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And thus we scream: Hell, YEAH!!
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Being among the mainstream anime/manga series of this generation, Bleach is overwhelmed with so many powerful moments that it's difficult to list them all, but we'll try.

Please list the entries under the appropriate arc.


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    Agent of the Shinigami Arc 
  • Chapter 1:
    • Ichigo's very first appearance consists of him beating the crap out of a gang of skateboarding teens as punishment for them knocking over a vase of flowers left as a memorial for a dead girl, not even breaking a sweat as he takes them out with a single attack each and angrily lectures them for their actions. Awesome, heartwarming, and damn funny at certain points? That's quintessential Bleach right there.
    • Ichigo's first truly awesome moment in the series comes when he breaks free of Rukia's Sai spell through sheer force of will in order to protect his sisters, as the first real demonstration of Ichigo's power and what motivates him to use it.
    • Rukia herself is no slouch, even though we don't get to see the full extent of her power for a couple arcs - despite her initial inability to sense Fishbone D, the Hollow attacking Ichigo and his family, she quickly and calmly slashes right through his arm in order to free Ichigo's sister Yuzu and is quite ready to finish it off there and then, only being distracted and subsequently injured due to Ichigo's misinterpretation of why the Hollow attacked in the first place.
    • Faced with no other option besides death after Rukia is critically injured, Ichigo unhesitatingly absorbs Rukia's Shinigami powers to protect his family - only to unintentionally take all of them, rather than half, and proceed to slash Fishbone D's arm clean off before cutting him in half, all in the span of maybe half a minute real-time while wielding a truly massive Zanpakutō. Even Rukia is awed by the power she's witnessing.
  • Chapter 2:
    • Having learned that Rukia needs time to regain her Shinigami powers and being told that he will take up her duties in the meantime, Ichigo abjectly refuses, as he does not want to fight more monsters for anyone other than his family, so Rukia drags him to a park and prevents him from intervening when a Hollow begins hunting down the soul of a young boy nearby in order to prove to him that he must treat all crises equally and not just protect those close to him. However, Ichigo turns her logic back on her by pointing out that she didn't adhere to this logic about her duties the previous night when she saved him and his family, and after making short work of the Hollow, he agrees to help her as best he can because he owes her a debt; all this serves not only to cement Ichigo's persona of a Jerk with a Heart of Gold, but also demonstrate his intelligence for the first time.
  • Chapter 5:
    • Ichigo faces his first true challenge in Acidwire, Orihime's deceased and Hollowfied brother. On top of having a badass name, Acidwire rapidly reinforces Rukia's assertions that Ichigo will need training in order to properly confront Hollows by exploiting his openings, burning his hands with acid, and whacking him right into the street with his tail.
    • Not to be outdone, upon hearing Acidwire's proclamation that he will kill Orihime for abandoning him, Ichigo pops right back up and cuts off both his hands and most of his tail before giving a righteously angry "The Reason You Suck" Speech, the first of many:
      Ichigo: Big brothers...you know why they're born first? To protect the little ones who come after them! What kind of brother says he'll kill his own sister?! Even a MONSTER shouldn't say that!
  • Chapter 6:
    • Though Ichigo is the only one present with any real spiritual powers at this point, it's Orihime who ends the fight: when Acidwire moves to devour her, Orihime intercepts his bite...with a hug, wrapping her arms around his head as he bites into her, and rather than take Ichigo's more aggressive path, she chooses to defuse the situation by forgiving her brother and showing understanding for his actions while tearfully explaining herself. Even before she gained powers of her own, Orihime was always empowered by her love and compassion.
  • Chapter 7:
    • Sado's introduction: while discussing a supposedly cursed parakeet with his friends near a construction site, he's alerted to a steel I-beam falling on top of them - but rather than push everyone out of the way, he simply catches the damn thing on his back, suffering little more than a scratch on his forehead. This moment is so iconic for his character, it got replicated in two movies!
  • Chapter 8:
    • Another example of Ichigo's rapidly burgeoning spiritual powers: he and Rukia need to track down Sado after he goes on the run with Yūichi, the talking parakeet, but he can't detect the Hollow pursuing them because it hasn't appeared in the Human World yet...so instead, Ichigo opts to track down Yūichi. Though she initially brushes this off as impossible, Rukia is stunned to see Ichigo manage to use Reiraku, an advanced detection technique, after simply concentrating for a few seconds, which lets him precisely locate Yūichi and Sado by extension. Even more so than the first chapter when he defeated Fishbone D, Rukia is simply astonished by Ichigo's power - and coming from a 150 year-old Shinigami, that's impressive.
  • Chapter 9:
    • Despite still not having anywhere near the totality of her powers back, Rukia is far from helpless on her own. When confronted by Shrieker, a cunning and relatively experienced Hollow in his own right, she manages to hold her own for quite a bit with (weakened) Kidō and her own (hampered) agility, enough to buy time until...
    • Sado's arrival mid-fight drastically turns the tables. As Shrieker pins Rukia against a wall and gloats about the power disparity between them, Sado appears and punches him right off of her, sending the fairly large Hollow flying. The most impressive part is, at this point, Sado can't even see Hollows - but he can sure as hell hit them, which he proves by landing another strong punch.
    • Shrieker quickly catches on that Sado is hitting him by pure chance and unveils his wings to take to the air and avoid him. However, with Rukia around, this is quickly rendered worthless when she points Sado in the right direction, prompting the latter to break a telephone pole off its base and slam it right into Shrieker. Shrieker's reaction to this turn of events is simply priceless.
  • Chapter 10:
    • Shrieker gets a moment of his own when he reveals how he survived his two previous encounters with Shinigami up until now: he can spawn miniature creatures called Targets that can pin down his prey for him. Though Sado manages to free himself and Rukia from the Targets in short order, Shrieker reveals their true danger: the ability to spit out leeches that stick to his enemies and detonate when he produces a certain sound with his tongue, which does considerable damage to Rukia. Knowing that he can't take Sado head-on, Shrieker has one of his Targets hold Yuichi, the parakeet, hostage under threat of blowing him up if Sado moves a muscle, allowing him to start chasing Rukia alone. Sadistic and dastardly? Most definitely...but undeniably cunning and clever.
    • That being said, Rukia doesn't let Sado's sidelining impair her as she doggedly runs away from Shrieker while sustaining more and more injuries from his bombs. When she seemingly reaches a dead end, a smirking Rukia reveals that she wasn't running away...she was leading Shrieker away and buying time. Cue Ichigo, having taken care of his ailing sister Karin, pinning Shrieker down with a foot on his head to make his presence known.
  • Chapter 11:
    • Ichigo quickly demonstrates that he's on a whole different level from the two Shinigami that Shrieker fought before, possessing both Sado's power and Rukia's ability to see Shrieker and strategize; in about two minutes, he gives Shrieker his first real injury in the form of a cut on the shoulder, maneuvers right through his Targets and leech bombs (which he had figured out the danger of when he encountered the Target holding Yuichi hostage) and corners Shrieker with his Zanpakutō against the Hollow's throat. Of the early fights, this is the first to show just how fast Ichigo's combat skills are developing with each new fight.
    • Taking the chance to ask Shrieker about his relation to Yuichi, Ichigo is visibly horrified to learn that the Hollow killed Yuichi's mother, stuffed his soul into a parakeet, and promised to revive his mother if he could run away successfully for three months. Seeing this and assuming that Ichigo's too stunned to keep fighting, Shrieker unleashes more leech bombs and prepares to blow them up...but Ichigo isn't stunned, he's enraged, and he shoves Shrieker's leeches right back into his mouth before ripping out his tongue. Righteous fury, thy name is Ichigo.
  • Chapter 12:
    • For the first time, Ichigo proves just how willing he is to Pay Evil unto Evil: rather than purify Shrieker right then and there, Ichigo opts to shove his Zanpakutō right through Shrieker's leg, which the Hollow is forced to sever in order to get away, and furiously tells him to experience the pain and terror he inflicted upon so many others in life. That's when he delivers the finishing blow. And Shrieker deserved every second of it.
  • Chapter 16:
    • Kon, an artificial soul purchased by Rukia in order to keep up pretenses by inhabiting Ichigo's body while he's out dealing with Hollows, has turned out to be a Modified artificial soul with a (lecherous) personality of his own and no intention of serving Ichigo and Rukia, causing no end of trouble in the process as he takes the first body he's ever inhabited for a test run. However, when he realizes a Hollow is going to attack three boys he encountered earlier, despite the children having seriously angered him with their callous treatment of some video game characters (which reminded Kon of his own Dark and Troubled Past), he goes back to save them by drawing the Hollow away, suffering several injuries in the process. After Ichigo catches up to him, the two almost backhandedly finish off the Hollow with a simultaneous attack...and when he sees the Hollow about to fall on a line of ants, Kon kicks it high into the air, nearly falling to his death in the process, because he places a high value on all life and refuses to ever kill, no matter what. An Actual Pacifist right down to his core.
  • Chapter 20:
    • A powerful and cunning Hollow, Grand Fisher, has appeared in the graveyard the Kurosaki family is visiting to pay respects to the late Masaki Kurosaki, where he begins attacking Karin and Yuzu, sensing their spiritual powers. Just as he's about to devour Yuzu, Ichigo, who had been spending much of the day in a deep depression over the role he played in his mother's death before sensing Grand Fisher's presence, arrives in his Shinigami form and cuts right through the Hollow's tendril and arm to free his sisters, all while glaring daggers at Grand Fisher and standing confidently to face him. A comparatively short one compared to later instances in the series, but an effective He's Back moment all the same.
  • Chapter 21:
    • Even more so than Shrieker, Grand Fisher proves himself to be an incredibly experienced Hollow. After it's revealed that he's been at this for 54 years, which may as well be a Time Abyss compared to just about every other Hollow in the series introduced prior and since, Grand Fisher just starts overwhelming Ichigo with his prehensile strands of fur and regenerating limbs, and for the first time, Ichigo is clearly unable to hold his own due to the truly vast experience gap.
    • That being said, knowing how outmatched he is doesn't daunt Ichigo one bit. Why? Because he's just learned that Grand Fisher is the one who killed his mother, having eaten her soul while in pursuit of Ichigo himself, and he's absolutely furious. Even as he's being caught up in Grand Fisher's assault, Ichigo refuses to let Rukia intervene and help him with Kidō because, in his words, this fight is personal.
  • Chapter 22:
    • As the fight between him and Grand Fisher intensifies, Ichigo resolves to kill him dead for the suffering Grand Fisher has caused his family...only for this resolution to promptly fall flat when Grand Fisher reveals just how he's managed to evade the Shinigami for 54 years: he's got Combo Platter Powers, the most potent of which allows him to reach into an enemy's soul and turn his Lure (the girl Ichigo saw by the river all those years ago) into the one thing they cannot cut - which, in this case, he promptly reveals is Masaki as Ichigo finds himself staring at a replica of his mother. Perhaps the first Crowning Moment of Evil in the entire series.
  • Chapter 23:
    • True to his word, Grand Fisher's able to trip up Ichigo and render him completely unable to attack with his fake version of Masaki, who sounds and acts just like the real thing, allowing him to impale Ichigo right through it. However, while Grand Fisher's gloating over his finishing blow, he suddenly finds Ichigo's Zanpakutō lodged in his shoulder and, for the first time, is speechless. Having taken the opportunity to attack while Grand Fisher is right in front of him, Ichigo unleashes another "The Reason You Suck" Speech (one of his best, and an Ironic Echo at that) before tearing Grand Fisher nearly in half.
      Ichigo: You're dead, Grand Fisher! But I'll say this, for your sake. Of all the ones I've faced, you were the oldest...the slimiest...and the most annoying Hollow ever.
  • Chapter 30:
    • Don Kanonji, the premier spirit medium of the 21st century with a hit television show, has come to Karakura Town to "purify" a local abandoned hospital of a ghost that seems to be haunting it. Ichigo, of course, does not at all believe Don Kanonji's capable of such a thing due to his well-ingrained disdain for psychics and mediums of all varieties, but is dragged along to the taping by his family. When Don Kanonji not only finds the ghost but begins inadvertently turning it into a Hollow, Ichigo tries to stop him, but is too late to prevent the transformation, creating a Hollow directly above a crowd of hundreds of people. The awesome part comes when he tries to engage it in a fight - rather than run away in fear or blame Ichigo for this as you might expect, Don Kanonji shoves Ichigo aside to fight the "demon" himself, despite barely knowing what it is and never having had to fight a Hollow before. While this isn't explained for another chapter, it's a strong start for one of the series' more enduring and quirky Human characters.
  • Chapter 31:
    • Once again, Ichigo shows off his intellect - knowing that every civilian in the crowd is in danger if they keep fighting the Hollow outside, he waits for an opening and drags Don Kanonji inside the abandoned hospital to make sure they can continue the battle without anyone else getting hurt. Even Don Kanonji is impressed by his quick thinking and prioritizing.
    • On his end, Don Kanonji explains just why he's involving himself in this battle: even though he's outmatched and out of his depth, he refuses to simply run away from the Hollow because most of his audience at home is comprised of children, whom he tries to teach about courage with every episode of his show, and he doesn't want to set a bad example for them, a notion which even Ichigo is moved by. And then, when the newly-formed Hollow shows up and binds Ichigo's hands to his Zanpakutō after he accidentally gets it stuck in the ceiling, leaving him helpless, Don Kanonji steps in to protect him in what is his (second) most powerful moment in the series, where he sticks his staff between the Hollow's jaws and proclaims that he will give his life to help one as noble as Ichigo.
  • Chapter 32:
    • How exactly does Don Kanonji help Ichigo? With his very own spiritual technique, the Kan'onball! Keep in mind, though there are quite a few other Humans who can see spirits by this point, Don Kanonji is the first one other than Ichigo to demonstrate any actual offensive power beyond that, and one that he honed on his own without interaction with the main cast either! It may not be much in comparison to later powers and techniques, as a small, slow-moving ball of energy that leaves Don Kanonji damn near unable to move from fatigue, but it packs quite an explosive punch, enough to free Ichigo's Zanpakutō - and that's all the latter needs, leaving him genuinely impressed by Don Kanonji's actions as he proceeds to finish the battle on his own.
  • Chapter 34:
    • Uryū Ishida makes himself known to Ichigo and Rukia for the first time. After spending the previous two days effortlessly killing Hollows before the pair can get to them, he walks up to them in the middle of the night, chides them for bickering with each other, and demonstrates just how powerful and experienced he is (for this point in the series) by detecting an emerging Hollow before Soul Society doesnote  and just as quickly destroying it - with an arrow. Ichigo and Rukia can only watch in silence as Uryū introduces himself: he's a Quincy...who hates Shinigami. Chills.
  • Chapter 35:
    • Uryū continues his badass introduction when Ichigo tries to tail him home; casually revealing that he knew Ichigo was following him ever since he spied on Uryū at crafts club earlier that day, Uryū casually, effortlessly uses the same Reiraku technique Ichigo used to find Sado, which he explains is how he figured out Ichigo had Shinigami powers, and then challenges him to a duel to prove which one of them is a better protector of Karakura Town.
  • Chapter 39:
    • With Ichigo and Uryū's duel underway, Hollows have begun swarming the town, and a large one, Bulbous G, finds Sado, who runs to what he believes is an abandoned lot to protect nearby civilians. However, Karin is there as well, and after learning that Sado cannot properly see Bulbous G, she begins acting as his eyes while he protects the both of them from Bulbous G's attacks. Despite this, Sado's natural strength proves to not be enough to even faze Bulbous G, who sends him flying and moves to attack Karin's friends when they come to investigate. With a memory of his grandfather telling him to use his strong body to protect others and be kind rising to the forefront because of this, Sado gets up and throws another punch - which blows Bulbous G's arm clean off, shocking him and Karin. The dust settles to reveal Sado, now standing with what will later be revealed to be his Fullbring - Brazo Derecha de Gigante, among the most iconic shots of the series.
  • Chapter 40:
    • Though he's not sure exactly what's happened to his arm, Sado does know that he's got a chance to win now and promptly seizes it by destroying Bulbous G's head with another punch, ending the fight in just two blows.
  • Chapter 41:
    • Numb Chandelier, another large Hollow, appears at Karakura High School, and as the only one of her friends who can see it, Orihime attempts to get them all out while pretending that nothing is wrong, but Tatsuki runs off to change her clothes, leaving Numb Chandelier to begin her assault on Orihime by taking control of her classmates with body-controlling seeds. However, just as Orihime is being swarmed by students who begin ripping off her clothing, Tatsuki returns and reminds the reader that she's a black belt in karate by angrily kicking the students off Orihime and declaring that she swears retribution on anyone who makes Orihime cry.
  • Chapter 42:
    • Though Tatsuki plows through the ordinary students, she's caught off-guard when Chizuru grabs her, which allows Numb Chandelier to infect her as well. Despite this, Tatsuki manages to resist the effects of the seed unlike all the students before her and defiantly bites Numb Chandelier's tentacle, enraging the latter to the point of attempting to kill her with even more seeds.
    • Orihime finally gets her own power to fight with: though a possessed Tatsuki is kicking the crap out of her, all Orihime can think of is how important Tatsuki is to her as the friend who protected her for so many years, leading her to declare that she will protect Tatsuki from now on. This resolve awakens her own innate spiritual powers, the Shun Shun Rikka, who knock out all the other students and sever one of Numb Chandelier's tentacles as Orihime glares daggers at her, now possessing the will to fight.
  • Chapter 43:
    • In just one chapter, Orihime's status as one of the most (potentially) powerful characters in the series gets firmly established: she can create a shield to block anything, she can use a barrier to heal anything, and to finish the fight she's got a technique that can bifurcate anything. Though it's tempered by her lack of killing intent and self-esteem issues later on, even here it's clear that she's going to be a vital player from now on, even more than Uryū.
  • Chapter 44:
    • Having cleared out enough Hollows to protect Karin from harm, Ichigo finally resumes his confrontation with Uryū, whose attempted kill of a Hollow he interrupts by cutting it in half from behind, flipping over him, Rukia, and Kon, and proclaiming that he's finally found Uryū, who's equally ready to settle things.
  • Chapter 45:
    • Flabbergasted and irritated by Ichigo arguing with Rukia and Kon rather than paying attention to him, Uryū readies an arrow to get his attention - but the blood on his finger causes him to accidentally fire it at Ichigo. However, Ichigo's come quite a way from the inexperienced boy he was in his first fight and almost offhandedly cuts right through the arrow, shocking Uryū with his reflexes.
  • Chapter 47:
    • Having learned of the massacre of the Quincy at the hands of the Shinigami and of Uryū's actions being driven by the death of his kindly mentor, who only wanted Shinigami and Quincy to work together, Ichigo decides that they are best suited to fight the Hollow hordes back-to-back - and after learning of Ichigo's own motivations for fighting, Uryū agrees. The anime even expands on this by giving them more scenes of killing Hollows in unison, just to drive in the hype of the series' very first team-up.
    • Kubo reminds everyone that he's really, really good at mixing awesome with Nightmare Fuel with his introduction of the Menos Grande, a 50 foot-tall Hollow that tears open the sky and devours its fellow Hollows rather than souls. As frightening as this is in what was up until now another standard Hollow fight, it's awe-inspiring in its own way, with even the characters themselves unable to believe what they're looking at.
  • Chapter 48:
    • After his prior appearances hinted that he and his quirky crew had more to them than meets the eye, Urahara proves it in spades when they show up and promptly decimate the remaining "normal" Hollows in the area, with Ururu blasting them with a BFG, Jinta using what amounts to a giant baseball bat to whack them away, and Tessai busting open heads with his mere fists. Even Uryū, who had previously been acting like he knew the exact power levels of those surrounding Ichigo, is left stunned by the prowess and power on display, all while Urahara treats his employees' rampage like just another Tuesday. His personal moment to shine comes when Rukia tries to stop Ichigo from fighting the Menos Grande - he immobilizes Rukia with a flick of his fingers, and she realizes that he's using Kidō. Though initially meant to hint at Urahara being the overarching Big Bad of the story before plans changed in the next arc, it's still an effective peek at what lies in store with his character.
  • Chapter 49:
    • Ichigo's attacks barely scratch the Menos Grande, and Uryū's arrows likewise don't even faze it, but Uryū learns that he can channel Ichigo's power into his own attacks by touching his Zanpakutō. Though Uryū initially tries to take advantage of this by tying Ichigo's Zanpakutō to his head and instructing him to release all his power at once so they can unleash a massive arrow, Ichigo reveals that he can't do this because he never learned how to control his power, much to Uryū's shock, and assumes that he's just constantly at maximum power anyway. However, when the Menos Grande unleashes a Cero that threatens to destroy the area, Ichigo blocks it with his Zanpakutō and seems to be be struggling to withstand it...until a stunned Uryū realizes that his power and the pressure it's exerting is actually rising, due to being "bottled up" by the immense energy of the Cero he's facing, and can only watch in astonishment as an empowered Ichigo proceeds to slash the Menos Grande all the way up its body.
  • Chapter 50:
    • Ichigo's attack actually scars the Menos Grande and forces it to retreat! No one watching it can believe their eyes other than Ichigo, who simply throws up the peace symbol and declares victory.
    • When Ichigo's power begins going out of control due to its chaotic release, Uryū steps in and begins siphoning it off into massive arrows in order to stabilize Ichigo. Even as the raw power tears up his arms and fingers, Uryū refuses to let the one who opened his eyes die like this, eventually succeeding at the cost of severe damage to his body.
  • Chapter 52:
    • Renji and Byakuya, the first Shinigami to appear after 50 chapters of Rukia being the sole representative of Soul Society, appear to bring her in for her crime of transferring her powers to Ichigo. Renji quickly proves that he's far beyond the ken of any combatant who has appeared so far by executing powerful and precise sword slashes against Rukia, who is visibly frightened to be confronted by him, while Byakuya stuns Rukia with just his mere presence.
    • When all seems lost for Rukia, Uryū intervenes with an arrow that Renji very narrowly dodges, and upon being asked who he is, Uryū merely replies that he is a Quincy who hates Shinigami. Once again, chills.
  • Chapter 53:
    • Though the latter is still recovering from his injuries, Renji effortlessly defeating Uryū is still effective in establishing just how dangerous a properly trained Shinigami really is. Hell, it's even off-panel!
    • Just as Renji prepares to deliver the finishing blow, Ichigo arrives, having been assisted in entering his Shinigami form by Urahara, and interrupts by shattering and cratering the ground with a strike of his Zanpakutō, shocking Renji, who clearly didn't expect to be facing that kind of power here.
  • Chapter 54:
    • Ichigo and Renji's battle gets underway, and Renji quickly proves the benefit of experience and training by driving Ichigo to his knees in just a few seconds with a slash to the shoulder. However, as he's boasting about their gap in power, Ichigo picks up on the claim that he could not even scratch the chin of a proper Shinigami and proceeds to do just that to Renji, who's both impressed and irritated by his impudence.
    • Byakuya reveals that Ichigo is the one who scarred the Menos Grande in the report they received yesterday; finding this improbable, Renji decides to demonstrate just how far apart they are by debuting the most iconic aspect of Bleach and releasing his Shikai, Zabimaru, which Ichigo is completely unprepared to face and suffers a sizeable injury from.
  • Chapter 55:
    • Despite his injuries, despite the gap in experience between him and Renji, despite Rukia telling him to run and attempting to restrain Renji so he can do so...Ichigo refuses to give up. Though Renji initially assumes that he just wants to go down swinging, he is swiftly proven wrong when Ichigo, surging with power as he realizes he is in mortal peril for the first time, turns the tables on the Shinigami in just two blows, leaving him a bloody mess and breaking his visor as he's left wondering just what the hell is happening.
    • However, when Ichigo moves in for the finishing blow, it's Byakuya who ends the conflict - by breaking off most of Ichigo's Zanpakutō faster than anyone can see him. With Ichigo, Renji, and Rukia all watching in astonishment, Byakuya simply Flash Steps next to Ichigo and initiates Senka, taking Ichigo down for the count in just two stabs.
  • Chapter 58:
    • Saved by Urahara, Ichigo's agreed to train for the next 10 days before he follows Rukia to Soul Society and enacts his rescue attempt. After school lets out for the summer, Ichigo is approached by Orihime, who reveals that she remembers Rukia (unlike most of their classmates) and wants to know what is going on. When a conflicted Ichigo fills her in while expecting protest of his plan, Orihime instead encourages him to save Rukia and give her another chance at life, which brings back his resolve, and promises to herself that she will protect him while he does so.
