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During Ichigo and Rukia Kuchiki's fight against Fishbone D, Rukia accidentally transfers all of her Shinigami power to Ichigo. Because she can neither perform her Shinigami duties nor go back to Soul Society in this state, she is forced to use an artificial body, known as a Gigai, until she regains her powers. Enrolling as a student in Ichigo's class, Rukia hopes to recruit him as a replacement for her while she recuperates. When Rukia asks him to do this, Ichigo, refusing, says he was only able to fight the day before because his family was in danger, but he will not fight the Hollows for total strangers. Realizing she has no other choice, Rukia, using her Gokon Tekkō to remove Ichigo's soul from his body, tells him to follow her. She takes Ichigo to Yumizawa Children's Park, where the soul of a small boy comes to play every day at noon. She shows Ichigo an order sent to her Denreishinki saying a Hollow will strike 20 meters from the park between 11:45 and 12:15, meaning the boy would almost surely be attacked. At that second, they hear the boy scream.
When he looks, Ichigo sees the small boy running away from a six-legged, spider-like Hollow. When he instinctively starts drawing his sword, Rukia, stopping him, asks why he wants to help the boy, who is a stranger to him. When Ichigo says he has to help someone who is right in front of him, but Rukia claims it makes no difference whether someone being attacked is near or far. When the boy falls down, Ichigo turns to help him, but Rukia stops him once more, as saving this one boy would be meaningless unless he becomes a Shinigami. Rukia states a Shinigami must treat all spirits equally: those in his vicinity or near to his heart are not the only ones who deserve his protection. If Ichigo wants to help the boy, he must assume responsibility for all spirits and go the length to help them, even at the risk of his own life. Recalling Rukia's sacrifice the day before, when she saved his life by standing between him and the attacking Hollow, Ichigo reaches for his sword again.
Meanwhile, the Hollow, reaching the child, stops its attack when it noticed Ichigo and Rukia. When it asks them who they are, Ichigo cuts off its forelegs. As the Hollow, retreating, screams in pain, Rukia asks Ichigo if he has accepted the role of Substitute Shinigami. Yelling at her to shut up, Ichigo says he does not accept anything. He saved the boy because he wanted to, and there is nothing wrong with that. He tells Rukia when she protected him the day before, she was not acting out of dedication for her duties, which is not the meaning of self-sacrifice. With those words, Ichigo, stabbing through the attacking Hollow's mask, crushes it, purifying the Hollow.
Stating he has not assumed any responsibility because he is not brave enough to not run away if the going gets tough, Ichigo says he is not enough of a good person to risk his life for strangers, but he is also not the kind of trash who can live on without paying his debts. He agrees to take Rukia's duties upon himself.
- ↑ Bleach manga; Chapter 35, page 17
- ↑ Bleach manga; Chapter 1, page 52
- ↑ Bleach manga; Chapter 2, pages 9-16
- ↑ Bleach manga; Chapter 2, pages 17-20
- ↑ Bleach manga; Chapter 2, pages 20-23
- ↑ Bleach manga; Chapter 2, pages 23-24