed for her mastery of different swords and schools of swordsmanship, taking the name "Yachiru." He then says that when Zaraki and Unohana clash, it is inevitable that one of them will die. Back in Muken, the two jump towards each other and the fight begins.
Исане в слезах, прочитав записку от Уноханы. Ячиру обнаруживает повязку Зараки. Меж тем первая и последний Кенпачи снова сражаются не на жизнь, а на смерть.
Isane enters Unohana's room and finds a note with her name on it. Meanwhile, Yachiru enters Kenpachi's room and finds his eyepatch on a cushion. One readthrough of the note leaves Isane in tears, while Yachiru understands with sadness what Kenpachi leaving behind his eyepatch means.
Unohana and Zaraki continue fighting. Unohana easily dodges Zaraki's strike and slices the side of his throat, wheeling him across the room. Zaraki lunges at her, but to no avail as Unohana kicks away his armed hand. She then preceeds to behead him, but he manages to dodge and throw her off just in time. The two charge at each other, swords clashing and face to face. Unohana commends that he is wise enough to remove his eyepatch before coming to fight her. However, she calls him pathetic, asking him if this is the extent of his power. With her free hand, she plunges a dagger into his back and goes back a distance. She says that he cannot possibly enjoy fighting where one arm idles by. Zaraki scoffs at her round-about tactics to damage him, and exclaims that she is no longer the person he once respected. Unohana retorts that one does not use the word 'respect' when addressing the enemy, especially in a fight to the death.
With Zaraki cornered against a tree and her sword inches from his throat, she tells him that she hasn't changed and that in their previous fight, he never gave her a chance to use those 'round-about' tactics. Zaraki states that he worshiped her, and that he felt fear for the first time in their fight; he wanted to fight like her. He demands if he's going to die without knowing what it's like to defeat her, but Unohana proceeds to impale him by his throat. Dazed for a moment, Zaraki regains his self-control finds his sword clashing against her's. Unohana remarks that he seemed to have lost consciousness for a brief second. Zaraki wonders what just happened, but casts the thought away and states that it is time to use his basic instincts, not his brain. Unohana notes that he will not die; he grows stronger everytime he is on the brink of death, and that it is the oversight he imposed on himself, as well as her sin.
Унохана вспоминает свою первую встречу с Кенпачи. Она говорит про себя, что это из-за неё он стал так слаб. Она была его первым противником, близким к нему по силе, но всё же она была слабее его. Кенпачи боялся потерять её и никогда больше не испытать такое наслаждение от битвы, поэтому он подсознательно сдерживал свою силу. Но она заметила, что находясь на грани смерти, Кенпачи немного расслабляет эти «оковы», и она говорит, что будет убивать его и лечить, пока он не станет прежним.
While being hurled across the arena, Zaraki struggles to discover why he keeps suddenly losing consciousness in the middle of the fight. He feels nostalgic as it happened once before.
Meanwhile, Unohana thinks back to a time when she was on a mission in Rukongai. Her subordinate arrives at her presence and informs her that no matter how much he searched, he will be able to find a single person in Rukongai strong enough to satisfy her. Unohana remarks that he realized her real intentions. The subordinate states that the mission is to "subjugate the warriors on the outskirts of Rukongai to keep the peace in Seireitei", and that if there wasn't such a reason there would be no need to send someone like her. He further tells her that he considers that the size of the mountain of corpses beside them represents the amount of her displeasure. Then, a young Zaraki suddenly appears on top of the mountains. Zaraki and Unohana immediately face off, and Unohana states she never thought she'd find so much pleasure facing a child.
Back in the present, the two Kenpachis continue to battle. Zaraki realizes that he is now fighting by reflex, instead of reacting to the sword like before. He feels that every time he regains his consciousness, he feels like he's been reborn. In her thoughts, Unohana remarks that Zaraki probably did not realize that he was restraining his fighting power to the extreme all along. She also notes that during their previous fight, they both enjoyed an experience they've never felt before and he found pleasure in fighting to the limit. She was weaker than him, and he had to restrain his power to make the fight longer, as he was afraid of losing the only opportunity to enjoy a fight. He got weaker because of her worthlessness. She noted that as Zaraki fought more fights to the verge of death, he was releasing his shackles and growing back to his normal self. As Unohana impales Zaraki with her sword, she thinks that she will kill Zaraki a hundred thousand times and heal him again and again, until he returns to his former self, even after he surpasses her. Engulfed with blood, Zaraki strikes Unohana down her entire body.
Битва Уноханы и Кенпачи продолжается. Она использует банкай. Оба продолжают размышлять про себя.
The battle between Unohana and Zaraki continues with Zaraki continuing to sustain wounds from Unohana's sword. Unohana taunts hims saying he has no idea why she chose to master healing and then proceeds to activate her Bankai, telling him that 'the play is over.' (The exact details of Unohana's bankai are unclear at this point and speculation will not be added)
As Zaraki despairs over Unohana dying, she thinks to herself that he is like a child. She notes that he has recovered his full strength and that while many battles may now be very one-sided and boring, he has an enemy worthy of his power, allies he can face as equals and a new partner that has awaken with him. As Unohana notes that she has now relinquished everything, including the name "Kenpachi", she is glad to be able to die having fulfilled her purpose.
Zaraki begins to hear a voice, which claims to have watched over him. His Zanpakutō begins to tell him its name.