  • Chapter 59:
    • Ichigo begins his training with Urahara and is asked to spar with Ururu, whom he sees as just a timid little girl and is reluctant to hurt. Ururu quickly changes his mind, however, when she throws a punch so powerful that it basically creates an explosion, destroying the ground beneath him. Not such a timid girl after all, huh?
  • Chapter 60:
    • As he runs away, Ichigo realizes that he is now able to keep up with Ururu and decides to start actually engaging her, which he does by dodging her punch, to the surprise of everyone present, and managing to land a punch that scratches her cheek. All this with the bare minimum of power allotted to him by being a soul, with no Shinigami power present.
    • Not to be outdone, Ururu further proves her threat level by kicking Ichigo so hard he craters a giant rock several meters away. If Tessai hadn't caught him and absorbed the brunt of the impact, Ichigo might have actually died there.
  • Chapter 61:
    • While the circumstances aren't very awesome, Tessai gives us the first demonstration of high-level Kidō in the series and decides to just max out at the start by easily binding Ichigo with Bakudō #99. Kin. Unlike the low-level (as in, #1) spell he broke out of in chapter 1, there's no way Ichigo's escaping from this one on his own, and Tessai manages to maintain it for a solid 3 days straight!
  • Chapter 63:
    • Having been unable to escape in time to prevent his own Hollowfication, Ichigo wakes up in his inner world for the first time and encounters none other than Old Man Zangetsu, who just radiates awesome and mystery as he lectures and berates Ichigo before sincerely congratulating him when the latter finds his own Shinigami powers.
    • Really, the revelation that Ichigo has his OWN Shinigami powers counts as well - prior to this, Ichigo was uncertain if he could really rescue Rukia and defeat the Shinigami in Soul Society after Byakuya seemingly destroyed his powers, but upon learning that he's still got a chance, he IMMEDIATELY regains his resolve and confidence, even as he's left confused by the enigmatic man before him.
  • Chapter 64:
    • First, as he sees a rapidly Hollowfying Ichigo breaking out of his restraints, despite that supposedly not being possible, Tessai simply follows up with the SECOND Bakudō #99., Bankin, which just goes completely over-the-top with multiple levels of powerful restraints on Ichigo - and once again, Tessai does it effortlessly!
    • But even that isn't enough to stop Ichigo, who bursts out of the pit in an explosion of power, bounces off the walls and ceiling, and comes to a stop in front of Urahara and his crew...where the dust clears to reveal this in all its Creepy Awesome glory. To many, this is when Ichigo looked most like a proper, demonic Shinigami from real-life folklore, and for good reason. However, Ichigo shatters the mask to reveal that he is in fact still alive and not a Hollow, and when Urahara cheerfully informs him that lesson three can begin, Ichigo simply responds by slashing at him with his still-broken Zanpakutō so hard that the air pressure creates a small cut in Urahara's hat, shutting him right up.
    • That being said, when he realizes that Ichigo really is raring to go and enact revenge on him for the suffering he's endured, Urahara just smiles and unsheathes his own Zanpakutō, clearly ready to correct Ichigo's misconceptions about him.
  • Chapter 65:
    • After delivering Rukia's execution verdict to her, Byakuya finds himself confronted by Gin and Kenpachi, who proceed to mockingly discuss Byakuya's demeanor in the face of his sister being sentenced to death. When Kenpachi offers to behead Rukia as a favor to Byakuya and his noble family, the two seem to be gearing up for a fight - only for Kenpachi and Gin to suddenly vanish. Byakuya looks over at a nearby roof to find that Gin has tied up Kenpachi, who is VASTLY more powerful than him, and the smiling captain simply bids him farewell before vanishing with his cargo in tow. One hell of a way to introduce two of the more important captains in the storyline.
    • Meanwhile, Ichigo is quickly discovering that Urahara is not the pushover of a combatant that he expected as the latter just chases him around while swinging his sword around seemingly at random and cuts through rocks. However, Ichigo realizes that because Urahara drew his sword from a cane, he obviously can't be a Shinigami and cannot hurt Ichigo with said sword...but swiftly finds Urahara's Zanpakutō not only cutting off the remnants of his mask, but lightly cutting his head as well. With Ichigo stunned by this, Urahara berates him for making such an assumption and releases his OWN Shikai, Benihime, to drive the point home. It was at this point that readers knew for certain Urahara was not to be trifled with.
  • Chapter 66:
    • Urahara proves just how skilled, relentless, and downright scary of a combatant he can be as he, quite simply, dominates Ichigo during their ensuing match. Ichigo can barely dodge his attacks, and whenever he blocks, Urahara just takes off another part of his remaining Zanpakutō, eventually leaving Ichigo holding just a hilt. When Urahara sincerely promises to kill Ichigo if he keeps fighting with just the broken hilt, Ichigo is so scared for his life that he just starts fleeing instead. It's as frightening as it is chillingly awesome.
    • Just as Ichigo seems to be doomed, Zangetsu appears once more and restores Ichigo's fighting spirit by reminding him of the true circumstances of this fight in the form of another iconic, enduring quote of the series: this allows Ichigo to finally access his own Shikai.
      Zangetsu: Why do you run, Ichigo? You still haven't called me. Face forward, Ichigo. You should be able to hear it now. What's plugging your ears is only fear. There is only one enemy, and one of you. What is there to fear? Abandon your fear. Face forward. Advance. Don't give an inch. Retreat and you will age. Be afraid and you will die! Shout my name!
  • Chapter 67:
    • And Ichigo does, resulting not only in him unleashing his first-ever Getsuga Tenshō, but finally accessing his own Shikai, Zangetsu, resulting in THE iconic shot of him kneeling with his new khyber knife of a sword. Even though the watching kids don't understand why it doesn't look like a proper sword, Tessai is clearly shocked and a little afraid of what he's seeing - and given how he was mostly unfazed by watching Ichigo nearly become a Hollow and break out of his restraints moments before, that's saying something. Urahara assumes that this just means Ichigo can finally start fighting him normally, but Ichigo instead apologizes to him and asks him to dodge "it". With Urahara not sure how to respond to this, Ichigo clarifies that he's not currently able to control the attack he's about to unleash and his surging power causes the remnants of his restraints to burst, shocking Urahara enough that he actually makes a serious effort to defend himself. Less than a minute later, Urahara's hat floats away with a large cut in the brim, and Urahara himself admits that he would have lost an arm to such an attack had he not shielded himself by looking out over a massive gash in the ground behind him. Lesson three: complete!
    • Simultaneously, Orihime, Sado, and Uryū all complete their own training. The gang's all ready for Soul Society.
  • Chapter 68:
    • Tatsuki casually reveals that she got all the way to second place of the national karate tournament with a broken right arm. To clarify: she got hit by a car after the semifinals, beat her next opponent with only her left arm, and only lost the FINAL round because she fought someone several weight classes ABOVE her. Keigo and Mizuiro are understandably astonished and frightened at her prowess.
  • Chapter 69:
    • While Ichigo and his friends coming together after their respective training sessions is cool in and of itself, special mention must be made of Orihime; she's the first to meet up with Ichigo (encountering him on the way to the shop, no less, rather than meet with him there) and rather than express doubt over her inclusion like lesser shonen series would, Ichigo simply accepts her saying that she is coming along and acknowledges her resolve in doing so without question. Compared to how the anime handled this scene, with Orihime showing up second-to-last and asking everyone else to protect HER instead, it's pretty progressive and refreshing to see a female character act with agency and motivation of her own.
  • Chapter 70:
    • After everyone gets acquainted with their method for traveling to Soul Society and learns of the risks involved, Ichigo and his friends are understandably a little cowed by the prospect of potential death or eternal stranding from both the Human World and Soul Society. However, with prodding from Yoruichi, Ichigo speaks for all of them when he declares that they already made their minds up to embark on this journey the moment they arrived, and with that, they're off...and the worlds will never be the same.

    Soul Society Arc 
  • Chapter 71:
    • While running through the Dangai, Ichigo and his friends are accosted by the Kōtotsu, a seemingly unstoppable Eldritch Abomination that even Yoruichi doesn't want to mess with because it sends anyone it touches hurtling hundreds or thousands of years through time. However, when it's about to catch up to the group, none other than Orihime steps up to the plate and stops it with her Santen Kesshun for just a couple seconds, which gives her group the window it needs to enter Soul Society. Bonus points for this specific action being what eventually allows Ichigo to save Rukia by sending him 7 days backward in time - Rukia would have been executed the day after the Ryoka arrived without this accidental time-travel.
  • Chapter 72:
    • Ichigo's been confronted by Jidanbō, one of four Gatekeepers who's blocking the entrance to the Seireitei. Though his friends are (understandably) concerned about his odds fighting solo against such a physically powerful opponent, Ichigo's unfazed and explains that, since he got his powers back 5 days earlier than expected, he spent the rest of the 10-day session fighting against Urahara himself, day and night. The result? When Jidanbō performs his first strike, which only three people have ever withstood, Ichigo blocks it effortlessly.
  • Chapter 73:
    • Quite surprised by Ichigo performing the rare feat of blocking his first strike, Jidanbō just laughs it off and launches straight into Juppon Jidanda Matsuri, a veritable barrage of strikes (10 in theory, but he loses count halfway through), capped off by a slash that not only tears through the wall BEHIND Jidanbō (which is meant to be impervious to damage) but completely levels the rock barricade Jidanbō had set up earlier...and the dust clears to reveal Ichigo completely unharmed, blocking Jidanbō's axe with Zangetsu held over his side in a completely badass pose. Now Jidanbō's legitimately nervous, and when he pulls out another axe and goes for his ultimate technique, Ichigo's had enough and just shatters them both. One hell of an introduction to his new strength level.
  • Chapter 75:
    • Jidanbō's just had his arm cut off by Gin while he was holding up the incredibly heavy gate to the Seireitei, and yet, even with the resulting loss of strength and blood, he keeps holding up the gate with just one arm and a shift in posture. Even Gin gives him credit for that.
    • When Gin's about to inflict the killing blow against Jidanbō, it's Ichigo who rushes in and stops him despite the (at the time) considerable power difference between the two. Doubles as a Heartwarming Moment since this action leads to the Rukongai villagers helping the Ryoka later, as Jidanbō's their only friend in the Gotei 13.
    • Upon realizing who Ichigo is, Gin immediately shifts gears and starts walking away, to Ichigo's confusion. However, rather than calling for reinforcements or giving up the fight, Gin instead turns around and releases his Shikai, Shinsō, for the first time, catching Ichigo COMPLETELY off-guard as he's sent hurtling out of the Seireitei alongside Jidanbō by the rapidly extending blade. Then Gin tells him "bye-bye".
  • Chapter 77:
    • Confronted by Ganju, a self-proclaimed Shinigami hater, Ichigo gets into a brawl with him despite Yoruichi's objections, but finds Zangetsu trapped in the ground by Ganju's sand magic. So what does Ichigo do? Fall back on his martial arts training, of course, which results in an absolutely brutal combo that leaves Ganju bleeding. Points to Ganju for withstanding this without even coming close to losing consciousness, which Ichigo clearly wasn't expecting.
  • Chapter 82:
    • Ichigo's been struggling to use the Reishūkaku, a device that will allow the Ryoka to enter the Seireitei by forming a barrier that can pass through the matter-disintegrating shield around it; while his friends can make a standard-sized barrier easily enough, Ichigo has no experience in channeling his power and thus can only form part of one. After Ganju is moved by his conviction to save Rukia and shares the visualization technique he used to form a barrier, Ichigo gives said technique a try...and the resulting barrier is absolutely massive, leaving Ichigo suspended in midair and actually damaging the surrounding area with its density. While this mildly scares his friends until he gets the barrier under control, Ichigo's raw power is still no laughing matter.
  • Chapter 83:
    • The Ryoka are just about ready to launch when Ganju shows up to join them. Though Ichigo and the others don't take him seriously at first, Ganju launches into a speech about how he's hated Shinigami for the longest time ever since one of them killed his brother, but meeting Ichigo has convinced him that they may not all be bad and that he will know for certain if he comes along. Judging by the reactions of his gang and family, this is clearly a huge moment of maturity from someone who's largely been a gag character up until now...and Ichigo simply welcomes him aboard.
  • Chapter 84:
    • The spell used to fire the Ryoka into the Seireitei, Kagizaki, is far and away the most complex Kidō spell in the series - requiring a massive cannon, a large painted circle, flammable cloth and two incantations - but the end result is simply spectacular; Ichigo and his friends are blasted MILES into the air, and when the cannonball begins hurtling toward the Seireitei with enough force to distort the clouds, no one below can believe what they're seeing.
  • Chapter 85:
    • The infiltration goes awry when the cannonball melts on contact with the barrier and turns into a swirling vortex of energy that threatens to separate the Ryoka across the Seireitei, so when Yoruichi orders them to cling to each other so they at least have a partner, Sado tries to grab Orihime and Uryū...and when he fails to grab Uryū, who begins to fall toward the ground, he leaps off Orihime, grabs Uryū, and throws him back to Orihime, leaving himself to fall to the ground below because unlike Uryū, he can cushion his impact, which he proceeds to do with an energy blast. Talk about badass.
  • Chapter 86:
    • Though she was injured and knocked out in the process, Orihime saved both herself and Uryū from falling to their deaths with Santen Kesshun. No wonder Sado threw Uryū to her.
    • Ichigo begins fighting Ikkaku, and though he's quite confident in his chances of winning, Ikkaku quickly proves otherwise by demonstrating his unique fighting style of using both the sword AND the sheathe. In their first clash, Ichigo and Ikkaku wound each other evenly, making it quite clear that the rest of the arc will be far from the cakewalk that was Jidanbō.
  • Chapter 87:
    • Upon learning that Ichigo's teacher was Urahara, who for the first time is depicted as a captain, Ikkaku decides to kill him properly by releasing his Shikai, Hōzukimaru. Ichigo thinks he doesn't have much to worry about from a spear...then Ikkaku separates it mid-swing, catching Ichigo completely off-guard and leaving him with a huge cut in his arm. Once again, far from a pushover.
    • Not to be outdone, after binding up his arm with the cloth attached to Zangetsu, Ichigo unleashes a swing that, had Ikkaku not dodged it, would have cut the latter completely in half - as it stands, it basically crushes part of the wall behind Ikkaku, who clearly wasn't expecting that kind of power even with the skill Ichigo's been displaying.
  • Chapter 88:
    • First, Ichigo reminds us of his quick learning rate in his next clash with Ikkaku; he makes a strange grasping motion when Ikkaku first attacks him, and though the latter assumes that he can't see through the wild movements of Hōzukimaru, Ichigo immediately proves him wrong by opening his hand to reveal the tassels from Hōzukimaru, which Ikkaku realizes he ripped off mid-attack just to prove that he could.
    • Then, Ichigo comes down on Ikkaku with his first (unnamed) arc usage of Getsuga Tenshō, not particularly large but more than enough to cut right through Hōzukimaru and into Ikkaku's chest. To his credit, Ikkaku keeps up his division's motto and refuses to go down until he's dead, going so far as to just start swinging what's LEFT of Hōzukimaru around, so Ichigo's forced to unconsciously fire another one that destroys Hōzukimaru entirely and rips through Ikkaku's arm all the way up to the shoulder. THEN Ikkaku finally drops. Battered as he is, even Ichigo clearly respects the latter for withstanding that much punishment.
  • Chapter 89:
    • While he and Orihime are hiding from the Shinigami on a rooftop and discussing their next move, Uryū sees an oblivious Orihime about to be attacked by Jirōbō, and there's not enough time to alert her to this before he completes his swing. So what does he do? He blitzes her away from Jirōbō to the other side of the roof, leaving Jirōbō to attack empty air and moving fast enough that Orihime couldn't even perceive him for a brief instance. Even before the fight that follows, this moment proves Uryū has grown.
  • Chapter 90:
    • Ganju puts Yumichika in his place twice during the conclusion of their fight. First, when Yumichika hears Ichigo running around screaming for Ganju while being chased by other members of the division, he takes the opportunity to mock him as being just as unsightly as Ganju for attracting attention like this...only for Ganju to point out the obvious with a response that SHOCKS Yumichika long enough for Ganju to run off again:
      Ganju: Maybe you're the slow one. If Ichigo's here, he must've killed your bald friend.
    • Then, despite the extensive setup it requires leading him to him taking a gruesome slash across the back, Ganju manages to pull off Renkan Seppa Sen, a much larger variant of Seppa that causes about five dozen cubic feet of the ground Yumichika is standing on to begin sliding into a nearby pit. Yumichika seems to avoid this fate by leaping into the air...then Ganju throws a firework directly at him. Cue Yumichika screaming in terror as the (non-lethal) explosion alerts Ichigo, who had just finished beating up all the Shinigami chasing him off-screen.
  • Chapter 91:
    • The back half of this chapter is one long moment of awesome for Uryū as he finally gets to demonstrate the fruits of his labor. First, when Jirōbō's about to attack Orihime again, Uryū fires an arrow directly at his sword hand to swing it away from Orihime. Excited at the prospect of fighting a Quincy, Jirōbō releases his Shikai, Tsunzakigarasu, and begins boasting about his status as the Kamaitachi, or weapons master - right up until Uryū destroys every single blade at once with a Flechette Storm of arrows. Then, when an unnerved Jirōbō tries to recreate the blades, Uryū both destroys the hilt of his sword that was making them and blows a hole in his hand with another arrow, capping it all off with this amazing line:
      Uryū: I'm sorry, but after today, you won't be able to call yourself the "Ultimate" anymore. With weapons, I'm far superior to you. I just don't like the way Kamaitachi Uryū sounds.
  • Chapter 92:
  • Chapter 93:
    • Ichigo and Ganju's attempt to take Hanatarō hostage goes awry when the Eleventh Division Shinigami reveal that they couldn't care less about what happens to a member of the Fourth Division. However, before Ichigo can gear up for a fight, half the Shinigami surrounding them are taken out by a powerful energy blast from the wall nearby, and while Ichigo and Ganju run off with Hanatarō in tow, Sado steps through the wall and prepares to take out the rest in an absolutely badass panel.
      Shinigami: You've picked a fight with the Eleventh Division! You'll never leave here alive! This won't take us five minutes!
      Sado: Sorry, guys...I gotta disappoint you. This'll be over in two minutes.
    • Meanwhile, as he's recovering from his injuries, Ikkaku is interrogated by Mayuri, who's about to punish him for not revealing anything about the Ryoka he fought...right up until Kenpachi grabs his wrist and admonishes him for trying to punish someone from another division. For all his bluster about simply "retreating" for now, Mayuri gets the hell out of dodge quick, and rightfully so.
  • Chapter 94:
    • Per Iemura, the Ryoka (Ichigo, Ganju, and Sado) wiped out nearly the ENTIRE Eleventh Division, including two of its top officers, in the first few hours of their invasion! Keep in mind, while the other divisions are no pushover, the Eleventh is meant to be the dedicated combat unit of the Gotei 13 and is often referred to as the "strongest". Consequently, all the lieutenants learning of this are in disbelief at a few outsiders causing so much damage. It's worth noting that, from what we saw, Sado did the lion's share too - it's little wonder that, until Ichigo's subsequent victories, he's The Dreaded of the Ryoka.
  • Chapter 95:
    • Confronted by Renji when he attempts to enter the Senzaikyū compound, Ichigo readily begins his rematch...and actually matches Renji, pressuring him enough that he's pushed up against the wall by their clash. Hanatarō can't believe that he's seeing someone fight a lieutenant, especially one as well-known as Renji, on even ground.
    • For his part, Renji's far from done after that first clash - once again, he releases Zabimaru, and this time he gets to properly display it by slamming the end into Ichigo and extending it with enough speed and force to slam Ichigo through a building. Ichigo comes out of this with "only" a head wound, but Renji remains unscathed for most of the battle because (for the time being) you don't fuck around with lieutenants.
  • Chapter 96:
  • Chapter 97:
    • First, as Renji's about to deal the finishing blow, Ichigo remembers part of his training against Urahara, who was (understandably) soundly trashing him in their clashes. To help get Ichigo to use the Getsuga Tenshō on command, Urahara delivers a memorable "The Reason You Suck" Speech pointing out his shortcomings as a fighter:
      Urahara: What a disgrace. I press you a little and you fall apart! Look at yourself! It's disgusting! What a disappointment. Mr. Kurosaki, your sword resonates only with fear. When you evade, it's "I'm afraid to be killed!" When you attack, it's "I'm afraid to kill!" Even when you're trying to protect someone, it's "I'm afraid she'll die!" Your sword speaks only of fear. That's all wrong. Fear won't bring you victory in battle. Nothing is born of fear. If you evade, it should be "He's not going to kill me!" If you're protecting someone, it's "I won't let her be killed!" If you're attacking, it's "Kill!" See? Do you hear what my sword resonates with? It's the resolve to kill you!
      *Ichigo raises his own sword and begins exerting his Reiatsu in response*
      Urahara: So you are capable of resolve. Don't ever forget that feeling.
      *The two combatants fire massive Sword Beams at each other*
    • Back in the present, Ichigo catches the end of Zabimaru with his bare hand and unleashes a Getsuga Tenshō that not only destroys Zabimaru, but cuts right through Renji, who turns into a fountain of blood as the fight ends.
      Ichigo: Sorry to keep you waiting, Renji. I've resolved to kill you.
  • Chapter 101:
    • Aizen's just been discovered seemingly assassinated, and Hinamori is nearly catatonic after finding his body. However, as soon as Gin shows up, Hinamori remembers Hitsugaya's warning to her (given after a cryptic conversation he overheard between Aizen and Gin): "Beware the Third Division...especially when Aizen goes out alone." Cue Hinamori, up until this point the archetypal Prone to Tears Moe, going fucking ballistic as she accuses Gin of being responsible and IMMEDIATELY attacks him. Too bad Izuru had to intervene.
    • Despite Izuru's warnings to stop, Hinamori keeps up her assault, and eventually Izuru feels forced to respond in kind. However, as the two attack each other with their Shikai, Hitsugaya makes his first display of power by appearing between them, pinning Hinamori's sword to the ground with his foot, and blocking Izuru's sword with his own own, all instantaneously and in a single movement. When he declares the fight to be over, it's over. Followed by Hitsugaya not buying Gin's act of concern for Hinamori for a second and threatening to kill him if he ever makes her bleed.
    • And of course, while not a major moment, Ganju learns at the end of the chapter that Hanatarō healed all HIS wounds on top of Ichigo's, despite the process completely draining his stamina. Not bad for a 7th Seat.
  • Chapter 102:
    • In a flashback to their first encounter, we see that Ichigo and Sado, who are middle-schoolers at the time, beat up four high-schoolers by themselves after they jumped Ichigo in an alleyway - Ichigo's only injured because he was alone at first and they were using rocks. Without a doubt, they were always strong.
    • In the present day, Sado continues his knockout spree through the Seireitei by taking out several more Shinigami who had surrounded his resting spot, all without a scratch. After leaving one conscious to get the location of Rukia's cell, Sado prepares to leave him in peace...then the Shinigami decides to attack him anyway. Cue Sado simply holding out his right hand and the Shinigami's Zanpakutō bending on contact, freaking him out even more than Sado's beatdown earlier did as he promptly begs for his life in front of what seems like an angered Sado. Good thing Sado's a Martial Pacifist.
  • Chapter 103:
    • Kenpachi's proper introduction to the series is just as awesome as it is utterly terrifying. First, as soon as Ichigo and co. reach the Senzaikyū compound, they immediately feel the crushing sensation of a monstrously powerful Reiatsu, the source of which they can't even begin to pinpoint, and immediately begin running for their lives through the pavilion; all the while, Ichigo has the creeping sensation of a sword being held to his neck, no matter how far he runs. Above them, Kenpachi (initially presented as just a silhouette with one visible eye) looks over each of them in search of the Ryoka that Ikkaku told him about, and after brushing off Ganju and Hanatarō, he sees Ichigo...who somehow hears Kenpachi ask him if he's "the one". Cue Ichigo looking up to see the man himself, grinning like a maniac on a rooftop. Suddenly, Ichigo sees a sword jutting out of his chest that vanishes just as quickly, and he realizes that this is just Kenpachi's Killing Intent, which he can't believe is possible. THEN, Kenpachi finally comes down and introduces himself, leaving Ichigo scared shitless. THAT is how you introduce the premier Blood Knight of the series.
