Today we’ll look at more Hueco Mundo shenanigans. This recap covers episodes 190-212. The end of this arc includes a look into the past of Soul Society which is definitely a highlight for this arc. We ended last part with Ichigo defeating Grimmjow. Now Nnoitra shows up and attempts to kill Grimmjow for losing. Ichigo defends his fallen foe. Nel, or Nelliel Tu Odelschwanck, turns out to be the former third Espada. She has a past with Nnoitra, who fought with her repeatedly until eventually him and Szayelaporro devised a plan to defeat her and throw her, Pesche and Dondochakka out of Las Noches. Nel eventually reverts back to her old form and gets beaten by Nnoitra who then turns his ire to Ichigo. When all is dire and about to go horribly wrong, the captains show up.
Byakuya and the Seventh Espada both show up at Rukia’s body, who is still alive but just barely. With controlling abilities the Seventh Espada holds a decent fight but eventually loses to Byakuya. Unohana heals Sado and the Privaron Espada that Sado was fighting before.
Renji and Ishida have been struggling against Szayelaporro who uses his abilities to make little voodoo dolls of them. In these voodoo dolls are body part tokens he crushes to deal severe damage to his opponents. While the fight is going on, Pesche and Dondochakka combine efforts to shoot a combined cero at the Espada, who they clearly have beef with. It unfortunately fails but who shows up but Kurotsuchi Mayuri. Mayuri and Szayelaporro have a battle of wits and Mayuri is by far the more insane one, almost sacrificing Nemu, but winning eventually, leaving the Espada stuck in a permanent state of suffering.
Elsewhere, Zaraki Kenpachi and Nnoitra are fighting. Both are beasts and have a very animalistic approach to fighting. After being put on the ropes, Kenpachi eventually decides to use both arms to hold his sword and demolishes what is left of Nnoitra, bringing an end to the angry Espada. Now the fifth, sixth, seventh, eight and ninth Espada are out of commission with only Grimmjow and Szayelaporro still alive. As the captains are regrouping and explaining that plan that Soul Society has, Starrk shows up and kidnaps Orihime again, bringing her to Aizen’s tower. Ulquiorra is left in charge of Las Noches as Aizen, Ichimaru and Tosen make their way for the fake Karakura town to fight the captains gathered there. Joining them are the first, second and third Espada. Ichigo and Ulquiorra clash. I’ve kept this part as short as I possibly can, because it’s just people fighting without a ton of substance. There is some, of course, but you’d have to (re)watch the show for that and not read a recap. What comes next is more interesting, so let’s dive into the past of the Soul Society.
Urahara Kisuke is an enigma. We know he is important to the plot, we know he is able to fend off two espada, albeit not ones trying their hardest by any means, and we know he’s been living in the human world for a long time. The question is why. The answer, we’re about to find out.
The story takes us back in time, 110 years before the current timeline and into a different Soul Society with different yet recognizable captains. The main difference is all of the visoreds. They’re either captains or lieutenants. Rojuro (Rose), Love, Kensei and Hirako are all captains with Lisa, Mashiro and Hiyori are lieutenants. The Soul Society is at a turning point here since Zaraki just recently replaced the previous squad 11 captain by killing him and the twelfth squad captain position is also empty. Yoruichi, who is the leader of squad 2 at this point, recommends her third seat; Urahara Kisuke for the position of Captain.
After being promoted to captain of the twelfth division, Urahara and his lieutenant, Hiyori, who doesn’t respect him at all, head over to the Maggot’s nest. The Maggot’s Nest is a prison on the grounds of squad two. This is where they keep anyone who could be a danger to society. Not people who’ve committed a crime, but people they think might post a problem in the future. Pretty fucked up stuff. One of the people there, locked up all alone in a cell in the back, is Kurotsuchi Mayuri. Urahara convinces him to come work for his squad and eventually he accepts. Squad 12 is promptly turned into the department of research and development.
An important bit of information here is that at this point in time Aizen is Hirako’s lieutenant.
We once again jump to a different time period. Nine years ahead, which makes this 101 years before the current events of Bleach. Urahara, Kurotsuchi, Akon, Hiyori and their squad are fully in charge of the department of research and development at this point and Urahara has been working on a new type of gigai. Meanwhile, people have been disappearing in the Rukon district and Kensei and Mashiro go to investigate. There they are ambushed by Aizen Sosuke, Ichimaru Gin and Kaname Tosen, who had been a squad member of Kensei’s. When Urahara is warned, he sends Hiyori to help out. The captain commander then sends over Lisa, Rose, Love, Shinji and Hachi. He demands Urahara stay behind. When they all get there, they find that both Mashiro and Kensei have been hollowfied somehow and are much more powerful than they were before.
The fight is going poorly and all of the current day visoreds are eventually infected by this hollowfication. Urahara and Tessai show up at this point. Tessai was the leader of the kido department and Hachi’s superior. The two of them manage to subdue all of the visoreds while being taunted by Aizen and his crew. Aizen leaves and Urahara and Tessai spend all night trying to stabilize the visoreds’ condition. They succeed somewhat, but are promptly arrested by Central 46. They believe Urahara and Tessai are the ones behind the hollowfication project and not Aizen. To be fair, Urahara has been working on some crazy stuff, including the Hogyoku that he uses to stabilize the Visoreds. The two are sentenced but not before the real protagonist of Bleach; Shihoin Yoruichi shows up. She knocks out a whole bunch of guards and helps the two of them, including the visoreds who were going to be executed by Central 46, escape to their underground lair. How can anyone say Ichigo is the main character when Yoruichi is such a boss? Urahara did predict he might have to flee at some point, so he has gigai prepared for all of them. Yoruichi doesn’t even need one, she’s confident enough she can escape on her own. They all make their way to the world of the living where they have been staying until modern day. Speaking of modern day, the captains aren’t the only ones getting ready for battle. The visoreds acknowledge that they owe Kisuke big time, and although they don’t like the Gotei 13 for abandoning them the way they have, which is extremely fair, they obviously have a debt to pay to Aizen. Man the visoreds are so cool, which makes the fullbringers later on such a bigger disappointment for being boring. And just like that, we start the big fight for Karakura town, Soul Society and the Ouken.