Zanpakutou: The Alternate Tale
Season 13 of Bleach (of the same manga written and illustrated by Tite Kubo) aired from July 28, 2009 to April 6, 2010. It has a total of 35 episodes (230-255). This is a filler arc that goes on and on (like the energizer bunny), where the Shinigami’s Zanpakutous take on human forms and declare war against their wielders. Led by a mysterious blackguard named Muramasa who is a former zanpakutou, the swords turn Soul Society topsy-turvy. It continues with the Beast Swords, zanpakutou who have killed their masters. The enemy of the Shinigami are Hollows, while the enemy of a zanpakutou is a beast sword. (when will this stop!?!?!? NO MORE FILLERS!!)
The season has two opening themes and ending themes.
1. Scandal’s “Shoujo S” (ep. 230-242)
2. Prono Graffiti’s “Anima Rossa” (ep. 243-265)
3. Kenichi Asai’s “Mad Surfer” (ep. 230-242
4. Sunset Swish’s “Sakurabito” (ep. 243-255)
5. RSP’s “Tabidatsu Kimi e (旅立つキミへ; On a Journey to You)” (ep. 255-265)
• Season 4 (Jan. – Aug. 2006)
• Season 5 (Aug. 2006 – Jan. 2007)
• Season 9 (Apr. – Oct. 2008)
July 28, 2009 ep. 230: A New Enemy! The Materialization of Zanpakutou
All the shinigamis’ zanpakutou take a human form and go against their “masters.” Let’s see what happens next week (and probably a few weeks after too).
Ichigo vs Zangetsu? Soifon vs Suzumebachi? Byakuya vs Senbonzakura? Itsugaya vs Hyourinmaru? Ikkaku vs Houzukimaru? Kira vs Wabisuke? Rukia vs Sode no Shirayuki? Rangiko vs Haineko? Renji vs Zabimaru?
Aug. 4, 2009 ep. 231: Byakuya, Disappearing with the Cherry Blossoms
So the zanpakutoua are out for blood. Senbonzakura “shire-d” Byakuya. Or did he? Rukia escapes into the real world after being chased by Sode no Shirayuki and is promptly saved by Ichigo and healed by Inoue. But, the silly chit runs back into hell – after hearing from Yoruichi that Byakuya has not been seen after Senbonkaru went after him. Really Rukia. Do you really think that you can do anything about it? Sometimes these characters act so rashly.
The question is, whose zanpakutou is Muramasa? What did that dude ever do to him to release such fury?
Aug. 11, 2009 ep. 232: Sode no Shirayuki vs. Rukia! Confused Heart
Rukia is back fighting Sode no Shirayuki this time with a vengeance. No, Rukia can never physically defeat her zanpakutou. However, by releasing her from her bond with Rukia, she might just win this fight. As Soul Society’s “most beautiful sword,” Rukia tells Sode no Shirayuki that she is truly beautiful.
But Muramasa steps in.
Aug. 18, 2009 ep. 233: Zangetsu Becomes an Enemy
Muramasa decks it out with Ichigo, and pulls Zangetsu out from him. Ichigo goes berserk and releases his hollow to fight with Zangetsu. It doesn’t look like Zangestu wants to fight with Ichigo.
Seriously – who does Muramasa belong to? Aizen (5)? Kenpachi (11)?
Aug. 25, 2009 ep. 234: Renji Surprised?! The Two Zabimarus
Muramasa informs Ichigo he killed his master and told all the zanpaktous to act on their instinct (of betraying their masters). Now, having seen Ichigo in his hollow, Muramasa wants Ichigo’s inner hollow on the loose. Not a wise move?
Meanwhile, Renji (6) finally sees his zanpakutou. Both his zanpakutou – the FEMALE baboon and the child hebi are out to hand Renji his ass. They are a figment of his pervy imagination – according to the baboon. Will they hand him his ass in a platter?
Sept. 1, 2009 ep. 235: Clash! Hisagi vs. Kazeshini
The fights go on. Both the saru/monkey and the hebi/snake beat Renji to a pulp, showing him how weak he truly is. Their purpose in life is to be stronger (very much like their owner) and therefore do not want to deal with weaklings, like Renji, anymore. After pep talking himself, Renji pulls himself together, and roars, “howeru zabimaru!” and his sleeping sword awakens, even if the souls are standing in front of him!