  • Chapters 104-105:
    • The fight between Ichigo and Kenpachi begins after Ganju and Hanatarō are allowed to run away, and to provide a handicap for Ichigo, who is nowhere near his level at that point, Kenpachi opens his haori and offers to let Ichigo strike him anywhere he likes - if he dies in one hit as a result, no hard feelings. With some goading, Ichigo slashes at Kenpachi as hard as he can...only to find that not only has Zangetsu not even scratched Kenpachi, his own hand is bleeding instead! A clearly disappointed Kenpachi explains this as being the natural outcome of a clash between two spiritual forces of unequal power - the weaker one always takes the brunt of the impact, and Ichigo's concentrated power at that point is weaker than Kenpachi's own unconscious, unfocused power. Cue a stunned and terrified Ichigo watching as Kenpachi draws his Zanpakutō, very much intent on killing the guy who wasted his time.
    • Meanwhile, Sado continues to steamroll his way through the Shinigami ranks and takes out Tatsufusa Enjōji, a 3rd Seat, with a single punch to the face, not even needing his energy blast. That all changes when Shunsui lands in front of him amid a shower of cherry blossoms. With nothing more than a polite greeting, Shunsui establishes that he's going to be Sado's first real opponent in the Seireitei invasion.
  • Chapter 106:
    • After some hilarious banter from Shunsui as he attempts to talk Sado out of continuing to fight, Sado learns that all the captains are mobilizing against him and his friends, which leads him to drop the pretense of negotiating and demand that Shunsui move. When the latter refuses, Sado unleashes his patented energy blast, confident that it will at least slightly harm Shunsui...right up until the latter bats it aside with his bare hand, not even spilling the sake he's drinking or singeing his kimono in the process. Shunsui proceeds to dodge every single energy blast from an increasingly fatigued Sado and send him flying with a Finger Poke of Doom, all while barely taking the fight seriously. But when Sado makes it clear that he's not going to give up on saving Rukia because Ichigo wants to save her, Shunsui acknowledges his resolve and draws his twin Zanpakutō, having decided to give Sado a warrior's death even if he doesn't understand his motivation. Even before he was established as one of the strongest captains, this fight proved Shunsui was not to be messed with despite his laid-back personality.
  • Chapter 107:
    • A second flashback to Ichigo and Sado's early days solidifies their status as Fire-Forged Friends - at the time, Sado refused to fight back against anyone attacking him due to a promise he made to his grandfather to use his strong body to protect rather than harm, and upon learning of this, Yokochini, a local yakuza wannabe, has him tased and brought under a bridge to be beat up further, knowing he'll let it happen. When a bruised Sado flatly states that he's not very intimidated despite the odds against him, Yokochini decides to cut up the prized coin he received from his grandfather, knowing that will break him in a way sticks and stones never could. Cue Ichigo kicking Yokochini in the face hard enough to send him flying into the river nearby and retrieving the coin, along with Yokochini's phone, which he contacts emergency services with. Though Yokochini's thugs assume he's calling an ambulance for Sado, Ichigo sports an amazing Grin of Audacity as he reveals that he's calling five ambulances - one for each of the thugs, who proceed to attack him in a rage. After taking out all five thugs (and taking some licks in the process), Ichigo hands Sado's coin back to him and makes a deal, clearly respecting the latter's vow - he'll fight for what Sado holds dear if Sado fights for what he does, and that way he can both honor his vow and protect himself, since he's now Ichigo's friend. In less than one chapter, it's made abundantly clear why Ichigo and Sado are Heterosexual Life-Partners.
    • Back in the present, Sado prepares to unleash one last energy blast against Shunsui, and given what preceded it you'd expect this to be the one that finally works...then Shunsui slashes Sado across the chest faster than he can process it, and Sado collapses in a shower of blood. Because as nice as The Power of Friendship is, that's not what this series runs on, and it's one of the strongest captains in the Gotei 13 vs. an empowered Human who hasn't even unlocked the true form of his power.
      • This moment is also subversively awesome in a meta sense. Up until this point in the story, aside from Ichigo, Sado was basically the strongest member of the Ryoka and seemed just about unstoppable with how he was taking out Shinigami left and right in every chapter he showed up in - then Shunsui shows up and demonstrates just why Yoruichi was so concerned about encountering captains, putting Ichigo's ongoing battle against Kenpachi in a much more dangerous light. Unfortunately, later arcs would take it too far in regards to Sado suffering from it, but at the time this was The Worf Effect done right.
  • Chapter 108:
    • Even if it didn't hit Shunsui, Sado's final attack leaves an impressive amount of destruction in its wake, to the point that Shunsui seems quite serious when admitting that he's glad it didn't hit him.
    • Meanwhile, Ichigo is being dominated by Kenpachi, whom he can barely block and run away from at best as the latter smashes down walls and relentlessly pursues him. But after understandably freaking out over Sado's loss, Ichigo finds resolve in how he needs to win in order to protect his friends and voluntarily confronts Kenpachi - whom he finally manages to cut!
  • Chapter 109:
    • Though initially a little stunned by this turn of events, Kenpachi quickly comes around and regains his famous smile; after all, this is just what he wanted, and he says as much as he resumes the fight, this time incorporating crazy maneuvers by grabbing Zangetsu by the blade just to reel Ichigo in for an attack that he barely dodges. The previous chapters established that Kenpachi was strong, but this is the first to scientifically demonstrate that he's also crazy.
    • After Ichigo survives his assault by hearing his bells chime, Kenpachi praises him for taking advantage of the handicaps he's being offered, but Ichigo thinks Kenpachi is making fun of him because he hasn't even released his Zanpakutō, leading Kenpachi to clarify that his Zanpakutō is ALWAYS released (or at least everyone thinks it is). Ichigo assumes that this means Kenpachi's sword won't be getting any stronger...then Kenpachi presses the tip of his Zanpakutō up against Zangetsu and, in a rare moment of Tranquil Fury, berates Ichigo for getting so cocky as he shoves his Zanpakutō right through Zangetsu and into Ichigo's chest:
      Kenpachi: In that case what? You could win? Is that what you think? You're the one who should be careful. I haven't sealed my Zanpakutō because my Reiryoku is so great, it can't be contained. That's why when I fight, I have to restrain myself. Do you understand? If I didn't, our fight would be over.
  • Chapter 110:
    • As Ichigo's bleeding out on the ground, desperately urging his body to move, Kenpachi begins walking away and swings his Zanpakutō over his shoulder, clearly considering the fight over...only for Zangetsu to appear next to him in a chillingly badass shot as time comes to a halt. Zangetsu approaches Ichigo and offers him a choice - fight, win, or live - resulting in an iconic answer from Ichigo:
      Ichigo: I want...to win. Fighting for its own sake is meaningless. Survival in itself is meaningless! I WANT TO WIN!
    • Zangetsu proceeds to bring Ichigo into his inner world, which is now intact and stable instead of crumbling around them, and throws him an Asauchi, the basic sword that all Shinigami start with. When Ichigo protests that he should be using Zangetsu, Zangetsu refuses to hand that over and chucks it over the side of the building they're on - and when Ichigo tries to leap after it, "Hollow Ichigo"note  blitzes past him and grabs Zangetsu instead. As Ichigo is stunned to see what looks like a doppelganger standing across from him, Zangetsu reveals the purpose of this:
      Zangetsu: I want to see if you're worthy of possessing me. If you want me back, you'll have to take me from yourself. This time, your enemy is...you!
  • Chapter 111:
    • Hollow Ichigo proves himself to be insanely more adept at using Zangetsu than Ichigo. Until the end of their fight when the tables turn, he's constantly in control and pressuring Ichigo, who's not ready for Zangetsu to be used as a flail and can't keep up with the incredible Reiatsu he's facing. Doesn't hurt that Hollow Ichigo has one hell of a "The Reason You Suck" Speech regarding Ichigo's shortcomings:
      Hollow Ichigo: That's a mighty sword you're holding there. How'd you manage to get so bloody? I don't get it! Can you become best friends with someone by just asking their name? That's basically all you've done! You think calling Zangetsu's name is all there is to it! It's always about you, instead of you trying to bring out Zangetsu's powers or understand him! Zangetsu is capable of so much more! If you'd opened your heart to him a little, he'd have become even stronger! But you couldn't do it! You don't care about your Zanpakutō at all! You're one of those guys who thinks the only one he has to train is himself!
    • Taking these words to heart, Ichigo pleads with Zangetsu to give him another chance so he can get to know Zangetsu and fight with him once more...and as Hollow Ichigo attacks one last time, he and Ichigo discover that they have swapped weapons mid-clash, which Ichigo realizes means that Zangetsu is giving him that second chance. Back in the real world, time resumes and an unnerved Kenpachi turns around upon sensing an intense Reiatsu, where he sees Ichigo standing back up.
  • Chapter 112:
    • With his new power boost, Ichigo demonstrates just how much stronger he's become with Zangetsu's power fueling him by slashing through Kenpachi's left shoulder before the latter can even react. Kenpachi moves to block Zangetsu when Ichigo brings it up from the ground, but finds himself being overpowered as Ichigo pushes his Zanpakutō aside and slashes through his other shoulder with enough force to send Kenpachi skidding across the ground. They may not have been equal before, but Ichigo's a real threat now.
    • For his part, rather than let this be a turning point in the battle, Kenpachi's response to this is to fully establish his Blood Knight status by declaring that it's just getting good and rushing at Ichigo, who's shocked to see Kenpachi intentionally letting Zangetsu cut through the bridge of his nose and his left cheek just so he can get closer. Even as Ichigo keeps cutting him up, Kenpachi just smiles wider and encourages him to enjoy the pain of this battle because Ichigo is his first enjoyable opponent in a long time, leaving Ichigo in disbelief at Kenpachi barely noticing his extensive injuries. Then, after acknowledging that Ichigo is (currently) stronger than he is, Kenpachi realizes that he can finally fight all-out and removes his eyepatch.
  • Chapter 113:
    • Up on a nearby roof, Yachiru is watching the fight between Ichigo and Kenpachi, and when a Riteitai attempts to inform her of Aizen's murder, Yachiru brushes him off. Despite this, the Riteitai keeps trying to tell her, resulting in Yachiru scaring the SHIT out of him with her Battle Aura, the first of only three we ever get to see in the series. Talk about Little Miss Badass.
    • Down below, taking off his eyepatch has caused Kenpachi's power to just cut loose, surging out of him in a helix that reaches the clouds above. Ichigo nervously assumes that he's been hiding something in his right eye, but Kenpachi reveals that this is just his natural level of power - the eyepatch was his main Power Limiter, designed to suppress his Reiryoku. To illustrate just how much of a boost this has given him, Kenpachi casually flicks his Zanpakutō at a skyscraper-like building several feet away - followed by said building being sliced apart by the resulting Razor Wind.
    • However, Zangetsu manifests once again to assure Ichigo that Kenpachi is only crippling his own strength by not communicating with and trusting his Zanpakutō, while his and Ichigo's trust in each other will empower them. After Ichigo boosts in power yet again, he and Kenpachi develop their own Battle Auras, Kenpachi's in the shape of a skull and Ichigo's in the shape of a Hollow mask, and the two of them clash one last time with enough force to level the surrounding buildings. In the clearing dust, Ichigo and Kenpachi stand with their swords embedded in each other. Ichigo apologizes and falls to the side, causing Kenpachi's Zanpakutō to tear out of his side...but Kenpachi simply grins and questions why he is apologizing since he won. With his own Zanpakutō snapping in two, Kenpachi also collapses. Ladies and gentlemen, Ichigo Kurosaki!
  • Chapter 115:
    • When they're breaking into Rukia's cell, Ganju and Hanatarō are forced to incapacitate the two guards outside. Ganju opts for an elbow to the face, while Hanatarō...drips some liquid on the other guard's forehead. Said guard is immediately knocked out, and Hanatarō explains that he used a powerful anesthetic called Shinten. Ganju, who clearly hadn't thought much of Hanatarō's combat capabilities until now, is clearly intimidated that he's just carrying that sort of thing around.
  • Chapter 116:
    • First off, Ganju and Hanatarō's rescue attempt has been interrupted by Byakuya, who's slowly advancing toward the cell. Ganju, having just learned Rukia is the one who killed his brother, is in no mood to sacrifice himself to save her and instead wants to beg for his life on the off chance that Byakuya will let them go, but Hanatarō, despite understanding Ganju's feelings, feels that he's come too far to give up like that now and prepares to confront Byakuya so Ganju and Rukia have time to escape. Faced with someone like Hanatarō doing this in his stead, Ganju bashes his own head against the wall to psych himself up, kicks Hanatarō back to the cell, and turns to face Byakuya for what he thinks will be his Last Dance.
      Ganju: Okay, pretty boy! You gotta get past me!
    • Not even remotely amused by Ganju's antics, Byakuya slashes his arm and tells him to leave because he doesn't like "wasting" his sword on bugs. However, Ganju refuses to leave because the Shiba Clan doesn't raise cowards - and the moment he realizes Ganju is a Shiba, Byakuya apologizes and decides to show him the proper "respect" by killing him with his Shikai. With Rukia begging him to stop, Byakuya releases Senbonzakura. At first, Ganju is confused by the blade of Byakuya's Zanpakutō simply disappearing...then, in an instant, he's cut open on a dozen different areas of his body and collapses in a fountain of blood. THAT'S the kind of power a captain's Zanpakutō commands.
    • Despite his ailing health, Ukitake manages to make it to the bridge and prevent Byakuya from attacking Hanatarō as well with a well-timed wrist grab. Judging by the look on Byakuya's face, he was not expecting that.
    • Then, while Byakuya is getting Ukitake up-to-speed on the wartime order authorizing him to release his Zanpakutō in the Seireitei, the two of them experience a powerful, unfamiliar Reiatsu, which a shocked Ukitake immediately assumes belongs to a captain. But it's no captain, nor a bird or a plane...it's Ichigo, who sensed Byakuya's Reiatsu earlier and took off with the device that Yoruichi used to transport him earlier, and as he rockets into the air from underneath the bridge, Ichigo and Rukia reunite in one of the most cathartic and powerful moments of the series.
      Ichigo: Rukia, I've come to rescue you. *notices Rukia's expression* What's with that face?! I came all the way here to help you! You could at least smile.
      Rukia: Idiot. I told you not to come. I told you not to come after me! Look at you, idiot!
      Ichigo: Okay, I'm an idiot. So? Yell at me all you want later...after I beat him!
    • Meta: This chapter is 51 pages long, just 8 pages shy of the pilot chapter. Judging by the publication dates of the old Jump issues, there were no breaks in Bleach's serialization immediately before or after this chapter, which means Kubo put out a chapter 3 times longer than average WITHOUT any extra time. This obviously wouldn't be possible in the later years of the series with his illness, but even at the peak of his health that's an incredible feat rarely, if ever, replicated in any other weekly series.
  • Chapter 117:
    • After Ichigo and Rukia devolve into their usual bickering for a moment, Byakuya approaches them and begins exerting his Reiatsu again. This time, Ichigo's able to withstand it, albeit with some effort, and declares that he never had any intention of just living out his days peacefully in the Human World once he survived his last encounter with Byakuya; rather, he's going to defeat Byakuya, THEN go back to living his life. Despite acknowledging that Ichigo's improved, Byakuya considers this pretty damn arrogant and moves to repeat his Senka move that took Ichigo's Shinigami powers last time - only for Ichigo to block his attack from behind by holding Zangetsu over his back. With Byakuya visibly stunned by this, Ichigo proves that he's not all talk:
    • Then, when Byakuya decides to Cutting the Knot and end this skirmish now with Senbonzakura, none other than Yoruichi shows up and binds the blade before he can finish the release. Though the previous chapter had raised the question of who, exactly, she was after she displayed knowledge of Soul Society and pulled out rare objects originating from it, this encounter hints that she's MUCH more than a pretty face - Byakuya and Ukitake can't BELIEVE she's standing in front of them.
  • Chapter 118:
    • For the first time, Yoruichi gets to show off her power and it is GLORIOUS. To wit: after Yoruichi knocks Ichigo out to prevent him from fighting any further, Byakuya declares that she will not be able to leave, prompting Yoruichi to challenge him to a game of tag like they used to play. What ensues is essentially a Shunpo battle as Yoruichi completely outmaneuvers Byakuya, who up until now seemed to be the fastest guy around, to the point of seemingly getting cut down as Byakuya questions her thinking that she could escape with such a slow Shunpo...only to turn into a piece of paper as the REAL Yoruichi appears on Byakuya's outstretched arm and mocks him for thinking he could CATCH her with such a slow Shunpo. Yoruichi then makes a promise: in three days, she'll make Ichigo strong enough to defeat Byakuya. She leaves, and Byakuya doesn't even try to follow her. BAD. ASS.
  • Chapter 119:
    • Orihime and Uryū are masquerading as Shinigami in order to move more covertly through the Seireitei. When they report to him that no Ryoka have been found in the area, Toshimori Umesada begins hitting on and propositioning Orihime, bragging all the while about his position as one of fifteen 20th Seats in the 9th Division...only to find himself staring at Uryū, who's moved between them to deliver a scathing condemnation that distracts Toshimori long enough for another Shinigami to pull him away:
      Uryū: With Ryoka on the loose in the Seireitei, and a special wartime exemption issued, a man of your position doesn't have time for entertaining, does he?
  • Chapter 120:
    • Ichigo's been brought back to the hidden chamber to begin training to defeat Byakuya, but isn't sure what exactly he'll be doing since they have less than two weeks until Rukia's (current) execution date. That's when Yoruichi reveals what will go on to be one of the most iconic and hype-inducing aspects of the series: Bankai, the second and final form of a Zanpakutō that can only be achieved by a select few individuals, but which is generally five to ten times more powerful than a Shikai. Furthermore, though it generally takes 10-20 years of training to achieve and master it, Yoruichi's got a method that, while dangerous, will let Ichigo achieve Bankai in just 3 days. Convenient? Yeah. Awesome? Undoubtedly.
  • Chapter 121:
    • Uryū and Orihime find themselves confronted by Mayuri, who sent in several subordinates of his to lure them into a false sense of security before being detonated. However, in the split second between Uryū warning her after catching on and the explosions, Orihime not only moves to Makizō Aramaki, who'd been interrogating them over their mismatched stories prior, but shields him, herself, and Uryū with Santen Kesshun, which only suffers a crack from the powerful detonations, all thanks to her training to use her techniques without their incantations. Even Mayuri's impressed, though he expresses it in a twisted way.
    • With Mayuri proposing that Orihime become his test subject and promising to only subject her to the bare minimum of human rights violations in the process, a visibly pissed Uryū confronts him, bow and arrow in hand. Though surprised to see a Quincy in the flesh, Mayuri just brushes him off - after all, he's already "completed his research" on Uryū's kind. When a confused Uryū questions just who he is, Mayuri admonishes him for not bothering to at least research the most powerful opponents he'd be facing in the Seireitei and introduces himself - Mayuri Kurotsuchi, Captain of the 12th Division and Captain of the SRDI. Uryū immediately knows he's fucked up and has Aramaki get the hell out of dodge with Orihime, but to his credit, when Mayuri tries to grab Aramaki with Jabarakaina, Uryū blows up his hand with an arrow and asserts that he didn't give Mayuri permission to go after them.
  • Chapter 122:
    • With Orihime out of harm's way, Uryū decides that he should go after Mayuri first since Nemu doesn't seem to be doing anything and hits him with a one-two combo of arrows that blows up the area where Mayuri was standing. While it didn't take due to Mayuri's last-second Flash Step, the latter's still impressed by it and Uryū's own Flash Step prowess.
  • Chapter 123:
  • Chapter 124:
    • Mayuri realizes that Uryū isn't using just any old technique to overcome his paralysis - it's Ransōtengai, an extremely rare and high-level technique designed to let elderly Quincy fight beyond the limitations of their their frail bodies, and not one of the 2,661 Quincy he experimented on could even perform part of it. When he calls Uryū a genius for knowing how to use it, he MEANS it.
    • On his end, Uryū recalls the day that he received the Sanrei Glove, which is what let him boost his abilities to this level, from Sōken, who warned him that he would one day face a battle beyond his abilities where he would have to sacrifice himself if he chose the path of the Quincy and set out to find something to protect, which would let him learn why his dad thinks so little of the Quincy. However, he also cautions Uryū against ever taking off the glove once he puts it on, as doing so would temporarily give him immense power at the cost of all his Quincy powers. Three guesses as to what Uryū does next.
      Uryū: I'm sorry, Master. I still don't understand my father. I'm not even sure what I want to protect...but I think I at least know what I won't allow. I'm sorry, Master. I'm disobeying you...one last time.
  • Chapter 125:
    • Uryū proceeds to activate the Quincy: Letzt Stil, which looks just as badass as it sounds, and to say Mayuri is unprepared for it is to put things lightly. First, Uryū begins ripping apart nearby structures into pure Reishi that funnels itself into the giant flame on his back, and Mayuri realizes that he's essentially bending Reishi to his will. Then, Uryū forms an arrow (which is noticeably solid-looking, compared to the energy-like projectiles he'd been forming up until that point), and Mayuri narrowly dodges it when it's fired at him...only to find Uryū directly above him as the latter fires another arrow point-blank, which basically destroys Mayuri's left arm and cracks his left eye. Angered by Uryū being too "arrogant" for a mere Human, Mayuri decides to respond in kind and shows us the first Bankai of the series, Konjiki Ashisogi Jizō, which more than lives up to Yoruichi's description of the concept as a 50-foot tall caterpillar baby that spews poison gas. But Uryū's unfazed, and as said caterpillar hurtles toward him, he just nocks another arrow that clashes with the Bankai in a massive explosion.
  • Chapter 126:
    • The aftermath of Uryū and Mayuri's final clash is revealed in the clearing smoke: Uryū's arms are bleeding, and his bowstring is snapped - but Konjiki Ashisogi Jizō has been cut cleanly in two and Mayuri himself...well, his torso has quite a view now. Rather than continue the fight any longer, Mayuri immediately gets the hell out of dodge with a technique that transforms him into liquid; even if this denied Uryū the pleasure of killing him, it proved that he lost.
  • Chapter 127:
    • To begin Ichigo's Bankai training, Yoruichi brings out a device that will forcibly manifest Zangetsu in the real world and let Ichigo fight him directly - which is the dangerous method that will let him achieve Bankai in 3 days. After coming out, Zangetsu immediately gets to business by generating a Field of Blades, only one of which can defeat him, and challenges Ichigo to find that sword before getting killed as the two begin clashing...and the next thing we see (chronologically) is Ichigo bleeding face-down on the floor. Zangetsu does NOT fuck around.
  • Chapter 128:
    • As he continues to fight Zangetsu, Ichigo finds a sword that looks just like Zangetsu on a cliff. Obviously the right sword, right? Wrong. Zangetsu shatters that sword with his hand, slashes Ichigo across the chest, and singles it out as the part of Ichigo's soul that relies overly on his Zanpakutō - in other words, this training will be FAR from easy and will force Ichigo to find the sword representing his fighting spirit.
      Zangetsu: Until you can tell the difference, don't even speak about Bankai!
    • Meanwhile, we also learn that Orihime (and Aramaki, for being there) was rescued by Yachiru and brought to the Eleventh Division barracks, where she's explaining her story and how she needs to save her friends. To whom, you ask? None other than Kenpachi fucking Zaraki, who's more than ready to help her out on the off chance that he meets Ichigo again even though he's still recovering from their fight.
  • Chapter 129:
    • For the first time, we see the fruits of Ichigo's battle against Zangetsu outside of the ultimate goal of achieving Bankai - just like his training with Urahara, the constant combat is leading to him simply getting better over time. At the beginning of the day's session, according to Yoruichi, he was soundly getting his ass kicked. Now? He's actually using strategy in his clashes and nearly outmaneuvers Zangetsu, who gets a moment of his own when he leaps 20 feet into the air, shatters Ichigo's sword again, and backhands him across the room for taking his eyes off his enemy.
    • Hitsugaya and Rangiku are alerted to Renji, Hinamori, and Izuru having broken out of their cells and visit the prison ward where Hinamori was being held. Renji may have broken down some bars with his Zanpakutō, but Hinamori put that to shame by blowing a fucking HOLE in her cell with Kidō. Hitsugaya's not exaggerating when he calls her a Kidō master.
  • Chapter 131:
    • Hitsugaya's just been forced to knock out Hinamori, who'd attacked him in an emotional state after a letter left for her by Aizen accused him of conspiring to destroy Soul Society and killing Aizen himself for finding out about it, which Hitsugaya believes Gin was behind as well. Gin takes the opportunity to chastise Hitsugaya for putting too much force into this when Hinamori clearly wasn't in her right mind, but a somber Hitsugaya points out that, due to her distress, Hinamori's hands were bleeding due to her gripping her Zanpakutō so hard. Remember the promise he made regarding Hinamori bleeding due to Gin? Hitsugaya proceeds to rip his Zanpakutō through its sheath and proclaim that he's going to kill Gin, who merely responds with his trademark Cheshire Cat Grin as he prepares to engage.
