Bleach (season 13)
|Bleach Season 13
Zanpakutō: The Alternate Tale arc
The cover of the first DVD compilation released by Aniplex of Zanpakutō: The Alternate Tale arc
|Country of origin||Japan|
|No. of episodes||36|
|Original channel||TV Tokyo|
|Original run||July 28, 2009– April 6, 2010|
The thirteenth season of the Bleach anime series is based on Tite Kubo's manga with the same name. It is known as the Zanpakutō: The Alternate Tale arc (斬魄刀異聞篇 Zanpakutō Ibun Hen?), is directed by Noriyuki Abe and produced by TV Tokyo, Dentsu, and Studio Pierrot. The episodes' plot focus on a new set of events in which the Soul Reaper's swords, zanpakutō, assume human forms and declare war against their wielders, led by a mysterious man named Muramasa, who is a former zanpakutō.
The season began airing on July 28, 2009 until April 6, 2010 on TV Tokyo in Japan. The English adaptation of the Bleach anime is licensed by Viz Media, and this season began airing on November 12, 2011. Aniplex released the season in a series of nine DVD volumes, each containing the first four episodes, from May 26, 2010 to January 26, 2011.
The episodes use five pieces of theme music: two opening themes and three closing themes. The first opening theme, "Shōjo S" (少女S Shōjo Esu?) by Scandal, and the first ending theme, "Mad Surfer" by Kenichi Asai, are used for episodes 230 to 242. The second opening theme, "Anima Rossa" (アニマロッサ?) by Porno Graffitti, and the second ending theme, "Sakurabito" (さくらびと?, Cherry Blossom Person) by SunSet Swish, are used from episode 243 to 255. The third ending theme, "Tabidatsu Kimi e" (旅立つキミへ?, "Leaving You") by RSP is used for episodes 256 to 265.
|No.||Title||Original airdate||English airdate|
|230||"A New Enemy! The Materialization of Zanpakutō"
"Aratanaru Teki! Zanpakutō Jittaika" (新たなる敵！斬魄刀実体化)
|July 28, 2009||November 12, 2011|
|A mysterious man informs a group of strange beings that it is the time to strike. Ichigo Kurosaki wakes up in Zangetsu's dimension, where Zangetsu asks if Ichigo can hear anything, but thinks it is okay that he cannot. In Seireitei, the captains and lieutenants of Gotei 13 are confused as to why their zanpakutō are not working and feel detached. At night, a group of ryoka attempt to enter Shigekuni Yamamoto-Genryūsai's quarters. Yamamoto and his lieutenant Chōjirō Sasakibe confront the intruders but what they see leaves them in shock. Later, Yamamoto calls all captains and lieutenants to Soukyoku Hill. There they are met by the mysterious man, who calls himself Muramasa. Sajin Komamura tries to attack him with his zanpakutō, Tenken, but Tenken appears in a human form and turns on him, ending the battle by knocking him unconscious with one swing of his blade. The other Soul Reapers attempt to attack, but are also unable to release their zanpakutō. The zanpakutō assume human-like forms and join Muramasa, who states that the Soul Reaper zanpakutō have renounced them and are declaring war.|
|231||"Byakuya, Disappearing with the Cherry Blossoms"
"Byakuya, Sakura to Tomo ni Kiyu" (白哉、桜と共に消ゆ)
|August 4, 2009||November 19, 2011|
|Ichigo finds Rukia Kuchiki injured in the world of the living, whilst a strange woman, who uses Rukia's abilities, is attacking her. It is revealed that this woman is in fact Rukia's zanpakutō, Sode no Shirayuki. Ichigo successfully forces the renegade zanpakutō into submission, and Sode no Shirayuki retreats back to Soul Society. Ichigo brings Rukia to Kisuke Urahara's shop, where she reveals that the Soul Reapers' zanpakutō have attacked their masters, and reveals that Byakuya Kuchiki was seemingly defeated by his own zanpakutō, Senbonzakura. Yoruichi Shihōin returns from investigating Soul Society, and reveals that everyone who met with Muramasa has survived. The remaining Soul Reapers of the Gotei 13 squads have regrouped to the 4th Division headquarters while they try to re-establish their defenses and learn more about the zanpakutō rebellion. Urahara observes that only the zanpakutō in Soul Society are affected and that those in the real world are unaffected, and decides to try to capture one of the materialized zanpakutō in an attempt to learn more about their new enemy. In the middle of the night, Rukia leaves for Soul Society, apparently in search of Byakuya. Ichigo and Yoruichi leave in an attempt to go after Rukia and to save Soul Society.|
|232||"Sode no Shirayuki vs. Rukia! Confused Heart"
"Sode no Shirayuki tai Rukia! Kokoro no Madoi" (袖白雪VSルキア！心の惑い)
