Score: A

Wow, this episode absolutely let Rukia shine as brightly as she has always deserved to. Her potential was shown off and it allowed for a fantastic showdown. Outside of the early focus on the Quincy and the little scenes with Ichigo, this episode was all Rukia! In a way this really is a satisfying payoff to something that’s been building up since the show began. At its core this series really started with Rukia meeting Ichigo. Everything built up from there until we reached the arc that’s currently playing out. So it is satisfying to have Rukia get to show off how powerful she has the potential to be. And right now it’s still just potential. She’s going to need a long time to truly master her Shikai and Bankai. But even right now she’s got the ability to fight extremely well.

Rukia is just awesome in this episode

Having Rukia ascend with Ichigo and the others last season really was the start of everything. Because this episode makes clear that Rukia needed certain training and support if she was going to truly tap into her power. It’s all or nothing with her. Sode no Shirayuki is a sword with high potential, but also is extremely difficult to use properly. Previously Rukia really couldn’t use it to its full potential. She could make small freezing zones or fire reasonably powerful streams of cold/snow at enemies. The reveal with her sword though shows that she simply couldn’t use it as intended with her past abilities. Rukia needed the ability to control her power to a much higher degree to avoid killing herself via her own sword. It took time to learn to tolerate dropping her internal temperature so low and being able to pull herself back out of it again.

Rukia is like Renji in that her powers are kind of being reworked since they simply weren’t strong enough originally. Though I think it’s a bit smoother a process with Rukia compared to Renji. Since we never did see her use Bankai before now. And it also makes total sense why Rukia simply couldn’t use her sword properly until she reached a high enough level of ability. The difference between having a key to a lock and not having one.

None of that looks comfortable

What I love about Sode no Shirayuki is the difficulty level. It isn’t like some swords that are straight forward to handle. For Rukia there is a high degree of control required. Even using her Bankai for a moment almost resulted in her hands falling apart! It’s very strong, but very tricky. But that does mean if she can steadily improve her control then she’ll be far more powerful than a lot of others in Soul Society. Even in this fight Rukia had to deal with the tricky nature of her sword. She was safe from As Nodt’s attacks, but only once she dropped her temperature to a low enough point. If she’d taken a hit right at the start, then she would have been taken in by his power before she could fight back.

This arc has really leaned into the creepy aspect of both the Quincy and Soul Reapers. It’s kind of scary having Rukia talking about basically being a corpse and fighting that way. Similar in a way to Komamura’s last stand as well. Once Rukia got going, she was basically unstoppable. As Nodt couldn’t do much early on because she simply couldn’t feel fear. And Rukia demolished him showing how much she could do as she dropped the internal temperature. Even cutting that guy up severely but leaving him unable to bleed since his insides were being frozen solid. The scary thing is that Rukia can accomplish a lot, but she also needs time to pull herself back. If she goes beyond what she is capable of handling then she’ll be the one taking damage from all this.

One more look at this lovely Bankai

I should find more to talk about…but I’ve got to talk about Rukia’s Bankai! That thing is almost as much a one-shot missile as Soi Fon’s Bankai. Her body can’t handle using it for very long and it certainly isn’t meant for constant combat. But wow! It gets the job done and lives up to the “most beautiful snow type Zanpakutō.” She is gorgeous in that quiet yet powerful state. She’s basically turned into a beautiful snow statue herself. Just unleashing incredible power and left silent in an area frozen solid. So, key for her to carefully thaw herself out before her body falls apart. It can be a self-destructive Zanpakutō if mishandled.

The music deserves some real credit as well. The ED song was good to play through Rukia’s attack and the aftermath was even more memorable thanks to the musical accompaniment. The sound of Rukia exhaling just adding weight to the scene. The fight was over, but Rukia’s survival depended on safely releasing her Bankai.

Byakuya back and looking confidant

Byakuya’s involvement in this episode was perfectly handled. It only felt right for him to be there since As Nodt defeated him earlier and Rukia is his sister. I don’t mind at all having him help her out a bit since As Nodt is difficult to handle. But I’m also glad the didn’t take over the fight. He showed enough to be able to sense his growth, but not enough to take Rukia’s moment away from her. Instead it showed a wonderful point in the development of that familial relationship. In the past; Byakuya has supported Rukia’s execution and he’s shown up to save her from danger. But this time he was there to support and acknowledge her strength. That meant more to Rukia than winning this fight without him ever showing up would have. They really have become a family.

This guy was something!

I probably should acknowledge As Nodt in this episode XD. The show did handle him well. We got to see some of his backstory and how much Yhwach means to him. This person gave him power and the ability to leave the painful existence on a hospital bed. That feeling of loyalty and gratitude mixed in with a powerful fear of angering Yhwach. This guy was a creepy piece of work. Full credit to his voice actor Yoshitsugu Matsuoka. That guy has some amazing range. He can be as calm and collected as needed…and then go full psycho! This guy can go from Kirito (SAO) to Petelgeuse (Re:Zero) at the drop of a hat! And he leaned into the latter when As Nodt started to become truly deranged. My condolences to Rukia who had to deal with that!

Hero on the move!

Thank goodness Ichigo is on the move. I’m sure the training the show didn’t reveal will get shown in a flashback or something later. But he’s clearly ready to go and appears confident. The big issue of course is that the fighting is already going on and he’s only starting to make his way. I do love the absolute certainty that he can turn things around no matter how it is looking. Ichigo has gone through a lot and I’m sure he’s nowhere close to the guy he was when he came up there originally. Thankfully he’s looking ready to fight and just has to get himself to the battlefield.

Maybe this was a bad idea?

The picture of how bad things might get is becoming clear though. Defeating the Sternritter is fine, but it’s almost pointless. If Yhwach is absorbing the powers of those defeated then the power balance isn’t changing all that much. Well I suppose you can say the situation is getting worse since one extremely powerful guy is probably harder to deal with than a small group of relatively weaker guys. If Ichigo can’t surpass Yhwach’s strength then there’s not much the Soul Reapers can do no matter how many people they throw at him.

My condolences to Ishida who is continually being reminded what a psycho group he’s joined. His “rescue” of their fallen allies actually meant nothing since they were executed for having lost! They were actually better off where they were with the chance that they might not be immediately killed by the Soul Reapers. I guess we can say Hitsugaya and Soi Fon won their fights then? I mean their opponents are now dead and it’s because of the results of those fights. Ishida has really gotten himself into it now. He did ingest that guy’s blood which means…he’s kind of in trouble here. I’m sure he’s getting a power boost out of it, but is that really worth the cost?

This episode had some wild visuals

Honestly, this was one fantastic episode. The last episode was great and this one just kept it going. I’m glad for Rukia. She got her chance to shine and took full advantage. Not sure how many times we’ll see her Bankai before the show ends. But it left an impression! I can’t wait to see Ichigo arrive on the scene, but that will probably take a while longer. The problem is going to be whenever Yhwach makes his move. He’s getting stronger by the second and if he can still use Yamamoto’s Bankai (which seems possible) then he’ll be even more dangerous. But this is a moment for celebration. Can worry about the attack Yachiru and Isane are dealing with later.

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An older member at 25, yet a new addition to Anime Evo. Recently graduating University and in the difficult point between school and a true career. Anime being a salvation and blogging a good way to put all those hours of writing essays to some use. Enjoys talking about series, yet not taking on so many that the quality dips. A Canadian who enjoys his anime and hearing what others think about the series he enjoys watching.

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