  • Chapter 132:
    • Hitsugaya releases his Shikai, Hyōrinmaru, and its power is awe-inspiring: not only can it create huge amounts of ice even in its Shikai state, it can outright control the weather, demonstrated when it blacks out the sky with storm clouds. It's telling that, as capable as Gin is, Hitsugaya has him dead-to-rights within seconds of pulling out Hyōrinmaru, and only Gin targeting Hinamori with his own Shikai saves him by giving him a chance to escape.
      Hitsugaya: *to Izuru* Disappear! When you can't see us anymore, keep going. If you're within 7 miles, I can't guarantee that I won't end up killing you!
    • There's also the response to Gin's attempt to kill Hinamori; Hitsugaya would do it, but he's currently binding/freezing Gin and Hinamori is several meters away...so it's Rangiku who steps in and protects Hinamori, using her existing relationship with Gin to convince him to back off.
      Rangiku: Please withdraw your sword, Captain Ichimaru...or you'll have to deal with me!
  • Chapter 133:
    • During the second day of his Bankai training, Ichigo is unexpectedly joined by Renji, who informs him, Yoruichi, and Zangetsu of the last-minute change in the date of Rukia's execution to tomorrow. Then we get two moments in rapid succession: first, Renji reveals that he's here to do something about it by completing his OWN Bankai training, which he's been working toward naturally in his tenure as a Shinigami, as demonstrated by him casually manifesting Zabimaru. The second is Ichigo's response to the date change, given to a panicking Yoruichi as he CRUSHES the sword he was using against the palm of his hand:
      Ichigo: Sure you wanna say that, Ms. Yoruichi? This training was your idea, so you don't get to give up!
      Yoruichi: But, Ichigo...! If you don't achieve Bankai by tomorrow...
      Ichigo: I told you, I don't wanna hear what happens if I can't. If tomorrow's the big day, then that means I'll take care of it TODAY!
  • Chapter 135:
  • Chapter 136:
  • Chapter 137:
  • Chapter 138:
    • Kenpachi's busted the other Ryoka out of jail and is leading them + his subordinates through the Seireitei in an attempt to find Ichigo, though given that he has No Sense of Direction this goes about as well as you'd expect, with the nine of them winding up at an empty pavilion on top of a building. However, before the group can turn back and try another route, Kenpachi and Yumichika sense an intense Reiatsu...followed by Komamura, Tōsen, Iba, AND Hisagi all showing up at once, which scares the hell out of (almost) everyone present - everyone but Kenpachi, who just decides that this will make for some good exercise:
      Kenpachi: Four against one, eh? Not really enough to test my sword, but why not?
  • Chapter 139:
  • Chapter 140:
  • Chapter 141:
    • After a massive surge of energy, we get our first look at Renji's Bankai, Hihiō Zabimaru, and it's badass. Though he admits that he had no idea Renji achieved Bankai, Byakuya refuses to believe he could even be forced to one knee by it, let alone killed as Renji promises to do. Cue Renji attacking with Hihiō Zabimaru, which proceeds to easily smash through SEVERAL of the towers lining the bridge and slam into Byakuya, who's forced to acknowledge that it indeed has the power of the Bankai as he blocks it with his sword. Byakuya releases Senbonzakura and weaves it between the joints of Hihiō Zabimaru, seemingly cutting it apart...then Renji effortlessly reassembles it because it's connected by his Reiatsu, rather than a physical cord like his Shikai, and he can just separate them to avoid Byakuya's one thousand blades. Renji suddenly pulls two more segments out from the ground under Byakuya's feet, and as the latter skids back, Renji points out that he's on one knee. Now THAT'S how you debut a Bankai.
  • Chapter 142:
    • Told by Renji that it's time to draw the curtain on this duel, Byakuya merely replies that he will be drawing the curtain and hits Renji and his Bankai with Hadō #33. Sōkatsui. Renji and Hihiō Zabimaru withstand this seemingly no worse for wear, but when Renji tries to attack Byakuya again, Hihiō Zabimaru ends up crashing into one of its own segments. Turns out, half the time it takes to master one's Bankai, approximately 10 years, is spent learning to control its movements since it's so massive and unwieldy compared to a Shikai, which means that Renji simply isn't ready to use his Bankai in combat just yet. Renji claims that he knew this and resumes his attack anyway - only to find himself bound with Bakudō #63. Rikujōkōrō as Byakuya reminds him that he's also achieved Bankai. Cue Byakuya dropping his sword into the ground as two rows of massive swords rise up behind him...and separate into a billion blades, which simply vanish from sight as Renji's restraints and the building behind him are destroyed. At first, Renji is just left standing in stunned silence...then his bandanna shreds apart and blood trickles down his temple, followed by him falling over in a veritable geyser of blood. Perfectly capped off by Byakuya himself:
      Byakuya: Shall I explain the difference between you and me? Class. It's like the tale of the monkey and the moon. That which shines in the eyes of the beast is but the moon reflected on the water. You can try to capture it, but you'll only sink to the bottom. Your fangs will never reach me...ever.
  • Chapter 143:
    • Despite his extensive injuries, despite his Bankai disappearing on its own in an indication that he's this close to death, despite Byakuya pinning him to the ground with his Bankai when he tries to move...Renji refuses to give up. Why? Just as he begins to lose hope that he could ever reach Byakuya, who inquires if he still insists on saving Rukia, Renji suddenly envisions Ichigo kneeling before Zangetsu with a broken sword, having yet to achieve Bankai, as the latter asks him if he is getting up. This leads to a spine-chillingly epic exchange as Renji shatters the blades pinning him and moves in for one last attack:
      Ichigo: I swore...
      Renji: I'd save her...
      Byakuya: You...swore? To whom?
      Renji: I swore...on...
      Ichigo/Renji: MY SOUL!
  • Chapter 144:
    • It may not do much damage, but Renji finally, finally reaches Byakuya with his last attack before collapsing, leading the latter to throw his scarf over his nearly-unconscious lieutenant in a sign of respect before departing. He may have lost the fight, but no one can say he didn't go down swinging.
  • Chapter 145:
    • Kenpachi's fight with Tōsen and Komamura continues with him easily holding back combined attacks from them with one hand on his Zanpakutō, then kicking Tōsen into a wall and judo-slamming Komamura. Clearly, he was NOT being cocky when he said that he could take them both at once.
  • Chapter 146:
    • After Kenpachi demands that they use their Bankai before dying, Tōsen obliges and brings out Suzumushi Tsuishiki: Enma Kōrogi, a massive black dome that completely covers the pavilion they're fighting on. At first, it isn't clear what the effect of this is - right up until Tōsen walks right past Kenpachi, who doesn't even react to his presence. Turns out, Tōsen's Bankai plunges its victims into a "pitch-black hell" by depriving everyone not holding his Zanpakutō of their senses, including Reiatsu detection...but excluding touch, which Tōsen demonstrates by slashing Kenpachi twice while the latter sluggishly reacts. However, as Tōsen monologues about the instinctive fear one feels when faced with such sensory deprivation, Kenpachi suddenly attacks and almost hits Tōsen, leading him to grin as Tōsen realizes that he really is the sort of monster who wouldn't feel any fear in this situation.
  • Chapter 147:
  • Chapter 148:
    • After admitting that he's not sure why he's regained his senses and assuming it has to do with Tōsen's Zanpakutō, Kenpachi voluntarily lets go of Tōsen while promising to catch his next attack before it even lands - and sure enough, he does, allowing him to land a second attack that injures Tōsen enough to bring his Bankai crashing down.
    • Tōsen may be too injured to keep fighting, but Komamura's still fresh...and he's not happy about Kenpachi's actions. Ignoring how his helmet's just been destroyed, exposing his wolf visage to the world, Komamura goes all the way:
      Komamura: Your mistake is getting caught up in the appearance of strength and not seeing the true strength of your opponent, Zaraki. I'm not as nice as Tōsen. Bankai - Kokujō Tengen Myō'ō! COME, KENPACHI ZARAKI! TIME FOR THE KILLING YOU LOVE SO MUCH!
  • Chapter 149:
    • Despite facing down a 200 ft. tall armored warrior whose thumb is bigger than his entire body, Kenpachi's only response is that of sincere approval:
      Kenpachi: HAHAHAHAHAHA! Killing, eh?! I love it, all right! If that's what you want, I won't hold back! If you die, come back again as a ghost, and we'll do it again!
    • Ukitake hasn't been idle in the hours since he learned of Rukia's new execution date; since Central 46 apparently won't listen to his objections, he's decided to cross the Godzilla Threshold and bring out a powerful artifact for a certain purpose:
  • Chapter 150:
  • Chapter 151:
    • No one on the ground can believe what they're seeing as Ichigo continues holding back the concentrated power of one million Zanpakutō by himself. Suddenly, Kikōō rears back for a second strike, and though Rukia warns him that he won't be able to survive this second collision, Ichigo's more than ready to meet it head-on...only to be cut short when a cable wraps itself around the phoenix's neck. Ukitake's arrived with the Shihōin Shield, and after joining him and finishing the setup, Shunsui channels his Reiryoku into the cable alongside Ukitake. The result? Kikōō gets blown to kingdom come, complete with the Sōkyoku getting snapped like a twig. That's one way to remove an extremely powerful weapon from the equation.
    • Upon seeing the above, Ichigo gets a bright idea for getting Rukia out of her restraints and leaps onto the execution scaffold with the intention of destroying it. Despite Rukia trying to protest that this won't work since the scaffold's design to withstand the power of the Sōkyoku, Ichigo just tells her to shut up and watch before driving Zangetsu into the beam and channeling his Reiryoku into it, which blows a massive hole not only in the scaffold, but through the cliff underneath as well. The dust clears to reveal Rukia, now out of her restraints, being held by Ichigo, and as the latter reiterates that he came to save her, Rukia [[Tsundere finally relents]] and tears up at being saved.
    • Meta: according to Kubo, this was the first time Shonen Jump had ever published two chapters of the same series in a row while giving it both the magazine cover and lead color page slots. No doubt about it, this was the peak of Bleach's popularity.
  • Chapter 152:
    • After a freshly-healed Renji arrives and takes out the Kidō Corps, Ichigo throws Rukia down to him and has Renji run off to get Rukia away from the execution site. When three of the lieutenants (Chōjirō, Marechiyo, and Isane) attempt to pursue him at the behest of their captains, Ichigo appears in front of them and embeds his sword in the ground. Taking this as the challenge this is, all three lieutenants release their Shikai...only for Ichigo to knock each of them the fuck out with one punch each (special mention goes to Marechiyo, whom Ichigo punched through his Shikai, and Chōjirō, who would later be revealed to be captain-level). As the three lieutenants are sent flying away, Ichigo stands up, pulls Zangetsu out of the ground, and turns around just in time to block an attack from Byakuya. BAD. ASS.
  • Chapter 153:
    • While Ichigo begins his climactic fight with Byakuya in earnest, Suì-Fēng attacks Ukitake's 3rd Seats for assisting him in destroying the Sōkyoku. However, before she can kill them, Suì-Fēng is literally tackled off the side of the cliff by none other than Yoruichi, who sports a Grin of Audacity as she and Suì-Fēng crash into the forest below.
    • Meanwhile, Yamamoto makes it clear that Shunsui and Ukitake's actions will NOT be going unpunished: all he needs to do is glare at them, and Shunsui gets himself and Ukitake the hell out of dodge. Later chapters demonstrate that Fear Is the Appropriate Response when it comes to Old Man Genocide.
  • Chapter 154:
    • Yoruichi's first proper fight starts off with a bang: first, she and Suì-Fēng cross kicks that cut a leaf caught between them cleanly in two, just to demonstrate how lethal a basic attack like that is when coming from them. After Yoruichi responds to her attempts at trash-talk by making fun of how talkative she is, Suì-Fēng brings out the Keigun, the punishment enforcers of the Onmitsukidō who will kill anyone on command, even a former commander of theirs like Yoruichi...who promptly blitzes the fuck out of them, laying waste to every single ninja present in a matter of seconds. Addressing Suì-Fēng, who clearly wasn't expecting that, Yoruichi reminds her that, while she gave up the title of Corps Commander, she most certainly didn't give up her more well-known title: Flash Goddess.
    • Elsewhere, in a location known as the Third Old City on the outskirts of the Seireitei, Shunsui, Ukitake, and Nanao all appear one after another, judging this area as far enough away to avoid getting anyone hurt by accident. However, they all suddenly realize that Yamamoto is already there, sitting patiently on a chunk of rubble, and can only stare in shock as he gets to his feet:
      Yamamoto: My quarry never escapes. Come, you rascals. But you won't get off with a thrashing this time.
  • Chapter 155:
    • Realizing that Yamamoto's well-known power means that even two captains might not be able to stand up to him, Nanao decides that she should at least try to do something - only to be paralyzed in place when Yamamoto focuses his gaze upon her. With Nanao unable to breathe and foaming at the mouth, Yamamoto delivers yet another Badass Boast:
      Yamamoto: Leave. I haven't the patience to teach infants who haven't yet learned to walk.
    • After Shunsui moves Nanao to safety with a massive Flash Step, Yamamoto compliments his prowess and recounts his and Ukitake's status as the finest students to ever graduate from his academy, as well as being unstoppable when fighting together...but concludes that he's disappointed in the path they've chosen and has no intention of talking things out with them. Despite Ukitake's attempts to settle this diplomatically, Yamamoto makes it quite clear that he's serious in one badass panel:
      Yamamoto: Reduce All Creation to Ash - Ryūjin Jakka.
  • Chapter 156:
    • The sheer power displayed by Ryūjin Jakka is awe-inspiring. A whirling coil of flame visible for miles, scorching the clouds and disintegrating buildings, and at the center Yamamoto himself, living up to the moniker "Old Man Genocide". It's little wonder that even two veteran captains like Shunsui and Ukitake are damn nervous to be staring it down from the wrong end.
    • Told to release their Shikai so they don't turn to ash without putting up a fight, Shunsui and Ukitake comply, and even though we don't get to see their Zanpakutō in use during the fight, the incantations alone send chills up the spine prior to their explosive clash:
      Ukitake: All Waves, Rise now and Become my Shield, Lightning, Strike now and Become my Blade - Sōgyo no Kotowari!
      Shunsui: Flower Wind Rage and Flower God Roar, Heavenly Wind Rage and Heavenly Demon Sneer - Katen Kyōkotsu!
  • Chapter 157:
    • With Suì-Fēng having exposed her Keisen Shōzoku, the formal garb of the Onmitsukidō commander, her battle with Yoruichi gets properly underway as the two trade an explosive series of rapid blows, ending in a punch/kick exchange that leaves Suì-Fēng with a bruised shoulder...and Yoruichi with a bleeding lip. When Yoruichi lightheartedly accuses her of getting some sort of boost from her uniform, Suì-Fēng denies needing one and appears behind Yoruichi, who clearly wasn't expecting to be outpaced after her boast, before releasing her Shikai, Suzumebachi, and effectively shanking Yoruichi with it when she tries to escape. Talk about hardcore.
      Suì-Fēng: There's a cost to being away from the front line for a hundred years. You'll pay it with your life, Yoruichi!
  • Chapter 158:
  • Chapter 159:
    • What was a Curb-Stomp Battle in Suì-Fēng's favor is now indisputably one in Yoruichi's - with Shunkō active, every single attack from Suì-Fēng (who's supposed to have a power boost as well, mind you) is either dodged, countered, or negated. It reaches the point that, when Yoruichi cancels out a massive blast and leaves her fist held inches from Suì-Fēng's face, the latter just gives up because she knows, despite the 100 years Yoruichi's been out of practice, her former mentor is still better than her. Not bad for someone who was complaining about being out of breath from extensive Shunpo usage earlier.
  • Chapter 160:
    • The long-awaited battle between Ichigo and Byakuya truly gets underway - to give you an idea of the intensity, even though Byakuya hasn't even released his Shikai, he and Ichigo are still overturning chunks of the ground with their strikes. Byakuya attempts another Hannibal Lecture regarding Ichigo's Shunpo usage, but Ichigo just points out how Byakuya said he'd kill him but has yet to do so before launching into one hell of a speech:
      Ichigo: You said you were gonna kill me and execute Rukia yourself. YOU MAKE ME SICK! I'm gonna hit you with everything I've got. I'm gonna crush every last one of your powers. Execute your own sister? That's twisted. I don't give a crap about your sense of duty or your pride. I won't let you say that in front of Rukia ever again. Release your Bankai. I'm gonna crush it. Then I'm gonna make you beg Rukia for forgiveness.
    • Then, believing that Ichigo's not even remotely strong enough to deserve his Bankai, Byakuya just releases Senbonzakura...which is immediately decimated by a Getsuga Tenshō from Ichigo - the first conscious one he's EVER released. Byakuya's expression just caps it all off.
  • Chapter 161:
    • After Ichigo explains how his Getsuga Tenshō works and demands once again that Byakuya use his Bankai, Byakuya decides to grant his request and brings out Senbonzakura Kageyoshi - and man, the following clash isn't even fair. Unlike Renji, Ichigo's able to dodge the initial attack, but that just means we get to see Senbonzakura Kageyoshi in its natural state; a massive, swirling torrent of blades, which can both protect Byakuya from attacks and lay waste to his enemies at the same time. Cue Ichigo essentially getting piledrived into the ground by the totality of Senbonzakura Kageyoshi, leaving him a bleeding mess...but far from done:
      Ichigo: Damn it...I thought I could go a little farther...but I guess I was wrong. What was I thinking? I was stupid to think I could beat a Bankai with a Shikai.
      Byakuya: Watch what you say, boy. You make it sound as though you've achieved Bankai.
  • Chapter 162:
    • In a very rare move for Shonen Jump, this chapter was published entirely in color - and given the content, it's easy to see why. First, Ichigo begins charging up his Reiatsu, and internally, Byakuya details just how ridiculous his claim sounds - after all, Bankai can only be performed by veteran Shinigami, even the Noble Houses only have one member every several generations who can attain it, and everyone who's achieved it has etched their names into history - and yet, and yet, Ichigo's confidence and intense Reiatsu makes him think twice. Ichigo stops powering up, swings Zangetsu forward, and yells "BANKAI!" - and his Reiatsu just explodes off the cliff and over Byakuya, who's left staring in shock as the dust clears to reveal a now-iconic facet of the series, Tensa Zangetsu, in all its glory. Of course, Byakuya quickly regains his composure and claims that Tensa Zangetsu can't possibly be a real Bankai; after all, it's just so small and looks like a regular sword, which means Ichigo's just trampling on Shinigami pride again...but when he tries to attack, suddenly Ichigo's holding his sword to Byakuya's throat, and all the latter can do is just stare at him, speechless, while Ichigo lays it out:
      Ichigo: Your so-called pride demands that you kill Rukia. If that's the case, then stepping on your pride is the reason I achieved Bankai!
  • Chapter 163:
    • The main power of Tensa Zangetsu is finally revealed, and it's spine-chillingly awesome: rather than give Ichigo a big, flashy attack, all it does is compress its power into its sword...and that compression has the side-effect of making Ichigo ludicrously fast. This is an aspect that the anime just can't pull off as well as the manga does, because here Ichigo is damn-near teleporting between the panels on each page, to the point where Byakuya, the resident Shunpo master, can barely keep track of him. Hell, Ichigo goes so fast that he leaves afterimages! So Byakuya decides to up the ante by controlling Senbonzakura Kageyoshi with his hands, which doubles its speed, and it seems he's finally caught Ichigo - then the latter deflects every single blade in seconds by just swinging his sword around at lightning speed, followed by Ichigo appearing behind Byakuya (who had previously claimed Ichigo wouldn't be able to pull one over on him again) and stabbing at him. Byakuya's forced to stop the sword with his bare hand and finally, finally acknowledges Tensa Zangetsu as a proper Bankai. Chills, all the way through.
  • Chapter 164:
    • With the aid of the blood spilled from his hand, Byakuya initiates Senkei, a technique he reserves for those he's sworn to kill by his own hand that concentrates the offensive power of Senbonzakura Kageyoshi into swords. This is what lets him finally start fighting on even ground with Ichigo, and their first clash can be felt on the other end of Sōkyoku Hill. Undeniably the most iconic portion of the fight, and for good reason.
  • Chapter 165:
    • For all his stoicism and talk about upholding the law, it's clear that Byakuya wants nothing less than to kill Ichigo here, and it's chilling for both awesome and scary reasons. As he starts getting injured, Ichigo assumes that Byakuya's gotten faster from activating Senkei and assures himself that he can speed up a bit in return...then he finds Byakuya's sword less than an inch from piercing his skull. Ichigo dodges that, and Byakuya appears behind him, blade at the throat with murder in his eyes. Ichigo blocks that, so Byakuya just stabs him in the foot with another sword and puts a hole in his shoulder with Hadō #4. Byakurai. Turns out, Ichigo's been the one slowing down this whole time since his body still isn't ready for Bankai, and Byakuya's just been taking advantage of that. Discounting the fact that he's doing all this to a 15-year old, it's little wonder Byakuya's one of the most fearsome captains.
    • So how does Ichigo get out of this one? He's lost a ton of blood, his body is barely responding to his brain, and Byakuya's moving in for the killing blow. Well...he doesn't. Rather, Ichigo doesn't. A voice within scoffs, and Ichigo's hand catches Byakuya's sword mid-swing, but when a startled Byakuya demands to know who's on the other end, well...
      Hollow Ichigo: Who am I? Heh... I have no name.
  • Chapter 166:
  • Chapter 167:
    • In the aftermath of their last clash, Ichigo and Byakuya stand apart from each other and bleed, one after the other, from their final wounds. Looking at his hand, Byakuya recalls Ichigo destroying his sword during their clash and finally explains why he didn't save Rukia (or, at least, part of the reason). When Ichigo dismisses his adherence to the law as not meaning anything in the face of his sister being in danger, Byakuya realizes that he's been fighting the laws of Soul Society all along, rather than Byakuya himself, and concedes victory to Ichigo before leaving. That's right: 112 chapters and 3 real-time years after his first encounter with Byakuya, Ichigo wins! No wonder he screams in celebration afterward.
  • Chapter 169:
  • Chapter 170:
    • Hitsugaya comes back to the chamber and is shocked to find Aizen alive, but moreover, he finds Hinamori, lying in a pool of her own blood, and is simply speechless for a few seconds. When Aizen responds to his inquiries by not only revealing that Gin has always been his lieutenant, but that the Gotei 13 simply never knew who he really was, Hitsugaya goes berserk and brings out his Bankai, Daiguren Hyōrinmaru, which encases the entire chamber in ice as he prepares to unleash hell...then Aizen cuts him down in one slash, because not only is he a manipulative jackass, he's also insanely powerful.
  • Chapter 171:
    • After being confronted by Unohana and Isane, the former of whom had suspected Aizen might be alive after an extensive autopsy on his "corpse doll" and her own knowledge of the chamber they're in being the perfect place to hide left her with a nagging doubt, Aizen clarifies two things: first, he wasn't hiding, and second, Unohana wasn't autopsying a corpse doll. Cue Aizen bringing out said corpse doll and revealing that it's actually his Shikai, Kyōka Suigetsu, which allows him to fool all five senses of his victims so they see/hear/smell/etc. anything he WANTS them to once they've seen its release. When Unohana picks up on his wording, Aizen confirms what she just thought of: Tōsen, the one blind captain, has been working for him the whole time. Cue Tōsen finding Renji and Rukia, whom he transports to Sōkyoku Hill, as Gin takes Aizen there as well, leaving Unohana and Isane behind in the wake of his slaughter.
    • A (comparatively) small one for Unohana as well. At first glance, you'd assume Aizen leaves after she shows up just because that's when Tōsen found Renji and Rukia, but on a re-read once you've read the final arc, you realize the true reason: for all his boasting and scheming, when Unohana shows up, Aizen runs the fuck away - he's NOT equipped to deal with her, especially before the culmination of his scheme.
  • Chapter 172:
    • Far from being neutral women, Unohana and Isane get to work once Aizen and Gin disappear; Unohana start healing Hitsugaya and Rangiku, but Isane is the one to prevent Aizen from getting away without confrontation by not only tracking him and Gin to Sōkyoku Hill, but telling the rest of the Gotei 13 and the Ryoka about what's happened. The reactions of those listening vary from shock to anger, but one thing's for certain: Aizen's not getting away that easily.
  • Chapter 173:
    • Aizen establishes that not only is he skilled and powerful, he's strong; when Renji attacks him with Zabimaru, Aizen first deflects it with one hand on his Zanpakutō, then catches the damn thing with his bare hand and cuts it apart before cutting through Renji's back, just to demonstrate how he's been toying with the latter this whole time.
