ANIME & MANGA - Article
09:05 - 7th April 2013, by Matt Kamen

Bleach Season Three: The Rescue

We delve ever deeper into Ichigo's world as we encounter season three in our retrospective of Bleach's early episodes.

The second half of the wider 'Soul Society' arc continues in season three, as the deadline to save Rukia draws ever closer. It's Uryu's turn for a power up here, and it's quite literally a case of "the gloves are off", as he removes the sacred item that kept his power levels in check. Ichigo can't seem to help clashing swords with just about everyone he crosses paths with, but given the challenges that lie ahead for him, it's all worthwhile practise.

The series starts to develop the personalities of the various captains much more during this season, exploring their personal quirks in running their teams. As several of them investigate the murder of Aizen, it becomes apparent that not all was as it seemed, and with Ichigo facing down Byakuya to save Rukia's life, two shocking twists occur. First, Ichigo exhibits abilities typically associated with Hollows, much to his own horror. Where these new and terrifying powers come from remains a mystery that pales in comparison when the biggest twist of the entire series to this point is revealed: Aizen had faked his own death and arranged for Rukia's execution, all part of an elaborate plan to seize control of the afterlife and elevate himself to the level of a god using a powerful item hidden within Rukia's body. Allying with the Hollows that Soul Society has fought against for eons, and escaping to their realm of Hueco Mondo, Aizen is established as the primary antagonist of Bleach, a role he fulfils to this day, his friendly nature revealed as an utter lie.

Once the dust settles, Rukia is pardoned and Ichigo is accepted as a substitute Soul Reaper in recognition of his abilities and prowess, despite his minimal experience. Reunited with Chad, Uryu and Orihime, the friends return to Japan, stronger for their journey, but sharing a mutual fear with the inhabitants of Soul Society over what Aizen plans next.

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