Hisagi Shuuhei (#69) decks it out with Kazeshini. Not a pretty sight for the tough guy.
Meanwhile, Ichigo’s hollow slugs it out with Muramasa and it seems like he’s on the winning edge until Muramasa traps him by tying him with imaginary hands. Ichigo sees through this and actually comes to the rescue of his hollow. His hollow is always the one to come to his aid whenever Ichigo’s in trouble. What a twist of fate!
Sept. 8, 2009 ep. 236: Release! The New Getsuga Tenshou
Renji finally wins the battle against his own zanpakutou. The souls of his sword are satisfied that they don’t have a wimp for a master.
Ichigo realizes that to win against Muramasa and Zangetsu he has to resolve to “kill” his own sword. With the aide of his hollow, he strikes his sword and frees Zangetsu from Muramasa’s spell. It seems that Zangetsu was under Muramasa’s hypnotic hex that was broken by Ichigo.
Sept. 15, 2009 ep. 237: Soi Fon, Surrounding the Zanpakutou
Ichigo reveals to the taichous how he retrieved his zanpakutou. Ikkaku Madarame (11), upon hearing it, decides that he too will regain his sword. Together with Ichigo, they both find Houzukimaru.
Having seen the apparition of his sword, Ikkaku doesn’t belief that this is his sword. They both do their “lucky dance” together to proof their identity to the other. They then proceed to fight each other, but Ikkaku quickly falters when Houzukimaru uses his Bankai. Soifon (2) steps in with her guards to try to capture Houzukimaru but instead, drives him away. Ichigo gives chase, and Houzukimaru is “saved” by Senbonzakura – with Byakuya making an appearance at the end without his captain’s haori.
Sept. 22, 2009 ep. 238: Friendship? Hatred? Haineko & Tobiume
Byakuya finally reappears. But when Ichigo notices him, he uses shunpo and disappears. Ichigo is hot on his trail, but stumbles into Rangiku Matsumoto (10) and Momo Hinamori’s (5) zanpaktou – Haineko and Tobiume. Their little tiff is cut short by the appearances of their owners. Rangiku and Momo engage their swords in a battle, but it soon becomes clear that they are no match against their zanpaktou. Momo then uses a kido attack to finally subdue Tobiume who crashes into Haineko, thus effectively stopping the fight…for a little while.
Ichigo pursues Byakuya only to be stopped by a zanpakutou who doesn’t recall his name or his master’s. A battle soon erupts, but is stopped with the appearance of Toushiro Hitsugaya (10) with him calling out his sword’s name – Hyōrinmaru.
Sept. 29, 2009 ep. 239: The Awakening Hyourinmaru! Hitsugaya’s Fierce Fight
The girls are serious now. Haineko, the cat, has got her claws out on the o-ba-san (Rangiku). Tobiume talks trash about Rangiku (10) to Momo (5). In the end, the owners subdue their zanpakutous with a well-concerted and well-timed use of kido.
Toshirou (10) calls out to Hyourinmaru to remember. But Hyourinmaru is disgusted that this child could even call himself anyone’s master much less his. Toushiro recalls when he was younger, how he was ostracized because of his silver hair and reiatsu. Rangiku had found him and brought him in to train as a shinigami.
The ice dragon was the one who called out to Toushiro in his dreams. It told him its name – Hyourinmaru.
Toushirou asks Hyourinmaru what his instincts are, and he answered, “To find a place where I belong.” In despair, Toushiro calls out for Hyourinmaru in its shikai form and clashes with Hyourinmaru the human form. They form an ice containment where Hyourinmaru suddenly recalls his master, and catches the heartbroken Toushiro before he becomes unconscious.
Oct. 6, 2009 ep. 240: Byakuya’s Betrayal
Some zanpakutous have been captured/subdued by their masters. Ichigo meets up with Rangiku and Momo, after the girls lock up their swords and send them back to the fourth squad’s hq. Muramasa shows up and Ichigo readies himself for another battle with him. Senbonzakura shows up instead to protect Muramasa. Ichigo, having fought Byakuya (6) and his sword before, knows his strengths and weaknesses.
Meanwhile, Byakuya steps in to rescue Haineko and Tobiume from being lead to the fourth squad’s hq.