    • On his end, refusing to hand over Rukia to Aizen, Renji's forced to defend himself (with only one arm and his sealed Zanpakutō at first, no less)...and does a pretty good job of it by Aizen's admission, all things considered. He's punching way above his weight class (since Aizen has to hold back to avoid crushing "ants" like him) and still isn't fully healed (which prevents him from using Bankai), but that doesn't stop him from going ballistic on Aizen after the latter mocks the false perception he and the rest of the Gotei 13 had of "Captain Aizen". Even after being slashed across the back and demonstrably outmatched by Aizen, Renji refuses to leave Rukia again and prepares to Face Death with Dignity as Aizen attacks...only for a familiar black blade to intercept his slash as Ichigo kneels between them and caps off yet another "Hell, Yes!" Moment:
  • Chapter 174:
    • Despite the state of Zabimaru and Ichigo not being in the best shape on top of Aizen's monstrous power, Renji still formulates a solid plan quickly enough; he'll distract Aizen with a last-resort technique while Ichigo moves in, does some damage, and escapes with Rukia before Aizen can recover. So Renji uses Higa Zekkō, which attacks Aizen with the broken segments of Zabimaru, Ichigo rushes in heroically with his sword out, and...smash cut to Aizen blocking Ichigo's sword with ONE FINGER, then damn near cutting him in half, cutting down Renji, and grabbing Rukia. Holy goddamn FUCK.
      • One of the few instances where the anime objectively improved things: when Ichigo attacks Aizen, "Number One" is playing, as it has so many times before and after - but unlike every single other instance of it playing, when Aizen stops Ichigo's attack, the music stops cold along with it. How many anime villains do you know that have the power to stop the protagonists's theme song?!
  • Chapter 175:
  • Chapter 176:
    • Just to drive home how astronomically powerful he is, Aizen holds back Komamura's sword by the blade with his bare hand as well, tricks him with an illusory double, then takes him the fuck out with an incantation-less Hadō #90 Kurohitsugi. Keep in mind, Komamura had apparently gotten out of a direct clash with Kenpachi unscathed prior to this - Ichigo's right to be astonished at the power disparity between these two.
    • After taking out Komamura, Aizen resumes his explanation and firmly cements his Magnificent Bastard credentials with the revelation that he was behind Rukia's execution from the start; he killed Central 46 the moments she was discovered in the Human World so he could impersonate them, sent Byakuya and Renji to find her, had her Gigai returned and destroyed, and chose the Sōkyoku to execute her with because it was one of only two methods he could use to extract the Hōgyoku from her - but in anticipation of the execution being interfered with, he made sure to prepare the other method as well, which he promptly uses to pull the Hōgyoku out of her chest. And just like that, Aizen gets what he wants, no fuss and as casually as can be.
    • Turns out, the second method of extraction doesn't actually harm Rukia despite temporarily forming a giant hole in her chest, but Aizen doesn't need her anymore, so he orders Gin to kill her. Gin complies, Shinsō hurtles toward Rukia's neck...and the next thing we see is Aizen's empty hand and the blade extending past him, where Byakuya's protecting Rukia with his body - just try to look at that without chills going up your spine. Now THAT is how you start to make up for your behavior.
      • Going a bit deeper, what makes this so awesome is the inherent logic behind it. Byakuya (for reasons established later) was going to let Rukia be executed because it was a punishment for her crime - an excessive punishment, but one he believed was handed down justly anyway. But let her be killed For the Evulz and after Ichigo helped open his eyes? Hell no!
  • Chapter 177:
    • Before Aizen can kill Rukia and Byakuya (who's nearly unconscious at this point), who other than Yoruichi and Suì-Fēng show up to restrain him, blade to his neck and hand on his Zanpakutō. Smug Super as he is, even Aizen seems to take their threat to decapitate him if he moves seriously, considering what happens next.
    • Then, the OTHER three Gatekeepers show up below Sōkyoku Hill, all under Aizen's spell, and Yoruichi begins panicking at the idea of dealing with both them AND Aizen at the same time...so that's when Jidanbō and Kūkaku crash onto the battlefield and begin cleaning house in one hell of a Curb-Stomp Battle.
    • Above them, Gin's wondering if he should get involved - only to find himself being held at swordpoint by Rangiku, which leads him to decide that he's been captured.
    • Finally, as Aizen expresses mild confusion at Yoruichi claiming he's surrounded with only a few new arrivals, almost all the remaining captains and lieutenants show up, with Hisagi restraining Tōsen and every one of them rightly pissed off. Even with that, however, Aizen remains smiling...
  • Chapter 178:
    • ...because the proverbial getaway car has just arrived. As a Negación beam encases Aizen, the sky tears open to reveal DOZENS of Menos Grande, who begin pushing their way out while an even larger entity lurks behind them. Two more beams encase Gin and Tōsen, and when Iba tries to stop them, Yamamoto admits that the three captains are beyond their reach now - Negación places them in a different world altogether. Upon being asked by Ukitake why he would debase himself by allying with the Menos Grande, Aizen destroys his glasses, slicks back his hair, and delivers perhaps THE iconic Badass Boast of the series before vanishing into the void:
      Aizen: No one stands on the top of the world. Not you, not me, not even gods. But the unbearable vacancy of the throne in the sky is over. From now on...I will be sitting on it.
      • So, just to recap: in the span of maybe 20 minutes, Aizen drops the pretense of faking his death, shanks his lieutenant, cuts down Hitsugaya, reveals he's been lying to the Gotei 13 for centuries, escapes from Unohana, Worfs Renji, stops Ichigo's theme song and cuts him almost in half, casually recaps how he's been behind the events of basically the entire arc, one-shots Komamura, gets the MacGuffin he's been looking for with no hassle, and when seemingly surrounded by the Gotei 13 with nowhere to run, has demons pull him into another dimension. Is it any WONDER he's the most popular antagonist of the series?
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    Hueco Mundo Arc 
  • Isshin gets one when he drops the goofy dad act to reveal the fact that he is a Captain-level Shinigami. And then proceeds to use his sword to slice a giant arrancar in half.
    • Let's not forget that it wasn't just any arrancar — it was Grand Fisher, the Hollow who killed his wife. It's Personal.
      Isshin: You may have no interest in me...but I came here to kill you.
  • Okay, Quincy appreciation time:
    • Uryuu is still capable of fighting back even without Quincy powers ...because he took the time to plan ahead. Likewise, even while de-powered, it still takes DAYS of being run into the ground before he hits his physical and mental limits.
    • Ryuuken can one-shot incomplete Arrancar, hit a moving target less than an inch away from a vital organ, and is STILL capable of running Uryuu to breathless exhaustion without breaking a sweat himself even after his son's powers are fully restored and then some.
  • Chad saves Tatsuki's life, and then tries to hold off Yammy as Orihime runs for it, even after he acknowledges his opponents power is way beyond his.
  • Grimmjow gets one when Orihime reform his arm, allowing him to re-take his place as the sixth Espada.... by delivering the mother of all Curb Stomp Battles to Luppi.
    • What about prior to that where he asks Orihime to heal his back. It was priceless watching Luppi's reaction to seeing the '6' re-emerge followed by being impaled in the chest a split second letter. To top it off: Grimmjow giving an Ironic Echo and blasting the upper half of Luppi off. Aizen's smile seemed to have indicated he was wanting Grimmjow back just so he can get rid of Luppi.
  • Ishida defeating Cirucci, especially his speech after she mutilates herself for enough power to kill him.
    Çirucci: If it's a battle between two swords, she with the longer reach will always come out on top.
    Ishida: It appears you misunderstood me. When a Quincy does battle, absorbing spirit particle from the environment to strengthen ones weapon is imperative and the strongest embodiment of that process is this Seele Schneider.(Drains energy form her sword into his bow) Those precious spirit particles of yours are already mine.
    Cirucci: Get fucking real, you bastard!!!
    Ishida: There's one other thing you misunderstood. Seele Schneider is not a sword. Quincy only use a bow. (Draws Seele Schneider in his bow like an arrow) I'm sorry, but this is my win, Cirucci Thunderwitch. The key to winning this battle was indeed having the longest reach. (Shoots her)
  • Orihime's real Moment comes when, after having offered herself as a Barrier Maiden and being imprisoned by Aizen, she is set upon by two jealous Arrancar girls, who give her a rather savage beating. Then, when the two are butchered by a superior (Grimmjow) who has come to take Orihime away, she promptly proves that she is capable of resurrecting the dead — apparently not holding a grudge against those who just nearly killed her.
    • And before that? When Orihime is being tortured by Menoly and Loly, we get a closeup to her face. She's been beaten up so badly that her face is disfigured... but she hasn't cried a single tear over it. For a soft-hearted and sensitive girl who's very much a fawn surrounded by hungry wolves in that moment, it's quite a lot.
      • Orihime gets more awesome points for stunning Ulquiorra into silence after she slapped him, even though he almost certainly didn't feel it.
      • Actually, this is more like an awesome moment for Ulquiorra than for Orihime. Why? Because Orihime had decided to put on a mask of false tranquility and hide her feelings so she'd be able to get close to the Hogyoku and destroy it. But the moment she slaps Ulquiorra? The mask falls and it lets us see that she's got a huge inner turmoil, and the poor girl's plan pretty much falls apart, alongside her composure. Who was skillful enough with words and manipulations to get to her? Ulquiorra.
    • Chapter 341 of the manga. Orihime uses her shields again. To stop an attack from none other than * Ulquiorra*. Notice that now she doesn't even need to chant the Rikka spells to do such things, and that this is Ulquiorra aka the Fourth most powerful Espada we're talking about.
  • Kuchiki Byakuya, in order to keep Espada No. 7 from controlling parts of his body, calmly cuts the tendons in his own arm and leg. Without even flinching.
    • Another one comes shortly after that. #7's power is that, should one of his 50 eyes lock in on a body part, he controls it. He uses this ability on Rukia's head, which allows him to control her brain and thus her whole body. He then has Rukia hold her sword up to her neck and threatens to have her kill herself if Byakuya doesn't give up. Byakuya puts his zanpakuto away, paralyzes Rukia with Bakudo #61, then proceeds to use his bankai.
  • Mayuri gets his own where he not only comes to save Renji and Uryu (while either squicking them out or just plain humiliating Uryu) from his Arrancar equivalent Szayel Aporro Grantz, he ends the battle by stabbing him through the heart and hand while the other was under the effect of a drug that heightens his reflexes to the point that the stabbing takes centuries.
    • He doesn't just stab him, he screws with Szayel by moving v-e-r-y s-l-o-w-l-y so as to d-r-a-g the whole thing out. The amount of time it takes for Mayuri's blade to even reach Szayel's hand takes forever without your perception of time slowed to glacier speed.
    • The speech Mayuri makes in and of itself was and is a CMOA.
  • With Ichigo out of commission, Uryu buys Orihime time by stepping up and fighting Ulquiorra himself. He doesn't stop even after losing his hand; he just draws a Seele Schneider and keeps fighting.
  • Ishida grabbing Bull Ichigo's arm to try and stop him from killing the... remnants of Ulquiorra (the 40% of him that's left is not as pretty as it used to be). He's more worried about Ichigo losing his humanity than he is about saving the life of the Emospada who cut off his hand. The only thing that could have made it more awesome was if Bull Ichigo hadn't started attacking him instead of Ulquiorra.
  • Episode 201: Zaraki Kenpachi just continues to prove what a walking CMOA he is. Yet all the while, Yachiru stands there smiling, which, compared to Ichigo and Orihime freaking out over everything, somehow just contributes to her awesomeness.
    • Kenpachi's CMOA of CMOA in this fight: Catching a freaking Cero barehanded and tossing away like a goddamned beach ball. Even Nnoitra's just standing there with a look that just says "Oh. Fuck. Me."
    • To hell with it, the entire freaking eleventh division is made of awesome. If anyone from it is not having a Moment of Awesome, they will be soon enough.
  • Watch the three fights between the Captains and the Espada. At no point do the three captains ever truly lose control of the battle, at most just needing to briefly pull back and strategize. Part of this is because each of the Captains was rather well-suited for dealing with their particular foe, but they all give the impression that had the match-ups been different they would have each found a way to win. It really helps to emphasize just how strong and capable each captain truly is.
    • Related to the above is when Retsu Unohana and Isane Kotesu show up, the former merely tells Rudbornn Chelute that she intends to provide healing and will not fight unless forced. Rudbornn, despite later claiming to have the power of a god doesn't even try to fight her, ordering a withdrawal.
  • Rukia exposing her seemingly resurrected and evil teacher, Kaien Shiba, as Aaroniero Arruruerie, and then proceeding to kill him by cutting him in half using her Third Dance, Shirafune. And verbally owning him as she does so.
    • The first time we see her Shikai, she one-shots D-roy, an Arrancar that could have killed Sado in one blow, and the second time, Hakuren is used to save Ichigo from Grimmjow. She also beats Rudobon and the Exequias he produced single-handedly when he releases, and freezes his branches, preventing him from using his power.
    • To make it even better, she was probably under power limits at the time meaning that her first curbstomp was done while at twenty-percent power.
  • Ulquiorra mopping the floor with Ichigo every time they fight excluding his fight with Ichigo's full-Hollow form. Yeah, Ichigo's The Hero, but there's something undeniably awesome about the main character getting his ass handed to him when the other guy's not even trying.

    Fake Karakura Town Arc 
  • Izuru got one in the manga while fighting Abirama. After Abirama criticizes Izuru for not acting like a warrior (chants, goading, insults, etc.), he starts to beat Izuru down, asking him what his weird shaped zanpakuto could possibly do. Izuru finally manages to lure him in and hit his wings (which are heavier than steel) four times, multiplying their weight by 16 and effectively paralyzing him. Izuru calmly explains that his zanpakuto best portrays the traits of his division: the magnolia symbol of the 3rd division means despair, and they view war as something dark and undesirable. His zanpakuto's name is Wabisuke, which is fitting since its power makes its opponents bend down as if in apology. Izuru finally replies "You asked what I could do with this strangely shaped sword." He holds the sword up below Abirama's head, literally hooking him into a reverse guillotine.
    • "A warrior does not beg for his life." SHUNK
  • "Ryuujin Jakka. Number One. Nadegiri. Is "stop" such a difficult concept to understand, kid?" And the same huge chimera that almost kills Matsumoto, Momo and Hisagi is split in half with a single stroke. WOW, YAMAMOTO.
  • The revelation of Baraggan Luisenbarn's Arrancar powers. Yes, I know. Poor Sui-Feng. But it's still awesome for him, and freaky as hell.
    • It also brings up yet another Sui-Feng CMOA: She has Omaeda cut her rotting arm off right then
  • Ushoda Hachigen is the ONLY Vizard that wins his fight. How does he do it? By using Barragan's own power against him by cutting off his own rotting forearm and transferring it into Barragan's body causing the old bastard to rot from the inside out.
    Barragan: What have you done with your arm?
    Hachi: I gave it to you.
  • Starrk's and Lilynette's Resureccion form is a CMoA by itself.
  • Anime-only, but Loly's Defiant to the End moment with Yammy, complete with Famous Last Words calling him a scumbag...twice. The girl had spunk: perhaps a little TOO much of it but there's something admirably ballsy about not giving into fear of someone who far outclasses you and insulting him to his face. Even better is that this came after defending Orihime, the girl she HATES, from Yammy. You just have to admire that.
    • Turns out she's not dead after all, so the defiance wasn't quite to the end, and her famous words not so last.
  • Chapter 390, in which Aizen solos the Gotei 13.
  • Chapter 392...oh Aizen. The person Hitsugaya and the captains just attacked was Momo. Aizen used his shikai already. And as silly as memetic it sounds, Aizen was right: Since when were they under the impression, that he hadn't used it?
    • As you can imagine it's a huge Curb-Stomp Battle afterwards...Aizen one by one cuts down the captains. A completely horrifying moment, but also an horribly intelligent plan.
    • Hitsugaya, Kyoraku, and Shinji deserve just as much praise for their truly epic combination attack in the previous chapter against Aizen. Though foiled at the last minute by the aforementioned illusion, they still managed to give Aizen an Oh, Crap! moment.
      Aizen: "Shit. Everything's backwards!"
      • And the best part about it? Shinji's smile as he nonchalantly releases his shikai.
      • Kyoraku showing he can play quietly when he feels like it, by using speed and his swords alone to attack Aizen, only using the shadow game on the couple of occasions he got the opportunity. When Kyoraku manages to stab him through a shadow on the ice, Aizen — of all people — calls him a bastard. To which he is typically unconcerned.
  • Chapter 393, and Aizen is still on a roll: Everyone in FKK is down for the count. Old Man Genocide steps up to bat. How does he go about fighting Aizen? By allowing Aizen to stab him, then grabbing his sword arm, Kenpachi style. After some more banter, Yama reveals his plan to kill Captain Broken once and for all: He's going to burn Karakura Town to the ground, killing everyone on the scene, including Aizen, Gin, and well over half of the Gotei 13. Does Aizen have a plan to counter the strongest fighter in Soul Society? You bet he does, and the name of this plan is... Wonderweiss Margera, who specializes in Anti-Magic.
    • Old Man Genocide gets one somewhat, as Aizen explicitly states that Yamamoto is stronger than he is. That's right. Aizen himself says he cannot beat Yamamoto alone. Considering the fact that Aizen was thought to be the strongest person in the series thus far, that's saying a lot.
      • To put it in perspective, the official data for their personal combat ability (persumably excluding zanpakutou powers) put Aizen and Yamamoto as equal in terms of total point score; Aizen, however, states that Ryuujin Jakka's unrivaled offensive power would tip the scales in Yamamoto's favour.
  • Chapter 394: Deprived of the power of Ryuujin-Jakka, Yamamoto decides, instead, to go the Badass Normal way and beat Wonderweiss to death with his bare hands.
    • His bragging about how not one Shinigami in the past 1000 years has ever been stronger than him also qualifies. It's essentially admitting that the Soul Society is run by Klingon Promotion — or at least the 1st Division.
      • Up against someone like Yamamoto, Aizen seems to have nothing but his magical toy and his game-breaking sword and still has a couple of close calls. The old man, on the other hand, is willing to sacrifice himself (and everyone else), uses unlikely, reckless tactics — allowing himself to be stabbed — and is most importantly not limited to the powers of his sword. What Aizen got through luck and bastard-ness, Yamamoto got through experience and...being a different kind of bastard.
  • Chapter 398 features an absolutely EPIC moment, Isshin sending Aizen flying through several buildings by giving him the finger!
    • This can interpret in two ways:
      • He is so good, he can perform Kido powerful enough to affect Aizen without mumbling a single word.
      • He is so AWESOME, he can send Aizen flying just by SNAPPING HIS FINGERS!
  • Ukitake gets one in the manga when he backhands Lilynette's Cero out of existence. He asked the kid several times to not bother him, and when kid refused to listen, BAM. Gone.
    • Ukitake revealing his shikai ability for the first time when he deflects Starrk's Ceros. Also, his "no arguments" line to Kyoraku when he tries to protest. Starrk's theory on over-powering Ukitake's zanpakuto may be sound, but we never saw Ukitake have any trouble no matter how many Ceros Starrk fired or how fast he moved.
  • Hachi's comes during the flashback arc when he pulls off a Level 99 Kido spell without incantation, one-shotting the now mindless Kensei.
  • Komamura Sajin is normally thought as one of the weaker captains but he has a Moment of Awesome when, after being knocked down by an opponent that managed to defeat Ikkaku,he quickly gets back on his feet, blocks and throws away his opponent, even though the opponent's size is way more immense than him, then quickly curb-stomps him with Bankai. From that point on, the audience know that Komamura's not just all bark.
  • Marechiyo Omaeda who has up until now been a fat rich guy who has only been known to stuff his face and getting owned by a bare-handed Ichigo. Then when he fought Nirgge Parduoc, he was simply being seen getting thrown around and doing little damage with his sword. The Fraccion was even able to mock him for his slow speed. Then the Fraccion released and became stronger, with a cut in speed. Nirgge chased Omaeda around until Omaeda revealed he was much faster than the Fraccion and proceeded to crush his head with his Shikai.
  • Another Sui-Feng CMOA. Not only does she verbally bitchslap Omaeda for coming to her rescue, but she kills Ggio Vega with incredible speed and swiftness.
    Sui-Feng: "I'm sorry. I said death in two strokes, but you probably only felt one"...
  • In the manga as well... Rangiku Matsumoto is cornered by three Arrancar ladies as Hitsugaya fights Halibel. Guess who comes to the rescue in a GREAT Big Damn Heroes? MOMO HINAMORI. Yes, one of the most hated characters, who isn't fully healed of her HUGE traumas but has at least assumed that there are things she has to do. And pulls a small Batman Gambit by using her kido to suppress her spiritual pressure and slip unnoticed towards the place Rangiku was fighting so she could join her without interruptions, AND then use her power to create a a huge explosion, while still having energy left to raise a barrier to protect herself and Rangiku.
  • During his fight with Baraggan, Oomaeda brings down a building with his shikai.

    Deicide Arc 
  • Chapter 399 has Ichigo totally gimping Gin's 13 km long sword and hitting him with a getsuga tensho. Gin actually opens his eyes, which is saying something.
  • Chapter 403 is nothing but this for everyone involved:
    • Aizen admits that if he weren't powered up by the Hogyoku, Urahara would have beaten him.
    • Yoruichi shows up, and actually manages to hurt Aizen more than anyone we've seen so far!
  • Remember Keigo? You know, who ran after Tatsuki told him to?. Well, he went TO GET A SWORD TO DEFEND THEM BOTH. Granted, it's not his, but that kid's still got balls!
    • This is nothing against the sheer Crazy Awesomeness of Mizuiro, who was completly unfazed about the invincible Aizen, even after he survived an explosion!
  • Chapter 411: Don Kanonji returns, and his first action is to attack Aizen. Bear in mind that Aizen's power is strong enough to paralyze lower level Shinigami just by being close to him. Kanonji not only manages to move freely, but he attacks! It's doubly awesome that he refused to back down, even when Tatsuki told him to run and he sensed Aizen's true power. Why didn't he run? Because that isn't what heroes do.
  • Gin in 414. He reveals that he knows the one weakness to Aizen's complete hypnosis, and uses it to stab him in the heart. Then he reveals that his sword's ability isn't what he's been telling everyone. It can turn into a dust which destroys the cells from within, and he just left a piece of that dust in Aizen's heart. Cue most of Aizen's chest simply vanishing into nothingness. Even though Aizen survives it, that was pure, undiluted awesome.
  • As of Chapter 417, Ichigo is about to duel Aizen, but suggests they move to another spot, away from his friends and family, so that they can finish each other off without hurting anyone else. Aizen scoffs at him, merely commenting that moving would be pointless, as he plans to kill Ichigo and then demolish the rest of Karakura Town shortly afterward. Before he can finish, Ichigo comes barreling out of nowhere and delivers a truly awesome, well-deserved Face Palm Of Doom, then proceeds to drag Aizen by the face over the town and to an empty mountain range, then throws him into the ground from hundreds of feet up, from the look of it hard enough for Aizen to break the sound barrier. Aizen, understandably, is not pleased, but Ichigo has once again proven his total badassery due to that moment.
    • What makes it even more awesome is that freaking Aizen has no clue how it happened. He can't sense any reiatsu from Ichigo at all, which led to thinking that Ichigo failed to get any stronger. Ichigo made Captain Butterfly bleed with nothing but brute strength.
    • Well, it may well be THE most awesome moment in the last twenty episodes, considering Aizen was constantly leveling up, mocking move after move done against him. Ichigo, the same person who was afraid to do a single strike against Aizen when he caught him off-guard, only needs ONE transformation to give our much-hated Captain Broken a well-deserved ass-kicking!
  • Chapter 418: Aizen crushes the landscape with a single swordstroke! Ichigo is completely unfazed. Aizen swings at Ichigo with insane Speed! Ichigo blocks it with his hand. Aizen actually gets off his lazy ass and performs the full-power chant for the Black Coffin spell, showing us exactly what he meant when he said that it was a "failure" the first time he used it! Ichigo shatters the magic without a single word. Ichigo explains to Aizen that he is stronger than Aizen now, and asks Aizen if he's scared of something he can't understand. Finally, Ichigo explains that the sword that broke the landscape wasn't Aizen's... it was his! It says a lot when someone who's been a Smug Snake through basically the entire manga has a Villainous Breakdown.
  • Chapter 420: Mugetsu. That is all.
