The Soul Society: The Rescue arc (尸魂界 救出篇 Soul Society Kyushutsu Hen?) is the third season of the Bleach anime series. In the English adaptation of the anime released by Viz Media, the title of the season is translated as The Rescue. The episodes are directed by Noriyuki Abe and produced by TV Tokyo, Dentsu, and Studio Pierrot. The episodes are based on Tite Kubo's Bleach manga series over twenty-two episodes. The episodes' plot centers on Ichigo Kurosaki's and his friends' efforts to save Soul Reaper Rukia Kuchiki from execution by her superiors in Soul Society.
The season initially ran from July 26, 2005 to January 10, 2006 in Japan on TV Tokyo. The English adaptation of the season began airing on July 21, 2007 on Cartoon Network's Adult Swim programming bloc. On October 14, 2007, the Bleach anime went on a hiatus; episodes resumed airing on March 2, 2008, and finished airing on May 11, 2008.
The episodes use four pieces of theme music: two opening themes and two ending themes. The opening theme for the first ten episodes is "D-TecnoLife" by Uverworld; the other episodes of the season use "Ichirin no Hana" (一輪の花 One Lone Flower?) by High and Mighty Color. The two ending themes are "happypeople" by Skoop on Somebody, used from episode 42 to 52, and Yui's "Life", which was used for the remainder of the episodes.
Five DVD compilations, each containing four episodes of the season, with the exception of the last two discs with contain five episodes, were released by Aniplex between December 21, 2005 to April 26, 2006. The English adaptation of the anime is distributed by Viz Media; three DVD compilations have been released on July 22, 2008, September 23, 2008, and November 18, 2008 respectively. Another DVD compilation was set for release on January 20, 2009.
|EP#||Title||Original airdate||English airdate|
|42||Yoruichi, The Goddess of Flash, Dances!
"Shunjin Yoruichi, mau!" (瞬神夜一、舞う!)
|July 26, 2005||July 21, 2007|
|As Renji Abarai recovers in his cell, the spirit of his zanpakutō, Zabimaru, says that he wishes to face Ichigo Kurosaki's zanpakutō, Zangetsu, again, but Renji tells him that Ichigo is no longer his enemy. Elsewhere, Yoruichi Shihōin manages to evade Byakuya Kuchiki and escape with Ichigo. After Ichigo regains consciousness, she begins to instruct him in the use of his bankai, the final stage of his zanpakutō that would vastly increase his power. Uryū Ishida and Orihime Inoue are attempting to travel to Rukia Kuchiki's cell by using Soul Reaper clothes, but they are closely watched by twelfth division Soul Reaper captain Mayuri Kurotsuchi.|
|43||The Despicable Shinigami
"Hiretsu na shinigami" (卑劣な死神)
|August 2, 2005||July 28, 2007|
|Uryū and Orihime continue towards Rukia's location, but are accosted by Makizō Aramaki, a Soul Reaper of the eleventh division. Some twelfth division members arrive to help, but Mayuri Kurotsuchi, who has made them into human bombs, detonates them. Orihime uses her powers to protect Uryū and herself from the explosions, and Mayuri expresses his wish to experiment on Orihime. Uryū begins to fight Mayuri, but is quickly disabled by the paralzying abilities of Mayuri's zanpakutō when his lieutenant, Nemu Kurotsuchi, uses her body to hold down Uryū. Mayuri then reveals that he has experimented on many other Quincy, including Uryū's grandfather, Sōken Ishida, and was responsible for his death.|
|44||Ishida Power of Limits!
"Ishida, kyokugen no chikara!" (石田、極限の力!)
|August 9, 2005||August 4, 2007|
|Uryū uses the Quincy technique ransōtengai to overcome the paralysis of Mayuri's zanpakutō. However, he is outclassed by Mayuri, and is forced to take off his sanrei glove, an act that releases the limits on his powers. Uryū proceeds to completely overwhelm Mayuri, but Mayuri escapes by transforming into a liquid. Uryū continues on towards Rukia's cell, severely weakened, until he is confronted by another Soul Reaper captain, Kaname Tōsen.|
|45||Overcome the Limits!
