Ichigo Kurosaki has quite the impressive resume. We’ve watched this high school student turned Soul Reaper hack and slash his way through Soul Society and Hueco Mundo. We’ve witnessed his incredible feats of strength, bravery, and loyalty as he took on the Gotei 13, the heartless Espada, and finally—in a battle that cost him his Soul Reaper powers—Sousuke Aizen. Now, seventeen months after his showdown with Aizen, Ichigo faces his most daunting challenge yet: balancing school, work, sports, and family life while thoughts of where to go to college loom on the horizon.
If that sounds strangely mundane for somebody who singlehandedly saved the world less than two years ago, it’s because, well… it is. After losing all traces of his spiritual powers though, Ichigo has little choice but to resume life as a completely normal seventeen-year-old boy.
At least, one would think so. But Ichigo, it turns out, can’t quite accept his peaceful and uneventful existence. He’s restless. He’s the soldier who can never quite shake the thought that there’s always somebody out there who needs his protection. With the absence of the solid weight of his sword, Zangetsu, in his hands comes the worry of not being able to protect his loved ones.
But this is Bleach! We know that if things seem oddly peaceful, then it’s probably because something catastrophic is about to occur. And soon enough, it does, catapulting Ichigo back onto the battlefield! Ichigo runs into a mysterious man named Kugo Ginjo. Ginjo implies that Isshin Kurosaki and Urahara have dark secrets that Ichigo doesn’t know about, and that they are perhaps not the good men Ichigo believes them to be.
His curiosity piqued, Ichigo follows Ginjo into his hideout. He introduces Ichigo to a group called Xcution. All of its members are Fullbringers—humans who are able to pull souls out of objects because a hollow attacked their mothers. We’ve already apparently met two other Fullbringers—Sado Chad and Inoue Orihime.
Ginjo and the Xcutioners say they plan on helping Ichigo regain his Soul Reaper powers through a series of brutal training battles. And although Ichigo is wary of them, the thought of having his powers back proves impossible for him to resist.
But there’s more to this plot. Uryu Ishida is suddenly attacked by a man with a sword that looks similar to a zanpakuto. The same man later attacks both Chad and Orihime. Ginjo identifies him as Tsukushima, a rogue Fullbringer who aims to thwart Ichigo’s training.
Exactly what does Tsukushima want? Can Ginjo and the Xcutioners really be trusted, or are Tsukushima and them just two sides of the same coin? Will Ichigo regain his Soul Reaper powers again and finally reunite with Rukia and the other Soul Reapers after almost two years?
by Gretchen Smail