Just as Ichigo is about to defeat Senbonzakura, Byakuya steps in to protect not only his sword, but Muramasa. He says he is protecting his pride. What is his true motive? Or is Muramasa really not as evil as he portrays himself to be?
Oct. 13, 2009 ep. 241: For the Sake of Pride! Byakuya vs. Renji
Byakuya (6) follows Muramasa and Senbonzakura into the lair of the zanpakutous. The rogues want him to prove his alliance to them, Muramasa asks Byakuya to fight Sode no Shirauki, Rukia’s sword. And, proves it he does. He breaks her into two, leaving Senbonzakura holding a hilt and a blade. If the sword is killed by anyone other than its owner, it will be rendered unusable.
Byakuya returns to Soul Society to warn Rukia to stay out of things and to return her broken sword to her. But Rukia and Renji remain trusting and loyal to him. Byakuya decks it out with Renji, while Senbonzakura tries to shire Zabimaru.
Oct. 20, 2009 ep. 242: Shinigami and Zanpaktou, Total Sortie
The zanpakutous, impatient for results, crash into Soul Society. The swords meet their masters in battle.
Ikkaku (11) takes down Houzukimaru, while Kira (3) takes on Shuuhei’s (9) Kazeshini. Isane (4) and Iba (7) are ambushed by Mayuri’s (12) Ashisogi Jizou, followed by Momo and Rangiku’s zanpaktou.
Oct. 27, 2009 ep. 243: Ichigo vs. Senbonzakura
Ichigo steps in to fight Senbozakura after Renji’s Zabimaru is fell by Byakuya’s sword.
Kira defeats Kazeshini but his own zanpakutou Wabisuke shows up. Soifon (2) finally meets hers – Suzumebachi, who promptly strikes her once, but misses the second time. Kenpachi (11) finally makes his appearance known.
Nov. 3, 2009 ep. 244: The Long Awaited…Kenpachi Returns!
Just as Wabisuke is about to deal the finishing blow to Kira (3), Kenpachi (11) steps in and finishes Wabisuke, rendering Kira’s sword unusable. During this commotion, Yachiru and Kenpachi were hunting hollows and got lost on their way back, thanks to Yachiru great sense of direction.
Senbonzakura tries to take on Kenpachi but is quickly overwhelmed by the latter’s enormous spiritual power/reiatsu. Byakuya (6) steps in for his sword while Senbonzakura fights Ichigo.
Meanwhile Yumichika (11) breaks out of the binding vines of his sword and reclaims his sword.
Nov. 10, 2009 ep. 245: Pursue Byakuya! The Confused Gotei Divisions
Kenpachi is happy to be engaged in a fight with Byakuya, but Ashisogi Jizo floats into the scene and sprays poison gas over the area, enabling both Byakuya and Senbonzakura (who is fighting with Ichigo) to escape. Just as Yachiru and Kenpachi corners Ashisogi Jizo, Mayuri steps in to destroy his own sword, thus resealing it.
Unohana arrives with squad 4 to give aid to those poisoned by Ashisogi Jizo.
Soifon, caught in the fight with her zanpakutou, Suzumebachi, lets the little imp think that she is winning the battle. However, as Suzumebachi takes the final decisive strike, Soifon centers all her reiatsu at that point of contact, her neck, and breaks Suzumebachi, thus defeating her sword too. Yoruichi carries Soifon to safety later, making her adore Yoruichi even more.
Yoruichi then meets with Ichigo and the rest of the captains, revealing that she knows where Yamamoto is hidden. Meanwhile, thoroughly earning the trust of Muramasa, Byakuya is led to Yamamoto’s imprisonment. He is held in a barrier put up by Sogyo no Kotowari, Katen Kyokotsu and Minazuki.
Nov. 17, 2009 ep. 246: Special Mission! Rescue Captain Commander Yamamoto!
Gotei 13 captains are planning their rescue mission of Yamamoto. They split the group in two: Kenpachi (11), Ukitake (13) and Shunsui (8) go in head on, while Yoruichi and Ichigo take the back. In the cave, Ukitake and Shunsui meet their zanpakutou.