    • Somewhat defusing the awesome of the above, Aizen manages to live through Ichigo's ultimate attack, albeit severely weakened, and has him dead to rights. However, Urahara shows up, and reveals that he planted a kido seal in Aizen way back when Aizen was first using the Hogokyu to evolve, which causes the Hogokyu to reject Aizen as its master. Aizen goes off on a rant about how Urahara, a genius like himself, should be siding with him, which Urahara calmly denies. Aizen doesn't even get to finish his rant before the seal completely envelops him.

     Lost Substitute Shinigami Arc 
  • In Chapter 424, Ichigo has lost his spiritual powers, but while beating up a mugger, reveals that all the Training from Hell he went through left him with incredible reflexes. He demonstrates by casually catching a knife stab between the fingers of one hand while punching out the mugger with his other hand.
  • In Chapter 439, Orihime shows her Messiah ID again by defending Shishi, a guy who had just threatened her, from Tsukishima, a guy with a Fullbring who wants to kill them both. (Or so it seems) Even when Tsukishima is about to use his Fullbringer powers on her.
  • 448. Orihime and Chad go to the X-Cution HQ. Riruka questions Orihime's presence. She stands her ground and refuses to leave, in stark contrast with how she would have responded before. Congratulations. *clapclapclap*
    • 449. When Ginjo attacks her, Orihime calmly pulls out her hairpins and uses her powers to defend herself. No incantation, no shock or fear, she just... does it. And by the looks of it, she doesn't use just one shield of her Rikka, but combines two of them so she can both attack AND defend. * stands up and claps more *.
      • "Sadistic? I don't mind you calling me that. If you don't want to get hurt, don't attack me when I say not to."
      • "These 17 months you were powerless... Neither Sado-kun nor I were sitting on our thumbs, Kurosaki-kun. We believed that one day, the time would come when you would regain your powers and fight again. So we swore to ourselves, me and Sado-kun... when the time came, we'd be right there beside you, and we would NEVER fall behind again!" Seriously, screw the haters trying to devalue and decry how this arc is doing wonders on Orihime, she's awesome!
  • 451 can be said to be a Full Chapter of Awesome for Ginjo, who may be in the way to Magnificent Bastardry for completely outclassing Ichigo... both physically and mentally.
  • Conversely, 453 is a Chapter of Awesome for Tsukishima, who subjects Ichigo to a swift but brutal Mind Rape by not attacking or raising a hand against him... but via using his Fullbring to insert himself into his life, brainwashing his sisters and friends into thinking he's their cousin and/or long-time friend, and holding them hostage. This is so clever, complex and well-done (even including a Memory Gambit from... Ginjo, to make Ichigo fall even harder for it, as revealed some episodes later) that this might be one of the rare moments where Moment of Awesome overlaps with Kick the Dog or Moral Event Horizon... we still don't have that "Crowning Moment of Evil" trope, do we?
  • 459. After a really long number of horror-filled chapters, Ichigo has lost. Just then, he gets stabbed through the back. He turns around, and who is there? Rukia, who does a repeat of the first chapter by giving him back his shinigami powers.
    • Not to mention that Rukia has finally become a Lieutenant. That is a piece of awesome that overshadows the entire chapter.
  • 460. Ginjo believes that Ichigo attacked him with a Getsuga Tensho, and tells him that sure, he might be a little bit stronger than he used to be before losing his powers, but it's still not enough to win. Ichigo reveals that it wasn't a Getsuga Tensho, it was just the air being displaced from a normal sword swing. Then he fires a real Getsuga Tensho, which takes off a massive portion of the building behind Ginjo. Let's point this out. A practice swing was stronger than Ichigo's original Getsuga Tensho. Strawberry just got broken, Again.
    • Just to emphasise the point, it doesn't "cut" the top of the building off like Kenpatchi did way back in the Soul Society arc, the top of the building is just gone like it's been vaporized completely, while the rest of the building doesn't even have a scratch on it.
    • Not to mention when his Getsuga Tenshou seems to be LITERALY cutting the sky in half (with the moon in the background) best seen here and here
  • 461 reveals that Head Captain Genryuusai Yamamoto, Old Man Genocide himself, ordered (not just suggested, ordered) every captain and lieutenant in the Gotei 13 to lend their reiatsu to restore Ichigo's powers. Best, thank you, EVER.
  • 463. Kenpachi OHKs Giriko. That is all.
    "Hey, Kuchiki. I wanna switch opponents. Your guy looks stronger. Mine looks boring." (cue OHK) "See? Boring."
  • Byakuya gets one in Chapter 464 when he goes up against Tsukishima. He decides that he's happy to be fighting Tsukishima because of how he despises the way he fights. He then calls him a coward and declares his intention to kill the Mind Raping bastard before he finishes swinging his blade.
    • There's also the fact that he blocked Tsukishima's attack without looking.
  • 465: Ikkaku flexes his dislocated shoulder back in place and Ikkaku does this he says "FUCK YEAH".
    Renji: "These past 17 months, I've been training to fight Aizen. You people just don't cut it."
  • 466: Hitsugaya also effortlessly trolls... er, defeats Yukio using the latter's Fullbring against himself.
    • "That reminds me. Shouldn't you be deactivating those settings? 'They'll chase me wherever I go and and crush me', was it?"
  • Chapter 467: Ikkaku vs Shishigawara. Both major Crazy Awesome and hilarity ensue.
  • 472: Byakuya stabbing Tsukishima with Senbonzakura blades that he had stabbed into his arms, not knowing if such a tactic would work or not.
  • 474: Ginjo starts mocking Ichigo about how Substitute Soul Reapers are just pawns of the Gotei 13, and that he's being used like a puppet. Ichigo's response?: BANKAI!!
    • And then he says:
    Ichigo: Screw you. I'm tired of you idiots trying to shake my resolve like this.
  • Ginjo then unleashes his own bankai and brags about having some measure of hollow powers as well. Ichigo responds by not giving a single fuck and more or less dominating the ensuing fight. And just to show off his newly regained levels in badass he CRUSHES the enormous energy beam fired from Ginjou's BFS with one hand, severely wounds him and finally snaps Ginjou's blade in two with a single thrust.

    The Thousand-Year Blood War Arc 
  • Chapter 481. After Ichigo's Big Damn Heroes to save Yuki and Shino, we have for the first time Ichigo, Ishida, Chad AND Orihime... fighting side by side killing hollows. And in a simply awesome two-page Badass Pose.
  • 483. The Vandenreich comment on how easy it was to break into the Captain-Commander's room, chiding Yamamoto's lack of security. Yama-jii's reply?
    • Ivan baits Ichigo into activating his bankai just so he can whip out his special anti-Bankai technique. What follows is a full 5 pages of special effects and Ichigo's Oh, Crap! face. Then, just when you're convinced that Ichigo is royally screwed, he completely No Sells the technique and counters with a Getsuga Tenshou right into Ivan's face.
  • 484. The Vandenreich kill Yamamoto's liutenant Chojuro Sasakibe. He's the first straight-up fatality on the good guys' side ever since the beginning of the manga. Oh, and later we learn that they have already conquered Hueco Mundo and keep Harribel hostage. It's both awesome and horrible.
    • Tying with the above, even when Sasakibe ended up kicking it, we have to give him points for managing to use his Famous Last Words to relay vital info to Yamamoto. While bleeding to death, nevertheless.
  • 488: Despite the epic entrance of Halibel's fraccion last chapter, Kirge Opie obliterates them when they refuse his offer for them to join Vandenreich.
  • 489: There is one for Ichigo: the moment the leader of the Vandereich learns that Ichigo is in Hueco Mundo and currently occupied fighting against Kirge Opie and his henchmen,he IMMEDIATELY orders an attack against Soul Society. Why is this a CMOA for Ichigo? Because this showed that the Vandereich considers him alone more dangerous than the entire army of Soul Society!!!
  • 491: Kirge gets one when he unleashes his powers and not only he dodges the Getsuga Tenshou, but also peels off everything around him — including Orihime's Santen Kesshun. Thinks whatever you want about him, but that's pretty badass.
  • 494: One that overlaps with Moral Event Horizon: The Vandereich decimating an almost whole division as they fully enter Seiteirei''
    Blond Stern Ritter: "Fear us Shinigami. As of now, the Stern Ritter will purify you."
  • 495: Rose going without hesitation towards the Stern Ritter member that obliterated his squad, in a total Tranquil Fury mode. Don't let us down, man.
    Rose: "My guitar and I are already crying. Don't think you can make back home alive, Quincy.
  • A crowner for the Stern Ritters: Being able to get a clearly visible Oh, Crap! expression from Byakuya after he made a miscalculation in assuming their power seals a bankai when it really steals it. Well played, As Nodt.
    • Renji warns Byakuya that the Vandenreich are invulnerable to their swords. Byakuya says he thinks not and shreds As Nodt's arm with his shikai. "Masked Man" berates As Nodt and tries to attack Byakuya, but Byakuya casually makes the floor collapse on him and he falls out of sight.
  • 497: The glasses-wearing old Vandereich manages to shoot out Kyoraku's eye in just a few seconds of fighting.
    • Which is followed by Kyouraku merely smiling and talking back to him. Also badass.
    • Its a bit subtle, but its worth noting that Hitsugaya takes only a few seconds to mourn over the loss of Hyourinmaru before immediately ordering his lieutenant to warn the rest of the Gotei 13 not to use bankai. Despite there being three other captains in his same situation, all of them older and presumably much more experienced than him, he's the quickest to override his shock so that the rest of the shinigami with bankai will not suffer the same mistake.
  • 498: Kirge's Villainous Breakdown as Ichigo continues to curbstomp him since he can't seal his bankai is quite satisfying since he's been such a Smug Snake up to this point. This is immediately followed by Urahara unceremoniously shooting him in the back.
  • 501 is a full Chapter of Awesome for As Nodt, due to managing to effectively overpower none other than Byakuya. Tsukishima was close to do it in the past, but it looks like As Nodt may manage to do it — and if he doesn't, it's still pretty impressive (and totally horrifying) to have him Mind Rape and then subdue Byakuya motherfuckin' Kuchiki.
  • 502: Kenpachi confronts the Vandenreich leader and his second-in-command carrying the bodies of not one, but three Stern Ritters.
    • And with carrying, we mean he's holding on his back the three Stern Ritters shishkebobbed on his sword.
    • This needs to be put in perspective. Since the start of the invasion, the Sternritters have looked almost unstoppable, inflicting losses and casualties on several well-known characters everywhere they go. And then suddenly, Kenpachi shows up with three of their corpses casually resting on his blade. It's something only a man like him could get away with.
  • 504: Yamamoto tanks Choujirou's bankai, and then proceeds to one-shot Driscoll by burning his skin off. This is a guy who killed over 200 shinigami and a bankai-wielding VC, and Yama one-shots him.
    Yamamoto: I feel your pain, Chojiro. The Bankai... you worked so hard to improve...
    Yamamoto pulls himself out of the area hit by Choujiro's Bankai, and is revealed to have been completely unhurt by it.
    Yamamoto unleashes his Zanpakuto and strikes Driscoll with a One-Hit Kill.
    • And Chojiro gets one post-mortem, as we learn exactly how he became Yama's lieutenant. Even when he couldn't defeat him in a fight like Yama asked him to, he still left a scar on him, and effectively gained Yamamoto's respect. And we're talking about a young Choujiro (the equivalent of a 20-something youth, in Shinigami age) who had just developed his bankai.
  • 505: One for the Vandenreich Emperor Yhwach: Oh shit, did he just defeat Kenpachi friggin' Zaraki off-panel?
    • Also, another massive one for Yamamoto. Just him getting really angry is enough to make everyone in Seireitei enter full Hot-Blooded battle mode. And he finishes it via a Big Damn Heroes against the Emperor that has just defeated Kenpachi and an awesome Badass Boast:
    Yamamoto: "It has been over 1000 years, Yhwach. I have come here TO ANNIHILATE YOU."
  • 506: Yamamoto one shots three Stern Ritters at once. Before taking on Yhwach.
    Yhwach: You act as though you were waiting for me to draw my sword.
    Yamamoto: I was waiting, indeed. So that I can smash your flesh, blood, sword and soul into many tiny pieces. Bankai. Zanka no Tachi.
    • Let's all take a moment to remember that Yamamoto has one arm. Unlike his subordinates, he did not acquire another.
  • 508: "Oh corpses. Ashes of the dead scattered by my flame. Lend me your aid. For a spell, I shall grant you the pleasure of battle. Zanka no Tachi — South. Kaka Juumahokushi Daisoujin." Cue an army of charred skeleton warriors rising from the ground.
  • 509: Yamamoto exploits what little affection and loyalty Yhwach has by revealing that his undead army is made of his old subordinates. As the Emperor hesitates, Yamamoto explains that he believes that the Vandenreich can't steal his bankai nor Ichigo's because they've never shown their full potential, so the Vandenreich cannot properly analyze them. Yamamoto finally unleashes Zanka no Tachi — North — Tenchin Kaijin, which blows Yhwach in half.
    • The true awesome part is that Yhwach the real one, has just played Yama like the emotional idiot he used to be. And Yamamoto's conga line of awesome suddenly means absolutely nothing!
  • 510. One single phrase: Yhwach has Yamamoto's Sun.
  • 511: Yhwach's graduation into Magnificent Bastard. He kills Yamamoto by lopping off the rest of his left arm, then slices his body in half from his left shoulder all the way down to the right side of his waistline. After the upper portion of the body falls to the groundhis legs and half his torso were still standing — Yhwach then butchers the remaining arm that was still clutching Yamamoto's sword. Then he steps on Yamamoto's head and taunts him for his failures. Then he blasts the entire corpse into nothing. Then he orders -- and watches -- the destruction of Soul Society. Doing all of this with all kinds of flair and efficience? Magnificent. Doing it all in the first place, without even batting an eyelid? Bastard.
  • 512: Ichigo finally arrives in Soul Society, one-shotting a stern ritter, and introduces himself to Yhwach and Hashwald as the two are leaving by shattering the ground by throwing his sword into it before picking it up.
  • 513: Just when it seems like Yhwach has defeated Ichigo, Ichigo totally blindsides him by blocking his sword with Blut Vene.
    • To clarify, Bach pretty much manhandles Ichigo in under a minute and would've have killed him or worse, save for the last second twist.
  • 515: Kyouraku's Rousing Speech to the other captains in their first post Yamamoto's death reunion.
  • 517: When the Zero Squad shows up, Sui-Feng is still super pissed about the whole thing and starts running her mouth. One of the five captains uses Flash Step to get directly behind her, which pretty much shut her up.
    • Later, one of the Zero Squad reveals she, unlike Mayuri, can repair Bankai. She then calls him out for his pathetic security measures, and he just sits there and takes it, which nicely highlights the levels of badassery we're dealing with.
    • Hell, Zero Squad as a whole can be considered walking CMOAs. It's later revealed that they've been inducted into Zero Squad for impressing the Spirit King for making a revolutionary contribution to the Soul Society that's completely changed the way they operate. Tenjirou created the healing hot-springs and various medical procedures, Hikifune discovered how to imbue objects with reiatsu and thus created the original formula from whence all Mod Souls and Soul Candy originated, and Ouetsu was the creator of the first Zanpakuto, making him the progenitor of shinigami as a whole.
  • 520: We finally learn why Unohana is so feared and respected by everyone: Her real name is Yachiru Unohana, and she was the first Kenpachi. And she's going to train the current Kenpachi in swordsmanship.
    • Shunsui becomes the new Captain Commander. And tells the Central 46 they can either agree to his plans or have a go at protecting themselves.
    • And one for Renji. Despite having most of his head and all of his body covered in bandages, he manages to tank a punch to the gut from Tenjirou. This just after it was stated that one punch from him would have killed Ichigo if he hadn't healed.
  • 523: The first and current Kenpachi get down to brass tacks. And it's clear that this is less "lesson in swordsmanship" and more "fight to the death".
  • Continued in 524 where Unohana is mercilessly curb stomping Kenpachi for all it's worth.
    • The fact that she effortlessly lands a killing blow to Kenpachi's neck, then heals it so Kenpachi can survive long enough to become stronger shows just how dangerous Unohana really is.
      • Let's pause for a minute to fully appreciate the magnitude of this chapter. Beforehand, almost everyone had predicted that Zaraki would win handily, and perhaps due to the mercy he's shown his defeated enemies, allow Unohana to live. Or that Unohana's regenerative abilities would spare her life, or that he would actually kill her. Instead, Zaraki was absolutely brutalized in disturbingly short order, and it is SHE that is allowing him to live.
  • 525: Kenpachi nearly killed UNOHANA in her prime WHILE HE WAS STILL A CHILD . He weakened himself out of fear he would never have an equal in combat ever again, and Unohana is having to literally beat the power back into him. She isn't curbstomping him, she's helping him regain his true power, and considering what he was capable of as a kid...
    • Give Unohana some credit, too. she was fighting what is effectively Zaraki's Shikai with her sword sealed. Although, if the previous chapter is any indication, that may be because they were both enjoying the pure swordplay and fighting, or, in an even more awesome scenario, Zaraki was keeping her on the defensive so well that she had no opportunity to release Shikai or Bankai and overwhelm him — Unohana said that he gave her "no time for such tricks before." Not to mention she seems perfectly willing to sacrifice herself in order for her overpowered legacy — Zaraki — to wreak havoc on her enemies. Now that's revenge!
  • Chapter 528: Masaki and Isshin first met when she saved him from a Hollow. Keep in mind that Isshin is a captain-level shinigami and was apparently defeated by it. Masaki managed to kill it and only got a shoulder wound.
    • Also, Ikumi taking Ichigo under her wing without hesitation, then headbutting him... and telling him "YOU ARE NOT ALONE!".
  • 531: Masaki senses a Hollow (the one that Isshin's fighting) and decides to go fight it. Ryuuken tries to stop her, citing the rules of the Quincies and how she should consider her current position. Masaki... stands her ground and goes anyway. It's doubly awesome by what's said...
    • And then one chapter later, wherein she lets the hollow bite her... because it'd be the best way to get a clear shot, point blank. Bad. Ass.
    "Got you."
  • 535: Isshin sacrifices his life as a Shinigami to save Masaki from hollowfication without any hesitation. Made even more awesome since the reason he gives for doing this is exactly the same reason that Masaki gave for defying Quincy tradition to save him a few chapters ago. Also a Heartwarming Moment.
  • 536: Isshin one-shots the hollow inside Masaki's inner world with a Getsuga Tensho.
  • In 538 Mashiro returns. And with quite the bang! Not only is she back to being a lieutenant, but on Kensei's instructions she immediately puts on her Hollow mask and attacks Shuhei to start his Training from Hell.
    • To be fair, this also leads to Shuhei getting one of his own. Once Mashiro punches him and Kensei warns him that he's not as "gentle" as Tousen, he gets back on his feet and tells them to not badmouth Tousen, showing that he's ready to take them on.
    • One for Ichigo as well after returning to the royal realm, Nimaiya places Ichigo back in the pit with the Asauchi, expecting that Ichigo will now pass the "let the sword spirits beat the shit out of you until one bonds with you" test. Instead the Asauchi kneel before Ichigo, and Ichigo picks one, and as soon as he touches it, it assumes a form reminiscent of his original Hollow form. Nimaiya says that he will personally reforge Tensa Zangetsu immediately.
  • 539 gives us one for Komamura. He goes to the leader of his group and ancestor, asking him for help to defend Soul Society. He's refused due to the Leader's belief that the world won't change, as well as his anger since Komamura hid himself behind a mask for years. Komamura is not fazed, however, and stands his ground. The Leader then rises on his MASSIVE height and tells Komamura that he will have "to crush you". And Komamura still stands his ground, getting ready to defend his beliefs and his stance on Soul Society in what's most likely a Duel to the Death. You gotta admit, Doggie-Dog" has MASSIVE balls.
    • Let's put this into perspective: Komamura towers over the rest of everybody in Seireitei, and yet the Leader is 5x larger than Komamura himself. He still won't back down.
    • Also give props to Akon for putting a camera in Mayuri's room. The creepiest captain in Soul Society, the one who's most likely to just off somebody because he felt like it, and Akon felt the need to have surveillance. That's ballsy.
  • It's a small one, but when Ichigo and Quincy!Zangetsu are talking, and Ichigo's world is basically falling apart, Quincy!Zangetsu tells Ichigo that he was going to have to kill him and summons a sword. Ichigo looks at the other with blank eyes before his eyes clear and he clenches his fist. Quincy!Zangetsu tells Ichigo that he changed his mind. But Ichigo thought that he was, and in the midst of despair basically gathers enough will together to fight Quincy!Zangetsu because he felt he needed to.
  • 542: The creation of Ichigo's new zanpakuto. The asauchi is burning hot and yet Ichigo grabs it with his bare hands, adds his own spiritual power to it, and dries up the entire sea just to cool it off. And then we have the zinger: We have not one but two blades that make up Ichigo's new zanpakuto!
  • 543: Yhwach proves himself to be The Chess Master in politics as well as on the battlefield. Appointing Uryuu — a brand new recruit and a Gemischt at that — as his Unexpected Successor plays into his followers' justified paranoia, entirely on purpose. Uryuu's chances of pulling off a successful double-cross are now massively FUBAR'd note  : every other Stern Ritter is now watching him, and they'll strike at the slightest sign of weakness or disloyalty. YHWACH-OWNED!
  • 546: Keigo, of all people, delivers a What the Hell, Hero? speech to Kyoraku when the latter explains why Ichigo might not be able to return home.
  • 547: How did the Vandenreich get inside Soul Society? They didn't. They were there the whole time, in the shadows.
  • 548 has awesome team work by Toshiro and Rangiku. Proving once and for all that he is absolutely worthy of being a captain, Toshiro compensates for the loss of his bankai by turning his shikai's weakness (limited amount of ice it can create) into strength, and together with Rangiku's Haineko, they create a multi-layered vacuum ice shield which Bazz-B is unable to penetrate with his Heat. And then Toshiro proceeds to impale him with his sword. Eat your hearts out, Hitsugaya haters! Aww Crap spoke too soon... again
    • And in the chapter's beginning, Omaeda manages to defeat his fear and proudly stand against the enemy invaders after seeing his little sister scared and promising to protect her. Did he take a level in badass during the timeskip? Yes, yes he did.
  • 549: Sui-Feng has finally mastered Shunkou.
    • The other one goes to BG9 that has its own BFG aside from Sui-Feng's Jakuho Raikoben.
  • 552: Urahara arrives in Soul Society, trolls Kurotsuchi and creates pills that will temporarily turn Bankai users into hollows to make their Bankai poisonous to a Quincy if they get it stolen, which affects even Bankai that have already been stolen.
  • 553: With some help of Omaeda (who already has a CMOA spot for having stayed with her through all this crap), Sui Feng takes a hold of Urahara's temporary solution and returns to the fight.
    • There's another difficult-to-spot, but nonetheless Moment of Awesome with Omaeda. How does he end up with Sui-Feng in his arms several stories below BG9? By flash-stepping so fast BG9 barely has any time to notice Sui-Feng has been snatched away from its tentacles. Yes, it happens so quickly, Kubo only shows us a black blur over BG9's helmet, made by Omaeda's uniform.
    Sui-Feng: "Analyze this."
    • Hitsugaya also comes back to the fray and recovers his Bankai from Cang Du, all while giving a Kirk Summation about how Bankais have souls and their own minds.
  • Chapter 554 has a few badass moments, as well.
    • Sui-Feng's bankai blasted a huge hole in BG9's helmet, but unlike with Barragan, it actually knocked him out.
    • Seven of the Stern Ritter release their Vollstandig, including Bambietta, encased in ice Cang Du and not-so-unconscious BG9. This is followed by Yhwach's Badass Boast, which rivals Aizen's speeches.
    Bambietta: You will come to regret having taken your bankais back. In the warmth of what you call hope, your unexpected stand... ends here. From here on out, it becomes true despair.
  • Chapter 556: Komamura reveals exactly what happened with The Leader: He gave him the ability to transform into a human, like his clan was before being turned into beasts. It's worth noting that in order to pull this off, Komamura had to rip out his own heart, which he did with zero hesitation. Badass.
    • Then in the following chapter, he beats Bambietta in her Vollstandig form!
  • Chapter 558: Of all people, Iba gets a big one via showing his Undying Loyalty to Komamura (who at that point has given his all and has completely lost his powers, and his Shinigami form) and promising to stay by him so they can keep fighting against Bach. Crosses into Heartwarming Moments.
  • Chapter 561: After Rose and Kensei have been beaten to a bloody pulp by Mask de Masculine, Renji goes Big Damn Heroes and save the day.
