After Ichigo successfully blocks the Sōkyoku's attack on Rukia Kuchiki, the Sōkyoku is destroyed by 8th Division Captain Shunsui Kyōraku and 13th Division Captain Jūshirō Ukitake. Breaking the Sōkyoku's stand, Ichigo throws Rukia to Renji Abarai, who runs away with her in his arms. 2nd Division Lieutenant Marechiyo Ōmaeda, 1st Division Lieutenant Chōjirō Sasakibe, and 4th Division Lieutenant Isane Kotetsu are sent to chase Renji, but Ichigo, blocking their path, effortlessly defeats all three without the use of his Zanpakutō. Picking up his sword to defend himself against Byakuya's first attack, he tells Byakuya he can see his every move.
As they cross swords, Byakuya asks Ichigo why he keeps trying to save Rukia, but Ichigo asks why Byakuya is not trying to save her. Brushing it off as a pointless question, Byakuya states even if he was inclined to answer, Ichigo would not understand. After the two clash and push themselves apart, Byakuya tells Ichigo he will kill him and carry out Rukia's execution with his own hands, but Ichigo states that will not happen. The two charge at each other.
Byakuya states he finds it interesting Ichigo was able to master Shunpo, but before he can finish, Ichigo, interrupting him, taunts Byakuya, stating he has not scratched him once, and tells him to hurry up and use Bankai. Telling him his taunts are meaningless and he will not change his mind about Rukia's fate or Ichigo's, he releases his Shikai, but Ichigo blocks the attack with a blast of spiritual energy.
Ichigo's attack creates a large explosion, which injures Byakuya's left hand, prompting him to ask if the attack was an ability of his Zanpakutō. When the smoke clears, a large fissure scars the ground where the attack took place. Confirming what the ability is, Ichigo reveals its name is Getsuga Tenshō. As Ichigo tells him to fight with his Bankai, Byakuya, commenting on the arrogant nature of the attack's name, decides that since Ichigo wants to see his Bankai, he will show it to him, and releases it. Ichigo attacks Byakuya with another Getsuga Tenshō, which it is blocked by Senbonzakura Kageyoshi, which crushes him into the ground. As the smoke clears, an injured Ichigo lays upon the ground. Getting up, Ichigo admits his error in using only his Shikai. Unimpressed, Byakuya says he is talking as though he has already achieved Bankai, which Ichigo says is the case.
When Byakuya doesn't believe him, Ichigo, saying he will have to show him, releases his Bankai, Tensa Zangetsu. Gazing in disbelief, Byakuya, asking why his Zanpakutō's shape looks like that of a sealed Zanpakutō, tells Ichigo it seems that he enjoys stepping on their pride, so he will carve on his body the penalty for violating their pride. Before Byakuya can attack, Ichigo gets up close, pointing the tip of his blade at Byakuya's throat, and asks him if that pride has anything to do with Rukia's execution, because if so, he will step all over it. When Ichigo backs off, Byakuya, calling him arrogant, tells Ichigo he will regret not attacking when he had the chance, and should not count on getting another one.
The two clash, but neither hits the other as both dodge the other's attacks. Ichigo displays his true speed, which Byakuya notes is much greater than that of Senbonzakura Kageyoshi. Though Byakuya keeps attacking, Ichigo shows off his great speed by moving around him in a circle, escaping his attacks. Taunting him by asking if he is going too slow for him, Ichigo states he can go even faster. Telling him not to get cocky, Byakuya uses his hands to direct Senbonzakura Kageyoshi at Ichigo, tripling its speed. When Ichigo fends off Senbonzakura Kageyoshi, Byakuya, gazing in disbelief, thinks to himself how it is impossible, as he deflected all of them. Appearing behind him, Ichigo taunts him before Byakuya grabs Tensa Zangetsu, wounding himself. Realizing the power of Ichigo's Bankai, he promises to destroy it.
As Ichigo moves away, Byakuya reveals Senbonzakura Kageyoshi's true form by activating Senkei. As Ichigo stares in disbelief, Byakuya assures him the thousand swords will not strike him all at once. As they continue to battle, Byakuya asks him why his movements have become slower. Taunting him, Ichigo says he swore Byakuya was so slow he thought he was not moving at all. Calling forth one of the surrounding swords, Byakuya, stabbing Ichigo in the foot, uses Hadō #4. Byakurai, shooting a hole through Ichigo's right shoulder. Byakuya pulls the sword from Ichigo's foot, and he falls to the ground. Telling Ichigo he is at his limit, Byakuya explains Senkei. As Ichigo finally realizes he is the one who has gotten slower, Byakuya commends him on having made it as far as he did, having attained victory in his battles and even surviving Senbonzakura Kageyoshi, but tells him he must realize by now this is the end. As he raises his sword for a killing blow, Ichigo grabs the blade with his hand. Surprised, Byakuya, asking how it is possible, realizes something is wrong and asks who this is. Looking up with his face half covered by a mask, Ichigo screams that he is nobody.
Going into an insane rage as his inner Hollow takes over, Ichigo slashes Byakuya across his chest, wounding him, and shatters Byakuya's blade with his bare hand. Regaining his composure, Byakuya calls forth another sword just as the crazed Ichigo, charging at him, fires a Getsuga Tenshō, which Byakuya notices, with surprise, is black. Before he realizes it, Ichigo attacks him from behind. Surviving, Byakuya asks if he is a Hollow.
Before Hollow Ichigo can finish Byakuya off, Ichigo, ripping off the mask, apologizes for the Hollow's interference, telling him they should start from the beginning. Agreeing to forget what just transpired, Byakuya, pointing out that neither of them have the strength to continue this for much longer, decides they must end it with the next blow. Agreeing, Ichigo asks again why Byakuya will not save Rukia. Stating he will tell him if he defeats him, Byakuya uses Shūkei, Hakuteiken. Amazed, Ichigo states he has no technique like that, since all Zangetsu taught him was Getsuga Tenshō, so he will just place all of his strength into one attack. Charging at each other, the two release a torrent of powerful spiritual pressure.
As the dust settles, Ichigo is wounded, but so is Byakuya, who tells Ichigo he supports Rukia's death sentence because he believes in following the rules, even if the rules mean the death of a family member. Saying the concept of personal feelings is overridden by the rules, he states emotions are useless, and he never had them to begin with. Ichigo tells him he does not understand, and if he was in his position, he would fight the rules. Realizing Ichigo was never was fighting him, but Soul Society's rules, Byakuya says to himself Ichigo has the same personality as Kaien Shiba, who he remembers as having a distasteful ferocity. Telling Ichigo his ferocity has shattered his blade, and he can therefore no longer pursue Rukia, Byakuya leaves the area.
- ↑ Bleach Official Character Book Souls, Page 262
- ↑ Bleach manga; Chapter 151
- ↑ Bleach manga; Chapter 152
- ↑ Bleach manga; Chapter 153, page 1-8
- ↑ Bleach manga; Chapter 160, page 9-19
- ↑ Bleach manga; Chapter 161
- ↑ Bleach manga; Chapter 162
- ↑ Bleach manga; Chapter 163, page 1-6
- ↑ Bleach manga; Chapter 163, page 7-19
- ↑ Bleach manga; Chapter 164, page 7-16
- ↑ Bleach manga; Chapter 165
- ↑ Bleach manga; Chapter 166
- ↑ Bleach manga; Chapter 167, page 1-12