"Genkai o koero!" (限界を越えろ!)
|August 16, 2005||August 11, 2007|
|Tōsen disables Uryū instantly with his zanpakutō, and has him incarcerated. Yoruichi summons Zangetsu using a tenshintai, one of Kisuke Urahara's inventions. Zangetsu states that if Ichigo defeats him, he will be able to perform his bankai, and will be slain if he fails. Elsewhere, Hanatarō Yamada is admonished by his captain, Retsu Unohana, for helping Ichigo, Renji breaks out of his prison cell, third division captain Gin Ichimaru releases his lieutenant, Izuru Kira, from his imprisonment, and eleventh division captain Kenpachi Zaraki agrees to help Orihime find Ichigo in order to fight Ichigo again.|
|46||Authentic Records! School of Shinigami
"Jitsuroku! Shinigami no gakkō" (実録! 死神の学校)
|August 23, 2005||August 18, 2007|
|While incarcerated, fifth division lieutenant Momo Hinamori recalls her experiences at the Soul Reaper Academy, where she befriended Renji and Izuru. On a field trip to hunt hollows, she and her comrades were saved by captain Sōsuke Aizen and then-lieutenant Gin Ichimaru when powerful hollows attacked. Back in the present, Hinamori knocks her guard unconscious and escapes from her cell, planning to confront the person who killed Aizen.|
"Adautsu monotachi" (仇討つ者たち)
|August 30, 2005||September 1, 2007|
|Yoruichi notes that Ichigo's training for his bankai is going well and stops the training for the day. She reveals in their subsequent conversation that Kisuke Urahara used to be the twelfth division captain. Elsewhere, Tōshirō Hitsugaya confronts Ichimaru and Kira over Aizen's murder, but is interrupted by Hinamori, who believes that Hitsugaya killed Aizen. Hitsugaya knocks Hinamori unconscious and prepares to kill Ichimaru.|
"Hitsugaya, hoeru!" (日番谷、吼える!)
|September 6, 2005||September 8, 2007|
|Hitsugaya and Ichimaru begin to fight, and Ichimaru initially takes the upper hand with his swordplay. Hitsugaya turns the tables by using the shikai of his zanpakutō to immobilize Ichimaru by freezing his arm, but this advantage is countered when Ichimaru uses his own shikai to threaten the unconscious Hinamori. Lieutenant Rangiku Matsumoto arrives to aid Hinamori and Hitsugaya, and Ichimaru withdraws rather than go against her. Meanwhile, Renji arrives at Ichigo's training spot, and reveals that Rukia's execution date has been moved to the next day.|
"Rukia no akumu" (ルキアの悪夢)
|September 13, 2005||September 15, 2007|
|Rukia reminisces about her past as a member of the thirteenth division. As she was able to get into the Thirteen Court Guard Squads due to being part of the Kuchiki clan, she was disliked by the other members of her division, but she was able to construct a deep friendship with lieutenant Kaien Shiba. One night, however, a hollow merged with Kaien and attempted to kill Rukia. Kaien regained control of his body, and impaled himself on Rukia's zanpakutō. Rukia, believing that she is a coward who killed Kaien, is convinced that she should be executed.|
|50||The Awakening Lion
"Yomigaeru shishi" (よみがえる獅子)
|September 20, 2005||September 22, 2007|
|In this filler episode, Kon tries to escape from Yuzu Kurosaki. While on the run, he is found by a desperate Don Kanonji, whose television ratings are starting to plummet. Together they reform the Karakura Superheroes, with Yuzu playing Karakura Yellow and Kon playing Karakura King.|
|51||Morning of the Sentence
"Shokei no asa" (処刑の朝)
|September 27, 2005||October 6, 2007|
|Kenpachi, along with Orihime and his subordinates, begins to travel to the execution grounds, but are confronted by captains Sajin Komamura and Kaname Tōsen and their lieutenants, Tetsuzaemon Iba and Shūhei Hisagi. Ikkaku Madarame and Yumichika Ayasegawa, Kenpachi's subordinates, begin fights with Iba and Hisagi respectively, and Komamura and Tōsen attack Kenpachi. Elsewhere, Renji has acquired his bankai, and Yoruichi is confident that Ichigo will do the same.|
|52||Renji, Oath of the Soul! Death Match with Byakuya
"Renji, tamashii no chikai! Byakuya to no shitō" (恋次、魂の誓い! 白哉との死闘)
|October 4, 2005[A]||October 13, 2007|
|Renji travels to Rukia's execution area, and meets his captain, Byakuya Kuchiki, along the way. Renji ends up using his bankai to fight Byakuya, but his lack of experience with his bankai stymies his efforts. Byakuya uses his shikai to try and counterattack but fails and Renji reveals that his bankai is held together by his spiritual pressure. Byakuya uses his own bankai and attacks again, wounding Renji and causes his bankai to fade away. Finally Renji makes a last try and actually reaches his captain with his zanpakto, but it breaks and Renji's wounds cause him to fall as the captain congratulates him.|
|53||Gin Ichimaru's Temptation, Resolution of Destruction
"Ichimaru Gin no yūwaku, kuzusareta kakugo" (市丸ギンの誘惑、崩された覚悟)
|October 4, 2005[A]||March 2, 2008|
|As Rukia travels to the execution area, Ichimaru shatters her resolve by offering to help her, but subsequently claiming that his offer was insincere to begin with. Kenpachi is easily battling both Komamura and Tōsen, forcing Tōsen to use his bankai, which removes all of Kenpachi's senses with the exception of his sense of touch. Despite being unable to see Tōsen, Kenpachi manages to locate and injure Tōsen, but is stopped from killing him by Komamura. Komamura activates his bankai and engages Kenpachi. Meanwhile, Rukia arrives at the execution grounds.|
|54||An Accomplished Oath! Get Back, Rukia!