|August 11, 2009||November 26, 2011|
|Rukia rushes back to the 6th Division HQ and is reunited with Renji. However, Byakuya's status remains unknown after the night of the zanpakutō' attack. Ichigo and Yoruichi arrive in Soul Society and split up to search for clues. Rukia returns to Byakuya's compound and finds Sode no Shirayuki attacking and freezing Soul Reapers. She tries to reason with her zanpakutō but Shirayuki demands her freedom. After a fierce battle, Rukia loses to Shirayuki and is about to be frozen to death when Ichigo arrives to rescue her. However, due to his reluctance to harm Rukia's zanpakutō, he too is defeated by Shirayuki. Rukia attempts to get Sode no Shirayuki back to her by telling the zanpakutō how important she is to her. Using her kidō powers to restrain Sode no Shirayuki and herself, Rukia attempts to sacrifice them both in order to convince Shirayuki one could not live without the other. The resulting explosion injures Rukia severely. Sode no Shirayuki has a change of heart and attempts to reach out to her mistress, but Muramasa arrives and holds her back. Muramasa introduces himself to Ichigo and states that he is a zanpakutō.|
|233||"Zangetsu Becomes an Enemy"
"Teki to Natta Zangetsu" (敵となった斬月)
|August 18, 2009||December 3, 2011|
|Muramasa sends Sode no Shirayuki away, and Ichigo asks why he wanted the zanpakutō to gain independence over the Soul Reapers. Although he does not give the reason, Muramasa replies that zanpakutō can separate themselves away regardless of being the soul of a Soul Reaper, and he is a good example of one. Ichigo cannot accept this view and attacks him. Muramasa uses illusions to overwhelm Ichigo and pins him to the ground, where he proceeds to drag Zangetsu out of him. Once Zangetsu manifests, he immediately attacks Ichigo. Meanwhile, Mayuri begins experimenting on himself in order to research the zanpakutō's manifestation. After Zangetsu seemingly defeats Ichigo, Ichigo transforms into his hollow form and strikes back, putting Zangetsu on the defensive. Muramasa tries a sneak attack but the hollow immediately regenerates and attacks him. Before the hollow form can do anything else, Ichigo manages to return to his Soul Reaper form and falls unconscious at Muramasa's feet.|
|234||"Renji Surprised?! The Two Zabimarus"
"Renji Kyōgaku!? Futari no Zabimaru" (恋次驚愕!? 2人の蛇尾丸)
|August 25, 2009||December 10, 2011|
|Rukia is found by the 4th Division and sent to recover from her injuries. Hisagi and his men patrol Seireitei and are attacked by the sadistic Kazeshini. Renji searches the ruins for any clues of the missing Byakuya, who was last seen hit by Senbonzakura's attack. He instead encounters Zabimaru in the form of a baboon-woman, "Chimpette", and a snake-boy, "Snakey". Both entities of Zabimaru have no intention of returning to their original owner and attack Renji. According to Zabimaru, the reason it attacks is that as a sword it is its nature to attack. Ichigo wakes up in Zangetsu's dimension, but the old man is missing. He sees Muramasa and attacks him, but the man immediately incapacitates him and summons his inner hollow. Muramasa has begun to take an interest in the hollow and uses his powers to freeze it in place. Thinking that it has been subdued, Muramasa approaches it but the hollow merely tricks him with its act and lashes out straight at him.|
|235||"Clash! Hisagi vs. Kazeshini"
"Gekitotsu! Hisagi tai Kazeshini" (激突！檜佐木VS風死)
|September 1, 2009||December 17, 2011|
|Kyoraku and Ukitake discuss the possibility that defeating the zanpakutō spirits will destroy the zanpakutō themselves. Renji continues fighting with Zabimaru, who taunts him for his weakness. Hisagi fights with Kazeshini, and, disgusted by his desire to take life, plans on killing him even if he loses his zanpakutō. Ichigo's inner hollow fights with Muramasa inside his mind until Muramasa uses his powers to restrain him and through that Ichigo sees through Muramasa's powers and saves his hollow. Ichigo then steps up to fight, stating that the hollow is a part of him, too. Ichigo manages to force Muramasa outside of his mind and continues the fight with him there. When Zabimaru threatens to kill Rukia, Renji remembers Ichigo's reason for fighting and then his own, which in turn enables him to regain his resolve, and manage to activate Zabimaru's shikai.|
|236||"Release! The New Getsuga Tenshō"
"Hanate! Aratanaru Getsuga Tenshō" (放て！新たなる月牙天衝)
|September 8, 2009||January 7, 2012|
