This episodes comes towards the end of the series and during the ugly Fullbring arc, but despite the arc, it’s a strong episode. It’s the return of Ichigo and the Gotei 13. Welcome back to the shinigami party, Ichigo!
Episode 361 – Anew Appearance, Meet the Gotei 13!
So the Fullbring series is all about Ichigio trying to get his powers back in order to protect his family, in doing so he has been working with a group known as the Fullbringers. They aren’t on his side and in this episode, they take what power he has left leaving Ichigo at his end. Ichigo is in the rain, sobbing, realizing everything he has done is all gone. He has worked so hard to get some power back because he wants to continue the fight, but it appears to be all over. Yet, as Ginjo walks away, Ichigo cries out to stop and return his powers. As Ginjo is laughing it off as Ichigo calls out to him one more, when Ichigo is stabbed by some strange blue sword. He thinks its Urahara and his dad that are doing it as they appear behind him, but he then sees its really Rukia holding the blade, restoring his shinigami powers. Remember that Ichigo has not been able to see a spirit after losing his power, but all of a sudden, he can see her appearing.
There are two parts of this episode I love. First is Ichigo getting his powers back. Rukia explains how the sword was designed to restore his abilities after so long (thanks Urahara!). Its the first time the two have seen each other in some time and there is a great relief between the two. They respect each other and know they are happy to fight along side each other again. However, Rukia of course has to snap Ichigo back in line with her attitude (gotta love her). The best part of the episode is when Ginjo gloats that there is no way that Rukia could restore his abilities. As he says this, the voice of Renji is heard saying that she is not alone. As he says this, the gate in the sky opens, showing Kenpachi, Byakuya, Hitsugaya, Renji, and Ikkaku standing over them. The Gotei sent this force to help Ichigo fight back against the Fullbringers. It is so great to see them again, each one looking just a bit different. It’s a great scene and episode during a bad arc to end the anime series.