    • Mask completely destroying two Bankai-wielding Captains is an awesome moment in his own right. Especially since he is the only Stern Ritter so far to triumph against a Bankai much less two.
    • Him crushing his eardrums to defeat Rose's Bankai was badass too.
  • Chapter 562: After crushing two captains and powering up, Mask de Masculine is totally helpless against Renji who blocks his strongest punch yet and defeats him only with his Shikai.
  • Chapter 563: ... And it turns out that he did NOT defeat Mask. He's actually alive, and then uses his Vollstanding to power himself up further.
    • Another one goes to James. Who not only survived the brutal beatdowns given to him, but manages to split himself in several James to keep cheering for Mask. Man, is this guy Made of Diamond or what?!
    • But let's be fair to Renji, who also gets his own for not being knocked down/out by the empowered Mask, either.
  • And in Chapter 564, Renji proceeds to use his newly awakened Bankai to break Mask's arm and burn the wrestler quincy to ashes. Bonus points for his Ironic Echo right before the end:
    Renji: Finally burned out? You should be proud of that, Superstar.
  • Chapter 566: As Nodt pierces Rukia with his Fear thorns, but not only does she almost immediately shake it off, she shocks him by saying, "...So that was my fear...then, what is your fear? Perhaps fear to someone immune to you?"
  • Chapter 567: Continuing from the previous chapter, Rukia explains how she did it. She temporarily froze herself to a state of undeath since As Nodt's "Fear" relies on manipulating the instincts of the living. She then chops up and freezes As Nodt. The chapter ends with As Nodt experiencing fear.
  • Chapter 568: Only to be subverted at the start of the chapter by As Nodt, as Rukia's attack did nothing more but break his mask, and As Nodt reveals that his only fear is being scolded by Yhwach. Then he activates his Vollstandig and turns the battle entirely in his favor, and he would have easily killed her if not for Byakuya's intervention in the last moment.
  • Chapter 569: Here we see Byakuya utterly and thoroughly destroy As Nodt, followed by...well, to sum up:
    Rukia: Bankai.
  • Chapter 570: Rukia shatters As Nodt in a single attack with her both badass and beautiful Bankai. In his final moments, he finally admits he is afraid.
  • Chapter 571: Finally, after over a decade's worth of Bleach chapters, we get to see why Yachiru is Squad 11's Vice-Captain and why her power is respected by even Ikkaku!
    • Stern Ritter V, Guenael, explains that his power causes him to disappear on three planes of consciousness. Yachiru cheerfully reveals the power of her shikai, which fights on three planes as well, effectively No Selling him.
    "Come out, Sanpo Kenjuu!"
    • Yachiru implies that the only reason why she hasn't fought in previous chapters is because she gave Kenpachi first dibs on every opponent they've met before this. Since Kenpachi is currently unavailable, that dibs does not exist and she can fight as freely as she wants.
    "But Ken-chan’s not here right now. So he won’t mind if I slice this one down instead, right?"
  • Chapter 572, Yachiru using her powers to defeat Guenael notwithstanding, Kenpachi makes a Big Damn Heroes return to rescue her and Isane from a Sternritter whose power manifests through imagination!
  • Chapter 573: Gremmy boasts that he's the most powerful Sternritter and says he's now as hard as steel. Kenpachi points out he can cut through steel and slashes his shoulder anyway.
    "Inside all that imagination of yours... there ain't a single thing you can come up with... that I can't cut. Because I am... the 'Kenpachi.' "
  • Chapter 576: V clones himself and prepares to drop a METEOR to obliterate the Soul Society. Kenpachi's reaction?
    "A meteorite? That's something I haven't slashed so far. That's great. Nozarashi."
  • Chapter 577: Gremmy boasts that there's nothing Kenpachi can do to stop the meteor. Kenpachi uses his Shikai and Nozarashi becomes a huge axe, which he uses to smash the meteor in a single blow.
    • The fact that no one sensed his presence before Gremmy lifted the platform. This either was an early indication that he'd finally mastered control of his spiritual pressure, or it might imply that he's on the same level as Hogyoku Aizen.
  • Chapter 578: Kenpachi tanks the vacuum of space.
  • Chapter 580: Villains or not, Bambietta's Girl Posse pretty much OWNED the battlefield from the moment they stepped in. The fact that they're savvy enough to wait until Kenpachi was done with Gremmy and the meteorite proves they're not fucking around. — then Candice dodges Kenpachi's attacks and fries him, Lilotto curbstomps, kills, and eats several Red Shirts, Meninas first punches Kenpachi to the ground and literally drops a building on another team of Red Shirts who wanted to help him, and then Giselle lulls the ones who are left into a sense of false security, and once one 11th Division member wounds her, she first literally brings herself together and then uses the blood on him and others to force them to commit seppuku. It's both freaking awesome and freaking horrible.
  • Chapter 581:
    • Momo makes one hell of an entrance and Big Damn Heroes for herself and Shinji, via vaporizing several mooks that were ready to kill Oomaeda with Tobiume.
      • The fact that Oomaeda was still on his feet protecting Sui Feng and Mareyo after the deal with BG9 is rather remarkable, too.
    • Ichigo going Big Damn Heroes on Kenpachi to help him against the 4 Female Sternritters.
  • Chapter 582: Ichigo effortlessly knocks the female Sternritters through some buildings, then No Sells Candice's 5 gigajoule lightning arrow, which was hot enough to turn an ordinary man to dust.
  • Chapter 585: It's revealed that Ichigo's new duds are made of the Soul Key; as a result, when he comes back from the Soul Palace, the barrier is left wide open for around one and a half hour note , explaining why eight of the Stern Ritter had attempted to surround Ichigo. As he understandably panics and rushes to stop Yhwach, the eight try and stop him (first Meninas, then Nanana, only for the pursuit to be cut off by a few old friends: Renji, Rukia, Byakuya, Shuhei, Ikkaku, and Yumichika. Ladies and gentlemen, the final battles of Bleach have begun.
    Renji: "I don't talk just to listen to the sound of my own voice, so don't make me repeat myself: All of you are staying right here."
    • Also, even if she's on the enemy side, Meninas gets credit for calmly punching Ichigo into a bunch of buildings without hesitation. And Ichigo gets points for withstanding her empowered punches.
  • In 587, the ones who get moments to shine are Orihime and Chad. The first by shielding Ichigo from the last attack coming from Ishida, Yhwach and Haschwalth before leaving to the Spirit King's castle with both her own body AND her Rikka's shields, the second by giving a both great and hilarious Get a Hold of Yourself, Man! to Ichigo via picking him up effortlessly like a ragdoll, tossing him into a nearby ruckus, and then telling him to shape up. True Companions or True Companions, huh?
  • Chapter 589. Urahara is a big, fat liar. And that's glorious.
    • Not to mention, Giselle is quite able to hold off both Yumichika and Ikkaku. Specially by using Zombie!Bambietta's exploding powers with quite the accuracy.
      • Though let's be fair to Yumichika, he managed to cut Bambietta's arm to protect Ikkaku from an upcoming explosion. And if you're sharp-eyed, you'll also notice that right before he did so, he actually used kido in battle. Without bothering to hide it!
  • Chapter 590 is a big one for whoever was a fan of the long-gone Arrancars. Charlotte, Luppi, and the Privaron Dordoni and Cirucci are back. As Mayuri's own "zombie team", but still.
    • Once again we find ourselves cheering for Mayuri. Say what you will about him, but considering who his opponent is, seeing Mayuri grandstanding while shooting down Giselle's attempts at emotional warfare and using his own experiments to counter every attack coming from her is rather glorious.
  • 591. Again say what you will about Mayuri, but his Brutal Honesty-laced Silly Rabbit, Idealism Is for Kids! speech to Yumichika and Ikkaku about the priorities of the Gotei can be seen as this.
    • Not to mention, Charlotte gets a pretty good one when he stops an enemy as powerful as Zombie!Bambietta by simply grabbing her face and then tossing her into a building. With next to no effort. It looks like when he said he was the Number One among Baraggan's Fraccion, he definitely wasn't kidding.
    • Crosses into hilarity when you see that Mayuri was standing on said building and Charlotte almost hit him too.
  • 592: Zombie!Hitsugaya is utterly ruthless in battle and it is glorious. This is the power of the Captains when you get down to it. He utterly destroys Ikkaku, the 3rd seat of the combat-specialized 11th Division, Charlotte is on the wrong end of a One Hit Ko and Yumichika fares about as well.
  • 593: Mayuri enters the fight. He parries all of Hitsugaya's attacks effortlessly, detonates a bomb on him for trying to use hand-to-hand combat, and once he uses his Bankai, Mayuri sticks him in a "Groundhog Day" Loop. As soon as Hitsugaya realizes what's happening, Mayuri cuts him down. All this; without even bothering to activate his Shikai, and with all the smugness of Aizen. Mayuri-OWNED!
  • 594: After Mayuri is observing the result of injecting one of his drugs into Toshiro, we cut over to Kuchiki Byakuya who took out three Stern Ritter on his own using his Bankai. One of these Stern Ritter was the Quincy with the Glasses, the same one who shot out Kyoraku's eye. Now we have seen the fruits of training for all of the Royal Guard trainees.
    • Mayuri gets his own moment when zombified Matsumoto, Rose and Kensei appear right beside him and he nonchantly tells the arrancar to deal with them while he goes back to observing the effects of his medicine on Toshiro. Nerves of Steel, indeed.
  • 595: Byakuya once again proves that being The Stoic and having Undying Loyalty has its upsides as he completely resists Pepe's "love" Mind Control.
  • 596: Explaining Mayuri's Crazy-Prepared and Crazy Awesome in regards to this chapter would take several Walls of Text, but it's summed up in the line that he delivers before he defeats Giselle and has Zombie!Kensei stab her through the chest:
    "Your zombies will become my zombies. Thanks for your time. Game Over, Zombie Girl."
    • Mayuri does it again when Pepe Waccabrada tries to gain control of zombie Kensei, since his "Love" control works on Giselle's zombies. Unfortunately for him, Mayuri's version of the zombification works differently, resulting in the creepy Pepe getting a well-deserved pummeling from the zombified Kensei:
    Mayuri: "Didn't I tell you? They're no longer Gigi's zombies. They belong to me. My zombies don't know the meaning of love."
  • 597: Liltotto of all people joins in the fight with Pepe and actually lands the killing blow on him, eating him alive for taking control of Meninas.
    "...Dude, you damn well tried to kill us all. At the very least, you gotta take responsibility, y'know?"
  • 598: An old friend joins with Ichigo, Orihime, Chad, and Yoruichi for the final battles: Ganju is back!
  • 600: A number of them for the Royal Guard members -
    • Shutara is still alive, and had actually created a fake "Spirit King Palace" using her sewing that was so convincing that it actually simulates the Palaces being destroyed by Lille Barro.
    • Ichibei hid the actual Spirit King Palace behind a barrier he created by writing the Kanji "Hidden" in the air.
    • Hikifune traps them all inside the "Cage of Life", a tree given life with her own reiatsu that completely absorbs any reiatsu and reishi-based attacks directed at it.
    • Nimaiya draws his Zanpakuto from a water tank and he tells the Quincy to come at him all at once.
  • 601: Nimaiya bests all four of the Quincies with ease. Bonus awesome goes to Askin Nakk Le Vaar, who survives a slash to the throat, thanks to his Death Dealing. What this does remains to be seen.
  • 602: We get to see what the Death Dealing is: basically, transforming Askin's opponent into a Poisonous Person. And then a big-ass CMOA for Nimaiya follows, as he realises that since Askin poisoned his blood, by drawing it out, he may be able to win... and does so via slashing his own throat. When told that it won't work, he doesn't lose his cool and simply calls out to Combat Medic Tenjirou, who pours the content of his "red pool" over Nimaiya to replace his poisoned blood with new one and heals him completely. Then, he slashes the still gravely wounded Askin with his zanpakutou and defeats him, and then he looks at the enemies that remains.
    Nimaiya: "It's finally your turn, Yhwach... COME!"
  • 603: The mere fact that Liltotto managed to save herself and Giselle from Yhwach's Auswählen by dodging his life-absorbing pillars of light qualifies as this. Think of it: this is what killed people like Masaki, Kanae and many other Quincies several years ago, it also killed someone as experienced as Accutrone (implied to be old-school Quincy material) and other Ritters, and yet a teenage girl dodged it and saved her friend from it, even if just for the moment.
  • 604: Moments for Elite Guard members Pernida and Lille in Vollstandig:
    • The true "X-Axis" does not fire reishi bullets - it simply "pierces through anything" between the muzzle and the target. Case in point: it pierces through Kirinji's paddle and Hikifune's spoon and straight through Nimaiya without being impeded. As we saw before, the paddle hides Kirinji's Zanpakuto, meaning Lille likely shot through the Zanpakuto of two Royal Guard members.
    • Pernida uses "The Compulsory" to shatter Hikifune's "Tree of Life", allowing Yhwach to confront Ichibei.
    • And we have Liltotto and Bazz-B not only surviving the Auswählen, but swearing that they will NOT die there.
  • 605: Ichibei using Senri Tsuutenshou (Heaven-Piercing Palm of a Thousand Ri) to send Yhwach flying 3927 kilometres. Twice. And we see that speaking his name too many times causes you to lose your voice.
    • To counter both his lost voice and being sent flying by Senri Tsuutenshou, Yhwach stabs his own throat in order to restore his voice, summons a giant spirit bow below him, and shoots himself with an arrow to propel himself back up to where Ichibei is. Yhwach may be horrible, but that's just hard-core.
  • 606: Ichibei's paintbrush is able to "cut the name" of whatever it comes into contact with in half, as demonstrated when Ichibei effectively halves Yhwach's strength, and the proceeds to send Yhwach flying all the way back to the Soul King Palace in one blow.
    • Yhwach also deserves credit for his composure in this chapter. Despite having his strength halved by Ichibei, he is still eager to fight, preparing to restore his power at the end of the chapter.
  • 607: At this point the entire Ichibei vs Yhwach fight is shaping up to be made of awesome. Yhwach restoring his power back to himself; the Blut Vene Anhaben; Hidden Kido and Ichimonji. It is the fight between the two strongest of their respective races, and none of it disappoints.
  • 609: The art here really brings across the sheer power of Ichimonji. After the loss of his name reduces Yhwach to a paralyzed wreck, Ichibei uses his Bankai to rename the would-be god, 'gifting' him with the name and power of an ant, then crushes him like the insect he's been reduced to with giant summoned limbs. To counter, Yhwach finally reveals his Schrift: The Almighty.
  • 610: Yhwach gains yet another villainous Awesome Moment with a chilling Badass Boast after Ichibei tries and fails to rob him of his name, he proclaims: "My name is Yhwach- the one who shall take everything from you." He then immediately follows up on this by utterly obliterating Ichibei's torso with a simple wave of his hand!
  • 611: Ichigo and the others finally arrive at the Royal Realm. The Monk asks Ichigo to say his name, which Ichigo does with no ill repercussions. Although having permission might have done so, still pretty cool. Especially since Ichigo likely knows saying his name is bad.
    • Perhaps it should be said again: Ichibei managed to survive complete obliteration by Yhwach. Yes, not even Yhwach's alleged omniscience could pick up on that. Rather impressive.
    • An understated one, but: Orihime's first response to seeing the Royal Guard in a mess? Is to do what she does best: Heal. Granted, the Monk fixes himself by using some of Ichigo's reiatsu before Orihime can do anything for him, but likely? She could have fixed him up all by herself.
    • A villainous moment of awesome when Yhwach finds and stabs the Soul King, who is apparently his father. To put this into perspective, Yhwach succeeded in doing everything Aizen failed to do - he stormed the Soul King Palace, had his Elite Stern Ritter defeat Squad Zero while he dealt with Ichibei, and seemingly kills the Soul King. Indeed, Yhwach is the superior villain.
  • 613 has Nanao Ise standing up to Kenpachi motherfuckin' Zaraki, of all people. Kenpachi is (rather understandably) upset because not only he was defeated in battle, but because his vicecaptain and daughter Yachiru is missing and wants to go outside and look for her despite the current situation... but Nanao steps in and manages to make him change his mind - with words alone. Since this is Kenpachi we're talking about, how Nanao stood her ground and reasoned with him without fighting him is quite the deal.
  • 614: Holy fuck, Yhwach's Magnificent Bastardry has reached a new level. While he may have stabbed the Soul King and left the blade inside him, it was Ichigo HIMSELF that killed him. Yhwach uses Ichigo's protective nature against him, and then reveals that all Quincies have an instinctive desire to kill the Soul King when they are close to him. As atrocious as it was, this may be, without a doubt, one of the finest villainous CMOAs in Bleach.
  • 615: Yoruichi surrounds Yhwach in Razor Floss in the blink of an eye.
  • 616: It's both heartbreaking and horrifying, but Ukitake's plan to "replace" the Soul King by using his own body as well as the spirit that has kept him alive, basically trading his life for the King's so Soul Society won't die is also awesome enough to qualify here. Even more so because he has known through his whole life that this will happen, he knows how horrible it will be for him, and yet he does it without any hesitation. Badass.
  • 617 adds to the awesome, as not only the destruction of Soul Society and the world is stopped or at least delayed for some time (where hopefully a definitive solution will be found) thanks to Ukitake and Mimihagi-sama's efforts, but it manages to get a massive Oh, Crap! from Yhwach who, despite his omnniscience, did not see that coming. Just when he thought everything was said and done...
    • Aizen is back to his old tricks at the end of the chapter. Shunsui gets Central 46's permission to use just three out of the many seals on Aizen's prison. Shunsui undoes one of these seals that permits Aizen's ability to speak, but then notices he's walking towards him when it shouldn't be possible. Practically every reader shat their pants at this ending line.
    Aizen: What's the matter? You've still got two more keys haven't you?.
  • 618: Central 46 gets a moment of awesome when they manage to out-predict/out-troll Aizen of all people. They knew that if Shunsui brought the keys to Aizen's restraints with him to Muken, Aizen would try to kill him in order to get them and free himself...so they put the key to Muken itself in Shunsui's heart, thus preventing Aizen from killing Shunsui without trapping himself in Muken forever. Even Aizen seems surprised by their foresight.
    • Ichigo provides another awesome moment. Yhwach's up to his usual villainous tricks, trying to convince Ichigo that he has no right to stop him from killing the Soul King because Ichigo himself cut him in half and claiming that Ichigo thinking only he can save all the realms is ridiculous. Quite used to his opponents trying to break him like this, Ichigo tells him that he won't stand by anyway and blasts Yhwach out of the palace with a Getsuga Tensho. He goes on to tell Yhwach that it doesn't matter whether or not Yhwach's blood flows in his veins: he will NOT let Yhwach decide his actions.
      • Additional awesomeness, if somewhat under-emphasized, is Ichigo's statement of protecting all the realms. Until now, he's always used protecting his friends as his reason for fighting, and Aizen used this against him; however, he now knows that he needs to fight to protect more than just the people he cares about. Considering his statements about protecting others from early in the series, he's definitely grown.
    Ichigo: I came here to put an end to you...to stop you. For Soul Society, for the Human World, and Hueco Mundo...I came here to protect all of them.
    Yhwach: You, protect everything? How greedy! Are you saying that you're the only one that can do such things?!
    Ichigo: Even if someone else were to take my place...it doesn't mean I should just turn my back and run from all of this!
  • Chapter 621: When Yhwach begins absorbing the Soul King and the torrent of the Soul King's power takes the form of one-eyed shadow abominations that swarm the Seireitei and attack the Shinigami, who comes in when they are about to be overwhelmed? Aizen Sousuke. All Aizen does is exert his reiatsu and crushes an entire swarm of the Mini-Mimihagi. He does this while sitting down and in restraints designed to confine his reiatsu to around his body.
  • Chapter 622: Aizen crushes the entire group of Mini-Mimihagi invading Seireitei and fighting against the captains and lieutenants in Hado #90: Black Coffin without chanting incantation, in a fell swoop. It was said to be a failure when last time he used non-incantation against Komamura. All this again in the aforementioned Reiatsu-confining chair meaning Aizen wasn't even using his full power!! And they say imprisonment weakens!!
  • Chapter 623: Aizen proves incapable of shooting down the Soul King Palace. Why? Because the restraints on him that Mayuri designed are just that damned powerful. Mayuri then proceeds to trash-talk Aizen for even daring to think that his power could match or overcome Mayuri's technological prowess.
    • Bazz-B gets one for shooting down the sole Sternritter who still wanted to help Yhwach, NaNaNa, before revealing that he and the other Sternritter (namely, Giselle and Liltotto) will ally with the Shinigami in exchange for being taken to the palace so they can kill the man who betrayed them. Every time he shows up, he grows more and more akin to Axel personality-wise, and it's great.
  • Chapter 624:
    • Ichigo caught an arrow inches from his throat and crushed it while falling out of the sky.
    • Orihime uses her Santen Kesshun to catch all her friends mid-air and take them to safety. She does it when she's falling down as well.
    • Grimmjow Jaggerjaquez finally makes his return to the story. In the Soul King Palace, no less, with the assistance of Yoruichi. Fans have been waiting a long time to see his return confirmed, and now it has happened.
  • Chapter 625:
    • It's not just Grimmjow in on the fun: Nel (who's now in full control of her body thanks to some Urahara technology), Riruka, and Yukio are now back for the final battle!
    • There is Nel's short but wise and quite spot-on "The Reason You Suck" Speech to Grimmjow.
  • Chapter 628:
    • Yhwach creating an absolutely humongous fortress from nearby structures - its scale and detail are beyond anything in the series, and it's a perfect mood-setter for the final battle.
  • In Chapter 629, Mayuri and Nemu arrive at the fortress by a different path. Mayuri being, Mayuri, starts giving Nemu a rant about how he gives no fucks about the fight itself and now he can do as he wishes since he doesn't have anyone else's eyes on him... and then he gets quite the Oh, Crap! face when Kenpachi is right behind him. Yes, Mayuri Kurotsuchi aka he who is infamous for his Nerves of Steel, is all Oh, Crap! - merely taking him off guard even a little is a CMOA, and Kenpachi managed to do it.
  • Chapter 630: Bazz-B confronts Haschwalth and begins fighting him on what seem to be completely even grounds, despite having just been hit by the Auswählen and thereby being badly wounded. Made even better by the fact that he becomes the first person to draw blood from Haschwalth.
    • Haschwalth himself also deserves mention here, namely for immediately countering Bazz-B by throwing his cloak at him before slamming the hilt of his sword into Bazz's face.
  • Chapter 632: Even 1000 years ago, Yhwach was not to be trifled with. How does he prove this? By pinning everyone near him to the ground with his Reiatsu alone, something we haven't seen any other character do.
    • Even more awesome is that Haschwalth, despite being only a teenager with no apparent Quincy abilities, remains the only one able to stand up in Yhwach's presence while Bazz-B is among those unable to move.
  • Chapter 633: Haschwalth proves that he had massive balls even as a kid when he calls Yhwach out over selecting him to be his right-hand man when a clearly superior candidate (Bazz-B) was right there. Keep in mind that Yhwach was at the time the strongest guy around, which he reinforced in the previous chapter, and despite being extremely intimidated by this, Haschwalth still spoke his mind in order to help Bazz-B achieve his goal.
    • Two moments of awesome occur in short succession shortly afterward: having been informed that he is only a prodigy because Haschwalth's presence vastly increased his power and prowess due to him sharing Yhwach's power-granting abilities, Bazz-B promptly loses his shit, forces himself to stand up despite Yhwach's Reiatsu still bearing down on him, and fires an arrow at Yhwach...only for Haschwalth to grab the arrow with his hand without even flinching.
  • Chapter 635 and 636: Pernida vs. Zaraki and Mayuri. Zaraki is one of the most powerful Shinigami in the series at this point, and Pernida uses "The Compulsory" to mangle his arm and legs while tanking both of Zaraki's strikes. Zaraki only got two strikes in before Pernida came dangerously close to killing him, and would have done just that if not for Mayuri's completely paralyzing Zaraki to negate Pernida's ability. This is so effective because it sets a precedent for the Schutzstaffel's current strength - even one of the Special War Potential, the only five individuals that Yhwach is concerned about, can be easily bested by them.
    • Chapter 638: While Mayuri is prepared enough to be able to hold his own against Pernida once it revealed itself to be The Left Arm of the Soul King, Pernida is the first opponent to start pushing Mayuri into a corner, who is pulling out all the stops to cope with Pernida's "The Compulsory", who seeded the ground with its nerves and forced Mayuri to use his Hirenkyaku boots to keep himself from touching the ground. Mayuri and his science has routinely trounced every opponent aside from Uryu up to this point, but Pernida is pushing him harder than anyone else.