|Kazeshini wounds Hisagi in a surprise attack, but Izuru intervenes to help him, and using kidō, binds Kazeshini long enough for the two of them to escape. Renji's fight with Zabimaru continues, and Zabimaru takes the advantage when they are able to activate bankai while Renji, no longer able to control them, cannot. Renji considers his own weaknesses, and tricks Zabimaru into taking his sword, then breaks it with a Red Flame Cannon kidō spell and then he defeats Zabimaru by firing the broken shards at them. Ichigo fights Zangetsu, and struggles when Zangetsu activates bankai. He uses Getsuga Tenshō working together with his inner hollow to defeat Zangetsu, and forces Muramasa to retreat. Zangetsu reveals that Muramasa is using a technique to awaken the zanpakutō's' instincts and by doing so, he can control them.|
|237||"Suì-Fēng, Surrounding the Zanpakutō"
"Soifon, Zanpakutō o Hōi se yo" (砕蜂、斬魄刀を包囲せよ)
|September 15, 2009||January 14, 2012|
|Ichigo reports his findings of Muramasa's abilities to Ukitake, Shunsui and Unohana. In order to find out about Muramasa's effects on zanpakutō, Ichigo and Ikkaku patrol Seireitei to seek out the entities. Meanwhile, someone breaks into a compound and knocks out the Soul Reapers guarding the area. Ōmaeda and his men stumble on the unconscious guards and investigate, only to encounter his zanpakutō spirit, Gegetsuburi and Hozukimaru. Ōmaeda and Gegetsuburi are just about to fight when Ichigo and Ikkaku interrupt. Ōmaeda is knocked out of the fight, leaving Ichigo to battle Gegetsuburi, while Ikkaku fights Hozukimaru. Ichigo defeats Gegetsuburi but Ikkaku is wounded by Hozukimaru's bankai. Just as he attempts to continue the battle, Ukitake, Shunsui, Suì-Fēng and her Stealth Corps arrive to surround Hozukimaru, but he uses his bankai to get away. However, they manage to obtain Gegetsuburi. Ichigo goes after Hozukimaru, but the entity escapes when Senbonzakura's petals block Ichigo's route. Ichigo discovers that the attack was from Byakuya, who disappears.|
|238||"Friendship? Hatred? Haineko & Tobiume"
"Yūjō? Ken'o? Haineko to Tobiume" (友情？嫌悪？灰猫＆飛梅)
|September 22, 2009||January 21, 2012|
|Ichigo continues searching for Byakuya, and encounters the spirits of Tobiume and Haineko, who are looking for Hyōrinmaru. Momo and Rangiku arrive to fight their zanpakutō while Ichigo continues the search. Momo uses a kidō spell to knock Tobiume into Haineko, causing the two to begin arguing. Ichigo encounters Hyōrinmaru, who cannot remember his name or his master. He attempts to freeze Ichigo and leave, but Tōshirō confronts him. Elsewhere, Muramasa encounters and kills a large group of Menos Grandes.|
|239||"The Awakening Hyōrinmaru! Hitsugaya's Fierce Fight"
"Mezame yo Hyōrinmaru! Hitsugaya Gekitō" (目覚めよ氷輪丸！日番谷激闘)
|September 29, 2009||January 28, 2012|
|Ichigo is still trapped in the ice prison Hyōrinmaru imprisoned him in as Tōshirō and Hyōrinmaru confront each other. Meanwhile, Momo and Rangiku fight their zanpakutō in the woods and finally manage to overpower them with kidō spells. As Hyōrinmaru and Tōshirō begin to fight, Tōshirō tries to seal him but is shocked as Hyōrinmaru effortlessly dissolves the seal into fragments of ice. As their fight continues, Hyōrinmaru's tremendous power turns the whole of Soul Society's sky black. Tōshirō began to recall his past during his first encounter with Hyōrinmaru to convince him. Tōshirō managed to activate Hyōrinmaru's shikai, thus managed to convince Hyōrinmaru that Tōshirō is his master. Despite freezing himself along with his zanpakutō and losing consciousness, Tōshirō manages to convince Hyōrinmaru of his identity.|
"Uragiri no Byakuya" (裏切りの白哉)
|October 6, 2009||February 11, 2012|
|Mayuri experiments on Gegetsuburi, and discovers that the zanpakutō only return to their owners' control if they are defeated by their owners. Momo and Rangiku send their zanpakutōs back to the 4th division barracks, but an unknown assailant attacks the cart carrying them. Ichigo meets with Momo and Rangiku, and then reaches Muramasa, who is having difficulties using his abilities in his current body. Ichigo attempts to attack Muramasa but is stopped by Senbonzakura. Ichigo fights Senbonzakura, and gains the upper hand before Byakuya arrives. Byakuya reveals that he has joined Muramasa as part of following his internal desire to protect his pride, and then disappears with Muramasa and Senbonzakura.|
|241||"For the Sake of Pride! Byakuya vs. Renji"