Kenpachi and Yoruichi, once again, get lost in the cave but stumble into Gonryomaru and Tenken. Ichigo and Yoruichi are blocked by Tobiume and Haineko, but both are quickly put down by Yoruichi. Ichigo is led to Kazeshini by Minazuki, but he easily defeats an exhausted Kazeshini, breaking him as a result. Ichigo moves toward Yamamoto.
Nov. 24, 2009 ep. 247: Deceived Shinigami! The World Collapse Crisis
Ichigo is stopped by Muramasa and a battle ensues with Ichigo releasing his hollow. Ichigo is forced to use Getsuga Tenshou, but Muramasa deflects it toward Yamamoto’s barrier, thus shattering it.
Yoruichi, Ukitake and Shunsui realizing that their counterparts were just delaying their meeting with Ichigo, depart from their own battles. They arrive just in time to see Ichigo breaking Yamamoto’s OWN barrier, which was preventing Muramasa from entering Yamamoto’s unconscious and taking Ryuujin Jakka. Muramasa, no longer having a need for the rest of the zanpakutou, easily destroys Katen Kyoukotsu and Sougyo no Kotowari with the powers of Ryuujin Jakka. Murasama leaves with Ryuujin Jakka and Yamamoto reveals that Muramasa intends to destroy Gotei 13 with the help of his zanpakutou. Yamamoto also discloses that Muramasa is a worm-type zanpakutou that is able to absorb the powers of another zanpakutou.
Dec. 1, 2009 ep. 248: Dragon of Ice and Dragon of Flame! The Strongest Showdown!
Ichigo, Yoruichi (ex-2), Ukitake (13), Shunsui (8) and Yamamoto (1) are trapped by Ryuujin Jakka’s flames in the cave. Yoruichi creates an opening with Shunko, but that little opening collapses after her escape, preventing the others from leaving. Ichigo then tries to escape the burning caves with the aid of Hitsugaya’s Hyonrinmaru. Together, with both their bankais released, Ichigo is pulled out of the burning flames.
Muramasa’s plan of destruction isn’t only limited to the Gotei 13. He plans on destroying Karakura town in order to free his owner, Kouga, too. With the knowledge of Yamamoto’s unconscious, Muramasa now also knows how to unseal his master. Muramasa stumbles into Inoue in Karakura town, but instead of fighting him, Inoue heals him from his injuries. What an idiot! However, as he recovers, he retaliates against Inoue, but Ishida and Chad come to the rescue.
Dec. 8, 2009 ep. 249: Senbonzakura’s Bankai! Offense and Defense of the Living World
Yoruichi, still fighting Tobiume and Haineko, tries to convince them that Muramasa betrayed them.
Muramasa not only evades Ishida’s and Chad’s attacks, but is aided by the arrival of Senbonzakura. After being question by Inoue about his motive, he reveals it to be free of loneliness. As he tries to unseal his master, Kouga, Rukia arrives in Karakura Town. Ichigo then arrives to a released Kouga.
Ishida takes on Senbonzakura.
Dec. 15, 2009 ep. 250: That Man, for the Sake of the Kuchiki
Kouga was Kuchiki Ginrei’s son-in-law (Byakuya’s grandfather). Because of his over-zealousness of his zanpakutou’s abilities, when he aided in putting down a rebellion of shinigamis, some became suspicious of his power and in return, started spreading rumors. He retaliated against his attackers, only to be framed by jealous high-ranking shinigamis for murdering his own allies. He was then imprisoned, but escaped with the help of Muramasa.
Cut to the present, Kouga is released and awakened by Muramasa and he easily repels Ichigo and Rukia. Unfortunately he also stabs Muramasa.
Dec. 22, 2009 ep. 251: Dark History! The Worst Shinigami is Born
Kouga, killing of the shinigamis who framed him, is confronted by the elder Ginrei. He goes on a rampage and kills anyone he perceives as an enemy, blocking out even a desperate Muramasa who tries to reach his master. Kouga is finally held down and is sealed away by Ginrei and Yamamoto. Muramasa is unable to hear his master’s cries for help.
Flashback to the present, Muramasa questions Kouga for his attack against him after he tried so hard to bring him back. Kouga simply replies that zanpakutous are merely tools that obey their master’s commands and promptly tries to deal Muramasa the final blow. Byakuya, however, steps in to save Muramasa, and comments that Kouga is no longer a worthy shinigami.
