Episode 342: Most Emotional Moment in Bleach History
Everything led up to this very heart-breaking moment
Ah, man. That was soooo emotional and heavy. If you have been on this Bleach journey since the beginning, everything leads up to this episode, 342: Ichigo finally losing all of his Shinigami powers. *weeps*. I choked, I got teary-eyed. I felt that heavy heart. It was painful, but man was it a GLORIOUS episode that sits on the pedestal among the very best moments in Bleach history.
We knew it was coming for a long time, as the episodes prior and the Mod Soul arc showed his inevitable decline. He always chose to help anyone in need, no matter if the consequence sped up the process of losing his powers. That stubbornness is why Ichigo overcame many life- threatening difficulties up to now. His unwavering dedication to protect.
So here we are. Episode 342. With a heavy heart, let’s break down this emotional episode for everyone… I’m not crying, you are!
The episode opens up to Ichigo fighting a flying hollow in the World of the Living, struggling to deal with it on his own. Rukia steps in to help with Hado 33: sokatsui lightning kido, before Imoyama-san confronts the two. He lightens up the mood as Ichigo always call him that, BUT his actual name is Kurumadani, haha. His name has been a running joke since forever, making for a giggle or two. (Don’t forget when Ichigo was in Final Getsuga form, pausing to remember his name before calling him Imoyama-san in that cool pose. Hilarious).
This episode focuses a lot on Rukia and Ichigo’s relationship, bond and time together, with more presence for Ichigo’s friends that show the shift of Ichigo becoming more human, and a lack of screen time for the thirteen court guard entirely, save for Rukia and cameo Imoyama-san. The secrecy of Rukia’s mission intrigue’s Ichigo, but she brushes it off.
‘I’ll go back when my mission is done‘.
With all the action that has gone on in Soul Society, we see normal life things like Ichigo forgetting to pick up some food for Karin to cook dinner. He’s slowly transitioning back to life before he became a Shinigami, again highlighting more of his changing life without his powers.
Ichigo continues to struggle with another hollow this time at a park, as he tries to protect a wandering kid’s soul, only for Ishida to save Ichigo from the hollow’s attack. Ichigo plays off his lack of being able to handle the hollows. Rukia and Ishida chase towards other hollows that appear, leaving Ichigo to do a konso (soul burial). They reveal their true concern for Ichigo’s accelerating decline in his spiritual pressure – the mod soul candy only temporarily restored Ichigo’s reiatsu (spiritual pressure) during the Mod Soul arc, and is dropping rapidly quicker than expected. Rukia suspects Ichigo can no longer do a shunpo (flash step).
There’s a scene at the river where Ichigo approaches Rukia and how she has been acting strange around him lately and asks if there was anything she wanted to say.
She says ‘yes’ and is about to get everything off her chest… before Ichigo interrupts:
“it’s okay, you don’t have to tell me.”
A close-up of her gob-smacked face tells it all, making for a hilarious scene thereafter and light-hearted flute music to add to the giggle. Ichigo though, interprets it differently and ends up taking Rukia to the ice-skating rink she was looking at earlier, joining Inoue, Ishida, Sado, Keigo and everyone else for some fun.
We only ever hear name-drops of Byakuya and the voice of Ukitake, but it’s clear that the focus is solely on the World of the Living, not to distract this ever-so-important episode and moment in Bleach.
ice-skating with the gang
Rukia and Ichigo share a nice bonding moment together ice-skating, while the rest of the gang freely and enjoyably skate around the rink. It’s the first time we’ve seen everyone together like this. No stress, no worries.. well besides Rukia and Keigo trying not to fall. Ichigo and Sado to the rescue.
But it feels like we’re forgetting something or someone… right?
Correct! Half-way through, it’s about time Kon was brought into scene and we see him packed into one of their backpacks, who unzips himself and complains why he has to be stuck inside while everyone’s out having fun.
A funny scene ensues when a little girl stops by and talks over to her mom in the background, saying how a strange plushy toy was speaking. Her mom naturally doesn’t believe her, but Kon is heavily sweating the more she just stands around. All of a sudden fireworks light up the sky, with both the girl and Kon looking up. Love the humour.
And that cues the last we see of Kon. It’s a shame as his relationship with Ichigo is super funny and conflicted, but Kon ultimately really cares about him. I can understand why as the episode revolves around Ichigo and Rukia which makes absolute sense, and is the right thing to do given their history, but I can’t help but miss Kon’s presence after all of his emotional scenes in the Mod Soul arc. Kon どこですか？？
The fireworks scene is a pleasant change of pace as everyone stops and gathers to admire the illuminated nightsky. As they all bid goodnight to each other and go separate ways, Kon is seen sleeping in the backpack Rukia carries. Ichigo and Rukia chat on their way back home.