"Hokori no Tame ni! Byakuya tai Renji" (誇りのために！白哉VS恋次)
|October 13, 2009||February 18, 2012|
|The shinigami discuss Byakuya's betrayal, and the discovery that if a zanpakuto is killed by anyone other than its owner, it will be unusable. Byakuya returns to the zanpakutos' hideout, and proves his loyalty by defeating and seemingly killing Sode no Shirayuki, leaving Rukia unable to use her zanpakuto. Rukia and Renji investigate Byakuya's office, but Byakuya arrives with Senbonzakura, tossing Rukia the broken remains of her zanpakuto. Zabimaru arrives to help Renji fight Byakuya and Senbonzakura, but they are overpowered and several zanpakuto, including Tenken, Houzukimaru, Kazeshini, Ruri-iro Kujaku and Gonryomaru, arrive. The Second Division surrounds the zanpakuto, the zanpakutos' owners come out to fight them, and Ichigo confronts Byakuya.|
|242||"Shinigami and Zanpakutō, Total Sortie"
"Shinigami to Zanpakutō, Sōshutsugeki" (死神＆斬魄刀、総出撃)
|October 20, 2009||February 25, 2012|
|Ichigo goes to confront Byakuya, but Senbonzakura intercepts him, and he and Ichigo fight each other with their bankais. Renji and Zabimaru move to prevent Byakuya from leaving. Izuru begins fighting Kazeshini, suspecting that its personality is based on Hisagi's suppressed negative impulses. Soifon fights Gonryomaru and Tenken at once, but is surprised by a smoke attack. Yumichika faces Ruri-iro Kujaku, and the two exchange insults. Ikkaku fights Houzukimaru, and although Houzukimaru unleashes his bankai, Ikkaku is able to break it by repeatedly attacking, and manages to withstand its final attack and claim victory. Fourth division lieutenant Isane Kotetsu and seventh division lieutenant Tetsuzaemon Iba go to assist the wounded at the scene of the battle when Ashisogi Jizo appears.|
|243||"One-to-One Fight! Ichigo vs. Senbonzakura"
"Ikkiuchi! Ichigo VS Senbonzakura" (一騎打ち！一護VS千本桜)
|October 27, 2009||March 3, 2012|
|Soifon fights Tengen and Gonryomaru, making some progress, but then her zanpakuto, Suzumebachi appears and attacks her. Ruriiro Kujaku gains the advantage over Yumichika, and begins to use its special ability on him. Iba and Isane attempt to retreat from Ashisogi Jizo, but Tobiume and Haineko arrive and Ashisogi Jizo paralyzes Isane's legs. Rangiku and Momo then return to help them against their opponents. Izuru manages to capture Kazeshini by tricking him into thinking he could still use his zanpakuto in order to unsettle him, but is soon attacked by his own zanpakuto, Wabisuke. Byakuya manages to defeat Renji and Zabimaru. Ichigo is desperately fighting Senbonzakura when Kenpachi arrives.|
|244||"The Long Awaited... Kenpachi Appears!"
"Man o Moshite... Kenpachi Tōjō!" (満を持して…剣八登場！)
|November 3, 2009||March 10, 2012|
|Wabisuke is about to finish off Izuru when Kenpachi appears. The zanpakuto turns to strike him but is killed off by Kenpachi instead, leaving Izuru unable to use Wabisuke. Yachiru appears as well and tells the shinigami present that she and Kenpachi were off hunting hollows and got lost on the way back (presumably because Yachiru was giving directions), providing an explanation for their disappearance throughout the crisis. Senbonzakura takes on Kenpachi but is overwhelmed by the latter's enormous spiritual power, which destroys a wide radius around them. Byakuya intervenes and fights Kenpachi while Senbonzakura resumes his fight with Ichigo. Yumichika breaks out of Ruriiro Kujaku's binding vines and defeats him, reclaiming his zanpakuto.|
|245||"Pursue Byakuya! The Confused Gotei Divisions"
"Byakuya o Oe! Konran no Goteitai" (白哉を追え！混乱の護廷隊)
|November 10, 2009||March 17, 2012|
|Ichigo continues fighting Senbonzakura while Kenpachi fights Byakuya, but Ashisogi Jizo appears and using its bankai, spraying poison gas over the battlefield, enabling Senbonzakura and Byakuya to escape. Yachiru chases Ashisogi Jizo and he gets captured by Zaraki. Mayuri blows up Ashisogi Jizo, causing it to return it its sealed form and break. Soifon has difficulty hitting the small Suzumebachi, but manages to defeat her, and Yoruichi congratulates her. Unohana arrives to treat the victims of Ashisogi Jizo's poisoning, including Momo, Isane, Rangiku and Iba. Yoruichi meets with Ichigo and the captains, and reveals that she knows Yamamoto's location. Yamamoto is then shown as a prisoner of the zanpakuto, with Sogyo no Kotowari, Katen Kyokotsu, and Minazuki encasing him in a barrier.|
|246||"Special Mission! Rescue Captain Commander Yamamoto!"