"Hatasareru chikai! Rukia dakkan naruka!" (果たされる誓い! ルキア奪還なるか)
|October 18, 2005||March 9, 2008|
|Rukia has accepted her execution, and gives a request to General Shigekuni Yamamoto-Genryūsai to send Ichigo and his friends home after her execution. The sōkyoku, a massive halberd that transforms into a phoenix, is the execution method. However, Ichigo steps forward and stops the sōkyoku with his sword, and sympathetic captains Shunsui Kyōraku and Jūshirō Ukitake destroy the sōkyoku. As Renji arrives to take away Rukia, Ichigo defeats three pursuing lieutenants with his bare hands, and turns to face Byakuya.|
|55||The Strongest Shinigami! Ultimate Confrontation Between Teacher and Student
"Saikyō no shinigami! Kyūkyoku no shitei taiketsu" (最強の死神! 究極の師弟対決)
|October 25, 2005||March 16, 2008|
|Byakuya begins to fight Ichigo, and promises to execute Rukia himself. Fourth division captain Retsu Unohana personally heals all of the injured present, then leaves to investigate another location. Shunsui and Ukitake also sprint from the execution grounds, and the pair confront Yamamoto in a secluded area. In an overwhelming display, Yamamoto activates his shikai and incinerates the surrounding area.|
|56||Supersonic Battle! Determine the Goddess of Flash Cry
"Chōsoku no tatakai! Bu no megami, kessu" (超速の戦い! 武の女神、決す)
|November 1, 2005||March 23, 2008|
|Yumichika returns to his captain after defeating Hisagi, and Kenpachi remarks that Komamura fled after Yamamoto began fighting. Shunsui and Ukitake decide to fight their teacher, and both use the shikai of their zanpakutō. Meanwhile, captain Soi Fon begins to fight Yoruichi, her former commander and teacher, and gains the advantage after she begins using her shikai. Believing she has the advantage, Soi Fon activates a nameless technique she recently discovered which greatly increases her power. However, Yoruichi activates the same technique, calling it "flash cry".|
|57||One Thousand Cherry Blossoms, Crushed! Zangetsu Thrusts Through the Sky
"Senbonzakura, funsai! Ten o tsuku zangetsu" (千本桜、粉砕! 天を衝く斬月)
|November 8, 2005||March 30, 2008|
|Soi Fon recalls her past with Yoruichi. She was Yoruichi's personal guard, and highly faithful to her. However, when Yoruichi left Soul Society, she felt betrayed, and carried a grudge against her mentor from that point forward. As Soi Fon attacks, Yoruichi uses her flash cry to block all of Soi Fon's attacks. Soi Fon breaks down in tears, asking Yoruichi why she did not take her along when she left Soul Society. Ikkaku and Iba are fighting, albeit casually for sake. Near the execution site, Ichigo uses his newly learned Getsuga Tenshō technique to defeat Byakuya's shikai, and requests that Byakuya use his bankai.|
|58||Unseal! The Black Blade, the Miraculous Power
"Kaihō! Kuroki yaiba, kiseki no chikara" (開放! 黒き刃、奇跡の力)
|November 15, 2005||April 6, 2008|
|Byakuya uses his bankai and overwhelms Ichigo with millions of tiny blades. In response, Ichigo uses his own bankai, which makes him incredibly fast. Ichigo evades Byakuya's bankai and stabs him with his sword. Meanwhile, Tōshirō Hitsugaya and Rangiku Matsumoto head to the Central 46 Chambers, the highest authority in Soul Society.|
|59||Conclusion of the Death Match! White Pride and Black Desire
"Shitō kecchaku! Shiroki hokori to kuroki omoi" (死闘決着! 白き誇りと黒き想い)
|November 22, 2005||April 13, 2008|