Jan. 5, 2010 ep. 252: Byakuya, the Truth Behind his Betrayal
Senbonzakura reveals the truth behind Byakuya’s betrayal. Byakuya promised his grandfather to rid the world of Kouga, but had to find Kouga’s location and a means to unseal him. When the zanpakutous under Muramasa threw a coup, Byakuya finally found his outlet.
Muramasa then offers help to Kouga, but Kouga overconfidently breaks him instead, thereby “killing” him. Muramasa writhes in agony and draws in the hollows from his anger/torment. Menos Grandes begin to appear in Karakura Town, and the hollows are all drawn to him.
Byakuya and Kouga break into a fight. Kouga gains the upper hand over Byakuya by distorting his senses, but Senbonzakura dispels it. Byakuya in turn uses the senkei mode of his bankai against Kouga. Unable to trust anyone, including his own zanpakutou, Kouga slowly succumbs to Byakuya’s power.
Jan. 12, 2010 ep. 253: Muramasa’s True Identity Revealed
With Kouga’s death, Muramasa goes berserk and begins absorbing hollows to sustain himself. He then morphs into an Arrancar. Inoue, seeing his struggle to retain his original form, approaches him to try to bring him back. Instead, he attacks her and Rukia, but Ichigo steps in to repel the attack. Capriciously, Muramasa tithers to his limit and changes to a mushroom mass, which engulfs Ichigo and pulls him in.
Ishida, Chad, Inoue and Rukia watch helplessly as Ichigo is sucked into the mass. Even so, the number of hollows and Menos Grandes grow.
Jan. 19, 2010 ep. 254: Byakuya and Renji, the 6th Division Returns
As they watch in horror, and try to quell the growing army of hollows, Gotei 13 captains and lieutenants arrive to provide aid. Renji (lt-6), Soi Fong (2) and her lieutenant, Kamamura (7), Madarame (11), Toushirou (10) and his lieutenant, Momo (5) all arrive with their zanpakutou after Kurotsuchi (12) released them from Muramasa’s spell. They are, however, not yet able to return as swords to their masters.
Menos Grandes begin to appear from a enlarging hole in the sky, but Byakuya together with Senbonzakura try to seal off the hole with their massive reiatsu. Unable to go at it alone, the rest of the Gotei 13 step in and channel their spiritual energy towards closing the gaping hole. After much effort, they successfully seal the breach and push back the incoming Menos Grandes. Now, they have to focus their efforts on destroying the Gillians that have entered Karakura Town.
Ishida, Chad, Inoue and Rukia seem clueless as to how to help a trapped Ichigo.
Jan. 26, 2010 ep. 255: Final Chapter – Zanpakutou Unknown Tales
Ichigo finds himself trapped inside Muramasa’s inner sanctum, which is quickly crumbling from disarray and hatred from the hollows that he consumed to sustain himself. Before their final battle, Ichigo questions Muramasa’s devotion to Kouga, insisting that a Shinigami’s bond with its zanpakutou can never truly be broken if it was genuine. Ichigo, with the help of Zangetsu, defeats Muramasa and his hypnotizing abilities. As the Muramasa’s refuge collapses, Ichigo leaves, but not before saving a falling and dying Muramasa. He pulls them out of the realm, and with his dying breath, Muramasa atones for his errors.
Byakuya thanks Ichigo for saving the day – the second time.
Finally, the spirits of the zanpakutous return to the swords of their masters.
Feb. 2, 2010 ep. 256: The Angered Byakuya! The Collapse of the Kuchiki House
Squad 6, with the permission of their captain, enjoy a relaxing day of sakura viewing at the Kuchiki mansion. However, the party is disrupted with the appearance of two attackers. Sode no Shirayuki and Senbonzakura materializes once again to fend them off. One is defeated while the other escapes.
Rukia and Byakuya bring the captured attacker, which later turned into a sword, to Kurotsuchi (12). He first defended himself for the reemergence of the zanpakutou, as he claims he just released them from Muramasa’s spell and nothing else. Kurotsuchi then hypothesizes that these attackers, the remnants, are zanpakutou which were released during Muramasa’s intrusion into Seireitei. Some zanpakutou that were released killed off their masters and for some reason are not dead themselves. He warns them that this group of escaped zanpakutou can also achieve bankai by themselves. Rukia, together with Sode no Shirayuki and Senbonzakura, throw a party in Toushirou’s backyard to bait the other escapee. When everyone is properly liquored up, the attacker emerges. Rukia, with her sword, captures the escaped beast sword for Kurotsuchi’s research.
