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god's in his heaven

The Gotei 13 soon begin to wage war with the Espada and other Arrancar over the false Karakura town. Their losses are great, and things looks dire when Aizen, Gin, and Tousen finally enter the arena. But just as Aizen appears, the Vizards do as well, having come to take their revenge on Aizen. They begin to battle alongside the other Shinigami. The battle rages, but Aizen eventually gets fed up with waiting around and kills Tia Harribel, the last remaining Espada in Karakura Town, himself. He announces his disappointment in the Espada for being weaker than him even when combining their strength. He then reveals that it's time for him to battle the Vizards and Shinigami himself.

Aizen taunts the Vizards, and Hiyori attacks first, only to be cut in half (ouch) by Gin. Shinji is enraged and releases his Bankai, which is meant to reverse the direction of his enemyís movements, but it is little trouble for Aizen. Tousen battles Komamura and Hisagi, and is defeated; he gains the power of sight alongside the Arrancar powers given to him by Aizen, but his new sense turns out to be a weakness that allows Hisagi to mortally wound him. Suddenly, Ichigo appears, back from Hueco Mundo and armed with the knowledge that he is one of the few who has not seen Aizen's shikai, and that combined with his strength means that he Soul Societyís only hope of defeating Aizen. The Vizards and the Gotei 13 resolve that they will fight to protect Ichigo, and thus protect everyone. Yet they are rather effortlessly defeated by Aizenís power of illusion; when it looks as if Hitsugaya has finally managed to kill Aizen, it turns out he has actually stabbed Hinamori instead (she canít catch a break, can she?), all thanks to Kyouka Suigetsu. Even the leader and the most powerful of the Gotei 13, Yamamoto Genryuusai Shigekuni, cannot barely touch Aizen, his zapakutou's powers having been sealed by a special Arrancar created just for that purpose.


god is dead

Ichigo is able to attack Aizen after Yamamotoís assault. He appears to have wounded Aizen, until Aizen reveals that he has embedded the Hougyoku in his own body which allows for his injuries to quickly heal. Aizen then reveals something interesting: he had orchestrated every fight Ichigo took part in and knew of every bit of power he had gained. Aizen says he has known about Ichigo since the boy was born. Yet their fight is interrupted by a surprise ally: Ichigoís father, Isshin, a former Shinigami.

Isshins sends Ichigo away and begins his own assault on Aizen. It almost looks as if Aizen is wearing down, but he merely announces that the Hougyoku has finally awakened. He reveals that its true power is not to blur the boundaries between Shinigami and Hollow, but it is its ability to understand the desires of those around it. It will destroy the "line between God and Man," he explains. At that moment, the Hougyokuís creator, Urahara, makes an appearance, along with Yoruichi. They make their move against Aizen, who eventually transforms, entering a cocoon-like state. Their battle rages on, and eventually Aizen emerges from the cocoon, more powerful than ever (and more mullet-y than ever, too). He soon defeats Isshin, Yoruichi, and Urahara, and he and Gin make their way to Karakura Town in Soul Society.

While they enter the town, Gin and Aizen are confronted by Matsumoto Rangiku, Vice Captain of the Tenth, and Ginís childhood friend. Gina and Matsumoto leave and fight. Gin appears to have killed her, and returns to Aizen. But suddenly, Gin stabs Aizen in the chest, revealing that he knew how to combat Kyouka Suigetsuís shikai: one must touch the blade before the hypnosis was initiated. Of course, Aizen knew Ginís true motives; he knew Gin would try to kill him, but he did not know how and was curious to see. Gin reveals that with the stab wound, he left a piece of his blade inside Aizenís heart. Gin then activates his bankai, blowing a hole in Aizenís chest. Gin grabs the Hougyoku, believing the battle to be over. Itís revealed that Gin had been planning to kill Aizen as payback for draining the spirit energy Matsumoto during one of his experiments in Rukongai when she and Gin were children, and it looks as if he has finally achieved his goal.

But, of course, things arenít going to be that simple. Aizen undergoes another transformation. Keeping with the insect-like metamorphosis, he becomes a winged creature, finally reaching a level beyond Hollow and Shinigami. He reveals that the Hougyoku has always been his, and effortlessly takes it back from Gin, slicing off his subordinateís arm and mortally wounding him.

Things look dire, but before Aizen can destroy Karakura, our hero, Ichigo, shows up to save the day. After some intense soul-searching, Ichigo reached a new level of strength, one not dependent on reiatsu, but on sheer physical power. A fight begins between hero and villain: the final showdown between good and evil. During this last battle, we finally begin to see Aizen show some emotion. reviously, Aizen had dealt with everything that had transpired with indifference and a calm smile. Even as his army died around him. But as he starts to gain the Hougyokuís power, he seems to grow more arrogant and boastful. When Ichigo has the advantage, we see Aizen begin to display rage.

While they battle, Aizen again transforms, this time into a giant beast. But Ichigo has a trick up his sleeve: the final getsuga tensho, an ability so powerful that it will leave ichigo devoid of his Shinigami powers. With it, Ichigo strikes Aizen down. Yet Aizen still stands, no longer in monster form, and declares Ichigo has lost until Urahara emerges, revealing that he struck Aizen with a certain kidou spell. This spell will "seal" Aizen for good, and he is soon rejected by the Hogyokou. As the seal is completed, Aizen rages at Urahara about the Spirit King, questioning why this Spirit King, who no one can even see, stills commands such blind loyalty. Urahara explains that the Spirit King is a "lynchpin," and Soul Society would fall apart without him. Aizen is then sealed away. Immortal but restrained, he is eventually imprisoned in Soul Society underground prison for 20,000 years.

When the battle finally ends, Ichigo theorizes that, since the Hougyokuís ability is to realize one's heart's desire, that Aizen may have wished for it to reject him. When Ichigo had finally become Aizenís equal, he explains that he felt great loneliness after touching Aizenís sword. Perhaps Aizen, who was born with such immense power, had, deep down, just wished to be a normal Shinigami.

This thought concludes the war against Aizen in a bittersweet manner; countless individuals lie wounded, Gin has sacrificed his life to kill Aizen, Ichigo has lost his Shinigami powers, and just maybe the monster that they all defeated was simply a lonely man.

"Bleach" and its characters © Kubo Tite. All other content belongs to Michelle.