    • Chapter 639: Mayuri casually mocks Pernida's assumption that Pernida is making him nervous and proceeds to create the most obvious trap for Pernida by having his modified Bankai spawn a creature covered in nerves, which Pernida attacks without a second thought and gets eaten by it.
    • Chapter 640: Pernida completely turns the tables on Mayuri by manifesting its Quincy Bow and blowing its way out of the Captain's modified Bankai with Mayuri's own Evil Laugh as an accompaniment, before proceeding to chide Mayuri about the fact that despite being a giant arm, it's still a Quincy and thus possesses all the powers available to one. It then proceeds to combine this with its "The Compulsory" powers to blow off Mayuri's arm and if Nemu hadn't intervened would have killed him with an arrow to the back.
    • Chapter 641: Pernida stops Mayuri's attempts to kill him by having one of its clones snap off its thumb that was being affected by Mayuri's nerve coagulating agent, THEN the main body sheds its dead skin to shrug off Mayuri's coagulating agent, leaving Mayuri too late to realize that Pernida's nerves allow him to collect information from anything the nerves come into contact with.
  • Chapter 642: Nemu. After an extensive flash-back to her childhood, combined with present day exposition by Akon on how she was created, Nemu increases her power to within 0.8% of her body's threshold, saves Mayuri and blows apart Pernida's main body in the same instant. Then she cuts off 6% of her soul and fires it at the clone to end the chapter. She truly is Mayuri's Masterpiece.
  • Chapter 644: Shunsui gains a pretty good one by intentionally letting Lille try to shoot him down, only to appear right behind him and tell him "I Am Your Opponent".
    Shunsui: "I have your weapon. Your life comes next"
  • Chapter 647 gives us a very long-awaited moment for The Stinger:
    Kyoraku: At this point, I'm sure everyone else is far enough away... Nanao-chan, I'm sorry if you get caught in this as well... Bankai. Katen Kyokotsu: Kuromatsu Shinjuu. note 
  • Chapter 650 has Lille Barro regenerating from a severed head and showing the true form of his Vollständig; a form that looks almost like an angelic version of the Jabberwocky. Then proceeding to declare himself the Judgement of God and hunt down Kyoraku, effectivelly No-Selling the 8th Captain's Bankai.
  • Chapter 654: Izuru Kira's return into the plot as he takes on the mini-Lilles while taunting them all the while.
    • Special mention goes to the panel of Izuru silhouetted against the moonlight, with the crescent moon showing through the hole in his torso. Words cannot describe how badass that looks.
  • Chapter 655: The reveal of Gerard Valkyrie's powers. The more damage he takes, the more he increases in size. After Byakuya grievously wounds him, Gerard grows to such a size where he picks apart buildings and throws them at the Shinigami all in kaiju-like fashion.
    • Byakuya also deserves one for deciding to cut the crap and utterly brutalize Gerard with his Shikai in an attempt to finish him off quickly after he starts boasting about his power. Sure, it didn't quite take, but it was quite a clear reminder that Byakuya doesn't fuck around.
  • Chapter 656: Askin took down Ichigo off-screen with "The Death-Dealing". This is the first time a villain other than Yhwach (and Haschwalth) have completely laid out Ichigo in this arc, and Askin is the one who did this to an Ichigo post-Squad Zero Training. Not only does this cement Askin as one of the strongest antagonists, but it means he is head and shoulders above every other Stern Ritter barring the Schutzstaffel.
    • Yoruichi shows up to fight Askin. He shoots two arrows at her; dodging one, Yoruichi catches the other with her hand and throws it back at Askin, who's hit and sent flying back, before activating a new form of her Shunko and engulfing Askin in her next attack. Now that's a return to combat done right.
  • Chapter 657: Yushiro proves that he is more than worthy of the title of "Head of the Shihoin Clan" by completely dominating Askin at close range, first with a barrage of punches and then his own personal variant of Shunko! Prior to this, he also demonstrated that his speed is not to be scoffed at by almost keeping up with his sister, aka the fastest Shunpo user to ever live.
    • Bonus points to Askin for somehow surviving two separate, powerful Shunko attacks with only light injuries. As a Schutzstaffel, he's definitely not gonna go down easy.
  • Chapter 663: Yoruichi's completely feral cat-based beatdown on Askin only for him to retaliate with a long-awaited reveal: His Vollstandig.
  • Chapter 664: Askin dominating the fight with his incredibly overwhelming Vollstandig. Not many people can do that to Urahara. His answer? Bankai: Guanyin Biraki Benihime Aratame.note 
  • Chapter 665: The first thing Urahara's Bankai does, is to tear apart Askin's arm surgery style. Once Askin jumps back to a safe distance, the bankai then proceeds to fix Urahara's eyes lost in the previous chapter. Then Urahara figures out that while Askin's Gift ball is "inescapable" it is not "impenetrable" So with this information he proceeds to create a path outside the ball so it can be infiltrated, allowing Grimmjow to go in and rip out the bastard's heart...
  • Chapter 666: ...and it's still not enough!
  • Chapter 668: Kenpachi has Bankai...
  • Chapter 669: ...and it pretty much turns him into a demon who proceeds to wreck Gerard's shit...
  • Chapter 670: ...and yet Gerard just gets even stronger and just keeps beating him, Byakuya and Hitsugaya down. Hitsugaya then reveals the full extent of his Bankai... making him physically grow from a teenager to an adult who's probably in the peak of his power.
  • Chapter 672: As Ichigo approaches Yhwach, his only companion is Orihime. His assumption that she will provide defence is a big change from the days when he told her to leave the fighting to him. It proves his confidence in the strength of her Barrier Warrior powers
  • Chapter 673: When Ichigo fights Yhwach, Orihime proves Ichigo's faith in her when she uses her Shun Shun Rikka to deflect a huge blast of energy. She easily succeeds despite Yhwach being at almost point-blank range to Ichigo and her distance from the pair being much greater.
  • Chapter 674 has several:
  • 675:
  • 676:
    • Ichigo uses GRAN REY CERO in his new Black and White form. Cue endless fanboy screams.
    • The fact that Ichigo actually thought ahead. In the previous chapters, it was unclear what he was doing by charging into Yhwach. This chapter reveals that Ichigo was sapping Quincy powers out of Yhwach so he could even achieve Black and White form, which is amazing as it's some of the first real strategy that Ichigo's ever done in a long time. Yhwach's reactions are equally satisfying as he's... well, actually reacting to his blows as opposed to dismissing Ichigo as an ant.
  • 678: Ichigo finally reveals his new Bankai, to the squeals of fans everywhere...and then Yhwach breaks it. No fanfare, no fancy moves. It's literally whole in one scene before the next one shows it shattered, with Yhwach dropping a piece of the blade to the ground. Then Yhwach starts utterly destroying Ichigo with no amount of defense protecting him, with him calmly explaining that the The Almighty not only lets him see the future, but change it as well, meaning he made a future where the broken Bankai happened.
  • 679: Yhwach continues his domination of Ichigo throughout the fight, explaining to him why he can't hope to win, even mocking Ichigo's Determinator status by saying he's succeeded in defeating everyone before him, but he (Yhwach) isn't everyone.
  • 681:
  • 682: More of a moment of Evil vs. Evil, but Aizen, having all of his restraints broken, decides to take on Yhwach, on the account that only he should be the one to rule the cosmos.
    • Not only is Aizen working against Yhwach, but he's going to be teaming up with Renji and Ichigo against him. The final fight is going to be insane.
    • Aizen gets points for taunting Yhwach by claiming, despite the apparent ease with which Yhwach defeated Ichigo, that Yhwach actually had a hard time with him.
    • When Yhwach tries to shatter Ichigo's Tensa Zengetsu again, he's only able to crack it for some reason. It's the first hint of a crack in his omniscience and omnipotence, and boy does he seem unhappy about it.
  • 683:
  • 684:
  • 686:
    • It seems that after the Time Skip, what remains of Yhwach's reiatsu and power is about to return to this world so it can fill its promise to harm Ichigo, his family and his True Companions... and then Ichigo and Orihime's Child Prodigy son, Kazui Kurosaki, manages to put them away just by curiously touching them with his little kid's index finger. It's awesome enough to impress Byakuya, Suifeng AND Mayuri (who had come to deal with it) plus Aizen (who sensed it from his isolated prison and was reminded of Yhwach and the last fight).
    • Kazui has yet another awesome moment without truly realizing it, when he tells and proves to his new friend Ichika that he can transform into a Shinigami too. Ichika cannot believe it.
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    Movies 
  • A moment of Byakuya's occurs in the movie, Memories of Nobody. Rukia was getting her ass handed to her by one of the Dark Ones, things were looking bleak. Then, you saw the blades from Byakuya's bankai rise from the ground, without actually seeing Byakuya. He gives the command, ripping the Dark One to shreds, and then just turns around and mutters over his shoulder something to the effect of "Let's go home." Rukia books to catch up to him.
  • Sui-Feng in the movie Memories of Nobody also deserves a mention here. First, while one of the Dark Ones, Benin (the girl with purple hair), was about to fire an arrow at Yumichika. She fires the arrow ... except Sui-Feng stole her arrow the second she fired it. In fact, it takes her a while to realize her arrow disappeared and Sui-Feng had to call out to her for her to truly realize.
    • Also from the movie, Kenpachi and Yachiru were just walking around when suddenly something sharp cut Kenpachi's face. He grabbed the blade and flung it to where the Dark One was hiding. He backed up and bam! Kenpachi was right behind him. Then, he tried to run away, only to be easily caught up with Yachiru, who was laughing the whole time, seeing it as a game.
    • Kenpachi gets another one when he drops in for the final battle... literally. (The guy's like a one-man Colony Drop [1])
  • In the Hell Chapter movie, Ichigo finds out that he was tricked into coming to Hell so the villains could force him into his uber-hollow form and break them out. Ichigo is sent back by an emergency spell, but leaves Yuzu, Renji, Rukia and Ishida stranded in Hell, with Yamamoto forbidding him to save them and leaving Ukitake and Toshiro to guard the partially damaged Hell Gate. After a pep talk from both Byakuya and Orihime, Ichigo shows up at the hell gate with a look that clearly says "I fucking DARE you to try and stop me." The Hell's Will guardian showing up provides them with a convenient excuse to ignore him, but you can tell Toshiro was thinking "Nah man. I like having my spinal cord intact." It's not a fight or a big victory, but it's a great moment that shows that you never want to get in Ichigo's way.
    • Also as we see Ichigo head to the the Hell Gate, guardian emerges to get in his way... and from behind Ichigo comes Byakuya's Senbonzakura blades, successfully driving it back. We get a glimpse of the captain manipulating his bankai, as if giving his support to Ichigo.
    • That was still nothing compared to Ichigo temporarily becoming an agent of Hell, to punish Kokuto. That has got to be THE most awesome scene in all the four movies.
    • Gert Sprenger. More specifically, Uryu completely outclassing his energy absorbing opponent without much effort. It's especially satisfying when you compare his fight to Rukia and Renji's, who were on the verge of getting killed before they gained the upper hand. Pride of the Quincy indeed.
  • The live-action film gives us Ichigo slaying Grand Fisher.

    Filler Arc/Unsorted 
  • Orihime has a crowning moment in her fight against Mabashi where she walks straight through everything a supercharged, mind-controlled Rukia can throw at her without flinching, throws off the insane soul-sucker with an offhand attack, and then hugs her friend back to sanity via giving her a hug and then activating her healing shield.
    • Uryuu gets two smaller moments of awesome after the Soul Society Arc, both of which get upstaged by his father. In the first, he shows that even without his powers he's not defenseless against a Menos...before Ryuuken shows that he can save Uryuu's scrawny neck AND take out two incomplete Arrancar with three shots. In the second, Uryuu is about to get run into the ground by his father and pulls off a bit of Functional Magic that appears to have stopped the assault in its tracks...until Ryuuken breaks the spell in a matter of seconds and shoots Uryuu through the heart. (He gets better.)
  • Renji, Matsumoto and Hitsugaya's simultaneous lifting of their limiters, at a point where we'd long forgotten those even existed. They open a can of hardcore whoop-ass right afterwards. (This scene was agreed to be notably more majestic in the manga, though)
  • The exact way he says it makes the moment even more epic. Everyone else who has revealed it, says it in a semi-calm way. Ikkaku? "BANKAAAAAIIIIIIIIII!"
    • Yumichika gets a second one when he's fighting the arrancar Charlotte Coolhorn. Charlotte uses his strongest attack which completely engulfs the field in darkness, and Yumichika thanks him for it because it means he can use his zanpakuto's special ability. Bye-bye Charlotte.
    • Ichigo was getting beaten up pretty badly by Nnoitra's subordinate, and all seemed lost until — He's here, he's here, he's here, he's here........!! ZARAKI KENPACHI!!!!!!!!!!!!
  • Urahara also gets one during the third training exercise with Ichigo. He tells Ichigo to knock his hat off. As soon as he makes an attempt, Urahara produces his own sword and promptly reduces Ichigo's weapon to a handle.
    • Chronologically, his first crowning moment of awesome was during his inauguration as Captain of Squad 12. His new lieutenant is less than pleased with him, and proceeds to kick him in the crotch. He doesn't even flinch. Bad. Ass. It is immediately topped by the next panel, which shows the attacker tending to her injured foot, while mumbling "What are they, made out of brass or something?" (Manga: "What does that bastard wear under his hakama.."). Yes. Yes they are.
      • Talkin' about "BALLS OF STEEL".......
      • There's scene that came not long after!: Urahara offers to let Hiyori fight him if she really hates him that much. During the fight, she launches herself and kicks him in the face so fast that his Squad 12 subordinates mention that he "didn't even have time to react". Afterwards, Hiyori reveals that Urahara was fast enough to step out of the way of the kick, smile at her, and get back in the way, showing his expertise in hand-to-hand combat and showing his lieutenant that he might not be the doofus she thought he was.
      • And that he's a good enough guy to take a drop-kick to the face so that his new lieutenant wouldn't be humiliated. Only someone like the self-effacing, goofy-yet-badass Kisuke would do such a thing.
  • Inoue and Uryu get love, but none for Sado?
    "I made a decision. I won't use my fists for my own sake."
    • While we're discussing Chad's backstory, let's talk about the little incident involving Chad's peso. One moment goes to Chad for sticking to his guns when a gang of thugs tries to rob him. Another goes to Ichigo who, upon arriving on the scene, dials the hospital while counting off each gang member so they know how many ambulances to send. Needless to say, ass was kicked. Doubles as a Heartwarming Moment as it solidified Ichigo and Chad's friendship.
  • Sui-Feng gets one (unfortunately it's only in the filler): She gets in a fight with Ichigo, and after a few minutes of even fighting, she sticks her sword in the ground, attacks him unarmed, and proceeds to kick his butt all over the place until Rukia bails him out.
    • For more Sui-Feng Filler Awesome, check out her trashing of Mabashi during the Bount Arc. Mabashi has poisoned her, and assumes after a certain point that she's dead. He makes the mistake of coming too close, and she takes this opportunity to deliver the second strike of her zanpakuto, killing him instantly. So awesome, you almost forget you're watching filler.
  • Nel gets one of these after reverting to her true form, when she casually eats Nnoitra's cero and spits it back at him. With her own cero alongside it!
  • Filler one, Kira destroying a traitor and cutting his Bakkoutou in half.
  • From filler: Yamamoto's final showdown with Amagai. While the Captain General is free to use his powers after the destruction of the Bakkoto, he just stands still and lets Amagai stab him all the way through just so that the latter would be stunned long enough to hear the truth about his personal vendetta against Yamamoto. Afterward, Amagai willingly commits suicide to atone for his crimes.
  • Bleach episode 235: Hollow Ichigo fighting Muramasa. Ichigo and Renji's "I won't lose" speeches to Muramasa and Zabimaru and Renji successfuly using his Shikai, while Zabimaru IS APART FROM HIM! Zabimaru's expression(s) should tell you that.
  • The way Renji defeats Zabimaru in Episode 236. He tricks Snakey into grabbing his zanpakuto, breaks it with kido (which Zabimaru didn't think he could do), then uses Higa Zekkou to shoot the shards at both parts of Zabimaru, defeating them. It's quite a brilliant way to defeat an opponent who knows exactly how he fights.
  • Episode 241, while filler, is a twenty minute list of reasons why Byakuya Kuchiki is fucking awesome.
    • And on a related note, the episode also shows that Bleach is still capable of hosting some awesome battles. All three of 241's fights were fast-paced, well-choreographed and best of all highly enjoyable to watch.
  • Episode 243, of the Zanpakuto arc, has Kira scaring KAZESHINI with a bluff on his shikai, and defeats him with kido. Wabisuke himself then sneaks up on Kira, and using his blade, weighs Kira's down. And he did this without making a sound, or Kira noticing him until it was too late, and he carries a giant tombstone, and ball and chain tied to his leg.
    • We mustn't forget Kenpachi: he appears by releasing his reiatsu inside a building, blows it up, and laughs insanely as the episode ends.
      • Yes, that is a Crowning Moment all by itself. See for yourself.
      • He then proceeds to take this even further by removing his eyepatch and releasing so much spirit pressure that can only be described it as a TACTICAL NUKE in order to blow away everyone but Byakuya, who he wanted to fight all along. Oh, and did I mention his pwning of Wabisuke in a single hit mere seconds before? Here it is in all its glory.
      • Kenpachi grabbed Wabisuke's shikai after the blade hit his shoulder. That's two parts of his body that should now weight twice as much. Kenpachi didn't even seem to notice.
      • Let's not forget him overpowering Senbonzakura's Bankai, owning Byakuya and this episode is a CMOA itself.
      • In truth Zaraki is so Badass that, when you hear his bells it's a Moment of Awesome! That's right, he doesn't even have to be seen to be awesome, just hearing him, and knowing he's somewhere close, is enough for people to start cheering!!!
  • Bleach episode 247 for Muramasa, also counts as Moral Event Horizon: Muramasa instigated the Zanpakuto Rebellion for the sole purpose of trying to figure out how to break through a barrier Yamamoto set up to keep him out. He found his method using Ichigo's ultimate Getsuga Tensho, which broke through the barrier, and Muramasa entered Yamamoto's inner world, and bent Ryujin Jakka to his will. The first thing he does is incinerate Katen Koyokotsu and Sogyo no Kotowari with Ryujin Jakka's power, and vows to destroy Soul Society. Seriously, this guy just became as dangerous as Aizen.
  • And how could we possibly forget Muramasa's "Keikaku doori" (Yes, he actually said those exact words) right after he explains what he's been planning, combined with his Kira face (which bears a striking resemblance to Light's face when he thinks "Omoidoori!" three times in episode 36 of Death Note) immediately after incinerating Katen Kyoukotsu and Sogyo no Kotowari.
  • Bleach episode 248 for Hyourinmaru. Yes, Hitsuguaya's Zanpakuto. His bankai is him basically turning into a dragon, and he freezes Ryujin Jakka's flames long enough for Hitsuguaya to make an opening for Ichigo to go back to Karakura Town, to stop Muramasa from breaking his ALIVE master Kouga free from his seal, all to the music of Number One.
  • In episode 252, despite being a filler, had one big CMOA for Byakuya. It appears that he hadn't betrayed others at all. It was all to find Kouga and kill him. In the following battle...let's say that Byakuya's bankai never looked so awesome.
  • Bleach episode 259. Three words: Fulfill, Akeiro Hisagomaru!
  • Kenpachi vs. Tenken (episodes 246-249)! In particular, Tenken's first words:
    Tenken: Bankai!
  • Backtracking to the Amagai arc for a bit here. Izuru and his squad are out in the Dangai, and they're facing certain death. So, what happens? Amagai makes a Big Damn Heroes and ONE-SHOTS AN ONCOMING KOUTOTSU. While drunk.
    • Crosses into Narm Charm and Crowning Moment of Funny when he passes out right after saving them. Kira's Oh, Crap! face is priceless.
    • Speaking of Amagai, he looks absolutely AWESOME once his Bakkoto and Bankai are active. In one hand, he has a hooked sword with a flame cannon on the other side (Bankai) and in the other hand, he has a green lightsaber coming out of the mouth of a black dragon (Bakkoto). However, the eyeballs he literally wears with them is unnerving.
  • No mention of episode twenty? After Ichigo learns his sword's name, his first slice with it cuts Uraharas hat. Along with most of the ground behind him. In half. Coupled with the shows' Crowning Music of Awesome.
  • Rangiku's fight with Reigai-Kira in Episode 322. Unlike the real Kira, whose Zanpakuto only doubles the weight of what he hits with his sword, Reigai-Kira can multiply the weight of what he hits by ten-fold! So what does Rangiku do now that she is without a weapon? She tricks him into striking a metal pole by wrapping her scarf around it and thus trapping his weapon with the weight increase. While he struggles to free his weapon, Rangiku retrieves hers and unleashes her Shikai in his direction, killing the Reigai.
  • Episode 324. Kenpachi vs. Kenpachi. All that needs to be said.
  • Nemu, of all people, earns her first in a filler arc. As Rukia is having trouble fighting A Dark Clone of Nemu, and two Artificial Beings, Nemu shows up and quickly offs her clone by stabbing it in the heart with her hand. Badass.
  • Bleach Episode 325. Toshiro's Dark Clone has sealed Byakuya up in an ice golem. Byakuya, much to Toshiro's surprise, manages to burst out due to Senbonzakura. Reigai Toshiro begins to boast that he stills has the advantage and lunges to finish Byakuya only for Byakuya to catch the blade, and then surround both himself and Reigai Toshiro with his Gokei Technique.
  • Episode 327. KOMAMURA! IS! A! BADASS! Not only that, he finally won a filler fight! People are already considering it the best fight of the Gotei 13 Invading Army Arc.
    • How about Komamura having the guts to interrupt Kenpachi's battle with Reigai Sui-Feng? Ichigo nearly got killed for just sitting between him and Yammy when he showed up in Hueco Mundo!
    • Mayuri Kurotsuchi manages to swap places with his own Reigai and spears Inaba's back while he's gloating at the captains like an idiot. His priceless Oh, Crap! expression fits very well.
  • Why do the video games have no love yet?
    • In Bleach: The 3rd Phantom, after defeating your sibling and former captain/adoptive father, Seigen Suzunami, Seigen attempts to cut you down, causing your sibling to perform a non-fatal Heroic Sacrifice. That's not this trope, though. After witnessing this, your character unlocks a new super-powerful ability depending on how much training sessions you cleared beforehand. If you specialized in Zanjutsu training, you unlock Rengoku, a friggin huge Sword Beam. If you specialized in Kido training, you unlock Rasen, a purple Battle Aura that damages any surrounding enemies and inflicts status effects. If you specialized in Hoho training, you unlock Shunko. However, if you completed all the training in the game, You. Unlock. BANKAI. Cue Curb-Stomp Battle. Keep in mind you're playing as an unseated officer with nowhere near as much experience as Seigen, who is a FORMER CAPTAIN.
    • In Dark Souls, Kai manages to clone FIVE of the Captains; namely, Ukitake, Mayuri, Hitsugaya, Komamura, and freaking BYAKUYA. On top of that, he also clones Orihime, Chad, Uryu and Renji.
  • Anytime the Captains work together to take down a common enemy. Examples include the climax scene of all three movies and episode 328. All filler/non-canon unfortunately BUT STILL VERY EPIC.
  • During the Gotei 13 Invasion arc, the reigai Unohana attacks Yamamoto with all of the high level hakudo spells we've seen thus far, completely sealing him up. The original Unohana reminds her double that Yamamoto is the Commander General for a reason. Cue Yamamoto fucking melting through all of the restaints.
  • In Episode 334, Kon attacks the Big Bad of the arc. With a rock. I'm surprised that lion doll is big enough to hold his huge balls.
  • As soon as Oko Yushima appears (especially episode 341), he establishes himself as a badass. First thing he does is beating hollow Ichigo with no difficulty (after using bakudo #99 with no incantation), then the entire group of Ichigo friends (Rukia, Ishida, Orihime, Sado, Renji) and let's not forget that his SHIKAI can destroy Soul Society (only Yamamoto's BANKAI is at this level in canon). All of that with animation level worthy of movie and good choregraphy.
  • English dubbed episode 308. Transformed Aizen sounds unbelievably plain and boring, but this changes the moment he begins to cast Hado #90. The badassery that finally appears in Kyle Hebert's voice makes up for the whole episode.
    "Perish, Ichigo Kurosaki!"
  • Come 2021, the Thousand Year Blood War is finally being animated!
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