‘Rukia, How did you know where I was?… I had lost control back then‘, flashing back to when he became a full hollow in the Mod Soul arc, uncontrollably losing all sense of himself.
They’re interrupted by Rukia’s phone though as it soon after alerts of a hollow nearby, prompting Ichigo to change into his Shinigami form. This one is a biggie as tall as the apartment buildings in downtown Karakura, with spirit music setting the atmosphere.
the very last time
The music is fitting to this scene as we see Ichigo’s power further dwindling, taking somehits and no longer able to move as he could before. After Rukia grabbed Ichigo and shunpos away on top of a building, Ichigo apologises to Rukia.
‘Sorry, I’m getting in your way’, as he gathers his breath.
I choked. That scene got me emotional in realising how far Ichigo’s power has fallen. So much, that from someone who would stand up and protect his friends and overcome battles, he now feels like a burden on them who only gets in their way. The stark contrast is painful.
‘You fool, don’t say that! You’re not in my way!’, Rukia shouts.
‘If you get hurt, then I’ll support you!’
‘If you can’t move, then I’ll fight in your place!’
‘If you’re in pain, then I’ll bear your pain!’
‘We’re friends, right?!’
Man. I’m choking. Teary stuff and the music hits you right in the feels. It’s got that sense of redemption and vindication, mixed in with sadness and pain. The rallying cry of a warrior to rise up against the enemy… one. last. time.
Ichigo asks Rukia to stop the hollow’s legs, so she calls on her zanpaktou:
With the hollow’s legs now frozen over, Ichigo pours every last spiritual power he has into his next move. His last attack.
He vociferously unleashes a raging blue getsuga tenshou, slicing the hollow in-between the eyes, as it vanishes into thin air.
With Ichigo, struggling to stand, resting on his Zangetsu and deeply catching his breath, he finally clears the air and tells Rukia she doesn’t need to hide stuff she has to say, no matter how things are now.
‘I’ve put you through a lot, haven’t I?’
we’re friends, right?
He collapses and falls onto the ground sluggishly to lie on his back. Ichigo apologises to Rukia for making her stay with him until the very end. Don’t say that mannnn 😭
‘You… fool…’, Rukia swiftly replies.
Ichigo lethargically utters to Rukia: ‘We’re friends… don’t forget that.’
He smiles, closes his eyes before losing consciousness.
Hoo, heavy stuff right there. If you don’t feel the intensity, pain and emotion there and the infinite gratefulness and appreciation Ichigo shows to Rukia of an unbroken bond as friends, you ain’t a Bleach fan. It’s too much! *sob sob*
Ichigo wakes up in his house, on his bed with Ishida, Inoue, Sado and Rukia beside him. Rukia breaks to him he’s going through the second stage of spiritual loss, where he’ll lose everything in a short matter of time.
He takes a moment before calmly understanding ‘it was about time’. Ichigo takes a step outside and can no longer feel spiritual presence around the area – he no longer feels the wandering souls like he used to.
And for the first time, Ichigo speaks to admit he really is losing his power as violins play in the background, with a sense of melancholy and solemnness. He’s talked knowingly before that it was coming and already accepted his fate, but it’s only until now you could feel he finally understood what it means as reality dawned upon him.
‘it’s about time to say goodbye’ Rukia quietly says to Ichigo. She spouts one last giggle with her cheeks in blush, telling him not to make a sad face and that she can still see him even if he can’t see her. *perverted face*.
‘That doesn’t make me happy, at all!’
‘And I’m not making a sad face!’ Ichigo says jokingly.
He looks down to the ground, when all of a sudden Rukia’s feet start to disappear, slowly making its way up to slow, heart-wrenching effect. This is it. It’s finally happening. Everything he experienced in Soul Society – the battles, the pain, the friendships, he will no longer be able to see or feel any of them. The world of Soul Society through Ichigo’s eyes are no longer visible. It hurts.
The violin’s come to the fore revealing Rukia’s head tilted down as she starts to fade away. The camera pans up and across for one last view of Ishida, Sado, and Inoue solemnly looking to Ichigo.
‘Give everyone my regards’. Ichigo says to Rukia.
Rukia inhales a deep breath, looks up at Ichigo desperately and gasps with crystal eyes for one last glance.
Slowly, solwly, Rukia’s longing face at Ichigo fades away… and she vanishes like she was never there.
In that lasting moment, Ichigo warmingly speaks one last phrase before looking out to the blue, cloudy skies….
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