"Tokumu! Yamamoto Sōtaichō o Kyūshutsu se yo!" (特務！山本総隊長を救出せよ！)
|November 17, 2009||March 24, 2012|
|The Captains begin planning on how they're going to rescue Yamamoto, knowing that they're going to run into high class zanpakuto. Meanwhile Kazeshini comes back to the hideout and faints from exhaustion. Kenpachi, Ukitake, and Kyoraku head into the cave while Yoruichi and Ichigo head in another way. In the cave, Ukitake and Kyoraku meet their materialized zanpakuto. Zaraki and Yachiru get lost in the caves, and come across Gonryomaru and Tenken. In the meantime, Ichigo and Yoruichi encounter Haineko and Tobiume, and both are defeated by Yoruichi. Ichigo heads on, and is lead into Kazeshini by Minazuki. Kazeshini is easily defeated, breaking, as Ichigo moves on to find the Captain-Commander.|
|247||"Deceived Shinigami! The World Collapse Crisis"
"Damasareta Shinigami! Sekai Hōkai no Kiki" (騙された死神！世界崩壊の危機)
|November 24, 2009||March 31, 2012|
|Muramasa stands in Ichigo's way of rescuing Yamamoto Genryusai, and goads him into releasing his hollow powers against him. Meanwhile, Yoruichi, Ukitake and Shunsui realise that something is amiss and break away from their opponents. Having used the zanpakutō entities to distract Ichigo's companions, Muramasa tricks Ichigo into firing his most powerful Getsuga Tenshō at him, but deflects the attack into Yamamoto's barrier, shattering it just as Yoruichi and the rest arrive to prevent this from happening. Muramasa reveals that Yamamoto encased himself in the barrier to prevent him from stealing Ryūjin Jakka. But with Ichigo's hollow-based attack, it allows Muramasa to easily obtain Yamamoto's zanpakuto entity. When Muramasa says that he has no need for the other entities anymore, Katen Kyōkotsu and Sōgyo no Kotowari attack him but end up having their physical forms destroyed by Ryūjin Jakka. Muramasa makes his escape with Ryūjin Jakka, while Yamamoto reveals to the others that Muramasa intends to destroy the Gotei 13 with it.|
|248||"Dragon of Ice and Dragon of Flame! The Strongest Showdown!"
"Kōri no Ryū to Honoo no Ryū! Saikyō Taiketsu!" (氷の龍と炎の龍！最強対決！)
|December 1, 2009||April 7, 2012|
|Ichigo, Yoruichi, Ukitake, Shunsui, and Yamamoto are surrounded by a wall of flames created by Ryūjin Jakka. Yoruichi escapes underground through a fissure she opens using Shunko, but Tobiume uses her fireball to cave it in behind Yoruichi, preventing the others from following. Ichigo attempts to escape by jumping over the wall of flames but is unsuccessful even with his hollow powers. Yamamoto reveals that Muramasa's plan is to destroy Karakura town in order to free his owner, Kouga, who has been sealed there. Upon arriving at Karakura town, Muramasa stumbles upon Inoue and blacks out. After waking up and asking Inoue who she is, Uryū and Chad arrive to take out Muramasa. Ichigo makes a final attempt at jumping over the wall of flames and just before he is defeated and completely enveloped in fire, Hyorinmaru and Hitsugaya arrive to save him. Hitsugaya and Hyorinmaru both activate their Bankai and, together, get Ichigo out of the flames so that he can head to Karakura town to stop Muramasa.|
|249||"Senbonzakura's Bankai! Offense and Defense of the Living World"
"Senbonzakura Bankai! Gensei no Kōbō" (千本桜卍解！現世の攻防)
|December 8, 2009||April 14, 2012|
|Kenpachi continues his fight against Tenken. Yoruichi outmaneuvers Haineko and Tobiume while trying to convince them that Muramasa betrayed them. Yamamoto, Ukitake, Kyoraku, Hitsugaya and Hyorinmaru plan to defeat Ryūjin Jakka together. Uryu and Chad arrive to fight Muramasa, but he evades all their attacks and Senbonzakura arrives to help him. Muramasa tries to use his ability on Chad, and incapacitates him due to his not being a shinigami. Orihime asks Muramasa about his motive, and Muramasa reveals that he wishes to be free of solitude. Rukia arrives as Muramasa tries to escape to unseal Kouga. Uryu continues to fight Senbonzakura, managing to hit it with Seele Schneider, but it is still able to keep fighting. Muramasa manages to unseal Kouga as Ichigo arrives to face him.|
|250||"That Man, for the Sake of the Kuchiki"