|Byakuya uses the second form of his bankai, summoning several rows of swords. As he and Ichigo continue to fight, Ichigo becomes progressively weaker as the strain from his bankai increases. His inner hollow takes over his body after Byakuya wounds him, and he starts to overwhelm Byakuya. However, Ichigo manages to suppress his inner hollow, and regains control over his body. Both Ichigo and Byakuya focus the remainder of their powers and clash in a final strike, with Ichigo the victor. Byakuya reveals that he wished to execute Rukia to fulfill an oath to his parents, and admits defeat, claiming that Ichigo has convinced him not to execute Rukia. Elsewhere, Hitsugaya and Matsumoto enter the Central 46 Chambers.|
|60||Truth of the Despair, the Dagger That Has Been Brandished
"Zetsubō no shinjitsu, furiorosareta kyōjin" (絶望の真実、振り下ろされた凶刃)
|December 6, 2005||April 20, 2008|
|Hitsugaya and Matsumoto enter the Central 46 Chambers to find all of its occupants slain. Kira arrives, and Hitsugaya and Matsumoto pursue him. Hitsugaya returns when Kira tells him that Hinamori has entered the Central 46 Chambers. Ichimaru meets Hinamori and takes her further into the chambers, where she is reunited with Sōsuke Aizen. Aizen impales Hinamori with his sword, and Aizen and Ichimaru leave the chamber. Hitsugaya arrives, and is enraged at Hinamori's state. He uses his bankai, but Aizen effortlessly defeats him. Retsu Unohana appears, denouncing Aizen after discovering that he is a traitor. Aizen then informs her that every Soul Reaper has been under the hypnosis of his zanpakutō, with the exception of the blind Kaname Tōsen, Aizen's other accomplice.|
|61||Aizen Stands Out! His Terrifying Ambitions
"Aizen, tatsu! Osorubeki yabō" (藍染、立つ! 恐るべき野望)
|December 13, 2005||April 27, 2008|
|At Unohana's command, Isane Kotetsu informs all high-ranking members of the Thirteen Court Guard Squads of Aizen's duplicity. Aizen arrives at Rukia's execution site, where Tōsen has brought Rukia and Renji. When Aizen asks Renji to leave Rukia, he refuses and begins to fight Aizen. Ichigo also arrives, and the two fight in unison against Aizen. Aizen defeats both of them, and begins to explain his reasons for betraying Soul Society until he is interrupted by Komamura.|
|62||Congress Together! The Strongest Shinigami Organization
"Shūketsuseyo! Saikyō no shinigami shūdan" (集結せよ! 最強の死神集団)
|December 20, 2005||May 4, 2008|
|Aizen defeats Komamura with an extremely powerful kidō spell and continues his explanation. He expresses his desire for the Orb of Distortion, an artifact that would allow him to gain hollow powers. He extracts the Orb of Distortion from Rukia, where Kisuke Urahara had hidden it. When he orders Ichimaru to kill Rukia, Byakuya saves her. The majority of the Thirteen Court Guard Squads then arrives to restrain Aizen. Aizen and his accomplices manage to escape when several hollows pull them into Hueco Mundo. Afterwards, as Byakuya recovers, he explains to Rukia that he married her sister, Hisana, and adopted Rukia into the Kuchiki clan due to Hisana's dying wish. However, he broke the clan's rules in doing so, and swore to his parents to uphold rules regardless of the circumstances from that point forward, and was torn between following the rules and allowing Rukia's execution or breaking them to save her.|
|63||Rukia's Resolution, Ichigo's Feelings
"Rukia no ketsui, Ichigo no omoi" (ルキアの決意、一護の想い)
|January 10, 2006||May 11, 2008|
|After a clip show in which the events of the arc are recounted, Ichigo and his friends return to the human world. However, Rukia decides to remain in Soul Society rather than leave with Ichigo.|
- A Episodes 52 and 53 originally aired together as a one hour special.
- B Episode 63 was an hour-long special.
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