Meanwhile, in the Soul King Palace, Nimaiya tells Renji that after three full days he has passed the test. However, Ichigo has failed. Ichigo insists that he can still pass the test, but Nimaiya tells him that the Asauchi did not choose him and there is no point in carrying on. He states that the test has proved that Renji is a true Shinigami. He opens a path home for Ichigo and tells him not to return to Soul Society, as it is a place for Shinigami, not Humans who do not have a Zanpakutō. Ichigo asks what will happen to Zangetsu, but Nimaiya states that he will not heal him. As Ichigo charges at him, Nimaiya sends him home, afterward stating that Ichigo does not understand what it means that the Asauchi refused to choose him and that he has been able to fight all along without wielding one. He states that Ichigo needs to learn of his roots, even if he never comes back.
Ичиго возвращается в мир живых. Он не хочет попадаться на глаза отцу и убегает к Унагии, но Ишшин быстро находит его. Они возвращаются домой. Ишшин рассказывает, как он встретил Масаки.
Ichigo returns to the Human World to find that his body has been moved from Urahara's shop. Unable to face his father, Ichigo wanders around in the rain until he gets to Ikumi's home. She dries Ichigo's clothing and, as he thanks her, she proceeds to hit him in the face with an extremely hot bun. Ichigo apologizes for always skipping his job, only for Ikumi to headbutt him in the face and tell him he should do his job properly. She goes on to tell Ichigo that ever since she hired him, she has felt like she is an older sister to him and that he should know that he can rely on her. When Ichigo points that she is over ten years older than he is, she attempts to punch him in the face because Ichigo thought that she was joking.
Their shouting match is interrupted when a customer, who turns out to be Isshin dressed in his full Shinigami uniform, shows up, though Ikumi is unable to see him. Ichigo thanks Ikumi and she lets him borrow her umbrella. He leaves, forgetting his Substitute Shinigami Badge. When they arrive home, Isshin attempts to lighten the mood, only for Ichigo to ask if he knew what had happened. Isshin says that he knows about Ichigo's Bankai being broken and that the Royal Guard showed up, thanks to Urahara. Isshin says that he is not surprised that his son was sent back because he knows nothing about himself, shocking and angering Ichigo. Isshin says it is time that he told him about his mother. At some point in the past Masaki saved Isshin's life and revealed that she was a Quincy.
Nimaiya notes that Renji did not protest against Ichigo being cast away. He explains further that no matter how hard Ichigo would have tried, it would have been useless. He goes on to say that all Shinigami are given an Asauchi and that they can make it their own Zanpakutō through training, and that not a single Shinigami has managed to awaken their Zanpakutō without an Asauchi. He then states that Ichigo has to find out about his soul.
Isshin explains to Ichigo about an event when he was the captain of the 10th Division, then known as Isshin Shiba. His Lieutenant, Rangiku Matsumoto, spends some time tracking him down and borrows a tray from some bystanders, throwing it at her captain, who is hiding in a tree. Isshin catches the tray before it hits his face, but Matsumoto kicks the tray into it. As he complains, Matsumoto tells him to get back to work. Isshin and Matsumoto begin squabbling Isshin's status as a captain and the head of the Shiba family and him neglecting to do his work. Isshin then makes a remark about Matsumoto's breasts, which causes her to assault him.
The two then convene with Tōshirō Hitsugaya, then the third seat, and he announces that his has finished with a stack of papers. Isshin praises Hitsugaya and says that he could become the new captain, to which Matsumoto objects. Hitsugaya then reports that in Naruki City, two Shinigami had died in the previous month, as well as the Shinigami in charge before that. Isshin rushes off to investigate, and Hitsugaya stops Matsumoto from pursuing him.
Meanwhile, Captains Gin Ichimaru and Kaname Tōsen are at a computer, when Sōsuke Aizen enters. Tōsen reports that their current attempts at Hollowfication are too virulent and do not work normal souls, nor those of Division members. Aizen says not to worry, as he is about to find Shinji Hirako and the Visored and carry out Hollowfication experiments at the same time, telling Gin and Tōsen to be patient.
Квинси-сирота Масаки Куросаки принята в семью Исид. Очевидно, глава семьи хочет, чтобы она вышла замуж за её сына, Рюукена, чтобы сохранить чистую родословную квинси. Ишшин Шиба отправляется в Наруки на расследование смертей своих подчинённых. Вскоре появляется странный пустой и убивает двух синигами, патрулировавших город.
Two Shinigami are patrolling Naruki City on a cloudy night. One of them says to the other that the two Shinigami before them died on a rainy night. Isshin, who had been following them, notes that it is good information that rainy nights are dangerous. When the two Shinigami ask why he is there, Isshin makes the excuse that he was looking for a toilet. Isshin then tells the two to leave if it starts raining.
Meanwhile, at the Ishida household, Ryūken Ishida's mother asks Masaki how school is going, as well as the "holy training". Masaki says that she is making slow progress, and Ryūken's mother reprimands her, saying that Masaki is the last of the Kurosaki family, and that she is supposed to be training as a Quincy. Ryūken enters and tells his mother that she is being too loud. She responds by saying that she is going to her room and that she will have Ryūken's food prepared. Ryūken inquires about his father, and his mother replies by saying that she does not know when he will return. Ryūken apologizes to Masaki for his mother's behavior, and she tells him not to worry. Katagiri, the maid, tells Ryūken that the meal is ready and asks what is the matter. Ryūken replies that his mother arranged for him and Masaki to marry, but is unsure of whether Masaki will be happy. Katagiri says that Ryūken's concern is kind, and that his kindness will make Masaki happy. Ryūken says that he wants Masaki to be happy because if she is not, she cannot look at the Quincy's future positively.
Meanwhile, it has started to rain in Naruki City. The two Shinigami argue about whether they should return to Soul Society. Isshin tries to attract Hollows with reiatsu. He then finds the two Shinigami dead, and a Hollow nearby.