"Sono Otoko - Kuchiki-ke Yue ni" (その男・朽木家ゆえに)
|December 15, 2009||April 21, 2012|
|In a flashback several centuries ago, it is revealed that Kouga was part of the Kuchiki Clan as Ginrei Kuchiki's son-in-law, and was overconfident in the abilities of his zanpakuto. He helped put down a rebellion of Soul Reapers, but some grew suspicious of his power, and had him attacked. He cut down his attackers, but was framed for killing his own allies by a group of jealous high-ranking Soul Reapers. He was imprisoned as a result, but escaped with Muramasa's help. In the present, Kouga awakens, repelling Ichigo and Rukia, then suddenly stabs Muramasa.|
|251||"Dark History! The Worst Shinigami Is Born"
"Yami no Rekishi! Saikyō no Shinigami, Tanjō" (闇の歴史！最凶の死神、誕生)
|December 22, 2009||April 28, 2012|
|The flashback continues and reveals that Kouga killed the people who had framed him, but after Ginrei confronted him, he went insane and began killing anyone he perceived as an enemy. Muramasa tried to reach out to Kouga, but eventually was no longer able to hear his voice. Kouga was finally defeated and sealed away by Ginrei and Yamamoto, when Kouga's call for Muramasa went unheard. In the present, Muramasa asks why Kouga stabbed him, as he had worked hard to bring about his return, but Kouga responds that zanpakuto are tools that obey their masters' commands. He tries to finish off Muramasa, but Byakuya steps in, saying that he is no longer worthy to be called a Shinigami.|
|252||"Byakuya, the Truth Behind His Betrayal"
"Byakuya, Uragiri ni Kakusareta Shinjitsu" (白哉、裏切りに隠された真実)
|January 5, 2010||May 5, 2012|
|Senbonzakura reveals that Byakuya had sworn to kill Kouga, and had been searching for how to unseal him. Muramasa offers Kouga his power, but Kouga breaks Muramasa, stating that he does not need help. Byakuya and Kouga fight, but Kouga gains the upper hand when he distorts Byakuya's senses. Senbonzakura helps dispel the effect, though, and Byakuya manages to use the senkei mode of Senbonzakura's bankai on Kouga. As Byakuya notes that Kouga's failing was refusing to trust his zanpakuto or anyone else, the two charge at each other.|
|253||"Muramasa's True Identity Revealed"
"Akasareta Muramasa no Shōtai" (明かされた村正の正体)
|January 12, 2010||May 12, 2012|
|After Kouga's defeat, Muramasa becomes unstable, as he had absorbed hollows in order to sustain himself without a master. Many hollows spill forth from his body, and he transforms into a form similar to an Arrancar. Orihime tries to reach out to him to save him from his sorrow, but he attacks the group. Ichigo manages to slash through Muramasa, but he becomes even more unstable and becomes a larger dome-shaped mass, engulfing Ichigo in the process. The formerly rebellious Zanpakuto return with their owners to help Ichigo and his friends in the battle.|
|254||"Byakuya and Renji, the 6th Division Returns"
"Byakuya to Renji, Rokubantai Futatabi" (白哉と恋次、六番隊再び)
|January 19, 2010||May 19, 2012|
|The zanpakutos, having been released from their brainwashing with Kurotsuchi's help, fight the arriving Menos Grandes, but more come from a hole in the sky. Byakuya manages to seal the hole with spiritual energy from all the other Soul Reapers. Despite their efforts, Ichigo remains trapped inside the dome, which continues growing larger.|
|255||"Final Chapter - Zanpakutō The Alternate Tale"
"Shūshō - Zanpakutō Ibun Hen" (終章・斬魄刀異聞篇)
|January 26, 2010||May 26, 2012|
|As the dome grows unstable and the Soul Reapers fight the Gillians outside, Ichigo fights Muramasa, who is beginning to become a hollow, inside Kouga's inner realm, which is collapsing from the grudges of the hollows he consumed to sustain himself. Ichigo questions Muramasa's devotion to Kouga in spite of his apparent motives for freeing the zanpakutos, and insists that he should know what a true bond between a Soul Reaper and a zanpakuto is. Ichigo defeats Muramasa, causing the two to leave his inner world. Muramasa dies after realizing the error of his ways and Byakuya thanks Ichigo.|
|256||"The Angered Byakuya! The Collapse of the Kuchiki House"
"Ikari no Byakuya! Kuchiki-ke Hōkai" (怒りの白哉！朽木家崩壊)