Ukitake (13) and Kyoraku (8) are worried with the turn of events, considering that Seireitei is still rebuilding since Muramasa’s upheaval with the zanpakutou.
Feb. 9, 2010 ep. 257: A New Enemy! The True Nature of the Sword Beasts
It seems that the Beast Swords are able to fuse with hollows, retaining their mental state but gaining a hollow’s physical appearance and powers instead. Ichigo and Toushirou encounter a beast sword that quickly retreats.
Feb. 16, 2010 ep. 258: Stray Snake, Tortured Monkey
Renji (lt. 6) follows a beast sword to Karakura town with his sword, Zabimaru, which splits up to track down the enemy. Karin, one of Ichigo’s fraternal twin sister, sees the “invisible” Snake part of Zabimaru and bring him home with her. Upon seeing Ichigo, the Snake runs away only to stumble upon the beast sword. He almost overcomes the beast sword until it captures a hiding Karin. As the Snake is about to die, Renji and the other half of Zabimaru appear and save the Snake by defeating the beast sword. Renji then returns to Soul Society with the united Zabimaru. Ichigo tries unsuccessfully to convince Karin that everything was a dream.
Feb. 23, 2010 ep. 259: Terror! The Monster that Lurks Underground
Yamada Hanataro (4), Ise Nanao (lt. 8) and Madarame Ikkaku (11) (and Houzukimaru) are sent to investigate some thefts in Soul Society recently. They track the culprit into the sewers. Not only do they discover a white doll, but they are subsequently attacked by a large, octopus-like monster, which injures Madarame. Curiously, Hanataro seems to think that the doll looks familiar. The doll heals Madarame and defeats the beast sword simultaneously. The hero of the day turns out to be Hanataro’s zanpakuto, Hisagomaru. Hisagomaru, who thought that he was abandoned by his master, began to steal things around Soul Society to live by himself. As the group leaves the sewers and returns to Soul Society, they appear to have separated from Hisagomaru.
March 2, 2010 ep. 260: Conclusion! Hisagi vs. Kazeshini
Hisagi (lt. 9), Ikkaku (11), Kira (lt. 3) and Iba (lt. 7) are sent on a mission in the Rukon District to fend of the Beast Swords. Upon finishing off a remnant, Kazeshini, Hisagi’s zanpakutou, comes upon a dying man who begs him to care for his child. Kazeshini can’t decide if he wants to battle it out with his master or be a guardian to the child entrusted in his care. In the end, Kazeshini is defeated by Hisagi, after suffering an earlier wound while protecting the child. Kazeshini then returns in his state as a zanpakutou.
March 9, 2010 ep. 261: The Person with the Unknown Ability! Orihime is Targeted
Back in Karakura Town, a newbie in school, Kyoko Haida is being possessed by a Beast Sword. Kyoko has the ability to predict the future and because of this talent, was rejected by her best friend from her former school. Inoue uses her powers to separate the remnant from Kyoko, which Ichigo then trounces with Getsuga Tensho.
March 16, 2010 ep. 262: The Tragic Sword Fiend! Haineko Cries
Haineko befriends a beast sword, believing that this one will not loose control. In the end, Haineko has to cut her loses and severe the bonds of friendship when the beast sword looses control.
March 23, 2010 ep. 263: Imprisonment?! Sebonzakura and Zabimaru
Zabimaru and Senbonkaru are imprisoned the intruder containment system while delivering a sword beast. The situation goes from bad to worse when each of the swords unleash their bankai.
March 30, 2010 ep. 264: Battle of the Females? Katen Kyoukotsu vz. Nanao!
Nanao decides to bond with Katen Kyokotsu, Shunsui Kyouraku’s zanpakutou.
April 9, 2010 ep. 265: Evolution?! The Menace of the Final Sword Fiend
The zanpakutous destroy a certain sword beast that steals the reiatsu of other zanpakutous, to avoid putting their masters in danger.
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