|February 2, 2010||June 2, 2012|
|While Byakuya allows his squad to hold a sakura viewing party at his mansion, two strange attackers arrive, but one of them is quickly defeated by Sode no Shirayuki and Senbonzakura, who have since rematerialized, while the other escapes. Captain Kurotsuchi refers to these attackers as "Sword Fiends", which are zanpakutō whose masters have been killed. Rukia and Sode no Shirayuki try lure out the other by having a drinking party, but fail. Soon Rukia and Sode no Shirayuki find the sword fiend attacking and defeat him together, capturing him and turning him in for study. Captains Ukitake and Kyoraku become concerned at this development, noting that the Seireitei is still being rebuilt.|
|257||"A New Enemy! The True Nature of the Sword Fiends"
"Aratana Teki! Tōjū no Shōtai" (新たな敵！刀獣の正体)
|February 9, 2010||June 9, 2012|
|In the real world, Ichigo encounters a sword fiend, and he and Hitsugaya fight it, but it retreats. Ukitake and Kyoraku infer that there are at least as many sword fiends as the number of Soul Reapers lost in the war, and plan on stabilizing them to return them to sword form, despite Mayuri's lack of interest. The sword fiend is attacked by a hollow, but manages to absorb it. It overpowers Rangiku's zanpakutō when she tries fighting it, but Ichigo comes to fight it, disarming it. The hollow-fused sword fiend fires a Cero at Ichigo, but Hitsugaya manages to destroy it, noting that the sword fiends are more dangerous than he thought.|
|258||"Stray Snake, Tortured Monkey"
"Maigo no Hebi, Junan no Saru" (迷子の蛇 受難の猿)
|February 16, 2010||June 16, 2012|
|Renji and Zabimaru come to the real world following a sword fiend. Zabimaru's two halves, Chimpette and Snakey, split up to search. They find the sword fiend quickly but he escapes. Snakey follows him and is convinced that being free is better. Snakey has trouble doing anything since most people can't see him. Karin is the only person who can see him and ends up taking him home. Renji and Chimpette are waiting in the park and Chimpette is feeling lonely because Snakey isn't there. Ichigo returns home and finds Snakey. After Snakey finds out that Ichigo is a soul reaper he runs away only to encounter the sword fiend. Snakey begins to fight him and almost wins until the sword fiend captures Karin who was following Snakey. Right as Snakey is about to die Chimpette and Renji return to save him and defeat the sword fiend. Ichigo takes Karin home convincing her it was all a dream, even though she knew it wasn't. Having resolved his differences, Snakey, Chimpette, and Renji return to Soul Society.|
|259||"Terror! The Monster That Lurks Underground"
"Kyōfu! Chika ni Hisomu Kaibutsu" (恐怖！地下に潜む怪物)
|February 23, 2010||June 23, 2012|
|Hanataro Yamada, Nanao Ise and Ikkaku Madarame are sent to investigate some thefts that have taken place, and track the culprit to the sewers. They discover a white, robot-like figure, and are then attacked by a large monster, which manages to injure Ikkaku. The strange figure heals Ikkaku and fires a powerful blast at the sword fiend, defeating it. It is revealed that the robot is Hanataro's zanpakutō, which had resisted Muramasa's control because it did not resent Hanataro. The group returns the stolen items, but Hisagomaru, Hanataro's zanpakutō, was separated from the group.|
|260||"Conclusion!? Hisagi vs. Kazeshini"
"Ketchaku!? Hisagi tai Kazeshini" (決着!?檜佐木VS風死)
|March 2, 2010||June 30, 2012|
|Kazeshini, despite being free of Muramasa's control, attacks Hisagi when he, Ikkaku, Izuru Kira and Tetsuzaimon Iba go on a mission to fight Sword Fiends in the Rukon District. After killing a Sword Fiend, Kazeshini finds a dying man who begs him to take care of his child. Kazeshini is frequently annoyed by the child's behavior, but often shows concern for it, and abandons a chance to attack Hisagi when he hears it crying. After defeating another Sword Fiend that is attacking a woman who came for the child, he leaves the child with the woman and goes to confront Hisagi. Kazeshini faces Hisagi in one last fight, but is inhibited by a back wound obtained earlier while protecting the child and is defeated, turning into a normal zanpakutō.|
|261||"The Person with the Unknown Ability! Orihime Is Targeted"
"Michinaru Nōryokusha! Nerawareta Orihime" (未知なる能力者！狙われた織姫)
|March 9, 2010||July 7, 2012|
|While Ichigo, Rukia and Urahara investigate a Sword Fiend attacking students, a girl named Kyoko Haida, who has the ability to predict the future and know things she would otherwise not, transfers to Karakura High School. Orihime tries to become friends with her, but learns that her best friend, Mai, rejected her after learning of her ability. A Sword Fiend merges with Kyoko and tries to take over her body, but Ichigo, Rukia and Orihime confront it. Orihime uses her healing powers to separate the Sword Fiend from Kyoko, and Ichigo manages to defeat it with Getsuga Tensho. Afterward, Orihime and Kyoko become friends, with Orihime accepting Kyoko's abilities.|
|262||"Haineko Cries! The Tragic Sword Fiend"
"Higeki no Tōjū! Haineko, Gōkyū!" (悲劇の刀獣！灰猫、号泣！)
|March 16, 2010||July 14, 2012|
|While on a mission with Rangiku to fight sword fiends, Haineko encounters one named Narunosuke, whose master was a coward, and who went with the others in order to become stronger. Haineko becomes friends with Narunosuke, sneaking him food and medicine despite Rangiku and the other Soul Reapers' belief that the sword fiends inevitably lose control of themselves. As feared, Narunosuke gradually does lose control of his mind and body, and Rangiku arrives to deal with him. Haineko tries to stop her, but when Narunosuke becomes too dangerous she is ultimately forced to destroy him.|
|263||"Imprisonment?! Senbonzakura & Zabimaru"
"Yūhei?! Senbonzakura & Zabimaru" (幽閉?!千本桜＆蛇尾丸)
|March 23, 2010||July 21, 2012|
|While delivering a Sword Fiend to the 12th division barracks, Zabimaru and Senbonzakura find themselves caught in the barrack's intruder containment system. Hilarity ensues as the situation goes from bad to worse, culminating in the bankai of three zanpakutō.|
|264||"Battle of the Females? Katen Kyōkotsu vs. Nanao!"
"Onna no Tatakai? Katen Kyōkotsu VS Nanao!" (女の戦い？花天狂骨VS七緒！)
|March 30, 2010||July 28, 2012|
|Nanao decides to bond with Kyōraku's zanpakutō, Katen Kyokotsu. While the older one sips sake with Kyōraku, Nanao and the younger Katen Kyokotsu become friends under the flowers of the garden. Nanao wants to find out what affects the younger Katen Kyokotsu when she sees her playing around with a Sword Fiend's life.|
|265||"Evolution?! The Menace of the Final Sword Fiend"
"Shinka?! Saigo no Tōjū no Kyōi" (進化!?最後の刀獣の脅威)
|April 6, 2010||August 4, 2012|
|As all the Shinigamis' Zanpakuto are struggling fighting a Sword Fiend, a flashback of the day before to the events that lead to this battle is shown. Kazeshini is battling with a Sword Fiend who has been cornered by 9th division, as they get separated Kazeshini is about to give the fatal blow the Sword Fiend turns back to a regular sword. Later on when Kazeshini, Zabimaru, Hōzukimaru and Fuji Kujaku (Ruriiro Kujaku) gather together they discuss how they found "that Sword Fiend". They discuss how the Sword Fiend from before turn back because he had lost so much reiatsu. We learn how the Zanpakuto only so much reiatsu that they receive, when the gained their physical forms and once they lose all that reiatsu they turn back to swords. "That Sword Fiend" apparently can steal other Zanpakutos reiatsu and that he has surpassed his masters strength. The Shinigamis' Zanpakuto then decided to take care of "that Sword Fiend" so as not to put their masters at risk. The fight continues, and just as the zanpakuto are about to lose, their masters show up and tell them to not fight alone. The zanpakuto then turn into their swords and then fight with their masters. As the fight continues, the zanpakuto give what little reiatsu they have left to Renji so that he can activate his Bankai, which he then uses to grab the Sword Fiend with its teeth and shoot it with his cannon at point-blank range. The episode ends with the zanpakuto in their original sword forms.|
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